BOSTON, Mass., Jan. 6, 2022―Roman Catholics worldwide have embarked on a two-year journey together along a path called “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.” The Synod provides the most significant opportunity ever for the Church’s laity to influence the future of the Church.
Appropriately for an organization whose mission calls for Spirit-led voices participating in the Church’s governance and guidance, the international lay organization Voice of the Faithful has taken up Pope Francis’ call for input from all the People of God into this Synod on Synodality. The organization will be offering Synod sessions as opportunities for people to express how they see the Church becoming the synodal, pastoral, evangelical Church it should be. The combined views will be forwarded to the General Secretariat for the Synod.
In addition to gathering the views of its own members, VOTF will open its Synod sessions to all who desire to attend. The organization also will help any groups seeking assistance with their own sessions.
According to Pope Francis, synodality is the way of being the Church today, in a dynamic of discerning and listening together to the voice of the Holy Spirit. “Synod” derives from the Greek and indicates not only the path along which the People of God walk together, but also how Christians originally were called “followers of the Way (of Jesus).” This past September, while addressing about a thousand representatives of the Diocese of Rome, including bishops, clergy, women and men religious, and members of the laity, Pope Francis said the synodal process involves “a dynamism of mutual listening, conducted at all levels of the Church, involving the whole People of God.”*
The Synod on Synodality has three phases. The first phase, called the diocesan phase, began October 2021 and concludes in August 2022. During this phase, input from all the faithful will be collected and sent to local bishops or directly to the Vatican. Many dioceses, local groups, and organizations have already begun this process. VOTF started its own sessions with a model the evening before its 2021 national conference Oct. 23. Attendees from the United States, Canada, and New Zealand discussed their dreams for a Church that recognizes the Spirit-led voices of all the faithful, both lay and ordained.
Prior to October 2023, when the world’s bishops meet for the general assembly of the Synod in Rome, Catholics everywhere will be “recalling how the Spirit has guided the Church’s journey through history and, today, guides us to be, together, witnesses of God’s love; living a participative and inclusive ecclesial process that offers everyone—especially those who for various reasons find themselves on the margin—the opportunity to express themselves and to be heard in order to contribute to the edification of the People of God.”*
Dates and times for VOTF’s Synod sessions are to be announced in January. VOTF emphasizes that all voices will be heard for the Synod, even the voices of those who feel uncomfortable talking in a group about their experiences and hopes for the future of the Church. Anyone who would like additional information may email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Voice of the Faithful maintains a continually updated webpage, “Listening to the Faithful: Preparing for the Synod 2021-2023,” that offers information and resources for the Synod on Synodality.
*From the Preparatory Document for the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops – For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission
Voice of the Faithful News Release, Jan. 6, 2022, contact: Nick Ingala, email@example.com, 781-559-3360 Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful’s® mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. VOTF’s goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, to support priests of integrity, and to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. More information is at www.votf.org.