Cardinal Grech: European Synod assembly showed face of a ‘humble Church’

As the week-long Synod Continental Assembly of Europe draws to a close in Prague, Cardinal Mario Grech and other participants call for synodality to become a “way of life” for the Church.

By Joseph Tulloch

The Synod Continental Assembly of Europe, held in Prague on 5-12 February, brought together representatives from all the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe.

Participants have released a document to describe their experiences, calling the assembly a “profound spiritual experience” and outlining priorities for the next stage of the synodal process.

Continuing along the synodal journey

The statement highlighted the need to progress further along the synodal journey.

Being able to “meet, listen to each other and dialogue starting from our differences,” they said, was a “profoundly spiritual experience”.

The synodal style, they added, is thus “more than a methodology”, but is rather “a way of life of our Church, of communal discernment and of discernment of the signs of the times.”

The participants therefore called for “this Continental Assembly not to remain an isolated experience, but to become a periodic appointment, based on the general adoption of the synodal method that permeates all our structures and procedures on all levels.”

So doing, they said, would put the Church in a position to better confront the issues facing it today, “on which our efforts need to mature and intensify.”

Priorities for the next phase

The statement went on to list a number of priorities which had emerged from the process and could be considered in the next phase of the Synod, in October.

Many of the priorities had to do with further integrating the synodal style into the life the Church.

Participants called for deepening “the practice, theology and hermeneutics of synodality”, exploring “the forms of a synodal exercise of authority”, clarifying “criteria for discernment on the synodal process and which decisions belong on which level”, and fostering “the formation to synodality of the whole People of God.”

Other priorities concerned the implementation of a synodal approach to various issues in the life of the Church.

There were calls to reflect “on charisms and ministries (ordained and non-ordained) and the relationships between them”, to “take concrete and courageous decisions on the role of women within the Church”, to “consider the tensions around the liturgy, so as to understand the Eucharist in a synodal key as the source of communion”, and to “renew a lively sense of mission” above all by “walking with people rather than talking about them or to them.”

Humility as the theme of the weekend

Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Secretariat of the Synod, told Vatican News’ Antonella Palermo that “humility was the mark of this weekend.”

Speaking at the end of the Assembly, Cardinal Grech said he was “really touched” by the humility of the European Churches.

“Those taking part were humble enough to admit that they don’t know everything,” he said, “that we are in a process, trying to understand what God’s will is, listening also to our brothers and sisters coming from different ecclesial and worldly experiences.”

This, he said, “was an Assembly humble enough not only to open its heart to listen to God but also to listen to one another.”

Cardinal Grech concluded by noting that this humility is “very promising indeed, because only a humble Church will be in a position to make a step forward in the right direction and at the right time.”

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10 February 2023, 15:21