Dear Parish Family,
You may have heard recently that Pope Francis has called for the Church to have a worldwide “Synod” that would include all Catholics. Synod is an ancient Greek word that means an assembly of Church members that together discern an issue, take a direction or make a decision. It comes from sun (“together”) and hodos (“way”) - finding our way together.
Synods happen from time to time, and are most commonly made up almost exclusively of bishops. Pope Francis has held a number of major synods since he became our Holy Father, on the topics of the family (2014), on youth (2018), and on the Church in the Pan-Amazon region (2019). You may remember hearing some coverage about these in The Evangelist or other news outlets.
This synod is much bigger than these others and stands out for two reasons:
It will involve all Catholics, including you… not just bishops and clergy.
The topic is on “synodality” – in other words, how to make this a more common method of decision making in the Church by involving everyone.
Synod meetings are much more about listening than speaking or teaching. When you invite the whole world to chime in on the direction of the Church, and you expect that everyone truly will get to contribute, no one individual does much talking. Instead, a little talking… and a LOT of listening.
The first question the pope wants us to answer, which opens the door to 10 other key questions he would like us to address is: “How personally have you ‘journeyed together’ with your bishop, your priests and other Catholics in your parish and diocese? What specific examples of this happening or not happening come to mind?”
As you can imagine, when asking questions like this, some praise and some blame might come up.
But the focus is not to complain or defend…it’s to investigate how much “journeying together” is happening in the Church and to consider how to promote more of it.
Fr. Bob Longobucco recently said that the famous 1953 wood engraving of the Last Supper by Fritz Eichenberg exemplifies the goal of the Synod. In his words, “A typical soup kitchen crowd gathers at a round dining room table. All have a place of equity and dignity. And every head is turned toward Christ. Pope Francis is asking us to dream up a Church which looks like that.”
Looking forward to listening with you…