On June 13, 2024, the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life held in Vatican the annual meeting with the Moderators of associations of the faithful, ecclesial movements and new communities. The World Apostolate of Fatima was represented by its international Secretary, Mrs. Edith Koch and by the Director of the Secretariat, Nuno Prazeres.  

The meeting revolved around the theme “The Challenge of Synodality for Mission”, bringing together more than 200 people from 95 international associations of the faithful out of the 117 recognized by the Dicastery. The day began with the celebration of Holy Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, presided over by Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, followed by an audience with the Holy Father in the New Hall of the Synod.

Photo @Vatican Media

Pope Francis in his address to the participants made important remarks on synodality for the ecclesial movements. He began by saying that the “synodal journey requires a spiritual conversion” and added that his “hope is that synodality may endure as a permanent mode of working within the Church, at all levels, permeating the hearts of all, pastors and faithful alike, until it becomes a shared ‘ecclesial style’”.

He then highlighted some attitudes, some “synodal virtues,” in the light of this spiritual conversion: thinking as God thinks, overcoming exclusiveness, and cultivating humility.

Regarding the first virtue, “thinking as God thinks”, Pope Francis said that “this is the primary interior change that is asked of us: to move beyond “merely human thought” to embrace the “thought of God.” Before making any decision, before starting any programme, any apostolate, any mission within the Church, we should ask ourselves: what does God want from me, what does God want from us, at this moment, in this situation?”

As for the second point, “overcoming exclusiveness”, the Holy Father urged the leaders of the associations not to fall into the temptation of the “closed circles”:  “Let us be attentive: our own group, our own spirituality are realities that help us journey with the People of God, but they are not privileges, for there is the danger of ending up imprisoned in these enclosures” he said.  Synodality “asks us to let ourselves be moved, even ‘hurt,’ by the voice, the experience, and suffering of others: of our fellow believers and all those around us. Be open, with an open heart,” said the Pope to all participants at the meeting.

The third point he underlined was “cultivating humility”, “the gateway to all virtues.” The Pope explained that “this phase of spiritual conversion is also fundamental for building a synodal Church: only the humble person esteems others and welcomes their contribution, advice, inner richness, bringing out not their own “I”, but the “we” of the community. It pains me when we meet Christians…, in Spanish we say “yo me mí conmigo para mí”, that is, “I, me, with me, for me”. These Christians put themselves “at the centre”. It is sad. It is the humble who safeguard communion in the Church, avoiding divisions, overcoming tensions, knowing how to set aside their own initiatives in order to contribute to joint projects.”

Pope Francis made a final remark emphasizing that “ecclesial movements are for service, not for ourselves. It is sad when we feel that “I belong to this one, to another, to another”, as if this had to do with superiority. Ecclesial movements are meant to serve the Church, they are not a message in themselves, an ecclesial centrality. They are for service.”

After this, Pope Francis gave his blessing to all and recited the Hail Mary. Just before leaving the Synod Hall, the holy Father welcomed each participant, one by one, for a greeting and a photo with him.    

The meeting then proceeded with an address by Cardinal Farrell, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, who underlined the importance to reflect on process of synodality within our movements and to read our ordinary life, our structures of governance and our missionary activities in that light, to be better prepared to answer the challenges and problems of today’s world. 

This was followed by the two main lectures by Professor Rafael Luciani and by Dr Elisa Lisiero, the first on ‘Mission as the Goal of Synodality’ and the second, a reflection on synodality and the experience of the movements.

After the two presentations, there was ample time for free question/answer and time for the movements to share their own synodal experiences.  

Cardinal Kevin Farrell closed the meeting by thanking all movements for being instruments of evangelization, working in and with the Church and encouraged all to give witness to Christ through our life.