The First Session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops has ended with the publication of a Synthesis Report titled A Synodal Church on Mission. This is not a final document, but an instrument at the service of ongoing discernment.
The text offers reflections and proposals on topics such as the role of women and the laity, the ministry of bishops, priesthood and the diaconate, the importance of the poor and migrants, digital mission, the Eastern Catholic Churches, ecumenism, and abuse.
The General Secretariat of the Synod invites you, along with all the People of God, to continue to walk together as a Listening Church by praying and reflecting with this synthesis report.
The Synthesis Report is structured in three parts. The first outlines "the face of the synodal Church", presenting the practice and understanding of synodality and its theological underpinning. Here it is presented first and foremost as a spiritual experience that stems from contemplation of the Trinity and unfolds by articulating unity and variety in the Church. The second part, All disciples, all missionaries, deals with all those involved in the life and mission of the Church and their relationships with one another. In this part, synodality is mainly presented as a joint journey of the People of God and as a fruitful dialogue between the charisms and ministries at the service of the coming of the Kingdom. In the third part, Weaving bonds, building community, synodality is presented mainly as a set of processes and as a network of bodies enabling exchange between the Churches and dialogue with the world.
In each of the three parts, individual chapters bring together convergences, matters for consideration and proposals that emerged from the dialogue. The convergences identify specific points that orientate reflection, akin to a map that helps us find our way. The matters for consideration summarise points about which it is necessary to continue deepening our understanding pastorally, theologically, and canonically. This is like being at a crossroads where we need to pause so we can understand better the direction we need to take. The proposals indicate possible paths that can be taken. Some are suggested, others recommended, others still requested with some strength and determination.
In the coming months, Episcopal Conferences as well as the hierarchical structures of the Eastern Catholic Churches, serving as a link between the local Churches and the General Secretariat of the Synod, will play an important role in developing our reflections. Taking their starting point from the convergences already reached, they are called to focus on the questions and proposals that are considered most urgent. They are asked to encourage a deepening of the issues both pastorally and theologically, and to indicate their canonical implications.
The second session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will take place in Rome in a year’s time.