This new stage in preparing for the Synod of Bishops was a real process of listening and discernment at a continental level.
The question that formed the basis for these assemblies was the same question of the synodal process as a whole: How is our ‘walking together’ which enables the Church to proclaim the Gospel in accord with the mission entrusted to her, being achieved today?
The seven assemblies were all representative of the People of God including bishops, priests, consecrated men and women, and laity. The fruit of their discussions is in the Final Document that each Assembly produced and will serve as a contribution to the work of the first session of the Synod of Bishops – now to take place in October 2024.
The European Assembly’s final document is available here: https://prague.synod2023.org/en/final-document/
The seven continental documents will form the basis of the Instrumentum Laboris, the working document for the Synod of Bishops. The document is expected to be available and presented by the end of May.
The participants in the Synod are to include a group of 70 “non-bishop” members among whom will be lay people appointed directly by the Pope. Of these “non-bishop” members, half will be women and there will be several young people. All 70 will enjoy voting rights: there will be around 370 voting members out of more than 400 total participants.
The conclusion of the consultation does not mean the end of the synodal process within the People of God, nor does it mean the interruption of the dialogue between the Universal Church and the diocese. Rather, it means leaving the local communities – us – with the challenge of putting the synodal way into practice in the daily routine of our Church in East Anglia, in the knowledge that much of what has been discussed and identified so far at the local level does not require the discernment of the universal Church nor the intervention of the Magisterium of Peter.
As a diocese, and within our parishes, we need to be continually asking ourselves the same question ‘how is our walking together enabling the mission of the Church to be fulfilled?’, especially amongst those most in need. Are we discerning the voice of the Holy Spirit regarding our future direction? Are we continuing to enable a listening process to take place within our parish settings? Are we reaching out in the love of Christ to those in need?
We are all called constantly to listen to one another in order to hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit, who comes to guide us, breathing life and vitality into the Church. Let us continue our synodality, our journeying together.
Image: Vatican Media