By Leela Ramdeen
Chair, CCSJ & Director, CREDI
The diocesan phase of the global synodal process, officially entitled ‘Toward a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission’ began on Sunday, October 17, 2021. The first phase runs from October 2021 – April 2022 in dioceses and bishops’ conferences, leading up to the Assembly of Bishops in Synod in October 2023.
“The synod, nicknamed the ‘synod on synodality’, aims to shift the Church toward a more decentralised model of decision-making by inviting laypeople and those who have not traditionally had a voice in Church leadership into discussions on how the Church can be more inclusive and collaborative” (Ricardo da Silva SJ and Kevin Clarke).
Archbishop Jason Gordon has rightly said that the listening to take place during the Synod is a time of “pastoral conversion” for all the faithful. Let us commit to pray the Synod prayer daily, entreating the Holy Spirit to guide us and make His home in our hearts.
And as we listen to each other, let us share our views about how we can build an inclusive, just society in which “justice” will “flow like water, and integrity like an unfailing stream” (Amos 5:24).
The challenge we face in our Archdiocese is to ensure that the process in which we are engaged is inclusive. As the Vademecum for the Synod — the official handbook for listening and discernment in local Churches, states, we must make “every effort to involve those who feel excluded or marginalised”.
Vatican instructions are that “special care should be taken to involve those persons who may risk being excluded: women, the handicapped, refugees, migrants, the elderly, people who live in poverty, Catholics who rarely or never practise their faith, etc.”
We must listen to victims of crime, as well as perpetrators; to prisoners…
We can only read and discern the signs of the times if we are informed by our scriptures, by the “living Tradition of the Church” and by the Magisterium.
I believe that Pope Francis’ foundational pastoral method which he used for Laudato Si’, that is, the SEE-JUDGE-ACT method, will assist us as we journey forward TOGETHER. Inter alia, this method will enable us to develop critical judgement about situations, events, and structures.
The Handbook rightly states that we should not only be concerned about the “darkness” around us. So, while we must discern unjust structures etc., we must also identify/celebrate/promote good practice that would move people “from less human to more human conditions…In the design of God, every man is called upon to develop and fulfil himself, for every life is a vocation.” (§15, Populorum Progressio, ‘On the Development of Peoples’, Pope Paul VI).
A key goal is to discern ways to promote authentic integral human development.
The document, Justice in the World, produced at the 1971 Synod of Bishops, tells us: “Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel.” Our Catechism (§2419, CCC) reminds us that the Church “fulfills her mission of preaching the Gospel when it teaches … the demands of justice”. Let’s integrate social justice in the synodal process. At the heart of our listening must be a concern to promote justice, truth, love, freedom, and forgiveness – the pillars of peace (St Pope John XXIII and St Pope John Paul II).
The handbook also reminds us that “the purpose of this Synod is not to produce more documents. Rather, it is intended to inspire people to dream about the Church we are called to be, to make people’s hopes flourish, to stimulate trust, to bind up wounds, to weave new and deeper relationships, to learn from one another, to build bridges, to enlighten minds, warm hearts, and restore strength to our hands for our common mission… Thus, the objective of this Synodal Process is not only a series of exercises that start and stop, but rather a journey of growing authentically towards the communion and mission that God calls the Church to live out in the third millennium.”
CCSJ/AMMR invite you to join us on Monday, February 28, from 5 – 7 p.m. to share your views on how we can work together to build an inclusive, just society.
Let’s bring our diversity of gifts together, guided by the Holy Spirit, “for the Church’s mission in the world”.
To register: https://forms.office.com/r/A6LeyrLmhi
SOCIAL JUSTICE QUOTE FOR THE WEEK
“…there is a need to promote, welcome and support initiatives that, on all levels, urge companies to respect the fundamental human rights of workers, raising awareness not only on the part of institutions, but also among consumers, civil society and entrepreneurial entities.” (4)
– Pope Francis, 55th World Day of Peace 2022
CCSJ Social Justice Education Committee
For more on socialjustice in our Archdiocese visit – rcsocialjustice.org