Synod has taught us to listen more, says RECOWA

The RECOWA Secretary General, Fr. Vitalis Anaehobi, says that if there is one thing they are taking back home with them, it is the heightened need to listen to the faithful.

Nov 03, 2023

Fr. Vitalis Anaehobi, Secretary General of Reunion of Episcopal Conferences of West Africa (RECOWA).

Sr. Mary Judith Ezeogu, IHM
According to Fr. Vitalis Anaehobi, a Nigerian priest of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi and the Secretary General of Reunion of Episcopal Conferences of West Africa (RECOWA) - an association of West African Bishops, “When the Pope puts the accent on listening, he does not mean that listening will solve all the people’s problem. The Pope said many people were not being listened to.”

The Pope wants the faithful to be heard.
Making reference to Nigeria, Fr. Vitalis, a delegate of the just concluded Synod on Synodality, said that leaders of the Church and those working with the Church need to listen to people, especially those who are suffering and feel marginalised by the Church. He stressed the importance of giving people the opportunity to express their views, pain and sorrows but also their joys. 

Listening to people may not necessarily solve their problems, he said, but still the act of listening generates hope in people.

“When you listen to people, you understand their difficulties and situations. Even if you cannot solve their problems, at least you give them hope that they have been heard,” he said.

Lay persons fully participated in the Synod
Asked about what struck him the most during the month-long Synod on Synodality, Fr. Vitalis pointed to the participation of the laity at the Synod. He told Vatican News that the contributions of those who were not Bishops, to the Synod proceedings, were of immense value. He pointed to the round table seating arrangement, designed to encourage interaction and underline equality. The round tables had a mixture of Cardinals, priests, Bishops, the religious and lay persons -all sitting together in unity.

The Summary Report
On Saturday evening, the Synod issued a Summary Report of issues arising from the first phase of the Synod on Synodality. Some of those issues include women's representation within the Church, inclusion of lay persons, migration, world peace and poverty.

Pope Francis officially closed the Synod with a closing Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday, 29 October. The second phase of the Synod on Synodality will be held in October 2024. --Vatican News

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