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Roman Synod October 2023

Much is happening. Its work document has been published. This week’s announcements tell of 450 participants of whom 363 are voting members, 54 of these women. They comprise a wide range of clergy and lay people. There is a large contingent of bishops “from the peripheries”. These take account of what life is really like for people in all the geographical, social and political variety of the globe. In appointing 21 new cardinals this week Pope Francis has overlooked many Archdioceses that traditionally expect to have a cardinal: Paris, Milan and Los Angeles among them. Francis has included in the Synod some who have been most critical of him. No voice is to be excluded. It is in courteous listening to all that the truth and future is to be teased out.

Francis shows he is serious. He does not expect the great issues that afflict church and world to be solved by this one Roman Synod. So he is calling them all back again in October 2024. Such meetings are without precedent. Vatican II was a meeting only of bishops with predominantly clerical advice and support. These Synods are not simply events in Rome where decisions are to be hammered out for us to accept. They are samples of what we are invited to do locally.

The health of our future world-wide church depends on how well the focus, power and practice passes from the ordained ministers over to you the lay church. The same will be true of St Thomas of Canterbury.

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