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Toward the Second Session of the 2021-2024 Synod

Explore the Synod 2021-2024 journey. Learn about the ongoing efforts, missionary impulse, and preparations for the second session focused on communion, participation, and mission
People are seen trekking on a mountain.

People are seen trekking on a mountain. (Photo supplied)

Published: May 24, 2024 07:18 AM GMT
Updated: May 24, 2024 07:30 AM GMT

The process of Synod 2021-2024, “For a Synodal Church. Communion, Participation, Mission” is flowing swiftly.

We have already passed the halfway point between the First Session of the XVI General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (October 4-29, 2023) and the Second Session, which will take place in Rome, October 2-27, 2024.

Understandably, there is much “work in progress,” and the pace of the different components is often subject to abrupt acceleration.

As a result, matters may seem to be disconnected. To prevent this from happening, a concise presentation of the various paths being followed may be useful, in order to place them within an overall view that offers a frame of reference and clear articulation. The following pages are devoted to this purpose.

The starting point is clearly the aim of the entire synod process, which is to make Church members more capable of “walking together” to fulfill the mission of proclaiming the Gospel in a meaningful and convincing way to the men and women of our time. 3

At the heart of the Synod is the dynamism of mission, without which it would be reduced to an exercise in which the Church looks in the mirror and arranges procedures for the better functioning of its apparatus.

It is not. All ongoing activities are inspired by this missionary impulse, without consideration of which they would not be fully comprehensible. At the same time, the specific nature of the synodical institute, with its distinctive elements and its reference norms, must be taken into account.

The Nature of the Synod

The obligatory reference in this regard is the apostolic constitution Episcopalis Communio (EC) on the Synod of Bishops, promulgated by Pope Francis on September 15, 2018, replacing the motu proprio Apostolica Sollicitudo, by which, on September 15, 1965, Paul VI had established the Synod of Bishops.

As Episcopalis Communio points out, “Although structurally it is essentially configured as an episcopal body, this does not mean that the Synod exists separately from the rest of the faithful. On the contrary, it is a suitable instrument to give voice to the entire People of God, specifically via the Bishops” (EC 6).

In other words, the new Apostolic Constitution emphasizes the character of an ecclesial process of the synodal institution, which cannot be reduced to an individual event, that is, an Assembly of bishops gathered in Rome to deal with a specific topic.

The Assembly, which remains largely composed of bishops, thus maintaining its episcopal character, plays a crucial role within the synodal process, but it does not represent its ultimate purpose or point of arrival.

Specifically, EC identifies three stages of a synodal process, and Synod 2021-24 is also structured on this basis.

The first phase is that of consultation and listening to the people of God, with the entire Church engaged from the opening of the Synod (October 2021) until the closing of the continental stage (March 2023).

In a dynamic of dialogue at different levels (local, national, continental, and universal), the Churches reflected on their own experience.

Read the complete article here.

This article is brought to you by UCA News in association with "La Civiltà Cattolica." 

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