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What is a synod?

That is a question many have likely been asking themselves often since Pope Francis called for the World Synod of Bishops to take place in October 2023.

A synod is a gathering of bishops for specific kinds of issues. Synods are meant to be consultative, to be able to hear from those who are participating in the life of the Church.

Pope Francis has asked that the Synod of Bishops in 2023 would be about synodality, or how we as disciples are journeying together to reflect on and respond to the Holy Spirit’s call to us. The synod’s theme is “communion, participation and mission.”

Pope Francis formally opened the synod process with a Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica on Oct. 10.

More details about the Holy Father’s Mass and the synod can be found in The Catholic Virginian.

How will the Diocese of Richmond participate in a worldwide synod?

In his Oct. 18 “Christ Our Hope” column, Bishop Knestout discussed how our diocese will be participating in the synod:

Over the next several months, our ad hoc Diocesan Evangelization Commission will be working to facilitate responses from diocesan advisory groups as well as from parish councils on these synodal questions:

  • How is journeying together happening today in our parishes and diocese?
  • What steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our journeying together?

  • What experiences of our local Church does this question call to mind? What joys did they bring? What difficulties and obstacles have they encountered? What wounds did they reveal? What insights have they revealed? Where in these experiences does the voice of the Holy Spirit resound?

  • What is the Spirit asking of us?

  • What are the points to be confirmed, the prospects for change, the steps to be taken?

  • Where do we register a consensus? What paths are opening up for our local Church?

The answers to these questions will be analyzed and sent to the USCCB, who will submit a synthesis of all the U.S. dioceses’ responses to the Vatican’s General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.

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