I appreciate the decision of the Synod of Bishops to work on a “synodal” process. I understand this decision as follows: a proclamation of the Gospel entrusted to every believing person, in a common commitment that enhances all charisms, for a rediscovery of the resources of the Church in its ‘catholicity’, in depth and in extension, as a great living and interactive body dedicated to the Lord and to every creature.
Synodality can therefore only be a shared responsibility, in the distinction of ministries and roles. I would not like to see the presbyteral ministry continue to be limited to a body of celibate men. Women already have many responsibilities and are very committed in the Catholic Church. It is important that this commitment be valued and officially recognised.
In order to proclaim the Gospel, it is necessary to recognise that some lay people may have a higher theological formation than priests do and to consider this in the exercise of missions, including preaching. Consulting members of the local community can only enrich the orientations of those with decision-making power in both dioceses and parishes.
A Christian witness must be credible in their hope. As a Protestant, I am attentive to the demands of rituals that, moreover, risk giving rise to superstitions or undue devotions, while the Catholic Church has as its wealth the centrality of the Sunday Eucharist. She should therefore not be afraid to share it with conviction and with a hospitality that I hope to see more open to people of other Churches committed to the faith.
In the face of the numerous exoduses of believers, and especially of believing women, from the Church, the witness of Christian liberation and hope is the priority. It will only be credible if the Churches proclaim it in a commitment to ecumenism and dialogue.
By Elisabeth Parmentier
Professor of Theology and Dean of the Faculty of Protestant Theology at the University of Geneva