Catholics in Thailand getting ready for Church’s ‘synodal process’

Two teenagers wait for a chance to see Pope Francis on Nov. 21, 2019, during his four day visit to Thailand. (LiCAS.News photo)

Catholic Church leaders in Thailand are preparing for their “synodal process” as a response to the call of Pope Francis to help shape a new way of articulating the Church’s mission of evangelization.

Cardinal Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij of Bangkok announced that the archdiocese will start next month the first phase of the process that will involve consultation meetings and reflection sessions.

He said an online “pre-synodal” gathering will later be held to come up with proposals to be submitted to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand.

Cardinal Kriengsak made the announcement following the orientation meeting on Sept. 8 ahead of the forthcoming synod at the diocesan level.

The cardinal explained that the 2023 synod of bishops in the Vatican will be different from previous meetings because it will involve the whole Church through a process of “listening and discernment.”

The 2023 synod will have to go through the “diocesan,” “national,” and “continental” phases before culminating in the “universal Church phase” in Rome in October 2023.

Cardinal Kriengsak said Thailand’s Catholic bishops will have to undergo a “period of discernment” on the proposition it will receive from dioceses before coming up with a document that will be submitted to the Vatican.

The Vatican last week released a preparatory document and handbook for the 2023 “synod on synodality” to be reviewed by all Catholic dioceses over the next six months.

The 22-page preparatory document titled “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission” is accompanied by a 42-page vademecum, or handbook, for the diocesan phase.

The handbook includes prayers, a description of synodality, the objectives of the synodal process, and the main questions to which the local Catholic communities are asked to give feedback.

It underlines that dioceses should focus on “maximum inclusion and participation” among baptized Catholics in the diocesan synod process.

The preparatory document has been released for a period of “pre-synodal discernment” that will influence a second draft of the text to be published before June 2023.

According to the Vatican, the preparatory document is “a tool to facilitate the first phase of listening to and consulting the People of God in the particular Churches” for the diocesan phase of the synod. -