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Synod on Synodality - A Journey of Listening and Communion

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The Synod on Synodality, a pivotal event in the Catholic Church, is underway, and the 35 working groups, known as 'circuli minores,' have embarked on their essential work. Paolo Ruffini, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication and President of the Commission for Information, shared insights into this phase during a briefing for journalists accredited to the Holy See.

Photo credit: Arnold Straub

Photo credit: Arnold Straub


By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
10/5/2023 (8 months ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Synod on Synodality, Vatican, working groups, Paolo Ruffini, Synod methodology, spiritual experience, final report, communion

In these working groups, participants have the unique opportunity to acquaint themselves with one another, share their experiences related to synodality, and reflect on the insights offered by their peers. Dr. Ruffini also shed light on various aspects of the Synod's methodology, emphasizing the importance of listening and mutual understanding.

Pope Francis has set the tone for this initial phase by prioritizing listening, refraining from speaking publicly, fostering mutual acquaintance, practicing discernment, and respecting confidentiality. As the Catholic Church assembles at the Vatican for four weeks, it engages in a period of contemplative and respectful listening. According to Dr. Ruffini, this time of silence aligns with the Pope's vision, not only benefiting the Synod but also serving as an example for addressing global issues such as war and the climate crisis.

Dr. Ruffini referred to this "news" as a "suspension of time," a moment of profound listening and discernment, akin to biblical and Gospel-rooted 'silence.' He emphasized that the manner in which the Church, as a significant institution, allows for a moment of spiritual reflection is noteworthy.

Moreover, the briefing highlighted that press conferences will be conducted at the conclusion of each module of the Synod assembly with participants.

Dr. Ruffini, along with Sheila Pires, Secretary of the Commission for Information and Communications Officer of the South African Bishops' Conference, explained the technical and methodological aspects of the working groups' activities. Section A of the Instrumentum laboris, addressing "the characteristic signs of a synodal Church" and "conversation in the Spirit," is currently under scrutiny.

During the initial sessions, participants introduced themselves, shared their Church's journey in the consultative phase of the synodal path, discussed challenges and the relationship between local and universal Church. A rapporteur was elected within each group to compile experiences and present them to the assembly, fostering a spirit of serene sharing.

Dr. Ruffini emphasized that the Synod on Synodality is a process, not an end in itself, as Pope Francis has consistently stated. It unfolds step by step, and the focus should be on the journey rather than predicting the outcome.

The final report, to be compiled in October, will incorporate convergences and divergences but will not mark the endpoint of this ongoing process. Dr. Ruffini clarified that it will resemble an Instrumentum laboris more than the final documents of previous Synods.

The Synod is an inclusive body, where everyone's participation is valued. Working groups facilitate common discernment, allowing each member to actively engage in addressing the issues at hand. The Synod represents the entire Church's collective listening and discernment process.

As the Synod on Synodality progresses, the Church embraces the spirit of communion, respecting the diverse perspectives and insights that contribute to its ongoing journey of self-reflection and renewal.

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