HomeNews‘Frame of reference’ for next stage of synodal process released

‘Frame of reference’ for next stage of synodal process released

Titled “Enlarge the space of your tent,” the document will form the basis for the work of the second stage of the synodal process

The Vatican on Thursday, October 27, released the “frame of reference” that will guide the next stage of the synodal process that Pope Francis launched in October 2021.

Titled “Enlarge the space of your tent,” the document will form the basis for the work of the second stage of the synodal process.

Pope Francis launched the Synod on Synodality as a worldwide undertaking during which Catholics were encouraged to submit feedback to their local dioceses.

The “Working Document” for the “Continental Stage” of the process is based on the syntheses from the Churches in the five continents that held consultations with the faithful.

The document calls for “a Church capable of radical inclusion,” and notes that synod reports raised questions such as the inclusion and role of women, young people, the poor, LGBTQ, and the divorced and remarried in the Church.

The 44-page working document, called the “Document for the Continental Stage” or “DCS, is a summary of the reports submitted to the Vatican by bishops’ conferences and other groups.

The document aims to be “the privileged instrument through which the dialogue of the local Churches among themselves and with the universal Church can take place during the Continental Stage.”

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It notes diverse challenges the Church faces worldwide, such as increased secularization, forced conversion and religious persecution, lack of structures for people with disabilities, and clericalism.

It also identifies the celebration of the Mass, whether according to the pre-Vatican II missal or the post-Vatican II liturgy, and access to the Eucharist as “knots of conflict” in the Church.

The text cites a great “diversity of opinion” on the subject of priestly ordination for women, which some reports called for and others considered “a closed issue.”

The document is “not a conclusive document” but is meant to start dialogue and solicit feedback on what should be the priorities for discussion during the Synod of Bishops in October 2023.

The text will operate as an outline for the next stage of synod discussions: The Continental Assemblies, to be held on different continents between January and March 2023.

In particular, the document presents three reflection questions to which Continental Assemblies will need to respond after people have read and prayed over its content:

  • Which intuitions resonate most strongly with the lived experiences and realities of the Church in your continent? Which experiences are new or illuminating to you?
  • What substantial tensions or divergences emerge as particularly important in your continent’s perspective? Consequently, what are the questions or issues that should be addressed and considered in the next steps of the process?
  • Looking at what emerges from the previous two questions, what are the priorities, recurring themes, and calls to action that can be shared with other local Churches around the world and discussed during the First Session of the Synodal Assembly in October 2023?
Participants to the ‘synod on synodality’ in the Archdiocese of Bangkok attend a meeting on December 18, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Archdiocese of Bangkok)

Catholic dioceses around the world are asked to provide feedback on the questions that will be collected and synthesized by bishops’ conferences.

The Continental Assemblies will meet between January and March 2023. Each Continental Assembly is required to submit a final document of no more than 20 pages, providing the region’s response to the three reflection questions by March 31, 2023.

“Their task will be to draw up a list of priorities, upon which the First Session of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will be held from Oct. 4–29, 2023, will carry out their discernment,” says the document.

Bishops are also asked to meet to “collegially reread” the synod experience and validate and approve the final document produced by the Continental Assembly to ensure that it is the “fruit of an authentically synodal journey.”

The continental phase of the Synod on Synodality follows the local stage, in which parishes and dioceses held listening sessions and solicited feedback from Catholics on the future of the Church.

The document is filled with direct quotations from the reports sent by bishops’ conferences around the world, summarizing the feedback from the diocesan stage of the Synod on Synodality. – from a Catholic News Agency report

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