“The only authority in the Church is the authority of service.”
So said Pope Francis in 2015, marking the 50th anniversary of the re-establishment of the Synod of Bishops. That re-establishment was one of the fruits of the Second Vatican Council. The idea is that bishops aren’t merely branch officers of the Vatican.
Rather, bishops are to “walk together” with the whole People of God. Indeed, walking together is the foundational meaning of “synod.”
My column today is based on a recent article by Bishop John Stowe in Commonweal magazine. Stowe suggested that each recent pope has tended to be remembered by one key word. When Pope John XXIII convened the Second Vatican Council 60 years ago, that word was aggiornamento, which means “bringing up to date.”
Stowe thinks that the word for Pope Francis might well be synodality. Works for me! The more I learn about synodality, the more I appreciate the pope’s insights. Our church has suffered much from clericalism; synodality is an antidote to clericalism.
Synodality requires work, however. That work includes plenty of dialogue—which, according to Pope Francis, includes “approaching, speaking, looking at, listening, coming to know, understanding, and finding common ground.”
Given the fractures in our country today, I pray for more dialogue.
PARISH COUNCIL & DIALOGUE
In our parish, we have several venues for dialogue. An important one is our Parish Council. It meets monthly to discuss “the mission of the parish in various forms of service, outreach, and formation.” (Parish Council Constitution, p. 1)
June is the month of Council turnover. I want to thank members who are leaving the Council: Zach Czaia, Janelle Rohr, and Linda Sellars. At the same time, let’s welcome new members Tiffany Monita, Tara Perron, and Katie Shetka. Thank you for volunteering to serve!
Next weekend is “Listening Weekend” for Parish and Finance Council members. They’ll be available after both Masses, to listen to your questions and comments. Those will be reported at the June 29 meetings.