Vatican halts 2023 Synod on synodality

Vatican synod assembly

The Vatican has postponed the 2022 Synod of bishops on Synodality by one year.

The additional time will allow for an unprecedented consultation with Catholic laity.

According to a Vatican communique, the three-stage process “will help to make possible a true listening to the People of God to ensure the participation of all in the synodal process.”

“It is not just an event, but also a process that involves in synergy the People of God, the College of Bishops and the Bishop of Rome, each according to their proper function,” the communique said.

In an interview with Vatican News, Cardinal Mario Grech, said the decision to postpone the Rome gathering was because the “time was ripe for a wider participation of the People of God in a decision-making process that affects the whole Church and everyone in the Church.”

“The Second Vatican Council teaches that the People of God participate in the prophetic office of Christ. Therefore, we must listen to the People of God, and this means going out to the local churches,” Grech said.

The pope has approved the proposal to postpone the assembly and to break it up into three separate phases: a diocesan phase, a continental phase, and a universal phase.

This has the potential of being a real bombshell or a colossal flop, says Robert Mickens, Editor in Chief of La Croix International. It all depends how it is played out.

Rome is asking every diocese across the world to begin the first phase of the process on 17 October 2021.

Each local church will be sent details for a consultation and listening process that must last until April 2022. At that point a diocese will be required to submit proposals to their bishops’ conference.

It is not clear yet what the consultation will focus on but the theme of the synod is: “For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission.”

From September 2022 until March 2023 bishops from various regions will meet and draft a document to be sent to the synod office in Rome. The final phase of the synod will take place in the Vatican in October of that year.

Throughout his pontificate, Pope Francis has repeatedly called for a synodal church. A church where bishops, priests and people “walk together” in a common mission.

In a landmark 2015 speech, Francis stressed that synodality is what “God expects of the Church in the third millennium” and has called for the greater involvement of lay people in decision making.

Grech added: “God willing, one of the fruits of the Synod is that we might all understand that a decision-making process in the Church always begins with listening. In this way can we understand how and where the Spirit wants to lead the Church.”

Even though the pope says he wants to include the views of all the People of God, the bishops continue to hold all the cards and control the procedure, says Mickens.

While the pope can tell them to carry out the plan, he has little control over how they do so.



La Croix International

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