Kia tau te rangimārie ki a koutou
On Tuesday 15 June I was involved in a Zoom conversation with Officials at the Synod Office in Rome. One of the people sitting alongside Cardinal Mario Grech, the General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, was Sister Nathalie Becquart. Sister Nathalie is a French Catholic religious sister, amember of the Congregation of Xavières, and was appointed a consultor to the Synod of Bishops in 2019 and named one of its undersecretaries in 2021.
Why am I telling you about Sister Nathalie? I am writing about her because of the changes Pope Francis is making to the Synod process, and she is one of the drivers and hard workers behind it. Pope Francis has announced that there would be a Synod Assembly in Rome next year, in October 2022, that has now been put back to October 2023. It has been put back a year because Pope Francis wants a PROCESS that gives everyone a chance to be heard. He is promoting a synodal process that will involve the whole Church. It will focus on listening to one another and to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
The Pope has said that this should begin with a bottom-up full diocesan-level process of consultation, which “will require patience, work, allowing people to talk so that the wisdom of the people of God will come forth…”. He is also very clear that this is a PROCESS of discernment. He went on to say “A Synod is nothing more than making explicit what ‘LUMEN GENTIUM’ says…” (Lumen Gentium, theDogmatic Constitution on the Church, is one of the principal documents of the Second Vatican Council.)
I will be communicating to the Archdiocese a lot more information about this Synodal Process over the next few weeks and months. Pope Francis will open the Synod process on the weekend of 9-10 October in Rome, then every diocese in the world will have an Opening Mass on Sunday 17 October. The synodal consultation process for the Archdiocese of Wellington will then follow. It has been said many times that history tells us that it usually takes 50-60 years for the effects of a major Council in the Church to be experienced. I believe that Francis is making that happen. The wonderful thing is that we can be part of it.
The theme of this Synod Assembly we will all be preparing for is “For a Synodal Church: communion, participation, mission.” This is our chance to be involved, to walk together, to listen to the Holy Spirit and to one another, to be in communion, to participate and to respond to our call to mission.
There will be much more information coming your way, in the meantime please pray that each one of us will make the most of the opportunity.