Synod: Synodality that ‘is not a cliché’ but a daily experience

Synod: Synodality that ‘is not a cliché’ but a daily experience

The themes of the synod work that took place in the morning – from missionary work to interreligious dialogue, to the role of women in serving the Church – were discussed at Monday afternoon’s briefing at the Vatican Press Office. The assembly also recalled the 45th anniversary of John Paul II’s election to the papal throne.

By Federica Piana

The true meaning of synodality, the richness of diversity, the role that the baptized within the Church, missionary activity, ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, the role of women in the perspective of the female diaconate, and the digital evolution; without forgetting the young people of the world’s poor countries who are completely cut off from the use of the most modern technologies: these are some of the topics that were addressed Monday morning during the Synod work underway at the Vatican, as explained during the afternoon briefing with journalists, which took place in the Holy See Press Office.

First reports examined

“The first reports of the minor circles were also examined,” explained Paolo Ruffini, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication and President of the Commission for Information.

Dr Ruffini noted that the session “opened with the members’ thanks to the Pope for his apostolic exhortation C’est la confiance, dedicated to St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face (St. Therese of Lisieux, ed.), which was published on Sunday. The Prefect also pointed out that the members recalled, “with a long applause, the anniversary, which falls today, of the election of John Paul II and the anniversary of some priestly ordinations.”

In addition, Dr Ruffini shared with journalists news of the meeting, last Friday, of the ordinary committee of the Synod, which assessed “the path taken so far and the quality and beauty of the listening.”

Synodality is not a cliché

Among the guests at the briefing was Father Vimal Tirimanna, C.Ss.R, a theologian from Sri Lanka, dwelt on the idea that “synodality happens when you do it.” He said he originally thought “This was just a cliché.” But, he continued, thanks largely to “the great atmosphere of prayer, heavily complemented by… the method of spiritual conversation, we see how the synodal process, or rather the synodal way of living, is already lived.”

Fr Tirimanna emphasized how this is also reflected in the arrangement of the tables, highlighting the experience of Cardinals, bishops, and lay people – especially women – “rubbing shoulders” with one another in a “concentric Church, not a pyramidal one… the ecclesiology of Lumen gentium is lived. Synodal way, the culture of synodality is lived here. The challenge is to take it outside the synod hall.” He noted, too, that the synodal process is “not a private agenda of Pope Francis,” but is “a continuation of Vatican II.”

Prayer and preparation

Sister Patricia Murray, IBVM, the Executive Secretary of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), said she is pleased to see that synodality is becoming more and more a reality. She told reporters, “As a member of a religious congregation, I feel that we have been putting synodality into practice for more than twenty years… Particularly as we were making decisions and coming to conclusions about things that mattered in our lives. And putting Jesus and the Spirit at the centre of our life, and listening to the voice of everyone in a religious community in order to discern where God is calling one at this time, where God is calling the congregation has been a practice of many congregations.”

She added, “So for me, it is an added joy to see this spread in the universal church, that this is the way that we want to live and be together, those words of participation, communion, and mission.”

Light that illuminates the darkness

Bishop Zdenek Wasserbauer, an auxiliary Bishop of Prague, said he was moved by the apostolic exhortation on St. Therese of Lisieux, who sees in the document a compass for the entire Synod. “During this work,” he told reporters, “I perceived very clearly that the word ‘mission’ is a key point for us. And St. Therese of Lisieux is co-patroness of the missions.”

He offered two reasons, in particular, as to why the exhortation can be seen as a guide or a beacon: “The first is related to the fact that the Saint, when she entered Carmel, had the desire to save souls. Well, I realized that here all 400 members meet every day seeking the good of others, their salvation. The second reason refers to the dark night that St. Therese of Lisieux felt in her soul in 1856. Some say that even today, the Church of the Third Millennium is going through darkness: here, the Synod is a light that illuminates the darkness.”

Attention to pain

Responding to journalists’ questions about whether or not the “pain” of LGBTQ+ people had been discussed, Sr. Murray said, “I think, at many of the tables, if not all, the question of hurt, and the woundedness of people both individually and collectively has been dealt with and listened to.”

She added that there have been discussions about how the Church can “represent that hurt,” addressing the question of how the Church can show that it is seeking forgiveness for “hurts that have been caused.” While that discussion is ongoing, she emphasized, “There is a deep awareness of the pain and suffering that has been caused.”

Another journalist asked whether the issue of blessings for same-sex couples had been addressed. Dr Ruffini explained that the issue “is not central” and that there was more talk about formation, ordained ministries, the preferential option for the poor, and colonialism. Catholic teaching, Ruffini added, is at the heart of all that is being done at the Synod.

Chinese bishops

Moreover, confirming the news that the bishops from China who are present at the Synod will leave the work tomorrow, Dr Ruffini explained that they are doing so because of “pastoral reasons that call them back to their respective dioceses.”


Published On: 16/10/2023