For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission
“In the first millennium, ‘journeying together’—that is, practicing synodality—was the ordinary way in which the Church, understood as ‘People united in the unity of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,’ acted” (Preparatory Document, 11). When there was disagreement and division in the early Church, bishops gathered to listen and discern the path forward. These were the first synods which developed at all levels of the Church—local, regional, and universal. St. John Chrysostom said that “Church and Synod are synonymous.” (Preparatory Document, 11).
Synodality has thus marked the Church from her very beginning and has been expressed in various ways, as the style of the Church’s life and mission, as particular structures and processes, or through decisive events.
Pope Francis called upon the Church to rejuvenate her synodal roots by opening a two-year synodal process which he hopes will reframe and renew our common journey forward. First and foremost, the Synod is a call to pray, listen, and discern together what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church today—all for the sake of the Church’s evangelizing mission.
What follows is the Archdiocese of Atlanta’s report on the 2022 local synod. As you will read, it is not the last word. Indeed, there are myriad opportunities to further the work of listening to the Holy Spirit by listening to one another in the context of the fundamental question: A synodal Church, in announcing the Gospel, “journeys together.” How is this “journeying together” happening today in your local Church? What steps does the Spirit invite us to take to grow in “journeying together”?