Francis wonders if Church is ready for synodal process

synodal process

Pope Francis is questioning whether the Church is ready for the synodal process saying it needs to free itself from “inward-looking and outworn pastoral models”.

He made the comments during his homily on Sunday, launching a two-year consultation of all the world’s Catholics.

The synodal process begins on October 17 in local diocese around the world and Francis is calling it “an adventure” in with everyone must take part.

However, Francis questions whether the Church is ready for the adventure of the journey and challenges.

He asks Catholics, “are we fearful of the unknown, preferring to take refuge in the usual excuses: ‘It’s useless’ or ‘We’ve always done it this way’?”

True to his description of the Church as a “field hospital” engaged in the midst of the world’s turmoil, the Jesuit pope elaborated on his vision of a God who “is not found in neat and orderly places, distant from reality” but who “walks ever at our side. He meets us where we are, on the often rocky roads of life”.

Francis encouraged Catholics to become “experts in the art of encounter”, and like Jesus, “not afraid to listen… with his heart and not just with his ears”.

The pope warned that listening has nothing to do with “organizing events” or with “theorizing about problems”.

New languages

He said the synodal process should “suggest fresh paths and new ways of speaking” for the Catholic Church. But he warned against a number of possible pitfalls.

“Let us not soundproof our hearts; let us not remain barricaded in our certainties,” the pope insisted.

He also encouraged Catholics to get out of their “old habits” by totally avoiding “artificial and shallow and pre-packaged responses”.

Francis warned that the synod is not a “Church convention, a study group or a political gathering”, nor is it “a parliament”.

Baptism as an “identity card”

The pope and his closest aides are putting a lot of hope in the Synod.

He identified three risks for the synod: “formalism”, “intellectualism” and “complacency”.

He emphasised the importance of everyone participating, not just those regular Mass-goers in parish structures.

Francis said the Synodal process if “for all the baptised for baptism is our identity card”.

“Enabling everyone to participate is an essential ecclesial duty!” Francis said.

Where to

After the consultation phase with Catholics around the world, which will last until February, all the bishops’ conferences are being urged to publish a report on these first meetings in April.

Then the discussion will continue continent by continent, or in the case of smaller countries, joining together to form “a continent”.

Finally, national episcopal conferences will elect representatives to attend the final stage of this novel synodal process – the ordinary assembly of the Synod of Bishops, that will take place in October 2023 at the Vatican.



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