Vatican revises synod process, starting with local consultation

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Pope Francis and Cardinal Kevin Farrell with laity at a pre-Synod of Bishops in Romein 2018 (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis has approved the revision of the entire process of the Synod of Bishops and asked that it begin with widespread consultations with the laity at the diocesan level. Source: CNS.

“In reality, without this consultation there would be no synodal process, because the discernment of pastors, which constitutes the second phase, emerges from listening to the people of God,” Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops, told Vatican News on Friday.

The Cardinal’s office issued a statement explaining how the next general assembly of the Synod of Bishops would work, noting that the broader consultation on the diocesan, national and regional levels would mean that the gathering of representative bishops from around the world would take place at the Vatican in October 2023 rather than in 2022, as previously scheduled.

The theme chosen by Pope Francis for the gathering is: “For a synodal church: communion, participation and mission.”

The Pope will formally open the synod process at the Vatican, on October 9-10, the synod office said. And the bishop of every diocese will open the process in his diocese on October 17.

The diocesan phase will go through to April 2022, featuring a consultation with local Catholics discussing a preparatory document and questionnaire that the synod office will send out along with guidelines for how the consultation should work.

Once the diocesan consultations have concluded, members of national bishops’ conferences should have “a period of discernment” so they can “listen to what the Spirit has inspired in the churches entrusted to them”. A synthesis of that reflection should be sent to the Vatican’s synod secretariat by April 2022.

The new indications also envision “continental” reflections between April 2022 and March 2023.

All the listening sessions and discernment are meant to assist participants, mainly bishops, who will meet at the general assembly of the synod in October 2023, the Cardinal said.


Vatican revises synod process, beginning with local consultation (By Cindy Wooden, CNS)


Vatican says 2023 ‘synod on synods’ will be a process, not an event (Crux)

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