Synod on Synodality a learning opportunity for Catholic Church, Archbishop Gomez says

Kevin J. Jones   By Kevin J. Jones for CNA

Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles at the USCCB’s fall meeting in Baltimore, Md., Nov. 11, 2019. / Christine Rousselle/CNA

Denver Newsroom, Oct 20, 2021 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

The upcoming gatherings of Catholics for a synodal process are important opportunities for outreach, support, and communication, according to Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference.

“The Holy Father has called for the local churches to hold inclusive consultations with the People of God as part of the synod,” Gomez said Oct. 20. “We face a challenge after over a year of being physically distanced within our communities because of the Covid-19 pandemic. This synod is an opportunity to meet the immense and important request of the Holy Father to engage in dialogue to better understand our call to holiness and feel the responsibility to participate in the life of the Church.”

A synod is a meeting of bishops that aims to discuss a topic of theological or pastoral significance, in order to prepare a document of advice or counsel to the pope.

“Outreach, communication, support, and encouragement are vital in order to be missionary disciples,” Gomez continued. “As is with the nature of the synod, I hope we will learn as we ‘journey together,’ and I pray that the process will enrich and guide the future path of both the local Church as well as the universal Church over the course of the next two years, and beyond.”

The Synod on Synodality, opened by Pope Francis earlier this month, is a two-year, worldwide undertaking during which Catholics will be encouraged to submit feedback to their dioceses.

Synodality is generally understood to represent a process of discernment, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, involving clerics, religious, and lay Catholics, each according to the gifts and charisms of their vocation.

Father Michael Fuller, interim general secretary for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is leading efforts to share synod-related information with U.S. bishops, the bishops’ conference said.

The U.S. bishops’ conference’s diocesan liaison is Richard Coll, executive director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development.

“I welcome the opportunity to be a resource to the diocesan representatives as they engage with their local faithful in this most important phase of the synod,” Coll said.

The bishops’ conference is providing tools and tips for local diocesan synod efforts, as well as sharing the preparatory documents prepared in Rome by the Synod of Bishops.

The U.S. bishops’ conference website will provide highlights from the local-level synod and aim to incorporate synodal experiences into its resources.

The opening phase of the global synod process is a diocesan phase expected to last until April 2022. The Vatican has asked all dioceses to participate, hold consultations, and collect feedback on specific questions laid out in synod documents.

In Sept. 18 remarks, Pope Francis said the synod is “not about gathering opinions, no … it is about listening to the Holy Spirit.” At an Oct. 10 Mass, the pope stressed the importance of using the synod to encounter God and one another. He said he hoped the acts of encountering, listening, and discerning would characterize the synodal path.

One objective of the synod on synodality, according to the preparatory document, is to examine “how responsibility and power are lived in the Church as well as the structures by which they are managed, bringing to light and trying to convert prejudices and distorted practices that are not rooted in the Gospel.”

The Vatican documents ask a “fundamental question” for dioceses and bishops to consider: “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’?”

A second, continental-level phase of the synod will take place from September 2022 to March 2023. The third, universal phase will begin with the Sixteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, dedicated to the theme “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” at the Vatican in October 2023.


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2 Comments

  1. Whether he actually believes what he says or he is just being a company man hardly matters: Archbishop Gomez proves once again that he is unequal to the task of providing any decent leadership during this severe and unprecedented crisis in the Church. At best, this nonsense will be a complete waste of time, energy and money that will be forgotten before it is even finished. How depressing it is to reflect that is the most favorable outcome we can realistically hope for.

  2. Good remarks from Archbishop Gomez on the West Coast, together with Cardinal Dolan from the East Coast who “has reminded us of certain clear essentials intended by Jesus, CONSTANT, although, at times, we admit, clouded and dimmed, in the Church’s amazing 2,000-year drama.

    Here are some “non-negotiables” outlined by Dolan:

    1. “…the energy and direction driving the Church comes from the Holy Spirit, NOT ourselves.”
    2. “While in the world, we are not of the world, and thus our guiding principles come from the Gospel, revelation, and the patrimony of the Church’s SETTLE TEACHING,”
    3. “…the principles of the innate dignity of EVERY human person and the inherent sacredness of ALL human life are the towering moral lighthouses on our path.”
    4. “…our journey through this life back to our true and eternal home of heaven is most effectively accomplished precisely as a journey as we walk with and accompany each other, WITH Jesus as our guide, His Mother and the saints, and we sinners at each other’s side.”
    5. “On this journey we pay SPECIAL ATTENTION to those at the side of the road, especially those who are sick, weak, poor, or unable to keep up with us.”
    6. “Our wealth ONLY comes from faith, trust, prayer, the sacraments, and His grace.”
    7. “…mercy, love, invitation, humility, joy, SELFLESS generous service, and good example are our only tools, never harshness, condemnation, or pride.”

    All CAPS added. So, in a possibly-needed, clarified sense, neither a “new” Church, nor a “different” Church which, in the minds of some (as already in Germany), would violate especially the #2 “non-negotiable.”

    https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2021/10/19/cardinal-dolan-outlines-7-non-negotiables-for-the-synod-on-synodality/

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