By Peter Kearney
Two years after Pope Francis gave the world’s Catholics the opportunity to make their views known on the mission of the Church in the 21st Century, the first of two Synod meetings will take place in Rome from 4th-30th October on the theme ‘For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission’.
While the gathering is a Synod of Bishops, there will be participants who are not bishops including lay and religious women.
The theme is synodality – how can the Church best listen to people and act in a way that accompanies people, including both her own members and wider society, especially the most marginalised. The emphasis is – listening to the Holy Spirit.
Core to the synodal process is recognising that the Spirit speaks through people. There has been a world wide listening exercise right down to the most local area which fed into dioceses, then nations and then Continents.
The Catholic Church in Scotland will be represented by Bishop Brian McGee, Bishop of Argyll and the Isles, left, who will travel to Rome on Saturday (30 September) to participate.
Bishop McGee said: “The Synod process has planted seeds of hope in the hearts of the faithful and in the Church in Scotland. I pray for its growth and fulfilment as we enter the next phase of the Synodal Process so that the Church can continue to grow as a caring mother, and a community of hope.”
He added: “I am very excited, although also nervous, about going to Rome for the Synod. The focus is to discern what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church today. I have enjoyed listening to the feedback from people across Scotland and it will be fascinating to hear what people from across the world have to say. There is a wonderful opportunity for renewal of the Church at every level. The focus however is not the participants but the Spirit and I ask for your prayers as we strive to discern.”
The Synod will be from 4th-30th October and will be preceded by an Ecumenical Prayer Vigil in St Peter’s on 30th September which will be immediately followed by a three day Retreat for the participants.
Bishop McGee will be one of 48 delegates from Europe and one of 378 global participants.
The Synod will begin and close with a Mass in St Peter’s Basilica. The church in Scotland prepared for the synod by organising a large number of gatherings and discussions to listen and discern as widely as possible within the Catholic community in Scotland.
Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at St Peter’s in Vatican City at the end of the synod which is similar in many ways to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland where lay persons and clergy engage in debate on matters of religion.