Great anticipation of the Synod, Communion, Participation, Mission
I wholeheartedly welcome the Preparatory Documents for the Synod on the theme of Communion Participation and Mission which we received from Rome yesterday. Pope Francis has asked that the whole People of God, in every parish, diocese or other Church grouping be invited to participate in a process of listening together to what the Hoy Spirit is saying to the Church so that we can make pastoral decisions that reflect what God wants for the Church at this time.
This time of listening and discerning at local level will take place in our own diocese of Killaloe and every diocese across the world from October 2021 to April 2022. It is my intention to enable as much participation as possible in this process. The aim is “not to produce more documents” but “to inspire people to dream about the Church we are called to be, to make people’s hopes flourish, to stimulate trust, to bind up wounds, to weave new and deeper relationships, to learn from one another, to build bridges, to enlighten minds, warm hearts and restore strength to our hands for our common mission.” (Preparatory Document #32)
Just as Jesus reached out to all, everyone, Pope Francis is inviting all the baptised to participate in this process. He asks that special care be taken to include those who are most vulnerable and those who experience marginalization. Pope Francis insists that no-one should be excluded from sharing their perspective and experience.
The challenges we face as Church communities are reflected in the searching themes proposed for reflection as part of our synodal process. The themes include questions about inclusion and who is part of our Church and who is not? Who finds themselves on the margins of the Church and why? We are invited to question to whom do we need to listen as a Church at this time? We are to reflect on how we promote free and open communication and on how we speak what is important to us to the society around us? We are to consider how our prayer and liturgical celebrations inspire our journey together? How is co-responsibility exercised in our Church communities in decision-making and in setting pastoral priorities for the future? How are lay ministry and practices of team ministry promoted? We are asked to reflect on how our way of journeying and discerning together can be improved? All of these questions we are to address in a spirit of prayer and discernment.
Addressing these very challenging questions will help us to become a more synodal and open Church. I look forward in the coming weeks and months to being part of this journey with as many people as possible.