An experience of “lived synodality” in which it is evident that this process is not “a private agenda of the Pope, but a continuation of Vatican Council II.” This is how Sri Lankan theologian Vimal Tirimanna defined it, during a press conference that took place this Monday at the Vatican to inform about the updates of the Synod of Synodality. In this way, Tirimanna assured that these meetings are focusing mainly on the concepts of “people of God and baptism from a circular and not pyramidal perspective.”
Precisely these two terms, which connect all Christians, are the common thread to the different themes that have been discussed in recent weeks. “The blessing of homosexual couples is not the subject of the Synod,” clarified Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Dicastery for Communication of the Holy See. “We are all children of God,” he continued, and therefore, “the Church is called to proclaim the Gospel to everyone, not just a few.” In this regard, what is being debated in the Synod is “how the Church rediscovers communion and becomes inclusive.”
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“At many Synod tables, individual and collective wounds were heard,” stated Patricia Murray, executive secretary of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), referring specifically to the matter concerning LGBTQ individuals. “There is a profound awareness of the suffering of these people.” Moreover, Tirimanna asserted that “everyone is included in the Synod” because “the Church reaches out to all people suffering from discrimination, such as victims of economic injustices, like in Africa and Asia, and not only to people of different sexual orientations. The Synod makes an effort not to exclude anyone: the challenge is to create a culture of inclusion through the tangible exercise of synodality. Inclusion is the issue beyond any doubt. “What binds us is the awareness that we are all beloved children of God,” added Ruffini. “If there are wounds, they concern us on the synodal path.”
Another of these wounds referenced on Monday emerged last Friday when the president of the Latin American Confederation of Religious, Gloria Liliana Franco, highlighted the need for the Church to create “new ministries” for women from “the same dignity” that implies “inclusion and participation in decision-making.”
In this way, without directly referring to female priesthood or diaconate, Franco asked for “new relationships where the bond goes beyond the hierarchical and functional.” “At the heart of the desire and imperative for greater presence and participation of women in the Church, there is no ambition for power or a feeling of inferiority, nor an egotistic quest for recognition. There is a cry to live out the priority of God’s project,” reflected the nun, emphasizing that underlying this is a call “to participation and equal co-responsibility in discernment and decision-making; it’s a desire to serve.”
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“It is appropriate to look at Jesus, learn from him. The Gospel accounts for Jesus’ willingness to see and feel women, to raise them up and dignify them, to send them,” she added. “True reform comes from an encounter with Jesus.”
In the Synod on Synodality, the need to become aware of these wounds affecting Christians in their different realities is not the only topic being debated. There’s also been discussion on how to reach them. How to listen. In this sense, the nun of the Purity of Mary, Xiskya Valladares, shared the work done by the ‘digital missionaries’ to bring the synodal consultation to social networks over the last two years. “The digital mission is not a mere instrument to carry out evangelization, but a space, a territory, a world for the Church, of communion, mission, and synodality,” the nun assured last Friday, before the participants in the Synod. “The digital environment is a culture where people spend a large part of our lives; it is not just an instrument, but it affects the notion of time and space, the perception of oneself and the world.” “In digital culture, we find brothers who need hope, to heal wounds, they need a hand, they need God,” said the nun, so here, “the seed of the Gospel also has to be enculturated.”