On October 9-10, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and taking his cues from the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965; a worldwide gathering of cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated religion and lay people), Pope Francis began a two-year process of consultation with Catholics around the world to help shape the flow and form of what Catholicism may look like for many years to come. This consultation process has coined the word "synodality" (from the Greek synodos, "to journey together"), and Pope Francis has titled this two-year endeavor For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission.
This process of consultation evolves through three phases:
- Phase 1: Local / Listening: each diocesan bishop is tasked with crafting a process where Catholics in the pews can come together and discuss topics of real-world need and importance to their respective communities; of special importance to Pope Francis is that all Catholics in an area should be heard, including people that tend to sit on the margins and fringes of Church society; in our diocese, the opening Mass took place today (Sunday, October 24); the initial gathering of diocesan delegates takes place Saturday, October 30 at the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle; mass will be celebrated that day at 11:30 am
- Phase 2: Continental: bishops from each conference gather together to review the questions, ideas, and issues brought forth in their individual dioceses; for us in the United States, that conference is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
- Phase 3: Universal: a month-long gathering in October 2023 at the Vatican where each bishops' conference comes together to formally discuss the topics of most importance, then begin the work of implementing any reforms and structural changes that come out of the two-year process of listening, accompaniment, and encounter
Pope Francis is challenging the Catholic church to become a church that emphasizes co-responsibility: where ordained (Pope, bishops, priests, deacons), consecrated religious (monks, nuns, brothers, sisters, etc.), and lay people (the majority of Catholics who are neither priests or consecrated religious) share power, purpose, and responsibility in exercising leadership roles to help in the evangelization of the whole world.
As we journey together these next two years, we're asked to pray the following prayer for the local, continental and universal delegates who, under the direction of Pope Francis and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, will help to shape the way our Church continues to follow in the footsteps of our Lord and Master.
We stand before You, Holy Spirit, as we gather together in Your name.
With You alone to guide us, make Yourself at home in our hearts;
Teach us the way we must go and how we are to pursue it.
We are weak and sinful; do not let us promote disorder.
Do not let ignorance lead us down the wrong path nor partiality influence our actions.
Let us find in You our unity so that we may journey together to eternal life and not stray from the way of truth and what is right.
All this we ask of You, who are at work in every place and time, in the communion of the Father and the Son, forever and ever.
(From the USCCB Website)
For more information, visit:
Blessings & Peace,
Hugo De La Rosa III