The Synod on Synodality – What now?

“We recall that the purpose of the Synod is not to produce documents, but to plant dreams, draw forth prophecies and visions, allow hope to flourish, inspire trust, bind up wounds, weave together relationships, awaken a dawn of hope, learn from one another and create a bright resourcefulness that will enlighten minds, warm hearts, give strength to our hands.”

Synod 2021-2024 website

We are “in-between times”, that is, between session one and session two of the Synod on Synodality. It is reasonable for Catholics who have been involved in the global Synod process to ask the question, “What now?” Pre-empting this question, the Letter to the People of God, published at the end of session one, responded with the following, “We hope that the months leading to the second session in October 2024 will allow everyone to concretely participate in the dynamism of missionary communion indicated by the word ‘synod’.”

One of the ways Catholics can “concretely participate” is to make use of the rich abundance of documents and presentations resulting from the Synod. The resources listed below could be used to stimulate small group discussions or as reflection material for parish pastoral councils, and the like. To enhance the experience, the following questions could be used as discussion starters:

  • What did I learn from reading/listening to this article/video/quote?
  • In what ways, if any, did it change my thinking about the topic under consideration? Or did I feel my heart was transformed in any way after reading/listening to the article/video/quote?
  • Is there an initiative our parish/faith community could consider as a result of what has been discussed? Or is there an existing initiative that might be “tweaked” to be more effective/more welcoming/more evangelising?

Key articles/videos for your reflection

Official documents

Letter of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to the People of God.
XVI General Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, First Session (4-29 October 2023), Synthesis Report.

Theological reflections at the Synod

Fr Timothy Radcliffe

Dominican Fr Timothy Radcliffe from the United Kingdom provided the following meditations on synodality to the participants, as part of their pre-synod retreat program.

First Meditation, “Hoping against hope.”
Second Meditation, “At home in God and God at home in us.”
Third Meditation, “Friendship.”
Fourth Meditation, “Conversation on the way to Emmaus.”
Fifth Meditation, “Authority.”
Sixth Meditation, “The Spirit of Truth.”
Spiritual reflection, “The seed germinates.”

Fr Ormond Rush

Australian theologian Fr Ormond Rush offered a theological reflection on “The Synthesis Report”, October 23, 2023.
Synod: Fr Ormond Rush’s theological reflection on Synthesis Report, Vatican News.

Dr Anna Rowlands

Dr Anna Rowlands is professor of Catholic Social Thought and Practice at the Department of Theology and Religion and Centre for Catholic Studies, Durham University, United Kingdom. The link below is to her theological reflection on the theme: “Communion: the wedding feast of the Lamb”.

Prof Anna Rowlands: Communion: the wedding feast of the Lamb (text).

Participant reflections

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP

This article by Archbishop Anthony Fisher of the Sydney Archdiocese is an edited excerpt from Unity in Christ: Bishops, Synodality, and Communion (Catholic University of America Press, 2023).

What Synodality is, and is not, Catholic Weekly (online version, 1 November 2023).
Walking Together in Communion, Participation and Mission, a reflection on the Synod on Synodality, 20 November 2023.

Bishop Shane Mackinlay

Bishop Shane Mackinlay of Sandhurst Diocese offered a reflection on the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia to the Synod.

Synod: Testimony of Australian Bishop Shane Mackinlay, Vatican News.
The first session of the Synod for a Synodal Church

Bishop Anthony Randazzo

Bishop Anthony Randazzo of Broken Bay Diocese celebrated Holy Mass for the Memorial of the Guardian Angels and peached the homily for Synod members.

Synod Retreat: Homily during Mass for the Memorial of the Guardian Angels, Vatican News.

Renee Kohler-Ryan

The Church is Listening is an interview between Austen Ivereigh (Catholic journalist and Pope Francis biographer) and Renee Kohler-Ryan (Synod member and Professor at Notre Dame University, Australia) (YouTube).

Dr Trudy Dantis

Trudy is the Director of the National Centre for Pastoral Research for the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, and the National Coordinator for Australia for the Synod of Bishops (2021-2024). On Trudy’s return from the Synod, she wrote:

“Being among the first group of women at the Synod has been a very special experience for me. For one, it was lovely to meet such a diverse group of women from across the globe and share our experiences of faith and Church. Secondly, participating in discussions appeared quite daunting at first, especially when in some instances I was the only woman at the table and the rest were cardinals, bishops and priests. But as our conversations continued and we became acquainted with one another, there was a great generosity of spirit and an openness to listen which made me feel at ease in no time. At the end of this time together, I feel confident that my voice was heard and it gives me great hope knowing that I could share my views and those of the people in Australia and Oceania on important topics.”

Observer’s Reflections

Br Mark O’Connor FMS

Br Mark O’Connor FMS is the Vicar for Communications for the Diocese of Parramatta and wrote a number of reflections on the Synod on Synodality in Rome, October 2023.

“Trust the God of surprises! Letters from a listening and global Synod”. Article includes links to meditations from the pre-Synod retreat given by Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP.

“Ear to the Ground: Letter two from a listening and global Synod”.
“Put out to sea! Letter three from a listening and global Synod”.
“The meaning is in the waiting: Letter four from a listening and global Synod”. Article includes a YouTube video of Pope Francis, Moment of Prayer for Migrants and Refugees.

Plenary Matters Podcast (available through Spotify, Apple and other platforms)

Hosted by Australian journalist Geraldine Doogue on the Synod on Synodality.

Season 5, Episode 1: The Synod gets underway, 13 October 2023: an interview with Br Mark O’Connor FMS.
Season 5, Episode 2: A church under pressure, 19 October 2023: an interview with Australian Augustinian Fr Tony Banks.
Season 5, Episode 3: History making at the synod, 25 October 2023: an interview with Tablet correspondent Christopher Lamb.
Season 5, Episode 4: Letter to the people of God, 28 October 2023: an interview with Julie Thorpe, Research Executive Advisor, ACU.

Disclaimer: These links are provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by the National Centre for Evangelisation of any of the presentations or articles of the organisation or individual. The National Centre for Evangelisation bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of the presentations or articles.


Images: Supplied - General Secretariat of the Synod
Words: Sharon Brewer

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