Cardinal Grech Urges Italian Bishops to Listen

Intervention of the Synod of Bishops’ Secretary-General at CEI’s Assembly

Il cardinale Grech (C) Acali / Exaudi

After Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti’s introductory report, the Secretary-General of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Mario Grech intervened during the 75th General Assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), underway at the Ergife Palace Hotel in Rome.

Need to Question Oneself on the Fundamental Question

 Describing the synodal journey, which will lead to the holding of the Synod of Bishops in October 2023, Cardinal Grech stressed the importance of maturing a synodal style. “To get results without maturing a synodal style would consign the Church to a disappointment that would compromise the future of synodality and of the Church herself.

I repeat again: it’s better that the People of God in our Churches confront themselves on the fundamental question, rather than talk about anything, without a construct and especially without direction.”

The question is the one at the beginning of the Preparatory  Document: “A synodal Church, proclaiming the Gospel, “journeys together.” How is this “journeying together” realized in your local Church? What steps does the Spirit invite us to take to grow in our “journeying together”?

Synodal Mentality

 What counts is to mature a true synodal mentality; to understand that the Church is truly “constitutively synodal,” that is, People of God that journeys together, not only because it journeys, but because it journeys knowing where it’s going — to the fulfillment of the Kingdom and, therefore, questions itself on the way to follow, listening to what the Spirit says to the Church,” continued Cardinal Grech.

I am convinced that the first and fundamental fruit of this first stage of the synodal process is the conviction, matured in mutual listening, that the life of the Church begins from listening, as a consequence of that rediscovery of the pneumatological dimension of the Church, which the Council has handed back to us and which commits us, Pastors, above all to the indispensable task of discernment.”

In this time, in which the Church holds the first phase of the process dedicated to listening, the Secretary of the Synod reminded that  “the consultation of the People of God is action that belongs to the Bishop, as principle and foundation of unity in his Church. In virtue of his own power, ordinary and immediate over the flock entrusted to him, it is for him to open the synodal journey in his Church and to accompany it, so that it bears the expected fruit.

May the CEI Be An Example

 Finally, Cardinal Grech ended his intervention with a specific request to the CEI: “Therefore, I ask this Episcopal Conference for another commitment: to be an example of the phase of discernment. Help all to understand that it’s not about a work entrusted to someone, but about you yourselves examining the material. Find a truly collegial way to “discern” the contributions of the dioceses. May the synthesis you offer the Secretariat be truly the fruit of the listening of the Churches that are in Italy.

This act of discernment will help to understand — I’m convinced of it — the collegial nature of the Episcopal Conferences, in the framework of a constitutively synodal Church. This is a topic that deserves accurate study, so that the synodal process guarantees a true exercise of synodality, of collegiality, of primacy. To neglect one of these aspects is to weaken the whole synodal process.”

The end of Cardinal Grech’s intervention was followed by a broad, sincere, and fruitful session of dialogue with CEI’s Bishops.

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester