Within a few days Pope Francis will convene the Synod on Synodality in Rome.
A Synod is a gathering in which reflection and discussion takes place concerning issues of immediate concern to the life of the Church. In the aftermath of Vatican II, the practice of the pope calling a synod on a regular basis began. Bishops from around the world were asked to send representatives to participate in the synod. The synod normally lasted about three weeks and concluded with recommendations to the Pope. Some time after the end of the Synod, the Pope would issue a teaching on the theme of the Synod.
Pope Francis asked each local church, over the past two years, to convene and discuss what it is that the Church must do to proclaim the Gospel in the 21st century in a manner that can be heard and received.
Pope Francis invited a number of bishops from through out the world to participate. He also invited laypersons – men and women — to participate. The bishops and the lay people will each be given time to speak and all will vote on the resolutions to be presented to Pope Francis at the end of the process. This is the first time in history that laypersons are voting participants in a Roman synod.
Synodality is the word Francis uses to describe the manner in which the church, local and international, will conduct its work. The word means “walking together”, that all the baptized – clergy and laity — share equally in discerning the manner in which church decisions will be made. The process involves everyone listening to each other – listening with the heart — and then praying together for the insight, the grace, the knowledge and the courage to come to a conclusion. Finally, the process concludes with the whole church undertaking a way of being that is appropriate to proclaiming the Gospel to the world of today.
This is a radical change in which the Church will conduct its life. From now on the voices of all, the whole People of God, will be heard and respected in the work of the Church.
In the next bulletins I shall continue to write on the Synod and the implications of Synodality.
Fr. Steve Adrian