Jesuits join Family Synod

Several Jesuits are among the delegates at the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family taking place in the Vatican over the next two weeks. The Synod began its working sessions yesterday (Monday), having been formally opened with Mass celebrated in St Peter’s the previous day. Pope Francis is expected to attend all of the working sessions, along with 253 other participants. Yesterday, he urged delegates to "speak with frankness and listen with humility".

Among the 191 voting members expected to attend, 162 are taking part because of the office they hold. They include 114 presidents of bishops’ conferences and 26 people named by Pope Francis himself. Jesuits at the Synod include Fr Adolfo Nicolás SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus on behalf of the Union of General Superiors General, Fr  François-Xavier Dumortier SJ from Belgium who is Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and Italian Jesuit Fr Antonio Spadaro SJ, the Editor of  the Jesuit periodical La Civiltà Cattolica. Also taking part will be the Archbishop of Prešov for Catholics of the Byzantine rite, Monsignorr Ján Babiak SJ who is President of the Council of the Slovak Church, and Fr George Henri Ruyssen SJ of the Pontifical Oriental Institute of Rome.

The Director of the Holy See’s Press Office, Fr Federico Lombardi SJ and Fr Bernd Hagenkord SJ of Vatican Radio will also be attending the Synod which will last for two weeks.

In his homily at Sunday’s Mass in St Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis called for a creative, humble approach to the discussions on sexual and family issues over the coming weeks. “Synod gatherings are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever ideas, or to see who is more intelligent," he said, adding that they should be opportunities “to work generously with authentic freedom and humble creativity”.

Yesterday, the first full day of the Extraordinary Synod, Pope Francis urged delegates to speak freely and with charity. “I ask you to speak with frankness and listen with humility.” He concluded, saying, “Do so with tranquillity and peace, for the Synod always takes cum Petro et sub Petro – with Peter and under Peter – and the presence of the Pope is the guarantee for all and the safeguard of the faith.”

In his Twitter message yesterday, Pope Francis said: Come, Holy Spirit. Bestow upon us your gifts during the Synod. #prayforsynod

Photo: Pope Francis receives the Offertory gifts from a family at the opening Mass for the Synod of Bishops on the Family on Sunday 5 October 2014 (Alessandra Tarantino)