The Challenge of Synodality for Mission

  General Council

The meeting of leaders and moderators of International Movements and Associations of the Faithful, organised annually by the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life, was held in Rome on 13 June. Of the 115 Movements and Associations currently officially recognised by the Holy See, 95 of them sent representatives in response to the Dicastery’s invitation. On behalf of our Movement, Fr. Pedro Belderrain cmf, as General Advisor, and myself as Secretary General, participated.

This year, the reflection of the meeting focused on “the challenge of synodality for mission”. After the initial Eucharist officiated by Monsignor Kevin Farrel, Cardinal Prefect of the Dicastery in St. Peter’s Basilica, we moved to the place where the rest of the day would take place, the New Hall of the Synod. In his speech, Pope Francis invited us to live synodality as a shared ecclesial style, and to turn it into a path of conversion and spiritual transformation at parish, diocesan and global ecclesial level. And he offered us three pieces of advice to grow in synodality: firstly, to strive to “think like God”, going beyond our own thoughts. Secondly, to avoid by all means the temptation to become “closed circles”, understanding that every charism always needs to be “completed” by the other charisms that the Spirit raises up in his Church. And thirdly, to cultivate humility as the most valuable virtue and the one that best opens the door to our synodal journey, because it allows us to come out of our shell and to put ourselves in an attitude of openness and listening to those who walk with us.

At the end of his speech, the Pope wanted to greet one by one all the participants in the meeting (more than 200 people!). It was a very brief moment of greeting, but it was a simple gesture that shows the immense value that our Pontiff attaches to the work developed by the Lay Movements from the charismatic plurality, and the determined impulse that he wants to give to the apostolate and the mission of the laity.

Throughout the day, the different presentations helped us to understand that synodality and mission are two constitutive elements of the Church. The two are inseparable and cannot be understood without each other. Professor Rafael Luciani, from the Andrés Bello Catholic University of Caracas (Venezuela) and member of the Theological Commission of the Synod, insisted that it is the People of God that is the synodal and missionary subject, which in its effort to move forward together, mutually completing each other from the different charisms and vocations, becomes a sacrament – a prophetic sign of unity – to the world. People of God which is not a generic or abstract concept, but dwells in a “place”. We are a Church of local churches incarnated in multiple physical, social and cultural realities. And this inculturation should lead us to understand that the synodal Church cannot be homogeneous, but that it necessarily presents multiple faces that allow us to understand and touch with our hands its “catholicity”. For this reason, synodality does not consist simply in “walking with others” (some), but in “walking with all” without excluding anyone. We need each other, because we “complete” each other, and only if we are able to open ourselves, to come out of our individuality, to listen to each other and to discern together, can we discover the “sensu fidei”: the will of the Spirit at work in the whole People of God, sanctifying it and distributing to each one special graces to put them at the service of the mission of the whole Church.

The community dimension of the Movements is a driving force for the current synodal process, which allows us to establish some features and good daily practices, which Dr. Elisa Lisiero, official of the Dicastery, detailed for us, and which were extracted from the syntheses that the Movements and Associations themselves sent at the time as a contribution to the process of preparation for the Synod … . But despite these achievements, we must not be conformist. There is still a long way to go, and it is necessary to continue to review all our organisational, operational and governmental structures so that all our missionary action can be lived in a fully synodal sense.

During the time set aside for sharing our concerns, the desire to continue to increase the spaces for communication and mutual interrelation between Movements that facilitate the discovery of new shared horizons of evangelisation, enriched with the particular vision of each charism, was perceived. The importance of persevering in the journey together with our pastors and bishops in the parishes and dioceses where we are present was also pointed out, so that from a greater knowledge and understanding, we can discover together what each one can contribute.

The day ended with the intervention of the Cardinal Prefect, Monsignor Kevin Farrell, who after thanking the important contribution that the Lay Movements and Associations make to the evangelising mission of the Church, challenged us to avoid the temptation of self-sufficiency, letting ourselves be carried away by the comfort of walking alone, and encouraged us to deepen our own processes of conversion and renewal in order to continue growing in missionary synodality.

Miguel Angel Sosa Hernández, General Secretary LCM