First in a series of posts to prepare readers for the 2018 Synod, which will be held in Vatican City in October 2018.
Catholic singles will want to keep abreast of the preparation for the 2018 Synod, which is specifically aimed towards understanding the challenges faced by young people in the Church today.
Pope Francis dedicated the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to the theme of “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment.”
To understand the importance of the 2018 Synod, we need to start off with some basics. First off you may be wondering what exactly a synod is. Here is information I gathered from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website.
What is a Synod
- The Synod of Bishops was established by Pope Paul VI in 1965 to continue the spirit of collegiality and communion that was present at the Second Vatican Council.
- The Synod is an institution of the Catholic Church consisting of an assembly of bishops from around the world.
- The Synod of bishops provides counsel on important questions facing the Catholic Church.
- The Synod preserves Catholic Church teaching and strengthens the Church’s internal discipline.
- The Synod of Bishops meets at the request of the Pope.
- The current Holy Father, Pope Francis, is the President of the Synod.
- The Synod has a General Secretary, currently Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri.
Types of Synods
General Assembly or Session: Meeting topics that pertain to the entire Church.
Ordinary: “For the good of the universal Church” and seems to require the “learning, prudence, and counsel” of all the world’s bishops.
Extraordinary: A General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is called “Extraordinary” when it is convened to deal with matters “which require a speedy solution” and which demand “immediate attention for the good of the entire Church.”
Special Assembly or Session: Meeting on topics that pertain to a limited geographical area, such as those concerning the Middle East.
Purpose of 2018 Synod
According to the Synod preparatory document, the Synod will “examine herself on how she can lead young people to recognize and accept the call to the fullness of life and love, and to ask young people to help her in identifying the most effective way to announce the Good News today.”
Vatican Website and Survey
In preparation for the 2018 Synod the Vatican wants to gather input directly from Catholic singles such as yourself. The Vatican has launched a website and survey for youth and young adults.
The survey is aimed for those aged 16 to 29. Responses will be reported directly and confidentially to the Vatican Synod Office. The anonymous survey is offered in six languages: German, Spanish, English, French, Italian, and Portuguese.
I have taken the survey and it took me approximately 20 minutes to complete. I generally found the questions to be easy to answer, though several questions were somewhat confusing.
The questions centered around topics including self-image, view of others, personal characteristics, the future, confidence in certain institutions, personal growth, important people, work, faith, and social media.
I would encourage you to take the survey to assist the Vatican in gathering information about Catholic singles. This is your opportunity to tell the Church who you are and what is important to you. Your answers may well affect the outcome of the 2018 Synod.
It will be interesting to learn the results of the survey. When those results are released I will update readers.
The Theme of the 2018 Synod
According to Pope Francis, “the theme, an expression of the pastoral care of the Church for the young, is consistent with the results of the recent Synod assemblies on the family and with the content of the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. Its aim is to accompany the young on their existential journey to maturity so that, through a process of discernment, they discover their plan for life and realize it with joy, opening up to the encounter with God and with human beings, and actively participating in the edification of the Church and of society.”
This statement regarding the theme for the upcoming Synod is packed full of information. Let’s try to break it down to understand the background that the Pope refers to.
Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family (2014) -October 5-19, 2014
The purpose of the 2014 Synod was to define the situation of the family and to collect the bishops’ experiences and proposals in proclaiming and living the Gospel of the family.
The Extraordinary General Assembly was held to thoroughly examine and analyze the information, testimonies, and recommendations to respond to new challenges facing the family.
XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops – October 4-25, 2015.
The 2015 Synod marked the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops.
Based on the preparatory findings of the 2014 Synod, the 2015 Synod explored the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world.
At the Ordinary General Assembly, the bishops formulated pastoral guidelines to respond to those challenges.
Amoris Laetitia – The Joy of Love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church
Following the discussions and outcomes of the 2014 and 2015 Synods of Bishops Pope Francis communicated his reflection on the topics of marriage and the family in his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia.
The exhortation summarizes the Holy Father’s teaching and encouragement regarding pastoral ministry to families. It also explained what marriages and families are called to at this time in history.
Amoris Laetitia placed a particular emphasis on the family’s vocation and mission of love.
The exhortation addressed the family’s strengths, gifts, and contemporary challenges faced by families throughout the world.
The exhortation encouraged married couples, families, and pastoral ministers to accompany and care for families; and included an extended reflection on love and the reality of marriage and family life.
Pope Francis urged a careful reading of the document with the hope that, “in reading this text, all will feel called to love and cherish family life.”
More to Come
In this post I have laid the basic foundation for the upcoming 2018 Synod. However, there is much that has been written on the 2014 and 2015 Synods, as well as Amoris Laetitia. Some of these writings reveal disagreements, controversy, and misunderstandings about the Synods and the exhortation.
In my next post I will discuss these concerns in more detail to help readers understand the current issues faced by the Church in the hopes of understanding what the 2018 Synod hopes to accomplish.