Since the start of the Synod on Synodality in 2021, complaints, comments, and questions have come in to the Vatican from around the world – from priests, bishops and laity alike – suggesting that the outcome of the three-year synod process would eventually be determined only by Rome, that the “agenda” would be controlled by a small group of people. Some even suggested that the role of the bishops in this entire process seemed to be diminished.
In answer to those comments, a letter was sent to bishops today from Cardinals Mario Grech, secretary general of the Synod and Jean Claude Hollerich, archbishop of Luxembourg and general relator of the Synod. It starts:
“As you know, at the conclusion of the consultation stage ‘in the particular Churches’, the Synod 2021-2024 process foresees the celebration of Continental Assemblies. It is in view of this Continental stage that we address all of you, who, in your particular Churches, are the principle and foundation of unity of the holy People of God (cf. LG 23). We do so in the name of our common responsibility for the ongoing synodal process as Bishops of the Church of Christ: there is no exercise of ecclesial synodality without exercise of episcopal collegiality.”
It also says:
“On the eve of the Continental Assemblies, we feel the urgency to share a few considerations for a common understanding of the synodal process, its progress and the meaning of the current Continental stage. There are in fact some who presume to already know what the conclusions of the Synodal Assembly will be. Others would like to impose an agenda on the Synod, with the intention of steering the discussion and determining its outcome. However, the theme that the Pope has assigned to the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is clear: ‘For a Synodal Church: communion, participation, mission’. This is therefore the sole theme that we are called to explore in each of the stages within the process. The expectations for Synod 2021-2024 are many and varied, but it is not the task of the Assembly to address all the issues being debated in the Church.”
Vatican News has summarized the letter that was published in Italian, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese:
LETTER FROM SYNOD LEADERS HIGHLIGHTS CRUCIAL ROLE OF BISHOPS IN SYNODAL PROCESS
In a letter addressed to all the diocesan and eparchial bishops throughout the world, the General Secretary and the General Relator of the Synod offer considerations on the role of Bishops in the synodal process.
Cardinal Mario Grech and Cardinal Jean Claude Hollerich – respectively the Secretary General and the General Relator of the Synod – have addressed a letter to all the Bishops of the world in which they share “a few considerations for a common understanding of the synodal process, its progress, and the meaning of the current Continental stage.”
The Cardinals begin by noting that, as Vatican II teaches, each Bishop has “responsibility” for their own particular Church as well as “solicitude for the Universal Church.” The very reason for the synod, they explain, is “to enable the exercise of the latter,” with the current synodal process making “the role of Pastors and their participation in the various stages even more crucial.”
“For a Synodal Church”: the sole theme of the Synod
In their letter, the Cardinals highlight the sole theme of the Synod: “For a Synodal Church: communion, participation, mission.”
“This is therefore the sole theme we are called to explore in each of the stages within the process.”
The exclusive focus on this theme precludes the possibility of other themes being “surreptitiously introduced” by those who would “exploit the Assembly and disregard the consultation of the People of God.”
The Cardinals say “it is understandable” that in the initial phase of the synod, “the scope or margins of the theme were not clearly defined”. However, they say, these have been gradually clarified in subsequent steps. “It is important to remember,” they say, that the syntheses produced in the diocesan stage “are the result of the discernment of the Pastors regarding the contributions made during the consultation of the People of God.” TO CONTINUE: Letter from Synod leaders highlights crucial role of Bishops in synodal process – Vatican News
Also this from Vatican news:There is no synod without a bishop: In an interview with Vatican Radio, the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Mario Grech, explains the role of the Bishops in the synodal process, and why it is important to highlight that role at this stage in the synodal process. Cardinal Grech: There is no synod without a bishop – Vatican News