In a statement released on Friday, 29 October, the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops announced that it had received “numerous communications” in these first weeks of the synodal process from the Episcopal Conferences, dioceses and eparchies, describing them as “truly an encouraging confirmation of those in the Church who are committed to celebrating the first phase of the synodal process — the theme of which is For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission — constituted by the consultation of the People of God”.
“During this period, we have heard, over and over again and from many quarters, the request to extend the duration of the first phase of the synodal process in order to provide a greater opportunity for the people of God to have an authentic experience of listening and dialogue”, the statement explained.
“Aware that a synodal Church is a Church that listens, considering that this first phase is essential for this synodal path and evaluating these requests, and always seeking the good of the Church, the Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops has decided to extend the deadline for the presentation of the summaries of the consultations by the Episcopal Conferences, the Oriental Catholic Churches sui iuris and other ecclesial bodies to 15 August 2022”.
The initial deadline for the presentation of the synthesis on the part of the Synods of Oriental Churches and the Episcopal Conferences was April 2022 but this latest decision from the General Secretariat extends the first phase deadline by four months.
A second, continental phase will take place from September 2022 to March 2023, while the third, universal phase will begin with the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2023.
The extension has been widely welcomed throughout the Church.