Editor’s Note

The recently published Synthesis Report at the conclusion of the 16th General Assembly of the Synod on Synodality heralds a Church that seeks to be more inclusive and responsive to the world’s pressing challenges.

Nov 10, 2023

By Patricia Pereira
The recently published Synthesis Report at the conclusion of the 16th General Assembly of the Synod on Synodality heralds a Church that seeks to be more inclusive and responsive to the world’s pressing challenges. As we eagerly anticipate the second session of this monumental event in 2024, this document provides profound reflections and visionary proposals on a range of crucial topics. These include the roles of women and the laity, the ministry of bishops, priesthood and the diaconate, the plight of the poor and migrants, the evolving realm of digital mission, the imperative of ecumenism, and the battle against abuse.

At the heart of this report lies a commitment to listening to all, starting with the victims of abuse. The assembly underscores the Church’s unwavering dedication to accompanying and supporting those who have suffered within its walls, recognising the need for concrete actions that address the systemic conditions that perpetuate such abuses.

The central theme of synodality is explored in-depth, offering a fresh perspective on how this concept enriches the Church rather than detracting from its tradition. Synodality, the report argues, is about integrating communion, mission, and participation, inviting everyone, from deacons and priests to bishops, to have a voice in shaping the Church's future.

The document acknowledges the need to understand and address the resistance to synodality among certain members, fostering an environment of open dialogue.

Mission and solidarity are inextricably linked in this vision. The report advocates for Christian communities to engage with other religions, cultures, and convictions, emphasising the importance of avoiding self-referentiality and promoting intercultural communion. Moreover, it underscores the need to adapt liturgical language to make it more accessible and inclusive.

The Synod Report places a significant emphasis on the poor, recognising their cry for love, respect, acceptance, and recognition. It reiterates the Church’s commitment to prioritising the marginalised, including migrants, indigenous peoples, victims of violence and abuse, racism, trafficking, and more.

The Church’s involvement in politics for the common good is encouraged. It calls for the denunciation of injustices, active engagement in various fields, and the non-discriminatory provision of education, healthcare, and social assistance.

In a world where migration and refugees are prevalent, the report urges an open and welcoming attitude, emphasising the need to respect the traditions and languages of these individuals. It also calls for the Church’s active commitment to combating racism and xenophobia.

The report highlights the importance of ecumenism, encouraging collaboration among all Christians and acknowledging mixed marriages as opportunities for mutual evangelisation.

The role of the laity and consecrated individuals is underscored, highlighting their equal dignity and indispensable contributions to the Church. The need for the Church to accompany and advocate for women is strongly emphasised, recognising the injustices they face in society.

Clericalism is identified as a major issue that continues to plague the Church, and the report calls for a spiritual conversion and a more inclusive and cooperative Church.

The report also delves into the possibility of opening the diaconate to women, acknowledging the differing opinions on this matter and advocating for further theological and pastoral research.

The Church’s commitment to addressing discrimination and abuse is reinforced, calling for canon law adaptation, ending employment discrimination, expanding women’s access to theological education, and promoting inclusive language.

Consecrated life is examined, with a warning against authoritarianism and the need for intervention in cases of abuse.

The formation of ordained ministers is explored, emphasising the importance of proximity to people, spirituality, and vocational growth, while challenging clericalism.

The role of bishops is examined, with a call for them to be examples of synodality and co-responsibility, along with addressing the challenges they face in their roles.

The report supports exploring alternatives to the current handling of abuse cases within the Church and encourages a more synodal approach to formation.

Finally, the digital culture is addressed, emphasising the Church’s role in reaching people through various online platforms while being mindful of potential harm and the need to ensure the online space remains safe and spiritually nourishing.

This Synod Report paints a compelling picture of a Church that is evolving and adapting to the challenges of our times while remaining deeply rooted in its core values. It advocates for a Church that listens, accompanies, and responds to the needs of its people, and it offers a roadmap for a more inclusive and compassionate future. As we eagerly await the second session of the Synod in 2024, these reflections and proposals will undoubtedly shape the course of the Catholic Church for years to come.

To read the full report, go to: https://rb.gy/tbe8cu

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