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ROME — “Synodality” has become an everyday word for the Church under Pope Francis. However, what it actually means in the life of the Catholic Church at a universal, local and diocesan level is still trying to be understood.
In an attempt to make this understanding easier, the Church in Ibero-America is gathering Sept. 7-10 to reflect on Synodality, in a conference being hosted by the Venezuelan bishops’ conference.
“It is an important effort to unite the entire Church in Latin America and the Caribbean in two ecclesial processes that we are experiencing at this time,” explained Venezuelan theologian Rafael Luciani, one of the people behind the conference.
He says the conference – called “The Ecclesial Renewal in a Synodal and Ministerial Way” – is a support to the Ecclesial Assembly that CELAM will hold in November in Mexico.
CELAM is the organization bringing together the Catholic bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean and is supporting the Venezuelan meeting.
The meeting is also helping to prepare the Latin American synodal path in the two-year process leading up to the 2023 meeting of the Synod of Bishops in Rome which will be on synodality. The process was launched at a Vatican press conference on Tuesday.
“Before the pandemic, in November 2019, the Venezuelan Church held a first international seminar on the reform of the Church in a synodal key,” Luciani said after the Venezuela conference opened.
“In view of the announcement of the new Synod of Bishops on synodality that begins in October of this year, we wanted to offer a second international seminar that brings together the entire Church of [Latin America] and motivates it to make a common journey in search of its renewal,” he added.
“It has been a very gratifying effort to see that those who do pastoral work and theologians can work together with various institutions that have shaped the Latin American ecclesial life, such as CELAM and CLAR [the conference of Latin American religious men and women],” he continued. “Perhaps this is a new sign of the times, in which theology, magisterium and pastoral ministry can interact without conflict, mutually enriching each other and with the intention of seeking a more complete way of being Church, as Paul VI asked in the Second Vatican Council.”
Luciani said he believes that this conference, that includes some of the region’s top theologians and cardinals, can show that in Latin America there’s a way of being Church that has “given way to a spirit of theological collaboration and pastoral vision that facilitates synodality more than in other contexts or regions of the world.”
“The challenge is that we continue to do our best so that the processes of listening of all these synodal events that we are living, can generate an authentic conversion of the still reigning clericalism and produce reforms of ecclesial structures so that there can be a greater involvement of all the faithful in the elaboration of decisions in the Church, because only in this way we can build the Church of the third millennium: A Church of councils, dialogue and consensus,” Luciani told Crux.
Follow Inés San Martín on Twitter: @inesanma