Vincent Cardinal Nichols of Westminster (UK) asks for prayers for upcoming synod

As a part of his homily during the Chrism Mass, the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Cardinal Nichols, asked for prayers for the upcoming synod of bishops and urged that it not be viewed as a “battle” between contesting sides.

May I add here that your prayer is really needed at this time as the Church prepares for the next Synod of Bishops.

It is wrong, in my view, to think or speak of this Synod as a battle, a battle between contesting sides. Battles have winners and losers. And often ‘collateral damage’ is the most tragic consequence of hostilities. No, this Synod is a time of prayerful discernment, discernment about how we are to bring the love, mercy and truth of God to all people in need, in so many different and difficult circumstances.

So please do pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. For our encouragement, today in a special way, we look to Pope Francis. He reminds us priests to be close to our people at all times. He tells us that we priests ‘need to accompany with mercy and patience the eventual stages of every person’s growth as these progressively occur.’

He says: ‘A small step, in the midst of great human limitations, can be more pleasing to God than a life which appears outwardly in order but moves through the day without confronting great difficulties.’ He says: ‘Everyone needs to be touched by the comfort and attraction of God’s saving love, which is mysteriously at work in each person, above and beyond their faults and failings’ (EVG 44-45).

His second word of great encouragement for us came just recently, in February, when speaking about the man suffering from leprosy, about how, according to the old law, this man was excluded from the community, isolated in his misery. He spoke of how Jesus not only cured his disease and returned him to the family of his people but also how this man became a fervent proclaimer of faith in Jesus.

Then Pope Francis said this: ‘This is the “logic”, the mind of Jesus, and this is the way of the Church. Not only to welcome and reinstate with evangelical courage all those who knock at our door, but to go out and seek, fearlessly and without prejudice, those who are distant, freely sharing what we ourselves freely received.’

This is the pastoral love we seek to renew in ourselves today. Pope Francis tells us that this love is to be ‘creative’. He insists that it is ‘creative in finding the right words to speak to all those considered incurable and hence untouchable.’

Then he added, ‘Contact is the language of genuine communication, the same endearing language which brought healing to the leper. How many healings can we perform if only we learn this language of contact!’ (15/2/2015). Let us pray for this creativity!

The full text can be found at