The press conference presenting the Ecumenical Vigil of Prayer The press conference presenting the Ecumenical Vigil of Prayer 

Prayer Vigil to highlight centrality of prayer in Synod process

Synod leaders say the Ecumenical Prayer Vigil that will take place on 30 September – immediately preceding the General Assembly of the Synod – will emphasize the centrality of prayer in the synodal process and highlight the relationship between synodality and ecumenism.

By Christopher Wells

The Ecumenical Prayer Vigil that will take place on Saturday, 30 September – just before the opening of the General Assembly – will highlight “two fundamental aspects of the people of God: the centrality of prayer and the importance of dialogue with others to advance together on the paths of fraternity in Christ and of unity.”

The importance of prayer and ecumenism

Presenting the event at a press conference at the Holy See Press Office, Sr. Nathalie Becquart, Undersecretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod, noted that the Vigil will also emphasize “the key theme of commitment to unity and peace in this world torn apart by so many divisions” and demonstrate “the importance of prayer” for the unity of all Christians, while entrusting the Synod to the Holy Spirit.

Sister Nathalie revealed that Pope Francis will be joined by twelve representatives of various Christian traditions, including the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I; and Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Several non-Catholic fraternal delegates who are attending the Synod will also take part in the event.

Celebrating unity already achieved

Young people will also have an important role in the Prayer Vigil, which will be taking place in the context of the “Together” gathering in Rome, an initiative inspired by the dream of Taize prior Brother Alois for an ecumenical gathering during the synod “to celebrate the unity already achieved in Christ and to make this visible.”

The Gathering will see some 3,000 young adults representing more than 40 different countries coming together in Rome for a weekend of sharing, workshops, testimonies, and praise and worship.

At Friday’s press conference, Brother Matthew of Taize explained that the Together Gathering is intended to express the reality of the Synod on Synodality, especially by involving young people.

He highlighted the pilgrimage the young pilgrims will make from Rome’s Lateran Cathedral to St Peter’s Square for the Prayer Vigil, as well as the numerous other prayer vigils taking place around the world on that same day.

Brother Matthew noted, too, that the extensive preparations for the weekend events – both the Together Gathering of the People of God and the Ecumenical Prayer Vigil – were already examples of synodality at work.

Communicating the Synod

Finally, Dr. Paolo Ruffini, whom Pope Francis has chosen to serve as president of the General Assembly’s Commission for Information, shared details of the upcoming General Assembly with journalists present for the press conference.

While the details of the programme for the General Assembly have not yet been finalized, Dr. Ruffini was able to describe the main outlines of the month-long gathering, noting that the work of the Synod Assembly will be divided into “modules” based on the topics of synodality, communion, mission, and participation, with a final module focusing on preparing a synthesis of the work accomplished.

Turning to the topic of communication, Dr. Ruffini said, “The way we will communicate the Synod is very important for the discernment process and for the whole Church.”

He said that “preserving the confidentiality, the privacy,” and even “the sacrality of certain spaces to the conversation in the Spirit is consubstantial to the desire to make these moments a true opportunity for listening, discernment, and prayer based on communion.”

The approach taken by the Commission, he said, “will allow Synod Members to know and listen to one another” as part of “one body.”

He also noted that the Assembly would produce a “synthesis document” summarizing the work of the body, but that this document will not be the final document, as the Synod will continue through the second Assembly, which will take place next year.

Dr. Ruffini concluded his presentation by insisting that “in such a divided world, we are really counting on the way communication will tell the story of this effort of our communion.” He encouraged journalists to “count on us,” assuring them: “We will do everything we can to help you.”

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08 September 2023, 15:38