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Zac DavisOctober 12, 2023
Participants pray in the Vatican's Paul VI Audience Hall at the beginning of a working session of the assembly of the Synod of Bishops Oct. 10, 2023. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

Today is my fourth wedding anniversary. In a typical year, my wife and I would be getting ready for a weekend getaway somewhere upstate, filled with flannel and apple cider and leaf peeping. This is not a typical year: I am here in Rome covering the Synod on Synodality. 

It’s a great privilege to help bring news of this historic church meeting, so I am not looking for sympathy. (We are working hard, but we’ve also managed to try some great gelato and wine.) But today, I am grateful to have a spouse who is supportive of my career. And being a Catholic couple, we hold that feasts are moveable: We’ll celebrate in Rome later this month. Today, I am thinking about the things that delegates have left behind back home in order to be here for this month-long event. 

In one sense, it was probably easy for delegates to answer the call: I’m sure that it’s an honor to participate in such a historic event in the life of the church. If the pope calls, you go, after all. But I am thinking about all the things that people had to coordinate and sacrifice to be in Rome for one month (not to mention another October in 2024), on just a few months notice: caring for an elderly parent, child care, college classes, career obligations. Many dioceses are deprived of their bishops, religious orders of some of their leaders. 

One of the incredible new parts of this year’s synod is the deep involvement of lay people throughout the process. And even though it brings its own inconveniences, bishops assume that occasional trips to Rome is part of the job. If we want a church that involves all the baptized at all levels, then the laity will have to shoulder some of these sacrifices (and financial obligation—someone has to foot the bill!). It’s easy to get caught up in doctrine and theology, but these are concrete issues that deserve our attention if we ever want to make a truly synodal church a reality. 

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