Thursday, November 8, 2018

Bishops' Synod

Two particularly remarkable words at the 15th World Bishops Synod meeting, which ended on October 28th were Latin synodalitas (English synodality) and listening, which can be called the spirit behind the synod. An article by a journalist of the Catholic Peace Weekly gives the readers some ideas, of what happend at the recent Synod.

Synods, translated into Church legal terms, are 'delegate councils'. The Greek synodos is made up of two words: syn=together plus hodos, a way. Joon-Yang (Catholic University Professor) said, "When you translate, you can express it as 'going together' or 'walking together'.

If so, who is the subject of the going? The subject is the church, the people of God. The synod is a meeting of delegates, but in fact it is a meeting of the people of God—a meeting for the people of God and a meeting for the participation of the people of God. However, because practically God's people can not participate, the bishops who represent the people of God in the individual churches, represent the people. Therefore, the synod is the process of realizing the synodic spirit, that is, the spirit of synod—the people of God come together.

The important thing in this process is listening. Listening is not simply hearing, but opening your mind and heart to listen to the other person's story. Fr. Thomas Reese, an American Jesuit columnist, writes that the word listen has been used with at least three different meanings among the bishops.

The first is that bishops are listening to young people to discover their questions and give answers with the traditional theology of the church. They have already all the answers to the questions that are being asked. They see the young people as empty vessels into which they will pour content.

The second is an approach that thinks the church needs to change and to renew in order to respond to the inquiries and requests of young people. They see many of the approaches to the young people not working and need change and reform.

The third approach is a totally different approach practiced by the TaizĂ© community of France. In the TaizĂ© community, the prior, Brother Alois, has brought the listening to a completely different level.  The members of the community listen to the young people to discover where the spirit is alive in their lives, even when they are not believers. 

Listeners are there to help the young see the presence of the Spirit in their lives. Alois is convinced that God is love and wherever there is love, compassion, a thirist for justice, and reconciliation  then God is present even in the unbaptized non-believer. The young people need help to recognize the presence of the Spirit.

The Synod adopted and finalized the final report for the pope. However, it is clear that the results which emerged from the process, must be constantly embodied in the life of the church. How will the Korean church go about implementing what was concluded at the Synod?

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