Let’s make them happen!
POPE FRANCIS AND A SYNODAL CHURCH
We are familiar with the words Synod and Synodal, but possibly we don’t stop to think what these expressions mean. That could all change very soon!
Synods tend to be groups of clerics – often the most senior ones – who gather somewhere (often in Rome) to debate major issues concerning the Church today.
Sadly, most of us don’t manage to get a flavour of what any given synod is about, what debates have taken place, and how the synod is supposed to form our understanding of the Church. Sadly, the useful life of many synods turns out to be rather short, or at least, short lived for our parishes.
POPE FRANCIS’ IDEA OF SYNOD
Not surprisingly, Pope Francis has his own ideas about what Synods should do for the life of the Church, and equally unsurprisingly, he is not really interested in synods as an end in themselves. What is important for the Holy Father is that there is a mechanism within the Church whereby the voices and ideas and hopes of all the Church’s members can be heard…and listened to.
Now, obviously this cannot happen at a gatherings of all believers throughout the world, but it can happen if there a re mechanisms for people everywhere to share their faith and their understanding of it with all their brothers and sisters. This is Pope Francis’ understanding of a SYNODAL CHURCH.
This is not a new idea there have been synods in whole countries; there have been synods in groups of parishes and so on. In recent years, SYNODALITY has tended to be seen as the gathering of reports of what is happening in Dioceses. Pope Francis seems to see it more in the living expressions of local communities/parishes/dioceses being shared. To sum it up, SYNODALITY occurs when people live, work, act with each other for the building of the kingdom of God. A Synodal Parish, for example, is a parish where people as individuals or as groups work for the good of the parish. Each group’s contribution builds the parish – sometimes it may be individual people rather than groups. This makes sense. St. Paul famously wrote in his 1st Letter to the Corinthians that each person has gifts given by the Holy Spirit, and the Church, the Body of Christ functions when all parts of the body function for the good of the body. Paul points out how ludicrous it would be if every part of the human body had to function like a leg, or a hand! All parts have their proper function.
Likewise with a SYNODAL PARISH. We don’t all do the same thing; we don’t consider some contribution to the parish to be more important than the other. We all contribute to the good of the Church by doing what we do for the parish as best we can.
There’s a lot more to say about SYNOD and synodality. I think it is a great way to develop parish life, and since we are slowly coming out of lockdown, it is a good opportunity to explore how SYNODALITY can be developed in our parish .
Have a think about this and let me know your thoughts
Canon Robert J. Hill
St. Matthew’s, Bishopbriggs