Summary of the Synod's progress in the dioceses

Forming for synodality

Synodality entails openness to change, formation and continuous learning.

How are individuals being formed, especially those in positions of responsibility in the Christian community, so that they are more capable of listening and dialogue, of discernment? Are we aware of the responsibility for our own ongoing formation for responsibility and mission of evangelization in the Church?

Wszystkie syntezy w jednym dokumencie PDF

SYNOD FRUITS:
FORMATION FOR SYNODALITY

The synod brought out the expectation of change in the Church – concerning the way it functions, not doctrine or structure. We need change to carry out our mission in the modern world. This need is not only related to the institution of the Church, but includes all of us – laity and clergy alike. We all have a lot of work to do here. First of all, we should be more concerned about personal conversion. We need to learn to walk together to renew the community of the Church.

However, a reluctance to change is born in some of us. Changes create anxiety. Such attitudes are clear. They are reinforced by the negative views on the so-called “negative”. german synodal road. From this perspective, formation in synodality is associated with something dangerous. It is better to maintain the status quo and preserve the existing forms, which were supposed to be the answer to the contemporary problems and crisis of the universal and local Church.

Synodality is not an easy task. “The synodal path in our parish is born in pain. At the halfway point of our synodal meetings, we can only confirm that we are sailing into completely new waters, fascinating for some, threatening for others.” However, we should move together in this direction. Because synodality makes us feel heard, encouraged to be involved and responsible. “It is also a very important signal to the faithful – we are all the ones who make up the Church, we are all responsible for it, we should all build it up and be concerned about its affairs and mission.” With our commitment, we will attract other people. “Participants in the synodal process are convinced that the enthusiasm of faith is a magnet that can effectively attract others – it helps them see the parish as an open and warm home where everyone is welcome”; “These meetings changed us, made us more sensitive to the other, to the Church. The Synod is for us. We discovered that we are a part of the Church, and thus became aware of our co-responsibility for the affairs of the Church, for its vitality, and asked ourselves – what can I do for the Church.” The synod gave a new space and brought a new quality of communication. He allowed an authentic meeting. He hinted at transcending stereotypes and prejudices. He engaged us. Some, thanks to these meetings, have gone on a transformational journey from fear to hope, from uncertainty to the courage to speak up.

For synodality in the Church to develop, we need further formation. “One can see a great desire to deepen the faith and experience it anew. Therefore, on the one hand, participants in the synodal meetings were very eager to share their testimony of faith, and on the other hand, they pointed out the need for spiritual and intellectual formation.”

The synod in Poland was a process. We ourselves learned from the beginning what it should be about. The commitment and openness that has been fostered among the lay faithful calls for continuation in the form of further work in parishes, communities and dioceses. The idea of establishing a Synodal Movement is a real opportunity for the spirit aroused during the synod not to dim. Such a movement can also become a space for finding practical solutions to implement the demands contained in this synthesis.

[Source: https://synod.org.pl/synteza-krajowa/]

1.1 FORMING FOR SYNODALITY

1.1.1 How do we form individuals, especially those in responsible roles in the Christian community, so that they are more capable of “walking together,” listening to each other, and dialoguing?

– Formation, education, Retreats, catechesis, online conferences, forms of deepening faith,

– Through conversations, we talk about our experience

– The Church does not pay much attention to the formation of lay people who take on responsible roles in socio-political life.

– Such people are formed through active participation in church liturgy, frequent reception of the sacraments, personal prayer, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, having a spiritual director, participating in religious communities and retreats. They should also be proactive in their dealings with others, take on various activities, sometimes ones that go beyond their comfort zone, and above all, be open to others and to God’s Will.

– People who hold responsible positions in the Christian community are primarily clergy. The clergy is associated with pastoral care. The shepherd grazes his sheep, the shepherd teaches his sheep, and they listen to him. Are the sheep to mold their shepherd? Rather not, rather the shepherd forms his sheep.

– You always have to start with personal formation: retreat trips, other formation trips.

The method of formation is inscribed in the charism and organization of a given community. In many communities, there are so called “community”. “small groups” on which rules of communication are established. Such forms should exist in most parishes, and can be led by lay people.

– People who hold responsible positions in communities must be mature to do so. On an ongoing basis, they should be reviewed by the community and the priest, so that tenure does not obscure the fact that it is a ministry.

– In the hierarchical structure of the Church, the functions at each level are given from the side of the higher levels, for example, those in charge of parish groups are elected by the parish priest. It would be good for the community to have an influence on the selection of such a person, in this way more trust in this person would be created, as well as the community would feel valued. The analogy is at a higher level in the Church structure. The parish community has virtually no influence on the selection of the parish priest. On the one hand, this is justified by a number of important considerations, while a unilateral decision on this issue is not always beneficial to the parish.

– Our parish lacks communities that enable the spiritual formation of the faithful. However, this is not the fault of the pastor. All attempts by the current parish priest to establish a rosary circle, for example, went unanswered by parishioners or few responded to the invitation. The passivity of the faithful is evident. Reluctance to put in the effort and become more deeply involved in the life of the parish, to deepen their own religiosity. This is explained by lack of time, fatigue after work. There is also a lack of alternatives for the young.

1.1.2 What kind of formation do we offer in discernment and governance?

– In the hierarchical church, we profess belief in the Holy Spirit’s assistances towards the most important decisions, and to Him we entrust ourselves.

– In terms of discernment, we would see a more democratic form. The community is considering what the need is, what can be done. However, when it comes to the exercise of authority in the Church, we offer a hierarchical form.

1.1.3 What tools help us read the dynamics of the cultures in which we are immersed and their impact on our style of church?

– Pope Francis cares about a living Church. What does it mean? A living Church is based not on words, but on deeds. The community must realize Christian values by acting. Not in words, but in deeds. The manifestations of such activity in Poland are the works of: Caritas, Aid to the Church in Need, various initiatives serving the poorest and excluded. A great initiative is the Cannon of the New Millennium – a living memorial to John Paul II.

– It certainly helps to discern in a changing society, and thus has an impact on the Church’s style of functioning prayer. This should be the main tool. Also talking to people and from different backgrounds. Anonymous surveys can be helpful. It will also be important to follow various cultural phenomena on the Internet or social media in general.

Catholic media, such as radio, TV, and Internet channels, are tools for reading cultural dynamics. You can find a lot of useful and valuable content there.

– We are next to people walking together, we can listen to them, we can learn together, this is a fundamental dimension provided we do not lose our own spirituality, we do not let ourselves be appropriated. The ubiquitous mass media, sell every kind of culture in every dynamic, in a million ways. But in spite of such a large number of them, the most important thing anyway is the person, his choices and his heart’s desires, his openness and ability to listen, his being next to and responding, regardless of culture and conditions.

– An important tool to help read the dynamism of a culture is to meet a living person, whose views and style of being will reflect the many changes in the culture in which we live. An important factor here will be the encounter with another person in the virtual space, which is becoming a natural habitat of existence for many people and a place for cultural transformation. There is also a need to open up to the mass media, which have a very strong influence in today’s world on the dynamically changing culture.

[Source: https://synod.org.pl/archidiecezja-bialostocka/]

1.1 An analytical look

1.1.1 Formation in synodality

The main place for formation in synodality, or “being together and wandering together,” are the formation communities. Sometimes there is a lack of clear, unambiguous spiritual direction, interpretation of the fundamentals of the faith and Church teaching. There is a lack of catechesis for all adults, explanation (again and again, not stopping at one time) of the sacraments, Gospel passages, liturgical symbols, attitudes and behavior at the Eucharist, concepts and definitions.

In order to be “more together” and evangelize effectively, we need to learn others again and again: how to listen to them to understand what they want to tell us, and how to speak to them so that they understand what we want to tell them.

What is sometimes missing is the presence of priests, so simply, with the people – for example, after the Eucharist is over for a momentary meeting, a moment of informal conversation forming a deeper community.

The basis of all actions and the main help is the Holy Spirit – the need for prayer to the Holy Spirit and devotion to Him.

It is impossible to organize a kind of “courses” for learning community, “synodality”, but creating the right climate will shape leaders who will lead others well. It would be advisable to form the clergy in this area, starting from the seminary. Nowadays, clergymen, especially older ones, fail to teach what is “going together.” Nor are they very open to learning it.

One can see a great desire to deepen faith and experience it anew. Therefore, on the one hand, participants in the synodal meetings were very eager to share their testimony of faith, and on the other hand, they pointed out the need for spiritual and intellectual formation.

[Source: https://synod.org.pl/diecezja-drohiczynska/]

1.1 What does the Church enjoy?

1.1.1 Formation for synodality

There is proper formation in the various parish communities and groups, so that everyone has the courage to speak out and strive first and foremost for what is good for the Church.

1.2 Areas in need of healing and conversion in the parish and diocese

1.2.1 Formation for synodality

For many, synodality is a misunderstood concept.

[Source: https://synod.org.pl/diecezja-elcka/]

1.1 How the Spirit invites the Church to grow in synodality so that the diocese and parishes become more synodal

1.1.1 What dreams and desires in relation to the Church have been expressed?

  • To make the Word of God and the Eucharist the center of the Church’s life, good preparation of the liturgy with appropriate transmission of the Word of God and singing, more frequent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in each parish, meetings with witnesses of the faith.
  • So that points are created to facilitate meetings with specialists psychologist.
  • So that there are decanal tournaments, festivals, sports competitions
  • That a chapel of the Everlasting be established in Gniezno
  • That better formation of parents before their children’s First Communion be conducted, not just topics on decorations, contributions and Communion outfits.
  • So that groups, communities in the parish become evangelistic, do not exist only for themselves.
  • There is a need for adult catechization (about the Eucharist, basic truths of the faith).
  • There is a need for catechists who can “ignite the youth with the spark of God,” who will be witnesses to the faith, not just religious teachers.
  • Clean up the scandals as soon as possible to rebuild the Church’s authority, as it is needed.
  • Devote more time and attention to the living building of the Church community, not just to material matters.
  • Openness to diversity, more courage to leave the schemes that do not bear fruit today in the form of conversion.
  • Strengthen prayer for the gift of new vocations.

1.1.2 Concrete proposals to grow in synodality

  • The bishop’s meetings with parishioners during the visitation, not just with selected groups.
  • Form and educate members of Parish Pastoral and Economic Councils.
  • The need for meetings of the economic department or pastoral department with parish representatives (e.g., once a year).
  • The need to organize meetings for a variety of groups and people living in difficult situations (for non-sacramental marriages, divorced people, single people, people suffering for various reasons). People who are divorced or from broken families should not have the conviction that they have been expelled from the Church, that there is no place for them.
  • It is worthwhile to take initiatives to ensure that pastoral councils from the deanery meet and share their experiences.
  • There is a need for joint meetings not only within their own parishes, but also between parishes to get to know each other better, to listen to each other and to strengthen the faith.
  • There is also a need for greater cooperation at the decanal level, e.g., meetings of priests at the decanal level to exchange experiences and develop new solutions for involving the faithful in the life of the parish and the Church, meetings of lay people with priests from the decanal level, the creation of a decanal calendar of various pastoral initiatives taking place in parishes.

1.1.3 What new horizons have already opened, or the first fruits of the synod

  • The synod meetings allowed many people to speak out on parish issues for the first time, so as they themselves pointed out, their voice is quite critical in nature, although it primarily expresses concern for the Church, presenting all that is difficult and what hurts in the Church.
  • An attempt has been made in parishes to find ways in reaching out to the young.
  • The synod meetings have formed a community of people who want to do more so as not to stand still.
  • In several parishes, initiatives have been taken to establish new groups for adults, an adult Bible circle, as well as adoration groups have been initiated.
  • Some pointed out that thanks to the synodal meetings, aid for refugees from Ukraine has taken off in the parish. Some of the syntheses ended with gratitude for the synodal path and the expressed belief that it can change the style of parish and diocesan leadership.

[Source: https://synod.org.pl/archidiecezja-gnieznienska/]

1.1.1 Formation for synodality

The sense of faith of God’s people does not allow a rigid separation between the teaching Church and the learning Church, for the sheepfold also “has a nose,” allowing it to discern the new paths the Lord is opening up for the Church (cf. Pope Francis, Synodality a Constitutive Dimension of the Church, address at the ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Synod of Bishops, October 17, 2015).

Some of the participants in the meetings, both priests, people of consecrated life and lay people, approached the idea of a “synod on synodality” with a certain dose of skepticism: some were convinced that the measures taken would not change anything in the Church, others suspected that they were participating in the process of its democratic reconstruction. Meanwhile, the surprise for many participants in the sharing groups was the mutual openness, sincerity of expression and willingness to listen to each other’s individual experiences. The attitudes were devoid of tension. confrontation or mutual criticism. The presence of God’s Spirit was sensed. Many participants stressed after the meetings that they had experienced a strengthening in their faith. At the same time, it was pointed out that the lack of dialogue, listening to each other and openness to God’s Spirit in the community makes the Church become a soulless institution, solving its own problems only “humanly.”

Some participants in the meetings questioned the adequate preparation of catechists and priests to take on the tasks of teaching religion in school and parish catechization. Given these insights, it was argued that the formation of a synodal spirit among all the baptized should be expressed in concrete actions: the formation and involvement of lay people in the evangelization-catechetical and charitable dimensions. It also called for strengthening ongoing Christian formation for both priests and laity.

[Source: https://synod.org.pl/archidiecezja-katowicka/]

1.1 Formation of synodality

Reports from synodal team meetings included demands for the formation of the faithful for synodality. The need for greater cooperation between the laity and clergy and for mutual openness was emphasized. More involvement of the laity, both men and women, in the life of the parish and diocese is needed. A concrete expression of this can be councils at the diocesan and parish levels. The clergy should reckon with the opinion of the lay faithful, and the lay faithful should have the courage to speak it out with sincerity.

Attention was paid to the need to build communities in parishes and state ministries more broadly. Communities should meet regularly, and their members should be continuously formed. In these communities, the role of animators and presbyters as spiritual guides is very important. Community leaders should be properly formed, including in the spirit of obedience to the Church. The sad thing is that presbyters are often absent or attend community meetings only occasionally. Attention was paid to the need for cooperation between different generations. Communities should cooperate with each other, not compete or act independently of each other. Building relationships in the community should take place in the real world, not the virtual world. However, attention was also drawn to the opportunities presented by modern media, especially social media, and the insufficient presence of the Church in them. Nowadays, it is necessary to create advisory (expert) teams in various areas of life. They stressed the need for greater responsibility for community members who stray away from the Church.

The fundamental role of the family as the domestic church in Christian education was emphasized. Parents should be supported in their children’s religious upbringing. Ongoing Christian formation should concern not only children and young people, but all members of the Church. Adult catechesis, preaching the kerygma and constantly returning to the baptismal source are very important.

The problem of the lack of discernment of superiors in relation to the charisms of candidates for the priesthood and young presbyters resounded in the synodal reports. It also called for the introduction of tenure in the position of pastor, following the model of religious congregations.

[Source: https://synod.org.pl/diecezja-kielecka/]

Here is an attempt to synthesize the submitted votes by subject criterion.

1.1 Formation for synodality

1.1.1 What are the strengths of pastoral care in your parish/community, in the archdiocese?

Pastoral care for the liturgy, daily adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in a growing number of parishes, the presence of a confessor in the confessional also on weekdays, or systematic meetings to prepare the faithful for the sacraments (baptism, first communion, confirmation, marriage) were pointed out as strengths of pastoral care.

Laypeople appreciate the daily availability of a pastor in the parish office, as well as the constant composition of the pastoral team over a long period of time, which gives a sense of stability and enables the creation of pastoral strategies.

Internet broadcasting of the Sunday liturgy has become a valuable aid for many of the faithful, especially those trapped at home during epidemics, to stay connected to the parish community, and should be maintained for the sake of those who are unable to attend Mass regularly due to illness or old age. However, there was also a warning voice in this regard:

The huge number of masses broadcast by the media, even those hostile to the Church, encourages people to stay at home and discourages participation in the liturgy. All broadcasting – online, television, radio – destroys the participation of the faithful in worship services and formation groups. I think this problem is often overlooked by priests and bishops.

The faithful belonging to the parishes that made the effort to build the new temple emphasize that the joint effort integrates the community very much and stimulates responsibility for the Church both spiritually and materially.

Many parishes make sure that everyone can enter the church: ramps are built for wheelchairs and baby carriages, there are places where mothers can feed or change their baby.

The strength of the archdiocese, according to many respondents, is a lively Marian cult, developing especially in the diocesan shrines in Wąwolnica and Chełm, as well as in Lublin, around the images of Our Lady of Weeping and Our Lady of Latyczów. Pilgrimage to these places and the celebrations held there undoubtedly influence the development of a living faith, as well as the integration of the diocesan community.

Another strength is the commitment to traditional piety and the cultivation of ancient customs or forms of pastoral care, which goes hand in hand with a willing acceptance of new expressions of faith, such as the increasingly widely practiced Extreme Way of the Cross and worship concerts.

1.1.2 What is a weakness of pastoral care in your parish, community, diocese?

Respondents cite the so-called “”The most important thing in the world. The lack of time in both parishioners and pastoralists, the aging of the population and the extinction of many parishes, and especially the absence in pastoral ministry of those aged 30-55.

While there is a common goal – Jesus – it is difficult to talk about solidarity, mutual support and, above all, commitment to any common mission or work. Everyone – including me – lives his life (…). This is influenced by the urban lifestyle: the fast pace, the amount of work and responsibilities, as well as the size of the parish community, confinement, individualism, otherwise also the superficiality of spiritual life – An attitude of constantly seeking new proposals for development, but without concrete fruits in the form of deeds (“eternal learner”). With the diocesan community, I don’t feel a strong connection. Communication on this line is quite poor.

You can see the disproportionate efforts for young people, who are sometimes a handful, compared to [niewielkim] support for families, single parents. The infantilization of First Communion celebrations, where what should be the setting takes center stage and shows the Church as something infantile and fair, instead of showing the beauty of the liturgy and Jesus as the center.

There is an apparent lack of catechesis for adults, introducing them to an understanding of the Bible and Church teaching, and there is a desire for such formation.

It is also noted that there is a lack of formation of lay leaders of the communities, which causes the group to fall into crisis or disintegrate when a priest associated with the group leaves the parish and his successor is unable or unwilling to commit equally to the work that has been started.

For many years I supported my students in the KSM community, where they strengthened their spiritual maturity and undertook external activities (such as volunteering, theater circle, formation trips). The fruits of this are two priestly vocations, the presence of several people in the parish choir. Unfortunately, a few years ago, under the previous pastor, the community ceased its activities in our parish.

The weak side is the average involvement of the faithful. It is also necessary to prepare young priests for zealous involvement in pastoral life, not social life.

Purely technical difficulties, such as an unheated church, a lack of a suitable room for meetings, a lack of parking or the hassle of getting to the church from remote villages, are also a nagging problem. Some parishes have not yet taken care of a properly maintained website, which today has become an essential interface for contact and information exchange.

From there, attention is also drawn to the insufficient contact between bishops and the faithful, which, for example, during a canonical visitation is limited to a formal meeting with the pastoral council and a narrow representation of parish groups, almost always under the watchful eye of the pastor.

Very little or no trust in the laity was also cited as a weakness in our pastoral ministry. The prevailing conviction is that the priest knows everything, has to deal with everything personally, and decide everything.

The perception of communities in our parish is poor. Pastors do not invite people to join them, one of the vicars is weakly involved as a guardian of the community, and the parish priest does not seem to care about any of them. There is also no forum for communities to work together in the parish, although they should be considered as potential tools for evangelization. The proclamation of the Gospel in the parish is closing within the walls of the church, where fewer and fewer people come, and the street is being given over to Jehovah’s Witnesses and Protestants.

On top of that, there is a lot of anonymity, especially in urban parishes. People don’t know each other, and in addition, not everyone goes to Mass at the parish church, choosing other places where they think there is better decor, atmosphere, preacher, organist.

[Source: https://synod.org.pl/archidiecezja-lubelska/]

1.1 Topics of meetings concluded with the formulation of conclusions

1.1.1 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.

[Source: https://synod.org.pl/diecezja-lomzynska/]

1.1 Formation in synodality

In the course of the synodal discussions, first of all, two clear positions can be seen: the fear of change and its criticism represented by those who long for the pre-Vatican II Church. It is difficult to determine how large this group is, but certainly such a voice rang out very clearly. Anxiety is amplified by negative views of the so-called “socialist”. german synodal road. In this perspective, formation in synodality is seen as a dangerous practice and maintenance of the status quo or adherence exclusively to traditional forms of religiosity is considered a remedy for the contemporary problems and crisis of the universal and local Church. The second insight is the conviction that the Church needs a change in action to carry out missionality in the modern world. The change affects everyone and should begin with the laity’s and presbyters’ own conversion – we all have a lot of work to do here, and it is not done without concern, but walking together is necessary to rebuild the Church community. While appreciating the gift of the meeting, it was pointed out at the same time that synodality is not an easy task. This is shown by the following examples: “It took us an unexpectedly long time to form and start the work of the team, and this in itself is important information and requires comment. Well, we encountered a barrier of two kinds, which is directly related to the synodality advocated by Pope Francis. In the past decades of the existence of our semi-rural parish, there has been no tradition of dialogue between the faithful and priests on issues related to the functioning of the parish, the local Church or the universal Church. Common prayers and celebrations do not create a place for interaction and exchange of opinions, and at the same time we have not developed ideas and forms of such interaction in our community.” “The synodal path in our parish is born in pain. At the halfway point of our synodal meetings, we can only confirm that we are sailing into completely new waters, fascinating for some, threatening for others.” “During the meetings we noted how many changes have already taken place in the Church. Some of them please us a lot, others we don’t understand a bit or doubt them, but we believe that since the Holy Spirit breathed into the shepherds such a thought and not another, it is right with God’s design. We are also pleased that for the first time we have such an opportunity to co-create decisions that affect the whole Church.”

[Source: https://synod.org.pl/archidiecezja-lodzka/]

1.1 Diocesan perspectives on the path of synodality

The experiences of the synodal meetings described above, or rather only summarized, allow us to hope that synodality, as walking together in an atmosphere of common prayer, mutual listening, openness to the action of the Holy Spirit and sharing the responsibility for the Church in action, will more henceforth become a way of daily functioning of the Opole Church. However, the successful realization of this dream will require taking and optimizing actions already underway, including.

  • creating spaces for dialogue and encounter between the bishop and priests, priests among themselves and priests with the lay faithful; one of these will be the bishops’ declared more frequent presence in the deaneries for meetings with priests and the lay faithful, including outside the canonical visitation;
  • to optimize the preparation of the lay faithful for ministries in the Church and to introduce in the diocese, after proper preparation, the functions of catechist, lector and acolyte;
  • return (after the pandemic) to the regular formation of Parish Pastoral Councils as a well-established synodal structure in the diocese, and further synodal orientation of its functioning in parishes;
  • Using the competencies of the members of the new Parish Economic Councils and sharing with them the responsibility for the material well-being of the parish communities;
  • optimizing the ongoing formation of priests toward a deeper experience of the Church as the People of God and a readiness to cooperate and share responsibility for the Church with the lay faithful;
  • Investing in the pastoral care of young people using, among other things. The methodology of synodal meetings based on presence, meeting, listening and acting for the benefit of others; the involvement in this pastoral care of lay faithful, who show deep concern for the spiritual condition of young people and declare their willingness to provide competent assistance;
  • courageous return after the epidemic to the regular formation of parish and supra-parish communities and groups.

Taking these steps will certainly unveil further needs and dreams that need not be feared. Indeed, the experience of the synodal meetings showed the great zeal and love for the Church of many pastors and faithful. Therefore – despite the crisis the Church is experiencing at the present time, which is rightly diagnosed in many places in the synodal reflection – there is still “with whom” and “for whom” to move towards the synodal Church through communion, participation and mission.

[Source: https://synod.org.pl/diecezja-opolska/]

Below is an aggregate compilation of the collected voices in the key of the ten synodal issues. All statements were taken from the reports, emails and other voices presented, then reworked and adapted for this report. Each issue is preceded by a brief, general philosophical-theological-pastoral reflection, after which specific indications (conclusions) are written for further work in the synodal process in the Diocese of Plock, that is, steps to be taken in what has been discerned as the voice of the Holy Spirit.

1.1.1 Formation for synodality

The Diocese of Plock has a long synodal tradition in its heritage – in the nearly 950 years of its existence, 43 particular synods have been organized, along with numerous congresses, scientific symposia, pastoral days and other discussion meetings in contemporary diocesan bodies. Many parishes still have parish synodal teams, which were often the seeds of new Parish Pastoral Councils. This bodes well for the future, but it does not change the fact that a great deal of work is needed at the diocesan and individual parish levels so that the Plock Church increasingly becomes a synod and grows in the spirit of synodality.

  1. An important aspect of synodality is to appreciate the role of Tradition, the identity of the diocesan Church, closely linked to the Peter of our time. This feature is particularly important for understanding the teaching of the popes and teaching the correct interpretation of it to the faithful, always living by the principle: sentire cum Petro, sentire cum Ecclesia.
  2. Synodality requires everyone – laity and clergy – to be open-minded, willing to work and involved in the fate of the parish. A minority church, which the Catholic Church in Poland is also becoming, is a call to see specific people and specific challenges, rather than just following old pastoral patterns. The “cult” of the day off and weekends observed in recent years is incompatible with the spirit of clergy and lay commitment to the parish.
  3. There is a need to translate synodality into concrete work in parishes and diocesan structures, which should be served by meetings, symposia, conferences, greater involvement of clergy in this work.
  4. It was postulated that “synodal boxes,” including email, be left permanently in churches, through which the synodal listening process would continue.
  5. The topic of synodality should be explored during the catechization of children and young people. If this is to be the way of the Church, a broad understanding of this vision is needed. This can be served by better implementation of parish catechesis, neglected in some dimensions, especially in preparation for the Holy Sacraments.
  6. In a special way, the role of lay women and men in ministry in the Church should be recognized. It is important to take into account their voice and capabilities in ministry in parishes, including in directing certain tasks or pastoral communities.
  7. All activities of Church people should be guided by the ancient principle of putting the concern for the eternal salvation of shepherds and sheep first: Salus animarum suprema lex.

[Source: https://synod.org.pl/diecezja-plocka/]

1.1 Positive areas of church life and those in need of healing and conversion

1.1.1 Formation in synodality

According to a great many Synod participants, “the Church is not forming for synodality and is not open to change.” Their “Concerns also include: on the one hand, the ossification of structures, and on the other, the tendency to relativism, the loss of identity.” Synod participants stressed that the synodal style of decision-making requires a community that is often lacking: “the kind of community we created during the meetings.” Despite all the concerns and difficulties, they would like to transfer the synodal experience to the operation of communities and parishes. Many want to continue to meet and look for ways to apply the results of the synodal consultations in their communities. The expectation for the Church’s shepherds to point out opportunities and directions for further action was made clear.

Syntheses of groups with a rich experience of synodality in their structures say that the exercise of mutual listening and consensus-seeking allowed them to “dust off old habits” and rediscover the value of authentic dialogue and joint search for solutions The experience of synodal meetings was for them, in a way, a “return to their own sources.” So they want to use the synodal method, especially when they will be discussing complicated issues or making important decisions.

[Source: https://synod.org.pl/archidiecezja-poznanska/]

1.1.1 The spirituality of “walking together” is an educational principle for the formation of the human and Christian person, families and communities

According to the expressed opinion of the participants of the consultation, formation takes place when: the pastoral process is initiated by deep spiritual reflection, common Eucharist and adoration; when there is a humble conviction that one goes to God through man and with man – not by ritual, instruction, activism. Formation takes place when: listening and dialogue are taught through a well-groomed, competent catechetical education; when the fundamentals of the faith are reliably conveyed (conferences, catechesis); when care is taken to live in sanctifying grace; when care is taken to obey the Church’s Teaching Office. Formation takes place when one: testifies joyfully to the living God in priestly ministry, marital (family) ministry, ministry of a single person; realizes the community’s commitments through expressive service, through apostolic involvement, e.g. in charitable activities; when one takes care of the transmission of the kerygma (prepared homilies, elaborate retreats). It is difficult to “walk together” in a situation of entrenched divisions (groups, elites) within the structures of the clergy itself; the priest should be more within the community, leading it, rather than above or beside the community; the practice of divisions harms the priests themselves contributing, in the case of many of them, to living their mission in deep loneliness.

[Source: https://synod.org.pl/diecezja-rzeszowska/]

1.1 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.

[Source: https://synod.org.pl/diecezja-sandomierska/]

1.1 Formation for synodality

To better understand the Church as a community “walking together,” formation is essential. Well-conceived “synodality” is the way of the Church of our time. However, we are afraid “lest the laity, as in the West, take over the ‘power’, the decision-making votes that belong to the hierarchical Church, lest they encroach on the competence and scope of action of the priests,” on the other hand, we see fears of a wider opening of the Church to the laity. The very climate of the synodal meetings showed very strongly that there is potential and concern for the Church in the laity. However, we must not forget that it is the Holy Spirit who leads the Church, not – even the wisest – people (regardless, lay or clergy).

Formation to “walk together” must accompany all church activities, from the first transmission of faith in the family to formation in religious communities and groups – so we need good guides. The diversity of communities and their charisms shows how much space there is to be developed in “walking together.”

It is necessary – which in itself is a fruit of the Synod – to continue periodic open meetings of leaders and responsible of communities and parish groups on the current and changing situation in the Church. Working in synodal teams provided the opportunity for formation in listening and dialogue, establishing broader relationships and continuing to walk together. This is work to be done in each individual and in communities. This is a multi-year job, so don’t expect results the day after tomorrow, but be patient and persistent. Let’s not be indifferent. Let’s support each other with prayer, a good word, advice. Let’s be open to criticism and not be afraid to change our thinking.

Testimony:

Our desire is that the Synod, which has begun, will help us to boldly follow the voice of the Holy Spirit and draw more and more people to cooperate in the work of building the Kingdom of God, starting with our parish community.

[Source: https://synod.org.pl/diecezja-siedlecka/]

1.1 Formation in synodality

  1. The experience of encountering Christ through faith and conversion leads to accepting and experiencing the church community. With growth in faith comes a deepening opening to the church community and community discernment. From this comes the conclusion that the community-synodality approach is learned by the faithful in life as their faith develops. Community attitudes to spiritual and practical issues require spiritual development over time and experience. It is not suddenly born in an already mature form, but gradually progresses.
  2. Movements, associations, communities, pastoral groups and other ecclesiastical associations are an indispensable reinforcement on the path of faith and synodality, and for the Church they provide a wealth and environment to help discover charisms and divine inspirations, read in personal and community prayer.
  3. The first place to experience and develop faith is the family. It is also fundamental to community maturation and to communitarianism. The family is the first to teach how to discern values and make the right decisions. Regular formation of families through their participation in prayer, liturgy, in Catholic communities, movements and associations, but also by involving families in various dimensions of pastoral and charitable activities in parishes, is effective.
  4. Ongoing formation of believers both individually and through joint meetings or conferences for specific states of life is helpful.
  5. It is important to share the results of each other’s activities both in a narrower circle and in decanal or diocesan meetings. A valuable method in this regard is the fraternal sharing of testimonies and achievements. It is also about cooperation, not competition and criticism.
  6. Formation for synodality, that is, the proper understanding and living of the gift of community, requires the ongoing formation of clergy and laity to seek each other’s support, edification and revitalization as brothers, not evaluative reviewers.

[Source: https://synod.org.pl/archidiecezja-szczecinsko-kamienska/]

1.1 Conclusions of the meetings

1.1.1 Meeting IV: discernment – decision-making – synodality

The fourth meetings were held primarily in March and April 2022. These included 2 groups of questions (see Appendix 1). The questions dealt with issues of discernment and decision-making in the Church and synodality.

Almost universal acceptance was declared for the need for dialogue, conversation. However, in the submitted memos, there were systematic assertions about the need to limit the scope of discussion of the Church so that dogmatic issues are excluded from the discussion (“The Church should be synodal – open to change (but without changing dogmas) and development”). Similarly, the possibility of discussing issues of morality was also widely rejected. Only among certain groups of young people did the dissenting voices emerge – but these groups included the largest number of people from the so-called “youth”. peripherals.

From the notes presented, there was a clear picture of a community in which decisions are made by the parish priest, sometimes with the participation of a relatively small group of laymen (usually the parish council). Equally common, however, were voices that the parish priest should remain the decision-maker – listening, however, (in a well-understood dialogue) to the voice of the laity. Indeed, among the problems pointed out were, for example, a lack of transparency, among other things. in the area of finances (e.g., information on the results of ongoing fundraising) or the appointment of lay people who cooperate with the priest.

At the same time, one group of parish priests points out explicitly that “it would be good for synodal groups to get involved in parish life. From these people, for example, pastoral, parish councils can be formed.” And the demands being made for greater openness apply not only to priests, but, as a voice from one parish group points out, also to the laity: “the parish council should have an on-call service for those in need.”

In unison (though with very different words), it was emphasized that “synodality is not democracy” and that it should be understood as “walking together through life to salvation. It is the involvement and participation of all God’s people in the life and mission of the Church. It’s listening and engaging in dialogue that first builds up the local community – the parish community – and by extension the whole Church. Synodality is the promotion of conversion processes by listening to each other. It’s to participate in the work of the Church, in church processes that involve as many of the baptized as possible and seek to change the mentality of the people. It’s also the common following of clergy and laity side by side. It’s about serving each other.”

There were also voices questioning whether the results of the meetings, especially the critical comments, would be passed on and reflected in the synthesis. There was also criticism in places about the wording of the questions – that they were too general, too theoretical. The issue of the Church’s credibility (in the context of various scandals) also came up in some groups – the need for priests, but especially bishops, to clearly and unequivocally address emerging issues.

[Source: https://synod.org.pl/diecezja-swidnicka/]

1.1.1 Formation in synodality

Responses to the issue of formation for synodality have become, in a sense, an “apologia of the Synod” showing its value, necessity and legitimacy. The time of the synod, if lived correctly, is a “school of ecclesiality” a time of formation in a deeper understanding of the Church, literally formation in synodality. The selected responses show how the timing of the Synod has formed and continues to form the entire diocese, especially the Parish Synodal Teams. Many of them are discovering that the end of the Synod will not be the end of their involvement in the Church, but in fact perhaps the beginning of a deeper and informed participation in the life of the Church. The Parish Activity Study, which began this year, can become a tool for developing this awareness and directing it accordingly. That is why it is valuable that so many responses indicated involvement in Parish Pastoral Councils.The renewed face of them, synodally on the “model of Christ,” can give the opportunity for the reception of synodal conclusions and decrees. Selected responses regarding formation in synodality read as follows: “The participation of the laity in the deliberations of the Synod is a clear sign that the laity have the right and even the duty to care for the community of the Church in all its aspects, on an equal footing with the clergy. Clergy (bishop and priests) who listen to the voice of the faithful – on important and even less important issues – contribute to increasing bonds in parishes and the diocese and awakening shared responsibility.”

“The 5th Synod of the Diocese of Tarnów established Parish Synodal Teams, which formed a great sense of shared responsibility for the local Church. This is the best well-organized form of responsibility for the Church. Moreover, there are always more ideas for revitalizing the Church community than completed projects. It would be advisable to introduce the principle, whoever throws an idea implements it or organizes a group for its implementation”, “actively participating in the life of the local Church (synodal meetings).The parish council is an advisory body in the management of the parish”, “it is important to avoid competition between different groups, one association should not be favored at the expense of another, rather, cooperation should be sought between those involved in different movements.”

[Source: https://synod.org.pl/diecezja-tarnowska/]

1.1 Synthesis of the various synodal themes

The following is a synthesis of the various synodal themes. We have largely given voice to the participants in the synod meetings. Their statements are shown in italics.

1.1.1 Formation for synodality

1.1.1.1 A look at spirituality

It can be noted that the question: , “How to form for synodality?” poses a peculiar problem for synodal meeting participants. This may be related to the fact that expresses the experience of one of the participants of the synodal meeting: The synod meeting was the first experience in my life where I was able to speak out and felt listened to. This is not likely to be an individual situation, but probably more common. Hence, the emphasis in the statements of the participants in the synodal meetings was on the formation of one’s own spirituality, individually and communally through: retreats, days of recollection, sessions, courses, training, webinars, Scripture study, education. It is important to have a good formation of leaders and animators and create space for their mission: In our parish, it is not customary to invest in community leaders and animators, thus formation is nonexistent. This results in a lack of space for proper discernment and making disciples; the clergy form the laity, but do not allow them to take responsibility for the Church. Laymen become supplicants instead of becoming co-workers, companions and co-responsibles.

1.1.1.2 Formation for synodality

The direction of formation toward synodality can be indicated by the following statements of those participating in synodal meetings in parishes, communities, movements and associations, or in responses to the synodal survey questions sent individually:

  • Building relationships in the community: Forming for synodality requires us to build relationships with members of the parish community.
  • communicative language: the Church’s language is incomprehensible and ossified. Walking together can be done while dialoguing together ( . . .) in a language that can be understood.
  • The ability to listen: It is necessary to learn to listen to each other in order to walk together to heal the image of the Church, especially among the younger generation.
  • Mutual openness between clergy and laity: Eliminating the false distance between the laity and clergy is a task for both.
  • Openness to others: The synod can have a colossal impact provided that all church members understand the need to be open to others.
  • The need to continue the experience of synodal meetings, to maintain the synodal path: During such meetings we have opportunities to listen to each other, dialogue and consult.

1.1.1.3 Applications

  1. The need to share responsibility for the community of faith between clergy and laity.
  2. The importance of building relationships between clergy and laity, using communicative language and the ability to listen to each other.
  3. Need to continue synodal meetings.

[Source: https://synod.org.pl/diecezja-torunska/]

1.1 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 are looking 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.

[Source: https://synod.org.pl/archidiecezja-warszawska/]

1.1 Results of survey analysis in the key of the synod’s main themes

1.1.1 Synodal Style

Responses to synodality varied in our surveys. In individual surveys, the faithful mostly don’t need synodality or synodal style, but they don’t cross it out, even see it as an opportunity, but they also see the risks associated with it. Some people wrote that they do not know or understand the term. A minority of those who spoke support the synodal process, while some show that it is being implemented in their parishes. The biggest objections to synodality were expressed by those associated with the tradition community. According to them, the very idea of synodality is a bad thing, the Church does not need synodality, because going to synodality will deprive priests of authority. Some people even indicated that they were strongly opposed to synodality, and that in the tradition of the Church there was neither dialogue (there was obedience) nor synodality (the hierarchy was listened to) until now. Hence, in some surveys there were very harsh assessments: “the synod is the work of liberals,” “synodal style is empty idle talk,” “synodality is a Masonic invention,” “synodality is Luther’s invention,” “legitimizing power in a synodal way is communism,” “the synod is only fit to be thrown out, and synodal style is contrary to God’s will.” Such extreme opinions of traditionalist circles, appeared in more than a dozen surveys, and they testify to the faithful’s ignorance of Church history, the synodality of the first 7 centuries of Christianity (especially Eastern) and the history of the Universal Councils. In the perspective of these statements, all power, as well as the process of discernment and decision-making should be in the hands of the hierarchy – priests, bishops, the Pope. The implementation of the synodal style in the Church, i.e. asking the faithful for their opinions, views and opinions, introduces unnecessary chaos, loosening, democratizing the Church and adapting it to modern trends, and will eventually lead to disaster – there will no longer be adherence by the faithful to the firm principles of the faith.

In most parish communities, on the other hand, members view synodality very positively, from their – community – perspective, as they write that it is their intra-community activities that are synodal. However, in the survey responses, there are no real ideas, proposals or any indication of what should be done to make mutual listening more effective, to make parishes more open to dialogue and understanding. The only one of the concrete proposals is for priests to be on duty in parishes and to change the behavior of priests so that they are more open and willing to talk.

The surveys therefore show that the very concept of synodality needs clarification and understanding. The faithful do not understand it and therefore fear the word. Hence, questions about synodality were most often not answered in our surveys. The main thing that needs to be clarified is the purpose of undertaking synodal activities, so that synodal style is not seen as a tool for changing the Church’s doctrinal and moral teaching. Some of the faithful (a minority) are very open to synodality and support this style of work in the communities and the Church, and see opportunities in dialogue and conversation. The younger faithful expect̨ more of the Church’s openness and dialogic nature, while the older faithful prefer to bé guided by priests – to talḱ less and to praý and listeń more.

[Source: https://synod.org.pl/diecezja-warszawsko-praska/]

1.1.1 Formation in synodality

What stands out is the statement that synodality is a very good way for the modern Church. It teaches openness to every person, dialogue, listening to others, reminds of the necessity of everyone’s service in Christ’s Church, that everyone is important and needed.

Synodality fills us with hope for the revival of the Church. What is needed, however, is the constant rekindling of this flame of the Holy Spirit. There is no doubt that openness to change is essential, because the world is changing. However, vigilance is needed to follow the right path on which the Holy Spirit invites us. It is also necessary to form and continuously learn how to recognize God’s will in the life of each of us, in the life of the local Church, in the life of Christ’s Church.

Among the statements dominated the conviction that the best area for developing synodality is the Parish Pastoral Councils, provided that the parish priests want advice or even look forward to it, but it also happens even in a parish council that the pastor only presents his ideas.

In addition, it was pointed out that there is little sense of community among Christians; the same problem arises all the time. But also among pastoralists there is often disagreement, moreover, among clerics too. Despite their small number, there are disruptive individuals who ruin the community with their style of being. Constantly criticizing everything around does not lead to a common agreement. It seems, therefore, that despite the undoubted attempts of the aforementioned formation, it may be negated by the continuing storm within the Church itself and the divisions that arise. What formation is offered to support discernment and governance in a synodal manner? – For now, it is difficult to observe.

[Source: https://synod.org.pl/diecezja-wloclawska/]

1.1 Formation for synodality

The Synod initiated in many communities the experience of listening and speaking out in the Church, and the need to continue this process, such a practice of joint involvement in the life of the Church, was born.

Where synodal groups have authentically functioned, according to the methodology of the current Synod, there is great joy in this form of meetings. This was often the first opportunity for parishes to talk seriously about the Church. There is a widespread cry for a continuation of the experience of synodal groups – they have become in many parishes a space (often previously unknown and never experienced) of encounter and dialogue for all willing. The experience of the Synod made it possible to discover the richness of the local Church (parish/diocese). The very exchange of experiences in parish and especially diocesan forums (activities of the Secretariat, meetings for representatives from parishes, meeting with the diocesan bishop) proved to be a means of formation for synodality. If the parish functions as a community of communities this gives the best preparation and formation for synodality. Synodality is leading to a change in the perception of the Church – from an institution dominated by the clergy to “home, where I am at home.”

However, most of the faithful and clergy do not understand the synodal process and have not joined in. Often the reason for this state of affairs is a fundamental fear of change, of meeting “others,” the language of the synodal documents was also incomprehensible to many. Synodality is often misunderstood as a democratization of the Church or as a fig leaf to cover the hierarchy’s unwillingness to make real changes in the Church. Unfortunately, there are parishes where the priests did not cooperate with the synodal groups at all, they did not even read the prepared parish synthesis. And there will be no true synodality without the pastor and parishioners being together. Efforts should be made to deepen the synodal process in the diocese.

Formation for synodality is contingent on learning about the common good, common goals. Therefore, it requires longer preparation – learning to listen and discern. The faithful are calling for a change in the seminary’s formation to produce pastors who are more open to the laity and to interacting with them. Formation is also needed for leaders of synod groups in the parish. Synodality leads to treating parishioners as collaborators, not subordinates. Clear communication is expected about the fruits of the synod in the diocese, including in the form of tools for action in parishes, using the example of those communities where it has brought significant changes.

[Source: https://synod.org.pl/archidiecezja-wroclawska/]

1.1 Listening, speaking up, participating in power and decision-making, synodality

We priests must beat our breasts[…] We do not understand each other with the faithful.

Pastor of the city parish

In answering the question “How does the Church listen to the laity, especially women and young people?”, we looked at the makeup of our diocesan synod. There was only one woman in our sharing group, and the youngest members were between the ages of 30 and 40, all the others were older men.

Participant in the diocesan synod

In my parish, I conducted an experiment. I organized a meeting with lay people. In small groups, the priests listened to the laity speak, but were not allowed to speak themselves. After the meeting, the vicars stressed how hard it was for them not to speak up. This shows that a priest, who is oriented towards his role as a shepherd and teacher, is often not ready to fully listen to the opinions of others.

Pastor of the city parish

None of the participants in our meeting knew that there was a diocesan pastoral council in the diocese. The composition of this body is not known to us. We also don’t know anything about the topics that are discussed at council meetings.

Faithful layperson from a rural parish

Synodal organizations in the local Church do not function. These are just facade institutions with nice names.

Faithful layperson from a rural parish

There is a lack of initiatives linking the Church with culture, civil society. The only institution deviating from this pattern is Caritas. The Church does not learn from its own mistakes. The church is associated with a very fossilized structure.

Voice from the decanal consultation meeting

* * *

The lay faithful complain that in some parishes pastors run away from contact with the faithful, avoid meetings, refuse to listen to their parishioners and participate in their daily lives and delegate responsibility to the laity. To justify this attitude, priests make the argument that the laity are too demanding and unprepared due to poor spiritual formation and lack of knowledge. Priests are focused on teaching others rather than listening to them. On the other hand, it is also not uncommon for lay faithful to withdraw and not want to get involved.

In the Church, therefore, one must strive to enter the conversation honestly and courageously. The need for clergy and laity to listen to each other. For this purpose, it is necessary to have an appropriate forum to enable such communication. Such a place, providing the necessary conditions for people to meet and talk with each other in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, should exist in every parish. It was there, after Sunday Mass. The faithful could exchange thoughts and opinions with their pastors.

A natural forum for discussion is created by various groups, movements, communities and associations operating in parishes. However, their activity was severely curtailed during the pandemic, and many of them have not recovered to date.

The following were pointed out as practical tools for breaking down barriers and providing an opportunity for dialogue between clergy and laity: the pastor greeting people who come before the start of Mass, meeting and talking with the faithful after Mass, and providing all parishioners with a phone number for the pastor so that they can call him and talk if needed. It was also requested that during pastoral visits to parishes, the bishop should not only speak, but should try to listen to the voice of the faithful by creating a space conducive to frank conversation and discussion.

Difficult and sensitive topics must not be avoided in ongoing conversations and discussions in the Church. However, all participants in the conversation must take responsibility for their words. Statements should be sincere and bold. However, they must not be irresponsible. Besides, you can’t just stop at debating. For speaking out is also discouraged by the fact that it is not uncommon in the Church for everything to “end up just talking.” The conversation must lead to concrete changes, to solutions to the problems that are articulated in the course of the conversation. Explanations, answers and practical conclusions must not remain shallow or merely apparent. You always need to be able to get to the root of the problem and offer a concrete solution.

Authentic conversation and debate is not possible in too large a forum. The number of participants should be selected to allow everyone to speak and actively participate. If this condition is not met – and this happens at many church meetings – then there can be no real discussion. Although a small and knowledgeable group in principle should facilitate discussion, on the other hand, this is not always the case. Indeed, voices from small rural parishes signal that in such communities, the obstacle to getting involved and speaking out is a great fear of negative feedback from others and stigmatization.

The natural place for lay faithful to participate in the process of discernment and decision-making in the Church is the pastoral and economic councils established within parishes and at the diocesan level. However, these bodies, even if they actually exist, are not representative. There are too few lay faithful in diocesan bodies, especially women and young people. Parish councils, on the other hand, usually consist only of trusted individuals selected by the pastor. So real action must be taken to change this state of affairs. The composition of the council cannot be decided solely by the pastor. It should be a truly representative body, with members coming from all the towns or districts that make up the parish and from all age groups. Elections for parish councils should be made mandatory. The diocesan bishop should also define more precisely the prerogatives of parish councils. Clarify when the parish priest is required to convene the council and on what issues to consult it. It was also requested that the council be allowed to periodically give its opinion on the work of the pastor. This opinion should go both to the pastor himself and to the diocesan bishop, and perhaps to all parishioners.

Members of parish councils should receive proper formation so that they can properly carry out their tasks. There is also a need for parishes to exchange information on the operation of these boards.

[Source: https://synod.org.pl/diecezja-zielonogorsko-gorzowska/]

List of synodal topics

Towarzysze podróży

W Kościele i w społeczeństwie jesteśmy na tej samej drodze, ramię w ramię.

Kiedy mówimy „nasz Kościół”, to kogo mamy na myśli? Kto w naszym Kościele „podąża razem”? Kto oczekuje, aby bardziej ku niemu wyjść i zaprosić go do wspólnej drogi wiary? Jakie osoby lub grupy są zaniedbane i nie objęte troską o to, by iść razem drogą wiary i stanowić jedną wspólnotę Kościoła?

Zestawienie odpowiedzi na te pytania zawarte w syntezach diecezjalnych.

Czytaj więcej »

Słuchanie

Słuchanie jest pierwszym krokiem, ale wymaga otwartego umysłu i serca, bez uprzedzeń.

Czy umiemy słuchać siebie nawzajem w naszym Kościele? Czyj głos jest pomijany lub za mało słyszany? Z jakiego powodu? Czy potrafimy określić uprzedzenia i stereotypy, które utrudniają nam słuchanie innych? Czy z otwartym umysłem i sercem umiemy wsłuchiwać się w poglądy inne niż nasze; także osób spoza wspólnoty Kościoła?

Czytaj więcej »

Zabieranie głosu

Wszyscy są zaproszeni do mówienia z odwagą i zaufaniem, to znaczy łącząc wolność, prawdę i miłość.

Czy w Kościele nasz/mój głos ma znaczenie i czy znajdujemy przestrzeń do wypowiedzi i bycia wysłuchanym? Czy czujemy, że przemawiający w naszym imieniu faktycznie reprezentują także nas? Jaki mamy na to realny wpływ?

Czytaj więcej »

Celebrowanie

„Wspólna droga” jest możliwa tylko wtedy, gdy opiera się na wspólnotowym słuchaniu Słowa Bożego i sprawowaniu Eucharystii.

Czy liturgiczne celebracje i doświadczenie wspólnotowej modlitwy w naszym Kościele mają realny wpływ na moją/naszą praktykę codziennego życia: decyzje, wybory, inspiracje? Czy czujemy się zaproszeni do czynnego (praktycznego) zaangażowania w liturgię, czy też pozostawia nam się rolę „widza”? Czy sami pielęgnujemy w sobie pragnienie zaangażowania? Czy przeżywanie liturgii umacnia i motywuje mnie/nas do podjęcia misji ewangelizacji?

Czytaj więcej »

Współodpowiedzialni w naszej wspólnej misji

Synodalność służy misji Kościoła, do udziału w której powołani są wszyscy jego członkowie.

Czy mamy świadomość, że jako ochrzczeni wszyscy jesteśmy powołani do misji ewangelizowania? Co nas hamuje w podejmowaniu tej misji i wspieraniu w niej innych: w nas samych, w środowisku życia, we współczesnej kulturze?

Czytaj więcej »

Dialog w Kościele i społeczeństwie

Dialog wymaga wytrwałości i cierpliwości, ale umożliwia także wzajemne zrozumienie.

W jaki sposób w naszym Kościele rozwiązywane są konflikty i trudności wynikające z różnicy poglądów, dążeń, oczekiwań? Czy dialog jest naszym sposobem wychodzenia z tych problemów? Jak w tym kontekście wygląda współpraca różnych instytucji, organizacji i ruchów kościelnych? Czy umiemy uczyć się form dialogu od instytucji niekościelnych? Czy dialog jest również przestrzenią naszego spotkania z wyznawcami innych religii i zniewierzącymi?

Czytaj więcej »

Ekumenizm

Dialog między chrześcijanami różnych wyznań, zjednoczonymi przez jeden chrzest,
zajmuje szczególne miejsce na drodze synodalnej.

Jakie relacje ma nasza wspólnota kościelna z członkami innych tradycji chrześcijańskich i wyznań? Co nas łączy i jak razem podążamy? Jakie owoce przyniosło nam wspólne podążanie? Jakie są trudności? Jak możemy zrobić następny krok we wspólnym podążaniu naprzód?

Czytaj więcej »

Władza i uczestnictwo

Kościół synodalny jest Kościołem uczestniczącym i współodpowiedzialnym.

Kto w naszym Kościele podejmuje decyzje i czego one dotyczą? Czy jest to wyłącznie forma indywidualnego przewodniczenia czy jest też w tym wymiar wspólnotowy? Czy istnieje współpraca zespołowa i czy w tym kontekście promowane jest zaangażowanie świeckich, np. w radach duszpasterskich i ekonomicznych, w kierowaniu wspólnotami? Czy jesteśmy gotowi podjąć się współodpowiedzialności za podejmowane decyzje i działania?

Czytaj więcej »

Rozeznawanie i podejmowanie decyzji

Na drodze synodalnej podejmujemy decyzje poprzez rozeznawanie tego, co Duch Święty mówi przez całą naszą wspólnotę.

Jak rozumiemy to, że Kościół jest hierarchiczny a nie demokratyczny? Czy w tak zorganizowanym Kościele widzimy miejsce dla wspólnego rozeznawania i podejmowania decyzji całego ludu Bożego wraz z pasterzami? Jak możemy wzrastać we wspólnotowym rozeznawaniu duchowym?

Czytaj więcej »

Formowanie się do synodalności

Synodalność pociąga za sobą otwartość na zmiany, formację i ciągłe uczenie się.

Jak formowane są osoby, zwłaszcza te, które pełnią odpowiedzialne funkcje we wspólnocie chrześcijańskiej, aby były bardziej zdolne do słuchania i dialogu, rozeznawania? Czy mamy świadomość odpowiedzialności za własną nieustanną formację do odpowiedzialności i misji ewangelizacyjnej w Kościele?

Czytaj więcej »

Peryferia

W wielu syntezach problem osób pozostających na marginesie Kościoła przewijał się w kontekście podstawowych pytań synodalnych. Jednak w niektórych opracowaniach peryferiom poświęcone zostały osobne sekcje – prezentujemy je w tym miejscu.

Czytaj więcej »

Młodzież której nie ma

Palący brak młodzieży w Kościele zauważono w prawie każdej syntezie diecezjalnej. Najczęściej poruszano tą kwestię w kontekście pytań synodalnych. Czasami poświęcano młodzieży osobne sekcje – prezentujemy je w tym miejscu.

Czytaj więcej »