Summary of the Synod's progress in the dioceses

Listening to

Listening is the first step, but it requires an open mind and heart, without prejudice.

Do we know how to listen to each other in our Church? Whose voice is left out or not heard enough? For what reason? Can we identify the biases and stereotypes that make it difficult for us to listen to others? With an open mind and heart, do we know how to listen to views different from our own; including those of people outside the Church community?

Wszystkie syntezy w jednym dokumencie PDF

LISTENING

Most of the synod participants agreed that we do not know how to listen, that we find it difficult, preferring to speak and push our views. The synod showed that listening is also a problem in the Church. Often priests do not listen to the lay faithful because they are not interested in their needs, but only in carrying out the pastoral plan. The laity do not listen to priests or listen to them selectively. “There is no listening in the Church. Church leaders do not listen to the faithful. They only carry out their tasks and set goals […] “.

Listening is hampered by a belief in one’s own infallibility and established communication patterns. “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.” It is also difficult to listen to each other when there is an extremely different view of the Church.

Failure to listen leads to misunderstanding, exclusion, marginalization. As a further consequence, this results in closure, simplification, mistrust and fear, which destroy the community. When priests refuse to listen, finding excuses such as a large number of classes, or when questions go unanswered, a sense of sadness and alienation arises in the heart of the lay faithful. Without listening, responses to the difficulties of the faithful are taken out of context and do not address the essence of the problems they are experiencing, becoming empty moralizing. The laity feel that the flight from sincere listening stems from the fear of having to be pastorally involved. A similar feeling grows when bishops do not have time to talk to and listen to the faithful.

In this context, the synod convinced us that in the Church – despite the fact that we sometimes have different perspectives on the Church, the parish, evangelization – it is possible to meet to listen to each other, not to argue. And it was a good, unique experience. Therefore, it was emphasized that listening cannot be reduced to parish community meetings, carols or the confessional, which – as spaces for existing meetings – were pointed out by priests. Nor is listening to data collection (a file on a carol, an interview at a law firm) seen by some people as interfering too deeply in their personal affairs or even surveillance. There is power in good listening, which must be learned. “Formation toward mission demands that we listen to each other in the Church. Until now, we have looked to the parish chancel, pastoral visitation, and possibly community meetings as opportunities to meet and talk in church. Through the synodal path, we saw that the experience of being heard has great value, and it doesn’t take extraordinary means to do so, but an inner transformation. This transformation begins with prayer, personal consideration of God’s word, and opening up to others. It also requires courage, both from the clergy whose task is to listen, and from the communities whose task is to listen to include others in the life of the Church, as well as from those who have not spoken in the Church so far, to begin to speak frankly and without fear.”

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

1.1 Listening

1.1.1 To whom is our particular Church “indebted to listen”?

– Toward all those in relation to whom it carries out its social mission.

The smallest ones, whose voice is the weakest, should be listened to. The parish community should try to make sure that these people are noticed and real support is provided.

– The Church should listen more to the voice of those parishioners who are lost, living in non-sacramental relationships, having problems with their sexual identity, people with disabilities, but also young people. It should attract with love, truth, even difficult, and not threaten.

– Our particular Church is indebted to listen to everyone who has something to say and to see that someone wants to listen to them at all. Especially towards the young

seekers or lost, who have a lot of doubts within themselves to be in the Church. It is important to listen and accompany the young in the process of discernment. The sign of this listening is the time devoted to the other, and that it must be unconditional listening, without offending, without scolding, without bothering, without tiring.

– In the Church, the clergy should listen to the needs of the laity and vice versa. Only listening to each other’s voices brings results in understanding and joint action.

– The Church has been a hierarchical institution for centuries. It is headed by the Pope, followed by the clergy (also hierarchical), the practicing faithful, and at the very end by the non-practicing faithful, etc. Those at the bottom of this hierarchy (the faithful and other groups outside the church) have the least opportunity to speak, and even that opportunity is taken away from them. They are obliged to listen to those above them (the clergy). The attitude of priests, parish priests and vicars plays a big role. If these treat themselves as those who know best and treat the faithful , “from above”, then there is no hope for communication and cooperation. This especially affects young people, who, hitting a wall in the form of a priest who can’t listen, quickly become discouraged and walk away from the church. Young people need to be listened to and have their problems understood, without being bombarded with moralizing and imposed bans. Non-practicing Catholics also need to be listened to in order to understand what drives them away from the church; victims of pedophilia, dissenting circles, etc., because, after all, Christ did not reject anyone, he listened to everyone. The lack of dialogue among church members only intensifies misunderstandings and divisions.

1.1.2 How are the laity heard, especially young people and women?

The problem is with the young, towards whom the Church has not developed an appropriate strategy of pastoral offerings. Catechesis is at a very low level. Lack of teaching in accordance with Pope John Paul II’s Encyclical “Fides et Ratio.”

– The laity in the Church are listened to only insofar as they can be useful.

– Mostly they are not listened to. There is an old-fashioned belief in Poland that the young don’t know anything (young = stupid/inexperienced). Young people would like the Church to move with the times, which is often inconvenient for the clergy. Women by the Church (or by some clergy) are treated as subordinate to men, and it is the man who should speak for them. An example is the recent events in Poland.

– As for women, I have the impression that they are treated with a bit of leniency. They are hardly conversation partners. Women are there to read the readings because they will never refuse, to sing because they are more likely to sing. But not for discussion. The fact that there are more of them in different types of communities, but as a rule they are the same people.

– In principle, they are listened to but their voice is not often taken into account.

– The Church should listen to the faithful, but it must also guide them.

– The Church must break with clericalism and the mentality of corporate officials and go back to its roots, to the Gospel.

– Very differently: sometimes yes, yes, but sometimes no. It seems to me that people known to priests are listened to, and when their proposals happen to coincide with what pastors think.

1.1.3 How do we incorporate the contributions of consecrated persons, men and women?

– Consecrated persons, it is a gift that the laity do not fully understand.

– Such people can be leaders in communities, spiritual directors, or they can help in leading retreats or in situations of supporting clergy when there are too few of them.

– Consecrated persons are a great gift, they are a testimony to the desire to live in the world by being devoted to God in this special form and relationship. Consecrated persons, also become an inspiration to take up self-reflection by asking the question, Why are they doing this? And what drives them? We can say that they are like such a leaven that in God’s way can influence the environments where they live.

1.1.4 What space does the voice of minorities, the rejected and the excluded have?

– Everyone in the Church is supposed to feel comfortable and so their opinion matters. The space for them should be created but together with them.

– It follows from the very essence of the Church that there are no rejects in it. Those left on the margins are not excluded.

– Minorities are not rejected by the Church but have limited rights under the Church’s commandments.

– If they really want it, such a space can be found or created by these people. The problem is to open up to these people, to encourage them, because they themselves will most often still feel rejected or excluded.

– The parish community should open up more to lost people, encourage dialogue, take them in with care and love. There is no place for them.

– It is necessary to ask what a minority is, who is the rejected and excluded, and for what reasons it happened. Unreflectively following the voice of such people, who may be wounded, disturbed, unfulfilled in life, can lead to bad consequences. The voice itself can be an important feedback regarding at what point these people and for what reasons became excluded, etc. It is natural to listen to every voice, but first of all, try to recognize the intent and purpose.

– The Church leaves little room for those who feel they are a minority or consider themselves excluded from the Church community to speak out. Often the space to speak out is created by the media. This voice is therefore heard from outside and not from inside the Church. Clericalism that closes those in charge of the parish to individuals seeking their place in the Church may also be a reason for this. The reason for this can also be traced to the attitude of those who feel excluded from the Church community, who often equate dialogue with complete recognition of their views. Another reason may also be that such people leave the Church and have no desire to dialogue with the Church themselves. For this reason, their voice is not heard.

– There is a closure to talking to these people, a lack of listening, a turning away from them.

– The space for dialogue is mainly a conversation with a clergy person, a consecrated person, a lay person.

– We should listen not only to those who have similar views to ours, but also to those who think differently and are excluded for various reasons. This must be accompanied by respect for people with different orientations, tolerance for differences. Everyone has the right to live. It is necessary to take care of those who are not aggressive, vulgar, but because of their difference they face aggression. Working in schools, I repeatedly encountered young people who did not accept their gender. They were good, wonderful young people with huge problems. They need to be taken care of and supported and not identified with LGBT ideology – aggressive, vulgar, organizing provocative marches in the streets. The situation and attitude of this environment is not black and white, and pastoral assistance can prevent mass apostasy of young people.

1.1.5 Can we identify biases and stereotypes that make it difficult to listen?

– Stereotypes: the belief that we have a monopoly on knowledge, teaching, life. Only the clergy has a teaching mission. Others are more sinful than we are. Those who do not practice should not comment. There is no discussion with the priest. I’m supposed to listen and not ask.

– Political divisions, stereotypes – Polish national Catholic. Besides, nowadays we are increasingly divided into traditionalists and heretics, deceived, etc. We are very defensive of zero-one attitudes in the discussion – you watch TVN you are not a true Catholic, you listen to Radio Maryja you are a mohair, and therefore there is no point in listening to you.

– No one listens with their heart, everyone listens with their principles

– First of all, “it’s always been that way” or “it’s never been that way.” Besides, there are stereotypes related to the perception of the role of women in the Church, the difficulty is also the lack of need to listen, the belief in the infallibility of priests

– Traditional and charismatic communities often define each other as being outside the Church or at least outside Church teaching. This makes dialogue difficult even at the parish level. In addition, the lay faithful may be prejudiced or indulge in rumors about a certain priest. This causes them not to take seriously the word he preaches.

– We can’t identify it ourselves. We need the grace of the Holy Spirit, which allows us to overcome prejudices and stereotypes and opens us to listen to our neighbor.

– Prejudices and stereotypes that hinder our ability to listen are mainly judging others, comparing, guessing, equating, opposing.

– Prejudices and stereotypes- examples: Absolute obedience is required in the Church, you can’t express your opinion, priests aren’t there to listen, people outside the Church, non-believers shouldn’t speak on matters of faith and the Church, nothing will change anyway. The Church should not interfere in personal lives, especially intimate ones. Priests-who, after all, do not have children of their own-should not advise on parenting. Reluctance to introduce, for example, new forms of evangelism, worship, intercessory prayer. In the Church, one cannot show signs of joy, as is the case, for example, in charismatic communities.

– Many people in the Church are locked into these prejudices, considering themselves as Catholics to be better, superior, and those who are outside the Church for some reason (perhaps injuries/hard past) to be inferior, less worthy.

– First of all, generalizing (we transfer what one person does to the general public, this is especially true of priests), clinging to one’s vision, the view that the priest is always right and the layman is only to listen, treating the parish of the Church) as an institution to which one comes for certain services.

– We can identify these stereotypes but do not work to reject them especially the older generation. Listening should be devoid of judging and comparing with my views. It is necessary to give others the right to their own opinion. If we can’t do it ourselves

1.1.6 How do we listen to the social and cultural context in which we live?

– By observing the changes taking place in the social life of the laity, and in view of the change in the attitudes of consecrated persons.

– Being in relationship with different people, acting on their behalf, serving them, participating in society.

– As for the “rotten” culture detached from God’s laws, it has penetrated the Church too much. As for the voices of the public in the form of appeals for a more pious celebration of the Mass, to curb the Protestantization of the Church, here there is a lack of listening.

– We often see “the world” as a threat to the Church’s continuance. The danger of secularization.

– The social and cultural context for me is media hype and guided propaganda. I do not listen to the noise, but to the pure signal of the biblical word.

– Tradition is very important to us, sometimes we take it as a determinant of Catholic life.

– Attention is now being paid to the socio-cultural pluralism of today’s society. The Church needs to reach out to many groups, which does not mean it has to adapt to them. Rather, he should draw attention to the dangers of pluralism, especially cultural pluralism. Not all innovations and fads are good, and the Church should warn against them. Since young people are already imbibing these innovations at the school stage, youth ministry is important. In terms of the social context, it is important to be familiar with the economic situation of the faithful and the demographic structure of the faithful.

– We meet this by maintaining a website and Facebook page, using conferences and reflections made available on the Internet, screening religious films, concerts, parish anniversaries, parish festivals, parish balls, sporting events, sports tournaments, street runs, etc.

– Exposed in these times, human rights, ecology, bioethics need to be shown in the context of God’s laws, in a concise, logical, accessible way.

– The world that surrounds us, relationships in person or through the mass media, events that happen before our eyes bring us into the space of changing cultural and social reality. Consciously and rationally listening to the voice of these transformations will allow us not only to notice them but also to open ourselves up to understanding them (regardless of whether we think it is right).

– The church should make more use of modern marketing through various media sources, among others. Facebook, You Tube

– On a daily basis, we don’t think about it at all. We only wonder when something changes, when we see a different culture, a difference. The world does not stand still, it is constantly changing and this also requires some changes in the Church, what worked in the previous century does not necessarily work effectively currently. The Church is alive and must transform and evaluate.

– This listening sometimes affects our attitudes well (e.g., relief actions) or badly (secularization of religious rituals such as weddings).

– As people living in a given territory bound by a peculiar cultural heritage, we have a great influence on the formation of society, because we create it ourselves.

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

1.1 My voice in the Church

The basis of unity and the condition for its creation should be the realization of the principle: “I listen and am listened to”. This trivial issue proves to be extremely difficult to implement, requiring the maturity of each of the people who make up the group, who make up the Church. The faithful concerned about the fate of the Church appreciate that many pastors and facilitators are able to create conditions for the creative exchange of ideas, for conversation, for meeting.

Attention should be paid to the role of meeting spaces – the activities of cafes at parishes, sports clubs, interest clubs, etc. are positively evaluated. Being together also outside the temple brings people closer together, allows them to establish a better rapport with the priests and causes them to begin to feel the given space as their own. This, in turn, translates into a sense of community and an ease of expressing one’s thoughts and listening carefully to others. It was also pointed out that it might be worth returning to the Greek principle: stadium – theater – temple. The integration of believers on secular grounds should translate into religious life. Such a method works and produces surprising pastoral and even evangelistic results. Unfortunately, this is not the case everywhere. The lack of intimacy of the faithful and their connectivity with pastors results in a sense of unimportance in the Church: “no one listens to me, I’m afraid to speak out, I won’t listen to others.” Social distance, spiritual distance, a sense of alienation demolishes the possibility of fortuitous communication. The faithful notice certain reasons for the formation of such a distance and, with a sense of responsibility for the Church, wish to bridge them.

There is a desire to be listened to and to listen to the leaders of the communities in question. In this regard, the need to reduce the distance between the priest and the faithful and even the bishop and the faithful is noted. Here there seems to be a need to change seminary formation, and even to orient it towards the formation of religious communities, whose ministry is very positively appreciated by believers. There is the problem of priests’ time for the faithful, presence in their lives, in the life of the community, and availability. While being assertive, the priest should be aware that parishioners are his family, whom he must care for, visit, talk to and know. Here the priority is clearly to care about the quality and sustainability of marriages and to recognize the sacrifices and striving, the weariness of parents, of entire families. Empathy, understanding and appreciation of their daily efforts always adds spiritual strength. This is possible if there are joint activities not only during services and in the sacred space, but also outside it. This should lead to a boost for the parish, rebuilding the community.

Mutual listening can be served by diocesan and parish referendums and, above all, congresses (of communities, states, etc.). This has some bearing on the need to reactivate professional and state pastoral care. Help in articulating one’s voice in Church affairs, as well as hearing the voice of others, should come from well-functioning parish and economic councils. Candidates for the councils should be people of all states and professions, including young people. Those elected to this body should meet once a month and hold open meetings. Parishioners need to be kept informed about matters related to the spiritual-religious and material functioning of their community. In this regard, care must be taken to ensure the flow of solidly prepared information – minutes of council meetings, Sunday announcements and others must be posted not only in the showcase, but also in the media and on the Internet. The faithful appreciate good information on both what has been and what will be. Informing people about current events and parish affairs is a testament to taking parish members seriously, as well as a kind of dialogue in the Church. This provides an opportunity to participate, to respond to specific challenges or invitations. Information about events held outside the parish – the Epiphany procession, Rosary to the Borders, etc. – is also considered very valuable. Participation in them is edifying both spiritually and socially. On such occasions, it is also easy to identify certain leaders, spot talented people and recruit them for the good of the group, community or parish. Discovering parishioners’ abilities and skills is also a kind of listening. Noticing such people cannot be ignored, they must be invited in an individual way to act, to be responsible for the parish. Such people can form an intellectual-spiritual elite, a group of leaders whose voice will be a wise and creative element in reviving faith and rekindling enthusiasm in the Church.

Active listening and creative expression of many people naturally leads to some diversity in the Church, in the parish. This diversity, however, is not a cause of conflict, but wealth. Everyone looking at such a parish should be convinced that his voice has been heard and in this community he has his place, irreplaceable by anyone.

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

1.1 Key conclusions gathered during the diocesan stage of the synod

From the abundant material collected during synodal meetings at various levels of Church life in the Archdiocese of Czestochowa, as well as from the responses to the questionnaires sent out and from comments sent to social media sites and profiles, three groups of voices and requests were identified that recurred most frequently. These are: the need for the sacred; the problem of inter-personal and inter-community relations; and building a clear vision of how the Church functions in the pastoral and institutional areas. These three groups of applications will be discussed below. It should be added that in the collected synodal material there were many voices referring to specific parishes, communities, temples or individuals. These were specific problems, the discussion and solution of which concern the mentioned realities. They are not listed in the following synthesis, as they relate to individual cases and individual problems and are not general in nature.

(…)

1.1.1 The problem of interpersonal relations in the archdiocese

The second group of most frequently formulated synodal conclusions concerns relationality. Both the synodal meetings and the surveys sent revealed a great need to listen to each other, meet, respect, cooperate and deepen relationships. The problem has been noted especially at the levels of relations between priests and laymen, but also within the circle of priests themselves and among laymen, especially those active in movements, communities and associations.

1.1.1.1 Relationship between priests and laity

This topic generated the most excitement during the synod meetings. From the voices gathered, it seems that there is a great distance between the laity and the clergy, and not only in terms of attitudes and mutual relations, but also in the area of participation in community affairs and joint involvement in them. There was no shortage of voices describing the very good relationship between priests and laity. The faithful praised their pastors for their friendliness, availability and diligence. There were voices such as: “The priest in my parish is available to parishioners after every Mass. One can come to him and be listened to”; “Our parish priest is a good organizer, able to gather parishioners around him and mobilize them for concrete actions.” Also, several priests shared the experience of their good relations with the laity, declared that together with them they create the reality of the parish.

The vast majority of synod participants, however, note the lack of openness on the part of priests, especially pastors. The faithful complain that the parish priest does not know his faithful, does not build closer relations with them, looks down on the laity “from above” and decides the most important matters in the parish himself. The laity do not feel subjectively treated in their communities. They express a desire for priests to spend more time meeting and talking with them and to count their opinions. Repeatedly in the surveys, the laity stressed the need for ordinary human kindness and a smile, as they often experience harshness, harshness and great distance from the clergy. They feel that priests treat the Church as their property, where they are the ones entitled to decide everything.

Priests, on the other hand, look at the problem from their perspective. Many complain about the lack of involvement of the laity, their entitlement and urging priests to deviate from church discipline (especially in the process of preparation and admission to the holy sacraments). Clergymen often feel lonely in their parishes, stressing that only a narrow group of the faithful want to take joint responsibility for parish affairs. In contrast, the synodal material collected did not include demands for some kind of competition for power in the Church between clergy and laity. More often emphasized was the desire to preserve the existing roles that stem from the clerical and lay states.

1.1.1.2 Relationships among priests

Priestly synodal meetings were held in each decanate of the archdiocese. These meetings showed the great need for this type of meetings, where priests can raise priestly and pastoral issues in a fraternal atmosphere. The priests felt that it would be best if bishops attended such meetings. They expect a more paternal attitude and closer contact from their bishops. Instead, they understand the enormous responsibility of their superiors and their increasingly difficult tasks in managing the archdiocese and personnel matters. They also complained about the high individualism of priests, their frequent isolation from the priestly community. It has been noted that priests in the archdiocese are increasingly affected by loneliness; there are deaneries where all priests work at single posts. There have been voices about the need to create priestly pastoral teams. The need for greater and concerted concern for sick and elderly priests was pointed out, so that they do not feel rejected left alone with their problems. Several criticisms have been leveled at the lack of a coherent, consistent and clear permanent formation. Very often, priests stressed the positive role of monthly prayer meetings in the deaneries.

1.1.1.3 Relationships between church communities

As for relations between the laity, the opinions of the synod participants were mainly concerned with the problem of contacts between communities and their cooperation. A certain rivalry between some groups has been noted, criticizing each other’s spirituality of individual movements or groups; exclusivism and treating one’s own sensibilities as only right and best. The need to build spaces of cooperation between movements and communities at the diocesan, deanery and parish levels was emphasized. The problem of the rigid, absolute treatment of the laity’s affiliation with parishes and the lack of acceptance of their association with supra-parish communities or movements or with other parishes, such as in the reception of the Holy Sacraments and parish catechesis, was also raised.

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

1.1 An analytical look

1.1.1 Listening

Listening to each other is most often hampered by divisions and mutual resentments rooted in the community. An additional factor is often the divergence of goals that individual community members have.

Despite the presence of parish councils, they are not sufficient tools for pastors to communicate with the faithful. The need to create space for individual meetings between the faithful and priests was pointed out. They would become an opportunity not only to inform about pastoral needs, but would be useful for the individual spiritual well-being of individual parishioners. Through such people, God shows us how closed we are and how little the evangelical spirit permeates our communities.

There is a lack of sufficient attention in listening to those who, for various reasons, find themselves on the periphery of parish communities. Entrenched stereotypes about the people in question are also a hindering factor. Often there is not enough of an attitude of intellectual openness to engage in a substantive and constructive discussion with those who hold views different from our own.

We are far more likely to be ready to help in the material sphere than to remedy moral or spiritual misery.

Listening is hindered primarily by our hubris, but also by the hustle and bustle of the world around us, the problems and challenges of everyday life. Listening, on the other hand, makes it easier to open up to God.

It is easy for us to listen to those with whom we agree, while it is hard to listen to those with whom we have a different opinion.

The Lord God speaks to us in silence, through other people or through various situations in our lives. We are heard by God in prayer, although not always in the way we would like.

The laity are heard in the Church in the sacrament of penance or in direct conversations with pastors.

The Roman Catholic Church must guard the foundations of its faith and not “bend” to the world. The foundations of the Church’s faith are inviolable. The Church is open to others, but on the condition that they accept the principles of our faith, and not impose themselves with their minority ideas for “improving” the Church and adapting it to today’s world. There is no agreement to “soften” the moral principles and message of the Gospel. Whoever wants to join the Roman Catholic Church must accept its teachings and its principles.

The priest is supposed to be close to the people at all times. This is someone who is badly needed so that you can talk to him about your problems, get advice. Many priests today are not expressive enough. They are too conciliatory about the dogmas of our faith. Priests should recognize in the faithful and make them aware of the gap between faith, religious practices and life.

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

1.1 What does the Church enjoy?

1.1.1 Listening

In many cases, the parish rectory is seen as a place to come and talk to a priest about troubling issues and problems. Special places when lay people have the opportunity to be heard are group meetings. Then, in smaller communities, they can express their concerns or opinions on particular topics.

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

1.2.1 Listening

Lack of time of the clergy to listen to the lay faithful. The needs are currently very high. In some cases, priests do not have the time to do this, or this time is significantly limited. Listening is hindered by the lack of an attitude of openness and sometimes trust of the laity towards priests. It is hindered by falsehoods, dilution of the Church’s teachings, lack of listening skills, lack of ability to ask the right questions to show interest and make the listener feel safe. Some of the synod’s conclusions pointed out that the faithful are only listened to at the sacrament of confession, priests do not listen to the voice and needs of parishioners, and consider their own ideas to be the best, and are accustomed to giving orders. It is also saddening that in some parishes there are no youth ministry groups.

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

1.1.1 Listening

“Only he who is willing to listen has the freedom to renounce his incomplete and insufficient point of view, his habits, his schemes. In this way, he is truly ready to accept such a call that breaks through his insecurities, but leads him to a better life […]” (Gaudete et exultate 172).

According to synod participants, listening in the Church is a complex and multidimensional reality. On the one hand, efforts are evident to make the local church more listening, more attentive to the different perspectives of its experience and ready to accept also the truth that is difficult for it. On the other hand, however, listening deficits, an attitude of mutual distrust and even hostility between people involved in the Church in various fields of its apostolic activity are still revealed.

The synod meetings confirmed that for many, the Church (especially the parish church) is a place where they can come for more than just a religious service . but also to share their difficulties, seek help in life’s adversities and find support and spiritual care . Examples were given of pastors who serve sacrificially both through the ministry of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation or standard availability at the parish chancellery, and additionally, give their time for the need of conversation, spiritual accompaniment or other forms of assistance. Communities operating at parishes are also becoming a place of listening, where those in need can find understanding, support, compassion and concrete help. At the same time, it’s hard not to see negative examples as well, revealing the listening deficit still present in the Church. They also mentioned the insincerity, suspicion, and resentment that has been growing for many years between laymen and presbyters, within the clergy itself, and among the faithful. It was also pointed out that many members of the ecclesial community lock themselves into narrow, hermetic circles, multiplying divisions according to the key of political preferences, preferences in terms of understanding tradition, style of religious practice, and, more recently, attitudes toward pandemonium. A not insignificant part of such educated circles inside the Church is closed to dialogue and unwilling to listen to those with differing views.

Can this kind of divisiveness and lack of willingness to listen be overcome somehow? In the course of the synodal meetings, the emphasis was on the need to reach out to the other person not to convince him of one’s reasons, but to first show him respect, kindness and Christian love, regardless of his beliefs. It was said that the acquisition of another human being is done first on a typically human level. Not by coercion, threats or exclusion, but by treating your neighbor as an intrinsic value, even if he does not see that value in himself. Educating for this kind of attitude should be an integral part of the formation process of the faithful in their journey toward Christian maturity.

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

1.1 Listening

True dialogue presupposes an attitude of listening in the interlocutors. The Church, a community of baptized people striving for salvation, is to listen first and foremost to God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to discern God’s will and do it. God speaks through His Word, so the Christian life should be characterized by listening to God’s Word and obeying the Word.

By the will of Jesus Christ, the Church has a divine-human and hierarchical structure, hence it is necessary for the local Church to listen to the Pope, the Bishop and its shepherds. An important part of building local communities is listening to the faithful. It is necessary to listen to believers according to the sensusfidei of God’s people. The church is built through all members baptized and open to God’s initiative. In this aspect, the co-creators of the Church are all the baptized who open themselves to the call of God and actively cooperate with Him. They should present all initiatives and projects to the shepherds of the Church, whose duty it is to receive everyone and listen and, after discernment, make a decision.

Shepherds of the diocesan Church and parish communities should continue dialogue with parish councils, which, elected from among parishioners, are their representatives. The relationship of presbyters with religious groups that are active in the parish/diocese is important. It is necessary to listen to young people who are maturing for future responsibility for the Church. The presence in the local Church of groups: Catholic Youth Association, Oasis of New Life, altar servers and lectors, Margaret Mary, schola, Bible study groups, groups of a charitable nature and others, can be a valuable leaven for building an environment of dialogue between pastors and young people.

Seniors are another age group whose experience and needs should be heard. Often they are suffering and lonely people. A visit by a priest provides an opportunity for conversation and can result in organizing material assistance.

The synodal teams propose the following demands:

  • Forming an attitude of listening in a spirit of openness as the foundation of any meeting.
  • Sustaining and creating small communities belonging to the Church
  • Paying attention to the biblical formation of church members, especially catechists, catechists, evangelizers and leaders of religious groups.
  • Among the diversity of views and opinions, forming an attitude of obedience to God and the voice of the Church’s Teaching Office.
  • Eliminate prejudices, isolation that prevent listening.

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

Twelve questions were addressed to parish and decanal teams. 161 parishes and 6 deaneries submitted responses. Dozens of individual, anonymous surveys were also submitted via mail or email. Here is an attempt to synthesize the submitted votes by subject criterion.

1.1 Listening

1.1.1 How are lay people (especially women, young people, people with disabilities, and people who are less connected to the Church) heard in your parish community?

Usually, priests are available for duty at the parish office. However, many people emphasize that priests are also ready to listen and talk outside of the designated hours. In some parishes there is the possibility of contact via e-mail, instant messaging or social networks.

No discrimination against women is noted. They belong to parish councils and can speak on all relevant issues. People with disabilities or weaker ties to the Church have the opportunity to talk during a pastoral visit, and if needed, they can also arrange a longer meeting, in a non-restrictive environment.

In our parish, we have the opportunity to speak with specialists, including. with a lawyer or psychologist, there are courses for women, meetings for the disabled.

People who actively participate in parish life are heard whenever they need it. Most often, the initiative to talk to a pastor comes from the laity. Priests are more likely to answer questions than to seek contact with the faithful. People who have a weaker connection to the Church only meet clergymen on pastoral visits.

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

1.1 Travel accompaniment/listening/speaking engagements

“Our Church” is declaratively a parish, and in experience a community to which one belongs. It is clear that members of movements and communities who have formed synodal groups are focusing on their journey of walking together. She, on the one hand, develops and enriches them, and on the other hand, “closes” them to the experience of others in the Church: “How is this walking together done in our Church today? Since we form a group whose core has been wandering (literally and metaphorically) together in the Church for years, this question did not provoke us into a lively discussion. The way we function and develop in the community suits us, so we don’t feel the need to change. This does not mean that we do not grow and open ourselves to the Holy Spirit.”

1.1.1 Listening

The synod meetings showed that we can listen to each other even though we sometimes have different perspectives on the Church, the parish, evangelization. This should be considered one of the most important experiences of these meetings, as most of the participants agreed that nowadays we are not able to listen, that we find it difficult to do so, preferring to speak and push our views. Meanwhile, the meeting, which was open and concluded with prayer, and geared toward speaking up rather than arguing, showed that it was possible. And it was a good experience. On the other hand, with regard to other situations, listening in the Church can be understood in two dimensions: 1/ listening to ourselves in a formation group, where despite our differences we are usually able to listen to each other 2/ listening to ourselves in the Church as a whole, which is much more difficult. Often priests do not listen to the faithful because they are not interested in their needs, but in carrying out the pastoral plan, and the laity do not listen to priests or listen to them selectively. It is also difficult to listen to each other when there is an extremely different view of the Church. The two perspectives most often pointed out here are what, generalizing, can be called traditionalist and synodal, and can be symbolized by the dispute over how to receive Holy Communion. Many syntheses have pointed out that the language of sermons is inadequate or even that in sermons priests answer questions that no one asks.

It also posed the question of who and how to listen, whether we are always obliged to listen to everyone and everything: “Listening sometimes has to be put limits, we have the right not to want to listen to what destroys us, what is related to some manipulation of information, what hurts us. Each of us must take into account the limitations that flow from our individual sensitivities. At the same time, sometimes it is not allowed to ‘not hear’, to avoid (for the sake of so-called ‘holy peace’) hearing the other person. When the first situation occurs and when the second occurs is a matter of discernment, which must take place in the conscience of the believer.”

Listening can also be a starting point for evangelization. “Listening is something appealing, if we feel that we are listened to by someone then we want to be with them. If we feel listened to in the Church then we will also want to be in it.” “Listening is sometimes the greatest thing we can give to someone.”

1.1.2 Absentee votes

Despite attempts to reach as wide a spectrum of communities as possible – including groups that are positioned on the periphery of the Church, their voices did not resonate in the syntheses.

  1. Not included in the synod were those who simply do not care about the Church. It is the baptized who, if they recognize their spiritual needs, do not tie them to the Church (this immediately raises the question of their evangelization and our witness) .
  2. The synod’s attempt to include groups perceived to be on the periphery – people in non-sacramental relationships, people with disabilities, LGBT+ people, the homeless – was half-successful. Some of these circles have held synod meetings, and this is a separate voice from a peripheral position, not a joint meeting. One may ask why there were no such voices at synod meetings of parish groups?
  3. Paradoxically, the voice of the members of the communities was marked to a relatively small extent, in the sense that not in every community of a given movement did such meetings take place i.e., people were appointed to form synod groups within a given community (e.g., the Domestic Church), but not all formation groups leaned into the questions of the synod during their meetings, as if participation in one’s own community was sufficient and its members did not feel the need to involve themselves in the synod.

The syntheses submitted also show that the big absentee from the meetings was youth. Few syntheses were produced by youth groups (a few each from meetings for school catechesis and those preparing for Confirmation, an online group of a dozen people, one synthesis from an academic ministry), and young people rarely came to meetings of synodal parish groups. All the more appreciation should be given to those young people who were very passionately involved in the synod and the topic of youth itself must be considered a priority and was present at almost all the meetings , whose participants asked the question: what should be done so that young people do not leave the Church? What can be done to bring her back to the Church? And a great many voices resounded helplessness in this context.

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

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 Listening

Listening is one of the most important challenges of the Church in the synodal process that has been initiated. However, it often encounters a variety of obstacles, among which the following were pointed out in the Plock Church: clericalism, in the thinking of both clergy and laity about the Church; prejudice; lack of an atmosphere of understanding and sincerity; and often fear of the opinion of superiors or other members of the community.

The most important thing in this context, therefore, seems to be the creation of a listening atmosphere. It is possible when a person is willing to listen to God, who speaks in His Word, in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and in another person.

The district and decanal meetings were quite popular with the invited faithful. Each group attempted to reflect the social and religious cross-section of the deanery and region. The discussions undertaken were constructive, with each group given a clearly defined topic to consider and discuss. Final conclusions were always formulated in writing.

A special form of surveying was the “synodal boxes” – physical, appropriately labeled boxes placed in visible locations in the parish churches of the diocese. A total of 8 parishes (out of 249 in the diocese, or 3%) submitted votes from the boxes. In many boxes, pastors found monetary offerings for the parish placed by the faithful. No vulgar or anti-faith or anti-church voices were reported. The synodal email box was a space for exchanging all the voices flowing down to the contact persons, both individually and from diocesan groups and committees. The email address and the idea of the synodal process were disseminated through parish websites, parish social media, the diocesan website and the curial departments’ websites.

About 1/4 of the parishes have joined the synodal process, sending relevant reports of meetings. In 5 of the 28 deaneries, no synodal meeting was held in any of the parishes in the deanery. For many of the faithful, a valuable and important experience, useful in the current synodal process, was the work in earlier synodal teams during the 43rd. Synod of Plock, which ended in 2015.

Individual conversations between priests and the faithful, sermons were an important part of the synodal process. However, there are no reports from them, only verbally transmitted votes to diocesan coordinators.

  1. They pointed out the value of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in silence, during which a person can most fully hear the voice of God, resounding also in the human conscience. Thus, they stressed the need to open churches during the day and allow the faithful to come to visit the Blessed Sacrament and adoration.
  2. It was noted how important it is in the lives of priests to listen to and be with the faithful, also to reach out to them, for example, after Mass is over, through frequent duty in the confessional, availability and openness in the parish chancellery, patient and conscientious performance of duties as hospital chaplains, religious chaplains.
  3. A huge deficit in listening is present in many families today, with many parenting problems also stemming from this.
  4. The problem of listening within religious communities is important, where it is important for superiors to be open to every confrere and sister.
  5. More speaking space should be given to women, especially those involved in parish and deanery ministry. A demand was made for the establishment of a diocesan women’s council.
  6. The issue of listening more fully to the voice of people with disabilities, involving them in parish structures, and adapting parish buildings for use by people with disabilities was raised.
  7. The great challenge of the modern Plock Church is to rediscover the important place and tasks of young people in parish communities. They seem to be the ones most attuned to “being listened to,” to speak out about their experience of the world, faith and the Church.
  8. The distinction between listening and advising was pointed out. Decision-making should be preceded not only by good advice, but by listening to the voice of every believer interested in action.
  9. They noted the immense and still insufficiently appreciated value of the pastoral visit, or carol service, which is a good opportunity to get to know parishioners, accompany and discern with them the paths to God.
  10. The importance of talking to the faithful at the parish office was emphasized, especially when dealing with the formalities of the sacraments and sacramentals. It’s always a good opportunity to evangelize and talk about faith.

[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 Listening

Synod participants pointed to the many forms and spaces of mutual listening in the Church. In the syntheses we find a fair number of testimonies, mostly embedded in local environments, which describe positive experiences of communal life for laity and clergy. In addition, “the Church has ample opportunities to expand meeting spaces and structures that foster listening.”

According to most Synod participants, however, a different experience is dominant: “it is very difficult for us to listen to each other.” If one were to try to briefly name the gist of many synodal statements, one could put it this way: “When someone speaks, instead of listening to him carefully, we usually already prepare our response while he is speaking. We can’t have a dialogue. We are not in the habit of looking for good inspiration in other people’s statements, and if they express views that differ from ours, we usually respond with counter-arguments. This applies not only to church spaces. This is a community-wide problem.”

As a result, Synod participants recognized that the biggest challenge for the Church is to improve the quality of listening to each other, especially in relations between clergy and laity: “There is a lack of listening to the laity in the Church,” “We are used to listening to the speaker from the side of the altar in the Church.” Many lay people expressed a growing tendency in them to listen more critically to the clergy, and the authority of priests and bishops is weakening in their eyes, especially in recent years: “Church people too often criticize and judge others, including in the Church, but they themselves are unable to listen to criticism.”

A recurring theme in the syntheses was the way the clergy, especially the bishops, communicate with the rest of the Church and the public: “Many of them speak in abstract terms, and pastoral letters are written in abstruse, incomprehensible language.” Sermons are often disconnected from people’s real problems: “Priests and bishops are not listening to the needs of their listeners.”

Quite often, Synod participants stressed that in the Church “women are not listened to, and their role is more of a servant nature.” In their view, the Church does not relate to women with empathy: “The voice of women in the Church is not listened to with attention.”

Almost all Synod participants pointed to the Synod as a space for real listening to the laity in the Church.

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

1.1 Listening and speaking up

Faith is born from what one hears. Hence, first of all, the need to “listen to the word of God, which is an inexhaustible treasure. If possible, it is good if it is its joint listening and consideration. And this is the first condition for listening to each other later. With prayer flowing from the heart, listening to the voice of God, it is possible to grow in faith and love and walk together.”

Mutual listening is done on several levels. The priestly ministry of the word necessarily involves listening on the part of the faithful. Usually it is the priest who interprets the word of God, and the laity are the listeners. This is the direction we are accustomed to, but some demands are being made here as well. For listening to be possible one needs an appropriate, i.e. first of all understandable, accessible way of speaking. The language must not be hermetic, it is to be understood by all outsiders. Otherwise, a barrier is created. The subject matter is also important. In addition to homilies, the syntheses point to the need for catechism sermons that address current issues in people’s lives, but without political emphases. Hence, the faithful value the presence of priests who are endowed with the gift of the word and are able to share it. They even consider the time spent attending the retreat fruitful. They also point to the homily’s brevity as an important advantage.

The Church is a community of communities, and in order to build this community and walk the path of salvation together, one needs to listen to each other. From listening comes joy, reflection and a sense of participation and shared responsibility. In order for the laity to fulfill their mission by serving their experience, they need space to share it and be heard. Sometimes there is a complaint about too little flow of information between priests and laymen. Therefore, they point to the need for priests to become more involved in building mutual relationships with parishioners and creating opportunities for meetings outside the chancellery. A good opportunity for this is even a pastoral visit or even a pastor going out to the faithful after Mass. The syntheses emphasize how important it is to seek a common space for dialogue with young people; to let young people act; in listening to others, to want to understand, not judge. “We often hear each other, but we don’t listen to each other.” To improve mutual listening one needs to engage communities to build relationships, bonds between parishioners. You can start by integrating communities, by “presenting” them in church, undertaking joint activities, e.g. parish festivals, caroling together. It is also necessary to build the awareness of priests (pastors and vicars) that without their “first” step, going out to the communities, to the parishioners, it is impossible to build relationships between parishioners, to create a platform for dialogue and integration. Priests seem to be the natural leaders/pastors – the initiators of relational ventures. You need to move away from judgment, prejudice, and try to be responsible for yourself. We should learn to notice even a little good in our neighbors, appreciate the weak and stand up for them. They stressed that there is a great need to listen to men and activate them. Listening to each other is helped when the listener and speaker know each other, when there is calmness and focus, curiosity about the topic being addressed, and the form and manner of the message (the ability to convey the content in such a way as to interest others). Media messages and technology also help. Certainly, respect for each individual facilitates listening, while entering into roles, hierarchy in the Church hinders this listening. They are also hampered by the imposition of their views on others, a lack of experience and understanding of the reality of the Church, a lack of unity, the moral weakness of Church people and the scandals that come with it, and often too much distance between priests and the laity, or an inappropriate mode of communication. In order to be heard, you also need to be in the right place at the right time, especially where it is and speaks: youth, minorities, the excluded, people on the periphery, etc. Listening is a virtue that requires humility, which must be perfected in oneself. The reasons for not listening are their own biases, bad attitudes, and lack of listening skills. In order to listen well, we need to get rid of our biases. By listening, i.e. offering our time to someone, we let it be known that this person is important to us, that his or her problems and life are also important to us. Younger participants in synodal groups sometimes feel that they are not being listened to in the Church; according to them, the opinion still persists that young is “stupid,” and that only age and experience count. Many times there is also an unfair belief that only statements, suggestions of wealthy people, holding various positions, holding various functions, are taken into account, while non-wealthy people remain in the shadows, are withdrawn. So there is a suggestion, why not conduct some kind of general survey or even place a question box in the parish for better communication, so that everyone’s voice can be heard. This will result in perhaps not so strong statements that “there is no dialogue in the Church. There are pulpits, radios and televisions – everything broadcasts, nothing receives,” and the critical voice of the laity towards the institutional Church in a situation of some irregularity will not be treated as an attack by priests.

The means of communication are playing an increasingly important role in this mutual listening. However, care must be taken to ensure the high professionalism of this mode of communication. It seems indispensable for every parish to have an up-to-date website or to communicate with its parishioners through other social media as well. This is all the more true for a diocese or the whole Church in Poland. This will make it at least easier for the Church, when needed, to respond in a timely manner.

One can hope that the beginning of a fuller listening is the synodal process.

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

1.1.1 Listening is the first step, but it requires an open mind and heart, without prejudice

According to the expressed opinion of the participants in the consultation, the laity and clergy have a problem listening to each other, and as a result it is difficult to have a dialogue. Since he is missing, there are no open relationships, free from unnecessary prejudice, conjecture, innuendo, harmful comments or slander. The need to be heard and listened to is the most common appeal of diocesans (we listen rarely, rather than listen to those who do not share our views, beliefs). Of course, one cannot expect one party (only the clergy, or only the laity), a permanent change in attitude towards the value of dialogue and the resulting interpersonal relationships. Willing to listen in order to hear one must, the synod suggests, open one’s mind and heart without undue prejudice. In the synod consultation, it resounded that the difficult art of listening and dialogue can be learned from adoration of God hidden in the Blessed Sacrament. The chance to find a thread of understanding with others in the right word is then greater, moreover, even with those who have views different from our own.

The will to talk to another person requires a level, a certain standard: you need personal culture, respect (especially for women), you can never ignore a person because of his function, treat him inferiorly, stigmatize him (the vain notion of one’s superiority, uniqueness, infallibility is always fatal). In pastoral work, personalism, an individual approach (an outlook that sees everyone and every individual) is valued. “Template” pastoral office should not be associated with a broadcast of issued messages, instructions, announcements spoken in unintelligible, archaic, vague, inexact and essentially haughty language. Language and its component, the word, always determines the climate of the meeting, and consequently encourages or discourages listening. For this reason, as has been pointed out, the preaching of the kerygma requires a refined word, but a simple one; a word that is prayerful, that touches the essence of things, a word that captures attention because it is filled with truth.

Pastoral care, it was noted, demands authentic relationships. They are the base on which authority is formed, and over time pastoral fruits appear. The slogan, “I want to have holy peace and so no one will come…”, is a negation of pastoral care, which, after all, always makes sense, even to one person. Pointing out, as to the quality of ministry in laymen and clergy alike, does not take anything away, is not an unkind hook. Truth spoken respectfully, yes it sheds light on the matter, however it can never demean. We should all keep this in mind.

Adolescents growing up, especially those in the period of confirmation, as it were, naturally for them, contest the authorities, rules and principles of life (including Christian life). Maturation sets in motion a process of choices, prepares to adopt a particular attitude. Values negated, revised, are an opportunity before the next stage of life. Here, free decision, self-development, self-esteem will decide. Therefore, any vocation, is a concrete decision – freedom “from”, to choose freedom “towards”. Competent pastoral care calls for pedagogical expertise, passion for building relationships, and the courage to share the living God. The potential for the faith and wisdom of women to help pastor youth, families, children is a valuable insight for diocesans. However, all efforts on the level of pastoral care and its effectiveness, share a common denominator: it is God who gives spiritual growth. And no one, never this order of precedence given to God’s grace can forget. Constant prayer to the Holy Spirit, preceding all actions, is a holy habit that demands authentication by every layman and clergyman. The Holy Spirit is the Lord of relationships and dialogue, that’s for sure.

All stereotypes, prejudices, wrongs – seen and named, especially those that inferior and hurt, are the basis for reviewing one’s behavior on both sides of the “aisle.” It is worth acknowledging the mistakes that one makes, it is worth standing in truth (before oneself and before the community) – this is the only way of purification, the way to build ecclesial unity, providing hope for cooperation and relations between laity and clergy. Every faithful priest and every faithful layman is a part of the living Church. Both states decide what the Church is like;both states, for the sake of the Church, need each other.

From the priest, the laity expect approachability, spiritual care; being a minister of the sacraments, the priest has the right to expect respect and esteem, but likewise he must show this respect and esteem to the laity – the priestly people have dignity and have the right to noble, wise and Godly priests, whom by God’s will he can issue from among his ranks. The felt request of diocesans is that the priest should always be a priest and only a priest, that he should take care of his priestly identity – be divine, but remain human. In this context, the laity expect a deepened spiritual life from their pastors; they expect a solid interpretation of the faith, a model for living the spirit of the Gospel. The priestly people want to meet in the steward of God’s mysteries a Christian who loves the Church, is faithful to it and is happy to tell about it. From the context of the synodal statements, this desire seems to radiate, and it is a very human and very divine desire.

In “our Church”, those who experience poverty, marginalization or social exclusion find support in the activities of the diocesan Caritas, and from other aid organizations; it is worth talking about it, reminding, encouraging young people to volunteer (perhaps before confirmation to show through testimony the value of social activism). It is also worth encouraging and showing help more often in the parish community. Synodality, is also an option for the poor, the needy, the excluded, for seniors. Therefore, it is worth cultivating all forms of support (proposed by secular and ecclesiastical institutions); it is worth, as resounded in the synodal consultations, listening to the voice of people on the social periphery and hearing what they have to say about God, about the Church, about life. It is worthwhile to experience the Eucharist together with them, adore the Blessed Sacrament, also ask them for prayers and even advice. In communities of socially excluded people, one can experience listening, form relationships, learn to serve and discover one’s own humanity. Shaping the imagination of mercy is a pastoral opportunity to create a Church of closeness, a compassionate Church, a concerned Church, one that sees needs and addresses them.

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

1.1 Listening

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.

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

1.1 Listening

We see that fewer and fewer people in the world have the ability to listen to others. This problem also affects the Church community. We are closed to opinions and opinions different from ours. What does not agree with our way of thinking, we often perceive as a threat or an attack on our person. Also, when listening to the Word, we do not always hear what God is saying to us, because we listen selectively – we hear or accept only what suits us. We have the feeling that we are not always heard in the Church community and by our superiors.

In the relationship: laity-clergy, there is often a lack of mutual listening. The resulting tensions and conflicts are rooted in a lack of understanding of each other’s expectations and capabilities. Also in the context of diocesan and parish management (in personnel and material matters), we see the need for more consultation and greater openness to the arguments and proposals raised in the course of the discussions undertaken.

The experience of the synodal meetings showed us how important it is to be able to listen to each other, as it allows us to learn from each other and benefit from different experiences.

A privileged place where we feel heard are small groups and religious communities. Spaces that provide opportunities to be heard are the annual pastoral visit, meetings at the parish office, and school catechesis.

Testimony:

“The Lord God allowed the meetings to be conducted in such a way that we as participants felt heard. It turned out that each of us had a lot to say. Without prejudice, without judging, we leaned together on problems affecting our parish community. Even when there were moments of judgment, misunderstanding of attitudes between individual participants, God gave gentleness and peace so that at the end of the meeting we could sing praises to Him together.”

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

1.1 Listening

  1. It is important to listen to the Word of God, i.e. the Holy Scriptures and the Tradition of the Church. We appreciate the value of daily prayer with the Word of God and the need for regular biblical formation, lived out in small communities. Aids to this can be Bible prayer schools in parishes, providing commentaries in line with Church Tradition and teaching prayer.
  2. It is necessary to fraternally and attentively listen to each other.
  3. It is valuable to listen to God, who also works God’s grace through the people we meet in church communities (e.g., prayer communities, formation communities, groups, associations and others). We want to keep our hearts open to the voice of the other.
  4. The effects come from quietly listening to anyone who would like to contribute to both the local church and the parish. Therefore, the need is felt to continue the pastoral discussion of synodal methodology.
  5. In listening to each other, it is valuable to break down barriers and prejudices. It is worth avoiding dominating the discussion and imposing your own views.
  6. We take into account the voice of the poor, the excluded and minorities in our spiritual discernment in order to seek better methods of evangelization, while maintaining constant fidelity to the Church’s Tradition that protects its continuity.
  7. We continue to want to meet emerging needs, which are changing, to seek methods to reach lost people with the Gospel.
  8. The Eucharist is a priceless gift to the Church community. She unifies, strengthens, unites and inspires obedience to the Holy Spirit. At the same time, we recognize the constant need to initiate Christians into a proper understanding and experience of the Mass, which should be a form of adult catechesis in parishes.
  9. A great help in reviving faith is adoration prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, which is one form of listening to God. It is worthwhile to organize adoration in open churches, including for children and young people, and the faithful should be taught this form of prayer, which is very strengthening, but at the same time requires preparation of the faithful and spiritual initiation.
  10. They noted the need to listen to the voice of women during pastoral planning in the parish, so that they do not feel relegated or confined solely to temporal ministries.

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

1.1 Conclusions of the meetings

1.1.1 Meeting I: the common way – listening – speaking

The first meetings were held in December 2021 and January 2022. These included 3 groups of questions (see Appendix 1). The questions addressed the issues of listening, speaking, and awareness of following a common path.

Among the participants of the meetings, there were often voices that indicated a lack of unity in the Church and a sense of common purpose, resulting in a lack of trust in the Church’s shepherds, who differ in their views. There is also a noticeable variation in the reception of Pope Francis’ teaching. Lay participants in the synod groups pointed out, when talking about people excluded from the Church community, that these are most often “neglected” people and groups for whom there are no pastoral proposals, who themselves often leave: young people (almost all pointed out this group); people in non-sacramental relationships; young parents, young adults; LGBT people (mentioned especially by young people, but also many parish groups).

Many accounts of the meetings signaled a lack of a sense of being heard – there is also a lack of the existence of a proper forum, a place, a space for conversation, dialogue; “There is a lack of building closer relationships between the faithful by staying together and sharing faith and religious knowledge. The space for listening and dialogue with the faithful is far too small.” What clearly emerges is a desire to establish relationships, a cry for conversations about the Church, about the faith (although the fear that this could lead to a dilution of doctrine shines through in some of the notes). It was pointed out that the faithful are not listened to by priests, curates by pastors, catechists by pastors, pastors by the bishop. It was also pointed out that at times women are in a particularly bad situation, with their voices disregarded. They pointed to the lack of dialogue, as decisions are made top-down, without consultation. In very few parishes it can be said that people have a sense of being listened to by the pastor, priests.

It was often noted that communication with priests is hindered by “priests’ sense of uniqueness compared to other people, being convinced of their superiority and special value.”; “the basic stereotype also held by priests is that the parish priest is the boss at the parish, not a servant of God. This makes it most difficult to talk about important topics.” Priests, on the other hand, mostly believe that there is a possibility of meeting, that they are available, and cite the parish chancellery, carol service and confessional as possible meeting places.

It was emphasized that relationships exist if the faithful are in some type of community, they then have relationships with each other and with the priest who works with them. If there are many different communities in a parish, most often there is also no mutual dialogue between these groups. There is a belief that even if someone has the courage to say something, they are blocked by a sense of meaninglessness, that nothing will change anyway. There have been claims that speaking out would cause harm. In some (few) parishes it was declared that “we are listened to by the parish priest and the parish council.” At the same time, some people declared approval of the status quo, that they had no need to speak up and be heard.

According to participants in synod meetings, parish councils often do not exist. If they even are, they perform a fictitious function. The statement that the parish council is a closed group with no newcomers resounded in some groups.

Many statements diagnosed that we currently have a deficit of local authorities – “priests are not trusted, they are not authorities – they say something different and live differently.” This gap is filled by searching for church authorities on the Internet. Rather, in a small number of groups, the statement was made: “we have confidence in our shepherds.” One group of priests pointed out that “you can see that we don’t trust each other: priests to priests, priests to their bishops, bishops to their priests. One often gets the impression that the bishops don’t want to listen to us. Of course, we are also aware that we ourselves also do not know how to listen to our faithful”; “we are not listened to by the Bishop, we do not dare to talk about it, this is the result of our diplomacy.”

The notes include a negative assessment of the fulfillment of the bishop’s office (inaccessibility, lack of dialogue), as well as of the Episcopate as a whole (lack of speaking with one voice, lack of decisiveness in actions, but also an expressed lack of trust). References appear relatively infrequently, but nevertheless in a negative context; repeated voices that signal the problem of clericalism, which paralyzes or even excludes any form of shared responsibility for the Church locally.

Reports from youth groups include statements that “the Church is sad. This tends not to encourage”; that young people “do not feel encouraged to participate in the life of the Church.” From the notes provided by these groups, it appears that there is a huge problem with religious practices, the preparation for the sacraments (Confirmation), which in the opinion of young people is poorly conducted, is deficient: “this way you don’t participate, you just ‘pass'”; “no one ever showed me that the Church is cool, I was still forced to do everything”.

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

1.1.1 Listening

Responses about the level of mutual listening often alluded to difficulties related to general mechanisms that impede interpersonal dialogue. The fruits of listening to each other were also emphasized. Many responses strongly emphasized that true listening to one another in the Church begins with listening to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us. Here are some sample responses: “Each of us has our own vision of the ideal, most often tailored to our own and current needs at the time. In the parish, an effective role in engaging in dialogue is fulfilled by the Parish Pastoral Council by working closely with the parish pastor,” “there is no shortage of listening space,” “it doesn’t seem that anyone can go unheard,” “groups active in the parish don’t want to listen to each other, act according to their own rules often isolating themselves from other parishioners”, “modern man does not know how to listen, he does not know how to accept constructive criticism of himself”, “without listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit, it is impossible to meet with Jesus and share his desires and feelings.Without an encounter with Jesus, a missionary’s preaching will become empty and artificial, even if it is clothed in beautiful words”, “unfortunately, one often notices a lack or serious shortcomings in the ability to listen to each other, starting from the smallest community cell of the Church, which is the family, through parishes, dioceses and the whole Church.”

Highlighting the role of listening to the voice of God. The 5th SDT directly addressed this topic during a meeting with all priests in the framework of priestly congregations on 9-11.02.2017. Bishop Leszek Leszek Leszkiewicz, as chairman of the Preparatory Commission, then gave a conference “What is the Holy Spirit saying to the Tarnów Church?”.

[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 Listening

It is noteworthy that most of those who spoke at the synod meetings willingly answered this question. Positive voices were in the minority, in the face of voices presenting criticism of the listening attitude in the Church.

1.1.1.1 Positive Glosses

Speakers at synod meetings point out that the first listener in the Church community should be God through His Word. They themselves feel heard by the Church. In their view, there are no rejected people or minorities who are excluded. They feel especially comfortable through listening in small religious communities: The Church listens to the faithful through the communities and prayer groups in which they participate. The parish’s social media helps in listening, and parishioners themselves feel most listened to during parish actions (e.g., a festival). Dialogue with those rooted in the modern cultural context, should be based on the foundation of the Gospel and the commandments. Those responding appreciated the role of priests and religious, feel real support and feel listened to, especially when priests and religious pray for them.

1.1.1.2 Critical voices

In many cases, participants in the synod meetings noted that pastoralists towards the laity present an attitude of superiority. They act as if the parishes are their own territory, which means that no one else but them has a say. They don’t want to listen to the laity, for this reason, for example, parish communities can fall apart after a change of pastor. Many parishes do not have pastoral councils, or they are appointed only for visitation purposes. Alleging that the diocesan curia has been tardy in responding to requests from the laity, or even unresponsive, unable to discuss important parish issues with the bishop. The bishop and priests do not present an attitude of fatherhood toward the people entrusted to them. As one synod meeting participant notes: There is no listening in the Church. Church leaders do not listen to the faithful. They only carry out their tasks and set goals. The voice of children, young people and women is marginalized in the Church. One person notes: voice of the faithful is ignored, lack of clear answer to the allegations raises a lot of controversy. The young are deprecated by their elders, who consider them “evil” in the Church. The role of women (including consecrated women) is reduced primarily to cleaning and cooking. Priests do not treat them as worthy of being listened to, and there is often the phrase that for the hierarchy, women are “second-class people.”

1.1.1.3 Applications

Where there is dialogue in the parish it should be maintained. In parishes where there is a communication problem, the laity must not stop trying to speak up, and priests who treat the faithful with superiority and the parish as property should try to improve relations with the laity and listen to their voice and accept criticism. For priests and lay leaders, workshops teaching the principles of good listening and communication would be useful. It would be necessary to pay attention to the real functioning of the pastoral council, especially in larger parishes, so that it really becomes an environment of reflection, an advisory and critical voice to the various actions taken in the parish.

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

1.1 Listening

During the synod consultations, there was a resounding conviction that inviting lay people to participate in the synod and listening to their voice could bring good results and positively affect the functioning of parishes and help the Church carry out its mission in Poland and the world.

It stressed that there is a need to learn to listen to each other, which is a necessary condition for dialogue. A person who knows how to listen is less inclined to judge and criticize other people. Conversely, talking to people outside the Church allows you to know and understand their arguments.

Attention was paid to the need to learn to listen to the Word of God. The faithful want to be supported by pastors in the process of growing in faith. They lack catechization of adults who want to develop a relationship with God, especially through reading and meditating on Scripture.

According to consultation participants, “listening” should lead to a change in the perception of “the Church as a service provider” to “the Church as a home.”

It has been noted that in the modern world, people engrossed in constant activity find it increasingly difficult to listen. Difficulties in this aspect also apply to communication within the family, especially communication between people belonging to different generations.

Most participants in the synod meetings expressed the belief that the laity is not listened to enough in the Church. They reported a lack of functioning spaces that could provide places to meet and talk, to listen to each other, to overcome fears and anxieties in conversations with priests, to learn about and discover the Church, including the parish Church, to overcome anonymity and build a parish community. The belief was also expressed that it is the openness of priests that makes the laity listen to them.

At the same time, it was stressed that there is a conspicuous lack of action to address the problems mentioned. After all, listening, nodding and doing nothing is no way to have a mature, partnership relationship between laity and clergy, participants said. Speaking out honestly and boldly is hampered by a lack of confidence and courage, and a sense of powerlessness due to the failure to implement previously stated ideas.

They stressed that clericalism is a barrier to listening and dialogue. We were brought up with a distance between the clergy and the laity, we don’t know how to talk about our needs, so we “complain in corners.” The faithful also see obstacles to communication in the lack of availability of priests, their interest in the faithful, lack of time and the ossified structure of church institutions.

It was noted that there is a practice of excluding those who think differently. It is easy to lock ourselves into a group where we are comfortable. Those who remain on the periphery of religious life are generally not listened to. We are eager to listen to those who are close to us or have views similar to ours. Those who think differently, or worse, criticize our point of view, are perceived negatively by us, and we often avoid and do not listen to them.

[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 Listening and speaking up

Most of those completing the survey indicated that they felt listened to. In the surveys there were also opinions of people saying that they are not listened to, but it should be noted that often people from the same parish feel that they are listened to in this community. This is influenced by the individual approach to the priest. What problems do believers point out in the listening process? These are mainly: the priest’s lack of time and his closure to listening to parishioners, the attitude of “the priest knows everything best,” the lack of a place (premises) where people can meet with the priest or someone from the parish and be heard, the pride of priests and their unwillingness to contact the laity, the reluctance of priests to devote their private time to the faithful. Where do priests most often listen to parishioners? – During confessions, before and after Mass, individually at scheduled times, through parish and pastoral councils, at community meetings, during the preparation of children for First Holy Communion. and confirmation, during pastoral visitation and premarital courses. People belonging to the communities feel better listened to than the so-called “community members. “ordinary parishioners.” Young people complain a lot about the lack of interest and listening; they say they are often treated as those who don’t know life and are too young to have an opinion.

Those filling out the survey indicated that there is a real problem with speaking out in some parishes and communities. There were frequent responses, especially from people in the communities, that shyness, complexes, fear of judgment, intimidation, fear of being laughed at, criticized or publicly ridiculed cause many people not to speak out on parish or community issues. While the surveys do not elaborate on why such feelings and emotional states arise, it is quite often indicated that parishioners do not feel comfortable talking. In surveys, this is a fairly common phenomenon – fear and apprehension of speaking out – although it is not entirely clear from whom the speakers feel this fear. From the context, one can guess that, on the one hand, it is about those priests who do not tolerate the dissent of the faithful, and on the other hand, about members of communities. It turns out that within communities, too, structures of power and dependence are created, and thus a sense of alienation and not being listened to, and a fear of speaking out. There are also quite a few opinions saying that there is no reason to speak out, because the voice of parishioners is not taken into account. They also pointed out that there is no clear decision-making process in the parishes.

Paradoxically, those filling out community surveys need to be heard more than individuals. It would seem that it should be the other way around – members of the communities being closer to the priests and parishes are listened to more than the so-called “parishes”. “ordinary parishioners,” however, the latter feel less need to be heard, as they are not as involved in parish affairs. “Ordinary parishioners” may also be guided by stereotypes or their own experience and know that the priest won’t listen to them anyway, because priests are haughty and autocratic. Community members, on the other hand, for whom involvement in Church affairs is important, have initiatives and ideas, and feel that since they are involved they want to have more say in the parish. The implication is that if in parishes members of the community do not speak out, it is rather because they know that it will do nothing or they are afraid of humiliation, ridicule. There is no such concern among individuals, here it is more dominated by the lack of such a need or, they say, the lack of a platform and tools for good communication in parishes.

The totality of voices the diocese has received from individuals who do not feel they are being listened to can be divided into two groups. The first are those who explicitly report that there are currently no appropriate forms, tools or platforms in the Church where parishioners can be heard (this mainly refers to places where one can meet a priest and the time he could devote to talking with parishioners). Just talking only at confession (sometimes too short) is not enough, many parishioners want longer and in-depth meetings, but according to the surveys, their attitude is rather passive, they do not seek much to be heard, rather they expect initiative. The second group is people who simply don’t feel the need to be heard, they don’t seek it, the liturgy is enough for them. Of course, in analyzing the responses, it is important to remember that the phrase “being listened to” is very general, as we will find in the surveys the belief that being listened to is the same as implementing the proposals made. Hence, if even someone has the opportunity to fully express his or her opinion, but his or her ideas are not implemented, he or she feels that he or she is not being listened to.

Among the anonymous surveys, there were the highest number of people who believe they are not being̨ listened to, while among the community surveys, fear of speaking up, fear of being ridiculed or humiliated dominated. Communities and individual signatories reported a lack of tools with which tǫ contact and conversation with priests. A serious obstacle to listening is the fact that priests do not have time to meet (short conversations after Mass remain, aṡ the priest either rushes off for a service or lunch), sometimes there is̨ a longer conversatioń during confession or caroling. Surveys show that many parishioners need to create tools and places for good communication and systematic contact. One of the proposals is to set up special duty periods, during which the priest would meet with the faithful.

A separate group of commentators on the topic of listening are those attached to tradition groups (supporters of the Mass celebrated in the Tridentine rite). Their surveys are dominated by the anti-dialogue discourse,. Many people have written that the Church is not for discussing, because only the hierarchical authority in the Church is responsible for the whole, while the Catholic is bound by humility and obedience, so he should always listen to the voice of the priest. The laity are not from the affairs of the Church, they are to implement the recommendations of the priests. There is a clear negation of the concept of dialogue in more than a dozen surveys of this environment. The community of the Church is not a place to listen to each other, dialogue is rather destruction, it is bad and unnecessary. Such strong statements arise in this group from a peculiar ecclesiology – the Church cannot dialogue because it is not a democratic institution (it is a mega-military, hierarchical institution) – hence the denial of the dialogical nature of the Second Vatican Council, the so-called “dialogue”. The spirit of the Council or the dialogical attitude of the current Pope Francis. In these responses, there is a clear reluctance to dialogue, conversation and community discernment. In the opinion of many in the tradition circles, obedience in the Church is the most important thing, there is no room for teamwork, dialogue, because sooner or later the introduction of lay voices into the Church will lead to the Protestantization of the Catholic Church, which will eventually cause its collapse as happened in Western Europe. At the same time, paradoxically, in the surveys of supporters of the tradition, there is a clear regret present that they themselves are not heard in the Church now, no one is talking to them. They want to be noticed, listened to, they really want to celebraté Mass. in the old rite, making it difficult and sometimes impossible for them to do so, Pope Francis’ motu prioprio Tradicionis Custodes. The responses show sadness and regret at the marginal and unfair treatment of their groups – the modern Church, they complain, is more open to the communities of dissenters or LGBT people than to those of tradition.

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

1.1.1 Listening

“Faith is born of listening.” In this context, synod participants stressed the value and need for reading the Scriptures. They also reminded us that the Lord Jesus urges us to listen (“He who has ears, let him hear”). It was also pointed out that listening is a difficult skill: not only in relation to God, but also in interpersonal relations. The issue of homilies was also raised. In the syntheses submitted, a deficiency also shines through when it comes to the word of God preached in the temples. It was painfully pointed out that not all priests are properly preparing for this task. The faithful, coming to Mass. would like to hear a homily that is prayerful, thoughtful, with a deep message that would help them understand the readings they heard and put them into action.

They also pointed out the importance and need to listen to each other, especially in families (parents and children, spouses). It was pointed out that today people talk to each other more than they talk to each other. Attention was paid to the ability to listen to every person: rich and poor, old and young, who should be given the same respect and treated as partners, not from a position of superiority. Problems with proper listening are also created by lack of time, humility, prejudice, pride, ready answers, fear of difficult questions, fatigue, lack of patience, loneliness, nervousness, labeling, fear of aggression from others, fear of burdening others with their problems, haste, lack of firmness in confessing the faith, pushiness, aggression from people who attack the Church.

It is important not to judge hastily and to accept what the other person says with respect. Empathy helps to open up to the problems of others and listen to them respectfully.

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

1.1 Listening

Listening to each other, Synod participants felt, builds community, which is why the attitude and practice of listening is so important. Faith is born from listening, so the first listener should be God in His Word. This faith also leads to listening to brothers and sisters in the hope that through their voice God wants to speak to the Church today.

The faithful are aware that in the Church a very important aspect is to listen to authorities – the Holy Father, bishops, priests in charge of parishes. However, the process of listening to the laity by the clergy is also very important. The synod reveals the need present in the hearts of the faithful for there to be recognized and orderly avenues of communication (time and place) aimed at listening to the voice running from the bottom to the top of the church structure. Priests, too, feel a very urgent need to be heard by superiors, central institutions – both at the level of conversation and at the formal level, documents or reports presented.

The willingness to listen on the part of the faithful often faces the obstacle of the incomprehensible language used by priests in the liturgy. Similarly incomprehensible language is used, in the perception of the faithful, by bishops writing letters to the Church in Poland. Moreover, there they talk about things detached from the realities of life. The best homilies are born from the priests’ ability to listen to the faithful and genuinely understand their problems. When priests refuse to listen, finding excuses in the large number of activities, or when questions remain unanswered, a sense of sadness and alienation is born in the hearts of the faithful. A similar feeling grows when bishops do not have time to talk to, listen to the faithful. Haste and lack of ability to accompany by listening make attempts to respond to the difficulties of the faithful out of context and do not address the essence of the problems they are experiencing, becoming empty moralizing. The faithful feel that the flight from sincere listening stems from fear of the need for pastoral involvement.

It is very gratifying when the difficulties expressed are met with a genuine response from the priests. Trust is built when priests become sincere listeners, with a willingness to consider the proposals expressed, recognize what is good and useful in them and support their implementation. “When the faithful are not listened to in small matters, they choose not to address issues of greater importance.” Authentic listening to the faithful is born out of love for the people in the community and leads to fruitful pastoral care – in the Gospels, Jesus very often first listened to the needs of the people and then responded to them with powerful action.

It is often felt that priests lack the humility to acknowledge their ignorance – priests sometimes give the impression that they know everything best and don’t need to listen. Fear of knowing the truth may be present in the background of such an attitude. A very important area of pastoral involvement is listening to young people. The young are particularly receptive to opportunities to express their opinions. According to young people, authentic discernment of their voice motivates them to engage in the life of the community, especially when it avoids imposing ready-made prescriptions on them, and gives answers that flow from authentic discernment.

Another particularly sensitive issue is listening skills for the Sacrament of Penance. Wise listening coupled with good spiritual insight is an opportunity for the spiritual growth of the faithful. Deficiencies in the willingness to listen in the confessional give rise to bad experiences and can lead the faithful to stray from the life of the Church.

What hurts is the frequent – in the perception of the faithful – situation in which women’s ideas and statements are taken less seriously than those of men. This is happening in the context of church life from both clergy and laity. “A church that listens to the faithful will be aware of contemporary problems and will know how to respond in the right way to the social and cultural changes taking place.”

[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 not only speak, but 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. This is because speaking up is also discouraged by the fact that it is not uncommon for everything in the Church 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/]

1.1 Listening and speaking up

Nowadays one sees a great crisis of listening, and of interest in people themselves. It was pointed out that the forms of preparation for communion, confirmation and marriage are sometimes inadequate to meet expectations and realities. Attention was also paid to the content of teaching in the Church, pointing out emerging discrepancies, especially in the area of morality. The preaching ministry greatly emphasized the need to prepare well for sermons and not to touch on political topics.

Homily preaching should lead to an explanation of the Scriptures. And not to be mere moralizing. The need to preach on weekdays was also expressed. There is a need for a variety of forms of preaching, especially on the Internet, where today’s youth spend their free time.

It is strongly believed that everyone should be heard regardless of religious views, political status, social status, sexual orientation, etc. The church could be a hotbed of tolerance and kindness for the entire community.

A great help in the listening process are viable parish councils, whose members should reflect the entire parish community. They could deal with pastoral, economic, community, social, charitable issues.

If the voice of members of the Church community is to be truly heard, a space for dialogue must be created. Expressing critical opinions must not lead to ostracism.

Many Christians live a very anonymous lifestyle and do not want to become involved in the local community.

One gets the impression that today’s world is ruled by the broad media, and that the hierarchy is incapable of engaging in constructive dialogue with them, limiting itself to commenting on the facts reported and apologizing for the errors pointed out. There is a lack of positive and credible coverage of the Church to the constant oozing of one-sided media coverage that puts the Church in an unfavorable light.

[Source: https://synod.org.pl/ordynariat-polowy-w-polsce/]

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.

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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.

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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.

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