Scarcely have the two Irish bishops who represented the Irish Church in Rome in October 2023 had time to unpack when another missive arrives from HQ – directed towards the second session of the 16th Synod of Bishops in Rome, in October 2024.
All bishops everywhere have now received a document from the Secretariat of the Synod, accompanied by a letter from Cardinals Mario Grech (the General Secretary) and Jean-Claude Hollerich (the Relator General).
This four-page document calls bishops to focus on the basic question of how to be a synodal Church in mission, to identify the paths to follow and the tools to adopt to “enhance the unique contribution of each baptised person and of each Church in the one mission of proclaiming the Risen Lord and his Gospel to the world today.”
The document refers to a passage in Pope Francis’ first encyclical Evangelii Gaudium:
“I dream of a ‘missionary option’, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channelled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation. The renewal of structures demanded by pastoral conversion can only be understood in this light: as part of an effort to make them more mission-oriented.”
It seems likely that this call could help set the agenda for diocesan and regional meetings of Irish diocesan synodal teams early in 2024. Irish bishops are asked to report back to Rome by the end of May 2024, to help set the agenda for the Oct 2024 second and final session of the 16th Universal Synod.