Summary of Synod proceedings in the dioceses

Diocese of Lomza

Diocesan synthesis

XVI General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops
Toward a synodal church: communion, participation and mission
Diocese of Lomza
Synodal synthesis

1. the course of the Synod in the Diocese of Lomza

The opening ceremony of the Synod in the Diocese of Lomza took place on Sunday, November 22, 2021. Presided over by the Bishop of Lomza, Janusz Stepnowski. At the same time, the synodal process in the deaneries was opened on the same day. The ceremony was presided over by the dean priests.
The delay from the Church-wide date was due to a desire to better prepare synodal animators in parishes for practical action. Hence, from the beginning of October to mid-November 2021, formation meetings of animators were conducted in all the deaneries of the Diocese of Lomza. The next stage was a meeting of the Diocesan Pastoral Council and the Council of Catholic Movements and Associations of the Diocese of Lomza. The topics of the meetings were entirely devoted to the synodal process. Members of both committees also considered how to more effectively carry out synodal activities in parish communities.
The Diocesan Synodal Team has adopted a plan for conducting the Synod, and the Synod Secretariat has also released a synodal questionnaire prepared together with the Diocese of Warsaw-Praga. In addition, a special e-mail address has been made available for those on the periphery of the Church.
Synodal meetings were held from December 1, 2021 to April 15, 2022. About 150 synodal teams were consulted, including three youth-specific teams. The number of participants in the meetings is estimated at about 1,200 people. The syntheses sent to the secretariat and the results of the surveys were used to create a working draft of the diocesan synthesis. After further consultations, a draft synthesis was drawn up and approved at a plenary meeting in Lomza. It was held in the diocesan capital on the Eve of the Feast of Divine Mercy, Saturday, April 23, 2022.
This synthesis has been prepared according to the indications of the Synod’s Vademecum on Synodality and is contained in three sections:
– consultation process
– meeting topics concluded with the formulation of conclusions
– first fruits of the Synod

2. consultation process

(a) The most significant points of the synodal process

It should be said that the synodal process in the diocese is something relatively new. The Lomza local church has experienced only one diocesan synod in its nearly 100-year history (1995-2005). Significantly, it was canonical rather than pastoral in nature. Thus, for most clergy and laity, the current synodal process has become something new and promising. In the closing statements, the enthusiasm and discovery of the synodality method of cooperation in the Church was evident.

(b) Promising spaces for consultation

The first chance turned out to be the meeting itself. Although the meetings were of a different nature and there were some tensions, the opportunity to meet and voice their thoughts was appreciated. They stressed that many of the problems stem from a lack of proper communication. Many participants in the synodal process in the Diocese of Lomza emphasized that for the first time they had the opportunity to serve in building shared responsibility for the parish and the local Church.

(b) Problems under consultation

Pandemic problems have caused a decline in interest in the Synod. Synodal work was also not served by the diocesan bishop’s indications of pandemic restrictions, among them a ban on small group meetings. Attempts were made to move the work to the Internet. However, not everyone felt comfortable in the online space. It should be added that a large group of parishes did not undertake synodal work at all. At the same time, it was noted that much to be desired was communication within the parish. Often pastors did not provide the laity with the information they needed in a timely manner.

2. meeting topics concluded with the formulation of conclusions

a) Understanding the sacramental essence of the Church

The Church is the place where the sacraments are administered. The faithful, in order to make good use of them, should understand their nature. A special place is given to the Eucharist, which is the source and summit of Christian life, and the sacrament of penance and reconciliation. Both sacraments have a pedagogical character. Christ himself teaches sacrificial love and forgiveness. The task of priests should be, according to the synodal teams, to explain the various parts of the Mass as often as possible: signs, gestures and attitudes. It is also the desire of the faithful that at least a brief commentary on the readings (homily) be present during weekday liturgies as part of the liturgy of the word. In addition, there is a call for greater accessibility to the sacrament of penance, which should be celebrated without rushing with individual instruction.
Of particular importance during the Eucharist is preaching (homily). In order for preached homilies to bear proper fruit, they should be preached in language that can be understood. It would be necessary to explain basic concepts such as love, sin, sacrifice, fasting more often, and to preach the word of God in a historical and contemporary context, as well as taking into account existential and social factors.

(b) Complicated relations between clergy and lay faithful

Members of the synodal teams have observed with concern the passivity of the laity in their parish communities, i.e. the poor implementation of the duties flowing from the sacraments of baptism and confirmation. In order for lay people not involved in parish life to feel at home in the parish, it is necessary to return to the Council’s concept of the parish as a community of communities. Therefore, it seems right to restore the actual functioning, or create from scratch, the interfaces of communication. This includes, for example, the parish councils: pastoral and economic. It is known that the decisive vote always belongs to the pastor, nevertheless the advisory bodies or formation communities, should serve the lay faithful for proper growth in the Church.
It should be added that dialogue between clergy and laity is hampered in many places. Thus, the problem of forming new communities arises. According to lay members of synod groups, this may have to do with specific old schemes, clericalism and ossification of structures.

(c) The burning problem of youth

The Church, in order not to lose the younger generation, should listen to the voice of the youth. In order to be able to shape this generation, it is necessary to first hear them, find out what problems they have, what they live by; especially since they have no religious formation in their families today. A special task here, according to synod groups, rests with parents, priests and catechists. It seems that an attitude of listening, authenticity and respect are essential for establishing relationships with the younger generation.

(d) Suffering community members

The Church should take care of its weakest members first and foremost. In the Church we have many such groups, such as the divorced or at least members of the broader LGBT group, who have not left the Church community. They should be given special care through various initiatives: specialized pastoral care, openness to their concerns on the part of priests and laymen, discerning their problems and offering assistance. However, the essence of the Church’s teachings should be shown as part of such activities.

(e) Concern for unity within the community

One of the tasks of the Church is to care for unity. It should be manifested both within the universal Church and at the level of the local Church: diocese or parish. At the local level, according to Synod members, a threat to unity involving the formation of two factions is increasingly being observed. The first, the so-called. liberal, contesting some of the doctrinal truths. The other, which is stricter, does not recognize Holy Communion, for example. on hand or opts to celebrate only Mass. In the Tridentine rite. If this dispute is not transformed into a path of growth toward diversity in the Church, painful injuries and splits can occur.

(f) Community church more than official church

Members of the synodal teams recognized the need to emphasize that the Church is to become more communal, rather than moving toward an expanded office. It’s about a space where pastors are accessible to people, create places that foster relationship building and encourage dialogue. It should be stated that a large part of the faithful see the parish as a “service point.” However, young people in particular are looking for spiritual authorities, guides, good confessors or simply friends and shepherds. It is worth emphasizing the aforementioned issues during seminary formation. The synodal teams also wanted to emphasize the importance of passion and authenticity in priestly ministry.

(g) The material aspect of the Church community

An essential element in the operation of the Church, and one that is both sensitive and emotionally charged, is finance. In many countries the matter is more transparent, for example, the faithful pay a tax. In Poland, the Church subsists on the offerings of the faithful. Members of the synodal groups believe that the Polish model is more favorable because of the educational dimension. This is because it teaches to love, to share what God gives, or to see material goods as means to salvation. However, for the model to function properly and not raise tensions, maximum transparency is needed. Detailed reports presented to the general faithful are postulated. This can be done, for example, through the parish economic council. The elected members of such a body should have an advisory voice in the context of the investments undertaken.

3 First Fruits of the Synod

The synod meetings seem to have allowed many people to speak out on parish issues for the first time. Perhaps that is why some voices are critical, although they express concern for the Church. Thanks to the Synod, an attempt has been made in parishes to find ways to reach out to the young. Synodal meetings led to the formation of communities of people concerned about the fate of the Church
and parishes. In some parishes, it was decided to establish groups of the new evangelization: church movements and associations. Some stressed that thanks to the Synod, aid to refugees from Ukraine has taken off. In addition, some of the decanal syntheses ended with expressions of gratitude for the synodal path and the belief that it can change the style of parishes and dioceses.

Lomza, June 30, 2022.
N. 630/2022

Rev. dr Jacek CZAPLICKI


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