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Catholic World News

Continental stage of Synod officially concludes

April 21, 2023

The continental stage of the Synod on synodality, which began on October 28, concluded with a Vatican press conference.

Officially called “For a synodal church: communion, participation, and mission,” the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops began in October 2021 with a diocesan phase, followed by an episcopal conference/Eastern church phase and the continental phase. The universal phase will culminate in two synodal meetings in Rome, in October 2023 and October 2024.

The continental assemblies led to the publication of seven continental phase documents (for North America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and Madagascar, and Oceania).

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, SDB, of Perth (president of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference), Sister Nathalie Becquart, XMCJ (undersecretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod), Msgr. Lucio Adrián Ruiz (secretary of the Dicastery for Communication), and Father Hyacinthe Destivelle, OP (an official of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity) spoke at the April 20 press conference.

“We are led to recognize ourselves as an essential part of the reality of the Church—to attend to the echoes of our own experience, our own hopes and dreams, our own convictions about the Church, which we hear in the voices of the other continental assemblies, and at the same time be open to other dreams, other hopes and other convictions—and in all this to listen carefully and attentively, and expectantly, for the voice and the call of the Holy Spirit coming through all these voices: to find the harmony which is there, if we look carefully enough, in what at times might initially look like disharmony,” said Archbishop Costelloe.

Sister Becquart described the “impact of synodality” as “listening, parrhesia [candor], freedom of speech, communion and solidarity, more closeness, empowerment.”

Msgr. Ruiz spoke about the “digital synod.”

“Digital missionaries and evangelizers and Catholic influencers” are “those people, especially but not only young, who hear the call to evangelization and the mission in the networks and digital spaces, and develop their Christian vocation there, by helping, accompanying, preaching, giving their time to those who are in need,” he said. “They are very diverse in terms of style, sensibility and way of carrying forward the mission. In the first phase, carried out over two and a half months, 250 digital missionaries participated; now there are over 1000.”

Father Destivelle discussed the ecumenical dimension of the synod.

“If the ecumenical path is intended as an ‘exchange of gifts,’ then one of the gifts Catholics could perhaps receive from other Christians is indeed their synodal experience,” he said. “Synodality and ecumenism are indeed two journeys that have a common aim: better witness of Christians today, ‘that the world may believe’ (Jn 17:21).”


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