For a Singaporean professor, the real heroes of the Synodal process are the local teams that traveled to remote areas to hear the “voices from the peripheries” and bring them to the global Church.
Singaporean professor and layperson Christina Kheng expressed her admiration for the creativity and efforts of the Synodal teams, which have gathered quotes and insights from different groups of people around the world.
“There were people who did not travel physically but had to travel a lot emotionally and socially to reach out to their friends or relatives who have left the Church, who feel disenfranchised by the Church, to persuade them to lend their voice to be consulted in this process,” she said.
Kheng teaches Pastoral Leadership at the East Asian Pastoral Institute in Manila and will be joining the upcoming Synod of Bishops in Rome this October as one of the non-voting experts and facilitators.
“Of course, [so much] more has to be done and to be improved upon,” stated Kheng. “Many people were not consulted, but I think it’s a very good start and I hope it’s a momentum that will keep going. The Synodal journey has only just begun. Let’s keep going.”
Kheng also served in the Commission on Methodology, supporting the Synod’s General Secretariat, and participated in its Consultation Stage in Frascati, Italy, to draft the Working Document for the Continental Stage.
“What has become very important to me is that, as a Church, we are used to being ready with the answers or telling people what’s right and what’s wrong,” she said. “But in this process of learning and doing synodality, everyone is learning as we go along. And sometimes it’s trial-and-error.”
“What’s key about the sensus fidei fidelium (sense of the faithful) is that, theologically, we know what it is. We can actually talk about it and describe it. But this is the first time we are actually trying to harness it even on a worldwide basis,” she added.
Kheng revealed that they had to move the deadline for the Working Document because of many unforeseen adjustments. Despite the setbacks, she said they were always inspired to push forward.
“We are learning Synodality by doing Synodality,” she said.
Kheng will be joining more than 50 non-voting priests, religious, and lay men and women in the 16th Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops this October in Rome.
According to Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops, more names are expected to be added to this group, which will include experts and representatives from non-Catholic or Christian communities.
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