Newark synod synthesis highlights “priesthood of the laity”

In its diocesan synthesis for the Synod on Synodality in 2023, the US Archdiocese of Newark has called for “significant formation” on the “priesthood of the laity” and in “lay leadership.”

The recommendations include:

Provide significant formation regarding “the priesthood of the laity” and how each person is called to be a disciple of Christ through baptism for members of the laity and Church leaders.

The report noted that “many parishioners are more focused on their local concerns rather than on global issues.”

“Pastors, parish staff members, and school and campus leaders can facilitate “lifelong learning” by gathering groups to read, study and reflect on the many resources available to know more about the faith and contemporary issues the Church is speaking of,” the synthesis continued.

Small Christian Communities

Giving examples, the synthesis noted that “parishioners can be invited to come together for Small Christian Communities, Bible study, books, journal studies, etc., on parish or deanery levels.”

It concluded that there was a need to “help parishioners who are unsure how to reach out to the margins: the poor, former Catholics, unchurched, younger generations, and others.e

Training

“Training is needed in ways to gently reach out to others and invite them into the life of Christ,” the synthesis added, calling for “lay leadership training in parish leadership, ministries and groups, social justice and outreach.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin CSsR welcomed the report, saying:

The synod consultation process provided the Archdiocese with a new opportunity, not only for the prayer, dialogue and discernment called for by Pope Francis, but also a way to think concretely about how to address issues on the local level. A goal for the synod listening sessions was to reach as many people as possible throughout the Archdiocese. As the Archdiocesan planning team began to organize the diocesan consultations, they provided information sessions so that everyone could learn about the Synod and ways they could participate. It was hoped that parish pastoral councils, with some additional training, could facilitate the listening sessions in their respective parishes. This was very effective in gaining participation from a significant number of people. In places that did not have functioning pastoral councils, other leaders were called upon to facilitate the listening sessions.

SOURCE

Diocesan Synthesis Synod on Synodality (Archdiocese of Newark)

Online synodality course aims for 100,000 participants

Catholic institutions from several continents have joined together to launch a free online course in synodality that will be open to bishops, priests, religious and lay people around the world.

The project is coordinated by members of the Theological Commission of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops in collaboration with the Formación Continua of the Jesuit School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College.

In a media release outlining the course, the organisers say:

“The Synod on Synodality was inaugurated in October 2021 by Pope Francis and will culminate with the celebration of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2023,” the course organisers say in a media release.

“This event represents a new stage in ecclesial life that invites us to generate processes of conversion and reform in order to build a Synodal Church for this third millennium.

“The present intercontinental and intercultural project proposes to accompany formation of more than 100.000 people in the theology and practice of synodality through a series of free online courses to support all the people of God —bishops, priests, religious men and women, lay men and women— who have been called to this process of ecclesial renewal.

“All the courses are completely free of charge and will be offered online in several languages —Spanish, English, Portuguese, French and Italian. In addition, speakers from all continents will participate in the courses, which will allow us to have a global and intercultural vision of the Church.

“The first course will be held in July 2022. Over a period of three weeks, different topics on Common discernment and Decision making in the Church will be offered. We invite you to register and get involved in the challenge of imagining and building the Church of the third millennium.

Organisers of the program are Dr Rafael Luciani (Venezuela), Dr Carlos María Galli (Argentina), Dr Agenor Brighenti (Brazil) (Latin American Members of the Theological Commission of the General Secretariat of the Synod) and Dr Félix Palazzi (Director of “Formación Continua,” Boston College School of Theology and Ministry).

It is sponsored by the Latin American and Caribbean Episcopal Council (CELAM), the Council of Bishops Conferences of Europe (CCEE), the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences (FABC), International Union Superiors General (UISG), the Union of Superiors General (USG), the Latin-American Confederation of Religious (CLAR), the Union of European Conferences of Major Superiors (UCESM), and the Conference of Jesuit Provincials in Latin America and the Caribbean (CPAL).

Lecturers will include Prof. Luciani, Sr Nathalie Becquart and Bishop Shane MacKinlay of Sandhurst, all of whom spoke at ACI webinars on synodality in 2021.

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Common Discernment and Decision Making in the Church, Free Online Course (Massive Open Online Course) (Synod Resources)

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Synodality and Cardijn’s ‘electrifying’ see-judge-act

Cardijn’s “electrifying” see-judge-act method lies at the heart of the synodality process, writes newly appointed Cardinal Robert McElroy of San Diego.

Can synodality become a deeper element of Catholic life in the United States? Our current process may prove this to be so. One of the central sentiments expressed in our diocesan synodal consultations has been that the people of God have at times not been meaningfully heard and responded to in the institutional life of the church, and they fear that the synodal process might be another in a series of moments when hopes are raised only to be frustrated. But the current synod process offers a glimpse of a church yet to come. Hundreds of thousands of Catholics have engaged with the church on their joys, their sorrows and their hopes for what the church can be today and tomorrow.

Across the United States, dioceses, parishes and religious communities have undertaken intensive processes of consultation and dialogue in order to help prepare for the global synod on synodality that will take place in Rome in October 2023. Soon, each local church will forward to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops a formal report on their consultation, which will contribute to the work of the global church.

Fortunately, the theology and practice of synodality that have already emerged from the Second Vatican Council and the writings and actions of Pope Francis provide an architecture for us to continue substantive synodal formation during the next two years. This architecture consists of three elements: the see-judge-act methodology that lies at the heart of the synodal process, the characteristics of a synodal church that Pope Francis has articulated, and the overwhelming imperative for constant and effective evangelization that has been a hallmark of the pontificates of St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict and Pope Francis.

In the years following the First World War, Joseph Cardijn became a worker priest in Brussels, seeking to organize working men and women in pursuit of justice. While doing so, he came to understand that true work on behalf of justice and solidarity required a process of genuinely coming to know the real world situations that workers confronted, of judging these realities in the light of the Gospel and then of choosing to act concretely to transform the world they faced. “See-judge-act,” the dynamic of engagement that Cardijn brought to the world, became an electrifying construct for confronting injustice—revealing its contradictions to Catholic faith and generating bold and sustained action.

St John XXIII brought this penetrating insight and framework to the world in his encyclical “Mater et Magistra.” The church of Latin America adopted this framework as a primary method of engaging with the realities of human life and the renewal of the church. And the encuentro process that deeply enriched the church in the United States during the last decade placed “see-judge-act” at its very center. An understanding of the three steps of this basic framework in the context of our current synodal moment in the United States is helpful in appreciating its potential for advancing synodal formation during the next two years.

FULL ARTICLE

Bishop McElroy: Pope Francis and Vatican II give us a road map for the synodal process (America Magazine)

Cardijn Lecture – The emergence of synodality

Thanks to all who joined our inaugural Cardijn Lecture with Rafael Luciani, Elissa Roper and Nancy Conrad on Saturday.

Here is the video of the event:

Here also are the accompanying slides:

Synodality and Reform (Google Slides online version)

Synodality and Reform (PPT version)

Rafael has kindly also shared the following documents for further reading:

Medellin as a synodal event: From collegiality to synodality

From the synod on synodality to the synodalization of the whole church

And Elissa Roper has also shared a list of references for her response:

The experience of Australian Catholics

Thanks once again to all our speakers for their inspiring contributions, to Tony Robertson for his technical and hosting support and to Robbie Gigacz for editing the video for YouTube.

RIP +Bill Wright: From YCS to bishop of Maitland-Newcastle

Thanks to Teresa Brierley and MN News for allowing us to reproduce Teresa’s remembrance of the late Bishop Bill Wright of Maitland-Newcastle, who died on Cardijn’s birth anniversary, 13 November.

It is difficult to know how to begin this week’s message, with the news of the death of Bishop Bill Wright. Like me, many of you may have been thinking of him and holding him in prayer over the past few months, but nothing prepares you for the finality of someone not being there anymore. I have been struck lately by his empty chair in our Cathedral, and now it is really empty as we await a new Bishop.

I was thinking of him on Saturday as I attended The Cardijn Lecture, hosted by the Australian Cardijn Institute on The Emergence of Synodality: The Latin American Experience, presented by Professor Rafael Luciani, a Venezuelan lay theologian.

You may wonder why Bishop Bill was particularly on my mind. Both Bishop Bill and I, along with other people from across Australia, were part of the Young Christian Students Movement (YCS) of the 1960’s and 1970’s. This is a student run movement which uses the Joseph Cardijn method of “SEE, JUDGE, ACT” which enables students to SEE what is happening in the world around us and analyse facts, to then JUDGE this in light of our beliefs and the Gospel, and to take ACTION to transform not only the world around us but ourselves. YCS still exists and forms part of our diocesan outreach to young people.

Formation as Christian leaders

I was thinking of Bishop Bill and me, and how the YCS was so critical to our formation as Christian leaders, not only then but now and in all of the intervening years. I recall leading small groups in which we would reflect on Gospel passages and then the following week do what was called, the Review of Life. At quite a young age we learnt how to read the scriptures in light of the world around us and to then take action. It challenged us to look beyond ourselves in the light of the teachings of Jesus. Not only would we meet each week at school or in the parish, but we would have holiday YCS camps, where we would gather with young people from across a number of schools. I recall attending a couple of camps at Morpeth before I moved to Sydney. Like Bishop Bill, these experiences were life-changing for me and many others, who continue to lead our church from a ‘synodal’ position. We learnt the method of journeying with each other, of deep listening, of reflecting on encounters in the light of faith and of responding.

You may be interested to know that Bishop Bill died on the birthday of Joseph Cardijn, (13 November 1882 – 24 July 1967). Joseph Cardijn was a Belgian priest who devoted his life to bringing Christianity to the working class and advocating for an end to the dehumanising influences that were enforced onto them. He began the Young Christian Worker Movement (YCW) from which the YCS has its origins. I wonder if this is what led Bishop Bill to explore some of his priestly ministry in places like Moree and Mt Druitt. Like Joseph Cardijn, Bishop Bill saw the priesthood of the ordained as a means of bringing positive change and hope to those he encountered.

The Movement plays a role in seeing the world as it should be, and not as it is. I hope in this phrase you can hear echoes of synodality. Rafael Luciani spoke about synodality and the continual work of renewal and reform that is required in our church. Like the YCS, synodality is a movement of formation and change in which we respectfully journey with each other, from both grassroots and hierarchical organisations.

Council for Mission

During the webinar, on Saturday afternoon, I remembered the change management project introduced by Bishop Bill in 2017, which we call, Many parts, One body, One mission. The thinking behind these core changes sought by Bishop Bill was around having overt structures of participation across our diocese in aiding the curia to serve the diocese better and to work better together. He identified four core areas for change:

Instituting a ‘Council for Mission’ for the whole diocese, which will review our overall direction as Church, establish priorities for the development of our ministries, agencies and services and foster collaborative initiatives between agencies. The Council will meet regularly throughout the year and establish this as a priority.

The Diocesan Executive will be expanded to include Directors of agencies to enhance information sharing and opportunities for joint planning and projects across the curia.

Existing agency Boards and Councils will be charged primarily with exercising governance of the agency directly, through each Director, and providing periodic reports to the Diocesan Executive.

Within the curia, bringing together resources and services that all areas of the curia may benefit from, and which do not need to exist as separate units in each agency. This will enable agency leadership to focus on core business, reduce confusion across agencies and diminish duplication of staff and resources. This will also enable staff in these areas to have opportunities for broader experience.

While a lot of what Bishop Bill imagined has been accomplished, there is still work that needs to be done in achieving his vision for a more collaborative synodal diocese focused on God’s mission in our diocese. He would become very frustrated if the talk was only about structures and not about our core business of being the Good News of God’s love for all of humanity.

Governance principles

The following words come from a document which is ‘under construction’ as part of the work of one of the Synod Working Party’s Focus Group on Governance Principles and Documentation:

By virtue of their baptism, all the faithful enjoy true equality in dignity and action. Hence, all are called to co-operate, according to their particular circumstances and responsibilities, in building up the Body of Christ and in fulfilling the mission that God gave the Church to accomplish in the world. The organic nature of ecclesial communion and the spirituality of communion require the Bishop to evaluate the structures of participation envisaged by canon law. These structures guarantee a dimension of communion in the pastoral governance of the Bishop, insofar as they generate a kind of reciprocal interplay between what a Bishop is called to contribute to the good of the diocese through exercising his personal responsibility, and the contribution made through the collaboration of all the faithful. The Bishop should keep clearly in mind that these structures of participation do not take their inspiration from criteria of parliamentary democracy, because they are consultative rather than deliberative. Fruitful dialogue between a Pastor and his faithful will unite them “a priori in all that is essential, and… [lead] them to pondered agreement in matters open to discussion”. In promoting the participation of the faithful in the life of the Church, the Bishop will recall the rights and duties of governance to which he is personally bound. These include not only witnessing, nurturing and caring for the faith, but also cherishing, defending and proposing it rightly.

The co-ordination and marshalling of all diocesan resources requires opportunities to gather for joint reflection. The Bishop needs to make sure that these encounters are well prepared and not unduly long, that they have clear objectives and achieve tangible results. In this way, with a genuine Christian spirit, the participants establish a good mutual rapport and sincerely seek to collaborate. (N.165 Congregation for Bishops, Directory for The Pastoral Ministry of Bishops, Apostolorum Successores, 2004)

I believe this forms the legacy for our own diocesan synodal journey during Bishop Bill’s time as Bishop of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. We have been striving to create structures with a focus on both our need for spiritual and structural conversion so that God’s mission can be accomplished in this time and place. Pope Francis refers to this as our search for a new institutional model of Church for the third millennium.

Fiat voluntas tua

Bishop Bill’s last words to me in a text on Friday afternoon were, Fiat voluntas tua (Thy will be done) from one of his favourite prayers. I will finish with his other favourite prayer, the prayer of St Ignatius of Loyola, which both of us know from our years in YCS:

Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous, to serve you as you deserve to be served, to give without counting the cost, to fight without counting the wounds, to work without seeking rest, then to spend my life without expecting any other in return, then the knowledge that I do your holy will, Amen.

Eternal rest, grant unto him O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace, may he rest in peace. Amen.

Teresa Brierley
Director Pastoral Ministries
16 November 2021

SOURCE

Teresa Brierley, Fiat voluntas tua (MN News)

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Death of Bishop Bill Wright (MN News)

Teresa Brierley

Mission, ministries and co-responsibility

Thanks to NZ Catholic and Bishop Peter Cullinane, emeritus bishop of Palmerston North, Aotearoa-New Zealand for permission to reproduce this important article.

The front line of the Church’s work is the Christian people whose lives are leaven in the dough of all the ordinary circumstances of ordinary life. The purpose of ministries within the Church is to provide nurture and formation for that mission. It is the mission that matters.

Part I Ministries

For some years, we have all been aware of a growing gap between the number of parishes and the number of priests available to serve in them. This reality serves as a wake-up call, but it is not the basis for greater lay involvement. That involvement has its roots in Baptism and the very nature of the Church. Through Baptism, we are all united to the priestly and prophetic mission of Christ. This is the basis for our shared responsibility for what the Church is and what it does:

“Co-responsibility requires a change in mentality, particularly with regard to the role of the laity in the Church, who should be considered not as ‘collaborators’ with the clergy, but as persons truly ‘co-responsible’ for the being and the activity of the Church . . . ” (Pope Benedict XVI, 10 August 2012).

This is more than just a matter of management, or meeting an emergency. It, too, is rooted in Baptism and the nature of the Church. So why does this require a “change in mentality” if it already belongs to the nature of the Church? History gives the answer. During the first four centuries of the Church, lay people had roles in the liturgy, preached, had a say in the election of bishops and nomination of priests; contributed to the framing of Church laws and customs, prepared matters for, and participated in, Church councils, administered Church properties, etc.

Then, after the conversion of the emperor Constantine and the mass conversions that followed, responsibility shifted one-sidedly into the hands of the clergy. And following the barbarian invasions, responsibility for public order also fell to them. Over following centuries, society came to see priesthood as a profession, with social privilege. During earlier centuries, it had been a point of honour for ministers of the Church to live and look like everyone else.

Perception changed also within the Church. This is perhaps symbolised by the altar being pushed back to the apse of the church, where liturgy became mainly a clerical affair, with diminishing involvement of the laity. Scholarship and better understanding of the early Church would eventually return the liturgy to the whole body of the faithful, and restore roles of pastoral care and administration to lay women and men.

Most see our own day as a time of privileged opportunity for renewal. It is challenging because it involves the need for more personal responsibility, and moving away from the forms of tutelage and guardianship that shaped Church practices right up till the time of Pope Pius XII. Others feel safer clinging to that recent past, often misunderstanding the meaning of “Tradition”.

Part II Mission

In Christ, God became immersed in human life; showed us how to live it, destined us to its fullness, and sent the Holy Spirit to draw us into what Christ did for us. That is God’s purpose, and the Church can have no other – “Humanity is the route the Church must take” (Pope John Paul II).

How we do this comes down to how we “do” love. There is a loving that does not go deep enough to transform society. It works at the level of what seems fair and reasonable and deserving. This is what governments are properly concerned with. Society must do better, and the Church’s mission is to be the leaven in society. It deals with a deeper kind of loving – love that is not limited to what seems fair and reasonable and deserved.

As Church, we are uniquely placed to do this because, in the person, life, death and Resurrection of Jesus, we see love that is unconditional, undeserved, and unstinting. When we love as we have been loved, our love becomes a circuit breaker – precisely because it is not calculating and limited to what seems fair and reasonable and deserved. Running through family life, civic life, industrial, commercial and political life, this kind of love “changes everything”. It brings about a way of living – of being human – that is true to what God made us for.

But, note, it starts with seeing God’s love for us – contemplative seeing! Christians have the least excuse for not recognising the intrinsic link between contemplation and working for social justice because, in celebrating Eucharist, they move from contemplating God’s extraordinary love for us to receiving and becoming the body broken for others and the blood (life) poured out for others.

This is how faith makes a decisive difference to all of human life, while fully respecting the rightful autonomy of everything that is properly secular. In the midst of life, God is drawing us towards the fulfilment of our own deepest yearnings, and wonderfully more, involving God’s purpose for the whole of creation.

On that understanding of “the route the Church must take”, we come to know what ministries are needed to nurture us for that mission, and what kind of formation is needed for those ministries.

Part III Formation

To be involved in the processes of making our lives more truly human is a wonderful mission. So what kind of formation is needed for ministries that serve that mission?

Writing about the formation needed for priests, Pope John Paul II said it needs to be “human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral”, and went on to say that continuing formation was a matter of a priest’s faithfulness to his ministry, of love for the people, and in the proper sense a matter of justice, given the people’s rights (Pastores Dabo Vobis, 70).

Commenting on some of the characteristics of human formation, the Congregation for the Clergy explicitly singled out the specific contribution of women, “not only for the seminarians’ personal life, but also with a view to their future pastoral activity” (Ratio Fundamentalis, 95). The congregation’s reference was to Pope John Paul’s emphasis on “what it means to speak of the ‘genius of women’, not only in order to be able to see in this phrase a specific part of God’s plan which needs to be accepted and appreciated, but also in order to let this genius be more fully expressed in the life of society as a whole, as well as in the life of the Church; (Letter to Women, 1995, 10).

In our country, women have been carrying out significant roles at both Holy Cross Seminary and Good Shepherd College for some years. What still needs to be developed, however, are ways of allowing parishioners generally to play a bigger part, both in seminarians’ formation and in the discernment of their vocation. Those who will live with the results of formation, for better or for worse, should have a say in that formation and the selection of candidates.

Programmes for the formation of lay women and men for parish ministries already exist, and I leave it to others to comment on them. My concern here is with a very specific feature needed in Church leadership – both lay and ordained. It is needed all the more because general education in our country has been gradually reduced to learning mainly practical skills. Skills, both human/relational and technological, properly belong within education, but not more so than the deeper aspects of what it means to be human. Even when we know how to do the things necessary for successful living, we still need to know what ultimately gives meaning to it all.

Knowing that one’s life has a purpose can make the difference between surviving, or not surviving, life’s toughest times. The will to live needs a reason to live. The need I am pointing to is the need for leaders who are “in the service of meaning” (Ratcliffe). This is what it means, in practice, to be ministers of God’s Word. Knowing how much we mean to God is the most important thing we can know about ourselves, and is truly life-giving.

Within a culture that has become superficial, reductionist and utilitarian, one of the ways we are in the service of meaning is by knowing how to identify flaws within that culture, especially where important aspects of daily life are devalued by becoming disconnected from what gives them their meaning, or at least their full meaning. Formation will be incomplete unless it is formation “in the service of meaning”.

Part IV     Where to start? 

 I referred to the increasing gap between the number of our parishes and the number of priests. Simply combining parishes, whether for the sake of having a parish priest in every parish, or out of due concern for future financial resourcing, does not resolve the problem because ultimately everything depends on pastoral effectiveness and enlivening.  

 An alternative to combining parishes is available where Church law allows for the pastoral care of parishes to be entrusted to lay people, with a priest appointed to provide general supervision (canon 517/2), usually from another parish. We already experience the insufficiency of suitable priests, which is what justifies recourse to this canon. Of course, where this happens, priests are still required for sacramental ministry. It is possible that some priests might even prefer that kind of role, leaving management of the parish to a team of qualified lay women and men. Lay leadership of parishes requires proper formation – of parish and leaders – and proper remuneration.  

 Yet another starting point for renewal can be found in the experience of small base communities pioneered by the Church in some countries in South America and Asia. Of course, we cannot simply transfer other local churches’ experience to our situation. But we, too, can establish smaller communities within parishes, where leadership can be shared by teams and on a voluntary basis.  

 Such gatherings would be lay-led, and need no official authorisation. They can happen already, and develop in home-spun ways. 

 The Christian Base Communities in South American countries grew out of lay people coming together to pray and reflect on the Scriptures and on their life situations, using the Catholic Action principle: “see, judge, act”.  Their aim was a more just society and more truly human life for everyone – “the route the Church must take”. If this were happening in our own country, we could ask the kind of questions they asked: what are the causes of poverty in our country, and what can we do about those causes? Indeed, this is an appropriate level at which to analyse whatever flaws in our culture leave us less able to deal with the epic issues of our time – those that degrade human life, human dignity, human rights, and the planet itself. 

 Addressing those issues – through the lenses of divine revelation – is itself a way of participating in the mission of the Church. It is a good place to start because it is already do-able; it can be inclusive of those who feel unable to participate in other aspects of the Church’s life; it does not need clerical leadership or control, but makes room for ordained priesthood to present itself as a supporting ministry; it can model shared leadership, and lead to whatever forms of ministry might need to come next.   

 It is also a way of being Church that is “synodal”, (being “on the road together”).  The larger gatherings that we call “synods” presuppose the experience of walking and working together before we are ready for the decisions we gather to make at synods. It also gives scope and opportunity for the participation of many who will not be at the synods. 

Part V    What More?  

 Pope Francis has rightly said: “The Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures all need to be channelled for what best serves the Church’s mission of evangelising the world”; (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, 27).  

To act on that would make big differences. Yet, even these changes are “small change” compared with where the Church has already been, and can yet go. Bigger changes rightly need wider consultation. And synodality is pointless if it isn’t about the road ahead and exploring what might yet be. 

Ministry that is authorised to speak and act in Christ’s name has its origin in Christ’s historical intentions. But its structure and concrete forms were determined by the Church during the apostolic period and after, continuing until late in the second century. What the Church gave shape to after the apostolic period, it can give different shape to now. Being faithful to the Tradition involves more than just receiving what the early Church did; it involves doing what the early Church did: it shaped its ministries to meet the needs of its mission.  

So long as the fullness of ordained responsibility remains intact – as in the college of bishops with and under the bishop of Rome – lesser participations in ordained ministry can be redistributed. The “powers” presently distributed within the three ministries of bishop, presbyter and deacon would live on, but enshrined within a wider variety of ordained ministries. This would open up significant new pastoral opportunities, and incorporate a wider range of charisms into ordained ministry. 

Whatever about that, 50 years ago, the International Theological Commission said  “It is urgent to create much more diversified structures of the Church’s pastoral action as regards both its ministries and its members, if the Church is to be faithful to its missionary and apostolic vocation.”  (The Priestly Ministry, pp 99,100). 

SOURCE AND PHOTO

Bishop Peter Cullinane, Mission, Ministries and co-responsibility (NZ Catholic)

Bishop Peter Cullinane, Mission, ministries and co-responsibility (part two) (NZ Catholic)

Coming Synod a ‘turning point’: Rafael Luciani

Venezuelan lay theologian and advisor to the Synod of Bishops, Professor Rafael Luciani, has described the 2023 Synod Assembly on Synodality, as the “most important event since Vatican II” and one that signifies a “turning point” in the way the Church approaches the Council.

Professor Luciani, who will deliver the inaugural Cardijn Lecture for the Australian Cardijn Institute on 13 November, added that the Synod preparation process, which is launching globally this month, will be centred on “the ecclesiology of the People of God,” which was first introduced by the Council and has been emphasised many times by Pope Francis.

This idea, he says, means that the relationship between the People of God and Church is “not hierarchical anymore, that it is differentiated, but complementary”.

Moreover, a “bishop needs the other, including priests and lay people,” which changes the whole relationship.

“This is what co-responsibility is all about,” he noted.

According to Prof. Luciani, another key novelty of the 2023 Synod will be the enhanced involvement of theologians in the process of listening and discernment aimed at creating this new synodal Church and the inclusion of theological reflection in the structures of the Church. In this sense, it is a real “kairos” moment for the Church.

“We don’t have theological reflection on one side, and people, on the other, saying: ‘How do we bring that into the real structures in the Church’.”

“My expectation and hope that there will be a real dialogue and consensus.”

Speaking to NCR Online, Prof. Luciani added that the aim is an enhanced “new ecclesial way of proceeding inspired by a practice of transparency and accountability.”

Cardijn Lecture: “The Emergence of Synodality: The Latin American Experience”

Rafael will share this experience in the inaugural ACI Cardijn Lecture on the theme “The Emergence of Synodality: The Latin American Experience,” which will take place on at 1.00pm AEDT on Saturday 13 November (Friday evening 12 November US time).

The event will be co-hosted by the US Cardijn Network and Pax Romana USA.

Dr Elissa Roper,  who completed her PhD on “Synodality and Authenticity: Towards a Contemporary Ecclesiology for the Catholic Church” at Yarra Theological Union and the University of Divinity this year, will respond to Rafael’s presentation.

Previously, Elissa was also a member of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne’s Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission. She was a member of the Victorian Council of Church’s Faith and Order Commission for six years, and is currently the VCC Liaison Officer on the Board of the Jewish Christian Muslim Association of Australia. She and her husband have four children.

Joseph Cardijn was the founder of the Young Christian Workers (YCW) movement and a Council Father at Vatican II.

More information: Stefan Gigacz: aci@australiancardijninstitute.org

Dr Elissa Roper

REGISTER HERE:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYqdOivrTIuE9EcJaLYu9tRAawD2fxbyjby

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The Emergence of Synodality: The Latin American Experience

Rafael Luciani on Latin American Roots of Pope Francis Reforms (College of the Holy Cross/YouTube)

A theologian’s take on how the 2023 Synod is a turning point for the Church (Vatican News)

Francis is betting a synodal church will be a cure for a clerical church (NCR Online)

Pope Francis, Moment of reflection for the beginning of the synodal journey (Vatican.va)

Local consultation opens for global Synod of Bishops (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference)

Pax Romana ICMICA

Joseph Cardijn (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

PHOTOS

Amerindia (Rafael Luciani) and Elissa Roper

The Emergence of Synodality: The Latin American Experience

Professor Rafael Luciani of Boston College joins us for an ACI webinar on Saturday 13 November 2021 on the theme “The Emergence of Synodality: The Latin American Experience.”

Professor Luciani will speak on ecclesiological and pastoral roots and implications of synodality, particularly in relation to the reform of parishes, the development of councils at parish and diocesan level, including the role of lay people.

Secondly, he will share the experience of the Plenary Council of the Venezuelan Catholic Church as well as local synods in Argentina, and the launch of the new Ecclesial Conference of the Amazon.

Biography

A lay Venezuelan theologian, Professor Luciani has served as an expert to the Theological Commission of the General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops. He has also been an expert for the Latin American Council of Bishops (CELAM) as well as a member of the Theological Advisory Team for the Presidency of the Latin American Confederation of Religious men and women (CLAR).

He is Full Professor at the Jesuit Andrés Bello Catholic University in Caracas and Professor Extraordinarius at the Ecclesiastical Faculty of the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College, Massachusetts, USA.

Professor Luciani also holds the degrees of Doctor in Theology and Licenciate in Dogmatic Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome; Baccalaureatum in Philosophy and Baccalaureatum in Theology from the Pontifical Salesian University of Rome; and Licenciate in Education (with mention in Philosophy) from Andrés Bello Catholic University.

He did several years of postdoctoral research activities at the Julius-Maximilians Universität in Würzburg, Germany. He has also served as Director of the School of Theology and Coordinator for the creation of the Theology Area of the General Graduate Studies (for Lay Scholars) at Andrés Bello Catholic University.

RESPONDENT

Responding to Rafael will be Dr Elissa Roper, who completed her PhD on “Synodality and Authenticity: Towards a Contemporary Ecclesiology for the Catholic Church” at Yarra Theological Union and the University of Divinity this year.

Elissa currently manages a Program of Theology for women in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands; a partnership in tertiary theological education between the Sisters of Mercy and the Divine Word University. Her writing has a focus on developing foundations for Catholic ecclesiology in a new era of synodality. She explores how such foundations may support the praxis and good governance of synodality.

She and her husband have four children.

Elissa was also a member of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne’s Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission. She was a member of the Victorian Council of Church’s Faith and Order Commission for six years, and is currently the VCC Liaison Officer on the Board of the Jewish Christian Muslim Association of Australia.

 

Lay People and Synodality

A huge thank you to Sr Nathalie Becquart, Under-Secretary of the Vatican Synod of Bishops, for a wonderful webinar on the theme “Lay People and Synodality” on 19 August 2021.

Former Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commissioner Commissioner, Susan Pascoe, responded as did Bishop Shane MacKinlay of Sandhurst Diocese.

We here present the full video of the webinar as well as Sr Nathalie’s slide presentation and links to more resources.

A big thank you to Sr Nathalie, Susan and +Shane.

 MORE RESOURCES

Nathalie Becquart XMCJ, The Synod on Young People, a Laboratory of Synodality (International Bulletin of Mission Research)

Sr Nathalie Becquart: Lay People and Synodality

French Xavierian Sister Nathalie Becquart, recently appointed by Pope Francis as Under-Secretary to the Vatican Synod of Bishops, will address an ACI Webinar on the theme “Lay People and Synodality” at 7.00pm AEST on Thursday 19 August 2021.

Sr Nathalie is the first woman to hold such a role in the Synod. In another first in February this year, Pope Francis also appointed her as one of the Synod’s two Under-Secretaries.

The next Synod of Bishops, which will take place in October 2023, will take as its subject “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission.”

The theme of “synodality” also features prominently in the agenda for the Australian Plenary Council, which will hold its first session in October this year.

Sr Nathalie originally studied entrepreneurship at the the elite Haute Ecole de Commerce in Paris before joining the Xaverian Sisters. After completing her novitiate, she worked with the national team of the French Scouts movement.

She also studied theology at the Jesuit Centre Sèvres in Paris, sociology at the Ecole de Haute Etudes en Sciences Sociales. Later she furthered her studies in ecclesiology, specialising in synodality, at the Boston College of Theology and Ministry.

She later worked in youth ministry and was appointed as Adjunct Director of Student Pastoral Work by the French Catholic Bishops Conference.

Sr Nathalie will share her experience on this important topic. Bishop Shane MacKinlay, Sandhurst Diocese, and Susan Pascoe, former executive director of the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission, recently appointed to the Methodological Commission of the Synod of Bishops, will respond.

Please join us for this timely event.

REGISTER HERE

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYod-qsrz4oH9aSiUMCJFG6V6S-bexrv-9C

READ MORE

Nathalie Becquart (Wikipedia)

Q & A with Sr. Nathalie Becquart: Upcoming synod could ‘turn a clerical church into a synodal church’ (Global Sisters)

Sister Natalie Becquart and the primacy of synodality (The Tablet)

Interview of Sister Nathalie Becquart with News Nightly (EWTN)

General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops

Young people share views on Synod

Last week, the Vatican has hosted a seminar on today’s youth in preparation for next year’s Synod of Bishops’ gathering on “Young people, faith and vocational discernment,” La Croix International reports

A group of 21 teens and young adults took part in last week’s invitation-only even, where they joined in discussions and made concrete proposals for the Synod.

Stepping through the doors of the conference room, visitors may have been surprised to find that gray hairs were in the minority at a seminar organized by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops last week.

Participants did not hesitate to challenge the academic presenters at the event or to raise the stakes by freely expressing their views during the debates.

In fact, they even protested when the presentations of the experts exceeded the time limit and ate into their precious discussion time.They also criticized the Vatican survey addressed to young people which was considered to be too long or poorly translated.

“The pope asked us to ‘make chaos,’ that’s precisely what we’re doing,” said Lucas Barboza with a smile.

“You have galvanized us,” said Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, in his concluding remarks.

He graciously welcomed the young people’s critiques, including on the content of the seminar, which failed to address subjects such as personal relationships and sexuality, or the lack of non-European representation among the young people invited (only one representative was from Africa).

FULL STORY

Young people make waves at Synod meeting (La Croix International)

Catholic youth have something to say – and the Church is listening (Catholic News Agency)

IYCS leader Richard Apeh (left) with other delegates