Synodality in Our Daily Life

By: Sunita Hammed

I’m writing this article with great pleasure and also Thank you for this opportunity.  I am thankful to ALL Forum who encourage me to write this article.  “Synodality as a concept really just means collegiality.  The theme of the Synod is Communion, Participation, Mission.

Fundamentally, synodality is about journeying together. This happens through listening to one another in order to hear what God is saying to all of us. It is realizing that the Holy Spirit can speak through anyone to help us walk forward together on our journey as the People of God.

Synodality is not a model, according to which the Church could be organized; it is the expression of the Church’s existence and mission grounded in the mystery of the divine life. Synodality is a way of life for every one and through it we can listen to each other and can-do dialogue in a better way. Few values of the synodality we can adapt in our daily life are as follow:

Synodality – Images:

Synodal virtues: faith, hope, love

Faith: When our relationships express our faith, we will be committed to each other on the journey, no matter how long or what difficulties may occur. This is because our faith is not just faith in one another and in the sacramental structures of the Church, but it is faith in God who is present and guides everyone who is a member of the community of faith. Faith is the courage to persevere, keeping our minds, hearts and wills always focused on and open to God.

Hope: This is one of the great gifts of the Holy Spirit. It fills us with creativity and opens new possibilities. Hope always allows us to begin again. It is not afraid of failure but, because it is always open to the future, which is God’s gift, it has the power to learn from failure and to grow in understanding.

Love: Love, as St Paul reminds us, is the greatest of the Spirit’s gifts because God is Love (1 Cor 13). When we are loved, we experience consolation and, when we love, we are ministers of Christ, the Consoler. This love has the power to overcome all hatred.

They are not only the paths of synodality, they are the paths of Christian life and mission.  Synodality is an essential need of the time for our life, Church and society. May God bless us to move forward in synodality and peace.

ALL Forum Online Course on Synodality for Maktaba-e-Anaveem Pakistan (MAP)

Starting in the month of June, ALL Forum organised online course on Synodality for 32 participants from Maktaba-e-Anaveem Pakistan (MAP). This online course is currently ongoing and has completed all of its 4 sessions. During this course we have been mainly discussing on Synodality in the Life and Mission of the Church (SLMC) the document released by the Pontifical International Theological Commission in 2018.

During the first 2 weeks we have discussed chapter 1 to 4 of the SLMC document, covering Meaning of Synodality; Synodality in the Bible and early church; Vatican II and Synodality; Theological basis of Synodality; Implementing Synodality; People of God and Synodality; Synodality on All Levels; Synodal Renewal of the Church; Spirituality and Communal Discernment. In the 3rd week we engaged in learning about “Synodality in Amazon synod and Thereafter” understanding the Preparation of Amazon Synod and Its “Working Document”(Instrumentum Laboris); Final Document and Its Significance; Opposition to the Synod: Vatican’s Response to the Synod: Foundation of ECA, Ecclesial Conference of Amazon.

During the 4th week we observed the “Possible Cases Synodal Churches in the World” diving deeper in understanding the Cases of Infanta and PCP II in Philippines & CCRI in India; Chilean Church and Peoples’ Synod; Sex Scandals and Peoples Synod in the US; Women driven Synod “Root & Branch” in the UK; Synodal Path in Germany; Synodality as a Way of Church Reform. We will also be having a 5th week session which be dedicated mainly for discussion so that we reach a better understanding of Synodality. Until now the recording of the sessions are available on our Youtube channel. Please be subscribed to it so that you will receive updates as and when new content is available.

How can we realize Synodality within Asian Context?

By Dr. Paul Hwang // Director of ALL Forum

The year 2022 has come. There are many big anniversaries this year. It is the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Vatican II and the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference (FABC) with official approval from the Vatican. It is also the year when all the diocesan Synod is expected to be held around the world under the theme of “Synodality” with the aim of the participation of the whole People of God. Let’s take this opportunity to think about how to view the Council and how Synodality should be realized at the Asian church level.

First of all, the attitude of considering the Council as an absolute, decisive, and irreversible truth and applying it to all situations as an idea that has indeed spread quite widely and strongly to Asian churches should be reconsidered. As an open ended process, the Council should not be “re-accepted” but “re-created” locally. The documents of the council is surely recognized by its theological meaning and importance. But since it is the product of debates and compromises among the then participated bishops a relevant view or a proper hermeneutics is important.

In other words, given ‘ Gaudium et Spes ’ is the key to reading the rest of its documents, it should not be forgotten that the idea of “People of God” is the keyword that consistently interprets the various theories on Church or ecclesiology and the identity of laypeople defined by the Council.

Second, the context in which we ask for the identity and role of laypersons is very different from the past. It is the fact that humanity is entering a very strange and new world that has never been experienced before, with millions dying from the outbreak of COVID-19, and advances in artificial intelligence, robots, and life sciences on the verge of human immortality.

In this situation, asking who the laypeople are?’ should be an expression of interest and solidarity for the whole human beings and the world beyond the walls of Church. How it should be expressed in Asia becomes the third question we have to consider. Lay people in Asia should devote themselves to practicing liberation, inculturation, and interreligious dialogue raised in under the context like extreme poverty, diverse cultures, various great religious traditions, which are the background of the FABC’s formulation of “Triple Dialogue” for the past 50 years. The laypeople should transform the clergy-centered Asian church into a “public church” so that they can meet this task.

Finally, it is of great significance to hold a synod aimed at ‘decentralization’ and participation of the whole People of God for the first time in the Church history. It would be a possible occasion for evaluation of large and small changes that Pope Francis has made under the name of “Church reform.” The synod, which is based on the theme of Synodality, mainly deals with the process of joint cooperation or joint agreement of the people of God, so it would be a touchstone that allows the Council to adapt once again to the changed reality.

Pointing out the gap between daily life and faith as a significant error in modern times, Gaudium et Spes emphasizes that laypeople show the spirit worldliness and citizenship of the Council by suggesting that they should act as citizens of the world (par. 43). In addition, it is considered that the document clearly shows that it is “defending religious and cultural pluralism” (par 92). And it has actually and practically helped a new inspiration and passion rooted into FABC. This is particularly important for Asian laypeople who live/practice pluralism as a daily life, and it is also a valuable theological asset to save lay theology for them, which presents ‘baptism’ as a bastion of the universal priesthood amid majority of people believing in different religions in Asia.

In addition, I believe that synodality or collaboration among the whole People of God is important as a concrete and regional practice and implementation of the Council, going beyond the idea “collegiality” of bishops alone emphasized by the Council. Since this is also important in the issue of church leadership, it is suggested that collegiality should be expanded to all levels of the Church to move toward a ‘cooperative Church leadership’. This suggests that the lay council as a partner organization of the bishop should be established in all the levels of Church including parish, diocese as well as national and universal level. By doing so, I believe that abstract and hard-to-grasp word Synodality can be realized within Asian context.