Synod leaders seek bishops’ support for preparatory process [News analysis]
January 30, 2023
The top organizers of the Synod on Synodality have written to the world's bishops, assuring them that the Synod has no hidden agenda, and asking their support for the preparatory process.
In their letter, Cardinals Mario Grech and Jean Claude Hollerich—who are the secretary-general and the relator of the Synod, respectively—tell the bishops that no themes will be "surreptitiously introduced" to the discussions at the worldwide Synod meeting in October by anyone seeking to "exploit the assembly and disregard the consultation of the People of God."
The primary reason for the lengthy process of consultation in preparation for the Synod, the two cardinals write, is to respond to "the great question challenging the Church since the Second Vatican Council: 'Church, what do you say of yourself?'"
Cardinals Grech and Hollerich remind the bishops that along with their responsibilities for their own dioceses, all bishops are expected to show "solicitude for the universal Church." In that context, they encourage the bishops to be full participants in the preparatory process. They go on to say that the Synod should help bishops in both respects: strengthening their own pastoral ministry and giving them an opportunity to have a voice in the overall direction of the universal Church.
The unusual letter from the Synod leaders appears to be a response to complaints that the preparatory phases of the Synod have been stage-managed, and the entire process controlled by officials hoping to guide the Synod toward pre-ordained results. The letter addresses those complaints by urging bishops to be actively involved (rather than to act as passive critics), and by insisting that the decision-making process is open to all.
At the same time, the two cardinals warn against any bid to derail the Synod process, and indicate that the agenda for the bishops' discussion has been set by the consultations that have already taken place. Their letter, they say, is written to explain "a few considerations for a common understanding of the Synod process."
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