By Deborah Castellano Lubov
In Québec, Pope Francis met with his Jesuit confreres ministering in Canada for a private moment of conversation.
On Thursday, the Jesuit review La Civilta Cattolica published the exchange between the Jesuit Pope and his fellow Jesuits which took place in the Archbishop’s Residence in Québec City on the last day of his penitential pilgrimage to Canada.
The full text of the conversation, written and published by Fr. Antonio Spadaro, the Editor-in-Chief of La Civiltà Cattolica, can be read here.
The Holy Father normally reserves a private moment to meet with his Jesuit brothers during his Apostolic Journeys, and responds to questions in an informal conversation with those gathered. Among the Jesuits was the Prefect of the Vatican’s Prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Canadian Cardinal Michael Czerny.
In the conversation, the main themes which emerged were synodality, great concern for Haiti, love for family and the liturgy.
"The synod," Pope Francis said, does not refer to "a political meeting," nor "a committee for parliamentary decisions."
Rather, he underscored, "it is the expression of the Church where the protagonist is the Holy Spirit."
“There may be democracy, parliament, debate, but there is no ‘synod.’ If you want to read the best book of theology on the synod, then re-read the Acts of the Apostles. There you can clearly see that the protagonist is the Holy Spirit. The action of the Spirit is experienced in the synod. The dynamic of discernment happens.”
The synod, he continued, means walking together, precisely what had been the theme of his Apostolic Visit, during which he applauded, "the unity of the Church emerged."
The Pope said recalled the saying: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone; if instead you want to go surely, go together.’
The Pope continued reflecting on the power of effective synodality.
The Holy Father acknowledged that the process of reconciliation with the indigenous peoples is not complete, but observed that "the most important thing is precisely the fact that the episcopate came together in agreement, took up the challenge, and moved ahead." He called what he observed in Canada, "an example of a united episcopate."
"When an episcopate is united," the Pope stressed, "then it can deal with the challenges that arise."
If the reconciliatory journey is going well, the Pope clarified, "it is not because of my visit. I am just the icing on the cake. It is the bishops who have done everything with their unity."
The Holy Father applauded how the indigenous peoples, with humility, are "very capable of dealing with the question and committing themselves," and praised the fruitful relationship between the indigenous and the bishops.
“These are the miracles that can happen when the Church is united.”
During the colloquium, a Jesuit confrère brought attention to the tragic situation in Haiti.
“Haiti is currently in a critical situation. It is going through an ordeal, as if it cannot find the right way forward. It does not seem to me that the international organizations have understood what to do.”
The Holy Father voiced his deep concern for the difficult process of national reconciliation underway in the Central American nation, and expressed his closeness.
"I feel very close to Haiti," the Pope said, "not least because I am constantly updated on the situation by some priest friends of mine. I fear that it is falling into a pit of despair."
He called for concrete solutions to get out of the crisis.
The Pope said we must ask ourselves how we can help. Stressing "the people of Haiti are a noble people," the Pope said we must help them grow in hope, and encouraged doing so through prayer and penance.
The conversation also touched on the Church’s concern and love for families, and the Pope lamented how despite the richness of the text of the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the family, that some focus on one note, rather than pay attention to how the Church treasures and wishes to help families.
Another question was centred by liturgy and the unity of the Church and was asked by a student of liturgy.
"When there is conflict, the liturgy is always mistreated," the Pope said.
"In Latin America thirty years ago, there were monstrous liturgical deformations. Then they moved to the opposite side with a backward-looking [indietrista] intoxication with the old. A division was established in the Church. My action in this field has aimed to follow the line taken by John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who had allowed the ancient rite and had asked for subsequent verification.
"The most recent verification made it clear that there was a need to regulate the practice, and above all to avoid it becoming a matter, let us say, of ‘fashion’ and remaining instead a pastoral question. I look forward to the studies that will refine the reflection on the theme that is important: the liturgy is the people of God’s public praise!"
With the Pope’s response to this question, an hour of conversation had passed and the organizer of the Pope’s Apostolic Journeys pointed out it is time to go.
The Pope thanked his fellow Jesuits for the meeting and invited everyone to pray a Hail Mary together.
Pope Francis then imparted his Apostolic Blessing, and suggested a group photo.
During the Pope’s Apostolic Journey, he repeatedly asked forgiveness for the wrongdoings committed, and has called for researching how these tragedies occurred so that they may never happen again.
After his meeting with the Jesuits and a subsequent meeting with indigenous, the Pope concluded his time in Québec and boarded the papal plane en route to the Arctic city of Iqaluit, in Nunavut Territory, for a few hours, where met Inuit survivors of residential schools, and young people and elderly, before taking his return flight to Rome.
The Pope’s Agenda