The entire Catholic Church is called to participate in this Synod of Bishops! This Synod is entitled: “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.”
Synod is a Greek word (synodos) meaning a meeting or assembly. With the opening of this Synod in October 2021, Pope Francis has called the entire People of God to journey together. This Synod is to be a process of journeying together by listening, dialoguing, praying, discerning and making decisions together for the purpose of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Specifically, Pope Francis is asking each local diocese to gather – clergy, religious and laity together- to listen to each other in a discussion on the state of the Church. It is a journey that follows in the wake of the Church’s renewal as proposed by the Second Vatican Council. Its long-term goal is to reorient the local Church toward an inherent synodal attitude in decision-making processes through communion, participation, and mission.
AN INVITATION FROM BISHOP DA CUNHA
In this synodal process, Pope Francis is bringing to fruition what he has preached throughout his papacy: the lay faithful have an important role to play in the mission and life of the Church…This is an invitation to everyone – parishes small and large, all groups, ministries, apostolates, movements, and individuals – to be heard. Considering this I ask for your participation and support throughout the diocesan phase of this synodal experience.
Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., “Journeying Together: With Jesus on the Path of Faith and Hope”
What does the word Synod mean?
Synod is a greek word (synodos) meaning a meeting or assembly. The two Greek words that make up synod are syn meaning together and hodos meaning way or journey.
What is the Synod of Bishops?
A helpful short definition of the Synod of Bishops is a gathering of bishops that:
- fosters closer unity between the bishops and Pope.
- provides counsel to the Pope on matters of faith and morals, and discipline of the Church.
- studies questions concerning the Church in the world (c.f. Code of Canon Law c. 342).
Voting in the Synod of Bishops is limited to bishops present at the synod gathering. However, clergy, men and women religious, theologians, catechists, canon lawyers, and lay experts all participate in the synod gathering with bishops by providing their counsel.
What is Synodality?
Synodality and the synodal process are not a gathering or meeting of bishops, nor are they the administrative arm of the Church. Rather, synodality is the path and process of the Church as communion. It is the communion of all the baptized who are listening to each other, dialoguing with each other and praying together to hear the voice of Holy Spirit as we all seek holiness and proclaim the Gospel. Synodality involves clergy, religious and laity listening and speaking, praying and discerning together, and placing the hopes and concerns of the People of God at the foot of the bishops, who, united with the Pope, decide matters of faith and morals in order to preserve the faith and strengthen the Church throughout the world.
What is different about this Synod?
This Synod is unique in that the Holy Father is asking that the entire Church participate. A Diocesan Synodal Phase has been added for widespread consultation at the local level. Laity, clergy and religious are invited to pray, listen and share in order to better journey together as a Church in living our baptismal mission. This Synod is not about changing doctrine or church structures, but rather encountering one another as brothers and sisters in Christ in our post-pandemic world. The input and feedback generated through this consultation will become part of a national report submitted for the 2023 gathering of Bishops in Rome that will bring the Synod to its conclusion. In the Fall River Diocese, this local-level participatory process will take place between December 2021 and late winter 2022. Resources including models for consultations at the regional and parish level will be provided.