What it was like at the Synod
Bishop Alan McGuckian SJ was one of the participants at the recently ended Synod on Synodality, held in Rome in October 2023. The Synod, convened by Pope Francis, brought together men and women, bishops, priests, and theologians, from all around the world to explore the concept of synodality (communal participation) and its application within the Church. The Synod marked a significant milestone in the Catholic Church’s commitment to inclusive and participatory decision-making. Participants met for all the month of October, working full days, Monday to Saturday.
In this interview with Pat Coyle of Irish Jesuit Communications, Bishop McGuckian SJ gives a candid insight into what it was like being there, the linguistic demands, the technological and logistic considerations, and the challenges of so many people sharing from differing from often conflicting perspectives within the Catholic Church.
A synthesis of what had emerged during the Synod on Synodality noted that there was a call for a profound transformation in the way the Church operates. The participants emphasized the importance of listening, dialogue, and collaboration, recognizing that all members of the Church, regardless of their role or position, have a valuable contribution to make. They stressed that synodality is not just a process but a way of being, a mindset that fosters communion and co-responsibility.
The synthesis document also highlighted several key themes including the need for active listening and discernment, both at the local and universal levels. The participants recognized that the Holy Spirit speaks through the entire People of God and called for structures that enable genuine participation and input from all members.
The document also underscored the importance of synodal processes in addressing contemporary challenges faced by the Church and society. It called for a renewed emphasis on evangelization, social justice, and ecological conversion, recognizing the interconnectedness of these issues.