“For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission – Preparatory Document”. The General Secretariat of the Synod presents the preparatory text and the Vademecum to guide the journey of the Synod on Synodality, which will be opened on 9-10 October in Rome and on 17 October in the Particular Churches, and will conclude with a Assembly at the Vatican in 2023.
Salvatore Cernuzio – Vatican News
Listen, “without prejudice”. Take the floor, “with courage and parrhesia”. Dialogue with the Church, society and other Christian confessions. The General Secretariat of the Synod has published the Preparatory Document and the Vademecum to indicate the guidelines on which the path of the Synod on Synodality will be guided. The Synod will be solemnly opened on 9-10 October in Rome and on 17 October in the particular Churches, and will conclude with the Assembly of Bishops at the Vatican in 2023.
Above all, the document is intended to be “an instrument” to facilitate the first phase of listening and consultation of the People of God in the particular Churches, which will begin in October 2021 and end in April 2022. While the Vademecum is conceived as “a manual ” which offers “practical support” to diocesan referents to prepare the People of God. Includes online prayers, examples from recent Synods, a glossary of terms for the synodal process. “Not a rulebook” but, “a guide to support the efforts of each local Church”.
At the base of the two publications is a fundamental question: “How is this “walking together” carried out today at different levels (from local to universal) that allows the Church to announce the Gospel, in accordance with the mission entrusted to her? What steps does the Spirit invite us to take to grow as a Synod Church?
To answer this question, the Synod Secretariat stresses the need to “live a participatory and inclusive ecclesial process” that offers everyone, particularly those on the margins, the opportunity to express themselves and be heard; then, recognizing and appreciating the variety of charisms and examining “how responsibility and power are lived out in the Church.” Then, he is asked to “accredit the Christian community as a credible subject and a reliable partner” in paths of dialogue, reconciliation, inclusion and participation. And also to “regenerate relationships” with representatives of other faiths, civil society organizations and popular movements.
Therefore, concrete measures that take place in a historic landmark marked by the “tragedy” of Covid and in a context in which the Church faces a lack of internal faith, corruption and abuse. It is precisely in these “furrows dug by suffering”, however, that “new paths” flourish to “refound the path of Christian and ecclesial life”.
The document devotes ample space to lay people. It reaffirms that all the baptized are “active subjects of evangelization” and that it is essential that pastors “not be afraid to listen to the flock”. In a synodal church, in fact, each “has something to learn” from the other.
The preparatory text therefore proposes questions to guide the consultation of the People of God, beginning with a question: How does “walking together” happen today in your particular Church? Therefore, it is necessary to re-examine the experiences of the diocese in this regard, taking into account the internal relations of the diocese between the faithful, the clergy and the parishes, but also between the bishops, with the different forms of religious and consecrated life, with associations, movements and institutions such as schools, hospitals, universities and charitable organizations. Common relationships and initiatives with other religions and with the world of politics, culture, finance, work, unions and minorities must also be considered.
Finally, the document illustrates ten thematic nuclei on “lived synodality” to be explored in order to enrich the consultation. These include: reflecting on who is part of what we call “our Church”; listen to young people, women, the consecrated, the discarded, the excluded; consider whether an authentic style of communication is promoted in the community without duplication; to evaluate how prayer and liturgy guide the “walking together”; reflect on how the community supports members engaged in a service; to rethink places and ways of dialogue in dioceses, with neighboring dioceses, with religious communities and movements, with institutions, with non-believers. And also: questioning how authority is exercised in the particular Church, how decisions are made, what instruments are promoted for transparency and accountability, what the formation of those in responsible positions is.
The fruits of the reflections, explains the Synod Secretariat, will be condensed into about ten pages. The objective “is not to produce documents”, but to give rise to dreams, prophecies and hopes.