The Holy Father Pope Francis decided to begin the synodal process with a consultation at the level of the local Churches. The Pope wishes to incorporate the specific experiences of local Churches around the world into the Synod, which is scheduled to take place in Rome in 2023.
On 17 October 2015, at the 50th anniversary of the institution of the Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis explained the meaning of a synodal Church with the following words:
“A synodal Church is one that listens and understands that listening “is more than simply hearing.” Everyone has something to learn from this mutual listening. The faithful, the college of bishops, and the Bishop of Rome are all listening to one another, and they are all listening to the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of truth,” to see what he “says to the Churches.”
The church is the Body of Christ, the People of God, and the Holy Spirit’s Temple. The grace of baptism, accompanied with the fullness of reception of confirmation, makes a person a member of Christ’s body, and thus responsible for its life and mission. According to the Second Vatican Council, the entire body of the faithful who have received the holy one’s anointing cannot err in matters of belief. This is known as the supernatural sense of faith (sensus fidei) of God’s entire people, who also have an intuitive ability to discern the new ways that the Lord is revealing to the church.
The church, as the Body of Christ, is a divine and spiritual reality. The existence of the church on Earth, as well as its members, demonstrates its human dimension. To comprehend the church in its entirety, we must consider both the human and spiritual dimensions of the church.
If we only consider the church’s worldly structures, we risk reducing the church to a purely human social group and the Synod to a parliament. Synodality, on the other hand, is a human as well as a spiritual process “involves mutual listening, with everyone having something to learn. The term “synodality” refers to “The church’s very essence, her constitutive reality, is thus oriented toward evangelization.
It is a religious way of being and a prophetic example for today’s world.” Pope Francis intends for the synodal process to allow the church to hear the Holy Spirit’s promptings resounding among the faithful in various parts of the world. The Synod is not so much a place to push one’s idea or agenda, nor is it a “representation or quota system,” but rather a place for all the baptized to discern God’s will and listen to the Holy Spirit in order to chart a course for the church in the third millennium. As a result, every Catholic is invited to take part in discerning what “the Spirit says to the churches” in the context of the modern world and its challenges.
Participating in the synodal process strengthens collaboration and dialogue on the church’s new ways of being and evangelizing in the world.