… We recall that the purpose of the Synod, and therefore of this consultation, is not to produce documents, but to plant dreams, draw forth prophecies and visions, allow hope to flourish, inspire trust, bind up wounds, weave together relationships, awaken a dawn of hope, learn from one another, and create a bright resourcefulness that will enlighten minds, warm hearts, give strength to our hands … (Pope Francis)
Click here or on the image above to read “A Synodal Church in Mission,” the synthesis report from the Synod on Synodality, the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, First Session, Oct. 4-29, 2023, Vatican City.
A Tribute to the Women of the Synod / FutureChurch
Pope’s major Vatican summit ends without action on women deacons, mention of LGBTQ Catholics / National Catholic Reporter
Participants voted on the final text paragraph by paragraph through the early evening of Oct. 28. The threshold for passage for each paragraph was a two-thirds majority of the voting members. The paragraphs that received the most no votes were two of the primary paragraphs addressing the possibility of women deacons.By Christopher White and Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
“Pope Francis’ high-stakes summit on the future of the Catholic Church concluded on Oct. 28 by postponing action on the possibility of ordaining women as deacons and failing to acknowledge deep tensions that surfaced in a month of debates over how the global institution should care for its LGBTQ members.
“A 41-page report, approved and published that evening, called for the results of earlier papal and theological commissions on women deacons to be presented for further consideration at the next assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to be held in October 2024.
“The report, titled ‘A synodal church in mission,’ follows an intense month of debates at the Vatican among some 450 participants over a range of big issues, including the role of women in church ministries, clergy sexual abuse and better inclusion of LGBTQ Catholics.
“While previous documents leading up to the closely watched meeting were marked by candor and openness, the synthesis report for the Oct. 4-29 assembly takes a much more cautious tone. Although it makes 81 proposals, they are often quite open-ended or general, and the text calls for further theological or canonical study, evaluation or consideration at least 20 times.”
By Christopher White and Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
- Synod Report: A Church that involves everyone and is close to world’s wounds, By Salvatore Cernuzio, Vatican News
- The Synthesis Report at the conclusion of the 16th General Assembly of the Synod on Synodality is published. Looking ahead to the second session in 2024, the test offers reflections and proposals on topics such as the role of women and the laity, the ministry of bishops, priesthood and the diaconate, the importance of the poor and migrants, digital mission, ecumenism, and abuse.
- Striving for consensus, Synod ends by soft-pedaling contested issues, By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com
- Synod synthesis shows agreement, divergences, including on ‘synodality,’ By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot
- Synod publishes final report and votes: calls for more discussion on synodality, women deacons and more, By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review
- Exclusive: Cardinals Cupich, McElroy say ‘impossible to go back’ to synods without lay votes, By Joshua J. McElwee and Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter
- Synod is a milestone in the reception of Vatican II, By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter
- Pope Francis closes synod with ‘dream’ of a church with open doors, By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter
- Vatican deems bigger church role for women ‘urgent,’ but postpones major issues, By Jason Horowitz and Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times
General Assembly to the People of God: The Church must listen to everyone / Vatican News
Participants in the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops have approved a Letter to the People of God giving thanks for their experience, detailing the work of the past few weeks, and expressing the hope that in the coming months, everyone will be able to ‘concretely participate in the dynamism of missionary communion indicated by the word ‘synod.’Vatican News
Letter of the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to the People of God
Dear sisters, dear brothers,
As the proceedings of the first session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops draw to a close, we want to thank God with all of you for the beautiful and enriching experience we have lived. We lived this blessed time in profound communion with all of you. We were supported by your prayers, bearing with you your expectations, your questions, as well as your fears. As Pope Francis requested two years ago, a long process of listening and discernment was initiated, open to all the People of God, no one being excluded, to “journey together” under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, missionary disciples engaged in the following of Jesus Christ.
The session in which we have been gathered in Rome since 30 September is an important phase of this process. In many ways it has been an unprecedented experience. For the first time, at Pope Francis’ invitation, men and women have been invited, in virtue of their baptism, to sit at the same table to take part, not only in the discussions, but also in the voting process of this Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. Together, in the complementarity of our vocations, our charisms and our ministries, we have listened intensely to the Word of God and the experience of others. Using the conversation in the Spirit method, we have humbly shared the wealth and poverty of our communities from every continent, seeking to discern what the Holy Spirit wants to say to the Church today. We have thus also experienced the importance of fostering mutual exchanges between the Latin tradition and the traditions of Eastern Christianity. The participation of fraternal delegates from other Churches and Ecclesial Communities deeply enriched our discussions.
Our assembly took place in the context of a world in crisis, whose wounds and scandalous inequalities resonated painfully in our hearts, infusing our work with a particular gravity, especially since some of us come from countries where war rages. We prayed for the victims of deadly violence, without forgetting all those who have been forced by misery and corruption to take the dangerous road of migration. We assured our solidarity and commitment alongside the women and men all over the world who are working to build justice and peace.
Vatican City, October 25, 2023 — Read more …
Women’s voices and votes loom large as pope is set to open a Vatican meeting on church’s future / Associated Press
‘I don’t want to use the word revolution,’ (Sheila) Pires (who works for the South African bishops’ conference and is a member of the synod’s communications team) said in an interview in Johannesburg. But women ‘want their voices to be heard, not just towards decision-making, but also during decision-making. Women want to be part of that.’By Nicole Winfield and Trisha Thomas, Associated PressBy Nicole Winfield and Trisha Thomas, Associated Press
“A few years ago, Pope Francis told the head of the main Vatican-backed Catholic women’s organization to be ‘brave’ in pushing for change for women in the Catholic Church.
“Maria Lia Zervino took his advice and in 2021 wrote Francis a letter, then made it public, saying flat out that the Catholic Church owed a big debt to half of humanity and that women deserved to be at the table where church decisions are made, not as mere ‘ornaments’ but as protagonists.
“Francis appears to have taken note, and this week opens a global gathering of Catholic bishops and laypeople discussing the future of the church, where women — their voices and their votes — are taking center stage for the first time.
“For Zervino, who worked alongside the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio when both held positions in the Argentine bishops’ conference, the gathering is a watershed moment for the church and quite possibly the most consequential thing Francis will have undertaken as pope.”
By Nicole Winfield and Trisha Jones, Associated Press — Read more …
Enlarge the Space of Your Tent
With an extraordinary amount of gratitude, the planning team of Enlarge the Space of Your Tent: A Boston Synodal Gathering share with you this synthesis of our discernment together. This document will be shared with his Eminence Cardinal Sèan O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston. You are very welcome to share the synthesis with their own local parishes, religious communities, prayer groups, etc., in service to the Synod on Synodality, which commenced in Rome on Wednesday, October 4. As Pope Francis has exhorted us, “Without prayer there will be no Synod.” Please continue to hold these and all the spiritual conversations of the Synod in your personal prayers. Click here to view, download, and print the Synthesis, and please continue to hold these and all the spiritual conversations of the Synod in your personal prayers.
2024 Synod Resources & Information
- With every monthly issue, Commonweal offers a free discussion guide to use for one or more of its articles to help facilitate conversations in classroom, parish, or reading group. As the first session of the Synod on Synodality began Oct. 4, start a conversation about the history of Catholic synods in your community with a new, free discussion guide to go with the feature article, “Synodality & Catholic Amnesia.” You can access a PDF version of the discussion guide here. For even more comprehensive discussion materials on synodality, such as Synodality and the Laity, Listening to Marginalized Voices, or The Ecclesiology of Pope Francis, be sure to check out Commonweal’s Conversation Starter Series (CSS). An archive of our free discussion guides is posted at cwlmag.org/discuss.
- Retreat for the participants of the Synodal Assembly — Prior to the First Session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, participants experienced a three-day spiritual retreat in Sacrofano (near Rome). Each day, participants received two meditations by Sr. maria Grazia Angelini, O.S.B., one at Lauds and the other before Mass, and two meditations by Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., during the morning. Click here for links to texts of these meditations provided in several languages.
- On April 20, the General Secretariat released the Instrumentum Laboris (working document) for the synod gathering of October 2023 where bishops from around the world and 70 lay people will gather in Rome. Here is a link to a PDF of the document.
- The Synod on Synodality has completed its Continental Phase and started the first of the Bishop Synod meetings. A second series of meetings in Rome will begin October 2024. The extension encompasses an implementation period as well as a second bishops’ meeting.
- For a summary of the Diocesan Phase and the new Continental phase, watch the video Listening to the Faithful from our 2022 National Conference. (For an earlier video, explaining the purpose and the background of the Synod, see “The Synod: What It Is and Why I Should Care.“)
- The Continental Phase Working Document “Enlarge the Space of Your Tent,” can be your focus for continuing synod discussions in 2023, or you can consider the new working document prepared for the meeting in Rome. Click here to read the summary Voice of the Faithful sent to the office of the General Secretariat from the Continental Phase.
- Click here for links to the Final Documents of the Continental Phase on the Vatican’s Synod 2021-2024 website.
- Also please read the National Synthesis of the People of God in the United States of America for the Diocesan Phase of the Synod.
- Click here to read Voice of the Faithful’s Synod on Synodality Report that has been submitted to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops in Rome. Note: The submission included the requested 10-page summary as well as the additional appendixes allowed by the Secretariat. The full reports from the scribes in all Synod sessions are in Appendix D.
Thank you for Making Your Voices Heard
The culmination of our many Synod sessions January through May, distilled to the 10 pages the General Secretariat required, went to the Vatican last week. As promised, we sent it directly to the Secretariat to ensure that your voices would be represented among the lay voices seeking to be heard in the Synod for Synodality. We included in the report three appendices, as was also allowed, including one with three separate reports from diocesan groups who had asked us to please submit their reports with ours. In addition to our Synod Submission, an additional appendix will be ready shortly, with the hundreds of pages of scribe reports from the 45 sessions we held.
We thank you for raising your voices–not just those of you who spoke through us, but also the hundreds of you who attended Synod sessions in your own dioceses to ensure lay voices pursuing our mission and goals would be heard there.
We especially thank Bev Spencer, who devoted hours of time to tracking registrations, assigning each registrant to two session dates, making sure facilitators and scribes were assigned for each session, and helping deliver links and preparatory materials when needed, along with any lists needed to tabulate the reports. Thank you to our Executive Director, Donna B. Doucette, who handled all the registration downloads and provided the preparatory videos and slideshows for our Synod sessions, and to Nick Ingala, our Communications Director, who kept the Synod page fresh and fielded all the inquiries to the office.
We thank the committee that helped us put all the sessions together, from setting up the questions and formats to hosting pilot sessions: Chris & Ethel Doyle, Don Garbison, Karen James, Margaret Roylance, Susan Vogt, and Paul Welsh. Thanks also to Mary Pat Fox and Margaret Roylance who helped Donna condense the hundreds of responses into a 10-page summary. And thank you to every one of you who served as scribes and facilitators during the six months; your assistance was invaluable!
We have posted the Synod report on our Synod page, and we will add Appendix D with the scribe notes as soon as possible.
All the resources that were available during the sessions will remain here, for later and ongoing reference. The initial global listening phase is only the first step in the ongoing return of our Church to its roots as a synodal Church, in action and in decision making. Resources to guide your efforts in the future will remain relevant.
“Conversations on Synodality” webinar with Prof. Rafael Luciani and Prof. Kristin Colberg now available on VOTF Vimeo channel.
2024 Synod Resources
- Click here to go to the Vatican’s website on the Synod on Synodality
- KEY DOCUMENTS: Vatican’s Preparatory Document for the 2023 Synod and the Vademecum for the Synod on Synodality, which is the official handbook for listening and discernment in local churches during the first phase of the 2023 Synod from October 2021 through April 2022 in dioceses and bishops’ conferences leading up to the Assembly of Bishops in Synod in October 2023
- Timeline graphic showing the stages leading up to the October 2023 Synod bishops’ meeting
- Comprehensive guide to conducing mini-synods to gather information and listen to views in advance of preparing input into the 2023 Synod process
- Slide presentation on synodality and the 2021-2023 Synod process prepared by the Gereral Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops
- For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission North American Final Document for the Continental Stage of the 2021-2024 Synod, on USCCB.org
- Access via Boston College’s Student Voices Project 2022 for high school, college, and graduate students to talk about the Synod. Scroll all the way to the bottom for the initial survey link.
- Definitions of papal documents, placing the Synod and its process among the most important documents a pope issues
- The Synodus Episcoporum: For a synodal Church communion, participation and mission — XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops
- Voice of the Faithful’s inclusive document “Information Resources on Synods, Synodality and the 2023 Synod”
- Leadership Roundtable’s Synod on Synodality resources.
- Links to all of the Vatican II documents (also see “How do we prepare for a synodal process? Start with the documents of Vatican II,” by Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter)
- “The Church on the way: Prayer for a synodal Church” from the Vatican
- Sign up for The Synodal Journey Newsletter by the General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops
- Synod Consultation Plans, map of U.S. archdioceses and dioceses from National Catholic Reporter that have synod consultation plans
- RESULTADOS Asamblea Ecclesial, Forty-one pastoral challenges identified during the synodal process in Latin America and the Caribbean during summer and fall 2021
- Prayers for the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops — “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission” (2021-2024).
- Biblical Resources for Synodality, by Commission on Spirituality, Biblical Sub-Group, March 2022
- Towards a Spirituality for Synodality, by Commission on Spirituality Sub-Group — Spirituality for Synodality, June 2022
Videos About Synodality
“Listening to the Faithful: The State of the Synod”: update on the Diocesan Phase and preview of the Continental Phase by Donna B. Doucette, VOTF Executive Director
“Why participate in the Synod?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67AzH2ZlAac
Sr. Natalie Becquart (of the General Secretariat) on synodality: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xf4ixP21R6U
“A new way of being Church” by Prof. Rafael Luciani (one-hour lecture): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsMhhRKzzcI
“From Episcopal Collegiality to Ecclesial Synodality,” a lecture by Prof. Massimo Faggioli: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31KMA5kZVD0
“Webinar: For a Synodal Church,” by Discerning Deacons features Profs. Kristen Colberg, Rafael Luciani, and Hosffman Ospino–all specialists in ecclesiology and synodality–speaking about what Pope Francis is inviting us to do.
“From the Margins to the Center” by Fr. Robert Choiniere for the New Ways ministry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6nk41o2-uk
VOTF video on what the Synod is and how to participate, presented by VOTF Executive Director Donna Doucette (videographer Vincent Rocchio)
Toward a Synodal Church: Co-Responsibility and the Lay Apostolate, presented by the Catholic Appostolate Center
2024 Synod Media Coverage
- Resource list for coverage of the synod on synodality, By Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter
- The secret synod, By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter
- National Catholic Reporter’s guide to U.S. participants at the synod on synodality, by Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter
- What is a synod in the Catholic Church? And why does this one matter? by Jason Horowitz and Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times
- Follow National Catholic Reporter for reports on Synod on Synodality, By National Catholic Reporter
- Synodal Discernment and women in the diaconate, by Phyllis Zagano, The Tablet
- Could you explain what the Synod on Synodality is to a 10-year-old? If not, we need to simplify some things. by Jim McDermott, America: The Jesuit Review
- Cardinal McElroy on the voices of synodal dialogue: discerning a path for the Church we love, by Robert W. McElroy, Commonweal
- Bishop McElroy: Pope Francis and Vatican II give us a road map for the synodal process, by Robert W. McElroy, America: The Jesuit Review
- Bishop Robert McElroy discusses a synodal Church, by Chamindale University Communications & Marketing
- Whose voices will be heard?, by Gabriella Wilke, Commonweal
- How to make the church synodal? Inclusion, say respondents in three countries. by Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com
- I reviewed all of my diocese’s synod responses. Three missing elements could point the way forward for the church. by Louis J. Cameli, America: The Jesuit Review
- Campaigners hope report sent to Vatican will result in radical reform of Church in Ireland, by Conor Capplis, Irish Examiner
- Swiss bishops’ Synod report: Catholic Church denies equality to women and excludes LGBT people, by A.C. Wimmer, Catholic News Agency
- Synod reports from around the world raise clericalism, women as issues, by Phyllis Zagano Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter
- Synod report details US bishops’ avoidance of church teaching on creation care, by Brian Roewe, EarthBeat, National Catholic Reporter
- ‘Too harsh’ and ‘out of step’: Survey finds NJ Catholic want a more inclusive church, by Deena Yellin, NorthJersey.com
- Conservative criticism of synodality suggests Pope Francis’ process might be working, by Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter
- Listening and Discernment, by Thierry Bonaventura, SynodResources.org Editorial Staff
- Justice and Peace in the Synod Process, by Synod Resources.org
- New head of umbrella group for women’s religious sets sights on synodality, by Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com
- Pope discusses synodal process with professors from America, by VaticanNews.va.en
- Robust synodal reports stand witness to the courage of participants in the process, by Frank Callus, The Tablet
- First U.S. diocesan synod results show need to reach youth, marginalized, by John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com
- Cardinal Tobin: refusing to deal with complexity in the church is a form of heresy, by Michael J. O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review
- Pope launches synodal process to discern Holy Spirit’s call to the church, by Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter
- Pope Francis: Rigidity in the church ‘is a sin against the patience of God,’ by Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review
- With new synodal process, Francis creates an insurance policy for reforms, by Massimo Faggioli, La Croix International, on NCRonline.org
- A closer look at synodality and its promise for a more inclusive church, by Hosffman Ospino, National Catholic Reporter
- Encuentros: Learning from 50 years of synodal experience–if we have been paying attention by Hosffman Ospino, National Catholic Reporter
- Speak Boldly, Listen Carefully: Inside the Synod, by Austen Invereigh, Commmonweal magazine
- Editorial: A Ministry of Listening: On the Opening of the Synod, by Michael Centore, Editor, Today’s American Catholic
- Encuentros: Learning from 50 years of synodal experience — if we’ve been paying attention, by Hosffman Ospino, Naitonal Catholic Reporter
- Synod phase for local listening gets an uneven start in U.S. dioceses, by Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter
- Synod on Synodality, National Catholic Reporter coverage of the Synod on Synodality, including a link to a map of U.S. archdioceses and dioceses that have synod consultation plans
- An unprecedented gathering in Latin America is putting Pope Francis’ vision for the church into action, by Colleen Dulle, Inside the Vatican, America: The Jesuit Review
- Largest Native American diocese takes unique approach to synod, by John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com
- Is Pope Francis’ Synod on Synodality bound to dissapoint–or will it renew the Church? by Louis J. Cameli, America: The Jesuit Review
- Synodality and ecumenism require walking together, say cardinals, by Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter
- American Catholics need to shed some habits to get in the synodal spirit, by Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter
- Unexcused absence: Why aren’t colleges more involved in the synod? by Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal
- Where German Catholics & Pope Francis diverge: Germany’s ‘synodal way’ charts its own course to reform, by Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal
- Catholic college leaders urged to listen up in synod sessions, by Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service
- Pope Francis says the synod must hear ‘excluded’ voices. These five dioceses are trying. By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter
- ‘We are all responsible together for what the church becomes’: Vatican II, synodality and the future of Catholicism, by Kenneth L. Woodward, America: The Jesuit Review
- Pope Francis’ synodality could be key to reaching young Catholics, by Ernest J. Miller, National Catholic Reporter