Pope says ‘everyone’ is welcome at start of historic Catholic Church meeting

Vatican City, Oct 4 (EFE).- Pope Francis held a mass in Saint Peter’s Square in the Vatican on Wednesday to mark the beginning of the Synod of Bishops, a meeting that will determine the future of the Catholic Church.

The Synod will be attended by 464 Church members, including bishops and lay people, of whom 364 will have the right to vote, including, for the first time, 54 women.

Issues such as celibacy and blessing LGTBQ+ couples will be addressed, which has triggered criticism from conservative factions, which, in addition to sending a letter to the Pope outlining their “doubts”, also held a press conference on Tuesday warning that the assembly would be a disaster for the Church.

In his homily, the Pope appeared to address those criticisms, urging the opposing factions within the Church at the Synod to set aside “human strategies, political calculations and ideological battles.”

The Synod is “not a political gathering, but a convocation in the Spirit; not a polarized parliament, but a place of grace and communion,” Francis said, warning the Church not to tackle modern challenges and problems with “a divisive and contentious spirit”.

The pontiff also said that “Jesus also invites us to be a Church that welcomes” and “not with closed doors” because “in a complex era like the present, new cultural and pastoral challenges arise, which require a cordial and friendly interior attitude, to be able to confront them without fear.”

After urging senior Church figures to be more welcoming to marginalized groups, Francis then addressed these groups directly: “Come, you who have lost your way or who feel alienated, come, you who have closed the door to hope, the Church is here for you!” he said, adding that it is open to “everyone.” EFE


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