Vatican empowers the laity in new Synod guidelines

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07/09/2021
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The upcoming Synod of Bishops will be structured unlike any other synod in history. It's goal: to hear the voices of as many Catholics as possible. 

To help dioceses prepare for the synod, the Vatican has released a set of guidelines with themes and questions to expect.

CARD. MARIO GRECH
Secretary General, Synod of Bishops
“A synod is an experience. It is an exercise of listening to the Holy Spirit by listening to one another. It's about having a true and authentic conversion. Not only at the pastoral level but spiritually, following the example of the Second Vatican Council.”

The next Synod of Bishops will look for ways to incorporate synodality throughout the Church.  

It will officially open on October 10 in Rome, where the final assembly will take place two years later in October 2023. 

The work of the Synod will begin locally, in dioceses throughout the world. 

Throughout the next six months, bishops will ask laypeople to respond to the following kinds of questions:

Who are we referring to when we say “our” Church?
What groups or individuals are directly or indirectly left on the margins of the Church?
What helps or prevents people from speaking up courageously, candidly, and responsibly in our local Church and in society?
How are we listening to the laity, especially women and young people?

To help bishops reach as many Catholics as possible, the Vatican has released a document explaining the idea of synodality and ways to implement it in each diocese. 

SR. NATALIE BECQUART
Undersecretary, Synod of Bishops
“So, it's very important that each diocese could adapt those guidelines in their local context. Sinodality is not a technique, there is not a unique way to do it.”

The text warns Catholics against treating the Synod as a form of parliamentary debate, or reducing it to the assembly of bishops in Rome. 

BP. LUIS MARÍN DE SAN MARTÍN
Undersecretary, Synod of Bishops
“The Synod of Bishops is one manifestation of synodality, but it is not the only one. There are other manifestations of synodality in the Church such as pastoral councils, episcopal councils and there may be others, too.”

In October, Pope Francis will officially open the Synod. Just one week later, and for the first time in history, each bishop will do the same in their own diocese. 

The findings gathered in dioceses will be discussed by the bishops at the national level, and then by each continent. They will then gather for the final assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome in 2023. 

Javier Romero

TR: JM 

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