The Catholic bishops of the Philippines said that the Synod on Synodality is seeking to discern the “signs of our times” in order to respond to the calls of the present-day world, reported CBCP News.
They said the Church is trying to do so amidst the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, the scandals in the Church and in government, the secularism and materialism, and the “double-edged” power of the digital world.
The bishops said they cannot also brush off “the erosion of ethical values and idolatry of relativism”, the “antipathy and disdain against traditional institutions” like the Church, and the effects of “ecological abuse, terror and violence.
“In looking at the Church from the inside and looking at the Church with the entire human family, we cannot ignore the signs of our times,” they said in a pastoral message.
Dioceses across the Philippines are preparing for the local consultation process for the Synod on Synodality that Pope Francis has called for the universal Church.
The pope officially launched the synodal process at the Vatican on Oct. 9 to engage the entire Church in preparing for the Synod of Bishops’ next ordinary assembly in 2023.
Local churches are scheduled to start engaging in the synodal process on Sunday, Oct. 17, during which parishioners will be encouraged to submit feedback to their diocese.
The bishops said the process will look at “two landscapes not with our eyes but with the eyes of the Lord”.
“The first is ‘How is our Church within?’” read the bishops’ letter, adding that the pope asks everyone to look at “How is this journeying together happening today in our local Church? What steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our ‘journeying together’?”
“The second is ‘How is the Church together with the entire human family?’ Are we still salt and light for the world? Is dialogue our way of life? How willing are we to listen with humility and respect despite differences? Have we become haughty or insensitive to the groans of suffering humanity?”
The bishops also identified three “tools” for the diocesan phase which will run until February 2022: sensitivity, time, and conversion.
“We must become a Church that makes attentive and selfless listening its lifestyle. Sensitivity will gain for us a discerning heart to know the will of the Lord,” read the statement.
“It will win for us a deeper kind of perspective of persons and events, that we may go deeper than the eyes. We see with our souls.”
“Time is greater than space. We can work slowly and patiently not obsessed with immediate results. We move with tenacity and clarity of convictions without anxiety but rather trusting in the Lord who walks with us,” it added. “We cannot proceed to be a synodal Church without conversion.”
After the diocesan phase, the bishops will prepare for a three-day assembly on the national level on March 7 to 9, 2022 “so that we can submit a national report to the Synod General Secretariat by April 2022”.