Francis is stepping up his attempt to revitalise the Church’s mission, and to turn it outwards to the world – and especially to the poor. Our Rome correspondent wonders if the anger and fear felt by those resisting such change may be a sign that the momentum is with the Pope
Church reform does not just happen in strategic plans and official documents. It takes place as word and action. It is word and flesh. It will be many years before we know the full impact of the Pan-Amazon Synod of Bishops. It will come to much more than the details of its final text, dramatic though some of its recommendations are, including the ordination of married deacons and the opening up of the possibility of female deacons.
Like the Second Vatican Council, which set the framework for the contemporary Church, the importance of the Amazon synod lies in the gathering itself and in the spirit of renewal it has unleashed. The event itself was the message. It may come to be seen as the defining moment of Francis’ papacy.
Like the council, the Amazon synod will be remembered as an attempt to revitalise the Church’s mission. It focused on a largely forgotten part of the world, yet one vital for the future of the planet. Like the council, it has sought to root its decision-making in the experience of the people of God, the sensus fidelium. It has been an expression of new ways of being the Church.