The team of theologians at work The team of theologians at work 

Hollerich: ‘The seeds of a synodal church are already sprouting’

Theologians evaluating contributions for the upcoming Second Session of the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops have concluded their reflections, with work on the “Instrumentum laboris” for the Second Session of the General Assembly of the Synod continuing.

By Christopher Wells

Over the course of the past week and a half, a group of twenty theologians from around the world have been meeting in Rome to analyse the responses from the people of God to the Synthesis Report produced by the First Session of General Assembly of the Synod on Synodality. 

The theologians concluded their work on Friday, according to a press release from the Synod’s General Secretariat. 

The joy of the journey

“The Holy People of God has been set in motion for mission thanks to the synodal experience. In the reports there were enthusiastic and creative responses offered as well as some with resistance and concern,” said Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, the General Rapporteur of the General Assembly.

“Most reports, however, show the joy of the journey that has given new life to many local communities and also provoked significant changes on their way of living and being Church,” he explained, adding, “The seeds of the synodal Church are already sprouting!”

“The seeds of the synodal Church are already sprouting!”

A global response

The theologians considered more than 100 reports from Bishops Conferences and Eastern Catholic Churches, as well as contributions from the USG-UISG and the meeting of Parish Priests for the Synod that took place from 28 April to 2 May. 

Responses from international organizations, university faculties, associations of the faithful and individual communities and persons were also reviewed, with a view toward producing the Instrumentum laboris(working document) that will guide the work of the Second Session of the General Assembly.

A different look

The work of the theologians was guided by two Special Secretaries of the XVI General Assembly, Italian theologians Msgr Riccardo Battocchio and Fr Giacomo Costa, SJ. 

“The Instrumentum laboris for the Second Session of the XVI Assembly will look different from the previous one,” Msgr Battocchio said. He explained that, while the First Session looked at the “wide-ranging themes” to be discussed by the Assembly, the Second will focus on the question, “How to be a synodal Church in mission.”

The forthcoming working document, then, will review the work of the synod up to this point, while offering theological reflections and concrete proposals “to help the discernment entrusted to the members of the assembly.”

An international perspective

The theological experts taking part in the work of analysis included eight theologians from Europe (including five Italians); three from Africa; two from North America and three from South America; two from Oceania (both Australian), and two from Asia.

In addition to the two Special Secretaries, the General Secretariat for the Synod was represented by the Secretary General, Cardinal Mario Grech; the General Rapporteur, Cardinal Hollerich; and Undersecretaries Bishop Luis Marín de San Martin and Sister Nathalie Becquart. 

The next steps

With the work of the theologians complete, the Synod’s General Secretariat will proceed to the next stage of the drafting process for the Instrumentum laboris.

After a “wide-ranging verification” of the contents, the Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat – composed mostly of Diocesan Bishops chosen by the Fathers and Mothers of the Synod – will approve the draft and present it to Pope Francis, who will approve the definitive text.

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14 June 2024, 11:55