Synod document on continents: voices of the weak and excluded – Vatican News

Following the launch of the Synod process by Pope Francis in 2021, the Continental Phase Document was published on 27 October, which will act as a working basis and “framework of reference” for the second stage of the Synod process. The core topics of the document include: the role of women, the inclusion of sexual minorities, the abuse scandal, the challenge of racism, the tragedies of war and violence, and the protection of vulnerable lives.

(Vatican News Network)The document for the Continental Period of the Synod was published on 27 October. The document, which is about 45 pages long, includes the poor, families, divorced and remarried people, single parents, LGBTQ people, and women who feel “excepted”. In addition, the voices of victims of abuse, human trafficking and racism, as well as priests, lay priests, lay people, Christians, people far from the Church, are heard. Some want innovation in the priesthood and the role of women, while others “feel uncomfortable with the development of the Vatican II liturgy”. Some live in tormented countries, some survive daily violence and conflict, and some struggle to resist witchcraft and tribalism. In short, this document contains all of humanity, its traumas and fears, its imperfections and desires.

This continental period document will be the basis for the work of the second stage of the Synod process. The Synod process was launched by Pope Francis in October 2021, starting with a consultation with the People of God. In this first period, faithful and non-believers in every diocese in the world take part in a process of “listening and discernment”. And the results of different types of meetings, conversations, and new initiatives, online and offline, are collected in local church reports and submitted to the church conference secretariat. Now it’s all contained in one document, the Continental Period Document.

The conference secretariat explained that the continental period document, written in English and Italian, “is intended to allow the local churches to speak to each other and to the universal church”. This document is not a summary, nor a doctrinal document, nor a mere record of local experiences, nor is it “a sociological analysis or a road map with goals.” This “working document seeks to give a voice to the People of God to express their opinions, questions and different views”. Experts met in Frascati, Rome, Italy in late September and early October to draft the document. Given that the third and final stage of the bishops’ process, the ecumenical phase, will be held in Rome in October 2023 and will be held again in 2024, as recently announced by the Pope, experts say it is “frame of reference” for local churches and local bishops’ conferences.

In detail, the document shows “a series of tensions” that have emerged in the Synod process: tension is not something to fear, but should be expressed, “use it well as a source of strength and don’t let him become the force of destruction”. The first priority is to listen, to be open to being accepted, and the first to be accepted is a desire to fully integrate. In fact, one of the key concepts of this document is that “no one is left out”.

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