Vatican’s Synodal process in trouble

synodal process

The Vatican says the Church’s effort to listen to the 1.34 billion Catholics worldwide through a synodal process is facing challenges.

The synod’s diocesan phase is expected to last until 15 August.

“Many of the faithful perceive the synodal process as a crucial moment in the Church’s life, as a learning process as well as an opportunity for conversion and renewal of ecclesial life,” a statement from the Vatican said on Monday.

The statement followed a meeting of the ordinary council of the Synod of Bishops last month.

The statement continued, saying “various difficulties have also emerged. In fact, fears and reticence are reported among some groups of the faithful and among the clergy. There is also a certain mistrust among the laity who doubt that their contribution will really be taken into consideration”.

The pandemic is creating a further obstacle. People can’t gather in person for communal discernment. This reiterates that the local synodal process leading up to the 2023 Synod on Synodality “cannot be reduced to a mere questionnaire”.

Despite these concerns, organisers say participation among Catholic bishops’ conferences worldwide has been high and efforts have been made to translate the synod documents into many local languages.

According to the council, “close to 98% of the Episcopal Conferences and Synods of Eastern Churches worldwide have appointed a person or an entire team to implement the synodal process.

“The synodal process has been particularly welcomed with joy and enthusiasm in several African, Latin American, and Asian countries,” it said.

The Vatican statement says that the five “recurring challenges” the current diocesan phase is facing are:

  • Formation “in listening and discernment” is needed to ensure that the synod remains a spiritual process
  • There is a temptation to be “self-referential” in group meetings rather than being open to others
  • Getting young people to participate
  • Reaching out and involving “those who live on the margins of ecclesial institutions”
  • Some clergy are reluctant to participate.

“There is growing awareness that the synodal conversion to which all the baptised are called is a lengthy process that will prolong itself well beyond 2023,” the Vatican statement said.

“The desire all over the world is this synodal journey which has begun at the local level will continue well beyond Synod 2021-2023 so that tangible signs of synodality might increasingly be manifest as constitutive of the Church”.

The statement also said the Vatican will be sending a note to dioceses and bishops’ conferences with further details on how to format reports on the local consultation. These will then be sent to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.

“The note proposes the idea that the drafting of the report is itself an act of discernment, i.e. the fruit of a spiritual process and teamwork,” the statement said.

The Synod of Bishops has invited Catholics to read its weekly newsletter and visit its website for prayers for the synod and to view the synod resources page.

Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , , ,