Pope Francis has convoked a Synod of Bishops to take place in 2023. The topic he wants them to reflect on is how as a Church we walk alongside one another.
A Synod is a gathering of members of the Church that can take place at different levels of the Church. The gatherings take place to reflect on matters of Church life. Pope Paul VI established the Synod of Bishops in 1967 to help the Pope in the years after the Second Vatican Council.
Pope Francis has already held Synods of Bishops to consider: love and married life; young people, vocations and discernment, and the Amazon.
What is special about the latest convocation is that it comes with an invitation to us all to reflect on our experience of the Church as a community of people who are journeying in faith through life.
Pope Francis has said that the process of consultation in the Church should be a characterised by ‘a dynamism of mutual listening, carried out at all levels of the Church’. He has also said that people shouldn’t be afraid of saying what they think – there needs to be bold, and respectful, speaking.
Both these dimensions of listening and speaking are underpinned by a simple theological truth, that the Holy Spirit is present in all the baptised. To listen to others and to speak myself is to create the conditions in which we, as members of the Church, can become more attentive to what the Spirit is calling us to. The Pope wants the conversation to be as all inclusive as possible. No one should be left out, no one left behind, he says.
A further theological point, that the Spirit ‘blows where it wills,’ encourages us also to be open to what people outside of the Church can say to us.
All this said by way of simple introduction. My guess is that we will understand what the process is all about much better when we have engaged in it! Please do participate as generously as you can.
Fr. Matthew Power SJ 22.10.2021