Skip to main content

Background information

Synod on Synodality

Communion, Participation, and Mission

On May 21, 2021, Pope Francis surprised the Church by announcing that the Synod of Bishops, postponed due to the pandemic, will be preceded by a synodal process that includes “listening to all of the baptized” in every local diocese before the bishops gather again in 2023. 

The Archdiocese of Newark joined dioceses throughout the world in celebrating a special Opening Mass on October 17 to launch “Synod 2021-2023: For a Synodal Church,” a two-year re-examination of the way the Catholic Church is listening to and walking with its parishioners.

Like other dioceses worldwide, the opening Mass was the Archdiocese’s first significant step in participating in the worldwide “synod on synodality” initiated by Pope Francis on October 10. Next, as part of its synodal journey, the Archdiocese will coordinate listening sessions for its 212 parishes, at which Catholics will be encouraged to share their opinions on what is expected of today’s Church. Sessions will be guided by universal questions for dioceses worldwide examining the perceptions of today’s Catholics.

Pope Francis invites the entire Church to reflect on a theme that is decisive for its life and mission: “It is precisely this path of synodality which God expects of the Church of the third millennium.” 

In April, the Archdiocese will gather, analyze, and synthesize information from all parish listening sessions into one report that will be submitted to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Similarly, dioceses across the U.S. and globally will submit their local findings, which will ultimately be consolidated into reports for discussion among the world’s bishops and the Vatican to help guide Pope Francis on decisions about how the Church should proceed in the future.

Click on the image to enlarge

During his homily on October 17 at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., explained that a “synod” is a global process of discussion and reflection on a topic of particular importance to the Church. He cautioned that the synodal process “is not simply a series of meetings,” but “an effort to open ourselves to a permanent conversion of heart.” 

“The synod will shine a light on the cracks of our church” and is an opportunity for a “change of a culture of our Church at all levels,” he said.

“The synod recognizes that the people of God – those who have been called out of darkness into light by virtue of their baptism — is called to walk the same road. And sometimes it means they realize they’re going the wrong way,” Cardinal Tobin said.

Learn more about the synodal process by clicking on the resources here, or by visiting the Vatican Synod website.