Beginning in 2021, Pope Francis called the universal church to prepare for a Synod, a month long meeting in Rome during October 2023.
Synods have been gatherings of selected bishops, representing the whole church, coming together, and with the Pope, undertaking a reflection on current issues facing the Church; and discerning what the response to the issue should be. A process to implement the plan is then established.
He asked that each diocese undertake a process inviting all to reflect, discuss and conclude what it is that the Church of the 3rd millennium must undertake to be a renewed witness to the love of God made human in Jesus and His Church.
During 2021 and 2022 a host of efforts were made to gather the reflections of the Grass Roots Church. At the beginning of 2023 a national and even continental gathering of the millions of contributions to the process was assembled, distilled and articulated into a number of topics to be taken up at the October Synod.
Pope Francis has redefined the make-up of the Synod. There will be bishops, selected by each nation. Pope Francis insisted at least 100 non-clergy fully participate as members of the Synod. They, along with the bishops, will reflect, discuss and decide what recommendations will be made to Pope Francis for implementation.
Five priorities were submitted by the Catholic Church of the United States and Canada, the North American Catholic Church. The first of the priorities directed to the Synod gathering in Rome is:
Number 1: Synodal consultation and discernment must define the manner of parish decision-making. Pastor, parish staff and parish membership must be involved in decision-making. All come together as equals – women and men baptized into the People of God. The image for me is the “old west”. No one brings a gun into the saloon; all guns are checked at the door. No one shoots down the vision of church another will express. No one has veto power. We are called to listen to each other, not only with our physical ears, but also with the ear of the heart. We listen to each other and are attuned to the Holy Spirit in this process of consultation and discernment.
In the following weeks I will write about each of the five priorities.
Fr. Steve Adrian