The Church’s mission risks being reduced to ashes unless bishops become open to the “daring prudence” of the spirit and make changes to the status quo, Pope Francis said.
Opening the Synod of Bishops assembly on the Pan-Amazon region, he warned against a mentality where “everything continues as it was” and those groups who want to “make everyone and everything uniform”.
The Pope was speaking during a Mass in St Peter’s at the start of the 6-27 October gathering which was attended by the 185 synod fathers, the majority of them bishops serving in the Amazon. Some 260 participants will take part in the gathering including outside experts and representatives from indigenous groups. During the Mass the indigenous sat in the front row of the basilica, and brought up the offertory gifts to the Pope.
In his homily, the Pope told the congregation that Christian perseverance requires being able to rekindle the gift of faith, a gift which he said was “a fire, a burning love for God and for our brothers and sisters”. If the fire is not fed, he added, it “turns into ashes” and dies.
“If everything continues as it was, if we spend our days content that ‘this is the way things have always been done,’ then the gift vanishes, smothered by the ashes of fear and concern for defending the status quo,” he told cardinals of the Roman Curia and bishops from across nine countries in Latin America. “Jesus did not come to bring a gentle evening breeze, but to light a fire on the earth.”
The Jesuit Pope argued that the virtue of prudence is not “timidity or fear” but requires a daring attitude and the willingness to take decisions.
“Prudence is not indecision, it is not a defensive attitude,” he said. “It is the virtue of the pastor who, in order to serve with wisdom, is able to discern, to be receptive to the newness of the Spirit. Rekindling our gift in the fire of the Spirit is the opposite of letting things take their course without doing anything.”