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Synod Organizer: 'More Than One Way to Be the Church'

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Catholics gathered at the continental level say the Catholic Church must be united, not uniform, and embrace its many forms of expression around the world, the Synod Preparatory Commission after a week-long meeting at the Vatican said the members.

Archbishop of Perth Timothy Costello said, “I think one of the most important things we’ve realized during these ecclesiastical, continental gatherings is that there really is more than one way to be the church.” Australian Bishops’ Conference.

“We are beginning to experience a profound unity that is not based on uniformity,” he told a news conference at the Vatican on April 20. “There are universal principles that are a positive expression of a kind of uniformity, but all of them embodied in the context of local reality.

“I think one of the most important things we’ve realized during these ecclesiastical, continental gatherings is that there really is more than one way to be a church.”

The Commission met in Rome to consider the findings of the continental phase of the process leading up to the meetings of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican in 2023 and 2024.

Archbishop Costello said that although it is true “some people have struggled with the synodal process” and “do not understand it,” he added that the global reach of the synod is important for the Church to “recognise, hear and recognize the voice of the Holy”. is an invitation to In this plurality of voices the Spirit is coming forth” through the Synodal process.

“Diversity in the Church is already a reality and something we need to accept and start, more and more, to celebrate and be grateful to God for,” he said.

Sister Nathalie Bequart, Xavier Missionary Under-Secretary of the Synod, said that the purpose of the continental phase of the Synod, which brings together bishops’ conferences and other Church gatherings, was “to integrate this idea of ​​circularity among all levels of the Church.”

“We need a new way to establish links between the center of the Roman Curia and the local churches,” he said, recalling during his visit to the Continental Assembly of Oceania, “Usually, this is what we do when we come to Rome.” Well, this time it’s Rome coming to us.

Archbishop Costello said the commission’s meetings with the heads of the Vatican’s many departments and staff allow for an exchange that is attuned to the work of the Curia and the realities of the local Church.

“It’s never good for people to hang around in some kind of little bubble in which they only listen to people who always agree with them,” he said. “We need to break out of that bubble, and this was one of the ways that could happen.”

“We have to be open to a very different approach to these things rather than being very analytical or calculative.”

Part of that effort also included an ecumenical element, with “Catholic audiences” from the Synod’s General Secretariat participating in four conferences on synods in other Christian traditions.

At the Continental Synodal Assembly she attended, Sister Becquart said that the synodal process “helps us to realize that we are not only in a multipolar world, but also the Church.”

He explained how churches in different continents offer unique cultural “gifts” to the spirit of synodality: Africa and the understanding of the Church as family, Asia and the search for harmony, and the Middle East which is marked by a long history of unitarism. .

Those contributions, he said, show how “diversity can also be a path toward unity.”

The findings of the continental phase of the synod will be assembled into a working document for the ecumenical phase of the synod, which will bring representatives of the world’s bishops and others to the Vatican in October.

“While it is tempting to draw conclusions now,” said Archbishop Costello, “it is important to remember that the Synod is a long process of prayer and communal reflection, the outcome of which no one can predict.”

“We have to be open to a very different approach to these things rather than being very analytical or calculative,” he said. “It’s not just an intellectual exercise, it’s really an exercise of discernment.”