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Holy See releases guide for October Synod focusing on Church's accountability, lay empowerment

The first assembly of the synod (Vatican Media)

The Holy See Press Office has unveiled the “Instrumentum Laboris,” the Working Document that will guide the discernment and reflections during the second session of the 16th Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops this October.

Spanning roughly 30 pages, the document emphasizes the need for the Church to become truly missionary and synodal, focusing on accountability and deeper lay empowerment.

Notably, it will not revisit topics discussed in last year’s first session, such as women’s ordination, priest celibacy, and LGBTQ outreach.

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, the Synod’s General Relator, highlighted the “great diversity” in how local Churches have engaged in this Synodal journey. “The Synod is already changing our way of being and living the Church regardless of the October assembly,” Hollerich remarked.

The “Instrumentum Laboris II” underscores the urgency for the Church to restore its credibility, particularly in light of sexual abuse cases and financial scandals. The document stresses that accountability and transparency must be integral to the Church’s actions at all levels.

“To be a welcoming synodal Church, accountability and transparency must be core principles,” the document states. “Structures and regular evaluation of ministerial responsibilities are necessary to foster growth and improve service.”

Transparency, the document asserts, extends beyond addressing sexual and financial abuses to include pastoral plans, evangelization methods, and the Church’s respect for human dignity.

A significant focus of the “Instrumentum Laboris” is the fuller recognition of women’s charisms, vocations, and roles within the Church. “God chose women as the first witnesses and heralds of the Resurrection. By virtue of Baptism, they enjoy full equality, receive the same gifts from the Spirit, and are called to serve Christ's mission,” the document declares.

The document also emphasizes the need for Catholics to receive “formation in listening” to engage in “conversation in the Spirit.” Reports from across Asia have shown tremendous enthusiasm for this method, marking it as a successful starting point for the Synodal journey.

Additionally, the “Instrumentum Laboris” calls for “adequately trained lay men and women” to contribute to preaching the Word of God, especially during Holy Mass. It advocates for pastoral proposals and liturgical practices that highlight the connection between Christian initiation and the Church’s synodal and missionary life.

“In this way, we avoid reducing this journey to merely a pedagogical instrument or a marker of social belonging, promoting instead the acceptance of this personal gift oriented towards mission and community building,” the document explains.

The 16th Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is set to reconvene and conclude from October 2 to 27 in Rome, continuing its mission to transform the Church’s approach to being a missionary and synodal community.


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