Synod on Synodality Local Meetings
Last October, the Church opened the Synod on Synodality, calling for every diocese in the world to undertake local meetings with all the People of God to address the synod’s two main questions: How are we journeying together today in accomplishing the Church’s mission? What steps is the Holy Spirit inviting us to take so that we may journey together better in the future?
In the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, we held 22 meetings January, through March to discuss these two topics. Over 1,700 people participated, the vast majority of whom were lay people. The contributions were considerable, resulting in 150 pages of notes! Despite such a large population, common themes emerged on how to better journey together to bring the Church’s mission and message to the world.
We sent our summary to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to be combined with summary documents from all U.S. dioceses and sent to Rome. That summary will be incorporated with documents from the Church’s other Episcopal and Eparchial conferences to create a world summary, which will guide discussions at the October 2023 Synod meeting in Rome.
These are the top nine key themes that emerged from the local meetings:
1. There is a critical need to re-engage youth and young adults in the faith. This is quite a challenge in today’s world, but it is critical for the Church.
2. Many, if not most, of our priests would benefit greatly in taking care of the sacramental and spiritual needs of the people if they could be relieved of the onerous administrative duties that consume their time. Lay people stand ready, willing and able to help.
3. People want consistency from clergy on the moral teachings of the Church.
4. Homilies need to minimize “church speak” and maximize relevance of the readings to challenges the world brings today.
5. The Church needs to better market the many good things it does.
6. A feeling of genuine welcoming seems to be lacking in many parishes. If one does not feel welcome, they are unlikely to return. There needs to be avenues established that warmly invite people when they come to Church or parish events.
7. The role of women in the Church is seen as minimal. If the Church is to journey together better, women’s contributions in Church’s decisions need to be more visible, including placing them in those decision- making positions not reserved to the hierarchy by Canon law.
8. People want to see these types of meetings continue.
9. Participants believe that we do not need to wait for the synod to initiate some of the ideas proposed at these meetings.
The archdiocese will scrutinize all contributions to see what can be undertaken, perhaps before the Synod meeting occurs and in conjunction with the Beacons of Light implementation. The complete summary of the local synod meetings is available at https://catholicaoc.org/ synod.
These local synod meetings clearly indicated that the laity stand ready to assist the hierarchy to help it better advance the Church’s mission. Much fruit can be harvested from these meetings and future meetings like it. As I see it, synodality is the most effective way for clergy and laity to work together to be a better priestly, prophetic and kingly people!
This article appeared in the June 2022 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.