05/02/2024, 15.21
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Pope tells parish priests from all over the world to value the laity’s charisms

On the occasion of a recent international meeting in Rome with 300 priests from every continent, Francis addresses a letter to all parish priests, urging them to “Experience the joy of being true fathers, who do not dominate others but rather bring out” their “precious possibilities”.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – “If parishes are not synodal and missionary, neither will the Church be,” writes Pope Francis in a letter addressed to the world’s parish priests, which was released today at the end of the international meeting "Parish Priests for the Synod" promoted by the General Secretariat of the Synod and the Dicastery for the Clergy.

For four days at the Fraterna Domus in Sacrofano, near Rome, some 300 priests from every continent discussed their ministry in light of the path laid by Pope Francis for the Churches of the whole world, set to end next October with the second session of the Synodal Assembly.

In his letter, the Holy father expresses his gratitude to parish priests for their daily service.

“It is so obvious,” he writes, “as to sound almost banal, but that does not make it less true: the Church could not go on without your dedication and your pastoral service. So before all else, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation for the generous work that you do each day, sowing seeds of the Gospel in every kind of soil.”

This service today requires a qualitative leap. “We will never become a synodal and missionary Church unless parish communities are distinguished by the sharing of all the baptized in the one mission of proclaiming the Gospel. If parishes are not synodal and missionary, neither will the Church be.”

“Parish communities increasingly need to become places from which the baptized set out as missionary disciples and to which they return, full of joy, in order to share the wonders worked by the Lord through their witness (cf. Lk 10:17).

From this perspective, Pope Francis gives parish priests three suggestions to inspire their own lifestyle and action as pastors.

First of all, they should “live out your specific ministerial charism in ever greater service to the varied gifts that the Spirit sows in the People of God,” encouraging and valuing the charisms of the laity.

“I am convinced that in this way you will bring to light many hidden treasures and feel less alone in the demanding task of evangelization. You will experience the joy of being true fathers, who do not dominate others but rather bring out in them, men and women alike, great and precious possibilities.

As a second suggestion, the pope asks parish priests to practice in their communities "the art of communaly discernment," using the method of "conversation in the Spirit," adopted by the Synod.

“I am certain that you will reap from it many good fruits, not only in structures of communion such as parish councils, but in many other fields as well,” Francis said.

The third piece of advice is to live "sharing and fraternity among yourselves and with your bishops.”

“We cannot be authentic fathers unless we are first sons and brothers. And we cannot foster communion and participation in the communities entrusted to our care unless, before all else, we live out those realities among ourselves.”

Finally, the pontiff urges “those who have taken part in the International Meeting ‘Parish Priests for the Synod’ to be missionaries of synodality, among yourselves and, once you return home, with your fellow parish priests.

“I ask you to encourage reflection, with a synodal and missionary mindset, on the renewal of the ministry of parish priests, and enable the General Secretariat of the Synod to gather your distinctive contributions in view of the preparation of the Instrumentum Laboris.

“The purpose of the present International Meeting was to listen to parish priests, but that cannot finish today: we need to continue to hear from you.”

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