SYNOD KEY TERMS
What is the Synod about?
Pope Francis wants the Church to grow in three key areas:
By growing together in Communion, the people of God deepen their participation in the life of the Church and so become more effective missionary disciples in the world.
This universal Synod continues to help us journey together as we invite more people into a relationship with Christ.
This is the first time that the whole Church has engaged in such a broad listening process ahead of a Synod of Bishops. The fruit of the discernment at the local level will then feed into the discussion at the diocesan level, which in turn will feed into a continental phase involving national episcopal conferences. Finally, the fruits of this discernment will be presented to Pope Francis when he meets with the bishops of the Church for the universal Synod in October 2023.
Why are we having another listening phase and other Synod?
In order to journey together, Pope Francis wants every person to take their place at the heart of the Church and to hear every voice. Although we have already begun to engage with the synodal process in the archdiocese, which initially generated 27,000 responses, we may find ourselves in a different place on our journey. This may include fresh insights, which we will submit to the Bishops’ Conference together with the summary of the listening phases of Synod 2020.
We hope to continue listening attentively to the Holy Spirit as we discern together how to be the church God is calling us to be.
The Synodal Process entails discernment leading towards consensus. In this process, we listen to each other to discern what God is saying to all of us. This kind of discernment is not only a one-time event but, ultimately, a way of life grounded in Christ, following the lead of the Holy Spirit, living for the greater glory of God. Communal discernment helps to build flourishing and resilient communities for the mission of the Church today. Discernment is a grace from God, but it requires our human involvement in simple ways: praying, reflection, paying attention to one’s inner dispositions, listening and talking to one another in an authentic, meaningful, and welcoming way. And God comes to lead and inspire us as we seek to discern God’s will.
The dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium 2 sets out a vision of the nature and mission of the Church as communion, with the theological presuppositions of a suitable re-launch of synodality. Synodality is a living expression of the Church where people live in communion with one another. The guarantor of this communion is Christ who is present as the Head united to His Body 3. He is the fullness and means of salvation for all people and all people are invited to live this communion. The Church is therefore Catholic (universal) because she embraces all in their rich diversity. The synodal path expresses and promotes catholicity in two ways: it helps the People of God walk together and share their faith.
2 Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Second Vatican Council, November 21, 1964.
3 Ephesians 1:22-23
A synodal Church is a Church of participation and co-responsibility. Synodality gives expression to the participation of all according to their gifts and calling. The authority conferred on the College of Bishops headed by the Pope is the authority of Christ. Participation allows the People of God to serve the Church and creation through the gifts they have all received from the Holy Spirit. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that ‘the ministerial priesthood is at the service of the common priesthood, and this is the means by which Christ unceasingly builds up and leads his Church.’4 The authority of the ministerial priesthood is therefore not a delegated and representative function of the people but it is a gift of God for the entire Church.
In the synodal Church, the whole community in the rich diversity of its members is called together to pray, listen, analyse, dialogue and discern. As a result of this process, the community can offer advice on pastoral decisions which correspond as closely as possible to God’s will. Since the Second Vatican Council, Canon Law recognises lay participation in the structures of the Church, especially their involvement in parish pastoral councils, diocesan synods, and diocesan pastoral councils. Although the role of the councils is consultative, priests are expected to listen carefully to and consider the views and experiences of the lay faithful.
The Church is missionary because that was the way of Christ. We are told in the Bible that ‘God so loved the world that he sent his only Son’ (John 3:16). Jesus was sent into the world to reveal God’s love. In turn, Jesus said to his apostles, ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you’ (John 20:21). ‘You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8).
‘And Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation”’ (Mark 16:15). This mission has been handed to the Church, and the Church, both as a community and as individual believers, is guided by the Holy Spirit to be fulfilled.
The full document explaining terms can be found on the archdiocesan website and on the General
Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops own site: www.synod.va/en.html
How can people submit their contributions?
For those who have already been involved in the Archdiocese of Liverpool 2020 synodal journey, the contributions you made, will become part of the Liverpool Archdiocesan submission for the Vatican Synod 2023.
Any additional submissions specifically for Vatican Synod 2023 can be made here online.