On Wednesday September 7, 2021, the Vatican published the “Preparatory Document for the Synod of Bishops on Synodality” which will open on October 9-10, 2021 in Rome and on October 17 in each particular Church.
The first phase will take place in the dioceses. At the end of this phase, the Document specifies that “the celebration of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be held in October 2023 and will constitute a fundamental step.” Once this Assembly is over, “it will be followed by the implementation phase which will again involve the particular Churches.”
Pope Francis invites the Church to ask herself: “It is precisely this path of synodality which God expects of the Church of the third millennium.” This itinerary follows in the wake of the “aggiornamento” proposed by the Second Vatican Council.
The general question being posed is the following: “How does this ‘journeying together’ take place today on different levels (from the local level to the universal one), allowing the Church to proclaim the Gospel,” conforming to the mission which was entrusted to her?”
This question is subdivided into various objectives. The main ones decline synodality as a form, as a style, and as a structure of the Church: “recalling how the Spirit has guided the Church’s journey through history; "living a participative and inclusive ecclesial process; “recognizing and appreciating the wealth and the variety of the gifts and charisms; (…) "exploring participatory ways of exercising responsibility in the proclamation of the Gospel and in the effort to build a more beautiful and habitable world; “examining how responsibility and power are lived in the Church as well as the structures by which they are managed, …trying to convert…distorted practices; "accrediting the Christian community as a credible subject and reliable partner in paths of social dialogue, healing, reconciliation, inclusion and participation, the reconstruction of democracy, the promotion of fraternity and social friendship; "regenerating relationships among members of Christian communities as well as between communities and other social groups; (…) "fostering the appreciation and appropriation of the fruits of recent synodal experiences on the universal, regional, national, and local levels.”
A careful reading allows us to recognize themes from the German Synodal Path: participation of all in ecclesiastical functions, sharing of power by all, reform of structures that allow abuses. To which are added specific themes dear to Pope Francis: diversity of gifts and charisms, promotion of fraternity and social friendship, and ecumenism.