On the synodal journey from Rome
This commitment is twofold: firstly because we are beginning the time that prepares us for Christmas – Advent, a time of waiting – and secondly because to keep on the synodal journey is also to live in expectation and hope.
The attitudes that Advent asks of us are also synodal: attentive listening, vigilance, being awake not distracted, going beyond appearances, going deep, opening our arms and hearts to welcome everyone without discrimination.
This universal invitation to participate in the current Synod is also confidence that the Church needs the constructive contributions of each person and that is why we can launch out without fear to say our word, so that no one is missing in this great family that we form.
The Church invites us to continue our synodal journey in the Continental Stage that we are beginning. The DIOCESAN stage is now closed, and we have received a synthesis of it with the satisfaction of seeing that the responses received exceeded all expectations.
There were 112 Episcopal Conferences out of the 114 that exist – the Eastern Churches answered all of them, 15. The Dicasteries of the Curia in Rome are 23 and 17 answered. The USG/UISG also received contributions. Many people participated in the Social Networks through “Digital Synod”.
No less intense was the response from groups that we consider to be on the “margins” of the Church and who also wanted to have their say: Divorced and remarried people – LGTBI groups – Secularised priests – Diverse family nuclei – Incarcerated people.
Now we move on to the continents and ask ourselves some questions:
Which intuitions resonate most strongly with the concrete experiences and realities of the church on the Continent? Which appear new or illuminating?
What tensions or substantial divergences appear as important from the perspective of the continent?
What are the issues or questions to be addressed in the next phases of the process?
A dialogue is sought between the particular churches and the continental churches. Always on the basis of the Document of the Continental Stage -DEC- which summarises everything that reached the General Secretariat of the Synod.
New proposals that were not included in the previous stage can now continue to be sent. It is sent to all the bishops and they organise a process of discernment with the above-mentioned questions. Each Bishops’ Conference synthesises the answers, according to its own way and context, and everything is shared in the continental assembly as it was done before in the dioceses.
Each continental assembly is to prepare a 20-page document to be submitted by 31 March 2023. For these assemblies the territories of the Continents have been established as follows:
North America – Europe – Middle East – Asia – Latin America and Caribbean – Africa and Madagascar – Oceania.
The synodal attitudes remain in order not to lose heart along the way, especially prayer; dialogue in the groups, exchanges… flexible openness of mind and heart to listen in depth. To spread hope, engendering in our hearts the seeds of those who wait, amidst light and shadow, and are ready to spread them everywhere.
Someone is coming, knocking at our door, perhaps finding us distracted. We need to be alert to be able to receive him. In serene vigilance so that he does not pass us by, but enters and transforms us.
Happy Synodal Advent!
María Luisa Berzosa FI – Rome