Archdiocese of Warsaw
Diocesan synthesis (PDF version below)
We are publishing a diocesan synthesis of consultations in parishes, communities and various communities of the Archdiocese of Warsaw conducted as part of the diocesan phase of the Synod “Toward a Synodal Church: communion, participation, mission.”
In the Archdiocese of Warsaw, the 16th Synod of the Church of God began on October 17, 2021. With a solemn celebration of the Eucharist at the Warsaw Archcathedral. It was attended by dean priests and contacts from most parishes in the diocese. Three diocesan contact persons were appointed: a clergyman and two laymen. Synodal teams have been established in each parish, and consultation work has begun. Between a few and a dozen people participated in the work of the parish teams. The bishops met with representatives of these teams during their caroling visits to the deaneries. In addition to the synodal work undertaken in the parishes, consultations were held at the diocesan level (six meetings) and at the level of church associations. Responses to synodal questions compiled by individuals were also sent to the synod secretariat.
The diocesan document was created based on the principle of subsidiarity. An account of the synodal work in the parishes was prepared by the parish priests with their contacts. The parish documents were sent to the dean priests, who, together with the decanal children’s and youth ministries, developed the decanal documents. These, in turn, were sent to the Diocesan Synod Secretariat. Diocesan contact persons and members of the Diocesan Synod Secretariat worked on the diocesan document, taking into account the results of decanal and diocesan consultations, as well as materials sent to the secretariat from various church circles and individuals. After the proposal was submitted to the Archbishop Metropolitan of Warsaw and the project was approved by Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, the diocesan document received its final form and was presented at the closing celebration of the diocesan stage of the synod at the Archcathedral of Warsaw, on June 24, 2022.
1. travel companions
In our Archdiocese, the faithful who walk together are primarily those baptized believers who have made a conscious choice to participate in the life of the local church, in parishes or in the diocese. Among them we find all states of the Church: diocesan and religious clergy, consecrated persons and nuns, members of church associations, families.
We realize that this active part of our local Church, which follows together, represents a small part of the faithful and residents of our Archdiocese. We see many groups and backgrounds that seem more distant and remain on the margins of the Church: divorced people, in remarriages, homosexuals and their relatives, people from other cultures, addicts, especially those with alcohol, people who have been hurt in the Church, the sick, the lonely and the elderly who cannot leave home, young people whom the Church does not reach with the Gospel, those who have apostasized for various reasons. Toward these people in the vast majority, the Church should show more gentleness, empathy, asking itself whether Christ would reject those who feel rejected today. In this context, the synodal work in our Archdiocese has shown how important it is to listen to each other without prejudices and ideological biases. The clear realization is that it is not a matter of changing doctrine, but that our pastoral care should be open to the challenges of the modern world and move toward personal discernment of each situation in light of the Gospel.
The synodal work of our Archdiocese has involved the community of homosexuals, who do not feel understood by the Church and are asking for pastoral care that takes into account their life situation. Also active were circles associated with the Tridentine liturgy, which drew attention to the importance of being faithful to the centuries-old tradition of the Church and to the danger of pleasing “the world.”
The synod talks showed that we need to grow in this “walking together.” How to do it? First of all, by rediscovering the relationship between the universal priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial priesthood of bishops and priests: the universal priesthood is the goal (i.e., the holiness of God’s people), and the ministerial priesthood is the tool to reach the goal. Attention was given to the need to rethink the formation of priests in seminaries. It was emphasized how important it is in this growth, in which we are to be traveling companions, to rebuild relationships with each other so that the parish is no longer anonymous. A decisive role in moving away from anonymity is played by movements and associations where members experience true synodality and where there is generally no problem with clericalism. The model of the parish as a community of communities, in which unity prevails
in diversity, seems an adequate response to the signs of the times, as long as communities work for the parish and not for themselves. The synod meetings showed how much people need community: parishioners who did not belong to any communities said they had finally found a place in the Church where they could express their opinions and feel like active members of the parish. The need for the formation of the laity was also emphasized. Formation and assistance to the family, to young married couples, was considered particularly important, since parents are the first educators of the younger generation, which in our Archdiocese is participating less and less in the life of the Church. In this context, synodal meetings at all levels have shown what a pressing challenge it is to reach the young with the Gospel: the Gospel itself is a beautiful and attractive proposal for life, but we often lack the right language to convey it to the younger generation. Youth ministry is one of the biggest challenges for our local Church.
During the synod consultations, there was a resounding conviction that inviting lay people to participate in the synod and listening to their voice could bring good results and positively affect the functioning of parishes and help the Church carry out its mission in Poland and the world.
It stressed that there is a need to learn to listen to each other, which is a necessary condition for dialogue. A person who knows how to listen is less inclined to judge and criticize other people. Conversely, talking to people outside the Church allows you to know and understand their arguments.
Attention was paid to the need to learn to listen to the Word of God. The faithful want to be supported by pastors in the process of growing in faith. They lack catechization of adults who want to develop a relationship with God, especially through reading and meditating on Scripture.
According to consultation participants, “listening” should lead to a change in the perception of “the Church as a service provider” to “the Church as a home.”
It has been noted that in the modern world, people engrossed in constant activity find it increasingly difficult to listen. Difficulties in this aspect also apply to communication within the family, especially communication between people belonging to different generations.
Most participants in the synod meetings expressed the belief that the laity is not listened to enough in the Church. They reported a lack of functioning spaces that could provide places to meet and talk, to listen to each other, to overcome fears and anxieties in conversations with priests, to learn about and discover the Church, including the parish Church, to overcome anonymity and build a parish community. The belief was also expressed that it is the openness of priests that makes the laity listen to them.
At the same time, it was stressed that there is a conspicuous lack of action to address the problems mentioned. After all, listening, nodding and doing nothing is no way to have a mature, partnership relationship between laity and clergy, participants said. Speaking out honestly and boldly is hampered by a lack of confidence and courage, and a sense of powerlessness due to the failure to implement previously stated ideas.
They stressed that clericalism is a barrier to listening and dialogue. We were brought up with a distance between the clergy and the laity, we don’t know how to talk about our needs, so we “complain in corners.” The faithful also see obstacles to communication in the lack of availability of priests, their interest in the faithful, lack of time and the ossified structure of church institutions.
It was noted that there is a practice of excluding those who think differently. It is easy to lock ourselves into a group where we are comfortable. Those who remain on the periphery of religious life are generally not listened to. We are eager to listen to those who are close to us or have views similar to ours. Those who think differently, or worse, criticize our point of view, are perceived negatively by us, and we often avoid and do not listen to them.
3. taking the floor
Among the circumstances that make it possible to speak out in the local Church, consultation participants pointed to conversations with priests (at the parish office or during a pastoral visit or even confession). In addition, they stressed in this regard the role of parish community meetings, the Parish Council, as well as the work and consultation of the ongoing Synod. However, the focus was more on what hinders speaking out than enables it. It has often been said that the problem is the attitude of priests – their lack of interest in the faithful, their ignorance, their conviction that they are right, which often discourages dialogue and activity. This has sometimes been described as an “insufficiently open relationship” between priests and the faithful. It was also stressed that priests show too little initiative to encourage the faithful to express their own opinions.
In addition, speaking up is hindered by the faithful’s fear, shame and the possibility of criticism or negativity from other people. In a world of media hype and pluralism, often unverified facts and views, people take cover with their own opinions. They are overwhelmed by an overabundance of information and an inability to make critical choices. Therefore, due to the lack of certainty, they think it is better to remain silent. One feels an overwhelming fear of criticism, misunderstanding, rejection. Only a few are breaking through with their opinions. Significantly, too, the laity do not believe that their opinions can influence the Church.
It was pointed out that there was a lack of information on how to speak up in the Church, or even something more basic: a formula within the Church for expressing opinions and comments. It was stated that the laity has virtually no access to forms of effective communication with the clergy. In this connection, there was talk of the need in the parish space for such “open meetings,” “forms of consultation,” in which people could talk about their daily problems, be heard, talk about the Church and ethical problems. This is especially true of people who do not formally want to be associated with any community.
There were also a number of voices referring to the forms of expression about the Church in the media: care and formulation of balanced opinions, expressed by those authorized to speak on behalf of the Church, were emphasized. At the same time, the need for lay people to express their opinions was recognized. They pointed to the problem of “polyphony,” “the lack of unambiguity of opinions expressed before Church representatives on the same subject.” Attention was drawn to the language used by the clergy – it was described as “hermetic” and “detached from life.” Among the positive voices, it was noted that many priests in their homilies reach out to their listeners and address important existential and contemporary topics.
Positive comments were made about the role of Catholic media, which contribute to a deeper knowledge of the truths of the faith, as well as provide up-to-date information from the life of the Church. Voices were also raised about the lack of media in Poland officially representing the Church. The need to use media in the parish, both traditional and social media, was emphasized.
The Christian community’s relationship with the media system has been called variously. As people who have spoken
on behalf of the local community, either the pastor or the leaders of each group were identified. However, it was noted that the Church is negatively perceived by the public and the media: there is no room to talk about the good things that are happening in the Church, only criticism. The opinion was also expressed that the Church has not found its way in the modern media space.
Prayer and liturgical celebrations are important for every believer express the inner need, state of mind and love of man for God. The Eucharist is seen as a source of strength, hope, “recharging the batteries” for the days ahead, it is the meaning of life. Attention was paid to the communal dimension of the liturgy, while at the same time it was said to be an opportunity to deepen knowledge by introducing commentaries on the readings, learning to sing together (the role of singing in the liturgy) and explaining the catechism parts of the Mass, basic gestures and behavior during the liturgy. A proper, dignified celebration of the liturgy allows you to better experience it. Of great importance is the level represented by the liturgical altar service, schola, organist. Active participation in the liturgy inspires volunteerism, parish activity, and self-work. The reports indicated areas where further work is still needed in the parishes concerned, so that the liturgy is prepared, beautiful and well-kept, becomes a participation of all, so that it is not celebrated in a routine, hurried manner, and so that it is not “overplayed”, both by clergy and laity. In this regard, attention was paid to the language and content of the homilies.
Reports indicate that pastors often invite the faithful – in one-on-one conversations and in parish announcements – to actively participate in the liturgy and to perform liturgical functions. Most parishes have an elaborate liturgical altar service, there are scholas, choirs, but also in many parishes a crisis in their operation was found. At the same time, it is noted that there is still too little involvement of the faithful in the liturgy. What is needed, therefore, is openness and formation: clarifying the participation and place of the laity (including women) in the liturgy, so that the laity become more involved and active in the liturgy within the framework of the law. Many of the faithful suggest catechesis to deepen the knowledge of the faithful in matters of liturgy.
The ministry of lector and acolyte (mostly men) is rooted in some of our parishes: in the Warsaw archdiocese there is a large group of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. Those doing ministry permanently. In addition, in many parishes, pastors invite women and men to actively participate in the liturgy, such as reading the readings. Our archdiocese still lacks women ministers of Holy Communion.
It is important to note the frequent demands of some of the faithful for a return to tradition. In the aspect of celebration, the need for Holy Communion was often pointed out. to the mouth and the prohibition of giving it by the hand; to allow the faithful to participate in the Tridentine Mass as that form which, in the context of frequent liturgical neglect, ensures the quality and sanctity of the celebration while sanctifying the participants. Many people have expressed opposition and pain in the face of the Holy See’s recent decisions to limit the use of the extraordinary rite in the liturgy.
5. shared responsibility in our common mission
The synodal work contributed to a growing awareness of the importance of the universal priesthood of the people of God and the shared responsibility for the mission of the Church of all the baptized. As has often been noted, it is too commonly assumed that only clergy are responsible for the Church. At the same time, one often encounters a demanding attitude of lay people who demand, want to instruct, but are not eager to take responsibility. A consumerist approach can also be observed – the Church as an institution providing religious services. With this approach, it is difficult to talk about shared responsibility for the mission.
Lay people should consider themselves truly “co-responsible” for the life and work of the Church. Both priest and layman must be aware that they have a mission. Mission embedded in everyday life, while his action can be a testimony or an anti-testimony.
It has been widely stated that the responsibility of the laity is to proclaim the Gospel with their lives and words in environments where the clergy do not have access. Great emphasis was placed on bearing witness to Christian life in workplaces, beautiful relationships in families and an attitude directed toward others. It was stressed that lay people today have a unique task to reach out to non-believers to realize the missionary dimension of the Church. This is a great, still new and undeveloped space for missionary activity by lay people. The Church must constantly develop new forms of open pastoral care, aimed also at those who feel excluded.
The need for adult catechesis has been repeatedly stressed, noting that knowledge and understanding of Church teaching helps the lay faithful fulfill the Church’s missionary mandate. It was also noted that an important form of the Church’s mission is various charitable, cultural and social initiatives through which to reach out to seekers.
The challenges of reaching young people, the difficulty of communicating the message of faith to the young, were also very often recognized. Particularly challenging are the religious lessons at school, which are being attended by fewer and fewer young people in our local Church. It seems necessary to better prepare catechists and to support religious lessons through in-depth catechesis at the parish. It has been repeatedly pointed out that it is worth supporting youth groups in which peers share their experience of God and learn responsibility for the Church.
6. dialogue in the Church and society
In the area of this issue, the vast majority of reports were about dialogue within the Church – a description of the current state, needs, challenges and ideas for improving dialogue in the Church.
Virtually every synthesis included statements about the paucity of dialogue in the parish between the laity and clergy, the distance of the clergy from the faithful, or the lack of opportunities for dialogue with the church hierarchy. It was shown that communication is often one-sided – a lot of broadcasting (pulpit, Catholic media) and little receiving, listening.
It was repeatedly stressed that new forms of contact, new solutions and ways of integration and dialogue must be developed. Such a new platform for meeting and dialogue became synodal meetings, during which people not connected with any communities in the parish very often joined in. Very many parishes are expected to continue this form of meetings.
Traditionally, pastoral visits were cited as opportunities for dialogue in the Church, although it was stated that being able to talk to a priest once a year is not enough. In addition, it was often stated that parish or economic councils, if they exist, are the place for dialogue. Meetings of various groups, pilgrimages and outings were also cited as spaces for dialogue in the parish. In addition, it was noted that some parishes have parish cafes, in connection with which the idea of creating such venues was suggested and discussed, pointing out that they would have the potential to become a place for meetings and dialogue.
They pointed out the poor cooperation between parishes and called for more cooperation between parishes. This was justified by the fact that each parish has its own characteristics and not all formations or communities exist in all of them. A strong group operating in one parish can help form people from other parishes. In addition, the information mutually shared about communities or events is an opportunity to establish relationships and dialogue.
As for dialogue in society, they spoke of the high polarization of our society and the difficulty of getting rid of prejudices and stereotypes. It was stated that the crisis of dialogue in society projects problems of dialogue in the Church.
With regard to the indications from the Vademecum, the question arose, “what does it mean to learn dialogue from public institutions?” The danger of secularization of the Church, of becoming more like the world, was pointed out. Questions were asked about how to conduct dialogue so as to preserve the Church’s identity vis-à-vis the world. Concerns were expressed that, along with submission to the world, a betrayal of Christ is creeping in.
In the synod’s discussion, the issue of ecumenism has not been addressed very often so far, but since the war in Ukraine it has become very important, since there are refugees of the Orthodox, Greek Catholic and Latin rites in the Archdiocese. So there is a need for openness, kindness and understanding. It seems that relations are good, full of love and acceptance. The problem of spiritual integration arose, and the challenge was recognized for our parishioners on how to provide spiritual care to migrants and involve them in the liturgical life of the Church. With the activation of aid, it became necessary to discern support for victims of war regardless of their spirituality and faith.
It has been repeatedly stated that the basis and beginning of ecumenism is common prayer and works of mercy, not the pursuit of unity at all costs. They also pointed to positive personal contacts with evangelicals, their open approach to the issue of community and dialogue. Many Synod participants noted that often in the communities there, the Catholic Church is portrayed “in black colors, as backward, too conservative, unsuited to modern man and the world.” The synod’s work noted that relations with other Christian churches are accomplished through services during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, as well as joint prayers and pilgrimages and, for example, the Alpha course.
However, there was no hiding the fact that ecumenical meetings do not enjoy much involvement among our faithful, and that today ecumenical meetings are reserved for priests familiar with the subject. It was noted that ecumenical dialogue requires theological knowledge and, if it is to take place in a parish, after careful preparation of the discussion team. What is needed is knowledge of doctrinal differences and the ability of Catholics to justify them. It also found insufficient explanation of ecumenical topics by priests.
The synodal teams noted that a current of prayer for Christian unity had emerged. They stressed its importance, and that it is already bearing fruit. In several parishes, a church was made available for liturgical services and a parish hall for the meeting of other faiths. As part of catechesis at school, refugee children (mostly Orthodox) are asked to talk about their customs. This is also how you create a space of respect and get to know each other. Various initiatives are emerging that lead to joint meetings and cultural events in the Christian spirit, including pilgrimages that allow contacts and friendships to be made mainly among young people. This is seen as an experience of unity despite diversity.
8 Authority and participation in the Church
Participants in the consultations stressed how important and community-building and relationship-building it is for priests to work together with the faithful in pastoral care and serve each other. Prudent decisions by the parish priest on initiatives submitted by parishioners lead to the development of parish activity and the spiritual life of parishioners, in addition to integrating and dynamizing effective activities. Then the Church is alive.
The lay faithful recognize the authority of the parish priest in the parish and the authority of the bishop in the diocese, to whom the final decisions belong. However, they stress that authority is first and foremost about service and listening to the voice of the lay faithful. They point to the need for authority figures, which, according to some of the speakers, are currently lacking in the Church. Synod participants also expect those in authority in the Church to provide clearer admonition on matters of faith and morals.
The prevailing thesis in the statements is that joint action is needed by both priests and lay faithful. However, this requires mutual commitment and mutual responsibility. The laity are eagerly involved (although not everywhere they are allowed) in the course of the liturgy (reading of the word of God, singing, commentaries on the readings), as well as in other works in the parish, such as aid (Caritas), preparation for baptism, confirmation, and in these activities they see their participation in the life of the parish/diocese. They need such commitment, and they want to share their knowledge, including professional knowledge, experience, skills and talents. However, they expect priests to be open, pastoral in their conduct of such activities, as well as personal culture in their communication with each other. The lay faithful want to be co-workers with priests and share with them the responsibility for pastoral care in the parish.
In the synod discussions, it was stressed that the pastoral and economic councils should have a greater say in the parish’s process of taking all initiatives and participate more actively in the life of the parish and the diocese.
There has been criticism of priests who are reluctant to listen to lay people and have little involvement in the problems of young people in particular, who are not always able to define their expectations and place in the Church, but want to be noticed and needed. Many times it was pointed out that there is a need to constantly work on how to communicate with young people, who should experience an encounter with the community and thus with God (also during catechesis). It also noted the need for re-evangelization, mainly the teaching of the Eucharist and other sacraments. Many times the need for adult formation has been emphasized (e.g., through periodic catechesis for adults).
Help in discovering their place in the Church and participating more actively in pastoral work is also expected from pastors by consecrated virgins and widows.
The need for the presence of lay Catholics in the public space, in state and local governments, etc., has been clearly recognized. The role of the laity includes. The proclamation of the Gospel – with the witness of life and the word – in environments where clergy do not have access or such access is severely limited. Formation for the proper participation of the lay faithful in the Church must take place first and foremost in families (the witnessing of the faith to children by parents).
Attention was also drawn to the need for greater transparency in financial matters.
9. discernment and decision-making
In our Archdiocese, the question of what methods are used in decision-making has been met, for the most part, with great misunderstanding. This shows how much we have to do to make sure that the decisions we make in our local church at the parish and diocesan level are made by really discerning what the Holy Spirit is saying through the whole community. Certainly, the work of the ongoing Synod has resulted in a greater awareness among the faithful of their role in the life of the Church. Various difficulties in our parishes and communities were highlighted that prevent the decision-making process from being truly synodal: for many, there is no assurance that the Holy Spirit is behind specific decisions; some have the impression that personal alignments and sympathies are decisive; the faithful, in most of the statements, do not feel co-responsible for the life of the parish because they do not participate in decision-making.
Lay faithful participating in the synodal work, as well as priests, stressed that in some parishes of our Archdiocese the methods used in decision-making are more monarchical than synodal. This course of action does not help to listen to God’s people.
In order to grow in common spiritual discernment, it is necessary, first of all, to revitalize already existing synodal structures in the Church, such as the pastoral council and the economic council, which often exist only “on paper” and have no concrete contribution to the life of the parish or diocese. They should be more efficient, look for new ways to listen to everyone’s voice. Emphasis was placed on ensuring that pastoral and economic councils include people who are active in the life of the parish community, including those from the “periphery” who can bring something new to parish ministry with their critical voice. The need to include a “female perspective” was pointed out, emphasizing that the voice of women on parish councils is important. It is also important that young people enter the councils. In addition, the need to promote financial transparency was expressed. It was stated that the pastor should reach out to lay professionals in economic and management fields and include them in the economic council.
From the synodal discussions of our local church, it was clear that there is no doubt that the final decision belongs to the bishop or pastor. But this decision must be the result of a synodal process and spiritual discernment of the entire community. It is not about introducing secular democracy into the Church, where the majority is right (many of the faithful fear that this could be an attempt to Protestantize the Church), but about an effective process of listening and discernment together. In this process, it is necessary to listen to the Word of God together and pray to the Holy Spirit so that discernment takes place within a true community of believers. This is undoubtedly a challenge for our Archdiocese for the next few years.
10. formation for synodality
Participants in the synodal consultations mostly assessed “synodality as an opportunity for the Church.” According to participants, the experience of the living Church is based on meeting people who live the faith and are authentic witnesses. Priests who are open to people are also a sign of a synodal Church.
It also resounded with joy that a new space for the laity is provided by the synodal process that has begun. For many, the opportunity to speak out and express their concern for the Church, as well as to realize their limitations, proved extremely valuable. It was also noted that it takes time and the development of methods to learn proper synodality. It was pointed out that a sense of security should be built in the Church along the lines of healthy family relationships. Places of formation for synodality are sincere family conversations, meetings with friends, social media, spiritual direction and the sacrament of penance and reconciliation.
The need for formation through liturgy was also emphasized. Attention was paid to the way priests celebrate Mass to direct the sacred. Some stressed the importance of community Masses, others for healing, others for the homeland or in the Tridentine rite. The need to organize adult formation was pointed out, as well as the lack of leaders in the parish to take on the task of leading the young and involving people around the various works at the parish.
In some parishes, it was noted that the synodal style is already in place. There, synodality is expressed in the involvement of the faithful in the setting of Mass, the preparation of liturgical events, such as the Stations of the Cross, the Rosary, prayer meetings, the cultivation of parish customs based on Polish folk traditions, in choirs operating at parishes, the use of parishioners’ intellectual and artistic skills, and in cooperation with local institutions such as the school and the Fire Department. At the same time, it was assessed that these forms are sometimes a facade, behind which the charism of synodality is not always present.
In many parishes, dialogue takes place on an ongoing basis, within existing parish communities and institutions designed for this purpose, such as the parish pastoral and economic council. However, it was assessed that these synodal structures do not always have the spirit of synodality in them. The synod provided an opportunity to meet new people wishing to become actively involved in parish life. This provided an opportunity to invite these people to participate in the parish pastoral council, which is already a very concrete result of the synodal consultations held that can bear tangible fruit in the future.
The need for a change in seminary formation was reported, according to which seminarians would be taught cooperation and shared responsibility for the Church. It is suggested that seminarians should be better prepared to work with people and realize that the priesthood has a servant role. The seminary should also teach candidates for the priesthood to be more open and able to work with a group.
Attention was paid to parish management, in which priests should take care of the spiritual development of the parish, and not just administer and take care of its economic affairs.
Some circles look at the synod through the prism of the synodal way in the German Church. They approach the current synod with detachment, fearing modernism and the collapse of the hierarchical structure and the end of Tradition.
Concern was also expressed that the synod would be “just idle talk that will in no way translate into real action and change in the particular and global church.”
High hopes are noted among the faithful for the synod, which offers a chance to open up to others and see different ways of thinking. The talks stressed the value of continuing synodal meetings, even after the synod is formally completed in the dioceses, and called for them to be held regularly. Synodal decision-making was found to be a style that engages the faithful in the parish. It provides a method for seeking new forms of communication, dialogue and cooperation.
In the work of the various synodal groups, there was widespread hope and even conviction that the Synod would contribute to the revitalization of Christ’s Church, to the mutual rapprochement between clergy and laity, and thus to the building of a synodal church in which all the baptized are active, form a community of sisters and brothers in Christ, and carry out missionary activities.
In the course of the synodal work, many issues concerning the essence of the Church and its mission were addressed in terms of synodality. Among those most often undertaken are the following: improving relations between the clergy (often closed to cooperation) and the laity (passive, timid); creating new spaces for meeting and establishing relationships between clergy and laity (e.g. parish cafes); building the Church of the community and moving away from treating it as an institution that conducts religious services; discernment and decision-making in a synodal spirit; developing new forms of pastoral care for children and youth – formation of young leaders and youth pastoral structures – formation of youth pastoral councils; more intensive formation of adults, especially families and greater consideration of the voice of women; Formation of seminarians to be more open to the laity and able to work with the group; paying more attention to the missionary activity of the Church, to which all the baptized are called; developing pastoral ministries in foreign languages; taking care of the beauty of the liturgy, solid preparation for the sacraments and celebrating them with dignity; greater pastoral openness to people from the so-called “minority”. “periphery” (doubters, seekers who have abandoned the Church, homosexuals, those experiencing various problems in life – homeless, divorced, single, etc.).
Participants in the synodal consultations were aware that the synodal Church is built through the existing “synodal bodies” within it, which are often dormant, existing only in theory or “on paper.” Hence, they were widely convinced that the fruit of the synod should be, in the first place, the activation of pastoral councils and economic councils, and that the associations existing in parishes and in the diocese should open up to each other and join in the universal mission of the Church: the mission of sanctification, teaching, and the ministry of charity – Christian caritas.
Individuals and communities participating in the supra-parish work of the synod are encouraged to join in various forms of participation and responsibility in their own parishes, since the parish is the home of Christ’s Church, and by joining in its pastoral mission, every believer fulfills the right and duty received from Christ in baptism.
The synthesis was developed by:
Bishop Piotr Jarecki, Rev. Matteo Campagnaro, Beata Chojnacka, Piotr Szular, Rev. Tadeusz Sowa, Anna Puchalska, Rev. Przemyslaw Sliwinski
† Kazimierz Cardinal Nycz
Archbishop Metropolitan of Warsaw
Diocesan Synthesis (PDF)
Bishop Jarecki: a priest should not consider himself the only leader in the parish
Sometimes the faithful have the impression that there are two categories of people in the Church: category A – the clergy and B – the laity. The fruit of the synod should be a reminder that clergy and laity have their own rights and duties and should be active members of the Church,” Piotr Jarecki, auxiliary bishop of the Warsaw archdiocese, told PAP.
As of October 2021. The 16th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme “Toward a Synodal Church: communion, participation, mission” is underway. On June 24, during the Mass. At the Archcathedral of St. The St. John the Baptist Synod will hold a closing ceremony for the diocesan stage of the synod. After that, the continental phase will begin, followed by the universal phase in 2023.
Many communities involved
Bishop Jarecki recalled that the synodal work in the Warsaw Archdiocese proceeded on four levels. “The most important thing was the parish level. Each of the archdiocese’s 220 parishes formed a synodal team of several people with a lay contact person who worked with the pastor,” he explained. He stressed that six synodal meetings were held at the diocesan level, with the participation of both parish representatives and various Catholic circles, such as “Więź” and the Club of Catholic Intelligentsia. The hierarch reported that each meeting was attended by between 50 and 150 people. “These were very substantive meetings,” he assessed.
He added that written reports on the synodal work were also sent to the diocesan synod secretariat by church associations and communities such as Emmanuel, the Neocatechumenal Way, the Pastoral Care of Families and the community of consecrated virgins.
“The fourth level of work was the individual voices of particular people – both those active in the Church and those on the sidelines – which were sent to us by email,” – Bishop Jarecki said.
He admitted that the most difficult task was to create a coherent synthesis from all these voices. “Currently, a diocesan document is being finalized, which will be announced on June 24 at a Mass.” – he informed. He explained that the document will then be sent to the Secretariat of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, where a synthesis of the synodal work of the Catholic Church in Poland will be prepared. According to Msgr. Jarecki, the 10-page document will reflect the problems most frequently raised in the synodal debate. “The main topic was the relationship between the clergy and the laity and that there is not enough informal contact between these groups. Sometimes the faithful have the impression that there are two categories of people in the Church: category A – the clergy and category B – the laity,” he assessed.
This is just the beginning
According to the hierarch, the most important thing is “building a larger community in the Church.” “Sometimes the Church appears to people as a religious service agency, where the faithful come to the chancellery and order some sacrament, and the dimension of communion is missing. It’s about making us all feel like full, active and responsible members of the Church,” he noted.
At the same time, he stipulated that the idea is not to create new structures in the Church after the synod. “We have synodal structures in the Church – like parish councils – but they often function facade-like. One of the fruits of the synod should be their revival,” he said.
“The completion of the diocesan stage of the synod is not the end, but only the beginning. From this moment, the Church’s renewal – returning to its nature – should begin. A reminder that by virtue of baptism. we all – clergy and laity – have rights and should be active members of the Church,” he stressed.
He pointed out that in order for this to happen, more emphasis needs to be placed on educating for synodality and openness among seminarians in seminaries. “The point is that the priest should not consider himself in the parish as the only leader, who is the only one who has a voice and rightness, but that he should know how to listen.” – Bishop Jarecki said. According to the hierarch, implementing the synod’s demands is a long process to bring about a change in mentality. “It will not be accomplished without spiritual deepening. We need to understand more and more deeply what the Church is and believe in the Holy Spirit’s assistance,” he assessed.
Periphery of the Church
He stressed that another important topic discussed during the synod meetings was the issue of discerning the signs of the times. “We want to ask ourselves what God wants to tell us through various facts and situations, such as the departure of young people from the Church,” he explained. He pointed out that Christian discernment is to be a collaboration of human intelligence with the presence of the Holy Spirit, in the community of the Church.
“For me, this synod is a great call to authenticate our faith, so that it is not just customary, cultic, but a deepened relationship with God,” he stipulated.
Bishop Jarecki recalled that at the beginning of the synod, Pope Francis called for listening to the voice of people on the Church’s periphery. He acknowledged that while the synod’s work in the Warsaw archdiocese involved primarily committed Catholics, it was also possible to hear from representatives of circles remaining on the church’s periphery.
“I recall the voices of representatives of the Peter Complaint Society, who feared that the synod would turn into a German Synodal Way and lead to a change in Church doctrine,” he said.
He acknowledged that one of the diocesan synodal meetings was also attended by members of the LGBT community. “These individuals greatly appreciated being heard. The synod contacts attending the meeting indicated that they could not change the Church’s doctrine, which is clear in this regard, but they wanted to listen to them. One of the fruits of this meeting is to address the topic of organizing pastoral care for these communities.” – informed Bishop Jarecki.
According to the bishop, the synodal consultations also resulted in the LGBT community “no longer feeling marginalized.” “We can have contact with these circles, although we cannot conceal the Church’s teaching on homosexuality,” he pointed out.
The hierarch stressed that “sometimes it is worth listening to the opinion of people who are a bit on the outside, because they look at things differently.” “From the periphery you can sometimes see better than from the center,” he said.
Summaries of the synodal process in other dioceses, parishes and the perspective of participants in synodal meetings
Zainaugurowane w Watykanie, w dniach 9-10 października 2021 r., przez papieża Franciszka, XVI Zwyczajne Zgromadzenie Ogólne Synodu Biskupów „Dla Kościoła synodalnego. Komunia, uczestnictwo, misja”, stało się wydarzeniem wyjątkowym. Ojciec święty zaprosił do zabrania głosu w sprawach dotyczących Kościoła wszystkich ludzi. Każdy mógł włączyć się do dyskusji; nikt nie mógł czuć się pominięty i wykluczony.
17 października 2021 r. miała miejsce inauguracja synodu w diecezji włocławskiej. Mszy św. w bazylice katedralnej we Włocławku przewodniczył biskup diecezjalny Krzysztof Wętkowski. W homilii podkreślił, że w rozpoczynającym się synodzie chodzi o to, by usłyszeć, co mówi Duch Święty do Kościoła dzisiaj. Diecezjalnym koordynatorem synodu został ks. Andrzej Tomalak, który zaprosił do współpracy s. Oliwię Kusek SCM oraz Hannę Krzemieniewską.
O synodzie pierwszy raz usłyszałem w październiku ubiegłego roku i już wtedy, nie do końca świadomy o co w nim jeszcze chodzi, wziąłem udział w spotkaniach synodalnych organizowanych w ramach spotkań liderów grup ruchu Mężczyźni św. Józefa. Niedługo potem, zostałem poproszony o organizację takich spotkań przez ks. Proboszcza własnej parafii. Organizacja spotkań wymusiła głębsze poznanie tematu i odkrycie tego, jak bardzo rozpoczęty synod jest potrzebny Kościołowi.
W trosce o Kościół delikatny, cierpliwy i umiejący słuchać – Katolickie Stowarzyszenie Spotkania Małżeńskie
Podróż synodalna (synodal journey) trwa w Spotkaniach Małżeńskich od ponad 40 lat, tj, od założenia Stowarzyszenia. Weryfikacją dobrego kierunku tej podróży są słowa Jezusa: „Po owocach poznacie ich” (Mt 7,20). Przyglądamy się owocom naszej pracy, metodom jakie stosujemy. Modyfikujemy je w miarę potrzeby. Dziękujemy Panu Bogu za tysiące świadectw małżeństw i narzeczonych, którzy rozpoznali dialog jako drogę miłości. To ich świadectwa, szczególnie świadectwa małżeństw w kryzysie, świadectwa wielu związków nieregularnych, a także par przygotowujących się do sakramentu małżeństwa, świadectwa ich rozeznanej, odkrytej na nowo, odbudowanej więzi małżeńskiej, odbudowanej przez nich więzi z Bogiem i Kościołem, rosnąca współodpowiedzialność animatorów za całość Ruchu, a także opinie biskupów i nasze umocowanie w Papieskiej Dykasterii ds. Świeckich ,Rodziny i Życia – są zapisem „podróży synodalnej”.