We are a Church in Synod
A Synodal Church of sisters and brothers with equal dignity
“I want to express my gratitude to the two Unions of Women and Men Religious (UISG and USG) for their important and generous investment.”
Today, a Press Conference was held to present the second stage of the synodal process: the Continental Stage of the Synod on Synodality.
The diocesan phase, which saw a large participation of faithful from local Churches and the arrival of more than 100 synthesis documents from different dioceses around the world, has just concluded. “And they keep coming,” says the staff at the Secretariat for Synod.
All the speeches at the press conference highlighted the gratitude to the people of God for the vast participation; there were faithful and church groups who were able to express their views for the first time. It was recalled that the Holy Spirit is the great protagonist of this journey, so our gaze must be turned to Christ, who helps us not only to listen to those who think like us but especially to those whom we feel are very distant.
Regarding this, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, General Rapporteur of the XVI Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, says that the Church is like a road on which some walk on the right side and other walk to the left side, but if our gaze remains on the horizon, that is Christ, we will be able to listen to everyone and to look beyond our running direction.
The two International Unions of Religious Life, UISG and USG, participated by sending a summary of the different inputs received from member congregations: “Numerous responses received, and they are representative of women's and men's institutes. Some institutes invited all their members to participate in the process, others invited provincial councils, and still others were complemented by general councils. The fact that this synthesis is a combined draft of inputs from UISG and USG makes reading it more complex, but it offers an opportunity to discover new urgencies” (from the introduction to the synthesis)
Cardinal Hollerich continues, “Since Pope Francis opened the synodal journey hundreds of thousands of meetings have been held at every level, including in the digital world: formal and informal groups, religious congregations, parishes. It is incredible to see the enthusiasm and creativity of all these groups. It was clear from the beginning that the Spirit was already at work. The contributions that have arrived come from religious conferences, schools, groups, movements, Catholic federations. Ninety-eight percent of the 114 Bishops' Conferences have already appointed a contact person for the synodal journey. Our Church is in synod.
I want to express my deep gratitude to the two Unions of Women and Men Religious (UISG and USG) for their important and generous investment. These communities have a synodal heritage to offer to the universal Church.”
Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops, says: “We are at the beginning of an ecclesial journey; it requires patience and the realization that we are all made participants, each according to his or her condition and function. I feel great hope in the future of the synodal Church. Regardless of the content that has emerged, the responses show a Church that is alive and in need of authenticity and healing, a Church that yearns to be a community that celebrates the joy of the Gospel. No one in the Church has the exclusive right to the truth; the consultation with God's people calls for discernment. To understand the synod process, we must think of a circularity between prophecy and discernment. The function of discernment is to be able to grasp the truth in the different voices; and this is already inherent in the synodal journey of listening.”
Sr Nathalie Becquart, XMCJ, Undersecretary of the Synod Secretariat, says she was particularly touched by the contributions that came from contexts considered “difficult,” such as prisons or refugee camps; or from countries at war and in great economic distress such as Ukraine, Lebanon, Haiti, Central African Republic, and many others. Contributions have also come from meetings with children, the Sister tells us. “I am very confident in this spiritual process toward the Synod; it is normal that there is resistance and fear, but they are part of the journey itself.”
H.E. Msgr. Luis Marin de San Martin, OSA, Undersecretary of the Synod Secretariat, reminds us that the synodal journey is a spiritual process, not an academic reflection or methodology. It is a dynamic process that integrates different dimensions. We are in a historical moment: we are aware that it is not a perfect journey, there are different speeds and nuances among the responses, but we must walk it with enthusiasm and joy.
This first phase was a synodal process of active dialogue, deep listening, and meetings (virtual and presential). The responses that have come to the Secretariat are honest: they highlight the many riches and strengths of the local Churches; but with the same authenticity, they are not afraid to point out what is not going well and needs to be changed.
Father Giacomo Costa, SJ, consultor of the General Secretariat of the Synod and Head of the Task Force for the elaboration of the Document for the Continental Stage, explains that the commission, composed of 25 members, has already begun to work on the synthesis of the many contributions that have arrived: after reading the documents, they will proceed together to define groups of themes and produce a final synthesis that, after being translated, will be sent back to the local Churches. This is also a valuable opportunity to read what is emerging from the world's ecclesial communities: a good exercise for getting out of the known and listening, synodally, to the joys and concerns of churches in other countries.
This document, which will come out between the end of October and the beginning of November, will be the official text of the continental phase that will engage the bishops of the five continents with other actors who, involving cultural and linguistic differences typical of the different contexts, will bring out the points to be carried to the last stage of the synodal journey, that of the Universal Church, which will take place in Rome, during the Synod in October 2023.
UISG Communications Office
Read all the resources of the Continental Stage
Visit the Synod’s official website
Download the document on Biblical Resources and the document on the Spirituality of Synodality
Visit Pray for the Synod website