Synod on Synodality: Bishop Brian message on the first phase of the Synod of Bishops.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
During a liturgical celebration in the Vatican yesterday, Pope Francis opened the first phase of the 16th Synod of Bishops which will meet in Rome in 2023 and whose theme is ‘For a Synodal Church: communion, participation and mission’. Pope Francis invites everyone, including you, to participate in this first phase. Next weekend, I will celebrate Mass in St Margaret’s, Roy Bridge to mark the beginning of this first phase here in Argyll and the Isles. I ask that you also pray for the success of the Synod during Mass in your own parishes next Sunday.
The word ‘synod’ means ‘journeying together’. Pope Francis teaches that the Church is naturally synodal because ‘journeying together’ is rooted both in Scripture and our Tradition. Furthermore, he believes that listening to others will be crucial for the Church in this third millennium.
I have appointed Fr Danny Convery and Marianne Lucchesi (a parishioner of St Margaret’s) as the Diocesan Contact Persons for the Synodal Process. I thank Fr Danny and Marianne for taking on this important task. A Diocesan Synodal Team will also be created.
The focus of this first stage is listening to the local Church. What is the Holy Spirit saying to us in Argyll and the Isles? An atmosphere of prayerful reflection, especially on the Scriptures, is encouraged. The documents suggest Meetings at parish level, at deanery level, at diocesan level, of clergy and of various other groups. A special emphasis is placed on listening to the marginalised and the lapsed.
I met with Fr Danny and Marianne recently and it was decided that it would be best to spend the time before Christmas preparing for the listening sessions. This first stage will involve prayer, setting up a diocesan team, training leaders and informing people of the Synodal process and purpose. Then from January to April the various groups will meet so that as many voices as possible can be heard. As bishop I very much want to learn from the insights of parishioners and clergy. A synthesis of what is expressed will be collated and be passed on to the Bishops’ Conference as a basis for further reflection.
Although a lot of work will be involved, I believe that this synodal process is very exciting and that the Church can be greatly enriched by it, both locally and universally. As our diocesan team develops it will keep us informed. In the meantime the Vatican’s documents can be viewed on our diocesan website as well as in other places. I commend the synodal process to you. You too are a Temple of the Spirit and can help the Church better discern God’s Will for her today.
Let us pray for one another and be open to the Spirit’s promptings.