SYNOD OF BISHOPS 2023
NEWS RELEASE – JANUARY – 30.01.2023
The role of the bishop in the synodal process
Letter of Cardinals Grech and Hollerich to the Bishops of the World
Vatican City, 30 January 2023
On the eve of the celebration of the Continental Assemblies, it is with a letter addressed to all the eparchial bishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches and diocesan bishops around the world that the Secretary General of the Synod, Cardinal Mario Grech, and the General Relator of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, address the topic of the bishop’s role in the ongoing synodal process.
Recalling the process-oriented nature of the Synod on Synodality convened by Pope Francis, the two cardinals recall the responsibility of Pastors, “the principle and foundation of unity of the holy People of God” (LG 23), with respect to the synodal process.
In fact, write the two cardinals, “there is no exercise of ecclesial synodality without the exercise of episcopal collegiality,” testifying to how these two ‘dimensions’ of the Church’s life are not in opposition, but that one cannot exist without the other.
To avoid any misunderstanding, the letter then strongly reiterates the primary theme – that of synodality – chosen by Pope Francis for the work of the synodal assembly of bishops next October. “There are in fact some who presume to already know what the conclusions of the Synodal Assembly will be. Others would like to impose an agenda on the Synod, with the intention of steering the discussion and determining its outcome. However, the theme that the Pope has assigned to the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is clear: ‘For a Synodal Church: communion, participation, mission’. This is therefore the sole theme that we are called to explore in each of the stages within the process. The expectations for Synod 2021-2024 are many and varied, but it is not the task of the Assembly to address all the issues being debated in the Church”.
On the eve of the continental Synod Assemblies, the letter then dwells on the primary goal of these assemblies: to grow in the synodal style of being Church. “The more we grow in a synodal style of Church, the more all of us as members of the People of God — faithful and Pastors — will learn to feel cum Ecclesia, in fidelity to the Word of God and Tradition. Besides, how could we address pointed questions, often divisive, without first answering the great question that has been challenging the Church since the Second Vatican Council: “Church, what do you say of yourself?”.
#newsletter n.21 – 01/2023
Happy 2023! We resume our journey with our regular newsletters. 2023 will be a rich and particularly important year for the synodal conversion of the Church. Next October will see the first session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (4-29 October 2023). In this Sunday’s Angelus, Pope Francis wished to remind us of the eminently spiritual character of this assembly, announcing the Ecumenical Prayer Vigil in which he invites each of us to join. Indeed, as we prepare to celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on the theme “Learn to do good, seek justice”, (Isaiah 1:17), the Holy Father reminds us that “The path of synodality … is and must be ecumenical, just as the ecumenical path is synodal” (Audience to His Holiness Mar Awa III, 19.11.2022).
But let us not be too hasty. In this second stage of the synodal process – the Continental Stage concerning the dialogue between the Churches of the same region, we are all called to continue the exercise of listening and discernment with the help of the Working Document for the Continental Stage, which you can find in several languages on our website synod.va
By the way, to keep you updated on the Continental Assemblies, I invite you to visit our websites synod.va and synodresources.org periodically. Some journalists from Vatican Media are preparing to cover and inform you about these meetings. You can also follow them through vaticannews.va
But that is not all. There are a number of initiatives underway aimed at your formation such as the Sophia University Institute course and the Mooc organised by a number of theologians from the Theology Commission of the General Secretariat of the Synod, or even a Press Conference to learn a little more about the synod process in Africa, next 17 January.
However, the New Year opened with the sad news of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who was also the former President of the General Secretariat of the Synod, and who, as a theologian, had also addressed the topic of Synodality. We would like to remember this man of God with the homily at the Mass in suffrage that Cardinal Grech addressed to the faithful gathered in Gozo Cathedral.
I’m getting too long…. I leave it to you to discover the rest.
Enjoy the reading
SAVE THE DATES
The synodal process in Africa
On Tuesday 17 January 2023 at 12 noon in Rome (GMT +1) there will be a press conference to present the synodal process in Africa during which some of the general secretaries of the sub-regional Episcopal bodies of the Continent will speak. It will be possible to follow the press conference on the Synod’s Facebook channel (facebook.com/synod.va). To access the press conference, journalists must….
Training Course on Synodality
On 17 January at 6 p.m. Rome time (GTM +1) with addresses by Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod, and Monsignor Piero Coda, Secretary General of the International Theological Commission, the multilingual Formation Course on Synodality promoted by the Sophia University Institute – Evangelii Gaudium Centre will be opened…
New Intensive Course (MOOC) on Synodality
Following the success of the previous edition that was attended by no less than 90,000 people, this second intercontinental online course will focus on the history, theology and practice of synodality.
The MOOC, which is completely free of charge, will take place online starting in February with lectures available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and German.
Ecumenical Vigil Prayer
In this Sunday’s after Angelus and on the eve of the celebration of the traditional Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Pope Francis recalled how “the path to Christian unity and the Church’s path of synodal conversion are linked”.
To underline this close link, the announcement of an Ecumenical Prayer Vigil, next 30 September in St. Peter’s Square to which he invites “brothers and sisters of all Christian denominations” and with which “we will entrust to God the work of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops”.
To the young people who will come to Rome to participate in the ecumenical vigil Prayer, the Pope announced that there will be “a special programme throughout that weekend organized by the Taizé community”.
In his homily at the Mass in suffrage of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod, dwells on the figure of this giant of the faith in constant search of Truth.
World Women’s Observatory launches a survey
The World Women’s Observatory (WWO), a project of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations (WUCWO), has created a survey for women in positions of leadership in the 2021-2024 Synod. The survey is in response to concerns regarding the role of women in the Church expressed in the WDCS (Working Document for the Continental Stage).
The survey is anonymous, very brief and in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Arabic. The first deadline for the Survey is February 1, 2023.
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Buon Natale! Merry Christmas! ¡Feliz Navidad!
Joyeux Noël ! Feliz Natal!
« …Christmas reminds us that a faith that does not trouble us is a troubled faith.
A faith that does not make us grow is a faith that needs to grow. A faith that does not raise questions is a faith that has to be questioned.
A faith that does not rouse us is a faith that needs to be roused. A faith that does not shake us is a faith that needs to be shaken.
Indeed, a faith which is only intellectual or lukewarm is only a notion of faith. It can become real once it touches our heart, our soul, our spirit and our whole being. Once it allows God to be born and reborn in the manger of our heart. Once we let the star of Bethlehem guide us to the place where the Son of God lies, not among Kings and riches, but among the poor and humble. »
(Pope Francis, Address to the Roman Curia 2017)
NEWS RELEASE – DECEMBER – 16.12.2022
Registration now open for the Multilingual Course on Synodality promoted by the Evangelii Gaudium Centre
It is with a first introductory lecture entrusted to Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod, on 17 January 2023 that the multilingual course on synodality promoted by the Evangelii Gaudium Centre of the Sophia University Institute will begin.
The course, realised in collaboration with the General Secretariat of the Synod, will consist of four stages: three academic modules and a residential meeting. They will deal with topics related to the synodal process: what is synodality? Is it in line with what is expressed in the Magisterium of the Church and Canon Law? How is it possible to live it in the Church?
Addressed to the entire People of God (from bishops to pastoral workers, from priests to consecrated men and women, from seminarians to lay people), the course aims to offer a wide-ranging theological and pastoral preparation with the objective of providing the Christian community with a model for the communal exercise of Christian thinking and acting. The lectures will be held on the ZOOM platform.
It is possible to register for the entire course or for a single module. The lessons will be held in Italian, with simultaneous translation into Spanish, Portuguese and English.
The course is also aimed at members of the same community (parish, association, friends,..) who will thus be able to gain direct experience of the method of listening, dialogue and discernment at the basis of the Synodal Church.
For information and registration contact:
Those who intend to register for the entire course must do so by 15 January 2023. Those wishing to follow one or more modules, on the other hand, have a deadline of:
- 4 February for the 1st Module;
- 4 March for the 2nd Module;
- 6 May for the 3rd Module.
Links to register:
NEWS RELEASE – NOVEMBER – 29.11.2022 (B)
from Dec. 6, 4 videos to portray the contribution of the faithful with disabilitiesto the Synod on Synodality
Let me repeat: we need to have «the courage to give a voice to those who are discriminated against due to their disability, because sadly, in some countries even today, people find it hard to acknowledge them as persons of equal dignity»” (Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, n. 98).
On the occasion of the Synod on Synodality, the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life and the General Secretariat of the Synod invited several dozen people with disabilities from five continents to a special listening session, in response to Pope Francis’ invitation in the Encyclical Fratelli Tutti: “We need to have «the courage to give a voice to those who are discriminated against due to their disability…»”. (FT, 98).
On the basis of the synod questions “What is the Spirit asking of the Church? What paths are opening up for the Church and for the faithful with disabilities?” the participants wrote up a synthesis that was delivered to the General Secretariat of the Synod and to Pope Francis.
To describe the listening session and the meeting with the Pope, the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life is presenting 4 videos [download the video trailer] in which some of the participants offer their faces, their voices and – above all – their distinctive contribution to the Synod’s reflection.
In this regard, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, said that: “In order to be truly synodal, the Church must listen to everyone’s voice, no one excluded. I would like to thank the General Secretariat of the Synod which, from the beginning, has supported our initiative: it is thanks to this collaboration that the contribution of the faithful with disabilities will be able to reach the synod fathers.”
For his part, Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod, states: “The synodal conversion of the Church also passes through the conversion of the Roman Curia in a synodal key. The experience shared with the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life is a joyful example of this and opens up new horizons and possibilities for collaboration to show that the Church truly is a home for all!”
The Working Document for the Continental Stage of the Synod highlights some of the issues that have emerged in this process using these words: “Numerous reports point to the lack of appropriate structures and ways of accompanying persons with disabilities, and call for new ways of welcoming their contribution and promoting their participation: in spite of its own teachings, the Church is in danger of imitating the way society casts them aside. «The forms of discrimination listed – the lack of listening, the violation of the right to choose where and with whom to live, the denial of the sacraments, the accusation of witchcraft, abuse – and others, describe the culture of rejection towards persons with disabilities. They do not arise by chance, but have in common the same root: the idea that the lives of persons with disabilities are worth less than others»” (n. 36).
The trailer for #TheChurchIsOurHome is now available on the social and Youtube channels of Vatican News, the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life and the General Secretariat of the Synod.
The first video will be released on December 6 at a Meeting of those responsible for people with disabilities from a number of bishops’ conferences.
The videos will be published on these dates:
6 December 2022: Corresponsibility
15 December 2022: Rise up and walk!
12 January 2023: Magisterium of frailty
26 January 2023: A wonderful process
The videos were produced by Poti Pictures, the film division of Coop Soc Il Cenacolo and the world’s first social film production company that makes commercials, short and feature films with actors with intellectual disabilities. www.potipictures.com
For more information:
Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life
Tel: +39. 339.4034163
General Secretariat of the Synod
Tel: +39. 351.9348474
NEWS RELEASE – NOVEMBER – 29.11.2022 (A)
Doing Synod is doing evangelisation
Meeting with the Presidents and Coordinators of the Continental Assemblies of the Synod
Vatican City, 28-29 November 2022
The meeting of the Presidents and Coordinators of the Continental Assemblies gathered in Rome on 28-29 November to prepare together the Continental Assemblies, which are the culminating moment of the second stage of the Synod process 2021-2024, concludes this morning. The meeting took place at the offices of the General Secretariat of the Synod.
“I feel gratitude and wonder. I have heard the testimony of a living Church!” was what Cardinal Mario Grech expressed at the end of the meeting, “The sharing of these days shows that the journey is already well underway and that we have much to learn from each other. I have great hope for our task, which is and remains first and foremost evangelisation: the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ. This is the synodal path. In this journey we must not be afraid of tensions, which can also be healthy. We must not exclude anyone and listen to everyone! Even those outside the Church’s formal enclosure, because sometimes the Church is present where we did not think we would find it’.
On the afternoon of Monday 28 November 2022, the Holy Father Francis received in audience the participants. After the initial greeting by Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, Archbishop of Luxembourg and General Rapporteur of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, the Presidents or Coordinators of the Continental Assemblies presented the fruits of the process underway in their respective continents or regions, followed by a time of dialogue. The meeting, held in an atmosphere of great fraternity, lasted two hours.
Below is Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich’s address of greeting.
Your Holiness, thank you for taking the time to receive us and to give us your advice for the synodal process.
With the continental phase of the process we begin our missionary discernment. With this stage of the Synod we are, in fact, already experiencing a first universal dimension of the process. This stage says, in fact, that the different Churches must not be isolated in their journey and the circular dialogue of the continental assemblies will benefit the Churches of all continents.
Your Holiness, a synodality that wants to be Catholic needs the care and advice of Peter. We need you, because we need a healthy indifference that bears witness to freedom in the Spirit, but then because we also notice some temptations on this road.
And I would like to talk about a temptation we sometimes see in the media: it is the temptation of ‘politicisation’ in and of the Church, that is, living and thinking the Church with the logic of politics. Some have an agenda for the reform of the Church; they know very well what needs to be done and they want to use the synod for that purpose: this is instrumentalising the synod. This is politicising. On the opposite side are – to borrow your word – the ‘indietrists’ who do not understand that a true Catholic tradition evolves while remaining a tradition in its time. They too would like to put the brakes on the synod process. We, on the other hand – and we heard this morning in our work – we want to be able to enter into a true discernment, an apostolic, missionary discernment, so that the synodal Church can carry out its mission in the world. We want to walk together, with you and above all with the Holy Spirit and with Jesus, in order to mend our Church.
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#newsletter n.20 – 10/2022
The week just gone was marked by the publication of the Working Document for the Continental Stage. In order for “this stage to be organic to the synodal process, it is necessary” as Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod, emphasised at its presentation during the press conference (27 October 2022) “that the Continental Assemblies also be bound to the circular dynamic of prophecy-discernment. This can only happen by returning the Document to the subject of prophecy, that is, to the People of God living in the particular Churches.” It is now up to each one of us to enlarge the space of the Tent, that is, to continue the work of listening, dialogue and discernment in this Continental Stage.
The document, available on our website in various languages, was sent to all the bishops of the world so that they could organise synodal moments of reading and discussion. “The choice does not respond to an organisational criterion, but to a synodal principle: by sending the Document to the Bishops in the particular Churches, we return to the People of God the fruits of the process begun by the consultation in the particular Churches,” said the Secretary General of the Synod. “If, in fact, we can recognise what the Spirit is speaking to the Church by listening to the People of God, to that People living in the Churches we must return this Document. The Bishops will be asked to listen “at least” to the synodal commissions and participation bodies. But it would be nice for each Church to read the Document with a broad involvement of the People of God”.
It is also up to you to take the initiative, always communally and always informing the diocesan ordinary, e.g. trying to verify whether and to what extent the discernment previously carried out is recognised in the Document. According to the indications given by Cardinal Grech, “possible observations on the Document can be sent by the individual Churches to the Bishops’ Conferences, which can in turn produce a more organic synthesis for the continental stage, which will contribute to the discernment of the continental Assembly”. It is therefore important that those who wish to contribute to the synodal conversion of the Church, do so through their own bishop, as “the principle and foundation of unity in their Churches” (LG 23).
Also at the international level, there is no shortage of synodal initiatives, such as the one tomorrow, 1 November, during which Pope Francis will dialogue with a group of students from African universities broadcast live online; the international symposium on synodality in the Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches that will take place at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) on 2-5 and 23-26 November 2022, at the initiative of the Pro Oriente Foundation (Vienna) and the Angelicum Institute for Ecumenical Studies; the one promoted by the UISG-USG (the respective Unions of Superiors General and Superiors General) to present the Continental Stage on 2 November; or the webinars organised by the International Federation of Catholic Universities (FIUC) with the theologian Gilles Routhier, a member of the Theological Commission of the General Secretariat of the Synod starting on 3 November.
Happy All Saints’ Day!
The Document for the Continental Stage
The DCS is available in several languages (English, Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese). In a few days it will also be available in Arabic and soon in Polish and German (by the middle of the month). The text is available in various formats (paginated, pdf and word) together with the infographic and FAQ on the Continental Stage. The indesign package (paginated editable version) is also available.
Building Bridges across Africa
On 1 November, Pope Francis will dialogue with African university students during an event hosted by DePaul University entitled ‘Building Bridges across Africa: A Synodal Meeting between Pope Francis and University Students’, with the theme ‘Ubuntu: A Culture of Encounter; We All Belong’. The event, organised in collaboration with the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and under the patronage of the General Secretariat of the Synod, can be followed live on De Paul University’s YouTube channel (https://youtu.be/CuyPfKxosGo)
It is scheduled to begin at 4.45pm Nairobi time (UTC +2.45). For the occasion, Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod, recorded a message to the young African students in which he urged them to cultivate intergenerational dialogue: “If the Church cuts the young generation out of its life, it is condemned to bleed to death,” said Cardinal Grech. Therefore it is important to help each other to walk together’. One of the ways in which the younger generation can engage in society is through intergenerational dialogue. They said that young people have the power to open the door to the future, but adults hold the key to the future. So, it is important to enter into this intergenerational dialogue’. This will be the second time Pope Francis will participate in a Building Bridges event with students, as the first was with students from North and Latin America hosted by Loyola University Chicago last February.
Watch Cardinal Mario Grech’s video message to African university students with subtitles in Spanish, French and Italian.
Listening to the Christian East
An international symposium on synodality in the Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches will be held at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) on 2‒5 and 23‒26 November 2022, upon the initiative of the Pro Oriente Foundation (Vienna) and of the Angelicum Institute for Ecumenical Studies.
Organized under the patronage of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity and the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, the symposium, entitled “Listening to the East”, in which more than 100 theologians will take part, is aimed at listening to the various understandings and experiences of synodality of the Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches.
The symposium will feature a first conference on the Orthodox tradition (program), and will be opened by Cardinals Kurt Koch and Mario Grech, together with Metropolitan Job Getcha, Co‒President of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.
A second conference will include a first part on the Syriac tradition (program) and will be opened by the abovementioned Cardinals, together with His Holiness Mar Awa III, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East. A second part will be dedicated to the various Oriental Orthodox traditions (program), with the participation, in particular, of His Grace Kyrillos, Co-President of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.
Another symposium on the synodal traditions of the Christian communities of the West will be held at the Angelicum on 26‒28 January and 16‒18 February 2023.
UISG – USG Webinar
IFCU’s Webinars with Gilles Routhier
Issue 6 of African Sinodality is now available
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#newsletter n.19 – 09/2022
This month of October has been full of surprises. We began with the private audience that Pope Francis granted to the group of experts – mostly members of our commissions – who had gathered in Frascati to discern and draft the Document for the Continental Stage. A simple and very fraternal moment that many of those present will certainly remember.
On 3 October, the Holy Father gave us a second gift through the Pope’s World Prayer Network and Click to Pray, which published his prayer intention for the month of 0ctober: ‘We pray that the Church, ever faithful to, and courageous in preaching the Gospel, may the Church be a community of solidarity, fraternity and welcome, always living in an atmosphere solidarity’.
Then, we recalled the 60th Anniversary of the Opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, on 11 October: this important event in the life of the Church which is at the origin not only the birth of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, but also in a certain sense of this synodal process itself.
And the surprises did not end there. Indeed, we recall how on 16 October, at the end of the Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis announced that the 16th Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will take place in two sessions: the first from 4 to 29 October 2023; the second in October 2024. This extension of the synodal journey is meant to be an opportunity – as Pope Francis said – “to foster an understanding of synodality as a constitutive dimension of the Church, and to help everyone to live it in a journey of brothers and sisters who bear witness to the joy of the Gospel”.
Let us therefore take advantage of this to continue our synodal conversion and put into practice what we can do, as of now, to make ecclesial communities more and more synodal.
Finally, the month will end with the long-awaited publication of the Document for the Continental Stage, which will be presented to the media at the Holy See Press Office on 27 October at 12.15 p.m. (Rome time).
As you will see, there has been no lack of work, and so we have been a little delayed with the inclusion of the resources you have sent us, as well as in reporting on them. Please do not desist and continue to send us what you are carrying out within the framework of the synodal path.
I wish you good reading.
What is the Continental Stage?
Here is an infographic to explain to synod groups what the Continental Stage is. Associated with it, we remind you that the FAQ is also available. FAQ and infographic are available in 5 languages.
The French version of the Biblical Resources for Synodality is finally available. Therefore the subsidy is now available in 4 languages (Italian, English, Spanish and French).
Updated version of the Synodal Process Logo
We have updated the various language versions of the Logo available to us with the new date of the synodal process 2021-2024.
The Pope’s Prayer Intention
for the Month of October
We pray that the Church,
ever faithful to, and courageous in preaching the Gospel,
may the Church be a community of solidarity, fraternity and welcome,
always living in an atmosphere solidarity
Issue 5 of African Sinodality is now available
Curious to know what was done in Frascati and haven’t seen our videos? Here is a chance to discover or review the Frascati experience with the videos made by David Selva from Costa Rica, one of the young collaborators who support us at a distance with their skills and expertise. Most of the videos are available in 5 languages.
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NEWS RELEASE – OCTOBER – 16.10.2022
Press Communiqué from the General Secretariat of the Synod
Original text: ITALIAN
This morning, at the end of the Sunday Angelus, the Holy Father announced that the upcoming 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be held in two moments, that is, in two sessions, spaced one year apart: the first from October 4 to 29, 2023, the second in October 2024. Pope Francis referred to the Apostolic Constitution Episcopalis Communio, which contemplates this possibility (cf. Article 3).
This decision stems from the desire that the theme of a Synodal Church, because of its breadth and importance, might be the subject of prolonged discernment not only by the members of the Synodal Assembly, but by the whole Church.
Moreover, this choice is in continuity with the ongoing synodal journey, to which the Pope himself referred this morning. The Synod is not an event but a process in which the whole People of God is called to walk together toward what the Holy Spirit helps it to discern as being the Lord’s will for his Church.
Therefore, the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will also take on a processual dimension, configuring itself as “a journey within the journey” to foster more mature reflection for the greater good of the Church.
From the very beginning, the General Secretariat of the Synod has chosen the path of listening and discernment, even in the planning and implementation phase of the synodal process. In the coming weeks, we will continue our discernment to better define the celebration of the two sessions of (and the time in-between) the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. We will communicate about this in due time.
This listening process began in 2021 by the local Churches, that is, by the People of God gathered around their Pastors; it has challenged the Bishops’ Conferences and Synods of the Eastern Catholic Churches. As many as 112 out of 114 Episcopal Conferences all the Eastern Catholic Churches carried out a discernment regarding what emerged in the particular Churches. Now, it continues with a Continental Stage that will culminate with the celebration of Continental Synodal Assemblies, between January and March 2023. These Continental Synodal Assemblies will be convened to reread the journey made and to continue the listening and discernment, having as their point of departure the Document for the Continental Stage, and proceeding in accord with the socio-cultural specificities of their respective regions. Their aim will be to carry out one more step in this spiritual journey.
Vatican City, 16 October 2022
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NEWS RELEASE – OCTOBER – 10.10.2022
Message from the General Secretariat of the Synod on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (11 October 1962 – 11 October 2022)
The 60th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council is a moment of particular grace also for the Synod, which represents a fruit of that ecumenical assembly, indeed one of its “most precious legacies” (Francis, Apostolic Constitution Episcopalis Communio, Sept. 15, 2018, 1). The Synodus Episoporum, in fact, was instituted by St. Paul VI at the beginning of the fourth and final period of the Council (Sept. 15, 1965), responding to requests made by many council fathers.
The purpose of the Synod was and remains to prolong, in the life and mission of the Church, the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, as well as to foster in the People of God the living appropriation of its teaching, in the awareness that that Council represented “the great grace from which the Church has benefited in the 20th century” (John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte, Jan. 6, 2001, 57). This task is far from being completed since the reception of the conciliar magisterium is an ongoing process; in some respects it is still in its infancy.
Throughout these decades, the Synod has constantly placed itself at the service of the Council, contributing for its part to renewing the face of the Church, in ever deeper fidelity to Sacred Scripture and living Tradition and in attentive listening to the signs of the times. Its Assemblies – Ordinary General, Extraordinary General and Special – have been permeated, in its own way, by the life-giving sustenance provided by the Council. From time to time, these Assemblies have deepened this same teaching, disclosed its potential in the face of new scenarios, and fostered inculturation among peoples.
The synodal process currently underway, dedicated to “Synodality in the Life and Mission of the Church,” is also within the Council’s wake. The concept of “Synodality” is found throughout the Council, even though this term (only recently coined) is not found expressly in the documents of the ecumenical assembly. The magna charta of Synod 2021-2023 is the Council’s doctrine on the Church, particularly its theology of the People of God, a People whose “condition is the dignity and freedom of the children of God, in whose heart the Holy Spirit dwells as in a temple” (Lumen Gentium 9).
After all, the three terms “communion, participation and mission” which Pope Francis included in the very title of the synodal journey as key words, are eminently conciliar words. The Church that we are called to dream and build is a community of women and men drawn together in communion by the one faith, our common Baptism and the same Eucharist, in the image of God the Trinity: women and men who together, in the diversity of ministries and charisms received, actively participate in the establishment of the Kingdom of God, with the missionary impetus of bringing to all the joyful witness of Christ, the only Savior of the world.
Even before the Church embarked on this synodal journey, Benedict XVI had already affirmed that the “synodal dimension is constitutive of the Church: it consists of a coming together of every people and culture in order that they become one in Christ and walk together, following him, who said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14: 6)” (Angelus, Oct. 5, 2008). In a similar way, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Synod’s establishment, Pope Francis asserted that the path of synodality, “a constitutive dimension of the Church” and that it “is the path that God expects from the Church of the third millennium” (Oct. 17, 2015).
Vatican City, 10 October 2022
One year from the opening of the 2021-2023 Synodal Process
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NEWS RELEASE – OCTOBER – 03.10.2022
Witnesses to the wonders the Lord is working
Press release at the end of the meeting to draft the Document for the Continental Stage of the 2021-2023 Synodal Process
Frascati, Italy, 21 September – 02 October 2022
About 50 participants from all over the world met in Frascati at the John XXIII Centre to listen, dialogue and discern from the Synodal Syntheses produced from the consultation of the People of God. Adopting the method of spiritual conversation, during the twelve days of work, the “experts” wrote the Document for the Continental Stage. At the end of the meeting, Pope Francis met the participants in private audience.
“We come to you, at the end of a unique and extraordinary ecclesial experience that has made us aware of the richness of the fruits that the Spirit is awakening in the Holy People of God. We truly feel a sense of awe at the wonders God is working in his Church! … After sitting for so many days, in order to better realise a prolonged and patient listening to the voices of the People of God, returning to walk together with our brothers and sisters is a joy multiplied. We will be, each in the portion of the People of God with whom we walk, witnesses of the wonders that the Lord is working. We will be able to say that the Church offers itself as a home for all, because the experience of synodality that we are living leads us to “widen the space of the tent” (cf. Is 54:2) to truly welcome everyone”.
These were the words of Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod, greeting Pope Francis during the private audience that the Holy Father granted to the participants on the afternoon of Sunday 2 October. The meeting with the Pope, held in an atmosphere of great fraternity, took place at the end of the twelve days of work during which the group of ‘experts’ drafted the document that will be offered to the discernment of the People of God for the second stage of the 2021-2023 synodal process.
At the heart of the work were the 112 syntheses of the Bishops’ Conferences (out of 114), but also those of the Eastern Catholic Churches, Religious Congregations, Ecclesial Associations and Movements, the Vatican Dicasteries and individual contributions that reached the General Secretariat of the Synod. An unprecedented response from the local Churches!
In Frascati, the participants tried to carry out a community discernment through the method of spiritual conversation as experienced by numerous groups in the first stage of the synod process. Through times of listening and dialogue, plenary meetings or in working groups according to geographic affiliation, ecclesial status or gender, the participants first identified those generative tensions, as they emerged in the Syntheses, and then came to the actual drafting of the Document, with a first and then a second draft, cross-readings, discussions and corrections. Special attention Particular attention was given to the spiritual preparation of the participants and to the liturgy with the celebration of daily Mass and various moments of prayer to open and accompany the process. Coordinated by Father Giacomo Costa S.J., member of the Coordination Committee of the Synod Secretariat, the meeting was jointly chaired by Cardinal Mario Grech and Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, General Reporter of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.
This drafting group, composed of men and women, whether bishops, priests, religious or lay people, was joined on 30 September by members of the XV Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops. The discernment carried out, both in terms of the large number of participants and the method adopted, is a unicum for the General Secretariat of the Synod.
The Document for the Continental Stage, produced simultaneously in Italian and English, was approved by the Council and delivered to the Holy Father. It will be made public in mid-October and sent simultaneously to all the bishops as an act of restitution to the people of God.
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#newsletter n.18 – 09/2022
We come to you with two important pieces of information and a request.
First of all, we inform you that the document Towards a Spirituality of Synodality is now available in English, Italian, Spanish and French. For those who would like to make a translation into their own language, an editable version is also available in the ‘Resources/Editable Documents’ section. We thank our Spirituality Commission for this very interesting work.
From Wednesday 21 September until 2 October, a group of experts will meet in Frascati, a city not far from Rome, to draft the Document for the Continental Stage. After carefully analysing the fruit of your discernment, these representatives of the People of God will in turn carry out a discernment to grasp what the Spirit wants to suggest to the Church.
It will therefore not be a matter of carrying out a synthesis from what has reached the General Secretariat of the Synod, but rather a real prayerful discernment.
To bring this difficult task to a successful conclusion, we ask you to support the group with your prayers…. and let us know by sending a message or your prayer to firstname.lastname@example.org
To share this experience with you, David Selva, a young videomaker from Costa Rica who is a member of the team of young people animating the synod’s social networks, will come to Frascati to report on the background of the meeting.
Appointment every day from 22 September on our social networks and on Vatican Media.
Towards a Spirituality of Synodality
Short video of the Press Conference (26 August 2022) where the project “The Church Listen to you” was presented.
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#newsletter n.17 – 09/2022
Dear comrades on the synodical journey,
After the summer break, here we are back — almost!
While waiting to present you with our new edition of the Newsletter, we want to keep you updated and share a few things with you.
First of all, our joy! As was mentioned at the press conference presenting the Continental Stage, the contributions received to date by the General Secretariat have been so many. 107 Episcopal Conferences (out of 114) have sent their syntheses. We have also received over a thousand other contributions, among which there will undoubtedly be the one you sent us.
Now a team of people is beginning the analysis of all this material to prepare the Document for the Continental Stage (DTC): a real Document of Discernment of the People of God!
Then we would like to witness to you our Thanks! As reminded by Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, General Rapporteur for this Synod ” From all these data, I am convinced that we are facing an unprecedented ecclesial dialogue in the history of the Church, not only for the quantity of responses received or people involved but also for the quality of participation.”
In this issue of the Newsletter, you will find much useful material for understanding the Continental Stage of the Synod Process especially through the interventions of those who spoke at the August 26 Press Conference that you can now follow in different languages. For those who were not satisfied and want to know more about the Continental Stage we invite you to take a look at the FAQ we have prepared for you.
Wishing you a good reading, I remind you that the time of listening, discernment and synodal conversion of the Church did not end with the Local Stage. The lived experience must now become a habitus and the enthusiasm demonstrated turn into mission.
What is the Continental Stage?
To truly appreciate an experience, it is often necessary to know how to look back and reread, retrace – like the disciples of Emmaus – past events.
We want to do this together with you through a short video that, on the notes of the hymn sent to us by the Bishops’ Conference of the Antilles, wants to retrace the first Stage of the process experienced through the images of the initiatives you sent us.
Then we also want to do so through the testimony of Father Michael G. Ryan, pastor of St. James Cathedral in Seattle, who recounts the parish experience of listening and discernment in the parish bulletin.
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We are continuing to include on the synodresources.org website some resources that come to us from various parts of the world, such as the song “Walking Together” by the African Synodality Initiative (to see and listen to) or How to conduct listening sessions with people with disabilities from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. And much more…
#newsletter n.16 – 07/2022
In recent months, also thanks to the many listening sessions that have taken place at the local level, we have all somewhat rediscovered what it means to be the People of God, a people chosen by God who walk together accompanied by the Lord. As we rediscover this awareness, we realise the goodness of being part of the same people regardless of our national, social, cultural affiliations. What binds us is the person of Jesus.
And if any of us have rejoiced in rediscovering ourselves part of the same family of Jesus, we cannot fail to spread this joy by transforming ourselves from disciples enclosed within the walls of our communities to missionary disciples, capable of bearing witness to this new awareness.
To help you in proclaiming the joy of being part of the community of Christians, we offer you today an infographic that seeks to explain in a simple way what it means to be the People of God for us Christians. It is meant to be a simple tool to explain to your relatives, friends or acquaintances this great gift the Lord has given us.
So what are you waiting for? Let us all set out together to proclaim the joy of being God’s People.
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#newsletter n.15 – 06/2022
While many ecclesial realities, including the bishops’ conferences, are carrying out national meetings aimed at drafting the national synthesis that is to be sent to the General Secretariat of the Synod by 15 August 2022, we in the General Secretariat are working to prepare as best we can for the other Stages of this synodal process.
In fact, this stage of the consultation of the People of God at the diocesan and national level is only the beginning of a journey aimed at making the Church increasingly synodal, starting from the communion and participation that we have been able to experience in recent months and with regard to its mission of proclaiming the Gospel.
Being a spiritual journey, the Spirituality Commission of the General Secretariat has drawn up a subsidy entitled “Towards a Spirituality of Synodality“. The text aims to “offer an overview of the main features of a synodal spirituality that can permeate and assist the synodal process”.
The text is currently available in English and Italian, but will soon be available in other languages.
We also present the second issue of African Sinodality.
Date: July 2022
Topic: Common Discernment and Decision Making in the Church
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