The broad-based consultation of the People of God around the world officially finished its “continental stage” on Friday, 31 March. It consisted of a time of listening, dialogue, and discernment among the Churches of the same geographical area. This process came after the “Local Stage” of diocesan and national meetings. Both experiences represent a new style of dialogue, engagement and involvement of the faithful.
Seven continental assemblies have taken place, marking a unique process of listening and discernment on a continental level. All looked at the key question at the centre of the Synodal Process: how the ‘walking together’ that enables the Church to proclaim the Gospel in accord with its mission can be achieved today at all levels, from local to universal.
Participants discussed and responded to three key synod questions in the continental stage document. The questions regarded which of the document’s topics resonated most with them and the others in order to identify areas of tension and priorities.
The General Secretariat of the Synod noted with satisfaction that participants in the various continental assemblies all found areas they could relate to in the document, as well as paths forward for the Church, despite the wide-ranging ecclesial and cultural differences and diversity of perspectives.
The fruit of these discussions features in the Final Document that each Assembly produced and that will contribute to the work of the first session of the Synod of Bishops, which is set for 4-29 October.
In conclusion, the Synod General Secretariat in its release expressed its heartfelt gratitude to all those who make this process happen and bear fruit. It also noted how this consultation will continue by focusing on implementing “synodal reforms” in the daily life of the local Church, with the awareness that much of what has been discussed and identified so far at the local level does not require the discernment of the universal Church or the intervention of the Magisterium of Peter.