Summary of Synod proceedings in the dioceses

Diocese of Sandomierz

Diocesan synthesis (PDF version below)

Diocese of Sandomierz

Summary of the local stage of the synod on synodality

The Global Synod of the Holy Father Francis coincided in the Diocese of Sandomierz with the final phase of the Third Diocesan Synod (2017 – 2022). Accordingly, many of the issues identified by the Pope as a topic of discussion have already been discussed, resulting in the 946 resolutions of the Diocesan Synod. Regardless, as in the Universal Church as a whole, the necessary preparations have been made for a synod on synodality. Its diocesan stage began with a solemn Eucharist presided over by Sandomierz Bishop Krzysztof Nitkiewicz on October 17, 2021. At the Cathedral Basilica. Subsequently, decanal leaders were appointed to coordinate meetings in each parish and decanate of the diocese.

The first meeting of synodal leaders was held on November 3, 2021. At the Theological Institute in Sandomierz.

Meetings were held in the various decanal groups and individual ministries of the diocese. During the meetings in the various groups, discussion took place on the following topics: Companions on the Journey, Listening, Taking the Floor, Celebrating, Shared Responsibility in a Common Mission, Dialogue in the Church, Authority and Participation, Discernment and Decision Making, Forming Synodality. The individual requests were sent to the synod secretariat. The individual conclusions are contained in the following report on the diocesan stage of the synodal groups’ work.

  1. Travel companions

The joint synodal pilgrimage proposed by the Holy Father Francis forced all believers to reflect that we are part of the community of the Church, and involvement in the life of the local church helps in understanding this. New spaces of poverty especially moral and spiritual poverty are emerging in modern society. It’s also worth noting that nowadays young people are increasingly confused. They are looking for the meaning of life and their place in the modern world. Unfortunately, sometimes in the community of the Church they are not able to find themselves, because the world offers a more pleasant and easy life, without sacrifices. This is also the reason why young people are very critical of the Church, not, however, of faith (religion) itself, as in many cases it is important to them. Many of them say that the Decalogue and values derived from religion are evaluated as guideposts in life. Criticism of the hierarchical Church is most often led by the negligence of Church persons themselves.

The modern young man is increasingly confused. On the one hand, he lives in a stabilized, free world, where there is a lot of technological development. On the other hand, he has to deal with the disturbing situation that he meets a lot of people who are lost, detached from their roots, without a world of values. Today’s technological innovations result in a lack of personal relationships, family warmth, where he could find himself and be heard. It is noteworthy that the synodal group discussions emphasized that most often the place where young people live is the virtual world, where people are anonymous and focus only on themselves. In such a world, a person, not only a young person, is lonely, deprived of a relationship with God and the other. It is a world of moral relativism, in which everyone chooses what suits them. Such entrenchment in the virtual world results in the development of a certain style of behavior in a young person: easy, fast and convenient. Escaping into the virtual world fills the void of interpersonal relationships.

This situation of young people causes the Church to face a great challenge. Seeking out such young people and accompanying these individuals in discovering their own identity and God. The most important thing is for the Church to notice the cry of such young people, which is often a silent cry. The task of the Church community is to accompany young people on the paths of life and faith. Accompaniment is the starting point. The most important predisposition of a companion should be empathy combined with the ability to listen, to show respect for the other person and to be close. It is also important to listen to ask questions and seek answers together. This attitude can help restore faith to those who have lost it or are seeking it. After experiencing the closeness of the other, one must be led to build a personal relationship with Jesus, which will lead to a lively involvement in the life of the Church community. It is also worth noting that accompaniment requires time and patience.

In accompanying people, it is necessary to avoid rivalry between different communities in the Church in favor of cooperation for the good of the whole community. The activities of these groups should not be limited to prayer alone, but also to organize themselves into various evangelization activities.

  1. Listening to

Effective communication is based primarily on the ability to listen constructively. This attitude makes it safe for the interlocutor to speak openly. Listening requires total commitment on both sides, open heart and mind. Such dialogue should also take place from a spiritual perspective, and can teach the speaker and listener a lot. A very valuable experience in any community is witnessing the life of faith. The most important thing in listening is the desire to meet the other person, which is not an evaluative encounter but is expressed in respect and is meant to lead to a relationship between people and with God. Questions are also helpful in communication, which also lead to seeking answers from each other. The answers to them cause one to expand the area of acquired information about the other person and cause one to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit. An attitude of openness causes us to have the courage to share and enrich our common consideration of God’s Word. The Church, through its pastoral ministry among children, adolescents and adults, engages in an ongoing dialogue with them. He meets with the sick and abandoned and engages in spiritual and material assistance. It should be emphasized that the Church is called to such a dialogue. However, it must be admitted that beautiful ideals are not always reflected in the daily lives of Church people. We are often accompanied by barriers to attentive listening. The reasons for this are: comparing, judging, judging, labeling, believing oneself to be infallibly right, criticizing, gossiping and rejecting. What we lack as Church people is the courage to go to the periphery in search of those most in need, especially those outside our faith, to make their voices heard. It is important to let God speak in order to carry Him later to others. As a community of the Church, we are called to do so. We need to be open to every person who wants to be heard and lean on anyone who doesn’t even share our beliefs. We must learn to accept each person as he is in his uniqueness and uniqueness. Often God speaks precisely through people who are marginalized in the community.

  1. Taking the floor

Every member of the community is concerned about its welfare. He has the right and duty to speak up, to voice his opinion, and thus to actively engage in co-creation and co-responsibility for the community. Every voice is extremely valuable if it contributes to the renewal and support of the Church, if it flows from concern for the community. The suggestions provided should later be considered in the light of Church teaching, which upholds fidelity to the teachings of Christ. Cooperation with the hierarchical Church contributes to coordinating joint pastoral initiatives that serve the good of all. Expressing one’s opinion or spiritual needs fosters communion and fraternity and revitalizes parish and diocesan life. Without lay people, the community of believers can neither exist nor evangelize effectively. This cooperation, however, does not always go well. Often churchgoers stick to the slogan “it’s always been this way” and it’s better not to change anything. The reason for this is most often fear of evaluation or judgment. Each believer is invited to speak with courage and respect to the interlocutor about their ideas or needs. Need to encourage people to have the courage to express a different point of view. Public speaking is made possible by mutual acceptance, encounter, openness, trust and the search for the common good. Speaking on behalf of the community should be done by the pastoral or parish council. The voice of the laity can be extremely helpful in matters related to the management of church property, economic or organizational work. It is also very important for the laity to talk about faith.

  1. Celebrating

The Eucharist is the center of Christian life. Gathering around the table of Jesus Christ, we form a community with Him and among ourselves. Such an encounter with Christ gives birth to and strengthens synodality. Praying together deepens the human relationship and leads to a stronger adherence to Jesus Christ. The dignified celebration of Mass and services allows the faithful to better experience them. Of great importance here is the good level of preparation of the liturgical altar service, the schola and the organist’s singing. It is worth emphasizing that lay people should be involved in the celebrations to a greater extent, who, after proper preparation, can act as lectors or psalmists. An aid to formation could be, for example, catechesis held before Mass, which would explain the various parts of the liturgy, prayers, gestures, postures, etc. Worth noting are the liturgical teams that exist in parishes, where people deepen their understanding of the liturgy through proper formation, and by their service help others to experience it fruitfully. It is also advisable to prepare individually for the Eucharist by reading the Mass readings, commentaries on them in advance. Liturgical preparation also provides an excellent opportunity to listen to the needs of children, adolescents and adults and their perspective on the Church. From the celebration should also be born the need for evangelization among the sick, lonely, suffering and lost youth. Currently, there is a shortage of pastors who fearlessly want to work with young people who are not satisfied with some slogans and trivial assurances. Lacking the right approach to youth, there is a shortage of leaders who would take the trouble to mold the younger generation. Young people are looking for pastors who understand their problems and at the same time represent a world of values that attracts them. A good vibe and merriment are not enough. Young people often need help and a concrete development plan.

  1. Shared responsibility in a common mission

Every baptized person should by his attitude, his life, bear witness to the faith. What is important here is respect for human dignity. Every Christian should give respect to another person regardless of his or her background, race, material or social status. The universal Church should bet on the development of volunteerism and organizations that offer assistance to those in need. The work in synodal groups has led to an increased awareness among lay people of their responsibility for the Church. As emphasized, there is a widespread perception that only clergy and religious are responsible for the Church. It was also emphasized that very often there is a claimant attitude among lay people, who want to instruct, demand but do not undertake to take responsibility for the welfare of the community. On the other hand, it sometimes happens that young people at a given parish are given demands and proposals that are in no way tailored to their age and interests. A common mistake of clergy people is to shoehorn young people into structures dominated by older people. The spirituality of the young is characterized by specific needs. Young people will gather much more easily in their environment, where experiencing faith is more emotional. It should be emphasized that the stagnation of some communities scares away the young and thus causes many groups to slowly die out. In such a situation, pastoralists’ openness and mutual friendliness seem crucial.

  1. Dialogue in the Church

Synodal dialogue depends on courage, both in speaking and listening. Within each parish community there are various groups and associations. Dialogue and cooperation must be established in order to follow one path together. This is going well in many parishes, but there are also places where conflicts arise. In such cases, it is important to remember to resolve such conflicts quickly and effectively, to clarify disputed issues. The big problem seems to be stubbornly sticking to one’s own reasons and imposing one’s point of view on the other side. In dialogue, there can be no compromise on human dignity, morality or the teachings of Jesus Christ. Often, as believers, we will go against the grain. Dialogue in the Church should be full of openness to the other person, allow you to learn the interlocutor’s point of view and gain a new experience. A conversation can show a contentious issue in a new light. Repeatedly, participants in synod meetings stressed, the paucity of dialogue in parishes between laity and clergy. Participants in the meetings themselves repeatedly stressed that the synodal meetings were a good form of dialogue, which should be continued. The other more traditional form of dialogue is pastoral visits, although these take place once a year and in many cases are inadequate. Another place where dialogue should be possible are parish councils. On the other hand, when it comes to young people, there can be many platforms for dialogue. The interlocutor should show an empathetic approach. The very fact that we do not condemn someone from the youth is an important part of evangelization. Even if we don’t immediately convince a young person of their faith, a good memory of contact with a believer can result in good things in the future. Understanding and empathizing with young people allows you to better connect with them and at the same time build relationships that bind for the long term. A common problem in such dialogue is the desire to rule over the other and a lack of humility.

  1. Power and participation

The synodal church is a church of power, participation and shared responsibility. In practice, this means that whoever leads the community is to draw from the example of Jesus Christ. When leaning into the ministry of authority, one must always put God first. Our goal is to be a sign of the Kingdom of God already here on earth, bearing witness, open-heartedness to others, and sacrificial service. As participants in the synod meetings emphasized, the leader of the community of believers is to be the visible center of unity, taking on the task of coordinating everyone’s journey toward a common goal. He leads the community by giving it the right direction. It accompanies in an attitude of constant searching and listening for signs related to the Word of God and life. He should animate the community and make decisions based on the Gospel. It is up to him, after listening to community members and spiritual discernment, to make a decision. In the synodal Church, the entire community, in the free and rich diversity of its members, is called to pray together, listen, analyze, dialogue, discern and counsel in making pastoral decisions that will respond to the will of God.

Young people participating in synod meetings reported that one of the common arguments among peers leaving the Church is the lack of authenticity of its members. This seems to be one of the biggest sins in our communities. Unauthentic attitudes, hidden motivations and double lives speak more powerfully than supernatural arguments, which is why it seems so important to talk about the problems that affect us. For the truth has it that it will always come out, and on the other hand, spoken with love and understanding, it does not deter, but can even convince. Hypocrisy causes many people, not only young people, to leave the Church, and often speak out against it.

There is also a need for the clergy to approach the proposals and ideas that lay people put forward, especially in matters concerning the operation of the parish, not only in economic matters, but also in pastoral matters. Participants in the synod meetings unanimously emphasize that it is advisable to hold consultations so that the faithful feel more responsible for the affairs of the Church. There is also a need for greater transparency in parish finances and for lay people to be allowed to co-determine. There is also a need for the steward of church property to inform the faithful about expenditures, which will result in greater awareness of the material needs of the church.

  1. Discernment and decision-making

Discernment involves listening carefully to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. Authentic discernment is possible where there is time for deep reflection and a spirit of mutual trust, one faith and common purpose. It is worth remembering that there can be no discernment if we remain closed to the Word of God. Another element of discernment is love as a value for building. Discernment should involve the whole person and be the work of the Holy Spirit.

In many cases, work in synodal groups has resulted in a greater awareness among the faithful of their role in the Church. Problems in various parishes and communities that prevent the decision-making process from being synodal were highlighted. Many people shared their feelings that they were not sure that the Holy Spirit was behind certain decisions. Some people get the impression that the decisions made are dictated by deals or sympathies. The faithful in many cases do not feel that they are participating in decision-making. The situation is similar among young people. They don’t like to be motivated with words; “You have to believe, because we believe too.” This does not convince them and, on the contrary, quickly discourages their spiritual search. Adults: parents, catechists, teachers, priests, often focus on theological words and concepts in the transmission of faith. What they lack is a personal experience that someone can confront with their own life. The element that can keep young people in the Church is an empathetic approach to them.

  1. Formation for synodality

Synodality, is our common way of living and caring for the Church. He teaches us to look in the same direction in which Jesus Christ looks. However, this requires personal effort and conversion. We want to walk together to authentically grow in love for God and the other, and the Holy Spirit should be the guide on this path. We want to build unity through common prayer, respect, dialogue, listening to each other, transcending prejudices, discernment and decision-making in light of God’s word. Many participants in the synod meetings stressed that the testimony of the Christian life has a much greater impact than verbal conviction about the truth of one’s faith. Without discovering the authentic motivation, many people’s mission and goals in the church seem imaginary and difficult to achieve. Without this, there will be no synodal Church.

Participants in the meetings also said that synodality is already in place in many parishes. It is expressed in greater involvement of the faithful in the setting of Mass, preparation of various parish events and taking responsibility for the material affairs of the Church. It was also stressed that meetings in synodal groups should continue.

Sandomierz, May 2022.

Rev. Dr. Wojciech Kania

Diocesan coordinator

Synod on Synodality

Diocesan synthesis (PDF version)

Diecezjalna-Synteza-Synodalna_Diecezja_Sandomierska

[Source:
https://diecezjasandomierska.pl/synod-o-synodalnosci/
]

Summaries of the synodal process in other dioceses, parishes and the perspective of participants in synodal meetings

Archidiecezja Lubelska

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Dokąd podążasz moja parafio? Refleksja po spotkaniach synodalnych

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.

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