Welcome to St. Edmund’s new section covering Synod 2021-2023. Pope Francis has asked the whole Catholic Church worldwide to engage in a process of discernment under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This process is called a synod. It involves everyone in the Church – clergy, religious, and lay Catholics, each participating according to the gifts and charisms of their vocation. This page will be updated when new material is available.
26 November 2021PARISH SYNOD MEETINGS
We are pleased to announce that booking for the Parish synod meetings is now open. CLICK HERE to book one of the following meetings:
Tuesday 7 December 7.30pm in the Church Hall
Thursday 9 December on Zoom at 7.30pm
Saturday 11 December 2.00pm in the Church Hall
We are short of facilitators for the Saturday afternoon session and we may have to cancel this meeting unless we get more volunteers. If you have any experience of facilitating and are available for the Saturday meeting please let us know by EMAIL.
St Edmund’s Synod: Please Complete the Survey Now
6 November 2021
St Edmund’s Synod: Intoduction
Over the last few weeks you have heard the clergy talk about the synod*. We are very pleased to launch the St Edmunds synod this weekend. Each of us is being invited to listen to each other and contribute our thoughts towards the future of The Church. We would warmly encourage you to please take part – each of us in the parish doubtless has valuable things to say. Parish consultation is based on the themes and questions prepared by the Archdiocese of Southwark and will take the form of a short survey followed by two in-person parish meetings (covid permitting), and a zoom meeting for those unable to attend an in-person meeting.
Early next week those of you who receive the newsletter via email will receive a link to a short survey that should take no longer than 10 mins to complete. We hope that by making this survey short and relatively simple a large number of you will participate in the consultation. Your survey submission will be anonymous, and the data will be submitted to Archdiocese servers which are secure. For those that do not have online access please contact the Parish Office who will be able to arrange for you to complete the survey another way. Please complete the survey by 21 November.
The survey results will be analysed and used as a basis for discussion at the Parish meetings, along with detailed open questions provided by the Archdiocese. At the Parish meetings we will break out to small groups to encourage everyone to speak and give their views.
The in-person meetings will take place in early December, dates will be in the newsletter. Please only attend one meeting so that as many Parishioners as possible can participate in the consultation process. To ensure the Parish meetings are safe from a covid perspective we will ask you to book a place at your chosen meeting. Booking details will be available nearer the time.
It is vital that we hear from a wide range of people, so please share the link with family and friends who may have drifted away from the church. Equally, if the parish meetings do not appeal, consider gathering a group of friends to discuss the questions over a coffee or a glass of wine and send us your thoughts.
The views expressed will be collated and drafted into a Parish response to the Archdiocese. We understand that after Parish submissions are made the Archdiocese may ask us to participate in a Diocesan wide listening session where we will represent the Parish views gathered from the consultation.
If you would prefer to submit your own thoughts directly to us, please email us or leave a note at the parish office. Alternatively, if you would like to submit directly to the diocese you can do so on their website.
We look forward to meeting many of you throughout the consultation period and ask for your prayers for a successful synod.
Liz Jones & Francesca Fear, St Edmunds Parish Delegates
Fr Ashley introduced us to the Synod in the Newsletter on 17 October 2021…
ON THE ROAD WITH POPE FRANCIS
The picture in our Newsletter is of Pope Francis celebrating Mass in St Peter’s Basilica last Sunday. On one level it seemed a straightforward Sunday Mass, with green vestments and the same readings as we and every other Catholic parish had – and indeed the Holy Father preached on these readings (https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/homilies/2021/documents/20211010-omelia-sinodo-vescovi.html). But it was a very special occasion as it opened a Synod of Bishops – not, this time, a meeting lasting a few days or a couple of weeks, but an ongoing process for the next two years. Moreover this synod is not simply for bishops but for the whole Church.
The word ‘synod’ simply means ‘on a road together’ and this helps us understand what it is all about. So the pope said: ‘Celebrating a Synod means walking on the same road, walking together. Let us look at Jesus. First, he encounters the rich man on the road; he then listens to his questions, and finally he helps him discern what he must do to inherit eternal life. Encounter, listen and discern’. Over the next two years the whole Church is invited to do this – encountering Our Lord, listening to him and discerning the future.
I don’t need here to offer a commentary on the Holy Father’s homily; it’s much better to read or listen to him direct and easy to do so. He speaks plainly and doesn’t need me to explain what he’s saying. We need to see this initiative in the context of the whole teaching ministry of Pope Francis, and also the context of where the Church and the world are at the moment. It is nearly sixty years now since the beginning of one of the most important synods in the history of the Catholic Church – the Second Vatican Council – which did so much to renew the life of the Church precisely because it enabled the Church to ‘encounter, listen and discern’; I think the pope is trying to recapture that vision and help us to be inspired.
Three crises in the world provide the backdrop for this. First, the really critical crisis caused by climate change and threats to biodiversity. The moral and theological danger of this is something the pope has repeatedly warned us all about – hence his great 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’ and the Season of Creation every year which we have recently celebrated. This is not simply about governments talking to each other – the behaviour of all of us has to change. The second is the toxic effect of populist nationalism – the results of which we have seen in our supermarkets and queues at petrol stations – so much at odds with Catholic teaching. The Holy Father addressed this in his encyclical of a year ago, Fratelli Tutti, which we looked at during Lent in this parish. Building up new links of interdependence and friendship, at all levels, has to be a priority. The final crisis is also still very much with us: coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic. So many bad moral choices have been made and continue to be made, which have led to deaths; simply in the area of the availability of vaccines there is so much going wrong, as Fr Victor pointed out on this page two weeks ago. The world desperately needs a moral compass.
These three crises in the world (and there are others) are crises for the Church, but we have others of our own as well. The worst is the continuing scandal of the abuse of children and the vulnerable within the Church – France is the latest country for which a truly damning report has just appeared – and the culpable mishandling of this by bishops, Religious superiors and others. The pope has repeatedly pointed out the terrible sufferings of victims is linked to structures reflecting clericalism (and Deacon Séan has made the same point in this newsletter), which has bred a toxic sense of entitlement and a refusal to be accountable to anyone outside the clerical caste. Another crisis for the Church is worsening divisions and polarisation, much of it made worse in relation to liturgy and the actions of some enthusiasts for the pre-1970 Order of Mass. In the summer the pope addressed this danger by issuing new restrictions on the celebration of Mass according to the 1962 Missal. There are many other issues around, some of them very critical as we gradually emerge from the pandemic in terms of worship – such as the participation of laypeople in leadership within the Church, particularly women, the future of Catholic education and formation, and so on.
I wrote above that a feature of clericalism is a lack of accountability. A ‘synodal path’ addresses this problem head on. If we have proper and prayerful gatherings enabling us to ‘encounter, listen and discern’ we deliberately make ourselves accountable – to one another, and to the whole community. Dioceses are setting up structures to enable this to happen, and we will be sharing more about this shortly; and we also need to do this in parishes as well: here this will dovetail well with our plans for renewal, growth and mission. But what I would want to stress at this stage is the need to be inspired by the Holy Father’s vision. It is easy to be cynical (and clergy are good at that, sadly), especially if the pandemic has left us a little drained and weary; but such feelings could be disastrous for this process which the Church is embarking on. In the closing words of his homily last Sunday, the pope said that he wanted the synod to be ‘a grace-filled event, a process of healing guided by the Spirit. In these days, Jesus calls us, as he did the rich man in the Gospel, to empty ourselves, to free ourselves from all that is worldly, including our inward-looking and outworn pastoral models; and to ask ourselves what it is that God wants to say to us in this time. And the direction in which he wants to lead us. Dear brothers and sisters, let us have a good journey together! May we be pilgrims in love with the Gospel and open to the surprises of the Holy Spirit. Let us not miss out on the grace-filled opportunities born of encounter, listening and discernment. In the joyful conviction that, even as we seek the Lord, he always comes with his love to meet us first’.
Deacon Sandy added further thoughts in the following week’s Newsletter…
THE CHURCH AS WE WANT IT IN THE THIRD MILLENIUM
Last week Father Ashley wrote about the opening Mass of the Synod celebrated by Pope Francis, and explained what ‘Synod’ means: walking on the same road – walking together. The Synod of Bishops will be held in 2023 in Rome and time is short. Today I want to invite you to participate in thinking and in voicing your views, concerns, expectations and your vision of where the Church ought to be. In this initial phase you have until 7 January 2022 to think about it. The Church is not the building in which we gather; rather, the living Church is actually all of us who belong to Christ – that is the real Church. This Synod calls for a worldwide process of listening and discernment in parishes. It is worldwide because it is an initiative from Pope Francis aimed at listening to the whole world. What might work for us locally might not be suitable for other parts of the world, so we need to have a worldwide view of what the Church should be now and in the future.
Jesus defined the term ‘neighbour’ very well in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 29-37) and also in telling us ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ This is our opportunity to participate in what the Church means to us, as members of the Church and as a community, the Body of Christ. It is a renewal process and it is important for us to keep in mind how we can maintain solidarity with the rest of the world. The preparatory documents for this process published by the diocese say in clarification, ‘The consultation of the people of God does not imply the assumption within the Church of the dynamics of democracy based on the principle of majority, it is a shared passion for a common mission.’ When we say ‘common mission and shared passion’ we need to think of the rest of the world and not just the local parish. This synod is about rejuvenating the whole world with the message of Christ and walking together in his footsteps. That does not preclude us from thinking about our particular parish; however, it is greatly beneficial to journey together with others – how we are connected with other dioceses, the rest of the world and Rome. This is an invitation to have your voice heard. We have been blessed with a diverse community, and regularly until the pandemic we celebrated this unity in diversity in International Days in our parish.
This is a call to each and every one of you to participate and help to define through prayer the purpose of the Church, which can be done through prayer. Archbishop John has written this in his letter about synod: ‘Please do all you can to support this process as we ‘journey together’, respectfully hearing and exploring how the perennial teaching of the Church can be applied and lived today’. Pope Francis also reminds us: ‘’What is under discussion at synodal gatherings are not the traditional truths of Christian doctrine. The Synod is concerned mainly with how teaching can be lived and applied in the changing contexts of our time.’ (Let us Dream: the Path to a Better Future, Simon and Schuster, London: Simon and Schuster 2020, pp. 84-85)
I offer this short passage from the Synod Vademecum by way of a prayer and conclusion:
May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles and Mother of the Church, intercede for us as we journey together on the path that God sets before us. As in the Upper Room at Pentecost, may her maternal care and intercession accompany us as we build up our communion with one another and carry out our mission in the world. With her, we say together as the People of God: ‘Let it be with me according to your word’ (Lk 1:38). Amen.
Please keep the Synodal process in your prayers.
If you would like to know more or start preparing for the St Edmunds’ synod we would suggest having a look at the following documents;
- Questions for Use in Parish Listening, Sharing and Reflection from the Archdiocese of Southwark: CLICK HERE.
- The official Preparatory Document – particularly the section “Ten Thematic Nuclei to be Explored: CLICK HERE.
“… We recall that the purpose of the Synod, and therefore of this consultation, is not to produce documents, but “to plant dreams, draw forth prophecies and visions, allow hope to flourish, inspire trust, bind up wounds, weave together relationships, awaken a dawn of hope, learn from one another and create a bright resourcefulness that will enlighten minds, warm hearts, give strength to our hands …”
Pope Francis, Address at the Opening of the Synod of Bishops on Young People (3 October 2018)
CONTACT THE ST EDMUND’S SYNOD TEAM: BECKENHAMSYNOD@RCAOS.ORG.UK