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Update on the Synod on Synodality

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As the Synod on Synodality commences in Rome, we are presented with a fresh set of regulations that aim to redefine the way the synodal process unfolds. In this article, we delve into the key answers provided by these groundbreaking rules, which emphasize privacy, dialogue, and the avoidance of a "pontifical secret."

Photo credit: Galen Crout

Photo credit: Galen Crout


By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
10/6/2023 (8 months ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Synod on Synodality 2023, Synod rules, Synodal methodology, Synod participants, Papal concerns, Dubia on the synod

One notable departure from past rules is the absence of the notorious "pontifical secret." Instead, the regulations place a strong emphasis on privacy and confidentiality. They state that "each of the participants is bound to confidentiality and discretion regarding both their own interventions and the interventions of other participants." This obligation continues even after the synodal assembly has concluded.

The rules were unveiled during an event on the evening of October 4th, alongside speeches by Pope Francis and key figures organizing the synod. While spiritual retreat materials were shared with journalists in advance, the opening speeches were distributed only after they were delivered, a departure from traditional practices.

Pope Francis repeatedly emphasized that the synod is not a parliament and decisions should not be reached through votes. Instead, he stressed the importance of divine discourse and listening to the Holy Spirit. The fear is that public opinion could overshadow the synodal process and compromise its discernment.

The 2023 Synod introduces a unique synodal design featuring round tables of 11 individuals. These tables are designed to promote dialogue based on the premise of equality before God. Specific themes and questionnaires guide the discussions, while experts are on hand to support arguments. The novelty of this approach adds an element of unpredictability to the synodal process.

The synod organizers are tasked with balancing a multitude of agendas intersecting at the gathering. Past synods have faced pressure from various groups, both internal and external to the Church, which can influence the discussions and outcomes. The synod aims to find common ground and areas for reflection in response to the Holy Spirit's call.

The synodal gathering will also address the "dubia" of five cardinals, endorsed by the pope. These questions pertain to possible doctrinal changes, reinterpretations, and sacramental discipline for the divorced and remarried. The challenge lies in determining what constitutes a "better" interpretation.

Cardinal Joseph Zen, the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, has voiced concerns about the synod's methodology. He emphasizes the need for open, robust dialogue within the general assembly, much like during Vatican II, for the Holy Spirit to truly work at the gathering. Zen's concerns highlight the importance of honest discussions amid a backdrop of change and evolution.

The Synod on Synodality 2023 sets the stage for a new chapter in the Church's history, emphasizing dialogue, privacy, and openness. As the synod progresses, the world watches with anticipation to see how these innovative rules and methodologies will shape the future of the Church.

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