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River Above Asia and Oceania Ecclesial Network

This is the synodal path, to walk together to mend our Church

“I feel gratitude and wonder. I have heard the testimony of a living Church!” was what Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, expressed at the end of the meeting of the second stage of the Synod process 2021-2024, where Presidents and Coordinators of the Continental Assemblies gathered in Rome on 28 to 29 November to prepare the Continental Assemblies.

“The sharing of these days shows that the journey is already well underway and that we have much to learn from each other. I have great hope for our task, which is and remains first and foremost evangelisation: the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ. This is the synodal path. In this journey we must not be afraid of tensions, which can also be healthy. We must not exclude anyone and listen to everyone, even those outside the Church’s formal enclosure, because sometimes the Church is present where we did not think we would find it.”

Pope Francis later welcomed, in a two-hour private audience, the participants of the Continental Assemblies of the Synod where Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, Archbishop of Luxembourg and General Rapporteur of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, delivered the opening address:

“Your Holiness, thank you for taking the time to receive us and to give us your advice for the synodal process.

“With the continental phase of the process, we begin our missionary discernment. With this stage of the Synod, we are, in fact, already experiencing a first universal dimension of the process. This stage says, in fact, that the different Churches must not be isolated in their journey and the circular dialogue of the continental assemblies will benefit the Churches of all continents.

“Your Holiness, a synodality that wants to be Catholic needs the care and advice of Peter. We need you, because we need a healthy indifference that bears witness to freedom in the Spirit, but then because we also notice some temptations on this road.

“And I would like to talk about a temptation we sometimes see in the media: it is the temptation of ‘politicisation’ in and of the Church, that is, living and thinking the Church with the logic of politics. Some have an agenda for the reform of the Church; they know very well what needs to be done and they want to use the synod for that purpose: this is instrumentalising the synod. This is politicising.

“On the opposite side are – to borrow your word – the ‘indietrists’ who do not understand that a true Catholic tradition evolves while remaining a tradition in its time. They too would like to put the brakes on the synod process. “We, on the other hand – and we heard this morning in our work – we want to be able to enter into a true discernment – an apostolic, missionary discernment – so that the synodal Church can carry out its mission in the world. We want to walk together with you, and above all, with the Holy Spirit and with Jesus, in order to mend our Church.”

An ‘ava ceremony in Samoa, a traditional way of promoting unity and respect, and listening to various groups. (Photo from Caritas Oceania: State of the Environment for Oceania 2021, whose “environmental analysis and stories are based on listening on the Fala – the ground level of the Pacific – and those at the grassroots and coastal edges of Oceania and to the Earth herself.”)

From the press releases of Synod 21-24 and Vatican News

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