Pope meets with Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Mario Grech Pope meets with Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Mario Grech  (Vatican Media)

Cardinal Grech: 'Synodality, theme for reform of Roman Curia'

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, says synodality is at the heart of the reform of the Roman Curia and shares his reflections on the second, continental phase of the synodal process.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

As the Cardinals of the universal Church arrive in the Vatican to discuss the reform of the Roman Curia, synodality will be an important element of their discussions.

In an interview with Vatican News, Cardinal Mario Grech, the General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, made this observation as he discussed synodality in the Church.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a press conference on Friday at the Holy See Press Office presenting the second phase of the synodal process: the Continental Phase of the Synod on synodality, on the theme “For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission.”

The press conference was held one day before the Holy Father will hold an ordinary consistory for the creation of 20 new Cardinals on Saturday in the Vatican, followed by an encounter of the globe’s Cardinals to discuss the reform of the Roman Curia following the 19 March publication of the Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium.

Q: Cardinal Grech, synodality, to some faithful, still remains a somewhat obscure concept. How can everyday Catholics relate to synodality? And what impact does it have on the ordinary lives of the faithful?

I think it is difficult even for me [laughing to himself]. Why do I say this? Because we are in a learning process. As a matter of fact, when we initiated the process a year ago, things were not as clear as they are today. And we still have to learn. I really am expecting that the synodal process, especially the last phase, which will be the Synod for Bishops, will help us to understand what in practice Synod already means, how we are going to build a Synodal Church, what the synod style really means for the parish, for the dioceses, for the ecclesiastical province, now for the whole Church. Well, I mean, even for the reform of the Curia, now, we are going to have now the consistory and it's the subject for our meetings. I mean, it's not a secret, but the theme in that [Apostolic] Constitution, the Holy Father speaks about synodality.

That is an appeal. For us at the Holy See, we all need to have an open heart and an open mind to learn not what people say about synodality, but what the Holy Spirit will communicate to us to become [even more fully] Church.

Q: What are the most important findings in this second stage and how will it be used to further inform the synodal journey?

I cannot enter into details because they have just received the reports from the Episcopal conferences. To date we received 103, which is not a small number, considering that in the past, the number was very, very low.

The fact that we now have received from the Episcopal Conferences 103 syntheses out of 114, and that they reacted in a very active way in producing this document - which is not a document and is the result of a discernment - speaks loads about the local Churches.

Q: How did and do current events such as conflicts, religious persecution and the pandemic, factor into synodality and this continental phase?

Obviously, it renders the process more difficult. In fact, I heard various bishops saying that they had difficulty organizing this first phase of the consultation, because of the pandemic, or [because] of conflicts. But on the other side, I believe that a Synodal Church will give an answer, and will help us address conflicts and difficulties that the People of God and society are facing.

Q: What concrete fruits of synodality would you like to see come to fruition?

I would like to see the People of God moving onwards together. Unfortunately, at times we know that there are the People of God, but we move in segments now: clergy, laity, religious, bishop.

I believe that there is no flock without a bishop, no parish priest without a parish, but there is no bishop without a flock. There is no parish priest without the parish community. So, if we really manage to journey together and not only in words, but in concrete terms, I think we would achieve a lot.

Q: And no one is excluded from this dialogue…

Of course. In fact, the invitation is open not only to Catholics. It has its ecumenical dimension. And I can tell you that we received some reports that really highlight this ecumenical dimension of the consultation phase. 

Listen to our interview with Cardinal Mario Grech:
26 August 2022, 15:58