The head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) emphasized the threefold priorities of a “synodal” church ahead of this week’s opening of the general assembly of bishops in the Vatican.
Bishop Pablo Virgilio David sought prayers for all delegates to the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, noting that seven continents and various sectors would be represented, including religious, lay people, and women, in plenary and small-group meetings.
In a video message, he recalled the synod’s objective of establishing a more “synodal Church,” which radiates “communion, participation, and mission,” three themes identified by Pope Francis during the launch of the synodal process in October 2021.
David, who is also the bishop of Kalookan diocese, stressed that communion means uniting one’s heart and mind in one spirit, while participation and mission require meaningful involvement in the Church’s work, particularly in spreading the Gospel message.
Three prelates are representing the Philippines at the “Synod on Synodality”: David, Cardinal Jose Advincula of Manila, and Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara of Pasig, who is also the CBCP vice president.
Also participating is Estela Padilla, a lay Filipina theologian who is among the 70 non-bishop members appointed by the pope to join the synod with voting rights.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, the former archbishop of Manila who is now the pro-prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Evangelization, will also participate in the synod as part of the Roman Curia.
The synod, underway since 2021, functions as an advisory body to the pope. Consultations have been held at various levels – parish, diocesan, national, and continental – culminating in general assemblies in Rome in October 2023 and October 2024.
It is expected to produce a final document after the 2024 meeting, which could serve as the basis for an apostolic exhortation that, in turn, becomes part of papal teaching or the magisterium.”
The October 2023 synod, which opens Oct. 4 and ends on Oct. 29 with a closing Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, will have 464 participants, of which 81 are women. There will be 365 voting participants, of which 54 are women, a historic first.