PHOTOS: Synod on Synodality Delegates Attend Divine Liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica
Patriarch Youssef Absi, the Greek Melkite Patriarch of Antioch, presided over the morning liturgy on Oct. 9.
The second week of the Synod on Synodality assembly began Monday with a Greek-Byzantine Divine Liturgy offered in St. Peter’s Basilica for all synod delegates.
Patriarchs representing many Eastern Catholic Churches chanted prayers and processed up to the basilica’s Altar of the Chair, where Patriarch Youssef Absi, the Greek Melkite Patriarch of Antioch, presided over the morning liturgy on Oct. 9.
Standing under the amber stained-glass window depicting the Holy Spirit as a dove, Absi frequently incensed the altar, adorned with two Byzantine icons for the liturgy, as the Pontifical Greek College choir offered sung chants.
Lebanese Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï, the head of the Maronite Catholic Church, gave the homily and underlined the challenges that the synod assembly has been asked to address, including that of “building a just peace where wars bloody our lands.”
“The situation of the world of today and the condition of the peoples who are poor, lost, persecuted, discarded, disappointed, innocent victims of wars, homeless, and wounded in their human dignity all truly arouse the compassion of Christ, who chose us one by one to fashion these wounds and to fight for a better world, so as to dwell in our common home in peace and tranquility,” Cardinal Raï said.
Alluding to the Gospel of Matthew, the patriarch said that “the harvest” of challenges is great, “but the laborers are few.”
After describing many challenges facing the Church from Christian persecution to healing the wounds of sexual abuse and promoting human dignity, the cardinal underlined that “the workers of the harvest are the bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated women and men, and the baptized laity.”
He said that everyone needs “formation in a life of communion, mission, and participation, as well as in a synodal spirituality which is at the heart of the renewal of the Church.”
The Divine Liturgy was one of five liturgies that will be offered in St. Peter’s Basilica for the roughly 450 participants throughout the nearly monthlong 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. Other Masses will be on Oct. 13, 18 and 23 at 8:45 a.m., in addition to the closing Mass presided over by Pope Francis on Oct. 29 at 10 a.m.