…The Church has opened a synod process on the topic of synodality, with the theme “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.” The synod process, informally known as the “synod on synodality,” opened in Rome on the weekend of Oct. 9-10 and in particular churches on Oct. 17. An opening Mass will take place at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Nov. 27 at 4:30 p.m. to mark the synod’s beginning in the Archdiocese of Boston.
In preparation for the diocesan phase of the synod process, the archdiocese has set up a preliminary survey, inviting the faithful to share their ideas for how the Church can better listen to her people at various levels. Though anonymous and confidential, the survey asks some demographic questions, such as the participant’s location, age, ethnicity, and status as a layperson, clergy, or religious. Then, it has boxes for participants to briefly answer questions about how parishes, the archdiocese, and the universal Church can listen to their people.
Father Paul Soper, archdiocesan Secretary for Evangelization and Discipleship, said they hope the survey responses will give Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley some material to draw upon as the diocesan phase of the process begins.
“This survey is, in large part, to provide some beginning thoughts for him in how to address this. But it’s only a beginning,” Father Soper said.
He explained that the term “synodality” refers to Church leaders listening to others’ input in the decision-making process — for example, a pastor consulting with his parish council and parishioners, or a bishop consulting with his cabinet and diocesan councils…
He said the diocesan portion of the process will not only aim to contribute to the global conversation, but also consider how to improve synodality at the parish and diocesan levels. The hope, he said, is that conversations will take place that will strengthen communication between pastors, parishioners, parish councils, finance councils, and other structures within Catholic communities.
Bishop Robert Reed, auxiliary bishop for the West Region and president of CatholicTV, said he thinks it important not to look at the synod process as “a six-month event.”
“We’re not necessarily trying to create a splash or another program, but rather in the long term to become more of a listening Church here in the archdiocese, to become more the Church that we’re really called to be, the Body of Christ, and that means that, with great reverence, we listen to one another,” Bishop Reed said.
He said they are trying to make the process “simple and clear,” although it has an “ambitious” goal, “to renew our mentalities, renew our structures in order to live out God’s call for the Church more completely here in Boston.”
…Father Soper and Bishop Reed emphasized that the archdiocese’s survey is only a first step in preparing for the discussions that will take place during the synod. Additional questions will be distributed to the archdiocese’s Presbyteral Council, the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, and parish pastoral councils and finance councils. Five regional sessions will also take place and will be open to the public.