by Tony Barber
Pope Francis has set us on a two year synodal journey, culminating in the final Bishops’ synod in October 2023. Before then we, the whole church including the laity, are invited to participate in that journey. Bishop Mark in his inaugural address in the Cathedral on 17th October was careful to point out that this synod was primarily an opportunity for us to listen to each other. At a local church level this part of the journey is expected to finish by April 2022, so there is an urgency to move quickly. The process of listening and discernment in our parish has already started; there have been three lay facilitators appointed in our parish (we hear unofficially that they are Patrick McGovern, Jean Anderson and Richard Fish) who are tasked to convey our views to the Bishop; how they intend to do this we shall doubtless learn from them in due course.
I was pleased to learn that the facilitators will have a free hand and no topic will be barred from discussion. There will be no filtering of our views and individuals or groups will be free to make their own submissions. This is a unique opportunity to take part in the synod journey. I pray we can seize that opportunity with enthusiasm. To assist us the Vatican have published an Official Handbook for Listening and Discernment in Local Churches (www.synod.va/en/documents/vademecum.html).
Well worth a study.