Synod Assembly in Spain: "We listen to the Holy Spirit by listening to the people of today".

More than 600 people attended the Assembly that marked the end of the first local phase of the Synod of Synodality in Spain. Making this process of synodality the new way of doing Church is already one of its first fruits.

Maria José Atienza-June 11, 2022-Reading time: 6 minutes
synod assembly

"Your initiative shows that the Church in Spain has been moved by the Holy Spirit" This is how the Apostolic Nuncio in Spain, Mons. Assembly that puts a period to the synod in Spain.

More than 600 people attended at the headquarters of the Paul VI Foundation during this meeting on Saturday, June 11, which was attended by representatives of all the dioceses, other confessions and members of consecrated life, movements and associations.

"Avoid closed-minded thinking."

"We listen to the Holy Spirit listening to the people of today," said Cardinal Grech in his greeting to this Assembly, who also stressed that "What we are doing is already a good fruit of the synod".

The Secretary General of the Synod encouraged the participants of this Assembly "not to have a closed mind; complete", in the words of the Pope.

How to listen to the Holy Spirit

Listening, the axis of this synodal process, has once again been the key to this Assembly. In his opening remarks, Bishop Omella pointed out that "We are used to hearing, but not to listening" and this synodal process has put the Church to listen: to listen to one another and, above all, to listen to the Holy Spirit. The most important character of this meeting is God", emphasized the president of the EEC.

In fact, after the greetings, a shared prayer invoking the Holy Spirit was led by Sr. María José Tuñón, ACI, also a member of the Synod team.

Listening and discernment of God's will and not of personal opinions is key in the synodal process, given that, from the beginning, both Pope Francis and the Spanish bishops have made it clear that it is not a popular consultation but a listening to the Holy Spirit to see what he asks of the Church in the coming years.

As Olalla Rodriguez, from the CEE synodal team, pointed out, "the Holy Spirit is awakening a new time in the Church in Spain. We are building the Church to come". In this line, Bishop Carlos Osoro emphasized that "synodality invites us to be great of heart, in the style of Christ".

Using the GPS as an analogy, Bishop Omella emphasized that, in this synodal process, the Church is "Recalculating the course to meet, listen and discern. This is not a moment, it is a journey," said Omella. The president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference added that this moment of the Church reminds him of Israel "that walks in the desert but carries the tent of encounter. The Lord walks with us. It is not only that God walks with us, but that God walks in our midst.

It is never too late to embrace God

Particularly revealing was the video and the testimonies on the work that different groups and communities throughout Spain have been carrying out during these months. These works, as Auza pointed out, "are a proof of love for the Church, in communion with the Pope".

A deafening applause closed the intervention of Aaron, a Texeira prison inmate who participated in this synodal process in the penitentiary center. This former prisoner pointed out that in the synod meetings, both he and his companions "were able to see that, although friends and family had left us behind, the Church had not left me behind".

Along with 11 companions, Aaron has been part of those groups that have been formed in 19 Spanish prisons to work on the synod. Each one with their own history and opinions, but, as Aaron pointed out, there were several points of agreement: "We all had very good memories of our parishes".

"The Synod It was a time for us to feel heard by the Church, that we wanted this group to continue. We need "that spiritual help to revive forgiveness, to forgive ourselves and to forgive others. It is never too late to embrace God," he concluded.

The final synthesis of the Synod

The testimonies were followed by the presentation of the final synthesis prepared by the synodal team of the Spanish Episcopal Conference with the contributions received.

The synthesis highlights that during this process "the perception of not being alone has predominated. In fact, the most valued aspect has been the process itselfThe feeling of community, the freedom to express oneself, the possibility of listening, the sharing of concerns, desires, difficulties and doubts.

The presentation of this synthesis highlighted some of the difficulties encountered in synodal process: listlessness, apathy, lack of understanding of the questions... etc., realities that were added to the lack of experience, in many communities, with regard to synodality and discernment. However, said the members of the CEE team in charge of presenting the synthesis, "what at first seemed abstract has been clarified along the way".

This synod also counted on the previous experience of the Congress of the Laity, which was, for many, a prelude to the synodal journey.

The key in this process was to make the synodal style a new way of doing Church and not simply "filling out a questionnaire".

As a starting point, two fundamental ideas stand out in this synthesis: the conversionand with it, to emphasize the role of prayer, the sacraments, participation in celebrations and formation and the liturgy that, on many occasions, is lived in a cold, passive or monotonous way.

Perhaps the word most often heard, both at the Assembly and throughout the synodal process, has been that of "listen". In fact, the synthesis reflects the need to be "a Church that listens".. A listening that is manifested in the reception of "the case of people who need greater accompaniment in their personal circumstances because of their situation, among which those who feel excluded because of complex family situations and their sexual orientation have been highlighted.

Moving from ecclesiastical events to Christian life processes

Two of the questions that have aroused most reflection in diocesan and movement groups are the complementarity of the three vocations and, especially, the co-responsibility of the lay faithful.

In this sense, as the synthesis shows, the paradox that the laity demand better formation but then there is little commitment has become evident.

Therefore, according to the document, the way in which this training is offered must be changed from a simple offer of "training resources to training processes and encourage commitment to these processes".

The rupture between the Church and society also has a place in this synthesis in which it is affirmed "that the Church must draw close to the men and women of today, without renouncing her nature or fidelity to the Gospel, establishing a dialogue with other social actors, in order to show her merciful face and contribute to the realization of the common good".

Key issues in the synodal process

Among the topics that have been repeated in the documents submitted to the EEC in this first phase of the synodThe final synthesis includes the following fields of reflection and study:

First and foremost, without a doubt, the reference to the role of women in the Church.

There is a clear concern about the scarce presence and participation of the young people in the life and mission of the Church.

The familyas a priority area of evangelization.

The sexual abuse, abuse of power and abuse of conscience in the ChurchThe need for forgiveness, accompaniment and reparation is evident.

The need to institutionalize and strengthen the use of the lay ministries.

Specific attention should be paid to the issue of dialogue with other Christian denominations and with other religions.

Synod proposals

The document also contains a series of proposals for the parish, diocesan and universal Church levels. In the first area, it highlights the proposal to promote a new way of being in the territory: to organize a new form of Church presence with synergies in parish life and a greater commitment of the lay faithful.

It is also proposed to make parish councils and economic councils truly synodal spaces and to promote faith groups.

In relation to diocesan proposals, the document proposes: a greater role for ecclesial movements, confraternities and brotherhoods, and consecrated and monastic life in the elaboration of diocesan plans. A real collaboration among all the organisms of the diocese, together with a promotion of the ministries formally recognized for the laity: ministers of the liturgy, of the Word, of Caritas, of visitators, of catechists.

Finally, in relation to the proposals at the level of the universal Church, the document encourages us to rediscover our baptismal vocation and to be ever more present as a prophetic voice in all the difficulties of today's world.

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