Priestly celibacy “was not the problem” of the Amazonian synod, Pope Francis told a group of bishops
Pope Francis told a group of U.S. bishops that, like them, he is accused of not being brave or not listening to the Holy Spirit when he says or does something that someone disagrees with – how not to mention married priests in his document on the Amazon.
“You could see his dismay when he said that for some people it was all related to celibacy and not to the Amazon,” said Bishop William Wack of Pensacola-Tallahassee.
“He said some people say he’s not brave because he hasn’t listened to the Spirit,” the bishop told the Catholic News Service. “He said,” So they’re not mad at the Spirit. They are angry with me down here “”, as if they assumed that the Holy Spirit agreed with them.
Bishop Wack was one of 15 bishops from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina who spent nearly three hours on Thursday with Pope Francis during their ad limina visits to the Vatican. They were joined by two from Arizona – Bishop Edward Weisenburger of Tucson and Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo Nevares of Phoenix – who had not been able to meet the Pope with their group on February 10.
During the meeting, a bishop asked Pope Francis three or four points he would like them to share with their people from the document “Querida Amazonia” (Amata Amazzonia), which was released the day before and offered the pope’s reflections on Synod of Bishops for the Amazon.
Auxiliary Bishop Joel Konzen of Atlanta told CNS that the Pope said that the most important message in the document for US Catholics is to take care of the planet, “that it is a serious matter.”
So, he said, the Pope told the bishops that months or even years go into the production of documents and what is reported in the media “is a line” or that “the Pope has not had the courage to change the rules of the Church. “
Bishop Wack said the Pope told them that the synod met “to talk about the issues of the Church in the Amazon. Other people wanted me to talk about celibacy. They solved the problem. But this was not the problem of this synod. “
Pope Francis told the bishops that they and their priests must teach and preach about environmental care, said Mgr. Wack. “He said even if people don’t want to hear it. How can we deny that things are changing? How can we deny that we’re damaging our future? And he said, if we don’t talk about these things, well, be ashamed. We have to preach the gospel, and this is part of the Gospel. “
Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami said that Pope Francis also talked about what he means by “synodality” and members of the Church who listen to each other, pray for questions and try to discern a way forward together. The synod, he said, is not “a parliament where people take the majority of votes on a lot of issues.”
Among the reactions to the exhortation that drew Pope Francis’ attention, he said, there was a comment that said “the pope lacked courage” on the question of the ordination of married men.
“But the Synod is not about the Pope’s courage or the Pope’s lack of courage,” said Bishop Wenski paraphrasing the Pope. “The synod is about the action of the Holy Spirit and the discernment of the Holy Spirit. And if there is no Holy Spirit, there is no discernment. “
If the discernment and action of the Holy Spirit is lacking, then it is only “a meeting and they are people who share opinions and perhaps research, but it is not necessarily a synod unless it is somehow governed by the Holy Spirit,” he said. Archbishop Konzen.
Bishop Wack said that Pope Francis also explained that synodality and discernment are processes that continue even after a synod has met and a document has been published.
“He said, ‘You can’t just meet once and then say,” Oh, we have all the answers, “but the conversation continues,” said the bishop. “And so, he said,” What we have done has been to raise these problems, and now we have to face them, “continuing to invoke the Holy Spirit and discern the way for the future.
As with the 13 groups of US bishops that preceded them, the bishops also spoke with the Pope about the clerical crisis of sexual abuse, immigration, youth ministry and young adults and what it means to be a bishop.
Bishop Wack said he asked for advice on how to find a balance as a bishop since “we should be pastors, we should be priests for the people, other christs. Yet, just like with our pastors, like many people who work in the Church , as well as parents and people who work in the world, we are so busy with so many other things. “
Pope Francis spoke at length about being a bishop, he said. “He said that if we are too busy doing other things, we will put them aside; we pray, preach and serve our people.”
Archbishop Wenski told CNS that in covering the teachings of the Church or Pope Francis, the press often uses “categories of the world, and do not fully appreciate the fact that we are dealing with a different way of being, a different way to think. “
The meeting of bishops with the Pope, he added, was a time to “be with the Pope, see the Pope and listen to the Pope” in a relaxed atmosphere and discuss issues “which concern us bishops from all over the world”.
“It was a great opportunity because often, as bishops, we live the Pope through the filter of the media. And it’s nice to experience it without that filter; (a) experience it face to face, “he said.