CV NEWS FEED // The first session of the 2023 Synod on Synodality opened with a detailed explanation of the Synod’s system of discussion and method of dialogue, known as “conversation in the Spirit.”
Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, S.J., the Archbishop of Luxembourg as well as the General Relator of the Synod, began his explanation of how the synod works by reflecting on the setup of the round tables, which help facilitate “conversation in the Spirit.”
As reported by CatholicVote, “conversation in the Spirit” is an eight-step discernment process used by Synod participants to determine where the Holy Spirit is leading the Church.
“Having considered what our work is not a parliamentary debate, it is good to be clear about what it is: a common work of discernment,” he said.
According to Hollerich, the hundreds of bishops, priests, religious, and laypeople are divided into groups of 10–12, known as Circuli Minores.
Hollerich also pointed out that sitting at round tables represents equality in the Church, rather than a “hierarchical order.”
“One of the strengths of the method of conversation in the Spirit is that it allows the expression of everyone’s point of view, enhancing consonances without neglecting differences, but above all, discouraging polarizations and polemics.”
Hollerich described the process that follows personal prayer and group discussion, saying that the Synodal process is divided into five modules. While the first four modules are focused on discernment, the fifth part will be devoted to discussion between all participants, as well as the completion of a synthesized report that will be handed over to Pope Francis.
According to Hollerich, the pope’s report will be comprised of individual group reports drawn up after the end of each module.
“After the work in groups and the discussion in plenary, each of the Circuli Minores will be called upon to draw up a report of the work done, expressing what there is agreement on, but also any differences or questions on which to continue reflection,” Hollerich said.
“In this report, the group will be called upon to express a consensus, which is first and foremost the recognition that it faithfully represents the work carried out together, with the respect for each person that the profound listening envisaged by the method requires and at the same time encourages. For these reasons, the method of conversation in the Spirit seems particularly suited to the objective and style of this Assembly.”
Hollerich concluded by expressing a desire to create a “road map” for the upcoming year in the Church through “conversation in the Spirit.”
“Ideally, this road map should indicate where we feel consensus has been reached among us and, above all, within the People of God, laying down possible steps to undertake as a response to the voice of the Spirit,” he said. “But it should also say where deeper reflection is needed and what could help that process of reflection.”