NEWS OF THE SYNOD
Thank you to all who answered the call to participate in the Synod on synodality! 160 responses were received, 150 in English and 10 in French. Using adapted questions, students in grades 7 to 12 from schools in the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board also responded as well as students from a French school. In the fall, a synthesis of the submissions and its appendices will be posted on the diocesan website. Once posted, you will be able to read it by clicking here: Synthesis Report
All dioceses from Ontario submitted their reports to the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario in June. This Assembly has combined all the reports into a single document that has been sent to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), which in turn will create a national document from all the responses it receives. The CCCB document will be sent to Rome to be integrated with the responses from every part of the world, in preparation for the final Synod 2021-2023 meeting in October 2023.
All the diocesan Churches of the world have now entered into a great process called “synod”. Pope Francis officially launched this process 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 a vast consultation movement that will reach its climax in two years. We hope that we will thus be able to better discern the missionary paths for our Church of today and tomorrow. May our synodal process be imbued with the life-giving anointing of the Holy Spirit and truly respond to the desires and expectations of the divine Heart of Jesus.
Sincerely yours in Christ our Redeemer,
+ Guy Desrochers, C.Ss.R.
The Synod’s Objective
- To discover which processes can help our Church live communion, achieve participation, and open Herself to mission. (Preparatory Document, Paragraph 1)
- To consult the faithful for the Evangelization project.
- “Plant dreams, draw forth prophecies and visions, allow hope to flourish, inspire trust, bind up wounds, weave together relationships, awaken a dawn of hope, learn from one another, and create a bright resourcefulness that will enlighten minds, warm hearts, give strength to our hands, and inspire in young people – all young people, with no one excluded – a vision of the future filled with the joy of the Gospel. (Address by Pope Francis at the opening of the Synod)
The questions for our synodal process were as follows:
To become an evangelizing Church that reaches out to the disaffected Catholics, to the poor, and to those who do not know Christ…
1. How can we, the faithful and our Christian communities, be more open to evangelization? (Mission)
- It is common for Catholics to be uncomfortable with the word evangelization and its practice. We don’t see ourselves evangelizing others. Although evangelizing is simply sharing God’s love with our whole life, many Catholics see it as proselytism (recruiting members for an organization). Specifically, the question asks how we can become less averse to evangelization and more open to it. How can we desire more to call those who do not know God to believe that He is a God of love, compassion, and mercy?
2. How can we, the faithful and our Christian communities, better respond to the universal call to holiness through a greater love for God and for one another? (Communion)
- Simply put this question asks how we can be better Christians by having, and showing, more love for God and one another. Among other things, how can we be attentive to the needs of the people around us and respond to them?
3. How can the priests, deacons, religious and all the faithful be mobilized to evangelize? (Participation)
- Another way to phrase this question would be: What do you think could motivate all Catholics in the diocese to become more involved in spreading God’s love to those who do not know him?
4. What are your dreams, hopes and vision for the future of the Diocese of Pembroke?
5. How can we continue this consultation and dialogue after the Synod?
The Universal Process of the Synod
About Evangelization and Communion
Pope Francis explains that “evangelization is first and foremost about preaching the Gospel to those who do not know Jesus Christ or who have always rejected him. Many of these are quietly seeking God, led by a yearning to see his face, even in countries of ancient Christian tradition. All of them have a right to receive the Gospel. Christians have the duty to proclaim the Gospel without excluding anyone. Instead of seeming to impose new obligations, they should appear as people who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet. It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but “by attraction”. A spirit-filled evangelization is one guided by the Holy Spirit, for he is the soul of the Church called to proclaim the Gospel. Enthusiasm for evangelization is based on this conviction. We have a treasure of life and love which cannot deceive, and a message which cannot mislead or disappoint. It penetrates to the depths of our hearts, sustaining and ennobling us. It is a truth which is never out of date because it reaches that part of us which nothing else can reach. Our infinite sadness can only be cured by an infinite love”. (Evangelii Gaudium)
Fraternal life, or communion, is an essential element of the Christian life. It is the manifestation of that love which wells up in the heart of the Father and is poured into our hearts by the Spirit whom Jesus has bestowed on us. Communion with each other is the sign of profound union with God. By calling us to communion, God calls us to share in his life. Christ formed the Church, that makes visible the sharing of goods, for fraternal love, for shared projects and activities; and this comes from having accepted the invitation to follow him. (Acts 4:32)