In 2021, Pope Francis called for a synod to be held in Rome starting in October 2023 with another session in October 2024. The full title of the Synod captures its theme: “The XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops: For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission.” So what exactly is a Synod on Synodality? In brief, it means that this synod is not so much about specific Church teachings as it is about the very processes by which such teachings are developed and decided upon. As the synodal preparatory document “Enlarge the Space of Your Tent” notes:
Pope Francis has invited the entire Church to reflect on the three Synod themes of Communion, Participation and Mission, insisting that “it is precisely this path of synodality which God expects of the Church of the third millennium.” And the USCCB says of the Synod, ”This journey, which follows in the wake of the Church’s “renewal” proposed by the Second Vatican Council, is both a gift and a task: by journeying together and reflecting together on the journey that has been made, the Church will be able to learn through Her experience which processes can help Her to live communion, to achieve participation, to open Herself to mission."
The Synod on Synodality is a three-year process of listening and dialogue. Starting in early 2022, listening sessions were held in dioceses throughout the world. The listening sessions which were held throughout the world included participation by the laity, both men and women, through both surveys and live meetings. The information resulted in reports that were produced by committees convened by national and regional groups. Finally the reports were combined into “Continental Summaries” which were sent to the committee formed by Pope Francis to prepare and set the agenda for the First Synod Session beginning next month.
The first session of the Synod will be held at the Vatican on October 4-29, 2023, with a second session scheduled for October 2024.
Next time: A look at some of the important ideas resulting from that process, particularly those synthesized in a report by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Read more from our series about the Synod on Synodality:
Part 2: Gathering Input
Part 3: North American Issues
Part 4: October Agenda
Part 5: Questions and Expectations
Part 6: Session 1 Final Report
SJ23 Parishioner's Reflection from Rome