Towards a Synodal Church

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Cardinal Michael Czerny, SJ

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When we apply the term “synodality” to the Church, we do not intend to designate a more collaborative decision-making process that merely leads to choosing an option, deliberating on  a measure, or issuing an instruction. Rather, it is something that makes clear a fundamental aspect of ecclesial identity: its primary communal dimension, its essential evangelizing mission under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

As an event of communion that originates in the mystery of the one and triune God, the Church manifests and realizes herself in gathering as the “people of God” that walk together. We could say that synodality is the form in which her original vocation and her intrinsic mission are historicized: to call together all the people of the earth, of every time and age, to make them sharers in the salvation and joy of Christ.

On many occasions Pope Francis has stressed how synodality grounds, models and strengthens both the life of the Church and the witness and service it is called to render to the human family: “Walking together is the constitutive way of the Church; the figure that allows us to interpret reality with the eyes and heart of God; the condition for following the Lord Jesus and being servants of life in this wounded time. Breath and synodal process reveal what we are and the dynamism of communion that animates our decisions.”[1]

Synodality – “way,” “figure,” “condition,” “breath” to experience of belief – is the modus vivendi et operandi by which the Church disposes all its members to co-responsibility, enhances their charisms and ministries, and intensifies the bonds of fraternal love.

 

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