Bishops’ Synod 2023 – Theme “Synodality of Church” Is Timely And Relevant: Bellary Bishop

Bishop of Bellary Henry D’Souza has “joyfully and enthusiastically” welcomed the theme of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops: ‘For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission’ “is timely and relevant.”

The next General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be held October 2023 at the Vatican on the above theme given by Pope Francis.

Appreciating the Pope Francis’ statement, “The dynamic point of convergence that calls for mutual listening to the Holy Spirit at every level of the church’s life,” Bishop Henry D’Souza said that the Church’s very calling is to be synodal, collegial, ecumenical and universal.

The synodal process of discernment and the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which has been set rolling by Pope Francis “will infuse a ‘new heart and a new spirit’ into the universal Church,” said the Bishop sparkling with hope!

Pope Francis strongly urges that the People of God must be consulted before the October 2023 Synod of Bishops.

Bishop Henry D’Souza informed that the forthcoming synod intends to “further promote the renewal envisaged by the Second Vatican Council”, Pope Francis has approved a three-stage process of preparation and consultation for next Synod of Bishops.

Pope Francis has directed that the entire Church be involved in the process of preparation and consultation - at diocesan/ national, continental and universal levels through a process of “listening and discernment” on the theme.

In a letter addressed to the bishops of the world, Secretary General of the Secretariat for Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Grech has recalled that on Oct. 17, 2015, in a keynote address on the 50th anniversary of the institution of the Synod of Bishops by Pope Paul VI, Pope Francis said, “It is precisely this path of synodality which God expects of the Church of the third millennium. What the Lord is asking of us is already in some sense present in the very word ‘synod.’ Journeying together—laity, pastors, the Bishop of Rome—is an easy concept to put into words, but not so easy to put into practice.”

Therefore, the first Diocesan and Bishops’ Conference phase will be held October 2021 until April 2022, the Continental Phase during September 2022 through March 2023 and the Universal Church Phase will be celebrated at the Vatican with the synod of bishops in October 2023.

In his circular letter to all the Bishops of the world, Cardinal Grech has reminded the bishops that “synodality refers to the very essence of the Church, her constitutive reality, and is thus oriented towards evangelisation. It is an ecclesial way of being and a prophetic example for today’s world.”

“The synod is not just an event, but also a process that involves in synergy the People of God, the College of Bishops and the Bishop of Rome, each according to their proper function”, insists Cardinal Grech.

“I can vividly recall the interventions made at the Synod of Bishops on Youth held in 2018, the Synod Fathers strongly suggesting the theme of Synodality of the Church,” said Bishop D’Souza.

The aim of the diocesan phase is “to consult the people of God, so that the synodal process is carried out through listening to all the baptized,” who, as the Second Vatican Council said, “cannot err in matters of belief.”

The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops will send the bishops a preparatory document, accompanied by a questionnaire and a handbook or manual with proposals for consultation in each local church.

Each bishop is expected to appoint a contact person or team for the diocesan consultation that will also serve as the link with the regional bishops’ conference. The conference is also to appoint a contact person (or team) to work with the dioceses and with the General Secretariat in Rome.

The diocesan consultation through discernment will prepare a document, which will be it to the Bishops’ Conference. The Conference will then meet and deliberate and discern on the inputs received from the dioceses, after which they will prepare a synthesis, which will be presented to the General Secretariat in Rome.

Bishop D’Souza urged all priests, the religious, the lay faithful, very specially the youth to pray for the fruitfulness of the synodal process and joyfully and enthusiastically prepare and participate in the diocesan level consultations.

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