Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Bishops’ Conference, told journalists he is ‘looking forward’ to the forthcoming Extraordinary Synod on the Family taking place in Rome between 5-19 October 2014.
The Cardinal will play a direct part in proceedings – Extraordinary Synods bring together the presidents of the world’s Bishops’ Conferences.
Describing the Synod as a ‘remarkable moment’ in the life of the Church, Cardinal Nichols spoke of how, in recent times, there has been a focus on the gift of God’s mercy – particularly at the heart of Pope Francis’ pontificate – in the life, language and prayer of the Church.
“I believe Pope Francis is calling for a return to that ‘lived sense’ of the mercy and compassion of God, who always accompanies us. One of the challenges is to find ways to recreate a ‘culture of mercy’ in the Church.”
“We also need to be clear that there is a distinction between that culture of mercy and the acts that are necessary for forgiveness and conversion. Mercy is the air we are to breathe – forgiveness and conversion are the pathway we are to walk.”
The Cardinal also sees the Synod as an opportunity to look afresh at the Sacrament of Marriage:
“There is a need to grasp again, refresh and deepen the Church’s understanding of marriage as a sacrament. It needs to come back to the fore. A marriage in the Catholic understanding – when it is embraced in the right intention, spirit and form – is an act of God. The husband and wife become ministers of God’s grace to each other.”
Pope Francis has called for a Day of Prayer for the Synod on Sunday 28 September:
“I hope the people in our parishes this Sunday will pray to the two saints of this synod – Pope Saint John XXIII and Pope Saint John Paul II – and ask for their guidance on the work of the Church in this very important moment of its history.”
Watch Cardinal Nichols respond to journalists’ questions at the press conference in the footage below.
You can listen to Cardinal Nichols and the Marriage and Family Life Project Officer, Elizabeth Davies, speaking at the press conference by using the links and players to the right of this page.
Our full web section on the synod.