The Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Michael Czerny, recounted his experience after participating in the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on Synodality held at the Vatican from October 4-29, 2023.
What would you personally like to highlight from the experience of this Synod?
"The most important experience of the Synod may seem very simple, but it was the round tables. I would never have thought that the fact of the tables or the form of the tables could have so much impact on a deeply human, spiritual and ecclesial experience. However, they really do: the round tables reminded some of a wedding banquet, which we know is an eschatological image. I am not saying that we were already in heaven or in the Kingdom, but we were together in a way that was different from other occasions. And this arrangement said something very, very important to know, which is that each one needs the other to fulfill his vocation in the Church".
What does the current period of preparation for the next Synodal Assembly consist of?
"We have to keep relearning and we are learning the method and/or the way of Synodality. We have to take the way of Synodality to all corners of the life of the Church and see how it works, to come back to the second session with our reflections, our proposals, our fears and hopes. And these do not belong to the delegates, but to the People of God, who I hope will be involved in an even greater consultation and participation between now and next October".
What role will the local churches play?
"Between the two (synod sessions), the local churches will participate very actively. I don't know if they will participate exactly the same as in the first year or if there will be some differences. It is up to the Synod office to prepare the process and give instructions on how to do it. Maybe, we will continue to do the same as we have been doing, hopefully, more people will participate, and we will learn how to do it better. But, the main question, to which we come back again and again is: 'Can we be a better Church if we are a synodal Church?' And so far, the answer is certainly yes.
Below are some recent articles by Card. Czerny on the Synod: