Members of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference gathered in-person this week for their Summer 2022 General Meeting at Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth.
Sister Nathalie Becquart XMCJ, Undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, addressed the Meeting on the theme of synodality. Sister Becquart reflected that Pope Francis’ initiation of the Synodal process marks the first time in 2000 years that the Universal Church has undertaken such a consultation, which is nearing the end of its first stage, the diocesan phase.
Sister Becquart said that in most countries at this time, local Churches are drafting their national syntheses based on all the contributions garnered from their respective parishes and dioceses. This is being marked in many places by an assembly, such as Saturday’s gathering in Athlone. She remarked how interesting it is to see how this unique universal listening process is being implemented in different ways, thus allowing for creativity at local level.
Sister Becquart emphasised that Pope Francis strongly considers the most important phase of the synodal process to be the diocesan phase as it draws on input from the grassroots. She said that the Holy Father asks of everybody to give their voice to the process regardless of their background and experience of Church. The Pope’s vision of the synodal Church is a Church with all baptised journeying together as people of God.
In this way Sister Becquart said that everybody is a protagonist because, as baptised, we are called together to be missionary disciples, and to carry on the mission of the Church. She said that it is very important to discern together, and to journey together; to listen to the Holy Spirit, because that’s the main goal of the synodal process: to truly listen to the Holy Spirit through a process of mutual listening, where everybody has to give her or his voice especially – the laity – as they are the major part of the Church.
Sister Becquart concluded that the synodal process for the Church locally, and universally, is a creative path and that we have no idea yet where it will end. However, she said that it is through this experience of the journey, step-by-step, that the faithful are unfolding this path which, at its core, is a spiritual process. Therefore, we have to be open to the “surprises of the Holy Spirit.” Sister Becquart said that her own deep hope is that, by the end of the synodal process, we will all experience a Church united together as sisters and brothers in Christ, – collaborating men and women, young and old, priests, bishops, laity – sharing the joy and fruits of our missionary journey for the benefit of all humanity.
For more see www.synod.ie.