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Without the Pope’s leadership, the synod would have been ‘fractious’, says Cardinal Nichols

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster at the closing synod session (CNS)

Without the leadership of Pope Francis, the synod on the family would have been “fractious”, Cardinal Vincent Nichols has said.

The Archbishop of Westminster spoke to America magazine on Monday, the day after the three-week synod concluded at the Vatican.

“Without the leadership of the Holy Father this synod would have been fractious and it would have had a real struggle to hold together,” Cardinal Nichols said.

“So what we have lived through is a great reason for every Catholic to rejoice in the charism and the grace that is given to the Bishop of Rome. It is such a gift and strengthens and enriches the Church as we have seen and lived through in the last three weeks.”

He added: “It’s very noticeable that this is the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the synod, and in my mind this synod in particular, even more so than the extraordinary one shows that the synod process is beginning to gain maturity.

“And that, I think, has a lot to do with the style of Pope Francis and his insistence on welcoming people, making them feel that they are at home in his presence, and then saying speak freely, and speak with passion.”

In the interview, Cardinal Nichols also spoke of the significance of what was discussed at the synod.

“The first thing is what does this synod mean for the Church? It means a fresh look at the theology of the family, a deepening of that look and seeing how inseparable the family and the Church are,” he said.

“The second thing I think it means is that this synod has decisively chosen a way for the Church for the next period of refreshing its pastoral stance and saying that we must find specific, detailed ways in which the great mercy of God becomes real to people in their lives through the ministry of the Church.”

Cardinal Nichols said that during synod discussions he had been impressed by the “ability, certainly in the small group, for all of us, whether we were married people, single people, bishops, priests, to identify ourselves with the family.”