#newsletter n.19 – 10/2022 – Available also in FR – PT – ES – IT
Another newsletter from the Synod Office, telling where they have reached in their work.
Good morning everyone!
This month of October has been full of surprises. We began with the private audience that Pope Francis granted to the group of experts – mostly members of our commissions – who had gathered in Frascati to discern and draft the Document for the Continental Stage. A simple and very fraternal moment that many of those present will certainly remember.
On 3 October, the Holy Father gave us a second gift through the Pope’s World Prayer Network and Click to Pray, which published his prayer intention for the month of 0ctober: ‘We pray that the Church, ever faithful to, and courageous in preaching the Gospel, may the Church be a community of solidarity, fraternity and welcome, always living in an atmosphere solidarity’.
Then, we recalled the 60th Anniversary of the Opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, on 11 October: this important event in the life of the Church which is at the origin not only the birth of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, but also in a certain sense of this synodal process itself.
And the surprises did not end there. Indeed, we recall how on 16 October, at the end of the Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis announced that the 16th Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will take place in two sessions: the first from 4 to 29 October 2023; the second in October 2024. This extension of the synodal journey is meant to be an opportunity – as Pope Francis said – “to foster an understanding of synodality as a constitutive dimension of the Church, and to help everyone to live it in a journey of brothers and sisters who bear witness to the joy of the Gospel”.
Let us therefore take advantage of this to continue our synodal conversion and put into practice what we can do, as of now, to make ecclesial communities more and more synodal.
Finally, the month will end with the long-awaited publication of the Document for the Continental Stage, which will be presented to the media at the Holy See Press Office on 27 October at 12.15 p.m. (Rome time).
As you will see, there has been no lack of work, and so we have been a little delayed with the inclusion of the resources you have sent us, as well as in reporting on them. Please do not desist and continue to send us what you are carrying out within the framework of the synodal path. I wish you good reading.
Thierry Bonaventura Communication Manager
What is the Continental Stage?
Here is an infographic to explain what the Continental Stage is. Associated with it, we remind you that the FAQ is also available. FAQ and infographic are available in 5 languages.
Message from the General Secretariat of the Synod on the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, 11 October 1962.
The Synod of Bishopswas instituted by St. Paul VI at the beginning of the fourth and final period of the Council (Sept. 15, 1965), responding to requests made by many council fathers.
The purpose of the Synod is to prolong, in the life and mission of the Church, the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, which represented “the great grace from which the Church has benefited in the 20th century” (John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte, Jan. 6, 2001, 57). This task is an ongoing process; in some respects it is still in its infancy.
We have received this document from the Catholic Bishops of the World, inviting all to two years of listening, dialogue and discernment. We expect to hear more from Rome but also from our own bishops, and let’s hope that plain language is used throughout! We at Agnellus’ Mirror do strive for that, and will do so as we share our reaction to the downloadable documents listed below.
At this early stage, let’s pray that the Holy Spirit will not be prevented from breathing through the Church; but that the breath of each of us may be combined in a harmonious and diverse song of hope: do not let us promote disorder.
The Bishops offer their own prayer from the days of Vatican II: see below.
The Church of God is convened in Synod: a time of listening, dialogue and discernment that the whole Church intends to carry out over the next two years in order to better respond to its mission of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ to the entire world.
These Litterae communionis (Letters of Communion) of the General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops want to resume the ancient Christian tradition of sending epistolae among the Churches as an instrument of sharing and communion.
Accompanying this journey of the Church in a synodical manner also means informing and sharing the joys, hopes and good practices of our communities.
So: Set out on the road tooand share this newsletter with your friends!
YOUR FELLOW TRAVELLERS Download the Preparatory Document for the synodal journey! Downloadthe guide for listening and discernment.
Each session of the Second Vatican Council began with the prayer Adsumus Sancte Spiritus. As we are called to embrace this synodal journey, this prayer invites the Holy Spirit to work in us so that we can be a community and a people of grace. For Synod 2021-2023, we propose to use this simplified version, so that any group or liturgical assembly can pray it more easily.
Copyright 2021 General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is: General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops Via della Conciliazione, 34 Vatican City 00120 Vatican City State (Holy See) Add us to your address book
This post and the next two link to articles in Hallam News, the newspaper of the Roman Catholic diocese based in Sheffield, Yorkshire.They could help us as we find our feet again as worshipping communities. Click on the link for the first two steps.
At the annual gathering of the priests of the Hallam Diocese in October 2018 the speaker was Tom O’Loughlin, Professor of Historical Theology at Nottingham University. Tom gave the priests of the diocese Six Simple Steps which could go some way to achieving Vatican II’s vision in our celebration of the Eucharist. Today we take a look at the first two.
Step1: Abandonusing the tabernacleattheEucharist
Step 2: Have a real Fraction (the Breaking of the bread)
Half-way through May and this blog has no mention of Mary … not very Catholic! But here she is, in the midst of the Church, such as it was in those days after the Ascension. One of the team.
This picture, shot through clear stained-glass windows, shows us a glimpse, not only of the first Church receiving definitively the Holy Spirit, but also of the noisy, diverse corner of London that St Aloysius’ serves. The church itself stands above street level, an Upper Room, slightly removed from the noise of traffic.
Visitors from many parts call in, perhaps between trains at Euston or Saint Pancras terminals. Find out more about the church and parish here.
I am always happy when I find it open; some people feel uncomfortable in modern churches, but this was designed to celebrate the Vatican II liturgy and brings everyone close to the altar. If you have a few minutes between trains, you too may just find it open! And Mary, filled with the Spirit, ponders all these things in her heart, and unites her Son’s disciples in the Upper Room, be it in Jerusalem or Somers Town.
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS FRANCIS
FOR THE 104th WORLD DAY OF MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES
29 September 2019
“It is not just about migrants”
I’m ashamed to say that the International Day of Migrants almost passed me by, despite its having been held more than 100 times. We now share an extract from Pope Francis’s message for the day in which he links migration to the misuse of Earth’s bounty that he explored in Laudato si’; the full text can be found here: Migrants’ Day
Faith assures us that in a mysterious way the Kingdom of God is already present here on earth (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 39). Yet in our own time, we are saddened to see the obstacles and opposition it encounters. Violent conflicts and all-out wars continue to tear humanity apart; injustices and discrimination follow one upon the other; economic and social imbalances on a local or global scale prove difficult to overcome. And above all, it is the poorest of the poor and the most disadvantaged who pay the price.
The most economically advanced societies are witnessing a growing trend towards extreme individualism which, combined with a utilitarian mentality and reinforced by the media, is producing a “globalization of indifference”. In this scenario, migrants, refugees, displaced persons and victims of trafficking have become emblems of exclusion. In addition to the hardships that their condition entails, they are often looked down upon and considered the source of all society’s ills. That attitude is an alarm bell warning of the moral decline we will face if we continue to give ground to the throw-away culture. In fact, if it continues, anyone who does not fall within the accepted norms of physical, mental and social well-being is at risk of marginalization and exclusion.
For this reason, the presence of migrants and refugees – and of vulnerable people in general – is an invitation to recover some of those essential dimensions of our Christian existence and our humanity that risk being overlooked in a prosperous society. That is why it is not just about migrants. When we show concern for them, we also show concern for ourselves, for everyone; in taking care of them, we all grow; in listening to them, we also give voice to a part of ourselves that we may keep hidden because it is not well regarded nowadays.
Tomorrow we begin a series of posts leading up to Saint Francis’ day.
Jesus had said his kingdom was not of this world, he could not establish the kingdom using any kind of force. For the next several centuries there was little chance of Christians being involved in decision-making – they were being constantly persecuted. Then from being objects of persecution they became part of the establishment in Eastern Roman Empire, with the Decree of Constantine [Edict of Milan 313] – Now came the tendency to believe the empire was the kingdom of God. They saw their role as to obey Christian princes; problems only arose when there were clashes between Popes and Emperors.
The Church in Gaudium et Spes, Vatican II’s Pastoral Constitution on The Church in the Modern World, recognised the findings of Teilhard de Chardin but it soon became evident that this document did not solve all the issues – for instance it does not touch on the value of human work in the world – is technology helping or just keeping us busy? What the Bible tells us and tradition has handed on is in symbolic form, and needs interpretation. We do not know the future in the way we know the past. All that we really know is the demand the future makes on the present. We learn not by looking, but by doing, we are not waiting for the next world to come, but we do feel the need for a new world.
For the Bible the world is not just a place but history itself – it is history always moving towards fulfilment of God’s promises. We must be constantly on the move from a comfortable status quo to a universal better future for everyone – no exclusions. It is not action in the world that must go, but our individual and privileged stake in the present: the privilege of being white where black people have to do menial tasks, the fostering of economic development with larger economies crushing the smaller, the exclusion of the poor from places reserved for the privileged – these are the evils in the world that must pass away.
We will hear more from Austin in a few weeks’ time. WT.
I hope you can forgive me for looking at other chains of thought these last two months. This was only partly due to a computer putting on a hi-vis vest and going on strike. A new hard drive sorted that out. But it is good to have Friar Austin back! I’ve taken the liberty to add a couple of footnotes. Fr Rathe’s book gives something of a flavour of the Church just before the Council, when things were already beginning to change.
Can the inspiration of God ever be in conflict with the law of the Church? The whole prophetic tradition suggests that can happen. How do we test the spirit of an inspiration that suggests breaking the law? We must judge what is in line with spirit of the law. For example, the relaxation of fasting before Communion enables more people to receive the Sacrament.1
Unhelpful are: an over-simplifying notion of moral law; a preoccupation with precise measurements; disproportionate concern with sexuality; judgement of isolated bits of behaviour divorced from the whole person; punishment of sin seen in terms of an angry God; reconciliation seen as a means of shedding guilt; blind obedience praised as good behaviour by those in authority; concentrating on private morality at the expense of the social.
The perspective of Vatican II’s Moral teaching was to reject the blue-print model of the natural law – God’s plan. It presents life as gift, a fruit of the Spirit [Lumen Gentium 7.]2, and stressing personal dignity.
Conscience is not infallible, and it can be dulled by sin. Faith is conversion from sin, not once but continually; nowhere does the Church suggest that Scripture, Teaching… provide ready-made answers; we have to discern in the everyday of life. Moral challenge is not to keep the law in order to get to heaven, but to develop the full potential of what it means for me to be a human being. Gaudium et Spes 28 emphasises human development, even to loving enemies – i.e. involvement of will. [Part 2 of Gaudium et Spes3. is a treatise on values].
1Monsignor Landru took us into the house where we enjoyed a glass of cold water before saying Mass. I wonder if the Holy Father ever thought of the tremendous refreshment he would be giving priests like ourselves, when he said: “Water does not break the Eucharistic Fast”. You have to go to the tropics, anyway, to appreciate cold water.From‘ Mud and Mosaics – a Missionary Journey‘by Fr Gerard Rathe MAfr, Published 1961, available in full at http://thepelicans.org.uk/histories/history40a6.htm#top
Have we missed the point? The Church’s teaching can change about some matters but not about the truths God has revealed. These are eternal and remain forever. It may not be immediately evident how much our thinking depends on how we understand Revelation. In the past theologians discussed which particular truths God has revealed, and whether we knew Revelation through Scripture alone or also through the living tradition of the Church. Today’s preoccupation has more to do with what is Revelation?
It is himself that God reveals, showing himself more clearly than he was known before, showing something about himself that was hidden or not noticed before. He shows himself as Saviour, merciful and gracious, making life worthwhile and giving meaning to our existence. Does God do this by speaking words, or by events? If it is words – how does he speak, what language and to whom does he speak? If God uses events and not speech what is the difference between reason and revelation? How important are the words we have in our Creeds?
The Church turned specifically to these questions in Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on Revelation. Dei VerbumThis document takes us to the Bible to understand Revelation, and refers to the Bible as modern Scripture scholarship has learned to interpret it. It does not claim that all of the Bible is Revelation nor that all Revelation is in the Bible. It claims that the Bible offers us the classic instance from which we can understand how and what God reveals.
The Bible as a rule records events that happened in the history of God’s special people – such as the Exodus; the achievement of a common identity in the journeying in the desert. Sometimes it records the same events in different ways. The purpose of the telling is not to give an accurate chronicle of all events, but to give an interpretation of how clearly God’s mercy and faithfulness and love for his people was clearly manifest.
In the crossing of the Sea of Reeds – Exodus 14 – for example, it is never clear whether the people were able to get through because an easterly wind cleared the waterbed, or whether the waters parted instantaneously when Moses raised his staff, or whether they saw an intervention of an angel. The narrator seems completely unconcerned about giving a factual account, perhaps because what was important to him was that through their escape from slavery the people realised God’s care for them.
Life is always in process, and all possible developments cannot be foreseen; there is a time-lag between the first experience of a new way and the discussions of theologians, and then the new way of formulating a doctrine. This means that the practice of the faithful will be in place before official pronouncements; which means that even when the pronouncements are made, life will again have moved beyond that point and the theologians will be trying to follow life.
However, some seem to think that the developments that happened in the past completed everything, save a few minor points. Before Vatican II this was a widely accepted view; but anyone who has taken care to read the documents of Vatican II will see how development of doctrine is very much a work in process; with any issue being revisited for further discussion. As regards the past we can judge what in fact true development was. For the present and the future we must live with risk, not having access to absolute certainty. This means remaining open to truth, no matter from whom or from what it may come. Just another way of saying – we live by faith and not by sight.
Life and growth of the Church, including the development of her teaching, cannot be without conflict; sometimes conflict is painful, but need not involve bitterness or hostility – exclusions and condemnations are not necessary. Those who have most furthered the doctrine of the Church have usually been persons who acted discreetly and patiently, without fearing the truth of their own experience, insight and learning.