In a famous speech delivered on December 4, 1962, Cardinal Léon-Joseph Suenens asked, “How do you see yourself?” He was suggesting that the Second Vatican Council address this question to the Church and then frame an answer. The context was the discussion of the schema De Ecclesia, which would give rise to the dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium (LG).
It is a question that cannot be answered once and for all. At the beginning of the third millennium, Synod 2021-24 is the way to work out together an answer, through the different stages of a process that, since its opening in October 2021, has challenged the Church on all levels, from local to national, then continental and now global. Following the consultation and listening phase, the process continues with the XVI General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which, by Pope Francis’ decision, is being held in two Sessions (October 2023 and October 2024). The First Session (September 30 – October 29, 2023) opened with the Ecumenical Prayer Vigil “Together” in St. Peter’s Square.
The title of Synod 2021-24, “For a Synodal Church. Communion, Participation, Mission,” makes clear that its theme centers on the identity of the Church, its way of proceeding and its mode of proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel to the men and women of our time.