The synodal process, from the early Church to the pontificate of Pope Francis
By Honorine Grasset / France
How can we define “synodality”?
The word synod comes from the Greek sun-odos a road travelled together.
Through this notion of a common journey, synodality is present as a process during which it is a matter of listening and discerning God’s will for the Church of this time, involving all the baptised.
For ecclesiologist Routhier, the term synodality “says something about the original form of governance in the Church, since it implies working together, coming together as an assembly, through the differentiated participation of all”.
Rather than a theoretical definition, Isabelle Morel, theologian and co-author of Petit Manuel de Synodalité (the Little Handbook on Synodality), prefers to speak of synodality’s criteria.
“Synodality is like a mode of governance of the Church that brings about a dynamic. To do this, it is first necessary to be able to listen to people, and the Holy Spirit through them,” she says
“The entire synodal process carries more weight when it begins by listening to the voice of the baptised,” Morel says.
“In order to respect a process of maturation, it is necessary to allow for time, moments of silence. The gathering must take place in the name of Jesus Christ, with people who are in a variety of states of life and situations,” she says.
This representative aspect is necessary to allow the “sensus fidei” of the faithful to be heard.
The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) affirmed that “the entire body of the faithful… cannot err in matters of belief’ (Lumen gentium n. 12) and that this-sense of faith “is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth”.