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‘Synodality is a call from God for the Church today,’ says synod undersecretary

Synod of Bishops on Synodality opens Oct. 4

The approaching world Synod of Bishops on Synodality aims to be a lesson on the “exchange of gifts,” said Sister Nathalie Becquart, undersecretary of the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops office and one of the highest ranking women in the Vatican.

Asked about her expectations of the synod Pope Francis will open Oct. 4, Sister Nathalie said “that we listen to the Holy Spirit, we discern together, and we learn more and more as a Church, really to be a Church of brothers and sisters in Christ,” all through the reception of the Second Vatican Council.

In 2021, Pope Francis named the 54-year-old French sister of the Congregation of Xavières the first female undersecretary in the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops office. Since then, she has taken a multitude of flights across the globe to listen to synod participants.

“My profound desire is that we answer the call of God, and we discern the concrete way to become a more and more synodal Church, because that’s the call of God for the Church today: to be more a missionary Church and to continue to transmit the faith. Today we need to have this synodal style,” Sister Nathalie stressed.

She pointed especially to young people who became important protagonists of the synodal path, the two-year process leading up to the synod’s general meeting, which will be held in two parts, in October 2023 and October 2024.

“My expectation is that we continue personally and together (on) a path of conversion and a path of really listening to each other, to listen to the Holy Spirit also, in a very prayerful way,” she said.

For her, the most important word of this synod is “together.” In a world so polarized with violence and division, she said, “it’s really about that, about togetherness.”

“If you look at the members, you have a diversity of members. That was already the experience in the continental phase. Especially in Europe, you have very, very different visions between Western Europe and the Church in Eastern Europe. But they said (in the first phases of the synod) it was the first time they could really listen to each other, understand more (of) why the others have another view,” she said.

According to the Vatican, the Sept. 30 ecumenical prayer vigil prior to the synod opening will be a “celebration of gratitude centered on four gifts”: gratitude for the gift of unity and for the synodal journey, for the gift of the other, for the gift of peace and for the gift of creation.

Thousands of young adults ages 18 to 35 from various countries also will take part in a program of workshops and meetings around Rome Sept. 29-Oct. 1 as part of a synodal “Together” program, the Vatican announced.

Workshop themes include hearing refugees share their experiences, learning from other denominations and faiths, visiting the work of the city missions to the marginalized, recognizing Christ in the diversity of Catholic traditions, ecumenical panel discussions and caring for creation.

The St. Louis Review will have coverage of the Synod of Bishops on Synodality in future editions and at www.stlouisreview.com.

For the most recent story about preparations for the synod, visit stlreview.com/46nhPPa

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