Synod Sunday 2020 - an update

By Father Philip Inch

Archdiocesan Synod moderator Father Philip Inch explains how Synod Sunday – 18 October – was observed via a message from the Archbishop and the publication of Synod proposals.

The weekend of 17/18 October was to have been the weekend of our Synod 2020 gathering – Friday night: service of prayer at the Cathedral; Saturday: Synod members meeting at The Edge in Wigan; Sunday: Mass at the Cathedral. However, as you know, the pandemic meant we had to make changes to the Synod 2020 timetable. Our Synod weekend will now take place on 19/20 June 2021.

Even so, we still kept faithful to Synod Sunday, and across the weekend of 17/18 October we made public a message from the Archbishop while Synod members were sent the summary list of proposals.

In his pastoral message the Archbishop reminded us all of the important part we have to play in our Synod journey. The work of the Synod has not stopped; the Synod has not been asleep. God is still asking us to reflect on becoming the kind of Church God is calling us to be, and in many ways we are being invited to do this with a new urgency at this time.

The Archbishop reminded us 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 the role of each of us in the next part of our Synod journey. Over 3,500 proposals were submitted – thank you. The Synod working party (and others) have worked with all these proposals and have faithfully kept all the proposals and ideas that have been highlighted.

A summary of these proposals was sent to all Synod Members and from 19 October they have been available on the Synod 2020 website (synod2020.co.uk). Please be sure to have a look.

The summary proposals are grouped under the Four Synod Themes – but you will notice as you read them that they also include the proposals and reflections that were sent in as part of our listening and reflecting during Covid-19. And you will see that as well as 120 proposals there are 45 affirmations. These capture what was highlighted but not in the form of a proposal.

At the beginning of December, each Synod member will have to indicate which of the ideas and issues they are most drawn to. They will need your contribution to do this faithfully. Please talk to your Synod members, who cannot faithfully be part of discerning the way forward without your input. This will not be easy due to ongoing restrictions, but it is so necessary. This work will then enable us to present to you, in March, the Synod proposals to be voted on in June 2021. After June a team of people (from across both our diocese and dioceses around the country) will work on drawing up a pastoral plan in the light of the Synod proposals which we will promulgate at the start of Advent 2021.

The next phase of our exciting Synod journey will have to take place as we all live with restrictions on our abilities to gather together. And yet Pope Francis is firm on synodality as the way forward, so this is a time when once again we must be open to what God is asking us to do – and a time when the future shape of the Church in the Archdiocese of Liverpool, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is becoming clearer.