The current Roman Synod strives to enshrine and apply the classical medieval principle: what affects everyone must be discussed and approved by everyone.
This principle demands a process and an open and civil atmosphere. The process is a reciprocal listening in which everyone has something to learn. Each one listening to others and all listening to the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of truth,” in order to know what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
This process demands a listening, not only through traditional ways – the Scripture, prayer, meditation, etc.— but also, and above all, through a confrontation with differing viewpoints.
This allows us to express points of view with an openness to ways of learning and relearning, seeing new issues in life and in the Church.
The Medellin conference (1968) maintains that this capability is essential to guarantee a “constant change of structures, transformation of attitudes, and conversion of hearts.”
The way the “listening Church” proceeds is characterized by several steps:
- Take Counsel: seeing the reality, gathering the data, and listening to diverse opinions.
- Judge: evaluate what has been gathered.
- Act: apply what is judged good to the mission of the Church.
The whole People of God must be part of this process, no one is excluded and no one is given special privilege, all are equal and there is no veto power. Not unlike the law of the Old West, everyone who enters the saloon must hand over his six-shooter before he comes to the bar.
To accept this further definition of what it means to be church will demand a conversion on the part of all of us. It will demand an attitude that rejects narrow self-interest, binary (either/or) attitude, a comfort with inclusiveness of persons, cultures, ways of thinking, human experiences, histories and religious traditions.
For this reason, Pope Francis has determined that 2025 will be an International Jubilee Year. To prepare for this Jubilee, Pope Francis recommends studying the four Constitutions from Vatican II: The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, The Constitution on the Church, The Constitution on Divine Revelation and the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.
Fr. Steve Adrian