From the Pastoral Congress to synodality today

In the years since Vatican II, the Catholic community in England and Wales has experimented with processes and structures which can be seen in retrospect as synodal. Pat Jones reflects on the insights gained and their impact on the Church's synodal path today.

On 6 May 1980, at the joyful Eucharist which ended the five days of the National Pastoral Congress, Cardinal Hume declared in his homily that the presence of the Holy Spirit ‘has been sensed by us all; and in a quite remarkable way’.1 We would not, at that time, have been familiar with the concepts of discernment and synodality which now hold out such ecclesial hope, but it is striking to notice that Hume’s words were a properly authoritative discernment of the character of the event. They were an affirmation that the Congress experience was deeply synodal.

The International Theological Commission (ITC) describes synodality as ‘a sign of something new that has been maturing in the ecclesial consciousness starting from the Magisterium of Vatican II and from the lived experience of local Churches and the universal Church since the last Council until today’.2 Both parts of this description resonate today. There is a sense of ‘something new’ in the Pope’s invitation to us all to become a more synodal Church, and in the urgency of our desire to see this happen. When we look back over the decades since Vatican II, we can also see that we have been learning its meaning through processes and events at parish, diocesan and national level, perhaps even ‘maturing’ in our understanding.

Login for more...