Bishop Sebastian speaks on synodality

As the world recovers from the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis has invited the whole Church to embark on a journey with him towards the Synod of 2023 by questioning itself on synodality, a decisive theme for the life and mission of the Church, especially in post pandemic times.

Oct 08, 2021


KUALA LUMPUR:
As the world recovers from the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis has invited the whole Church to embark on a journey with him towards the Synod of 2023 by questioning itself on synodality, a decisive theme for the life and mission of the Church, especially in post pandemic times.

Speaking about the Synod of 2023 during a recent podcast of Catholics @Home, Rt Rev Sebastian Francis said, “The theme of the synod is, For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission, which means what kind of Church are we going to have in 2023 and beyond.” Bishop Sebastian is the Bishop of Penang Diocese and President of the Catholics Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei (CBCMSB).

“The word ‘synod’ is a Greek word which means ‘meeting’, ‘counsel’ or ‘gathering’. However, over the years, ‘synod’’ has taken on the meaning of ‘journeying together’ in the English language,” he explains.

“The word ‘synod’ only came into use in 1965 after Vatican Council II when Pope Paul VI established an instrument called the Synod of Bishops.

This means that whenever the Pope feels the need to bring the Universal Church together, he has the freedom to call us. The Pope is the only person who can call for a Synod of the entire Church.”

Bishop Sebastian notes that the handbook of the Synod of 2023 is called vademecum, a Latin word which means ‘walk with me’. “Pope Francis is telling each one of us, “I want you to walk with me in this journey towards the Synod of 2023”. So, we’re going to walk together with Pope Francis, and he is going to ask for your comments, your feelings, and your insights on a certain number of things,” he says.

There are 10 areas or thematic topics that the Pope wants to consult the faithful about, some of which includes the quality of our listening; the need to speak out on freedom, truth, charity and on other things that are important for the Church; and ecumenism and the need for formation to become a participatory synodal Church.

The Synod of 2023 will be launched by Pope Francis on October 10, 2021 from St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. One week later, on October 17, 2021, bishops throughout the world will launch the synod in their respective dioceses.

After the universal launch, the synod will move into the consultation phase, followed by the discussion phase and lastly, the implementation phase. The synodal journey will culminate in October 2023 with the Assembly of Bishops at the Vatican. “In previous synods, much of the three phases only involved the bishops. This time Pope Francis has come up with simple ways in which the consultation phase is able to reach all levels of the Church. He wants everyone to be involved,” explains Bishop Sebastian.

He added that an 11-member Central Committee has been formed comprising one member from each Diocese working together with the CBCMSB to facilitate the synodal process.

“The task of the Central Committee is to help the eleven Dioceses in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei bring this message to the grassroots, i.e., to everyone in the Church. “By February 2022, the Central Committee will collate the findings of the Dioceses and present them to CBCMSB, which will then finalise and submit it to the Vatican by April 2022,” says Bishop Sebastian.

He notes that there may be those who wants to contribute, participate, and say something about the Church that is close to their heart, but don’t have the opportunity to participate in the survey. In this instance, they may email their feedback to the CBCMSB Executive Secretary at exesec@cbcmsb.org or directly to the Vatican at synodus@synod.va

For more information about the Synod of 2023, visit https://cbcmsb.org/synod-of-bishops-2023/

To view this podcast, go to https://youtube.com/ watch?v=cDLsNF8XGBk

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