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“Instrumentum Laboris”, for a synodal Church

June 25, 2023

A few days ago, they published on the Synod of Synodality official website the Instrumentum labors which will be the working instrument for the Synodal Assembly (hereinafter, Assembly) that will meet in Rome in October 2023, when the second phase of the synodal process that we have been carrying out since February 2021 will begin.

The purpose of this synodal process is to open horizons of hope for the fulfillment of the Church’s mission. Today we offer you a summary of this document, which we nevertheless encourage you to read.


The objective of the continental phase was to focus on the intuitions and tensions that resonate most strongly in the experience of the Church in each continent and to identify those that represent the priorities to be addressed at the First Session of the Synodal Assembly (October 2023).

The objective of the Synodal Assembly (2nd phase of the synod) will be to give impetus to the process, to incarnate it in the ordinary life of the Church, identifying the lines along which the Spirit invites us to walk with greater determination as the People of God.

The first phase, or LISTENING phase, has already borne fruit:

  • We have experienced that the sincere and cordial encounter between brothers and sisters in the faith is a source of joy.
  • We have touched on the Catholicity of the Church.
  • In our variety of forms, there are shared issues and tensions.
  • Becoming an increasingly synodal Church manifests our identity and vocation.

The IL takes a step further compared to the DEC: starting from the insights gathered during the first phase articulates some priorities from listening to the people of God and expresses them as questions to the Assembly who will have the task of discerning and identifying some concrete steps that he will then submit to the Holy Father.

It is a dynamic of listening in which each one has something to learn; each one in listening to the others and all in listening to the Spirit.

Section A

It gathers the fruits of the rereading of the road traveled.

A 1 – Identity marks of a synodal Church. The Assembly is invited to clarify and refine them.

The synodal process offers an opportunity for an encounter in faith that increases the bond with the Lord, fraternity among people, and love for the Church, energizing the entire community. The protagonist of the Synod is the Holy Spirit.

The synodal process constitutes the space in which the evangelical way of dealing with questions that are often raised in a vindictive way or for which there is a lack of a place for acceptance and discernment in the life of the Church today becomes practicable.

Problems, resistances, difficulties, and tensions are not hidden or concealed but are identified and named thanks to an authentic dialogue that allows us to speak and listen freely and sincerely. We move forward with enthusiasm but without naivety.

Characteristic signs:

  • A synodal Church is founded on the recognition of the common dignity that derives from Baptism, which makes us children of God, filled with his Spirit and sent on a common mission.
  • It is synodal in its institutions, structures, and procedures. Where authority is a true service.
  • It is a Church of listening to the Spirit through listening to the Word, events, individuals and between communities.
  • He wants to be humble, he knows he must ask for forgiveness and that he has much to learn.
  • A Church of encounter and dialogue where the Spirit invites us to embark on paths of mutual knowledge, sharing, and building a common life.
  • A Church that values variety without forcing it into uniformity. It promotes the passage from “I” to “we” in the Spirit.
  • Open, welcoming, and embracing to all.
  • It faces with honesty and courage the call for a deeper understanding of the relationship between love and truth.
  • A Church that shows its ability to manage tensions without being destroyed by them.
  • Trying to walk together puts us in touch with the healthy restlessness of incompleteness, with the awareness that there are still things whose weight we are not able to bear and issues that, as a first step, require listening and attention, without rushing to offer immediate solutions.
  • It is incessantly nourished by the mystery it celebrates in the liturgy.
  • It is a Church of discernment.

A 2Express in the form of a question the 3 priorities that emerge most strongly from the work in all continents, submitting them to the Assembly for discernment.

The commitment required of the Assembly and its members is to maintain the tension between the overall vision and the identification of the steps to be taken. The fruitfulness of their discernment will be at stake in this, whose task will be to open the whole Church to receive the voice of the Spirit.

The method used in the first phase has been fruitful. Conversation in the Spirit allows us to move from “I” to “we”. It does not lose sight of or erase the personal dimension of the self, but recognizes it and inserts it into the community dynamics. It builds communion and brings missionary dynamism.

It can be described as a shared prayer in view of common discernment, for which the participants prepare themselves through personal reflection and meditation. They give each other a thoughtful word nourished by prayer, not an opinion improvised on the fly.

The dynamics are articulated in three fundamental stages:

1st Each one takes the floor and the others listen.

2ª After opening a space within oneself for others and for the Other, again, each one takes the floor to express what has touched him or her most deeply during the listening and by which he or she feels most strongly challenged.

3rd Under the guidance of the Spirit, identify the points that have emerged and build consensus.

The process culminates with a prayer of praise to God and gratitude for the experience.

Formation in this method is perceived as a priority at all levels of ecclesial life and for all the baptized.

The three priorities, expressed in the form of a question to the Assembly, are Communion, mission, and participation.

B 1. A communion that radiates. How can we be more fully a sign and instrument of union with God and of the unity of the human race?

  • Communion is the condition of credibility of the announcement.

B 2. Co-responsible for the mission. How can we share gifts and tasks in the service of the Gospel?

  • Mission orientation is the only evangelically founded criterion for the internal organization of the Christian community, the distribution of functions and tasks, and the management of its institutions and structures.

B 3. Participation, responsibility, and authority. What processes, structures, and institutions are necessary for a missionary synodal Church?

  • It is in the relationship with communion and mission that participation can be understood. It can only be addressed after the other two. It provides them with the service of concretization.

All the baptized need an integral formation in this new synodal journey.

Read the complete document in your language on the Synod website and participate in the presentation of the document organized by the UISG and USG on Monday, June 26, from 2 to 4 p.m. Rome time.