Theologians from around the world gather to prepare the next stage

A group of approximately 20 theologians gathered in Rome for a crucial 10- day closed-door session to prepare the guiding document for the upcoming Synod on Synodality

Jun 15, 2024

The 16th General Congregation during the Synod of Bishops, Vatican City, October 23, 2023. (Vatican Media)

ROME: A group of approximately 20 theologians gathered in Rome for a crucial 10- day closed-door session to prepare the guiding document for the upcoming Synod on Synodality. This gathering, held from June 4 to 13 at the Jesuit General Curia, aims to pave the way for the second session of the Synod, scheduled for October.

The meeting marks a significant phase in the ongoing Synod on Synodality, which began in October 2021. This multiyear process has involved stages of discernment and discussion across various levels of the Church. The first session of the Vatican assembly took place in October 2023.

The theologians, experts in theology, ecclesiology, and canon law, are tasked with carrying out an initial analysis of reports from local communities. They are focusing on discerning questions and theological reflections that have emerged from these reports. This work will inform the drafting of the Instrumentum Laboris 2, the working document for the next Synod assembly.

Fr Giacomo Costa, SJ, special secretary for the Synod on Synodality, highlighted that this initial text aims to “prepare the way” for the October assembly. The group is examining new reports from local Churches and reflecting on the 41-page Synthesis Report from the October 2023 gathering. Additionally, they are considering the question, “How to be a synodal Church in mission.”

The June meeting includes inputs from women’s religious orders, university faculties, religious associations, and reports from a recent listening session with 300 parish priests held near Rome. Cardinal Mario Grech, synod secretary general, emphasised the importance of these diverse contributions, noting that they offer real testimonies on how local Churches understand and practice synodality. “We are not leaving anything to chance,” the cardinal said, stressing the careful reading and consideration of each document.

Pope Francis requested the participation of these theologians to prepare the next steps of the Synod. In addition to the 20 theologians present in Rome, five groups established in mid-March have submitted their reflections on the governance of the Church. These groups focused on various aspects, including the missionary role of the local church, the status of episcopal conferences, the role of the Curia, ecumenism, and the Eastern Churches.

Simultaneously, Pope Francis initiated 10 additional working groups to address topics discussed during the 2023 Assembly but not prioritised for 2024. These topics include “listening to the cry of the poor,” “mission in the digital environment,” and “theological and canonical matters regarding specific ministerial forms.” These groups will report their progress in October, with a final submission due by June 2025. A senior official described this initiative as a gift from Pope Francis to his successor, allowing the next pope to continue these essential debates.

The theologians’ gathering began with a half-day spiritual retreat and includes daily Mass and time for personal prayer, fostering a reflective and focused environment for their important work. The Secretariat of the Synod expects to release a document on this meeting in early July, setting the stage for the upcoming October assembly. — Agencies

Total Comments:0