Catholic Church Reform Int'l recently released a survey inviting people globally to describe their experience of Covid-19 and freely share its effect on their experience of church, their place in the human family, and their hopes and dreams for our world. We were interested in knowing whether the experience of the lockdown had changed what is important to them and whether they intended to change anything about their life as they transitioned through the pandemic. Providentially, we find it encouraging that this is also the topic of Pope Francis's newest book: Let us Dream: the Path to a Better Future.
This broad initiative was in response to the Papal Exhortation on the Amazonian Synod, released in February 2020, just as the Corona virus pandemic began its global impact. Just as Francis immersed himself into the people and the culture they live in to understand the obstacles and opportunities they face, likewise, through this survey, we have attempted to do the same – really listening to the diversity of voices and seeking the Spirit-guided perspectives of the People of God. The survey was conducted from July to September 2020 in five languages (English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese) with responses from thirty countries spanning six continents. While we believe we speak for a broader group, when we refer to the People of God, we are primarily reflecting the views of the participants in this survey.
The summary result, which we dare to call A Peoples Exhortation, is a parallel effort to reflect an incarnate journey and to collect broad perspectives with many points of connectedness. For centuries, the Catholic Church has tried to make everyone sing one note, but we believe beautiful harmony can be made from all the different notes.
|Synod as we would like for it to look||Synod as it has always looked in the past|
Preparing for the 2022 Synod called by Pope Francis
The next synod scheduled for October 2022 will discuss the theme: “For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission.” We have delivered the Exhortation to Pope Francis and to Cardinal Grech, the newly appointed secretary general of the Synod of Bishops. As part of the preparation for this Synod, we have asked that the laity - including us and other lay reform organizations - be invited to:
(1) contribute to the Lineamenta (the working document to set the agenda for the Synod), and
(2) be invited to join with the bishops as voting members in this special synod.
In the past, it was customary to send the Lineamenta to conferences of bishops and the Pontifical University, to the Union Superior Generals of men, and to clergy. We remind the secretary general that this Lineamenta must be liberally distributed throughout the whole Church – including lay leaders, the Union of Superior Generals of women, and International lay groups. Young people and women in particular need to be involved in this Synod, which we hope will demonstrate advances in the faith that will concretely influence institutional decisions.
The theme of this next synod is synodality. We share Pope Francis’s understanding that the term represents a process of discernment, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, involving bishops, priests, religious, and lay Catholics, each according to the gifts and charisms of their vocation. This special synod to be held in October 2022 will only be true to itself and true to the concept of synodality when there is a mingling of the people with bishops, women religious with men religious, lay women with lay men, and young adults with the older generation. We are hoping that the bishops will be open to change, but we as the People of God are committed to doing our part to bring needed change within us. This commitment becomes clear in A Peoples Exhortation. We offer our help to the Holy Father and to the secretary general of the Synod to bring to fruition an assembly representative of the whole Church.
Our movement, Catholic Church Reform Int'l, was established in 2013 when Francis was elected pope and it was for one reason: he gave us hope. Interesting that in his newest book, Let us Dream, Francis says that hope is reciprocal: “What I also see—and this gives me hope—is a people’s movement calling for profound change, a change that flows from the roots, from the concrete needs of people, that arises from the dignity and the freedom of people.”
The concept of Synodality has been a topic of frequent discussion by Pope Francis. We agree with him that bringing together voices representing the whole church will be key not only for the future Church but for the Church now in these tumultuous times. For any Synod to be successful, diversity of opinions is needed. If not consensus, the goal of a synodal church is to find harmony amid the differences.
Recommended Action Steps for us as the People of God
It is time for us as the People of God to carry on what Pope Francis has begun, moving our Church forward to continue the work of Jesus in our world today. There are several synodal gatherings occurring globally. Specific steps we can each take on behalf of each of these synods:
Take the survey released by a group of Austrians: Get more voices of the people included in the Lineamenta to determine the topics to be discussed at this gathering and how it will be structured. We want to see lay people, especially woman and young adults, be included as participants and voting members. The survey is in both German and English. Here is the link in English: https://survey.zulehner.org/index.php/514332?lang=en To take the survey in another language, go there and use www.translate.google to convert the survey to your language.
Join with us and be part of reforming our Church
YOUR GIFT – IN ANY AMOUNT – IS PRICELESS
We continue to wish all of you the best for the New Year. Thank you in advance for taking part in any or all of these action steps. It doesn’t matter if you are an individual or part of a large organization. Every single outreach can make a difference in getting our church back on mission as Jesus intended it. Help spread the word in this newsletter to your circle of contacts.