Sunday 18 October marked a significant moment in the Liverpool Archdiocesan Synod journey. It was to have been the date of the Synod meeting itself, but due to the need to change the timetable because of the pandemic, this Sunday saw the presentation of the affirmations and the summary of the proposals.
The Synod Working Party received over 3,500 proposals and reflections on the four Synod Themes, which also included the proposals and reflections made in the light of Covid-19. This huge response gave the Synod Working Party their task during lockdown.
Everything that was submitted for each Theme was looked at by different groups made up of working party members and others. Their task was to discern all the issues that were before the Synod. One aspect to emerge from this work has been that in many cases what was submitted highlighted an area or issue that was seen to be important even though there may not have been an immediately practical suggestion or a proposal. So the summary now published honours this by including a number of affirmation statements alongside practical proposals.
What was made public on 17 October is our best attempt at faithfully honouring all that has been said, even if not word for word.
Archbishop Malcolm McMahon, in a message to the people of the Archdiocese for Synod Sunday, said: ‘God is still asking us to reflect on becoming the kind of Church he is calling us to be and in many ways we have been invited to do this with a new urgency at this time.
‘Our Synod journey brings together the “imperatives” of co-responsibility, collaboration and genuine listening between Church leaders and the lay faithful. Synodality is an essential aspect of Church life today. Pope Francis is firm on synodality as the way forward. I am reminded of something that Pope Benedict said in 2012:
‘“Lay people should not be regarded as ‘collaborators’ of the clergy, but rather as people who are really ‘co-responsible’ for the Church’s being and acting … It is therefore important that a mature and committed laity be consolidated, which can make its own specific contribution to the ecclesial mission with respect for the ministries and tasks that each one has in the life of the Church.” (10 August 2012 to Catholic Action International gathering.)
‘This is very much your role in the next part of our Synod journey.
‘I need each of you to play your part in discerning the next steps forward. At the beginning of December each Synod Member will have to indicate which of the ideas and issues that they are most drawn to. They will need your input to do this faithfully. This will then enable us to present to you, in March, the Synod Proposals to be voted on in June. After June we will work on drawing up a Pastoral Plan in the light of the Synod Proposals which will be promulgated at the start of Advent 2021.’
The affirmations and summary proposals can be found at www.synod2020.co.uk/proposals.