Synod takeaways and next steps

synod concludes

The Vatican Synod’s first assembly in Rome has concluded, marking an essential milestone in the Catholic Church’s journey towards a synodal-style church.

The recently published final document guides the church in the coming 11 months and, while not as concrete as some might like, it highlights the role of bishops in leading the change and calls bishops to “bear witness” to their experience of synodality.

“After a month of work, now the Lord is calling us to return to our Churches to pass on to all of you the fruits of our work and to continue the journey together,” says the Synod Synthesis.

Dialogue rather than diatribe

Passing on the fruits of the Synod’s work is a point reinforced by new Archbishop George Leo Thomas who, in discussing the pope’s reforms and synodality, said:

“As you observe the leadership style of Pope Francis, you will quickly note his preference for dialogue over diatribe, persuasion over polemic, invitation over invective and accompaniment over alienation.

“A style of leadership that pays high dividends in our highly polarised and contentious world. This, and so much more, is the Holy Father we know and love.”

Replicate the experience

Another key insight came from Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich’s interview with America magazine.

“I have said before that the bishops of the Second Vatican Council only brought back the decisions. They never shared with us the experience or replicated it.

“I think we have an opportunity now to replicate the experience we’ve had here in the next 11 months. Then to come back and be able to share what it is that the people of God had said to us when they have experienced a synodal process the way we did,” Cupich said.

Bishops to ‘step up’

Michael Sean Winters in his piece for NCR notes that, while specific proposals remain somewhat ambiguous, a lot depends on the diocesan bishop.

He quotes from the synthesis document.

“The conviction with which the bishop himself adopts a synodal approach and the style by which he exercises authority will influence decisively how priests and deacons, lay men and women, and those in consecrated life participate in the synodal process.

“The bishop is called to be an example of synodality for all.”

At the end of the Synod, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, the synod’s relator general, said the synodal synthesis document is entrusted to the bishops’ conferences so that they may promote its return to the people of God living in the local Churches.

“The process starts, really starts, at the end of the [whole] synod,” Hollerich told journalists.


National Catholic Reporter

Catholic News Agency


Additional reading

News category: World.

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