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Pope Francis greeted Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, during a meeting with the presidents and coordinators of the regional assemblies of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican Nov. 28.
Pope Francis greeted Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, during a meeting with the presidents and coordinators of the regional assemblies of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican Nov. 28.
Photo Credit: Vatican Media

Regional representatives meet pope, discuss ‘continental phase’ of synod

The meeting at the Vatican was meant to help finalize plans for the regional gatherings

VATICAN CITY — While some people want to “reform” the Catholic Church and others want “to put the brakes on the synod process,” those involved in preparing the continental phase of the synod process want “to mend” the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the pope, said Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, relator general of the synod.

As final plans are made for the continental phase leading to the Synod of Bishops 2023-24, the bishops and coordinators responsible for the regional meetings met at the Vatican Nov. 28-29.

The participants included Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Meeting Pope Francis late Nov. 28, Cardinal Hollerich said the synod process has faced “temptations” along the way.

Particularly in the media, he said, there is a temptation to politicize the Church, looking at it “with the logic of politics.”

“Some have an agenda for the reform of the Church; they know very well what needs to be done and they want to use the synod for that purpose: this is instrumentalizing the synod. This is politicizing,” he said.

“On the opposite side are — to borrow your word — the ‘indietrists’ (literally, backwardists) who do not understand that a true Catholic tradition evolves while remaining a tradition in its time,” Cardinal Hollerich told the pope. “They, too, would like to put the brakes on the synod process.”

But, he said, the 30 participants from around the world who met at the Vatican in late November “want to be able to enter into a true discernment, an apostolic, missionary discernment, so that the synodal Church can carry out its mission in the world. We want to walk together with you and, above all, with the Holy Spirit and with Jesus, in order to mend our Church.”

The meeting at the Vatican was meant to help finalize plans for the regional gatherings called to reflect on the “Document for the Continental Phase,” a document released in late October and echoing the themes that emerged from all the national syntheses of synod listening sessions and the contributions of religious orders, Catholic movements, Vatican dicasteries and nuncios from around the world.

The bishops of the United States and Canada have decided to hold 10 online sessions for their continental phase; the meetings, scheduled for 90 minutes, will take place from Dec. 14 to Jan. 21 with five sessions in English, three in Spanish and two in French. Find more information from the USCCB at www.usccb.org/synod.

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