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Letter to the People of God at the end of the Synod of the Church 2024: Synodality is the way God expects of the Church

(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 10.25.2023).- In the afternoon of Wednesday, October 25, the announced letter that the participants in the XVI General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops sent to Catholics around the world on the eve of the culmination of the Assembly was published. We reproduce below the text of the letter in English language:


Dear sisters, dear brothers,

As the proceedings of the first session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the  Synod of Bishops draw to a close, we want to thank God with all of you for the beautiful and  enriching experience we have lived. We lived this blessed time in profound communion with  all of you. We were supported by your prayers, bearing with you your expectations, your  questions, as well as your fears. As Pope Francis requested two years ago, a long process of  listening and discernment was initiated, open to all the People of God, no one being excluded,  to “journey together” under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, missionary disciples engaged in  the following of Jesus Christ.

The session in which we have been gathered in Rome since 30 September is an  important phase of this process. In many ways it has been an unprecedented experience. For  the first time, at Pope Francis’ invitation, men and women have been invited, in virtue of their  baptism, to sit at the same table to take part, not only in the discussions, but also in the voting  process of this Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. Together, in the complementarity of our  vocations, our charisms and our ministries, we have listened intensely to the Word of God  and the experience of others. Using the conversation in the Spirit method, we have humbly  shared the wealth and poverty of our communities from every continent, seeking to discern  what the Holy Spirit wants to say to the Church today.

We have thus also experienced the  importance of fostering mutual exchanges between the Latin tradition and the traditions of  Eastern Christianity. The participation of fraternal delegates from other Churches and  Ecclesial Communities deeply enriched our discussions.

Our assembly took place in the context of a world in crisis, whose wounds and  scandalous inequalities resonated painfully in our hearts, infusing our work with a particular  gravity, especially since some of us come from countries where war rages. We prayed for the  victims of deadly violence, without forgetting all those who have been forced by misery and  corruption to take the dangerous road of migration. We assured our solidarity and  commitment alongside the women and men all over the world who are working to build  justice and peace.

At the invitation of the Holy Father, we made significant room for silence to foster  mutual listening and a desire for communion in the Spirit among us. During the opening  ecumenical vigil, we experienced how the thirst for unity increases in the silent contemplation of the crucified Christ. In fact, the cross is the only cathedra of the One who, having given  himself for the salvation of the world, entrusted His disciples to His Father, so that “they may  all be one” (John 17:21). Firmly united in the hope brought by His Resurrection, we entrusted  to Him our common home where the cries of the earth and the poor are becoming increasingly  urgent: “Laudate Deum!” (“Praise God!”), as Pope Francis reminded us at the beginning of  our work.

Day by day, we felt the pressing call to pastoral and missionary conversion. For the  Church’s vocation is to proclaim the Gospel not by focusing on itself, but by placing itself at  the service of the infinite love with which God loved the world

When  homeless people near St. Peter’s Square were asked about their expectations regarding the  Church on the occasion of this synod, they replied: “Love!”. This love must always remain  the ardent heart of the Church, a Trinitarian and Eucharistic love, as the Pope recalled on  October 15, midway through our assembly, invoking the message of Saint Thérèse of the  Child Jesus. It is “trust” that gives us the audacity and inner freedom that we experienced, not  hesitating to freely and humbly express our convergences, differences, desires and questions. 

And now? We hope that the months leading to the second session in October 2024  will allow everyone to concretely participate in the dynamism of missionary communion  indicated by the word “synod”. This is not about ideology, but about an experience rooted in  the apostolic tradition. As the Pope reminded us at the beginning of this process, “communion  and mission can risk remaining somewhat abstract, unless we cultivate an ecclesial praxis that  expresses the concreteness of synodality (…) encouraging real involvement on the part of each  and all” (October 9, 2021). There are multiple challenges and numerous questions: the  synthesis report of the first session will specify the points of agreement we have reached,  highlight the open questions, and indicate how our work will proceed.

To progress in its discernment, the Church absolutely needs to listen to everyone,  starting with the poorest. This requires a path of conversion on its part, which is also a path  of praise: “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things  from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children” (Luke 10:21)! It means  listening to those who have been denied the right to speak in society or who feel excluded,  even by the Church; listening to people who are victims of racism in all its forms – in  particular in some regions to indigenous peoples whose cultures have been scorned. Above  all, the Church of our time has the duty to listen, in a spirit of conversion, to those who have  been victims of abuse committed by members of the ecclesial body, and to commit herself  concretely and structurally to ensuring that this does not happen again. 

The Church also needs to listen to the laity, women and men, all called to holiness by  virtue of their baptismal vocation: to the testimony of catechists, who in many situations are  the first proclaimers of the Gospel; to the simplicity and vivacity of children, the enthusiasm  of youth, to their questions, and their pleas; to the dreams, the wisdom and the memory of  elderly people. The Church needs to listen to families, to their educational concerns, to the  Christian witness they offer in today’s world. She needs to welcome the voice of those who  want to be involved in lay ministries and to participate in discernment and decision-making  structures.

To progress further in synodal discernment, the Church particularly needs to gather  even more the words and experience of the ordained ministers: priests, the primary  collaborators of the bishops, whose sacramental ministry is indispensable for the life of the  whole body; deacons, who, through their ministry, signify the care of the entire Church for  the most vulnerable. She also needs to let herself be questioned by the prophetic voice of  consecrated life, the watchful sentinel of the Spirit’s call. She also needs to be attentive to all  those who do not share her faith but are seeking the truth, and in whom the Spirit, who “offers  everyone the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery” (Gaudium et Spes 22),  is also present and operative.

“The world in which we live, and which we are called to love and serve, even with its  contradictions, demands that the Church strengthen cooperation in all areas of her mission. It  is precisely this path ofsynodality which God expects of the Church of the third millennium”  (Pope Francis, October 17, 2015). We do not need to be afraid to respond to this call. Mary,  Mother of the Church, the first on the journey, accompanies our pilgrimage. In joy and in  sorrow, she shows us her Son and invites us to trust. And He, Jesus, is our only hope!