The Catholic Church wants to become more open and attractive. The worldwide synod announced by the pope in October will address issues from the real lives of many of its 1.4 billion members. On Tuesday The Vatican has published the corresponding working paper, called the Working Tool.. It does not contain any specific draft resolutions, but names questions to guide the discussion. For the first time, consecrated and unconsecrated believers will be given equal voting rights in the Vatican. Until now, only bishops and religious hierarchs could decide jointly at the Synod of Bishops of the World.
Another novelty is the discussion stimulated in the Synod’s Fundamental Questions on the accessibility of the deaconess, that is, to the lowest degree of ordination prior to the ordination of priests and bishops. Furthermore, stronger participation of women in managerial and responsible positions should be discussed. The same applies to the participation of disorganized church members and potential new offices – also at the local level.
Questions indicate the possibility of reviewing already existing offices; This also includes the possible exceptions to celibacy among priests. Reasons: On the one hand, many believers have expressed concern about the loneliness of priests, and on the other hand, there are regions where there are very few ministers. The solution could be the ordination of married men to the priesthood or the taking over of unprepared Catholics. According to the working paper, this should also be discussed. Finally, the training of potential clergy must be changed in order to put an end to the clergy.
Promote service attitude
Instead of force and control, the attitude of service should be strengthened among officials in general, and an atmosphere of transparency, encouragement, inclusiveness, and cooperation should be created. This also applies to bishops in particular. For them, the proposed decentralization of the Catholic Church should be of particular importance – more responsibility in the regional and national church in situ, less with the pope. The synodal process must change the concept of power – even a possible legal amendment for more participation.
The full worksheet
The formula for the “Working Instrument” of the Universal Synod can be found on the website of the German Bishops’ Conference.
Opening up to as many members of the church as possible is the focus of the Work Tool. Married divorcees should be as welcome as gay people and those who live in polygamy, for example in Africa. The same applies to believers who feel less important or less desirable because of the color of their skin, their origin, or their disability. With a renewed language–in liturgy, sermons, art, and communication in all media–the Church must become more accessible and attractive.
The 71-page document deals with abuse by church officials or officials in different chapters. It is about the issue of concrete steps to achieve justice for victims and survivors. In addition to sexual abuse, spiritual, financial, power and conscientious abuse also play an obvious role.
Other topics include poverty, climate change, migration, peace and reconciliation, and the participation of young and old in the Christian community. It should also discuss deepening dialogue with Christians and other religions.
After two years of local and continental consultations, there are now two world church meetings in Rome. The meeting in October aims primarily to deepen the proposed topics and prepare them for further treatment. A reasonable methodology should also be put in place. For this purpose, the participants meet for group work and for discussions in the plenary session.
In the second and so far last session of the World Synod in October 2024, concrete proposals will be drawn up for the Pope, on the basis of which decisions can be made. He usually does this in what is called a post-synodal discourse. (KNA)