• Dioceses to organize local gatherings for “synodal consultation
By Courtney Mares
The Vatican released Tuesday a preparatory document and handbook for the 2023 synod on synodality to be reviewed by all Catholic dioceses in the world over the next six months. “It is precisely this path of synodality which God expects of the Church of the third millennium,” the new document states, quoting Pope Francis. “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.” The Vatican published the 22- page preparatory document on September 7, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” and the 42-page vademecum, or handbook, for the diocesan phase of the synod. The handbook includes prayers, a description of synodality, the objectives of the synodal process, and the main questions to which the local Catholic communities are asked to give feedback.
It underlines that dioceses should focus on “maximum inclusion and participation” among baptized Catholics in the diocesan synod process. The preparatory document has been released for a period of “pre-synodal discernment” that will influence a second draft of the text to be published before June 2023. According to the Vatican, the preparatory document is “a tool to facilitate the first phase of listening to and consulting the People of God in the particular Churches” for the diocesan phase of the synod. The diocesan phase During the diocesan phase, each bishop is asked to undertake a consultation process with the local Church from Oct. 17, 2021, to April 2022.
The handbook says that dioceses should organize local gatherings for “synodal consultation,” and also enable individuals to give their feedback directly to the diocese. It recommends that multiple parishes come together for these “synodal consultation meetings” so that “a range of people from different socio-economic backgrounds, ethnicities, age groups” take part. The preparatory document, handbook, and questionnaire are to be reviewed by dioceses, as well as superior generals, unions, and federations of consecrated life, international lay movements, and Catholic universities during this phase. The diocesan synod process should “tap into the richness of the lived experience of the Church in their local context,” the handbook says. Main questions to be considered Questions are included at the end of handbook, which says that the “fundamental question” to be considered by the dioceses and the bishops over this multi-year process is as follows: “A synodal Church, in announcing the Gospel, ‘journeys together.’ How is this ‘journeying together’ happening today in your local Church? What steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our ‘journeying together?
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