Call to communion in the synodal process by the Spanish bishops

Faced with the "resistances" detected in the synodal itinerary, which the team of the Spanish Episcopal Conference (CEE) called "polarizations", Cardinal Juan José Omella, president of the Episcopal Conference, urged "not to be afraid" of this listening process and to be "cum Petro and sub Petro, the one chosen by the Lord".

Francisco Otamendi-January 28, 2023-Reading time: 4 minutes


In the presentation of the synthesis text with the contributions that dioceses, religious congregations, movements and different groups have sent to the synodal team of the Episcopal Conference, and shortly before its content was made public, Cardinal Omella went so far as to speak of "there are seas and rivers that want to drown the process undertaken in the universal Church" at the request of the Pope.

However, he added, "the Spirit urges us to walk together, without losing love, communion and hope", "united to Christ, cum Petro and sub Petro, with Peter, who is the one chosen by the Lord", "Peter resisted Christ, but Christ chose him".

In this way, the Cardinal Archbishop of Barcelona and President of the EEC appealed to a "growing yearning for communion and rejection of division", and detected that "perhaps we have neglected prayer, do we believe in prayer?" he asked. "Without a life of prayer we can do nothing," and he recalled that "only after Pentecost were the disciples 'cor unum and anima una'."

"Recovering Christian fraternity".              

Archbishop Luis Marín, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, then spoke. General Secretariat of the Synodso as to onlineVicente Jimenez Zamora, and the coordinating bishop of the synodal team, Bishop Vicente Jimenez Zamora. Both also referred to the obstacles to the synodal process, in the presence of the vice-president of the EEC and archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Carlos Osoro, the secretary general of the Bishops' Conference, Monsignor Francisco César García Magán, and more than a hundred people attending the meeting.

Msgr. Luis Marín recalled that "the synodal dimension of the Church has been present since its origins. "The spirituality and climate of prayer", "recovering the sense of Christian fraternity", valuing "the richness of the variety of vocations and sensibilities", are some of the other characteristics of the synodal process. "Be courageous, be generous," he encouraged, and "let us walk together with humility, availability and hope."

The coordinating bishop and archbishop emeritus of Zaragoza, Bishop Vicente Jiménez Zamora, focused his remarks on "memory" and "commitment" and pointed out that the synod process "is being a grace of God", which "is a milestone in the Church".

Jiménez Zamora will be accompanying Cardinal Juan José Omella, representing the EEC, to the European Continental Assembly of the synodal process, to be held in Prague from February 5 to 9, together with the secretary of the synodal team, Father Luis Manuel Romero; Sr. María José Tuñón, ACI, who this morning led the introductory prayer, as responsible for consecrated life and member of the synodal team, and Dolores García Pi, president of the Forum of the Laity and also a member of the same synodal team of the Episcopal Conference.

The text summarizes

The presentation of the synthesis, which is available at hereThe final text, with the contributions to the document, was presented by three members of the synodal team: Isaac Martin, Olalla Rodriguez and Dolores Garcia Pi. The three reminded that it is not a closed and definitive text, because the final text will be presented in Prague at the beginning of February, and to which contributions can still be sent.

Among other aspects, the following can be summarized:

1.- Polarizations.

It is detected that "the same polarizations existing in society are present within the Church: the polarization between diversity and unity and the need for dialogue (among ourselves, at the ecumenical level and with society); the polarization between tradition and renewal (particularly in the liturgy and in language); the polarization between the pyramidal Church and the synodal Church (which is manifested in our structures).

On the other hand, "the trinomial 'communion, participation and co-responsibility' appears repeatedly in the contributions, admitting that there are impediments to grow in them, particularly due to the resistance of the clergy and the passivity of the laity. The tension of clericalism that leads to confusing service with power is strongly detected. We are pained by the existing distances between the members of the people of God of different vocations and the loneliness in which some of them live. A first step to address this is the formation in seminaries and novitiates and that received by the laity".

Gift of the Holy Spirit

2. Images and some contributions.

"The biblical image of the tent seems to us very suggestive and enlightening as a symbol of what we are called to be: a Church going out, made up of diverse and plural people who, from the desire to be more welcoming every day, but without forgetting the foundation of unity, open its doors and make itself present, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit".

"The synodal process should not be conceived as a solution to the problems of the Church as a whole, but as a gift of the Holy Spirit that calls us to active listening, profound dialogue and communal discernment through the methodology of spiritual conversation."

"We also sense that, in order to walk together, a continuous personal conversion is necessary in each of the members of the Church, starting from listening to the Word of God, prayer and the sacraments, emphasizing the centrality of the Eucharist. 

The synodal process is helping to raise awareness of the common dignity of all the baptized and the need to revitalize it in order to grow in co-responsibility and a sense of belonging to the Church. All this is perceived with greater strength in the laity, but it also appears in pastors and in the consecrated life".

3. Church on the move. Ecumenism, popular religiosity, family ministry.

"The invitation to be a Church that goes out, in the context of the secularization that we are experiencing in Europe and Spain, continues to resound with intensity. For this reason, the longing for a missionary Church, with open doors, where the cry of the poorest and most vulnerable is heard, without forgetting the cry of the earth".

"A novel experience has been the great coincidence in the importance of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, which broadens the space of our tent, the Church. In addition, the value of popular religiosity and the fundamental role that family pastoral care should have is intuited", the text points out.

Here are some of the ideas of the synthesis of the proposal of the Church in Spain for the continental assembly in Prague (February 5-9). The presidents of the 39 bishops' conferences of Europe will meet from the 10th to the 12th of the same month, according to Luis Manuel Romero, and the first session of the Synodal Assembly will take place in Rome from October 4-29.

The authorFrancisco Otamendi

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