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WALKING TOGETHER THROUGH AGLO’s SYNODAL JOURNEY

Frequently asked questions

In October, 2021, Pope Francis called for a new and more inclusive synod, summoning not just bishops but all the communities of the Church that make up the People of God to come together and discuss how the Spirit is moving and where the Spirit is calling the Church to move. The synodal path is entitled “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.”

What is Synod and Synodality?

Although the modern usage of Synod can be traced back through the document, Lumen gentium, during the Second Vatican Council, the idea of “walking together” (from two Greek words, syn meaning “together with” and hodos meaning ‘way’), dates back to the early Church.

Scripturally we read about Synodality in the Acts of the Apostles during the event we commonly call the Council of Jerusalem as the Apostles and Elders gathered to address the growing animosity between Jewish Christians and newly baptized Gentiles who did not share common religious practices. The decision-making process whereby the Apostles and Elders reached their conclusions represented a gathering of equals working together by communal discernment, in the Holy Spirit, in concert and not governed or dictated by any leader.

 

Over the course of centuries, however, the gap between priests, church hierarchy and the Laity grew, creating more of a hierarchical decision-making structure within the Church. It wasn’t until the Second Vatican Council and it’s push to re-establish radical equality conferred by baptism, that this concept of “whole” Church – as the Body of Christ, made up of members equal in personal dignity, yet with various gifts and vocations per the Will of the Spirit – came into understanding.

Pope Francis sees Synodality as necessary for Church leaders and laity to ‘walk together” and turn the hierarchical structure upside down. Where clergy, religious and laity gather together to listen to each other's joys and hopes, griefs and anxieties (Gaudium et spes no.1) with the goal to journey together by being present with one another, to listen and learn with each other, and to grow closer to Jesus Christ and His Church. It is not to create a new vision or pastoral plan with objectives. Pope Francis envisions a “listening Church”, one that respectfully listens and learns about and from each member (Communion) and with the Holy Spirit, discerns the activities based on the collective vocations and gifts (Participation) to fulfill the Gospel (Mission) as the Spirit wills. When we are in this close loving relationship, our hearts are transformed. We draw closer to each other and we draw closer to God.

 

What is Pope Francis’ synodal process?

The Synodal Process seeks the participation of the whole Church to reflect on the themes of community, participation and mission – expressing the Church’s nature as the People of God journeying together and gathering in assembly, summoned by the Lord Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel. We are asked to respond to these themes and let the voice of the Spirit be heard through our experiences, our reflection, and our discerned conclusions.

 

The Synodal Process for the United States, begins at the diocesan level. Locally, Cardinal Cupich has invited the members of the Presbyteral Council, the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, the Archdiocesan Women’s Committee, the Consejo Hispano, the Diaconate Council, and women and men religious to exercise their roles as consultants to the Archbishop. They will reach out to priests, deacons, laity and religious to encounter, listen, and discern their responses and submit reports to the Archdiocese. Summaries of these reports will be submitted to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and then to the Vatican.

Over the next two years, the Church will participate in a process of active listening, of reporting back, and will conclude with the celebration of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, in October 2023. 

 

As a welcoming place for LGBTQ Catholics who are often marginalized within our Church, AGLOChicago will be participating in the Synodal Process through making sure our community understands the process and knows how to participate individually and collectively as an LGBTQ community so our voices can be included, counted and heard. AGLOChicago will synthesize our collected information and submit a report through the Archdiocese Pastoral Council as part of this process.

 

 

Why a synodal process?

Believing that the voice of the Spirit is not just in the hierarchy but in the whole People of God, with this synod, the Pope asks for all communities of faith to engage in discernment and present their reflections and recommendations to the meeting of the bishops to be held in Rome near the end of the process. 

 

By journeying and reflecting together, the Church will be able to live in communion, achieve participation, and open herself to the mission of the Gospel. Our “journeying together” is what most effectively enacts and manifests the nature of the Church as the pilgrim and missionary People of God.  

 


Who can participate?

The process is open to All People of God and People of Good Will. The Pope asks  not only for currently participating Catholics, but also those who have fallen away, Christians of other denominations, and non-Christians too. Input from the outside is as important as that from the inside. The Church seeks to know how we are, or are not, in relationship with others who walk with us. We all share an equal dignity amidst the holy people of God. Although AGLOChicago is actively reaching out to the LGBTQ+ community, we welcome the participation of ally families and friends as well.

 

 

How can you and those who ally with us participate?  

The next pages will detail three ways you can be a part of this historical process. We understand that some may have no problem submitting their reflections directly, but many may be wary and wish to remain anonymous but still have their voices heard and their stories relayed.  We have included both opportunities to ensure as much safe and widespread participation as possible.