Words: What’s the synod working document about?

synod working document

On June 20, 2023, the Synod of Bishops published a synod working document to guide the first session of the Synod on the future of the Church, scheduled for October 2023.

This “Instrumentum Laboris” (“instrument of work” in Latin), is intended to help the synodal assembly’s 370 members in their reflection.

“Church,” “Synod” and “how” are some of the words that come up most often in the document. Aleteia explains the synod through the most recurring words in the text.

Church, Ecclesial – 484 repetitions

“The aim of this synodal process is to help the Church get to know herself better,” said Cardinal Mario Grech, General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, at the presentation of the working document.

In this synod “on the future of the Church,” the Church is both subject and object, as it is made up of the “people of God” united by the same baptism and capable of walking together.

The same applies to the working document, which is “not a document of the Holy See, but of the Church as a whole,” emphasized the Maltese cardinal.

Synod, Synodal, Synodality – 342

Synodality is difficult to define but it is a way of functioning or of living of the Church.

Synodality, “walking together,” is a reality inspired by the early days of Christianity and revived by Pope Paul VI after the Second Vatican Council.

The Synod refers to an institution, the Synod of Bishops, which is an assembly set up by the Pope at the level of the universal Church to study a specific subject and submit proposals to him. Synods can also take place at the national or diocesan level.

The novelty of this “Synod on Synodality” lies in Francis’ challenge to force the Church to question its own functioning and structures.

How – 196

One of the distinctive features of this document is the large number of questions it invites the Church to ask itself, in order to find solutions and reflect on a number of issues.

The 50-page document is dotted by 274 question that touch various themes evoked by Catholics across the world.

Another important aspect of the working document is its methodological dimension, which sets out to explain “how” to discern and act in order to achieve greater synodality.

Mission, missionary – 142

“Mission” is one of the three key concepts accompanying the reflection on becoming a synodal Church.

In the working document, the term mission was purposefully placed at the center of the other two concepts, which are communion (48 repetitions) and participation (50 repetitions).

According to Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, the relator general of the Synod, this is because the missionary reality of the Church is “an important aspect present as much in communion and participation” and therefore is supposed to link these two dimensions.

The Church needs to pursue its mission more effectively, and therefore to be more “missionary,” meaning more open to the world in order to proclaim the Good News.

God, Lord – 124

The Church moves forward in this Synod as the People of God, a community that bases its approach on the divine filiation of each of its members through baptism.

The Spirit of God is at work here, and must be invoked by all participants.

The term “God” is used more often than the name “Jesus,” which appears 14 times, and “Christ,” which is used 35 times. Continue reading

Additional reading

News category: Analysis and Comment.

Tags: , , ,