Pope Francis indicates ten themes for Synod Study Groups

15 March 2024

On Thursday, 14 March, Pope Francis sent a letter to Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the General Secretariat of the Synod, and outlined 10 discussion points that Study Groups will examine ahead of the second Synod session in October 2024.

At the same time, the Holy See Press Office held a Press Conference to illustrate two new documents from the General Secretariat. The first document is entitled “How to be a synodal Church in mission? Five perspectives to deepen theologically in view of the Second Session”, whereas the second is “Study groups on questions arising in the First Session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to deepen in collaboration with the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia”.

In the letter to Cardinal Grech, the Pope said the Synthesis Report “enumerates many important theological issues, all of which are to varying degrees related to the synodal renewal of the Church and not without juridical and pastoral repercussions”.

“These issues, by their very nature”, he observed, “require in-depth study”. “It is important that the aforementioned Study Groups”, he said, “work according to an authentically synodal method”, requesting that Cardinal Grech act as “guarantor.”

“After giving all matters due consideration”, wrote Pope Francis, “I direct that the Groups in question address these topics listed in a summary form, in the light of the contents of the Synthesis Report”.

The 10 themes, the Pope delineated, are the following: 1. Some aspects of the relationship between the Eastern Catholic Churches and the Latin Church (SR 6); 2. Listening to the Cry of the Poor (SR 4 and 16); 3. The mission in the digital environment (SR 17); 4. The revision of the Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis in a missionary synodal perspective (SR 11); 5. Some theological and canonical matters regarding specific ministerial forms (SR 8 and 9); 6. The revision, in a synodal missionary perspective, of the documents touching on the relationship between Bishops, consecrated life, and ecclesial associations (SR 10); 7. Some aspects of the person and ministry of the Bishop (criteria for selecting candidates to Episcopacy, judicial function of the Bishops, nature and course of ad limina Apostolorum visits) from a missionary synodal perspective (SR 12 and 13); 8. The role of Papal Representatives in a missionary synodal perspective (SR 13); 9. Theological criteria and synodal methodologies for shared discernment of controversial doctrinal, pastoral, and ethical issues (SR 15); 10. The reception of the fruits of the ecumenical journey in ecclesial practices (SR 7). The General Secretariat of the Synod, Pope Francis reiterated, has the task of preparing “the outline of the work to specify the mandate of the groups, in the light of my indications.”

Pope Francis concluded by thanking Cardinal Grech for the work accomplished thus far, and reassuring “all those who generously collaborate in this ongoing journey” of his blessing and accompaniment.