Category Archives: Synod

26 May: Prayer to the Holy Spirit for the Synod.

Adsumus, Sancte Spiritus

We are approaching the Feast of Pentecost when the first Church gathered in the Upper Room and received the Holy Spirit with her ‘sevenfold gifts’. Let us pray at this time for the success of the Synod, using the Church’s ancient prayer.

Every session of the Second Vatican Council began with the prayer Adsumus Sancte Spiritus meaning, “We stand before You, Holy Spirit,” which has been used at Councils, Synods and other Church gatherings for hundreds of years. It is attributed to Saint Isidore of Seville (c. 560 – 4 April 636). As we
are called to follow the path of the Synod 2021-2023, this prayer invites the Holy Spirit to operate within us so that we may be a community and a people of grace.

We stand before You, Holy Spirit,
as we gather together in Your name.
With You alone to guide us,
make Yourself at home in our hearts;
Teach us the way we must go
and how we are to pursue it.
We are weak and sinful;
do not let us promote disorder.
Do not let ignorance lead us down the wrong path
nor partiality influence our actions.
Let us find in You our unity
so that we may journey together to eternal life
and not stray from the way of truth
and what is right.
All this we ask of You,
who are at work in every place and time,
in the communion of the Father and the Son,
forever and ever. Amen.

Window, Saint Aloysius, Somers Town, London, England.


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Pope Tawadros blesses the Synod

General Secretariat for the Synod
NEWS RELEASE – 12.05.2023 

Pope Tawadros II blesses the synodal process of the Catholic Church 
“Your Holiness, we humbly ask you to bless our synodal journey and to accompany us with your prayers, yours personally and those of your Church, that we may know how to put ourselves in the Spirit’s hands !”, it was with this particular request that Cardinal Mario Grech concluded his address of greeting this morning to His Holiness TAWADROS II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark, accompanied by an eminent delegation of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Accompanied by the two undersecretaries of the General Secretariat of the Synod, Mgr. Luis Marín de San Martín and Sr. Nathalie Becquart,  Cardinal Grech presented the synod process and recalled how the Eastern tradition can help “the Catholic Church to better articulate the common participation of the faithful in the life of the Church, which has its source and culmination in the Divine Liturgy; as well as the collegial dimension of the episcopate, which finds its highest expression in the Synod, and the service to unity carried out by the protos“.

“We trust,” Cardinal Grech expressed, “that the Churches of the East will be able to stimulate us to promote a healthy decentralisation of authority, making better use of the regional and provincial levels of synodality, which have their roots in the beginnings of the undivided Church”.

Finally, the General Secretary of the Synod expressed his hope that the synodal path initiated by Pope Francis in 2021 ” will be a further important step towards the Orthodox East”.
For his part, Pope Tawadros II presented some aspects of the life of the Coptic Orthodox Church, while His Eminence Daniel, Metropolitan of Maadi and El Basateen, presented the workings of the Holy Synod of which he is Secretary General.

The meeting, which lasted just over an hour, took place in an atmosphere of great cordiality and fraternity.

Cardinal Grech’s full address is available in English and Italian.
The video of the blessing is available here.
Photos are available here.
Copyright  2023 General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
General Secretariat for the Synod of BishopsVia della Conciliazione, 34Vatican City 00120Vatican City State (Holy See)

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Synod News: the working document for the session this Autumn

The Synod’s working document approved

General Secretariat for the Synod
NEWS RELEASE – 12.05.2023 – ESP – FRA – ITA (Original) – POR

Draft Working Document for the Synod on Synodality approved 

On 10-11 May, the 15th Ordinary Council* of the General Secretariat of the Synod met in Rome to discuss the Instrumentum laboris: the working document for participants in the first session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (4-29 October 2023).

In plenary session and in language working groups, the Council members accompanied by some consultants reviewed, amended and approved the Instrumentum laboris, which is scheduled to be published in early June.

The participants also approved the assembly’s methodology. Furthermore, the work included a reflection on the preparation of the participants and some information on the Ecumenical Prayer Vigil on 30 September next as part of the Together2023 initiative (for more information: and the spiritual retreat for participants of the assembly (1-3 October 2023).

The meeting took place in an atmosphere of great fraternity and was marked by several moments of prayer and time for personal reflection.
*Members of the Ordinary Council take office at the end of the Ordinary General Assembly that elected them. They are members of the following Ordinary General Assembly and cease their mandate when the latter is dissolved.

Who are the members of the Ordinary Council?
Copyright  2023 General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
General Secretariat for the Synod of BishopsVia della Conciliazione, 34Vatican City 00120Vatican City State (Holy See)

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18 April: A mission not a club.

A queue for covid vaccinations at Lichfield Cathedral, early in the pandemic. Photo JB.

A third post about institutional religion and its mission, by no means irrelevant to Eastertide. We are in Lichfield, where the Dean, Adrian Dormer, is retiring after 17 years. Congratulations to him! Here he shares his thoughts on what a cathedral is about and what it should be aspiring to bring to its local community and the world. He refers back to Saint Chad, the humble missionary who founded the diocese in AngloSaxon times and discerns some of the challenges facing his successor.

Worthwhile reading for Synodal minded Catholics as well.

Permit me a ‘Moses moment’.  Moses ended his days pointing the children of Israel towards the promised land.  He reminded them to live as God’s people, to face up to the challenges they would face, always to have God’s priorities as their priorities; to be joyful in the blessings they had received and the blessing they were meant to be in the sight of all nations, never to forget God.  (see Deuteronomy 30: 11-20)  Let me share some thoughts.

Cathedrals are complex places with many people to serve and many roles to fulfil.  Lichfield Cathedral has an international, national, regional and local profile.  (Look at the people who join us for online worship – we stretch from Gaia Lane to Toronto and Lahore).

We receive (in good years) 200,000 visitors.  It could be double.  Ah! If only the colleagues in Local and National Government could wake up to that fact, work with us closely and provide a bit more infrastructure for signage, way-marking, marketing and good constructive planning.  It just needs intention and will.  It would have knock on effects for employment and business.  Equally, some guaranteed national support for repair and conservation of Cathedral buildings will safeguard a precious heritage and cultural asset.  In my view this is a ‘no brainer’, but I admit my brain doesn’t work as others do!

At the beginning of my time in Lichfield, the Cathedral Chapter and community discerned five roles played by the Cathedral.  These were and are:

  1. Cathedra – the name for the Bishop’s seat.  (We’re a ‘Cathedral’ because we house the ‘Cathedra’).  This comprises our set of responsibilities to the territory our Bishop oversees; it is the place to gather the Church, where the Bishop ordains and sends forth ministry, a place for him to teach and to send us all out in mission. 
  2. The Cathedral is an Icon – it speaks of the love and glory of God.  It is also a deeply emotional way-mark for many people – it captures a sense of home, place and memory, pointing us all to our home in God.
  3. A Cathedral is a place of tradition – it sums up a part of national history, but it bears the faith from generation to generation, every age making its mark and contribution, the faith being proclaimed afresh in every generation. 
  4. A Cathedral is a community.  Just as Jesus Christ called and gathered and sent disciples out to teach, preach, pray and heal, we’re called by him to be a community of missionary disciples, not simply a conventicle of the like-minded or the same class, age-group or outlook.  Loving and bearing with one another, getting our faults and blind-spots corrected and healed is an essential work of the Church as community. 
  5. A Cathedral is a border-land.  We’re a place of dialogue, innovation, hospitality and solemnity.  Though our events and activities we’re here to help dialogue about things of lasting importance, to widen vision, to help society understand itself and face up to challenges and need.  Because a Cathedral is open and accessible, many people feel able to touch the Sacred because they know the place is common ground.

Now this bit of discernment is, of course, up for refinement, revision or reworking.  Tradition always demands a serious coming to terms with the needs of the hour and the signs of the times.  Without that essential awareness, we become a preservation society not the Church.  We’re a mission not a club.  Looking around us at the moment, I think that in the short, medium and long term every Cathedral, and Lichfield can be no exception, has to address some big challenges (1) the environment and the climate emergency; (2) how racially and socially inclusive we must become; (3) how we have to nurture children and young people; (4) how we help society to re-discover a sense of justice and opportunity for all people; (5) how we keep and develop our buildings so that they are appropriate for our mission and role.

How to start?
First, ensure people of faith are glad of their faith and have confidence and joy in it.

Secondly, remember small steps on a mass scale bring about big changes – looking after the environment, cutting back waste, nurturing bio-diversity can all be revolutionary.  Life is not at its best if viewed as a Darwinian struggle, it becomes Christian when we live fruitfully and fraternally, humbly and hopefully with one another and the land.

Thirdly, we have to keep a view of the Church being trans-generational and inter-generational.  We have responsibilities to understand what every age group has to go through.  How can we serve one another?  We need to devote more resource to children and young people, make room for young families in our worship and activities and help the young with their life decisions, in their growing sense of self and personhood.  Equally, as we freshly re-claim the legacy of St. Chad, helping one another to health, giving support in sickness, disability and times of pain, bereavement or isolation, becomes vital ‘Kingdom of God’ work.  We might need to train and learn a bit more to be of help, or learn to make ourselves available.

Fourthly, we are living at a time when the ground is shifting.  What kind of wisdom can we bring to the sense that not much works – a health service rapidly unravelling, social care and ageing left unaddressed, sluggish responses to the climate crisis, and a housing crisis for all to see.  Living a good Christian life cannot be abstracted from the concerns of so many.  We have masses of Christian social teaching on these questions.  Don’t be dismayed by the Press when it lampoons those Christian concerns – they are the ignorant ones, knowing neither the Bible nor the Christian tradition.  Be aware of press bias and whose interests they serve.

Fifthly, people need beauty.  Our Cathedral and Close refresh the parts other places don’t.  Treasure this gem of a place.  To make it even more user-friendly we still need an ancillary building to the Cathedral to bring together our welcome and hospitality, cloakrooms, loos, café, shop, storage and exhibition space.  Let’s keep exploring the options.

As I take my leave, please accept my huge thanks and appreciation for all the interest, support and prayer you and so many others give and have given to the Cathedral.  Please go on giving it!  There’s a splendid team of Clergy, Staff and Volunteers doing extraordinary work: please encourage them.  Give the Interim Dean, Bishop (and Canon) Jan McFarlane the backing and help she needs (although in one so competent, you’ll have the assurance that it is business as usual and probably better!)

I am aware of all of those who have gone to glory during the past seventeen years and I thank God for so many lives of Christian faithfulness, generosity and service.  This memory can encourage us to stay joyful in hope, steadfast in trouble, and persistent in prayer.  All God’s saints cheer us on our way, be glad in their company. 

I pray that you will always live deeply in the mystery of Jesus Christ’s dying and rising.  It is the source of our salvation and the best news the world has ever heard.

Please pray for Caroline, our grown-up children (who have had a great time in Lichfield) and for me.  I’m sure retirement will be lovely – but it will take some getting used to.   All advice welcome, but I plan to have a good rest and not take on too much too soon, thereby correcting the bad habits of a life-time. 

With my thanks, prayers, love and blessing,

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1 April, Synod Press Release: the end of the Continental Stage.

Continental Stage comes to an end
The consultation also ends but not the dialogue with the People of God 

On Friday, 31 March 2023, the Continental Stage, that is, the second stage of the synodal process, officially ended and with it the time of broad-based consultation of the People of God. The inclusion of a time to listen, dialogue and discern among the Churches of the same geographical area after the Local Stage (diocesan and national) represented a new feature that was introduced by this synodal process.

This new stage was not confined to the mere celebration of seven continental assemblies, but was a real process of listening and discernment on a continental level. The question that formed the basis for these assemblies was the same and unique question of the synodal process as a whole, namely: How is our ‘walking together’ which enables the Church to proclaim the Gospel in accord with the mission entrusted to her, being achieved today at the different levels (from local to universal)? (PD No. 2).

Following the principle of subsidiarity, the organisation of this part of the process and the respective continental synodal assemblies were entrusted to local Organising Committees (or Task Forces) that were mostly part of the International Reunions of Bishops’ Conferences or the Eastern Catholic Churches. However, a special Task Force of the General Secretariat of the Synod accompanied their work.

The heads of the General Secretariat of the Synod and the General Rapporteur of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops ensured the presence of at least one of them in each continental assembly as a testimony of the closeness and desire of the Holy See to listen to the particular Churches.

The seven assemblies that, from the beginning of February to the end of March, have marked this time of the synod’s journey, were all ecclesial assemblies, that is, representative of the People of God (bishops, priests, consecrated men and women, laity). Their aim was to respond to the three questions contained in the DCS (no. 106) published on 27 October (for more details). Participants in these assemblies sought first to identify the ‘resonances’ aroused by reading the DCS and second, to indicate tensions and priorities. It was comforting to note how the participants in the continental assemblies recognized themselves in the paths identified in the DCS, notwithstanding that each one came from their own ecclesial and cultural perspectives which were sometimes profoundly different. The fruit of their discussions is contained in the Final Document that each Assembly produced and that will serve as a contribution to the work of the first session of the Synod of Bishops (4-29 October 2023). 

These documents were the fruit of an authentically synodal journey, respectful of the process so far, reflecting the voice of the People of God on each Continent. These seven continental documents will form the basis of the Instrumentum Laboris, the working document for the first session of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. It is now up to the Preparatory Commission, set up by the General Secretariat of the Synod, (read more), to organise the working group called to produce it.

All assemblies have been a graced time for the Church. In addition to emphasising the great desire for renewal by walking together in unity with Christ, the continental process revealed deep joy and the love of so many faithful for their Church, the People of God, despite its shortcomings and weaknesses as well as the importance of listening as a tool and permanent dynamic of ecclesial life. These assemblies also confirmed the decision to opt for the method of “spiritual conversation” to foster true listening and community discernment in order to reach ecclesial consensus.

The General Secretariat of the Synod expresses its heartfelt gratitude to all those who have engaged in this process with great seriousness and enthusiasm. The Continental Stage led to a greater awareness of the importance of walking together in the Church as a communion of communities, strengthening the dialogue between Particular Churches and the Universal Church.

The conclusion of the consultation does not mean the end of the synodal process within the People of God; nor does it mean the interruption of the dialogue between the Universal Church and the Particular Church. Rather. Rather, it means leaving the local communities with the challenge of putting those “synodal reforms” into practice in the daily routine of their ecclesial action, in the knowledge that much of what has been discussed and identified so far at the local level does not require the discernment of the universal Church nor the intervention of the Magisterium of Peter.

The Final Documents published so far are available here

Our mailing address is:
General Secretariat for the Synod of BishopsVia della Conciliazione, 34Vatican City 00120Vatican City State (Holy See)

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19 March: Lenten Pilgrimage XIV: the way, the truth and the life

Tomas Halik was ordained secretly when the Church was being persecuted in Czechoslovakia, and is still in active ministry as a university teacher. He was asked to give the opening address to the European Continental Assembly in Prague, his home city. This is an extract, the whole speech can be found here.

At the beginning of their history, when Christians were asked what was new about their practice, whether it was a new religion or a new philosophy, they answered: it is the way. It is the way of following the one who said: I am the Way. Christians have constantly returned to this vision throughout history, especially in times of crisis…

[The Synod] is a short portion of a long journey. This small but important fragment of the historical experience of European Christianity must be placed in a wider context, in the colourful mosaic of the global Christianity of the future. We have to say clearly and comprehensibly what European Christianity today wants and can do to respond to the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of our whole planet – this planet which is interconnected today in many ways and at the same time is divided and globally threatened in many ways. We are meeting in a country with a dramatic religious history.

This includes the beginnings of the Reformation in the 14th century, the religious wars in the 15th and 17th centuries and the severe persecution of the Church in the 20th century. In the jails and concentration camps of Hitlerism and Stalinism, Christians learned practical ecumenism and dialogue with nonbelievers, solidarity, sharing, poverty, the “science of the cross.” This country has undergone three waves of secularisation as a result of socio-cultural changes: a “soft secularisation” in the rapid transition from an agrarian to an industrial society; a hard violent secularization under the communist regime; and another “soft secularisation” in the transition from a totalitarian society to a fragile pluralistic democracy in the post-modern era. It is precisely the transformations, crises and trials that challenge us to find new paths and opportunities for a deeper understanding of what is essential. Pope Benedict, on a visit to this country, first expressed the idea that the Church should, like the Temple of Jerusalem, form a “courtyard of the Gentiles”.

We believe and confess that the Church is a mystery, a sacrament, a sign (signum) – a sign of the unity of all humanity in Christ. The Church is a dynamic sacrament, it is a way to that goal. Total unification is an eschatological goal that can only be fully realized at the end of history. Only then will the Church be completely and perfectly one, holy, catholic and apostolic. Only then will we see and mirror God fully, just as He is.

Christianity was the way in the beginning, and it is to be the way now and forever. So it was in the beginning, so it must be now and forever. The Church as a communion of pilgrims is a living organism, which means always to be open, transforming and evolving. Synodality, a common journey (syn hodos), means a constant openness to the Spirit of God, through whom the risen, living Christ lives and works in the Church. The synod is an opportunity to listen together to what the Spirit is saying to the churches today.

The photograph shows one of the demonstrations in Wenceslas Square in Prague that led to the overturning of Communist rule in what was then Czechoslovakia.

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16 March: Lenten Pilgrimage XII, Never lose sight of our leader.

The Good Shepherd, the one who leads us: Saint Mildred’s, Canterbury.

The following paragraphs are from a pastoral letter by Bishop Rose of Dover in response to statements on diverse sexuality and marriage, which generated much ‘noise’, within and outside the Church of England. We are not seeking to add to the volume of noise nor to prolong it, but we did want to share with you Bishop Rose’s concluding reflections which apply to each one of us as we follow the Good Shepherd on our Lenten Pilgrimage.

We have a rich diversity of culture, knowledge and experience. At the best of times, our diversity is one of our great strengths, enabling us to more fully to reflect the beauty and complexity of our world and our Creator. However challenging we may find life together, it is unChristlike for us to use our diversity as an excuse for separation and withdrawal from one another. Our Lord’s command is to love and serve one another. As your Bishop, I will always seek to follow that command and I ask the same of you. 

We are all children of God, who created each of us in his image, and we are the followers of Jesus Christ, who reaches out and draws all people to himself. In him our hope is found. In him, our messy offerings may become a blessing to one another and to our world. Let us never lose sight of the one who leads us. Let us never fail to sing with joy for what he has done for us. Let us never fail to share the good news that gladdens our heart, even though the challenges of this world surround us. Let’s do this all with kindness and care, for the sake of God’s Kingdom.

Yours in the service of Christ,

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The synodal and missionary Church presses on.

More news from the African Synodal Assembly.
This Synod Assembly is over, but the synodal and missionary Church is moving forward! 
After a morning dedicated to the practice of spiritual conversation in working groups on the draft Final Document that will be sent to the General Secretariat of the Synod by 31 March, this afternoon the participants gathered in plenary assembly to share the fruits of the morning’s work.
Much of the afternoon was devoted to perfecting the final document with corrections and amendments. It was an arduous but true collegial work where everyone was able to express their opinion. The assembly managed to approve a set of priorities that it intends to offer as Africa Synod document to the universal Church for the work of the 16th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

The ad hoc group of experts who, since the seminaries in Accra and Nairobi, have been working on the Addis Ababa Synodal Assembly document, will continue to refine the document according to the indications received from the Assembly before sending it to the General Secretariat of the Synod.
In their closing remarks cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel, who hosted the meeting, said
“We are all Africans, so let us be free to move anywhere, to journey together, especially our youth who aspire to go to go Arab region of Africa and South Africa in search of greener pastures. SECAM can not only be the voice of Africa but also the point of reference”.
Bishop Lucio Muandula, first vice-president of Secam, quoted psalm 133 “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes” to express his satisfaction and reminded how “Journeying together gives us the strength to overcome any problems and challenges.”
Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, General Rapporteur of the 16th General Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of the Bishops, expressed his joy and satisfaction on the work of the assembly. “I would like to thank God and all of you for this wonderful time of listening, of listening with empathy. In all continental assemblies I have found a catholic way of journeying together, of synodality through the spiritual conversation where sisters or brothers are a place where the Holy Spirit speaks to us and where we are all called to conversion in order to serve the world”. And referring particularly to the last session, he stated “I must say that I admire you for the passion you put in this last debate. It shows that the Church in Africa is living and that God’s Spirit is living in you”.
Then, the President of Secam, cardinal Fridolin Ambongo closed officially the meeting saying “We have come to the end of this historic Continental Plenary Assembly of the Synod on Synodality. […] These days we have been together at this Synod Assembly were not only a moment to talk about synodality, but a moment of experiencing synodality. We truly felt like a family, the family of God in Africa and the Islands that walks together, sharing joy and sorrows of our time.

Focusing on the exercise of listening, cardinal Ambongo recognized that “listening to each other and to the Holy Spirit, helped us to reach consensus in dealing with the delicate themes that the Church is living today on the continent and the Islands, and to identify the priorities of the Church in Africa.

This Syond Assembly is over, but the synodal and missionary Church is moving forward!”
The President of Secam then concluded that “Renewed through the celebration of this continental synodal assembly, the Church in Africa and Islands commits to move on, especially by deepening the sense of being a Church-family, making it a place of mutual listening and listening to the Holy Spirit, a place of communion, forgiveness and reconciliation. Renewed by the celebration of this synodal assembly, the Church in Africa commits to enlarge the tent of inclusion by following the Gospel principle of conversation as the criteria”.

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News from the African Synod Assembly

Visit for more news
Photos available here
The African bishops and other representatives of the African Church are meeting in Addis Abeba, capital of Ethiopia, where Christianity has been alive for longer than in most of Europe.

The African way of ‘walking together’ 
The Synodal Continental Assembly for Africa opened this morning in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) with the Holy Mass presided by Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, Archbishop of Luxembourg and Relator General of the XVI General Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, who reminded that “Synod is not about power. It is not about democracy. It is about the Holy Spirit. It is about a Church which is open to the world. Its mission is to all humanity. It is a Church which knows how to pray. It is a Church in line with the Holy Spirit” (more on his homily here).
The four-day event under the theme: “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission” has gathered 206 participants from across the continent all determined to deliver a document that will represent the true voice of Africa. Among them are nine cardinals, 29 bishops, and 41 priests. The rest are consecrated people and lay people including women, men, and the youth, and representatives of the other faith.
The meeting is being presided by Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, the newly elected President of the Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), and attended also by Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod.
The morning session started with a welcoming address by the SECAM Secretary General, Fr. Rafael Simbine Junior, who urged participants to share the African experience of the Synod on Synodality (more on his address here).

For his part Bishop Lúcio Muandula, SECAM’s first Vice President introducing works through a time of prayer has invited participants “to listen to each other about what the Holy Spirit is commanding the Church Family of God in Africa in order to start a new era of evangelization” (more on his address here).
Work proceeded with the presentation of the «spiritual conversation” method by Fr Giacomo a Consultor of the General Secretariat of the Synod (more on his address here).
The opening ceremony which was scheduled for the morning hours had to be rescheduled to the afternoon hours due to a road blockade that drastically slowed traffic flow in the city of Addis Ababa curtailing delegates’ movement to the venue- as the country celebrated the Adwa Victory Day.

In his greetings to the plenary President of the Ethiopian Bishops’ Conference Cardinal Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel make a call “to listen deeply to the voice of the Holy Spirit and to listen to each other to be instruments of peace”.

The Apostolic Nuncio to Ethiopia  Bishop Antoine Camilleri reminded that “Walking together, which is part of continuity, does not exclude discontinuity, especially for a Church which concerned by paying particular attention to everyone, even beyond the divisions that our societies live and in which we learn to listen to each other. This is why synodality means solidarity, mutual support, attention to others… Therefore, it is not a new structure of the Church: it is a matter of doing   things which have always been done, but in a renewed way inspired by the Gospel” (more on his address here)

Cardinal Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo, SECAM President, expressed gratitude to the Holy Father for this pastoral initiative to call the whole Catholic Church to rediscover the precious value of synodality. “This synodal process, under the sign of communion, participation and mission, constitutes a time of grace and a great moment of ecclesial communion for the Church”, he said, and proceeded “this synodal process confirms the Church’s way of doing things in Africa. Indeed, rooted in African anthropological principles, especially palaver, Ubuntu and Ujamaa, which emphasize community spirit, a sense of family, teamwork, solidarity and conviviality, the Catholic Church in Africa has grown as a Family of God”.

The meeting was also attended by Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, Deputy Chair African Union who represented the Secretary General of the African Union, Dr. Moussa Faki Mahamat. She said that “Synodality is an essential principle of the Catholic Church and its relevance extends beyond religious institutions. Synodality emphasizes the importance of inclusivity and dialogue in decision-making processes. It also has the potential to contribute to addressing the various challenges of the African continent” (more on his address here).
In his greetings, Cardinal Mario Grech, told the participants that “the Church in Africa, Madagascar and the Islands possesses significant resources to contribute to the Universal Church engaged in this process of synodality. An African theology of synodality – he noted – could be a lasting contribution to the development of a synodal church in the Third Millennium”. And he pointed out “when I refer to your distinctive African theology, I’m referring not only to the valid contribution that academics can offer but also to the theology elaborated by the entire people of God considering that the holy people of God are the subject of the theological and pastoral discernment – the holy people of God is the protagonist of this Synodal process. If we need to make theology we must listen to the people of God, even to the people of God in the African continent” (more on his address here).
In tomorrow’s working session, participants will deepen the practice of the spiritual conversation method. A new release will be issued at the end of the day.

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Synergy in a Symphony: the Synod assembly in Bangkok

General Secretariat of the Synod

#Synod Bangkok 2023 PRESS NOTE 4 – FEBRUARY 26, 2023 Synergy in a Symphony

The third and final day of the Asian Continental Assembly on Synodality, just as the previous two days, began with ‘Adsumus Sancte Spiritus’ a prayer to the Holy Spirit. 
The facilitators for the day were Bishop Pablo David, Bishop of Kalookan, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines; Ms Teresa Wu, from Chinese Regional Bishops’ Conference of Taiwan; and Ms Estela Padilla, Executive Secretary of the FABC Office of Theological Concerns, Theological Commission, for the Synod and member of the FABC Synodal Task Force.
Within their groups, the delegates shared their thoughts and views of events of Day 2 that resounded in their hearts and minds. 
Jean-Claude Cardinal Hollerich SJ, Archbishop of Luxembourg, and Relator General of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops addressed the delegates, underlining three points. Using the example of musical instruments, Cardinal Hollerich first explained how each delegate is an instrument, and ought to function in unison, to produce a symphony. And this has to be done repeatedly, with discipline, and in tune with others (instruments), lest it turns into a cacophony. Secondly, Cardinal Hollerich stressed that Synodality requires humility, and it is only in humility can we work and walk together on this journey. Lastly, Cardinal Hollerich emphasized that a Synodal Church is a Church that is missioned by Christ to proclaim the Gospel and be of selfless service to all people of God.
Fr. Clarence Devadass, a member of the Discernment and Drafting Team, then presented a few highlights of the amended Draft Framework of the Final Document, as well as the processes involved in incorporating amendments suggested by the delegates. The delegates were invited to reflect in silence, in preparation for the spiritual conversation within the groups.In the afternoon session, the delegates reflected on two questions – which ecclesial structures need to be changed or created to enhance the synodality of the Church in Asia? and what the delegates wish to see transpire between the October 2023 session and the October 2024 session of the Synod on Synodility. The delegates then shared their final thoughts on the final framework of the Final Document followed by a short while of silent prayer.
In the concluding statements, Mario Cardinal Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, shared his views on the three-day Asian Continental Synod, assuring the delegates that their journey at this Synod will be fruitful and their contributions will not be forgotten by the Universal Church. Archbishop Kikuchi, Secretary General of the FABC, gave the final vote of thanks, placing on record the gratitude towards all those involved in ensuring that the Asian Synod was successful. 
The concluding Eucharist was celebrated by Charles Maung Cardinal Bo, Archbishop of Yangon and President of the FABC; concelebrated by Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovitvanit  Archbishop of Bangkok George Cardinal Alencherry, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly (Syro-Malabar), and Bishop Mathias Ri Iong-hoon (Lee Yong-Hoon) of Suwon, South Korea.
In his homily, Cardinal Bo expressed that the synodal journey is relatively like Jesus’ journey in the wilderness – challenging but necessary because it enables the Church to better witness to the Gospel, through a process of listening, encountering, and discerning. Cardinal Bo stated that a change of attitude is required in our approach towards the challenges we face. He offered the word L.E.N.T as an acronym for this attitudinal change:
L = Letting Go. If this journeying together is to be meaningful, we need to learn how to let go of all that prevents us from being that synodal church as shedding is a pre-requisite for growth.
E = Encounter. Journeying on the path of discipleship has a specific goal – to encounter Christ and be reminded of Pope Francis’ call to a ‘culture of encounter’. An invitation to work in a simple way ‘as Jesus did’, not just seeing, but looking; not just hearing, but listening; not just passing people by, but stopping with them; not just saying “what a shame, poor people!” but allowing one’s self to be moved with compassion.
N = Neighbourliness. The parable of the Good Samaritan was preceded by the question: ‘Who is my neighbour?’ (cf. Lk 10:29). In the end, it was the one who showed mercy. In Asia, we are a minority and we live amidst social, political, and religious tensions. Despite such tensions, we called to help our brothers and sisters in need.
T = Transformation. Cardinal Bo recalled the words of the psalmist: “Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.” In this synodal journey, he said that we are called to hear what the Holy Spirit is telling to us. Therefore, if we are walking together to bring about a renewal in the life of the Church, we need the transforming power of the Holy Spirit as by ourselves we cannot achieve anything. We are always in need of God’s transforming grace as we walk together in this synodal journey ‘to serve Him alone’.
At the end of the Eucharist, the twelve representatives of the groups during the Synod, placed before the celebrant, candles they bore at the inaugural Eucharist, in floral holders, as a symbolic offering of their interactions and recordings during these three days.

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