Pope Francis communicated this last Sunday at the end of the Angelus, greeting the faithful gathered in Piazza San Pietro: the ongoing synodal process in the Church, which should have been concluded in October 2023 with the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops held in the Vatican, is also scheduled for a further Assembly in 2024.
While the second phase of this process of discernment and discernment is underway, the Pope considers it necessary to proceed with caution, without delay, because the many fruits that this process is generating "are coming to full maturation". This, at least, is the official motivation, but it is also perfectly in line with the correct understanding of this instrument that St. Paul VI has been developing for almost sixty years: not a parliament, but "a moment of grace, a process guided by the Spirit that makes all things new", as just a few days ago Francesco reminded a group of French diplomats.
In that context he remarked that in this path of spiritual and ecclesial discernment we must first of all give priority to prayer, adoration and the Word of God, avoiding "starting from our own will, from our ideas or our own projects".
È importante, insomma, privilegiare soprattutto l'ascolto, perché è è in questa dinamica la "Dio ci mostra la strada da seguire, facendoci uscire dalle nostre abitudini, chiamandoci a intraprendere nuove strade come Abramo".
Seen in these terms, the Synod "asks us to ask ourselves what God wants to say to us in this time, today, and in the direction in which he wishes to lead us", Pope Francis later told the French delegates.
Commenting on the Pope's decision to extend the date to October 2024, the General Secretariat of the Synod spoke of "prolonged discernment not only on the part of the members of the Synodal Assembly, but of the entire Church" as a need that has been maturing in these first months of the beginning of the process of ascent. The Episcopal Conferences and the Synods of the Eastern Catholic Churches produced a document during the phase of discernment in the particular Churches.
We are now entering the Continental Tappa, which will culminate with Continental Synodal Assemblies between January and March 2023 after the different communities have reflected on Document of the Tappa Continentale predisposed by the General Secretariat, however, due to the socio-cultural specificities of the single regions.
Obviously, later on, we will see how the work of the two General Assemblies of October 2023 and 2024 in the Vatican will be reformulated and how the time in between will be structured. A work that the General Secretariat has just begun.