From the Associate Pastor
On October 10, Pope Francis opened the synodal process for the Synod of Bishops in 2023. This process is called synodal (a Greek word that means journeying together) because it involves listening to the voices of Catholics from all over the world. Our Bishop, Robert McElroy summarized this process as:
Encounter – Listen – Discern.
That’s what Pope Francis is asking every Catholic to do worldwide. He is asking them to meet each other to truly understand each other’s experiences in the Church, beginning a process to make it more inclusive and welcoming.
Synodality “is a model that includes listening to a broad range of people and then discussing the issues together with the goal of hearing where the Holy Spirit is calling the Church.”
The goal of the synod is to identify barriers keeping individuals and communities from fully participating in the life of the Church, and by the end, proposing ways to lift them.
After the Pope’s Opening Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica on Oct. 10, bishops worldwide launched the diocesan phase of the synod, which is to last through April. Locally, Bishop McElroy initiated the “synodal journey” in the Diocese of San Diego with a Mass on Oct. 17 at the Pastoral Center attended by representatives from parishes, cultural Catholic commissions, pastors, and religious women.
“We begin this synodal process when we’re asked to look into our hearts and souls as a local Church and to ask ourselves: To what degree do we incorporate into our lives the principles of synodality? How can we move forward in doing so?” the bishop told them. “Dioceses across the world are beginning the same inquiry into their ecclesial life, not with any sense of fear, but with a sense of openness and joy to what the Holy Spirit of God will reveal to us in the process.”
At the Mass, he outlined the path the diocese would follow in the synod. In the next four months, the local Church at all levels will undertake a “penetrating examination of conscience” to discern the degree to which the characteristics of synodality are present in the local Church, and where they are absent. This information will be shared with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Vatican, which will use it to prepare for a universal Synod of Bishops in 2023.
More importantly, the bishop stressed, the findings of the examination of conscience would become the foundation for a process that will begin next February and stretch into 2023 “that will seek to transform our local Church by bringing the qualities of synodality much more powerfully into the life our parishes, schools, institutions and the diocese as a whole.”
The bishop said that he had appointed a commission of 17 women and men to coordinate the process, including lay parish leaders; leaders in life, peace, and justice issues; and those serving marginalized communities. And he announced that there would be distinct processes for San Diego and Imperial counties to reflect the individuality of their communities.
Let us prepare our hearts to listen carefully to others and help us to discern the action of the Holy Spirit throughout the world, and let us pray together for the success of this synod.
Father Sam Nasada, OFM.
Mission San Luis Rey Parish
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