I would ask you to pray as the universal church is embarking on a mission of listening to one another and to the Holy Spirit. In this month of October, on the 9th and 10th, Pope Francis will open a three-year synodal journey with three phases: diocesan, continental and universal. The phases consist of consultations and discernment, culminating with the assembly in October 2023 in Rome. The overriding theme during these three years will be: “One listening to the others; and all listening to the Holy Spirit.”
Since the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis has desired to make the synodality concrete and visible. The next Synod of Bishops, scheduled for October 2023, will not only be celebrated in the Vatican but in each particular Church of the five continents, following a three-year itinerary divided into three phases: diocesan, continental and universal.
The objective of the first phase is the consultation of the People of God. To this end, the Secretariat of the Synod will send a preparatory Document accompanied by a Questionnaire and a Vademecum with proposals for carrying out the consultation in each particular Church. The same Document will be sent to Curial Dicasteries, Unions of Superiors and Major Superiors, unions or federations of consecrated life, international lay movements, Universities or Faculties of Theology.
Each bishop, before October 2021, will appoint a diocesan representative as a point of reference and liaison with the Bishops’ Conference; the Conference, in turn, will appoint a representative or team to coordinate with the General Secretariat of the Synod. The diocesan discernment will culminate in a “Pre-Synodal Meeting.” The contributions will be sent to their own Episcopal Conference. The bishops, gathered in assembly for a period of discernment, will make a synthesis which they will send to the General Secretariat of the Synod. This first stage will be completed by April 2022.
Once the material has been obtained, the first Instrumentum laboris will be drafted, which will be published and sent to the particular Churches in September 2022. The Vatican announced Friday that the Synod of Bishops on synodality has been postponed to 2023, with a two-year consultative preparatory phase involving Catholic dioceses worldwide.
With about three weeks to go before Catholic prelates around the world are due to open a first-of-its-kind grassroots consultation period as part of an expanded vision for the Vatican's Synod of Bishops, church officials across the U.S. are still figuring out exactly what that process will look like. (NCR) Natalia Imperatori-Lee, a religious studies professor at Manhattan College who teaches courses on Vatican II and contemporary Catholicism highlighted the tensions between Francis' vision of a synodal church and the church in the United States. Among them, she said, is a particular brand of clericalism where priests effectively "are the ones running the church" in the country. They have little input or collaboration with lay people, as priests see themselves as “how set apart they are.” "There is no blueprint either on the clerical side or on the lay side of how to do something as collaborative as a synod," Natalia added. "If we don’t see each other as equals in the faith, then there's very little chance that [the clergy] are going to take anything that laypeople say seriously. That fundamental trust, seeing each other as equals in the faith, does not exist in the clerical climate in this country."
Pope Francis is pushing a tricky reform drive, called “synodality,” that puts ordinary people at the core of the hierarchical Catholic Church. The term “synodality,” which comes from two Greek words roughly meaning “common road,” is for Pope Francis a process of consultations between clerics and lay people that leads to a consensus. It’s a devolution of decision making, a dialog, but he insists it’s not like a parliament with majority voting. “Synodality” means ending the Catholic Church’s top-down leadership and holding open discussions at all levels to decide the future. Autocratic clerics would have to be more cooperative, and lay people - many of whom are used to Father knowing best - would assume more responsibility.
I hope and pray that this new mission of listening and collaborating as we prepare for the Synod will usher in a new spirit of oneness and renewal in the Church.
I would like to inform you that we will be celebrating the new and eternal life of Fr. Mathew and Archbishop Dominic this Saturday October 9, at the 4pm Mass. We are commemorating the second anniversary of their death.
Please do come early and you are welcome to place flowers at the altar during mass as we did last time.