Pope Francis plans synodal shake-up

Pope Francis plans synodal shake-up

by Christopher Lamb in The Tablet

The next synod of bishops gathering in Rome has been postponed until 2023 so that an unprecedented consultation of Catholics can take place in advance.

Pope Francis had originally planned a synod on the theme of synodality for October 2022, but in a radical shakeup, Rome is asking every diocese across the world to begin the first phase of the process on 17 October this year.

Link to article in The Tablet:


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  1. Colm Holmes says:

    I wonder will our Irish Bishops now dump the National Synodal Assembly and focus on Pope Francis’ Synod in October 2023? That would be a shame as the National Synodal Assembly would include a majority of voting lay members, whereas only bishops will be involved in Phases 2, 3 and 4 of the new Synod – lay people may complete a questionnaire in Phase 1 but are excluded thereafter. Certainly not what I understood by “Synodality” which Pope Francis had described as “all of the church all of the time” rather than the old system of “some of the bishops some of the time.”

  2. Ger Hopkins says:

    You are probably much better informed about this than I am, Colm, but have you a (publicly available) source for saying:

    “the National Synodal Assembly would include a majority of voting lay members”?

    If so, it’s a fairly crucial bit of information.

    Looking at the Bishop’s Synod FAQ
    I just see:

    “Some of the members are people who “must” be called to an Assembly of this nature such as the Bishops, leaders of Religious Orders, Seminary Rectors and Heads of Theological Institutions. Others … will represent lay faithful and clergy from each diocese on the island as well as members of various Catholic organisations and groups… The approximate number of members at the Synodal Assembly will be decided after consultation at a later date.”

    “If the need to vote arises members are the only people who can do so at a Synodal Assembly.”

  3. Sean O'Conaill says:

    As you imply, Colm, there is no good reason for the June meeting of the Irish bishops to announce an abandonment of the plan for a national assembly because of the pope’s revised process for the upcoming synod on synodality (now postponed to 2023).

    Note also that all dioceses are instructed to hold some kind of gathering before April 2022 in the wake of this coming questionnaire – and that will be entirely new for most dioceses, including Dublin.

    Ideally we need a joint pastoral letter immediately, to be read at all masses – to flag up a process that in many parishes may not otherwise be heard of – due to many tired priests dreading any additional burden. Certainly that should happen to alert people to a questionnaire that is likely to be online.

    Will we hear more next month also of a financial crisis in the Irish church? I cannot see that being resolved without a sea change in relationships, designed to tackle the grievous problem of lost trust. That surely needs to be a top priority for any synodal process worthy of the name. A frank acknowledgement of that issue would therefore be advisable also.

  4. Colm Holmes says:

    #2 Ger Hopkins
    I was referring to the German Synodal Path where 55% of the Members are lay people appointed by lay groups and where all the key issues in our church are being openly discussed. I saw some hope in our bishops referring to a “National Synodal Assembly” rather than a National Synod, thus allowing scope for synodality with laity and clerics working together. Hopefully AMRI’s proposals to establish a national voice for laity in the Irish church will bear fruit.

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