Synod Progresses as Participants Discuss Diversity Amidst Tense Conversations
CV NEWS FEED // As the Synod on Synodality enters its second week, delegates are tasked with discerning how the Church can better reach people through communion, participation, and mission, according to the Instrumentum Laboris, the synod’s working document.
During the General Session on Monday, October 9, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich explained that participants would begin the week by discussing Module B1 of the Instrumentum Laboris, which seeks to answer the question: “A communion that radiates: How can we be more fully a sign and instrument of union with God and of the unity of all humanity?”
These conversations have taken place in the small round table groups, known as the circuli minores. During a Vatican press conference on Tuesday, both Cardinal Joseph Tobin of the Archdiocese of Newark and Sister Gloria Liliana Franco Echeverri, a religious sister from Latin America, praised the round table arrangements and the diverse range of Catholics represented at the synod.
“The thing I found most interesting about this synod is that it is the most diverse synod that I have ever been part of,” said Tobin. “In the first small group last week, I worked as a member of a small group of 12. Everybody was from Latin America except me; it was an enlightening, enriching exchange for me.”
This week, Tobin noted that the diversity continues to amaze him as he is at a table with people across the world, including a young mother from Ukraine and a young mother from Russia.
Tobin has recognized that many of the concerns expressed by members of his diocese are shared by Catholics around the world.
“In this synod, you find that there is a lot of complementarity; a lot of people are concerned about the same thing,” said Tobin. “So we are listening to that because that is what the Church does; we listen.”
Tobin and Echeverri spoke about the topics synod delegates have discussed over the past two days, though they gave no specific information about these discussions. Delegates are currently working their way through issues such as the environment, ecumenism, and liturgy.
Tobin said that delegates are also discussing the war in Ukraine, the recent war in Israel, and other conflicts around the world.
“The wars that have been in the headlines are there, but also the wars that unfortunately are not always covered in the press, like the wars in Africa and some of the conflicts in Asia, and these are important for reflection as well,” said Tobin.
One major topic, Tobin noted, has centered around how the Church can be more open. Tobin expressed his personal hope that the Church will work towards becoming more welcoming, especially to LGBT people.
“I think the outreach is a concern; it is a concern in my diocese, outreach to people who feel that they are not at home in the Catholic Church. (The Church) is a wonderfully beautiful place, but it is most beautiful when the doors are open. The real beauty of our Catholic Church is clear when the doors are open and welcoming. It is my belief that the Synod will help us do that in an even more significant way.”
As confusion about the format and the process of drafting documents still exists among the media and the public, Cardinal Tobin reaffirmed that Pope Francis will have the final say on what is included in the synod’s official documents.
“I discern, you discern; he (Pope Francis) decides,” said Tobin. “That may sound authoritarian or totalitarian. But actually, it isn’t. I have been able to cooperate with Pope Francis on multiple things, and he listens very carefully; he is remarkably well informed; and he takes seriously the unity of the Church.”