In 2021 Pope Francis has invited all baptised Christians to gather and take part in a spiritual consultation of the whole Church.  The title given to this consultation is:

For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission

The Holy Father is inviting the whole Church to engage in a process of discernment under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to feed into the Synod of Bishops that will take place in Rome in 2023. It involves everyone in the Church – clergy, religious, and lay Catholics, all participating according to the gifts and charisms of their vocation. It is an important theme in the life and mission of the Church, especially over the next two years.

The word ‘Synod’, put simply, means ‘Journeying together’ and the process of becoming/being a synodal church involves us coming together, to listen and share with each other, and alongside/through this listening, discern what the Holy Spirit is calling us to do as a Church.

This worldwide invitation to all the faithful, to question itself on what is called “synodality”, is the first phase of this 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, and will run from October 2021 through till June 2022.

The synodal process was launched in August 2021, and will involve a consultation through discernment and prayer, with the worldwide Catholic community.

In his article entitled ‘The Synodal Path’, Father Christopher Thomas, General Secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW), sets out the synodal process and answers some common questions.

Also, in this ‘Introductory Video’, Father Christopher and Father Jan Nowotnik, Director of Mission at CBCEW, discuss the process and explain this invitation to communion, participation and mission:

There are different types and functions of synods, that take place within the Catholic Church, and these are explained in this video produced by the Australian Bishops, as is the synodal process in relation to this, the 16th Ordinary Synod of Bishops, in 2023:

To facilitate the synodal process locally, each diocese has been assigned a Diocesan lead person designated by the diocesan Bishop, to prepare and gather the People of God so that they can give voice to their experience in their local Church.

Here in Cardiff, our lead person is Madeleine Walters, who has put together a team, representing various groups and demographics from across the diocese;

Madeleine Walters – Diocesan Synodal Co-ordinator & Director of Evangelisation
Canon Matthew Jones – Parish Priest & Judicial Vicar
Fr Bernard Sixtus – Director of Religious Education (schools)
Frances Bibey – Assistant to Director of RE (Schools)
JR Diaz – School Chaplain, Corpus Christi High School, Cardiff
Rev Dr Philip Manghan – Chair, Archdiocesan Deacons’ Forum
Kate Duffin – Scripture Champion
Frank Callus – Evangelisation & ACTA
Jim Barnaville – Coordinator, Caritas Archdiocese of Cardiff
Therese Warwick – CAFOD Community Participation Co-ordinator
Joanne White – Diocesan Marriage & Family Life Co-ordinator

The diocesan stage of the synodal process is now complete and our report has been submitted to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. You can access our final report and each individual local report we received using the ‘Our Synod Reports’ tab below.

In order to “walk together” and listen to the Holy Spirit we need to pray. There can be no synodal way without personal and community prayer. Prayer prepares our hearts to listen carefully to others and helps us to discern the action of the Holy Spirit throughout the world.

We are all asked, during this synodal process, to pray a simplified version of Adsumus, Sancte Spiritus Prayer of invocation to the Holy Spirit for an ecclesial assembly of governance or discernment (thus synodal). We invite you to pray this prayer daily through to the end of the Synod of Bishops in 2023.

We stand before You, Holy Spirit,
as we gather together in Your name.
With You alone to guide us,
make Yourself at home in our hearts;
Teach us the way we must go
and how we are to pursue it.
We are weak and sinful;
do not let us promote disorder.
Do not let ignorance lead us down the wrong path
nor partiality influence our actions.
Let us find in You our unity
so that we may journey together to eternal life
and not stray from the way of truth and what is right.
All this we ask of You,
who are at work in every place and time,
in the communion of the Father and the Son,
forever and ever. Amen.

A large, majestic tree, full of wisdom and light, reaches for the sky. A sign of deep vitality and hope which expresses the cross of Christ, it carries the Eucharist, which shines like the sun. The horizontal branches, opened like hands or wings, suggest, at the same time, the Holy Spirit.

The people of God are not static: they are on the move, in direct reference to the etymology of the word synod, which means “walking together”. The people are united by the same common dynamic that this Tree of Life breathes into them, from which they begin their walk.

These 15 silhouettes sum up our entire humanity in its diversity of life situations, of generations and origins. This aspect is reinforced by the multiplicity of bright colours which are themselves signs of joy. There is no hierarchy between these people who are all on the same footing: young, old, men, women, teenagers, children, lay people, religious, parents, couples, singles; the bishop and the nun are not in front of them, but among them. Quite naturally, children and then adolescents open their walk, in reference to these words of Jesus in the Gospel: ” I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to little children”. (Mt 11:25)

The horizontal baseline: “For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission” runs from left to right in the direction of this march, underlining and strengthening it, to end with the title “Synod 2021 – 2023”, the high point that synthesises the whole.

The author Isabelle de Senilhes, ‘I live in Paris and I am a freelance graphic designer and communications officer. I also have experience as a journalist. I studied at the École des Arts Décoratifs in Orléans and at the École Estienne in Paris. My professional activity started in 1997 with the Dominican Friars, during World Youth Day in Paris. My career to date has been marked by many wonderful encounters in Christian and humanitarian circles: publishing houses, press groups, dioceses, religious orders, associations… It also extends to the wider secular network of companies, services and communication and event agencies, think-tanks… I like literature, photography, dance, interior design. I participate in art and heritage restoration projects. I enjoy hiking and horseback riding in nature and travelling. Cooking and winemaking are an art of living for me. I am involved in voluntary work to protect the environment.’

CLICK HERE for various versions of the logo to use in your parish publications

Each parish and school was set the task of producing a 10 page local report.  The diocesan team then had the immense task of digesting the reports to make the Diocesan submission.  You can read the final Diocesan submission along with the local reports from parishes using the links below:

READ THE FINAL REPORT OF THE ARCHDIOCESE OF CARDIFF

LOCAL REPORTS RECEIVED FROM THE PARISHES

Canon Christopher Thomas, General Secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, has been part of the team tasked with taking all of the reports from the Dioceses of England & Wales to produce the National Synthesis.  He says:

“Thank you for your participation … The National Synthesis Team has been working on the document since then and I am very pleased to be able to send this to you today.

The next stage in this work will be for our bishops, who will gather next Tuesday (Tuesday 28th June) to review their reflections and discernment of the material in the national synthesis.  That document which they are writing, along with the synthesis presented today, will then form our submission to the Synod Office in Rome.  This will be considered, along with the other national synthesis documents from around the world, and from these, the Synod Office will produce the Instrumentum Laboris 1 for the work at the European (Regional) Phase.  And so, the journey of becoming a Synodal Church continues, moving forward to the Regional Phase but also continuing the reflections and work here in England and Wales at the local and diocesan level.”

Madeleine Walters, the Diocesan co-ordinator for the Synod said:

“I attended that Synod day on June 1st with a parish representative from my parish since all members of the Synodal Team were already committed.  I can confirm that the review of the Draft Synthesis was carried out in a very thorough way.” 

Click here to read the National Synthesis