Consulting 1.3 billion Catholics: pedagogy of synodality

“When they have no more priests, the gods become very easygoing.”

Anatole France

The authority of the Church

For the sociologist of religions, Yann Legendre the Church must, in order to survive, get out of its system of centralizing authority and question the sacredness of the priest. The sexual, financial and moral scandals that have accumulated together with a crisis of vocations and a weakening of Christian ideas in society and its institutions have produced an electric shock.

This is probably the meaning given to the great consultation on the future of the Church launched in October 2021 by Pope Francis and which should end in Rome in 2023. This consultation takes the name of “synod”. This term is an ancient word constructed from two Greek roots. It is composed of the preposition sun / σύν (with) and the noun hodos /ὁδός (via, path).

For the promoters of the approach,It indicates the path traveled together by the people of God“. The choice of a synod, rather than an assembly or a council, seems to carry the intention of setting in motion similar to the first times of the journey of the Church, perhaps even this journey in the desert of the people of Moses It was then a matter of learning together to discern doctrinal, liturgical, canonical and pastoral questions.

What is characteristic is the highlighting of a method and the state of mind that accompanies it. This approach recalls the spiritual search of a pilgrim to Santiago de Compostela made up of encounters with strangers during a strained effort towards a goal. Submit your body and your mind to a test to grow together.

Unlike an assembly with more neutral purposes, widespread in the secular world, where many a council often associated only with ecclesiastical populations, the synod desired by Pope Francis is addressed to all Christians all over the planet. , concretizing an aspiration to communion. It is a new learning for redo community after more than 2000 years of history.

This association to communicate and reflect together on the future of the Church is extraordinary because it concerns 1.2 billion Catholics, it is of the order of the number of Facebook followerswithout the mediation and excesses of the social network.

It is therefore a question of inventing a peer-to-peer method to construct a common sense.

In practice how does it work?

National synod teams have been formed around the world to irrigate dioceses, congregations and communities with a questioning

here is the testimonial from a participant in charge of an intermediate synthesis step;

When we arrived, we were given two documents. The first document was the national collection which was a sort of compilation of all the diocesan and particular syntheses, carried out by a team around the synod’s national coordination team. This document had been made public three days before and it was not asked to retouch it. This collection was accompanied by a second document which was a proposal for a welcome and perspective text which could be signed by “the bishops of France, listening to their guests “.

Such an approach is framed by rules that must be intelligible throughout the world. here are the 10 key points that guide the synodal process

    The dignity of peer-to-peer speech is affirmed. “In the Church and in society, we are on the same road, side by side”.
    Listening is emphasized with an open mind and heart, leaving aside prejudices.
  3. SPEAK
    Public speaking is placed under the religious term of parrhesia, which means the combination of freedom, truth and charity.
    If synodality consists in journeying together, it is a possible approach in the Church through community listening to the Word and the celebration of the Eucharist.
    Synodality is a process of collective intelligence at the service of the mission of the Church, in which all its members are called to participate.
    Synodality engages the dialogue of all with all with all possible difficulties, which do not exclude moments of silence and suffering.
    Dialogue between Christians of different confessions, united by a single Baptism, occupies a special place in the synodal journey.
    A Synodal Church is a Church of participation and co-responsibility.
    In a synodal style, decisions are made through a process of discernment, based on a consensus that springs from common obedience to the Spirit. A form of regulation by a superior force is proclaimed.
    The spirituality of walking together is called to become the educational principle of the human and Christian formation of the person, the formation of families and communities.

Reading these principles, we understand that Pope Francis breaks with the only hierarchical principle to integrate a substantial part of collective intelligence. The ultimate regulator of the dialogues being “the Holy Spirit”, resource for all, and the will of discernment of each one.

This pedagogy while walking is intended to be transformative since it is a question of living it and developing it along the way. This effort to learn to synchronize while walking has been studied by sociologist Margaret Gilbert in Walking together – Essays on the foundations of collective phenomena.


Emanuel Info. May this synod teach us to walk together and not to divide ourselves

Walking together – Essays on the foundations of collective phenomena.

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Consulting 1.3 billion Catholics: pedagogy of synodality