Wednesday morning was full of a special kind of excitement at the Vatican for the kickoff ceremonial mass for Pope Francis’ second Synod of Bishops. The pope referred to today as “the start of this moment of grace for the whole Church.”
The opening Mass for the Synod of bishops happened in St. Peter’s Square, with hundreds of bishops and youth in attendance.
Pope Francis mentioned the requests of young people, including their desire for accompaniment and protection from adults and the Church.
“Having been formed by so many choices taken in the past, young people now call us to join them in facing the present with greater commitment,” he said.
He also directed a special message to the Synod Fathers, reminding them that the final message of the Second Vatican Council was directed to them at the time of their youth.
“It is for you, youth, especially for you that the Church now comes through her council
to enkindle your light, the light which illuminates the future, your future,” he explained.
Yet, the Holy Father’s most emotional moment came when he was welcoming the bishops from Mainland China, who were present for the very first time.
“Today, for the first time, we have also with us two bishops from Mainland China. We offer them our warm welcome: the communion of the entire Episcopate, with the Successor of Peter, is yet more visible thanks to their presence,” he said.
In honor of the Synod, the front of St. Peter’s Basilica was decorated with two tapestries for St. Joseph and St. Michael the Archangel. It was a reminder of the pope’s request to pray for the intercession of the archangel in October, to protect the Church from the attacks of the devil.
It’s the beginning of an intense three weeks to discuss youth and vocational discernment, yet certainly the abuse crisis is in the minds of many of the bishops present.