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Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

Vatican condemns violence at Trump rally, offers prayers for victims, peace

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican expressed its concern about the violence waged at a political rally in the United States and it offered its prayers for the nation, the victims and peace.

In response to queries about the shootings at a rally involving former U.S. President Donald Trump in Pennsylvania, the Vatican press office released a statement July 14 expressing its "concern about last night's episode of violence, which wounds people and democracy, causing suffering and death."

The Holy See is "united in the prayer of the U.S. bishops for America, for the victims, and for peace in the country, so that the motives of the violent may never prevail," the statement said in Italian.

Gunshots were fired at a Trump rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, July 13, injuring Trump who said on social media that a bullet "pierced" his right ear. One person attending the rally was killed and two others were critically injured, The Associated Press reported July 14.

The U.S. Secret Service said it killed the suspected shooter who had attacked from an elevated position outside the rally venue.

Law enforcement was investigating the shooting as an attempted assassination of the former president and presumptive Republican presidential candidate, AP reported. 

Archbishop Broglio
Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, left, and other U.S. bishops concelebrate Mass in the crypt of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Dec. 2, 2019, during their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a written statement July 13, "Together with my brother bishops, we condemn political violence, and we offer our prayers for President Trump, and those who were killed or injured."

"We also pray for our country and for an end to political violence, which is never a solution to political disagreements. We ask all people of goodwill to join us in praying for peace in our country. Mary, Mother of God and Patroness of the Americas, pray for us," the archbishop said.

Vatican calls for prayers, attention to rights, dignity of seafarers

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Ministering to seafarers and advocating for their rights and dignity can help bring these often invisible workers to the fore, said Cardinal Michael Czerny, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

"'Out of sight, out of mind' is an adage that can apply to the invisibility of seafarers," he wrote in the dicastery's message for Sea Sunday, celebrated July 14 this year. Catholic communities around the world are called to pray for and recognize all those who work at sea, their families and those who support them. 

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Cardinal Michael Czerny, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, speaks during a news conference at the Vatican June 3, 2024. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

"In all of humanity, seafarers are among the least visible members. Yet, it is through their hidden efforts that many of our necessities reach us," he wrote in the message, which the Vatican released June 24. "They experience the boundless beauty of nature in the seas, yet they also encounter physical, spiritual and social darkness."

Working at sea can mean being absent from home and land, for months and even years, the cardinal wrote. "The pay may make these sacrifices worthwhile, but that benefit may be threatened by injustices, exploitation and inequality."

The cardinal praised those who advocate for the dignity and rights of seafarers, such as the volunteers, chaplains and members of local churches at the ports who engage in seafarer ministry. 

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Fishermen weigh out different fish from a fresh batch at a fishery in Leland, Mich., July 14, 2021. (USCCB photo/Emily Elconin, Reuters)

"The ministry of the sea can help to bring the peripheral into the center in many ways, for example: by encountering the people of the sea in person and in prayer, improving the material and spiritual conditions of laborers, advocating for the dignity and rights of workers and championing strengthened international relations and policies to safeguard the human rights of those who travel and work far from their families and homelands," he wrote.

"May we acknowledge the essential contribution of those whose work might otherwise remain invisible. May we support the ministry of welcoming those who need a listening ear and a place to belong, a safe harbor, a community that welcomes all who wish to return home," he wrote.

"May we be inspired by the example of the mutual exchanges in the life of seafarers. May the people of the sea feel part of the church wherever they go," Cardinal Czerny wrote.

U.S. Bishops’ President Condemns Political Violence and Calls for Prayers for Peace

WASHINGTON – Following the news of the shooting at a political rally involving former President Donald Trump today, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and president of the U.S. Conference of Bishops (USCCB) offered the following statement:

“Together with my brother bishops, we condemn political violence, and we offer our prayers for President Trump, and those who were killed or injured. We also pray for our country and for an end to political violence, which is never a solution to political disagreements. We ask all people of goodwill to join us in praying for peace in our country. Mary, Mother of God and Patroness of the Americas, pray for us.”

Earlie this summer, the USCCB issued a statement on political violence, urging all Christians and people of good will to abstain from political violence, and instead, ‘pursue what leads to peace and building up one another’ through dialogue, seeking justice.

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Faith in democracy: Participation in government long a papal priority

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- More than 2 billion people in over 50 countries were set to go to the polls in 2024, according to the Center for American Progress, but Pope Francis has said he is worried that people are more disconnected than ever from the governments that are meant to provide for their well-being.

Participating in a conference in Trieste, Italy, July 7, the pope discussed democracy at length. In preparation for that visit, the Vatican publishing house produced a booklet compiling papal speeches on democracy and featuring a new introduction to the text written by Pope Francis.

The booklet was published in Italian July 7 as an insert in Trieste's local newspaper, Il Piccolo.

In it, the pope wrote that while democracy has spread globally in recent decades, today it "seems to be suffering the consequences of a dangerous disease," that of "democratic skepticism."

People's distrust in democracy, which "sometimes seems to yield to the allure of populism," he wrote, ultimately stems from its perceived difficulty in addressing current challenges, such as, "issues related to unemployment or the overwhelming technocratic paradigm."

In his speech at the event July 7 during Italian Catholic Social Week, the pope underlined the need to train people in democratic participation from a young age and instill them with "a critical sense regarding ideological and populist temptations."

The four-day conference, organized every three to four years by the Italian bishops' conference to engage Catholics in social issues, chose as the theme for its 50th edition "At the Heart of Democracy."

True democracy, he added, does not entail merely voting, but creating the conditions and space for "everyone to express themselves and participate" in society.

That sentiment echoes a distinction made by Pope Pius XII in his radio message to the world Dec. 24, 1944. Still in the midst of World War II, the pope discussed the key difference that exists in a democratic system between "the people" and "the masses."

File photo of Pope Pius XII.
Pope Pius XII sits in front of a microphone prepared to give a radio address in this 1943 file photo. During World War II, the pontiff made many pleas for peace through Vatican Radio. (CNS photo)

A people, the pope said, "lives and moves by its own life energy" and is composed of individuals "conscious of (their) own responsibility and (their) own views."

"The masses, on the contrary, wait for the impulse from outside, an easy plaything in the hands of anyone who exploits their instincts and impressions; ready to follow in turn, today this flag, tomorrow another," he noted.

Whereas a people actively involved in democracy instills into a population "the consciousness of their own responsibility" and "the true instinct for the common good," Pope Pius issued a stark prediction for the fate of the disengaged masses: "in the ambitious hands of one or of several who have been artificially brought together for selfish aims, the state itself, with the support of the masses, reduced to the minimum status of a mere machine, can impose its whims on the better part of the real people."

As a result, "the common interest remains seriously, and for a long time, injured by this process, and the injury is very often hard to heal," Pope Pius said.

For Pope Francis, to counter the tendency to drift toward merely becoming "the masses" entails developing a sense of solidarity and togetherness, from which grows a will to participate in public life.

In authoritarian regimes, "no one participates; everyone watches passively," he wrote in his introduction to the booklet. "Democracy, on the other hand, demands participation, demands putting in one's own effort, risking confrontation, bringing one's own ideals, one's own reasons, into the question."

He added that "standing at the window, watching idly what is happening around us, is not only ethically unacceptable but also, even from a selfish perspective, neither wise nor convenient."

Or, put more succinctly, "indifference is a cancer of democracy," Pope Francis said during his July 7 speech.

Yet in his text the pope wrote that it is by leveraging democracy's greatest asset that society can overcome its sense of passivity.

"Democracy has in it a great and unquestionable value: that of being 'together,'" he wrote, praising the model for exercising government power "within the framework of a community that freely and secularly confronts each other in the art of the common good."

Togetherness, the pope added, fosters a "positive and almost concrete sense of solidarity, which comes from sharing and advancing, for example in the public arena, issues on which to find convergence."

The pope highlighted several pressing issues in society which require joint action and which people are called "to engage democratically": receiving migrants, falling fertility rates and the pursuit of peace through negotiation rather than increased firepower.

Particularly "in these times overshadowed by war," the pope prayed for a "more convinced commitment to a fully participatory democratic life aimed at the true common good."

In synod process, church is listening to God, not 'polls,' cardinal says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Catholic Church can only teach the faithful if it is an institution that listens, but that does not mean it should take to heart every opinion uttered, according to the head of the church’s synod.

The church "is not interested in surveyed polls,” said Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops. "The church is always and only listening to the voice of God."

The cardinal presented the working document for the second assembly of the Synod of Bishops on synodality at a Vatican news conference July 9.

He explained that God speaks in many ways: through Sacred Scripture, for example, "but also through the sense of faith of the people of God, the voice of pastors and the charism of theologians," through which God's truth continues to be revealed.

The time between the two synodal assemblies, in which the Secretariat of the Synod again sought input from local churches in light of the findings from last year's synodal assembly, "has been always and only in order to seek, with the certainly perfectible tools we have at our disposal, what God wants to say to the Church in this hour of its journey," he said.

Cardinal Grech noted that 108 of 114 bishops' conferences submitted responses to questions from the synod secretariat to form the working document.

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, relator general of the synod, told the news conference that reports from the bishops' conferences "unanimously testify, without hiding the struggles and difficulties of synodal conversion, also a feeling of joy and gratitude" for the synodal process.

The official logo for the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.
The official logo for the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. (CNS photo/courtesy Synod of Bishops)

He said that local churches carried out the second consultation after the synod's first universal phase "with greater freedom and creativity in the way they took ownership of the process."

Yet the cardinal noted that the reports do contain a sense of "weariness and fatigue of a path of conversion" which is "not immediate."

The demand for more immediate action was reflected in questions put to the cardinals at the news conference, several of which focused on the issue of expanding the diaconate to include women.

In March, Cardinal Grech announced that Pope Francis had decided to establish 10 study groups dedicated to hot-button topics raised during the 2021-24 synod process and they are expected to explore the question of the women deacons.

The working document said that the question of admitting women to diaconal ministry "will not be the subject of the work of the Second (synod) Session" but affirmed that "theological reflection should continue" on the matter, noting that the body studying the question, study group five, will take into consideration that results of two theological study commissions created by Pope Francis in 2016 and 2020.

However, the document added that "theological and canonical questions concerning specific forms of ecclesial ministry -- in particular, the question of the necessary participation of women in the life and leadership of the Church -- have been entrusted to the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith" which will be in dialogue with the synod secretariat. A list of study group members published by the Vatican did not list individual members of study group five but said that the doctrinal dicastery will publish a document on questions surrounding ministerial forms, which includes the question of women deacons.

Asked whether the topic of women deacons was still being considered after Pope Francis rejected the possibility of their ordination in a CBS interview aired May 20, Cardinal Grech said "according to the information that we have today, it is a no, but at the same time the Holy Father has said that reflection, deeper theological study, should continue."

"To me this is not a contradiction," he added.

Father Riccardo Battocchio, a theologian and special secretary to the synodal assembly, said that the document's language on the role of women "is not about changing the structure of the Catholic Church" but to ensure women may participate in decision-making by reconsidering "how a bishop or bishops come to make decisions."

Bishop Zaidan Condemns Targeting of Civilians in Gaza

WASHINGTON - Bishop A. Elias Zaidan of the Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon, has expressed his solidarity with the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem in condemning the targeting of civilians. The Latin Patriarchate released a statement expressing grave concern over news of raids that were launched at the Sacred Family School in Gaza, which also reportedly included civilian casualties and destruction.

As chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, Bishop Zaidan said: “The Sacred Family School has been a place of refuge for hundreds of civilians, and I join the Latin Patriarchate in condemning any targeting of civilians in the Sacred Family School in Gaza. I urge in strongest terms that civilians remain outside the sphere of combat, while also praying for peace and an immediate end to hostilities.”

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Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa Helps the Church Thrive Amidst Change

WASHINGTON - Across the continent of Africa, the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa is supporting Catholic ministries in countries where the people are strong in faith and devotion, but lacking in resources due to poverty, political instability, and civil conflict.

The Fund was established by the bishops of the United States in the spirit of their 2001 statement, “A Call to Solidarity with Africa,” as a way to help the growing African Church thrive and adapt to the pastoral needs and challenges it faces. Catholics across the United States can answer this call to “Stand with Africa” by participating in their diocese’s annual collection for the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa.

“Globalization, climate change, and poverty deeply affect the lives of African men and women every day. But amidst rapid societal change, the Catholic Church remains constant, proclaiming the timeless and hopeful message of the Gospel,” said auxiliary Bishop Peter Smith of Portland in Oregon, and chairman of the bishops’ Subcommittee on the Church in Africa. “The Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa enables the Church to support those who are in dire need of pastoral care and to inspire those whose faith and hope may be flagging.”

Catholics wishing to participate in this annual collection are invited to give through their parish collection or e-offertory program on the date scheduled by their diocese.  #iGiveCatholicTogether also accepts funds for the Church in Africa program year-round.

The Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa awarded more than $2.1 million for 75 projects that were proposed by the bishops of Africa in 2023.

  • Grants are helping Kenyans and Ugandans recover spiritually from the COVID pandemic, which led to the disintegration of marriages and family violence.
  • In Cameroon, cited by human rights groups for appalling prison conditions, Catholic prison chaplains learned to document abuses and advocate for reform.
  • The sisters of the Association of Consecrated Women in Eastern and Central Africa received theological and practical training to apply Catholic social teaching to a broad range of threats to human life, from human trafficking to environmental degradation.
  • In the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the public sector is plagued by rampant financial corruption, diocesan and parish staff studied proper church administration and financial stewardship.
  • In South Africa and Namibia, ethnic groups received hymnals in the Xhosa and Rumanyo languages and a Bible in the language of the Rukwangali people.

“The Church helps people to praise God in their own language because God came to us speaking our languages,” said Bishop Smith. “He wants to walk with everyone through whatever hardships or heartaches we suffer. That is the purpose of the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa. Gifts to this fund make God’s love tangible.”

For more information see https://www.usccb.org/committees/church-africa.

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Pope asks world's religions to push for ethical AI development

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis called on representatives from the world's religions to unite behind the defense of human dignity in an age that will be defined by artificial intelligence.

"I ask you to show the world that we are united in asking for a proactive commitment to protect human dignity in this new era of machines," the pope wrote in a message to participants of a conference on AI ethics which hosted representatives from 11 world religions.

Religious leaders representing Eastern faiths such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, and Bahá'í, among others, as well as leaders of the three Abrahamic religions gathered in Hiroshima, Japan, for the conference, titled "AI Ethics for Peace." They also signed the Rome Call for AI Ethics -- a document developed by the Pontifical Academy for Life which asks signatories to promote an ethical approach to AI development.

Participants at an AI conference post for a photo.
Participants of a conference on AI ethics, including several representatives of world religions, pose for a photo in Hiroshima, Japan, July 10, 2024. Standing front and center is Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life. (CNS photo/Courtesy Holy See Press Office)

Microsoft, IBM, Cisco, the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization and the innovation ministry of the Italian government have signed the document. A July 10 press release from the academy said Franciscan Father Paolo Benanti, an ethics professor at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University, presented an addendum to the document in Hiroshima specifically focused on the ethical governance of generative AI -- which can process, interpret and produce human language. The addendum said generative AI requires sustained commitment to ensuring its use for humanity's good.

In his message to the conference published by the Vatican July 10, Pope Francis noted the "great symbolic importance" of the religious leaders' meeting in Hiroshima and noted the increasingly central role which artificially intelligent technology plays in society.

"As we look at the complexity of the issues before us, recognizing the contribution of the cultural riches of peoples and religions in the regulation of artificial intelligence is key to the success of your commitment to the wise management of technological innovation," he wrote.

Echoing his address on artificial intelligence to the G7 summit in June, the pope asked the participants to jointly push for the ban of lethal autonomous weapons, which "starts from an effective and concrete commitment to introduce ever greater and proper human control."

"No machine should ever choose to take the life of a human being," he wrote.

Opening the conference July 9, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, academy president, said that artificial intelligence "must be guided so that its potential serves the good from the moment of its design."

"At Hiroshima, a place of the highest symbolic value, we strongly invoke peace, and we ask that technology be a driver of peace and reconciliation among peoples," he said. "We stand here, together, to say loudly that standing together and acting together is the only possible solution."

Synod document seeks responses to welcoming, serving everyone

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The working document for the October assembly of the Synod of Bishops on synodality has called for responses to how all the baptized can better serve the Catholic Church and help heal humanity's "deepest wounds."

The document said the synod should spur the church to become a "refuge" and "shelter" for those in need or distress, and encourage Catholics to "allow themselves to be led by the Spirit of the Lord to horizons that they had not previously glimpsed" as brothers and sisters in Christ.

"This is the ongoing conversion of the way of being the Church that the synodal process invites us to undertake," the document said.

The 30-page document, called an "instrumentum laboris," was released at the Vatican July 9. It will serve as a discussion guideline for the synod's second session Oct. 2-27, which will reflect on the theme: "How to be a missionary synodal Church." The reflections are the next step in the synod's overarching theme: "For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission."

"In an age marked by increasing inequalities, growing disillusionment with traditional models of governance, democratic disenchantment and the dominance of the market model in human interactions, and the temptation to resolve conflicts by force rather than dialogue," the church's synodal style could offer inspiration and important insights for the future of humanity, the working document said.

Two key challenges facing the church are "the growing isolation of people and cultural individualism, which even the Church has often absorbed," it said, and "an exaggerated social communitarianism that suffocates people and does not allow them to be free subjects of their own development." 

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Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary-general of the synod, speaks during a news conference at the Vatican July 9, 2024, to present the working document for the second assembly of ongoing the Synod of Bishops. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

Synodal practice, however, "calls us to mutual care, interdependence and co-responsibility for the common good," it said, and it is willing to listen to everyone, in contrast to methods "in which the concentration of power shuts out the voices of the poorest, the marginalized and minorities."

In fact, "weakness in reciprocity, participation and communion remains an obstacle to a full renewal of the Church in a missionary synodal sense," it added.

The document strongly encouraged the "renewal of liturgical and sacramental life, starting with liturgical celebrations that are beautiful, dignified, accessible, fully participative, well-inculturated and capable of nourishing the impulse towards mission."

And it called for renewing "the proclamation and transmission of the faith in ways and means appropriate to the current context."

While the second session will focus on certain aspects of synodal life, "with a view to greater effectiveness in mission," it said "other questions that emerged during the journey are the subject of work that continues in other ways, at the level of the local Churches as well as in the ten study groups."

In March, Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops, announced that Pope Francis had decided that some of the most controversial issues raised during the 2021-24 synod process would be examined by study groups. Among the subjects assigned to the 10 groups are the possible revision of guidelines for the training of priests and deacons, the role of women in the church and their participation in decision-making/taking processes and community leadership, a possible revision in the way bishops are chosen and a revision of norms for the relationship between bishops and the religious orders working in their dioceses.

The study groups "will complete their in-depth study by June 2025, if possible, but will offer a progress report to the synod assembly in October 2024," the document said.

"Ahead of the conclusion of the second session, Pope Francis has already accepted some of the requests of the first session and begun the work of implementation," it said.

A canon law commission has been set up to serve the synod, it said, and a "theological subsidy" will soon be published to help participants read and better understand the many "theological notions and categories used" in the newly released synod working document.

The work of the second session, the document said, will continue the synodal method of "prayer, exchange and discernment" as participants are invited to look at "the missionary synodal life of the Church from different perspectives" by reflecting on three aspects which emerged from previous discussions: relationships within the church, pathways for formation and places of connection.

"On this basis, a final document relating to the whole process will be drafted and will offer the pope proposals on steps that could be taken," it said.

"We can expect a further deepening of the shared understanding of synodality, a better focus on the practices of a synodal Church, and the proposal of some changes in canon law -- there may be yet more significant and profound developments as the basic proposal is further assimilated and lived," it said. 

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Participants in the assembly of the Synod of Bishops gather Oct. 25, 2023, for an afternoon session in the Paul VI Audience Hall at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The document, based on the results of the first session presented in the synthesis report and on further consultation with local churches, parish priests and others, listed a number of shared proposals and concerns that should be addressed at the second session:

-- Formation in listening to the Word of God and others, while emphasizing the need to listen to those experiencing poverty and marginalization.

-- Addressing exclusion and lack of welcome in the church, which leaves people "feeling rejected, hinders their journey of faith and encounter with the Lord, and deprives the Church of their contribution to mission."

-- Creating a "recognized and properly instituted ministry of listening and accompaniment" which enables people to approach the church without feeling judged.

-- Promoting possibilities for women to further participate in church life which "often remain untapped." This includes providing women, including consecrated women, access to positions of responsibility, such as judges in canonical processes and teaching and formation roles in theology departments, institutes and seminaries.

-- Reimagining ordained ministry to help clergy avoid unnecessary burdens and isolation, and encouraging the delegation of tasks that do not require ordination to the laity. The question of admitting women to diaconal ministry will not be discussed at the second session, though a synod study group is looking at the issue.

-- Enhancing transparency and accountability beyond sexual and financial abuse to include pastoral plans, working conditions and evaluation procedures for those holding positions in the church.

-- Ensuring that the composition of different types of councils -- parish, deanery, diocesan or eparchial -- reflect the communities they serve and are able to effectively implement synodal proposals.

-- Correcting the formula in the Code of Canon Law which speaks of councils as having "a consultative vote only." This "diminishes the value of consultation and should be corrected." "The aim of synodal ecclesial discernment is not to make the bishops obey the voice of the people, … but rather to lead to a shared decision in obedience to the Holy Spirit."

Pope Francis chose synodality as the theme for the ordinary General Assembly of the Synod to help the church strengthen its evangelizing mission by emphasizing the need of all the baptized to deepen their journey of following the Lord and renew their responsibility to serve his mission.

Unlike earlier meetings of the Synod of Bishops, which focused on a specific issue or a specific region of the world, the "synod on synodality" is focused on providing "an opportunity for the entire people of God to discern together how to move forward on the path towards being a more synodal Church in the long-term," according to the synod's official handbook.

USCCB Welcomes the Release of the Instrumentum Laboris for the Second Session of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops

WASHINGTON - Earlier today, the Holy See’s General Secretariat of the Synod issued the Instrumentun Laboris for for the Second Session of the 2021-2024 Synod: For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission. This document will form the basis for the discernment and discussion for the participants of the second session of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to be held this October.

Following the interim stage of the 2021-2024 Synod which consisted of local listening sessions held across the world followed by discernment from local bishops’ conferences, reports were shared with the Holy See earlier this year. The reports served as the basis for the Instumentum Laboris.

Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Doctrine, who has been shepherding the synodal process in the United States, welcomed the document saying, “The Instrumentum Laboris presents the delegates and the People of God with the occasion to reflect deeply upon the grace of our relationship to God, the Most Holy Trinity, and to one another as incorporated into Trinitarian life in Christ by the Spirit. These relations are practically lived out in our local communities and in the Universal Church and are at the service of the Mission. The quality of our relations, rooted in charity, their theological and practical shape at all levels, are at the heart of synodal discernment and renewal in the Church. This document’s primary purpose is to inform the ongoing discernment that will continue in Rome this October. I encourage everyone to read and discern this document within your community in conversation with the insights and fruits of earlier local, national, and continental Synodal consultations.”  

The Instrumentum Laboris consists of five sections. The Introduction, followed by a section dedicated to the Foundations of the understanding of synodality. Next are three closely interwoven parts: (I) Relationships that sustain the Church; (II) Paths that support the dynamism of relationships; and (III) Places or the concrete contexts of lived relationships. Each of these sections will be the subject of prayer, exchange and discernment in one of the modules that will mark the work of the Second Session. 

Begun in October 2021, the “Synod on Synodality” was extended by Pope Francis through October 2024, to allow for more time for reflection and discernment from both the local and universal Church. The first part of the Universal Phase of the Synod was held in October 2023; and the second will be October 2024. More information regarding the 2021-2024 Synod, including the U.S. National Synthesis, North American Final Document, and the US Synthesis for the Interim Stage, is available at usccb.org/synod.

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