Our Synod 2021 – 2023
This week we are setting out on a historic process. Pope Francis has called on the whole Church to take part in a Synod. Since the Second Vatican Council there have been regular Synods, where all the Bishops meet to discuss current issues within the Church. This time the Synod is being rolled out across the entire Church. This will take about two years and is broken into sections: conversations in the parish, in the Diocese, nationally in England and Wales and then finally with the Bishops in Rome in October 2023.
So: what is a synod? It is translated usually as “journeying together”. The Holy Father has asked us to think about how we live out our mission as Christians in our world, particularly after the pandemic and all its consequences. Pope Francis asks that we participate in a shared conversation – a “respectful listening” by each member of the Church to all others.
The current Synodal process we are undertaking is guided by a fundamental question: How does this “journeying together” take place today on different levels (from the local level to the universal one), allowing the Church to proclaim the Gospel? And what steps is the Spirit inviting us to take in order to grow as a synodal Church? (Synod preparation document, 2)
So, the objective is to listen: to listen as the entire People of God, to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church. And who will do this? The Pope tells us:
“I want to stress this: a dynamism of mutual listening carried out at all levels of the Church, involving all the People of God. The Cardinal Vicar and the Auxiliary Bishops must listen to one another, the priests must listen to one another, the Religious must listen to one another, the laity must listen to one another. It’s not about gathering opinions, no. This is not a survey but about listening to the Holy Spirit…” (Pope Francis Sept 2021)
The tools for the Synod are therefore prayerful listening, reflection and discernment. We are asked to think about our parish under three headings:
Who do we journey with? How do we work together? How do we apply our faith to life in St Peter’s Hove? How can we do this better?
Here at St Peter’s:
We have arranged meetings through Advent, two per week, on Tuesday evenings at 7.30 in the upper room of the hall the other on Wednesday mornings at 10.30 in the hall (no steps to climb!).
At these sessions we will consider where we are in St Peter’s in our mission to bring about God’s kingdom and where we would like to be. Everyone is asked to make a contribution either in person or in writing. We are asked to seek out people who might have difficulties in coming to meetings for whatever reason and ask them what they think. In particular, we need the voices of those who are not usually heard: the lapsed, the sick, the disabled.
These meetings are about listening to each other, reflecting on what we hear and trying together to discern what the Holy Spirit wants us to do. This might not be an easy process but we will try.
After these meetings contributions will be collated and sent to the Diocesan Synod office – or they may be sent individually by post or online. Copies of this summary will be made available at the back of the church.
Then the Diocese will collate all parish contributions and Bishop Richard will present a webinar online on March 9th to talk about the issues raised by parishes in our Diocese. Everyone can join this session and the link is on the diocesan website (www.abdiocese.org.uk/synod).
The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales will review diocesan contributions and the overall summary of themes will go to the Synod in Rome October 2023.
Please participate in this. It is a historic time for Catholics, particularly the laity. The Pope has asked for our cooperation: let us join in enthusiastically!
Synod.va the Vatican Synod website for a number of documents including the Vademecum
Cbcew.org.uk the Bishops’ Conference website which has a section on the Synodal journey
Abdiocese.org.uk click on Synod
Independent Catholic News and La Croix also have regular articles on the Synod
Notes from the Synod meetings:
Notes from the Synod meetings 30 Nov / 1 Dec
Notes from the Synod meetings 15 Dec
Notes from the Synod meetings Dec 2021 / Jan 2022