NEWS OF THE SYNOD
The Vatican has released its ” Instrumentum Laboris” or “working tool” for the Synod on Synodality, outlining key points to be discussed at the upcoming 16th Ordinary General Assembly of Bishop’s in October.
The major themes that will be discussed during the October Assembly are:
- Radiating Communion: This theme focuses on the Church’s mission to be a sign and instrument of communion with God and among humanity. It explores how the Church can foster unity, dialogue, and collaboration within itself and with the world.
- Co-responsibility in Mission: This theme addresses the need for shared responsibility in the Church’s mission. It examines how all members of the Church, both clergy and laity, can contribute their gifts and talents for the service of the Gospel.
- Participation, Governance, and Authority: This theme explores the processes, structures, and institutions that can be implemented in a missionary synodal Church to ensure effective participation, governance, and authority. It emphasizes the importance of nurturing relationships, upholding the dignity of each person, and avoiding the reduction of individuals to mere instruments.
These three themes will be the focus of discussions and provide a framework for exploring the challenges and opportunities of building a synodal Church that is committed to the mission of evangelization, and rooted in communion, co-responsibility, and active participation.
The document is divided into two sections:
The first section, “For a synodal Church. An integral experience,” explores the characteristic signs of a synodal Church and the importance of conversation in the Spirit. It emphasizes the need for a Church that is open to dialogue, attentive to the signs of the times, and committed to the mission of evangelization.
The second section, “Communion, participation, mission. Three priority issues for the synodal Church,” delves into the topics of radiating communion, co-responsibility in mission, and participation, governance, and authority. These three themes will be the focus of discussions and reflections during the October assembly. They provide a framework for exploring the challenges and opportunities of building a synodal Church that is rooted in communion, co-responsibility, and active participation.
The document also includes worksheets for the Synodal Assembly. These worksheets provide thought-provoking questions and prompts related to the issues discussed in the document. They are designed to facilitate reflection and dialogue among the participants of the assembly.
In October 2021 Pope Francis launched the path of synodality “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission”. From 2021 to 2023 the entire Church has embarked on a journey of sharing, reflecting and listening. Dioceses worldwide have been asked to pray and reflect on how to “journey together” to better accomplish the mission of the Church.
Mid-June, dioceses across the Ontario province submitted their synod reports to the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario (ACBO) which synthesize what was heard from each of the 12 dioceses and produced a provincial report that was passed on to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB).
The CCCB also received reports prepared by Canada’s three other Regional Episcopal Assemblies – Western, Quebec and Atlantic regions. It then wrote a national synthesis and submitted it to the General Secretariat of the Synod of the Holy See on 15 August 2022.
In preparation for the next stage of the Synod, the Vatican released a working document on October 27 2022. The purpose of this document is to present a global view of what faithful from around the world believe needs to be done for the Church.
The document, titled “Enlarge the Space of your Tent,” is in fact a summary of reports from national bishops’ conferences, who compiled the reports based on contributions from individual dioceses.
It will serve for the continental stage of the synod, in which episcopal conferences on all seven continents will hold assemblies to reflect on and discuss the contents of the document. These assemblies will then submit a new report based on these discussions, which will be used to draft the working document for the final, universal phase in Rome.
Begun in October 2021, the “Synod on Synodality” was recently extended by Pope Francis through October 2024, to allow for more time for reflection and discernment from both the local and universal Church. The Universal Phase of the Synod will be held in two parts, the first in October 2023 and the second a year later in October 2024.
A Word from our Bishop
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 in the Diocese of Pembroke
- 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)