The second stage of the synodal process, the so-called continental stage, ended on friday, March 31, said a report on Vatican News.
The “dialogue with the People of God,” however, continues, said the report, quoting the general secretariat of the synod in a statement.
The broad-based consultation consisted of “a time of listening, dialogue, and discernment among the Churches of the same geographical area,” the report added.
It said the process came after the “local stage” of diocesan and national meetings, which it described as “a new style of dialogue, engagement, and involvement of the faithful.”
Seven continental assemblies have taken place, “marking a unique process of listening and discernment on a continental level.”
The meeting looked into the key question at the center of the synodal process, that is, how the “walking together” that enables the Church to proclaim the Gospel in accord with its mission can be achieved today at all levels, from local to universal.
Local organizing committees helped prepare the continental assemblies with the onsite accompaniment and presence of heads of the Vatican’s General Secretariat of the Synod or the General Rapporteur of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.
The seven continental assemblies took place over February and March 2023, bringing together members at all levels of the Church — bishops, priests, consecrated men and women, and the laity who discussed and responded to three key synod questions in the continental stage document.
The questions regarded what topics in the document resonated most with them, and the others to identify areas of tension and priorities.
The General Secretariat of the Synod noted that participants in the various continental assemblies all found areas they could relate to in the document as well as paths forward for the Church, despite the wide-ranging ecclesial and cultural differences and diversity of perspectives.
The result of the discussions features in the Final Document that each Assembly produced and that will contribute to the work of the first session of the Synod of Bishops, which is set for October 4-29, 2023.
In a statement, the synod’s General Secretariat noted how all the assemblies have marked a time of grace for the Church, reflecting a great desire for renewal by walking together in unity with Christ.
The continental process “brought out the deep joy and love of so many faithful for their Church, the People of God, despite its shortcomings and weaknesses, as well as the importance of listening as an instrument and ongoing dynamic of ecclesial life,” said the Vatican News report.
The assemblies also confirmed the method of “spiritual conversation” as a way to foster authentic listening and community discernment to arrive at ecclesial consensus.
The Final Documents of the synod published so far are available here.