The synod that has convened in Rome is undertaken by Pope Francis to address the unfinished work of the Second Vatican Council. He is proposing a renewed model of Church—a Church that listens – a listening that is more than simply hearing.
In this model, listening characterizes the entire way of interacting and connecting that occurs among the whole “People of God”—bishops, pastor and all the baptized.
This model of Church proposes that bishops and pastors must be at the service of the rest of the faithful, being and acting as one of the faithful within the whole People of God.
In the current model of Church, bishops and pastors are seen as distinct from the rest of the baptized community – outside that community, responsible for directing the life of that community. It is the “pyramid model” – Pope at the top, then the bishops and pastors and at the bottom, the laity.
Francis seeks to invert that pyramid. In this new image bishops and pastors are one with the rest of the People of God, there is no distinction, all are incorporated into the mystery of Christ through Baptism and all are called to be witnesses to the compassion and mercy of God revealed in Jesus Christ.
By reconfiguring the Church as a “we” where all are subjects, from the pope to the laity, are equals are seen as one community of faith with the same responsibility regarding the identity, vocation and mission of the Church.
A “listening Church” carries implications for the permanent reform of the Church and the way in which the Church is lived today.
This model of Church is at the heart of Pope Francis’s efforts and reflects a life of Church that Francis lived in Latin America.
More of that later on.
Fr. Steve Adrian