Loading...
Loading...
Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Bishops walk in procession from St. Peter's Basilica at the start of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon at the Vatican in this Oct. 7, 2019, file photo. Pope Francis has chosen the theme of "synodality" for the next synod in 2022. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has decided the next world Synod of Bishops at the Vatican, which will take place in October 2022, will have the theme: "For a synodal church: Communion, participation and mission."

The Vatican announced the choice of "synodality" as the theme in a brief communique March 7.

"Synodality," which literally means "walking together," has become a key topic of Pope Francis' pontificate, but one which has raised questions and even confusion.

The basic idea in the pope's teaching is that the grace of baptism makes one part of the body of the church and, therefore, responsible for its life and mission. In a hierarchical church, that shared responsibility calls for regular, serious and structural forums for listening to all members of the church. At the same time, as the pope has said, it does not mean putting decisions to a vote as if a synod were a parliament.

In 2018, the International Theological Commission, which advises the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, published a document on the topic, "Synodality In the Life and Mission of the Church."

Synodality, which has been present in Christianity since its very beginning, the document said, is not simply about involving people in decision making, but involving all the baptized in discerning God's will and listening to the Holy Spirit. The goal, it said, always is to find the best ways for every baptized person to fulfill the church's mission of proclaiming God's love and salvation in Jesus Christ to the world.

Regarding questions that continue to be raised about the similarities and differences between synodality and a democratic form of church governance, the commission wrote: "A synodal church is a church of participation and co-responsibility. In exercising synodality she is called to give expression to the participation of all, according to each one's calling, with the authority conferred by Christ on the College of Bishops headed by the pope. Participation is based on the fact that all the faithful are qualified and called to serve each other through the gifts they have all received from the Holy Spirit."

At the same time, it said, "the authority of pastors is a specific gift of the Spirit of Christ the head for the upbuilding of the entire body, not a delegated and representative function of the people."

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

City and state/province, or if outside Canada or the U.S., city and country. 
When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.
Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

The latest from america

Pope Francis hugs Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI prior to the start of a meeting with elderly faithful in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014.
In a previously scheduled speech to the Vatican office that handles sex abuse cases, Pope Francis did not refer to the findings of a long-awaited report into how the Munich archdiocese handled abuse cases.
St. Adalbert’s/O.L.B.S. was the first Black Catholic parish in Cleveland, and we drove eight hours from New York City to Fairfax to make a short documentary on their history and rootedness. That was “the plan.”
Kevin JacksonJanuary 20, 2022
Pope Francis caused a Category 5 brouhaha on Jan. 6 during what was an otherwise thoroughly ordinary general audience at the Vatican.
Matt Malone, S.J.January 20, 2022
(iStock/Spiderplay)
A campus minister at Notre Dame has a message for gay students: We can challenge one another without thinking that disagreement is moral failure, bigotry or hatred.
William Dailey, C.S.C.January 20, 2022