Synodality at Work

Synod from the Greek synodos meaning gathering or meeting. The Latin equivalent is consilium as in Second Vatican Council.

From today until Sunday October 27, Pope Francis will be meeting in Rome for the Amazon Synod, a collegial gathering of the bishops of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Venezuela and Suriname. The priority topics for this gathering are: the environment, the plight of indigenous peoples, and the pastoral care of local churches of the region.

Synodality is another word for collegiality, the governance of the church by the pope in collaboration with national bishops’ conferences. Collegiality is one of the key concepts in Vatican II’s teaching on the nature of the church and its governance. Another concept at work here is subsidiarity, that is, the principle that important decisions be made by starting at grass roots rather than from the top down. Hand in glove with subsidiarity is the conviction that beginning discernment at the grass roots means taking seriously local conditions and needs.

Pope Francis and the bishops of the Amazon region call out for our prayers in the twenty-one days before them and us. The fate of the Amazon region, a critical environmental lung of our planet and the indigenous people whose home that is, is also ultimately our fate. The pope and the bishops are a bulwark in the face of some unbridled environmental destruction that displaces a vulnerable population and disrupts a critical ecosystem.

For more information on the Amazon Synod, click here.