The Asian continental assembly for the Synod on Synodality is scheduled to be held at Baan Phu Waan Pastoral Training Centre, Bangkok, Thailand, February 24-26, 2023.
The Bangkok assembly will be attended by some 110 bishops, priests, religious and lay leaders from Asia as well as officials from the Synod Secretariat, Rome.
Besides the office bearers of the FABC and the chairmen and the executive secretaries of the FABC Offices, the participants in the assembly include Presidents of 17 Conferences and two Synods of the Oriental Churches, bishops from the three associate members and two delegates each from the member conferences and bishops and other Synod Council members from Asia.
The three-day continental study and deliberations are based on the Document for the Continental Stage (DCS), titled Enlarge the Space of Your Tent, which was released in October by the Synod Secretariat. The DCS was prepared on the basis of inputs received from the episcopal conferences all over the world, and other groups such as religious congregations and Vatican Dicasteries.
Task force for the continental assembly
The FABC has set up a task force for the continental assembly. All Conferences have been asked to review the responses to the three questions laid out in the DCS and submit a ten-page “report” to the FABC Secretariat by mid-January. The task force will then prepare a synthesis and a provisional draft which will form the basis for the discussion in the continental assembly.
As per the directives of the General Secretariat for the Synod, each continent is expected to submit a 20-page report before March 31, 2023. These reports from the seven continents will form the basis on which the working document or lineamenta for the October Synodal Assembly will be prepared. The lineamenta is expected to be released by June.
Assembly meetings of the Synod of Bishops on Synodality
In October Pope Francis announced that the Assembly meetings of the Synod of Bishops on Synodality will take place in two sessions: in October 2023 and October 2024.
Announcing the extension Pope Francis said: “In order to provide more time for extended discernment, I have established that this Synodal Assembly will take place in two sessions: The first on 4-29 October 2023 and the second in October 2024.” The Pope said there are already many first fruits from the ongoing Synod, but added that more time is needed in order for them to become fully mature.
Pope Francis said he hoped this decision will “favor the comprehension of synodality as a constitutive element of the Church, and help everyone to live it as a journey of brothers and sisters who bear witness to the joy of the Gospel.”
Following the Pope’s announcement, the General Secretariat of the Synod released a press communique to explain the decision.
“This decision stems from the desire that the theme of a Synodal Church, because of its breadth and importance, might be the subject of prolonged discernment not only by the members of the Synodal Assembly, but by the whole Church.”
Ongoing synodal journey
The extension, the communique said, fits in well with the ongoing synodal journey, since the Synod is “not an event but a process in which the whole People of God is called to walk together toward what the Holy Spirit helps it to discern as being the Lord's will for His Church.”
The pair of sessions spread out over a year will therefore form a “journey within the journey” with the goal of fostering a more mature reflection.
Secretary General of the Synod Cardinal Mario Grech said: “Regardless of the contents that will emerge from the reading of the summaries, the experiences heard or lived show a Church that is alive, in need of authenticity, healing and that yearns more and more to be a community that celebrates and proclaims the joy of the Gospel, learning to walk and discern together".
# Fr George Plathottam sdb,
# Executive Secretary, FABC Office of Social Communications
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