There is a new and very welcome mood in Rome. It seemed that every one of the cardinals and archbishops we met, during the recent Ad Limina visit of the Bishops of England and Wales to Rome, shared something of themselves which we had never seen before.
One cardinal filled up with emotion when the recent canonisation of Pope St Paul VI was mentioned. Another shared something of his deep personal spirituality when talking about the celebration of Mass, and yet another revealed his powerful intellect when talking about moral and political situations that the church often finds itself in. No issues were avoided, and we were able to speak openly about the turmoil affecting the Church. There was a recognition that we can only overcome the present crisis in the Church if we leave ourselves open to each other and to the grace of the Holy Spirit. We asked for their help and they asked for ours. There was no sense of an 'us' and 'them' - we are all workers in the same vineyard, and a successful harvest depends on each of us pulling our weight.
When we met the Holy Father towards the end of our visit it became obvious that he was the source of this new way of working together. He likes to call it synodality. We were with Pope Francis for over two hours without an agenda. Conversation flowed, and he revealed his heart to us. What did we find? We encountered a man at peace. He said that this peace had been with him since his election as Pope, and it supported him through every moment of every day. It was always with him. May the Peace of Christ be with you too.
+ Malcolm McMahon OP
Archbishop of Liverpool