On Saturday 25 November 2023, the Archdiocesan Synodal Council (ASC) will meet for the very first time. This is a historic moment in the story of the Archdiocese of Liverpool.
In the Pastoral Plan published in November 2021, the archdiocese committed itself to “becoming a Church where synodality is embedded” (Pastoral Plan Pg 30). This commitment was forthcoming because, using the words of Pope Francis, synodality is not a meeting or a gathering, but “the way of being the church in the 3rd millennium,” and because the experience of listening to one another in the Synod process taught us that if we walk this path then we will hear the voice of God speaking to us in the Church.
To embed synodality is not an easy task. It demands not just a particular mindset – it demands some structural elements to support this embedding. These are ongoing and we are learning as we go along.
Being synodal is not just a way of bringing democracy into the Church - it comes from our baptismal calling. As a baptised member of the Body of Christ, we are all chosen and called by God and therefore we have a duty to let our voices be heard for the well-being of the Church.
To embed synodality we have:
· Created a new Archbishops Advisory Body – made up of laymen and women, religious and clergy – this enables the Archbishop to hear advice from the whole of the Body of Christ in the Diocese
· Set up Deanery Synodal Councils
· Created a new Council of Deacons to mirror the Council of Priests
· Committed to implementing synodal ways of working at all levels of archdiocesan support services.
The Pastoral Plan also mandated the setting up of an ASC, which was given as its initial task to monitor the implementation of the pastoral plan.
The ASC is a permanent synodal body. It will work rather in the same way as the Archdiocesan Synod did – it is not to make decisions, but to aid and guide the Archbishop in his decision-making about pastoral matters concerning the Archdiocese. He will listen to the voice of the ASC, and in the light of that, he will be better enabled to make the right decisions.
The membership of the ASC is taken from the Deanery Synodal Councils as well as a number of representatives from organisations and groups and will include ecumenical observers. The first meeting on Saturday 25 November will be from 10.30am until 3.30pm. There will be 150 people at the meeting (including Isle of Man representatives who will join remotely from the island). This meeting will be live-streamed so that anyone from across the archdiocese can watch what is happening; this enables us to be both transparent and accountable in what we are doing.
The setting up of the ASC has been the responsibility of an executive body: Ben Miller, Shirley Green, Philip Inch, Jill Williams, John Sullivan, John Sargeant, Matthew Nunes and Ultan Russell.
Anyone within the archdiocese is welcome to take part online, and submit questions to be answered. You can join via Teams here.
If you are joining us online, you can find the document everybody will be working off here.