In May 2021, Pope Francis invited the global Catholic Church to gather and reflect on communion, participation, and mission within the Church. The two-year process of listening and dialogue is themed, For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, & Mission being referred to as the “synod on synodality,” which the Holy Father officially opened with Massat Saint Peter’s Basilica on October 10. This past weekend, dioceses throughout the world began the next phase of the synod which includes consultation and dialogue at the diocesan level. Using a preparatory document and questionnaire to guide the discussion from the Holy See’s synod office, this phase runs through April 2022.
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) expressed solidarity with Pope Francis and the universal Church on the embarkation of the synod saying, “The Holy Father has called for the local churches to hold inclusive consultations with the People of God as part of the synod. We face a challenge after over a year of being physically distanced within our communities because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This synod is an opportunity to meet the immense and important request of the Holy Father to engage in dialogue to better understand our call to holiness and feel the responsibility to participate in the life of the Church.” He continued, “Outreach, communication, support, and encouragement are vital in order to be missionary disciples. As is with the nature of the synod, I hope we will learn as we ‘journey together,’ and I pray that the process will enrich and guide the future path of both the local Church as well as the universal Church over the course of the next two years, and beyond.”
In carrying out the synod here in the United States, Father Michael Fuller, interim general secretary for the USCCB has been leading the efforts of the Conference to share information with the U.S. bishops. Richard Coll, executive director of the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development was appointed as the bishops’ diocesan liaison. “The Conference’s role in supporting the local diocesan efforts of the synod includes sharing the resources prepared by the general secretariat of the Synod of Bishops in Rome such as the Preparatory Document and Vademecum, as well as additional tools and tips,” he said. “I welcome the opportunity to be a resource to the diocesan representatives as they engage with their local faithful in this most important phase of the synod.”
In order to best share the many materials in an organized manner, the USCCB’s website will be updated regularly with highlights from the synod at the local level, as well as an ongoing effort to incorporate synodal lessons learned into the resources offered. The USCCB’s webpage on the synod may be found at: www.usccb.org/synod.