“Synodality is not an event to celebrate, but a style that should be seen in our language, mutual esteem, gratitude, in the way we care for our relations: between us and with the People of God, starting with our priests”. Card. Gualtiero Bassetti, Archbishop of Perugia-Città della Pieve, said this in his opening remarks to the General Assembly of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI). The Assembly began yesterday at the Vatican with a speech by the Pope, to whom the cardinal, on behalf of his brethren, expressed “gratitude and affectionate solidarity: our episcopal ministry is intimately linked to his service of unity and to his presidency in charity; in him, we find a reference, direction and promise”. “In tune” with Pope Francis, Card. Bassetti noted, is the main topic of the Bishops’ Assembly: “Ways and means for a new missionary presence”. “Of great value to all of us is also the presence among us of fifteen missionaries, whom we thank for their evangelical witness”, the president of the CEI said, paying tribute to them. According to him, “addressing the issue of mission does not mean to churn out a new series of activities to be undertaken, but rather finding a new way of being Church, which, as such, embraces the existence of each and everyone and the whole ministry”. “We are asked to do so by the same reality that we do not get tired of accompanying with a pastoral gaze”, Card. Bassetti argued: “Indeed, it is such gaze that makes us aware of the fact that times are constantly changing and that, unlike in the past, pastoral projects can no longer be developed with an almost standard format”. “Today, as we are reminded of in the Evangelii Gaudium, we are called to abandon the complacent attitude that says: ‘We have always done it this way’, in order to transform our tradition into a ‘driving force towards the future’, capable of ‘giving strength and courage for the journey ahead”, the cardinal said: the Pastoral Guidelines, also on our agenda, go in the same direction: they will help us to identify the way forward and to share insights, content and proposals for our Churches”.
“Humility, generosity, joy” – these are the “attitudes” recommended by the Pope in Florence, the city “where he outlined a plan for the Church in Italy”. “Making them ours – until they become permanent attitudes – is the condition for us to be able to live up to our mission”, the President of the CEI said, as a commitment for the Italian Church. Indeed, the latter is called to “listen to and understand the needs of the people”, not to make plans “that are perfect because abstract”. “Otherwise, as the Holy Father warned us, ‘Not to put the word into practice, not to make it reality, is to build on sand, to remain in the realm of pure ideas and to end up in a lifeless and unfruitful self-centredness” that stifle missionary dynamism”.