Pope Francis on Upcoming Synod Assembly in the in-flight press conference

Pope Francis on Upcoming Synod Assembly in the in-flight press conference
pope mongolia planePope Francis responds to questions from the press aboard the return flight to Rome from Mongolia. | Vatican Media

By Courtney Mares

Aboard the papal plane, Sep 4, 2023

In his in-flight press conference returning from Mongolia on Monday, Pope Francis outlined his vision for the upcoming synodal assembly in October, which he said should be a prayerful exercise in dialogue free from ideology, not full of “political chatter” like a television talk show.

Pope Francis was peppered with multiple questions about the Synod on Synodality from journalists traveling with him on the 10-hour flight from Ulaanbaatar to Rome on Sept. 4.

“In the synod, there is no place for ideology,” Pope Francis told journalists on the chartered ITA Airways plane.

“There is no place for ideology, but there is room for dialogue, for an exchange between brothers and sisters,” he added.

Pope Francis emphasized the unique spiritual dimension of the first global Synod on Synodality assembly taking place at the Vatican Oct. 4–28. He said that he wants it to be “a religious moment.”

He highlighted how the synodal assembly should have three to four minutes of silent prayer between discussions, noting that this prayerful atmosphere should be what distinguishes a synodal assembly from “parliamentarianism.”

“Without this spirit of prayer, there is no synodality,” the pope said.

“There is one thing that we have to keep — ‘the synodal atmosphere,’” Francis added.

The synod should not be like a television talk show where everything is discussed, the pope explained, but a “dialogue between the baptized.”

“The synod is the dialogue between the baptized, who in the name of the Church [discuss] the life of the Church [and] dialogue with the world on the problems that affect humanity today,” he said.

Pope Francis pointed to the tradition of synods in Eastern Churches as an example.

“The Eastern Church knows how to live out synodality. It is living it as Christians … without falling into ideologies,” he said.