Synodality: a new stage in the reception of the Second Vatican Council

Front cover of the special document designed and published by the contact team of the Diocese of Cotonou to guide synodal consultations/Juste Hlannon/LCA

News facts

Sister Anne Béatrice Faye is a Senegalese nun from the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception of Castres. Member of the international theological research project “Vatican II – Heritage and Mandate” and since June 2021, member of the Commission of Theologians for the next Synod 2023, she offers a contribution on synodality in relation to the Second Vatican Council.

Beyond the information on the Second Vatican Council, the Synodal Church, with the enlightenment of Pope Francis, invites us to rediscover the fundamental place of the particular Churches, the fruit of a salutary decentralization and the importance of pluralism and diversity of charisms in the Church. For this, four attitudes are necessary. It is about assuming, purifying (synodal conversion), strengthening and raising the wealth of our people today.

Assuming the novelty of the synodal face of the Church

An important fact to underline is that this synodal process reveals that the faithful have a conception of the Church that goes beyond classical limits. Most of them conceive of it as a family whose dimensions extend beyond the baptized and catechumens, to all believers and to all other human brothers and sisters, living or dead, with whom we share the dignity human.

Seen from Africa, the broad consultation has generated generous participation in many places, with the feeling of living a community approach of listening and discernment. The common denominator is without a doubt the joy of the encounter: joy in being solicited, joy in being able to respond to the appeal of Pope Francis, joy in being able to discuss important, profound subjects, around a friendly time, joy fraternal and prayerful, festive encounters, either with strangers or with old friends. Each time the faithful gather around the Word of God and seek to understand together, there is a community of Church,

Synodal conversion: purifying and healing the wounds

Today, faced with the change of place of mission due to a few factors including: changes in the world, excesses of power and clericalism, but also the many opportunities, the Church wants to ensure the lay faithful the place to which they are entitled. especially in decision-making. In synodal language, walking together is the constitutive way of the Church; the quality that allows us to interpret reality with the eyes and heart of God; the condition to follow the Lord Jesus and to be servants of life in these wounded times. The synodal breath and journey reveal who we are and the dynamism of communion that animates our decisions. »[1]

In other words, it is the path of personal and community conversion, the path of reconciliation to be undertaken in order to heal the wounds and allow God to reconcile us with our brothers and sisters.

To read also: “The synod is an opportunity to recall the importance of the Second Vatican Council”

And the Pope insists, this proclamation of the Kingdom invites our institutions to a pastoral and missionary conversion (EG 25) both for conversion and for the reform of the government of the Church and of the Curia (EG 17). In other words, it is necessary to think of a re-articulation as much of the whole Church and the local Churches as of the responsibilities of the episcopal assemblies at the national, regional and continental level.

Synodality is also a commitment to reject and denounce regionalism, tribalism, violence, intolerance and all that carries the germ of discrimination and rejection of the other. The wish of all is that the Church put in place a true pastoral of inclusion so that those who find themselves in fact on the periphery of the pastoral care of the Church are taken into account.

Strengthen Attachment to Scripture

Following the Second Vatican Council which urged the baptized to cling to the Scriptures which contain the Word of God[2]it emerges for many the need for the centrality of a constant resourcing in the Word, and an invitation to experience it more in order to nourish one’s daily life or to be shared in groups of the faithful but also, to better found the action of the Church.

Raising the “sensus fidei”

the sensus fidei, “makes the people of God infallible “by believing”” and requires pastors to listen to their flock and serve it, as the Second Vatican Council reminds us. After having reaffirmed that the people of God is made up of all the baptized called to “be a spiritual dwelling place and a holy priesthood”, he proclaims that “the collectivity of the faithful, having the anointing which comes from the Holy One (cf. 1 Jn 2 , 20.27), cannot err in faith; this particular gift which she possesses, she manifests it by means of the supernatural sense of faith which is that of the entire people, when, “from the bishops down to the last of the lay faithful”, she brings to the truths concerning faith and morals a universal consent”.

In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudiumPope Francis came back to it, strongly emphasizing the fact that ” the People of God are holy because of this anointing that makes them infallible “in credendo »[3]adding that “ each baptized person, whatever his function in the Church and the educational level of his faith, is an active subject of evangelization, and it would be inappropriate to think of a scheme of evangelization used for qualified actors, where the rest of the faithful people would only be destined to benefit from their actions »[4].

The word of the Church necessarily needs a cultural envelope, otherwise it will no longer be Good News (Gospel) for the men and women of our time. Like the other dioceses of the world, seen from Africa, the synodal dynamic has been lived in a rich and diversified way in the dioceses, each according to its own sensitivity and its local needs. For example in several dioceses, the translation of the questions into different local languages ​​was necessary for the understanding of the greatest number of Christians.

Sister Anne Beatrice Faye

Synodality: a new stage in the reception of the Second Vatican Council