The Instrumentum Laboris (IL) for the first session of the XVI General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops was presented on June 20, 2023, at the Holy See Press Office. The session will take place at the Vatican from September 30 to October 29, 2023, as part of the Synod 2021-24 process, dedicated to the theme, “For a Synodal Church. Communion, Participation, Mission.”
The IL is a short text, about sixty paragraphs, amounting to 20 pages, consisting of a foreword (nos. 1-16), which presents the text, its genesis and structure, and two sections. The first offers a rereading of the journey made in the first phase of Synod 2021-24, summarizing the key ideas. The two sections formulate priority questions that emerged through the dialogue within and among the local Churches at the different stages of the first phase, which are now submitted to the discernment of the Synodal Assembly.
The structure of the text does not hide the dynamism that binds the two sections: the lived experience of the people of God recalled in the first section is the context within which the questions posed in the second section emerged; they are part of the same experience. The effort required of the Synodal Assembly next October, but ultimately of the whole Church, is to “sustain a dynamic equilibrium between maintaining an overview […] and the identification of practical steps to be taken” (no. 16). The identification of these steps responds to a desire to engage with real needs and the fear that the Synod will remain “in mid-air,” so to speak. However, there is also a need to avoid becoming lost in details. The questions and expectations are related to each other, and because they belong to an experience dealing with complex issues, they inherit a perspective vision, as well as cohesion.