October 19, 2021
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
All the diocesan Churches of the world have now entered into a great process called “synod” since this past weekend. Pope Francis officially launched this synodal process of the Catholic Church on Saturday and Sunday, 9 and 10 October 2021 in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. He invites all the faithful, men and women, religious men and women, and clergy to embark on this vast consultation movement which will reach its climax in two years.
But what exactly does the word “synod”, so dear to our Holy Father, mean? In Greek, the word sunodos (in Latin synodus) literally translates as “road-together”. In other words, when we speak of a synod in the Catholic Church, it refers to a consultative process between apostles and other disciples of Christ, the aim of which is to examine the strengths and weaknesses of ecclesial life at all levels. This process of dialogue, in which we are to “walk together”, must begin with the organization of sincere fraternal meetings where we can exchange freely and without fear of being judged. The second step presupposes that we listen to each other not only with our ears, but above all with our hearts, as the Holy Father invites us to do. Without empathetic and affective listening, it is practically impossible to gain the trust of others. Finally, the synodal process should lead us to the third and last stage: that of common and divinely inspired discernment which will enable us to better understand and actualize the mission of evangelization that Christ entrusts to his Church even today, despite the difficulties and opposition that we face.
I will conclude with a wish: that the three steps mentioned above in our synodal process may all be imbued with the life-giving anointing of the Holy Spirit. Let us now pray that the next “road-together” to which the Holy Father is inviting us will truly respond to the desires and expectations of the divine Heart of Jesus. Soon, your respective pastors will receive a list of questions on which you will be invited to reflect and answer, according to your availability and in a spirit of fraternal dialogue. We hope that we will thus be able to better discern the missionary paths from which our Church of today and tomorrow could benefit.
Sincerely yours in Christ our Redeemer,
+ Guy Desrochers, C.Ss.R.
Bishop of Pembroke