By Sister Katie Eiffe, CSJ
Pope Francis has called for the XVI General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to be held in October of 2023 in Rome. He has titled the Synod “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission.”
The Second Vatican Council restored the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. What is different about this Synod? “With this convocation, Pope Francis invites the entire Church to reflect on a theme that is decisive for its life and mission. It is precisely this path of synodality which God expects of the Church of the Third Millennium” (Vademecum, #1.2).
Furthermore, he has asked all bishops to convoke a Diocesan Synod in their own diocese.
What, then, is a Synod? There are many ways to define the word. Literally, it means “journeying together.” The Vademecum, which is the official handbook for preparation for the Synod, states: “While the Synod of Bishops has taken place up until now as a gathering of Bishops with and under the authority of the Pope, the Church increasingly realizes that synodality is the path for the entire People of God. Hence the Synodal Process is no longer only an assembly of Bishops, but a journey for all the faithful, in which every local Church has an integral part to play” (Vademecum, #1.3).
Therefore, synodality is not simply a meeting, or an event; rather it is a way of being Church in which all the people of God have the right and responsibility to share their own experience of Church and to speak of their hopes and their dreams, as well as to offer their concerns, their anxieties and their questions regarding the Church. Thus, a Synod is a process, not a single event. It is the Church journeying together to seek the will of the Holy Spirit.
“This journey, which follows in the wake of the Church’s ‘renewal’ proposed by the Second Vatican Council, is both a gift and a task: by journeying together and reflecting together on the journey that has been made, the Church will be able to learn through her experience which processes can help her to live communion, to achieve participation, to open herself to mission” (Preparatory Document, #1).
Bishop Lucia, in response to the Holy Father’s request to bishops, will convoke a Diocesan Synod, tentatively scheduled for the Spring of 2024. He has appointed me as Diocesan Director of Synodal Planning.
The journey begins now. On Sunday, Oct. 10, the Holy Father will celebrate a liturgy in Rome opening the General Assembly of the World Synod of Bishops. On the following Sunday, Oct. 17, Bishop Lucia will celebrate a liturgy at 5:10 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse, opening our Diocesan Synod.
As a first step, throughout the fall, winter and early spring, listening sessions will be held throughout the Diocese, inviting all the People of God in the Diocese of Syracuse to engage in the synodal process. The results of this diocesan consultation will be shared with the Bishops of the United States and become part of their preparation for the World Synod of Bishops.
The synodal process presents us with the possibility of the lived experience of a wonderful, ancient but ever new vision of what the Church is called to be—a people in communion with God and with each other, living out their discipleship in the world, participating in the mission of the Church: to proclaim and to live the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Look for further information on the Synod at syracusediocese.org and in future articles here in the Sun.
May the Spirit be with us!