This article will present the Latin American experience of synodal paths in recent years and the associated spiritual accompaniment, starting with the discernment that allows us to follow the Lord more closely. Ours is an experience full of limitations and fragility, but also endowed with parrhesia and courage to boldly seek new synodal paths for the Church of the present time. With great simplicity we will describe a process that disclosed the faces and voices of countless people who participated in the experience.
These reflections reveal some instances found in two recent events. The first is the Special Synod of the Universal Church on Amazonia, which began in 2017, had its assembly phase in Rome in 2019, and is still ongoing. The second is the First Ecclesial Assembly of Latin America and the Caribbean, which began in January 2021, had its plenary phase in November of the same year, and continues, in full swing, in connection with the Synod of the Universal Church on Synodality. These are unfinished processes, full of experiences of discernment in common and sincere listening to the people of God.
Let us begin with a prayer contained in Pope Francis’ apostolic constitution Episcopalis Communio (EC). This document is not only a text on the structure of the Church. It reveals the pope’s aspiration for a fully synodal Church. This prayer, which is taken from the experience of the Synod on the Family, can be considered the best summary on the synodal path we are walking together as one Church: “For the Synod Fathers we ask the Holy Spirit first of all for the gift of listening: to listen to God, that with him we may hear the cry of the people; to listen to the people until we breathe with the desire to which God calls us” (EC 6).