In March 2020, Pope Francis announced that the theme for the Synod of Bishops in 2023 would be “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission”.
The journey towards the celebration of the Synod was solemnly opened on October 9-10, 2021 in Rome, with Pope Francis reaching out to the great community of the baptised everywhere on earth.
Local churches around the world followed suit with their own launches on October 17, 2021.
With the Synod’s convocation, the Pope stressed the theme would be decisive for the Church’s ongoing life and mission: “It is precisely this path of synodality which God expects of the Church of the third millennium. This journey, which follows in the wake of the Church’s ‘renewal’ proposed by the Second Vatican Council, is both a gift and a task.”
The Catholic Church in Australia is inviting the People of God to make submissions via an online portal that is now open. Those submissions will help the Bishops develop a national report to support the global process leading to an international gathering in 2023. This is not to be confused with the Australian Plenary Council which is running concurrently with the Synod. The Plenary Council focus is on the Church in Australia. The Synod is focussed on the Church globally.
The three dimensions of the Synod are Communion, Participation and Mission. These three dimensions are profoundly interrelated. They are the pillars of a Synodal Church. There is no hierarchy between them. Rather, each one enriches and orients the other two.
All group and individual submissions will be focused on one of the three dimensions. Participation can be via a small group discernment process utilising the Listening and Discernment Adult Guide or individually with the Individual Reflection Guide.
You may access the Listening and Discernment Adult Guide and Individual Reflection Guide.
The Synod Listening and Discernment group process is very similar to what was used in the Archdiocese of Brisbane during the Plenary Council Listening and Discernment phase.
Therefore any parish that facilitated the group Plenary Council sessions will be familiar with the flow of the Synod consultation process. The recommended time for each group Listening and Discernment process is 1.5hrs.
For those wanting to participate in the consultation period as an individual can do so with the Individual Reflection Guide. This guide is based on Lectio Divina. The Individual Reflection Guide is made to be used with the Questions for Reflection. The recommended time for each Individual Reflection process is 30mins.
- Encouragement from Archbishop Mark Coleridge
Encouragement from Archbishop Mark Coleridge
Here in Brisbane and right across Australia we are very much in Synodal mode. This follows the Pope’s launching of the worldwide Synod process and his call to all of us; the great community of the baptised everywhere on earth.
It is also timely that we have not long ago finished our own first assembly of the Plenary Council in Australia, so there is a great interweaving of the Plenary Council and the Synod process – the local and the universal, working together and enriching each other. That’s how the Catholic Church works. But please bear in mind this distinction – the Plenary Council is about the church in Australia; the synod process is about the church worldwide.
We have two months of parish consultation (until February 27, 2021), which is not long but it’s as much as we need. In this two-month period of consultation te question you might ask yourself is this, “if I had the chance to talk to Pope Francis, what would I say to him about the church worldwide?”
The parish consultation will eventually become an archdiocesan consultation that in turn will become regional, and that in turn will become global when the bishops meet with the Pope and others in Rome in 2023.
So it’s over to you – whatever you think the Pope needs to hear, we want to hear as well. This is really a call to enter into a new way of being the church, and on this journey of the worldwide Synod, the process itself is in many ways the product.
So I invite you, all of you, whoever you are, to enter into the process and let your voice be heard.
- The submission process
The submission process
Individuals and groups are asked to submit their summarised reflections directly to the National Centre for Pastoral Research.
The consultation period with local churches runs from October 17, 2021 to February 27, 2022.
- Synod Timeline