Vatican reshuffles Synod process, pushes controversial issues to 2025

Synod process

The Vatican has postponed discussions on contentious doctrinal, ethical and pastoral issues until June 2025. It has redirected the focus of the upcoming synod towards synodality itself.

The decision comes amidst growing anticipation about key matters such as women’s access to the diaconate and LGBTQ+ inclusion within the Church.

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich clarified that the next synod would centre on synodality. He highlighted dialogue, welcome and listening as essential elements within the Church.

“The synod of bishops will be centred on the theme of synodality” said Cardinal Hollerich. He is the relator general of the general assembly of the synod of bishops.

He added “Addressing all these other topics within the context of the Synod on Synodality is impossible.”

Synodality is a loosely defined term used by Pope Francis to describe “a new way of being church”.

However, while promising to reform the traditionally hierarchical structure of the church, Francis has made clear that synodality is not synonymous with democracy.

“Only those who experience synodality understand what it means and what its fruits are” said Cardinal Mario Grech, the synod’s general secretary.

Steady progress

The reshuffle aims to deepen understanding and study the complexities surrounding these issues.

To this end, the Pope has mandated the formation of ten study groups. They will address concerns such as ecumenical dialogue, the role of bishops, and controversial doctrinal questions. Special attention will be given to women’s access to the diaconate. The interplay between doctrine and pastoral care for LGBTQ+ Catholics will also be a focus.

Additionally, five working groups have been established to delve into various themes. The role of bishops and decentralisation in the Church are two highlighted. Their findings will be presented at the synod’s next meeting in October this year.

The synodal process, initiated in 2021, has seen extensive consultations across various levels of the Church, culminating in a diverse assembly in 2023. Laypeople participated alongside bishops and cardinals, reflecting a commitment to inclusivity and dialogue within the Church.

Sister Simona Brambilla, the new secretary of the Vatican Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, said the synod is “not about this or that topic”.

“The important thing is how to reflect in a synodal way” she said, saying the Church at various levels “must clarify how to do this” and “walk together” in addressing important topics of broad interest.

While critics have raised concerns about the delay in addressing pressing issues, Hollerich said that the church is moving “slowly but surely” on a synodal path, facing “this great construction site that has been set before us”.


Religion News Service


United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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