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Pope Francis closes tumultuous synod with an appeal for mercy


ROME — Closing a tumultuous Synod of Bishops in which “mercy” was often the watchword for prelates seeking progressive openings on issue such as divorce and remarriage and gay and lesbian relationships, Pope Francis on Sunday declared that “Today is a time of mercy!”

Although he did not mention any of the substantive topics discussed by the Oct. 4-25 synod during a Vatican Mass that closed the event, he did urge the gathering in St. Peter’s Basilica to rely more on God’s mercy and forgiveness.

He warned the bishops of the risk of “becoming habitually unmoved by grace,” of turning a cold shoulder to God’s most wounded children, and of a “spirituality of illusion” that doesn’t let them see the reality of their flock before them and respond to it.

“A faith that does not know how to root itself in the life of people remains arid and, rather than oases, creates other deserts,” he said, adding that moments of suffering and conflict are precisely the occasions for God to show mercy.

“When humanity’s cry becomes stronger still, there is no other response than to make Jesus’ words our own and, above all, imitate his heart,” Francis said. “Moments of suffering and conflict are, for God, occasions of mercy.”

“Today is a time of mercy!”

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