This morning the Synod began to listen to the contributions of the Synod Fathers. Each speaks for five minutes only on any aspect of the topic or agenda and each is allowed only one contribution during the main plenary sessions.
The contribution which spoke most powerfully to me this morning began with a question which the Bishop speaking had been asked by a young person: are the youth lost or has the Church lost us? The Bishop went on to make an appeal for the Church to cultivate three qualities above all others which will create the conditions for the new evangelisation.
The Church must learn humility and learn humility from Jesus Christ who came not to serve but to be served. We must become a humble church not pre-occupied with itself.
Second, the Church must learn respect for every human person as Christ was a respecter of persons.
Third the Church must discover again the power of silence: that there are no easy solutions in the face of the great suffering in the world.
There were many other contributions but this is the one which I will reflect on most from today in the coming days. It speaks of a Church which is learning to be Christ-like again: a church of the beatitudes.
As I tune into the Synod I am beginning to hear two different kinds of contributions from the Synod Fathers. There are contributions which argue that to go forward the Church must return to fundamentals and do them better (enliven the liturgy; preach the word better; deepen observance of the sacrament of reconciliation). And there are contributions which argue that to go forward the Church must listen more deeply to the culture, understand it better and be prepared to communicate the gospel in new ways.
Just occasionally there is the glimpse of a contribution which suggests that both are essential and it will be interesting to see which of these voices predominates as we move through the different contributions.
But humility, respect and silence are the themes of the day for me.
It was very good to make my first visit to the Anglican Centre in Rome today and preach at the Tuesday Eucharist there. Excellent also to see Ken Howcroft again (now Methodist minister in Rome) and to learn that there is a fresh expression of church attached to All Saints Anglican Church here led by a newly ordained deacon.