Continental Synodal Assembly for Europe: We have also listened to the silence! We have also listened to the empty chair!

At the opening of the Continental Synodal Assembly for Europe, Cardinal Mario Grech focused on two aspects of the synodal journey experienced so far: the active participation of the People of God with its Pastors and listening. (Links to Morning and Afternoon Sessions below.)

“A correct exercise of synodality never sets these two subjects in competition, but places them in constant relation, allowing both to fulfil their proper function. … We can already consider this dynamism of communion a fruit of the synodal experience, which dispels more than a few initial fears: giving the People of God an active participation in the life of the Church in nothing detracts from the hierarchical ministry; on the contrary, it enhances it and manifests its indispensable function in the life of the Church”.

 Regarding the second aspect ‘the importance of listening’. For the General Secretary of the Synod, listening means “listening to hear the Holy Spirit speaking to the Church. One cannot and must not reduce to a rhetorical phrase the statement that “a synodal Church is a Church of listening”. If this is true, it must always be true. For many, listening corresponds to a useless waste of time, which favours and even justifies those in the Church who want to make controversies, allowing them to put a spoke in the wheels. It would be strange, however, for us to pretend to mature a true consensus in a Synod on synodality, indeed on the synodal Church, without having fully practised the principle that supports and regulates the exercise of synodality. In the Preparatory Document we asked to listen to everyone, even those furthest away, perhaps taking for granted the listening of those who participate in the life of the Church. Criticism rained down on this indication, as if we wanted to favour some at the expense of others. Everyone means everyone, no one excluded.

 …In the consultation we were able to hear all voices, except the voice of those who did not speak, because they could not or did not want to. We also listened to the silence! We also listened to the empty chair! If one could not because we have failed to listen, we are called upon to verify what we have failed in. But if he did not want to, we must understand the reasons why. The truest way, which avoids easy shortcuts, is to create ‘places’ where everyone can speak; places of confrontation, where everyone feels they are heard. Truth in the Church does not depend on the tone and volume of statements, but on the consensus it is able to create precisely from listening to each other. On such a decisive issue as the ‘constitutively synodal Church’, we must not be afraid to confront each other: it is not our arguments that will convince us, but the Holy Spirit who leads the Church to the whole truth (cf. Jn 16:13).]

Watch the live streaming
Day 1 – Morning Session
Day 1 – Afternoon Session

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