Synodal consultations must include even those who rarely practice the faith

The Vatican has announced it will give dioceses more time to complete local consultations ahead of the 2023 Synod on Synodality.

Dioceses are likely to welcome the extension as synod organizers have urged them to include “all the baptized” in the consultation process, not only churchgoers.

“Special care should be taken to involve those persons who may risk being excluded: women, the handicapped, refugees, migrants, the elderly, people who live in poverty, Catholics who rarely or never practice their faith, etc,” says the handbook for dioceses.

The Secretariat General for the Synod of Bishops said on Oct 29 that bishops’ conferences worldwide would now have until Aug 15, 2022, to submit summaries of their consultations.

The change means that dioceses now have 10 months to complete the consultation process. The process described as the largest in human history had been due to end in April 2022.

“The numerous communications we have received in these first weeks of the synodal process from the Episcopal Conferences, dioceses and eparchies are truly an encouraging confirmation of those in the Church who are committed to celebrating the first phase of the synodal process constituted by the consultation of the People of God. For all this, we are truly grateful,” the Secretariat General said on Friday.

“During this period, we have heard, over and over again and from many quarters, the request to extend the duration of the first phase of the synodal process in order to provide a greater opportunity for the people of God to have an authentic experience of listening and dialogue.”

In an address to Catholics in the Diocese of Rome in September, Pope Francis stressed the significance of the diocesan phase of the synodal process.

“To return to the synodal process, the diocesan phase is very important, since it involves listening to all the baptized, the subject of the infallible sensus fidei in credendo [sense of faith in believing],” Francis said.

The Vatican announced in May that the process leading to the 2023 Synod on Synodality would open with a diocesan phase lasting from October 2021 to April 2022.

A second, continental phase will take place from September 2022 to March 2023.

The third, universal phase will begin with the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican in October 2023.



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