Archive for category Synod of Bishops

Francis is set to open a worldwide synod process. U.S. dioceses don’t seem prepared. / National Catholic Reporter

Although Francis has previously asked for local consultation to occur before other synods during his pontificate, no earlier process has been so wide-ranging.

National Catholic Reporter

“With about three weeks to go before Catholic prelates around the world are due to open a first-of-its-kind grassroots consultation period as part of an expanded vision for the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops, church officials across the U.S. are still figuring out exactly what that process will look like.

“A range of dioceses contacted by NCR in recent weeks said they were still working out the details for the consultation period and would be in a better position to comment on the synod in coming weeks, after Pope Francis formally opens the two-year synod process with a ceremony in Rome on Oct. 9.

“Officials who agreed to interviews described plans that relied on parish listening sessions, online surveys, Zoom meetings and other avenues to get feedback from laity.

“‘It’s a great opportunity for me to learn and for bishops all over the world to develop better habits of consultation with our people,’ Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington, Vermont, told NCR …

“Francis announced in May that he would be expanding the scope of the next synod, originally set for 2022. He postponed the Vatican meeting of bishops, now set for October 2023, to allow first for periods of consultation in every local diocese and at the continental level.

“Although Francis has previously asked for local consultation to occur before other synods during his pontificate, no earlier process has been so wide-ranging.”

By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Catholic women feel called to be deacons. The church should listen to their stories. / America: The Jesuit Review

“The church has been discerning the question of female deacons for decades. And now the whole church has an opportunity to engage in a discernment about the diaconate.”

America: The Jesuit Review

“Is the church being called to receive women into the permanent order of deacons?

“Are women being called by God to serve as deacons in the church? And what role do Sunday Mass-goers, lapsed Catholics and daily communicants play in discerning responses to such questions?

“In the form of theological studies, sociological research and papal commissions, the church has been discerning the question of female deacons for decades. And now, thanks to the synod that begins this October, the whole church has an opportunity to engage in a discernment about the diaconate.

“In the synod, Pope Francis has called the church to consider the shape of our life together and to listen to one another, to ‘plant dreams, draw forth prophecies and visions, allow hope to flourish, inspire trust, bind up wounds, weave together relationships, awaken a dawn of hope, learn from one another and create a bright resourcefulness that will enlighten minds, warm hearts, give strength to our hands.’ In the context of the synod, ‘all are invited to speak with courage…integrating freedom, truth, and charity.’ In other words: Every Catholic on planet Earth is invited to join together and ask fundamental questions about how we are to journey as the people of God in the 21st century.”

By Casey Stanton, America: The Jesuit Review, Read more …

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Pope Francis wants every Catholic to have a say. Why haven’t US Catholics heard about it? / National Catholic Reporter

Success for bishops not focused on controlling power will be listening and honestly reporting the needs of the people.  

National Catholic Reporter

“Pope Francis’ plan is for ordinary Catholics to have their say. It begins with the coming synod, which opens in Rome on Oct. 9 and in every diocese in the world on Oct. 17.   

“The problem: No one seems to know about it. The bigger problem: U.S. bishops don’t seem to care. 

“It’s called ‘For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.’ While Francis truly wants all Catholics to pray and talk about the needs of today’s church, his plan depends on diocesan participation. As the U.S. bishops fulminate over which Catholic politician can receive Communion, they’ve done little to plan for the worldwide discussion on the needs of the church. They were asked to get organized last May. They haven’t. 

“Here’s how things are supposed to work. Last May, Rome asked every bishop for the name of the person managing his diocesan synodal process. The bishop then is to open his local synod Oct. 17, collect input from parishes, and report to his national episcopal conference.  

By Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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The Spirit in the Assembly: Preparing for the synod on synodality / Commonweal

“A global process set to mobilize millions and transform the world’s oldest and largest institution has so far registered as no more than a blip on the Catholic radar.”

Commonweal

“The most far-reaching event in the Catholic Church in my lifetime officially gets its start next month. It is Pope Francis’s boldest move yet, the historic shake-up that a Church brought low by sex-abuse scandals badly needs, and potentially the most transformative moment in Catholicism since the Second Vatican Council, which it seeks to embed permanently into the life of the Church. The two-year “synod on synodality,” launched in Rome on October 9 and in dioceses worldwide a week later, is set to mark Christianity forever.

“Yet who knows it is even happening? A global process set to mobilize millions and transform the world’s oldest and largest institution has so far registered as no more than a blip on the Catholic radar. Bishops briefed by Rome’s synod secretariat back in May have been mostly quiet about it, hiding behind cautious communiqués buried on websites, awaiting details, fearful of unleashing forces and expectations beyond their command.

“So we begin with a paradox. The path to the 2023 Synod in Rome, on the theme “For a Synodal Church: communion, participation and mission,” is designed to engage every diocese, every bishops’ conference, and every continental Church body. It will unleash the biggest popular consultation in history. It will require, as never before, the assembly of the People of God, in mass meetings at parishes and across dioceses around the world, who are being given “the ability to imagine a different future for the Church and her institutions, in keeping with the mission she has received,” in the words of the Preparatory Document released last week.”

By Austen Ivereigh, Commonweal — Read more …


Click here to read the Vatican news release announcing the 2023 Synod and to see list of links to Vatican and Voice of the Faithful resources to help understand the Synod.

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Listening to the Faithful: Vatican releases Synod Preparatory Document / Vatican News


The General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops presents the base text and ‘vademecum’ – or handbook – to guide the journey of the Synod on Synodality. Listening without prejudice; speaking out with courage and parrhesia; dialoguing with the Church, with society, and with the other Christian confessions.

Vatican News

“The General Secretariat for the Synod has published the Preparatory Document, along with a Vademecum (or handbook) to indicate the guiding principles that will direct the path of the Synod on Synodality. The solemn opening of the Synod will take place in Rome on October 9-10, and in the particular Churches on October 17; and will conclude in the Vatican in 2023 with the assembly of bishops from around the world.

“The Preparatory Document, released on Tuesday, is intended above all to be an instrument facilitating the first phase of listening and consultation of the People of God in the particular Churches, which will take place from October 2021 to April 2022.

“‘In other words,’ as the document says, ‘it constitutes a sort of construction site or pilot experience that makes it possible to immediately begin reaping the fruits of the dynamic that progressive synodal conversion introduces into the Christian community.'”

By Vatican News — Read more …


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Next synod likely to focus on ordaining married men / Cruxnow.com

In response to acute priest shortages around the world, Pope Francis may well decide that his next Synod of Bishops should focus on ministry—including the question of whether married men could be ordained to celebrate the sacraments, in effect creating a parallel priesthood.

After the bruising but fruitful experience of the synod on the family, one thing is clear: Francis has created an instrument of discernment that is capable of wrestling with big issues in the contemporary Church.

“The reformed synod – a global consultation, followed by two assemblies separated by a year, concluding in a major papal teaching document that resets pastoral strategy for the next generation – means that big topics can no longer be kicked into the long grass on the basis that they are just too big to deal with.

“If a vast topic such as the Church’s preparation for marriage and its handling of divorcés can be discussed, it means other burning issues can be too. And top of that list are questions about ministry: access to the sacraments, the role of women and lay people, as well as the role of deacons.

“Some are saying that pastoral ministries will the topic for the next synod, likely to be scheduled for 2018-19.

‘No one doubts the question is an urgent one. More than half of the Catholic Church’s communities worldwide have no resident priest.”

By Austen Ivereigh, Cruxnow.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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How Pope Francis’ ‘Amoris Laetitia’ could affect families and the Church / The New York Times

In what could be an important moment for his leadership of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis is scheduled to issue a major document on Friday (Apr. 8) regarding family issues. It is titled ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ Latin for ‘The Joy of Love.’

“In the document, known as an apostolic exhortation, the pope could change church practice on thorny subjects like whether divorced Catholics who remarry without having obtained annulments can receive holy communion. He might address debates over same-sex relationships, cohabitation and polygamy, an issue in Africa. Or, he could sidestep such divisive topics and stick to broader philosophical statements.

“For the past two years, Francis has guided the church through a sweeping exercise of self-examination that some scholars have compared to the Second Vatican Council. Catholics around the world filled out detailed questionnaires about whether the church meets their families’ needs. Bishops and other church officials spent two tumultuous meetings at the Vatican, known as synods, debating and arguing.

“The broad topic was whether the Catholic Church should reposition itself, and how. Francis listened, prodded and sometimes steered the process, but he mostly kept his own counsel. Until now.

“Having led Catholics into such delicate terrain, Francis has stirred hope and fear. Some religious conservatives warn he could destabilize the church and undermine Catholic doctrine. Some liberals, though, are hoping Francis will directly address same-sex marriage and contraception in a way that would make the church more responsive to today’s realities.

“‘I’m sure he knew he would touch some nerves,’ said John Thavis, a longtime Vatican analyst and the author of ‘The Vatican Diaries.’ ‘He may not have appreciated how much opposition there could be.’

“But both sides might be disappointed.”

By Laurie Goodstein and Jim Yardley — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Global women religious leader asks them to do synod’s unfinished work / National Catholic Reporter

The leader of the umbrella group for some 600,000 global Catholic women religious has said that in the wake of this month’s Synod of Bishops the women are called to carry forth the pastoral work that the official church is sometimes not able to do.

“Maltese Sr. Carmen Sammut — who participated in the Oct. 4-25 Synod as one of 32 women who took part in non-voting roles alongside the 270 prelate-members — said the women religious should engage with people church institutions may not even know need help.

“‘I think that we should not give up our role at the frontiers of the church,’ said Sammut, who heads the International Union of Superiors General (UISG).”

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Synod offers striking softening to remarried, proposing individual discernment / National Catholic Reporter

A worldwide gathering of some 270 Catholic bishops has recommended softening the church’s practice towards those who have divorced and remarried, saying such persons should discern decisions about their spiritual lives individually in concert with the guidance of priests.

“Pope Francis also closed the meeting with a strong renewal of his continual emphasis of the boundless nature of divine mercy, saying: ‘The Church’s first duty is not to hand down condemnations or anathemas, but to proclaim God’s mercy.’

“Although the final document from the Oct. 4-25 Synod of Bishops says discernment for remarried persons can ‘never overlook the demands of truth and love in the Gospel,’ it seems to significantly move decision-making for how they can participate in the church to private conversations in dioceses around the world.”

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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No Communion for the divorced and remarried, as women take back-row seats at Family Synod

Drafting committee cardinal: Synod will not provide Communion path for remarried

One of the prelates responsible for drafting the final document from the ongoing Synod of Bishops has said he does not anticipate that it will propose changes in the Catholic church’s practices towards the divorced and remarried. Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias — one of ten prelates who co-drafted the document after three-weeks of intense deliberations among some 270 bishops at the Oct. 4-25 Synod — said in particular that one specific proposal that might have allowed the remarried to take Communion would likely not be mentioned.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Women fear their voices will be sidelined in synod’s final report

The rows of seats in the synod hall, where Catholic bishops are meeting to discuss family issues, are filled with bishops and cardinals — all male. To find any women, look to the back of the room. The women’s distance from the heart of the synod hall reflects fears raised by women’s groups that their participation is a mere token on the Vatican’s part.” By Rosie Scammell, Religion News Service, on Cruxnow.com

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