The Philippine Catholic Church is set to start on Sunday, October 17, its two-year preparation for the 2023 Synod on Synodality that was initiated by Pope Francis and launched in the Vatican on Saturday.
In a statement released ahead of the official start of the process in the Philippines, the Catholic bishops’ conference announced that “small circles” will gather in parishes, schools, and basic ecclesial communities “to pray together” and discuss issues affecting the church.
The Church leaders explained that that “pre-synodal consultations” on the diocesan level will later lead to a parallel event on the national level, the continental level, and the global level.
The bishops said stressed that the synod “is not just an event” but “a journey” and “the life of the Church.”
“A synod is not just an assembly in view of administration; it is a convocation guided by the Spirit for the challenge of mission,” read the statement signed by Archbishop Romulo Valles, president of the bishops’ conference.
The prelate said that the process “will look at two landscapes not with our eyes but with the eyes of the Lord.”
“The first is ‘How is our Church within?’” read the bishops’ letter, adding that pope asks everyone to look at “How is this journeying together happening today in our local Church? What steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our ‘journeying together’?”
“The second is ‘How is the Church together with the entire human family?’ Are we still salt and light for the world? Is dialogue our way of life? How willing are we to listen with humility and respect despite differences? Have we become haughty or insensitive to the groans of suffering humanity?” read the bishops’ letter to the faithful.
Archbishop Valles said that “in looking at the Church from the inside and looking at the Church with the entire human family, we cannot ignore the signs of our times.”
Among the issues that will be discussed are the “challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic,” the sexual and financial scandals in the Church and in government, “secularism and materialism, and the double-edged power of the digital world.”
“We cannot brush off the erosion of ethical values and the idolatry of relativism. We are aware of the antipathy and disdain against traditional institutions foremost of which is our Church. The effects of ecological abuse, terror and violence are too glaring to overlook,” added the bishops’ letter.
Archbishop Valles said that in the July 2021 plenary assembly of the bishops they agreed to conclude the pre-synodal consultations on the diocesan level and submit collated reports by Feb. 11, 2022.
A three-day assembly on the national level is scheduled on March 7-9, 2022, “so that we can submit a national report to the Synod General Secretariat by April 2022.”