Synod 2021-23 – The Fundamental Question

Sep 8, 2021 | 0 comments

Illustration from the Preparatory Papal Document on the Rome-centred Synodal process 2021-23

Illustration from the front cover of the Preparatory Papal Document on the Rome-centred Synodal process, 2021-23

To clarify, Pope Francis has committed the Church to a new way of ‘walking together’ on mission, called synodality – to echo the togetherness of the original Christian followers of the Lord and to bind us together in a common renewed missionary purpose..

There are currently (Sept. 2021)  two synodal processes ongoing for Irish Catholics.

  1. In March 2021 the Irish Bishops Conference announced an Irish ‘Synodal Pathway‘, to begin in 2021 and to lead, over a five-year period, to an Irish national ‘Synodal Assembly‘.  Initial submissions for an ‘agenda’ were invited from Irish church members in the spring of 2021 but as yet there is no news of what conclusions or focus or possible ‘steps’ along this pathway have been derived from these.  To keep up to date with any further details of this Irish synodal process, click here.
  2. Also in 2021 Pope Francis announced that a scheduled Vatican Synod of the world’s Bishops – focused on implementing synodality throughout the church – would be postponed from 2022 to 2023. To help inform bishops for this central synodal process, all bishops were requested to conduct a synodal process in their own dioceses over the period October 2021 – April 2022. The Preparatory document for this process was published on Wednesday 8th September 2021.  To access it click here.

As this document will be a challenge for many who have less time for verbal complexity, I have extracted from it what it calls the fundamental question to be put to Catholics in all of the world’s dioceses. Answers to this question (below) from Irish Catholics, in their own dioceses, over the next eight months are very likely to guide our Irish bishops for their understanding of ‘how to go’ on the Irish ‘synodal pathway’ to 2026 also – so our readers are asked to ponder on this question prayerfully – and to comment here, to inform us also, if possible.

The Fundamental Question of the Preparatory Document

The fundamental question that guides this consultation of the People of God is the following:

A synodal Church, in announcing the Gospel, “journeys together:” How is this “journeying together” happening today in your particular Church? What steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our “journeying together”?

In order to respond, you are invited to:

  • a) ask yourselves what experiences in your particular Church the fundamental question calls to mind;
  • b) reread these experiences in greater depth: What joys did they provoke? What difficulties and obstacles have they encountered? What wounds have they brought to light? What insights have they elicited?
  • c) gather the fruits to share: Where, in these experiences, does the voice of the Spirit resound? What is the Spirit asking of us? What are the points to be confirmed, the prospects for change, the steps to be taken? Where do we register a consensus? What paths are opening up for our particular Church?

Sean O’Conaill – 8th September, 2021

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