Summary of diocesan syntheses - conclusion
Conclusions conclude the diocesan syntheses.
Wszystkie syntezy w jednym dokumencie PDF
The synodal consultations at various levels were mainly attended by the faithful already involved in parish life, members of communities, as well as parishioners who were practicing and previously not directly involved in parish activities. The synod, although it happened in every diocese, was not a universal experience. Looking from the broader perspective of the peculiarities of Polish Catholicism, and especially the importance of the Church, it can be said that the synod in Poland was a “minority event.” Just reaching out to people who rarely practice or are outside the Church was a huge difficulty.
A major organizational effort preceded the preparation of the diocesan syntheses. At the parish level, the scale of involvement varied. Between 30 and 65 percent of the synod meetings were held. parishes, depending on the diocese. Local coordinators in parishes made up a group of more than 6,800. individuals. In parishes, the synod was coordinated mostly by priests. Lay women were the next largest group of coordinators, followed by lay men. At the parish level, the most important form of consultation was synodal group meetings, which were organized in all dioceses (ISKK has data on the organization of synodal consultations from 38 out of 45 dioceses and eparchies in Poland). It can be estimated that they participated About 50,000. people.
At the diocesan level, the most popular form of consultation was synodal meetings, which in total were held over a thousand and attended by more than 15 thousand. people. The synod also held lectures, individual talks, school catechesis, panel meetings, radio broadcasts, retreats, and published newspaper articles. Several dioceses also held online synod meetings. In about half of the dioceses, a questionnaire (or questionnaires) was offered and completed by about 30,000. people. More than half of the dioceses have provided email boxes or a contact form, to which more than 12 thousand. letters. Priests were most often responsible for organizing consultations at the diocesan level. Another large group among diocesan coordinators were lay women and lay men. The function of contact persons was also undertaken by bishops, nuns and religious brothers. Dioceses informed about the synod on their websites. For the most part, special web pages dedicated to the synod have been created.
At the national level, the ISKK has organized six online consultations with diocesan contact persons (every month from October 2021 to March 2022). An important stage in the preparation of the national synthesis was two consultation meetings for more than 20 diocesan contacts (April 2, 2022 in Warsaw) and local coordinators (April 9, 2022 also in Warsaw).
The national synthesis was based on diocesan syntheses, which summarized the consultation stage at the parish level, in communities, as well as individual voices. Although the language and style of the diocesan syntheses vary, the topics, problems and issues addressed are very similar. Some were dominated by a pragmatic approach, paying attention to practical demands and the need for changes in behavioral standards. The vast majority of syntheses, however, presented the experiences and the experiences surrounding the synod. Many of the syntheses contained the spiritual fruits of the synodal process itself, while the postulates and guidelines came from the experiences and desires of the faithful. In this approach, the addressee of the demands was not an unspecified group of people or a “generalized institution.” Rather, they were a manifestation of responsibility and concern for a particular local community (parish) and for the Church as a whole.
The syntheses flowed from all dioceses and eparchies in Poland, with the exception of four. Two of these four dioceses did not prepare a synthesis due to a previously initiated diocesan synod. Quoted excerpts from the syntheses have been included in the national synthesis without indicating the source (the diocese from which they come).
The national synthesis was created as the fruit of methodical accompaniment of dioceses on the synodal path. Its authors – Prof. Kaja Kazmierska, prof. Marcin Yevdokimov, Rev. Dr. Wojciech Sadłoń SAC and Luiza Organek – accompanied the dioceses on the synodal journey from the beginning, suggested solutions and methods, and personally participated in the synod. Our task was to synthesize the voices that emerged from the consultations and were included in the diocesan syntheses. In the methodology adopted, we relied on the guidance of the Vademecum on the Synodal Way and consultation with the Methodological Commission of the General Secretariat of the Holy See Synod. In the country synthesis, we intentionally use the first person to show that the content contained therein reflects the collective voice of those participating in the synod.
This voice is not just a collection of opinions about the Church, but expresses spiritual needs and reveals the spiritual sensitivity of those taking part in the consultation, which stems from living faith. Thus, the synthesis is the fruit of a spiritual process of discernment that was permeated by prayer and involved the sincere sharing of one’s own experiences in openness to the Holy Spirit. Of course, the synthesis does not exhaust the depth of spiritual experience resulting from the Christian faith. For the experience of Christian faith is based on such a personal and intimate relationship with God in the community of the Church that it cannot be fully expressed and communicated through colloquial language.
The immediate methodological basis for the preparation of the country synthesis was a thematic analysis of content and contrasting content against the selected synthesis. The synthesis analysis also used the Atlas.ti tool and applied a quantitative approach to estimate the saturation of individual codes, as shown in the charts on the following pages.
Synthesis of the synodal path in the diocese of Bielsko-Żywiec
Communion – Participation – Mission. These three concepts, which are the specific slogans of the ongoing synod, seem to summarize the experiences of those taking part. Conducted at the level of parishes, professional, formation and state groups, the synod has made it possible in many cases to renew a sense of unity, build bonds between those taking part in the meetings and, most importantly, through communion with each other, enter into communion with God. Participants gave repeated testimony of such an experience: “The Synod at the parish level stimulated the heart to change ourselves in the Church, to put effort into building communion, to abide by the Eucharist. He also gave the joy of meeting in a synod group, exchanging ideas, and talking frankly.”
Mutual mature knowledge results in understanding, which motivates joint action for a specific goal. The participation of the faithful in the Church is changing – as a result, they are more aware of their role, stronger about the community, sometimes more critical, but – above all – concerned about the welfare of everyone.
In many parishes, this synodal movement has resulted in concrete initiatives – it has restored the awareness that the Church is a community walking together. Speaking responsibly and wisely and listening to others, actively co-creating a community such as a parish, and caring for the religious, liturgical and formative dimensions of each group’s life – these are the necessary conditions for reviving and renewing the world of faith. Around these three areas we would like to focus the reflections resulting from the synod activities in the Diocese of Bielsko-Żywiec. In their statements, the faithful expressed concern for the Church in various ways. They appreciated the many elements that serve the good, grow faith and lead to salvation. They also formulated some comments, stemming from a sense of responsibility, identification with the community, and a desire to make the community more and more perfect. It was extremely edifying to meet people who want to abide in the Church and have concrete dreams – very real and possible dreams that will make this Church a stronger, more effective and unequivocal instrument of evangelization and transformation of the world for Christ.
Synodality represents hope for the Church in many dimensions. It is a certain necessity these days. It is necessary to take care of its continuance while respecting fidelity to the teachings and traditions of the faith. This can lead to the revival of communities, rekindle the enthusiasm of faith and give new hope. Truly walking together is a gift that the Church has had since its inception, but this gift must be cared for and skillfully used as a tool for evangelization in the 21st century. The fruits of the synodal meetings are already visible in many places, further reinforcing the need to restore the Church’s synodal dimension.
According to most, following the path of synodality is both a gift and a challenge – a task through which the Church, learning about itself through its openness to the Holy Spirit, is able to understand its own experience and the processes guiding it. Its members will thus be able to grow in communion, participate fully and open themselves to the mission. The experience of synodality certainly brought a strengthened sense of belonging to the parish community, but it also provided an opportunity to identify with the universal Church. The experience turned into an opportunity for many to personally answer the question of their own vocation, their place in the Church.
The Synod was received by the parishes with much hope, less frequently with anxiety, and towards the end with increasing joy. The belief that it would be possible to continue similar initiatives in the future provided the basis for greater involvement in the life of the parish. They spoke with satisfaction about a qualitative change in the Church. The fruits of the listening process so far can be the starting point for initiatives that continue the invigorating experience of further dialogue and encounter in parishes.
The most important novelty for everyone was learning together how to talk and discuss the Church, how to touch on fundamental issues of faith, but also how to describe ordinary human experience. It’s learning together to listen to the Holy Spirit, to be open to His action in seemingly mundane situations. The prayerful dimension of this experience based on cooperation and mutual listening to each other was valuable. A positive effect of the synodal experience has been a renewed sense of community and communion and the discovery of the missionary nature of the local church, for which greater synodality is a challenge and a task, sometimes an opportunity for survival.
Participants in the synodal process are convinced that the enthusiasm of faith is a magnet that can effectively attract others – it helps them see the parish as an open and warm home where everyone is welcome. The Church is supposed to remind the first experience of faith that someone who meets God in the family.
The trust that the Holy Spirit accompanying this process will heal relationships and structures in parish communities seems to be expressed by all meeting participants. At the same time, there was no shortage of concerns and doubts about the pope’s direction for reforming the Church. In particular, this was reflected in critical comments on the progressivism trend present in some churches. It has been pointed out more than once that the Church goes too far in its openness, that it blurs its identity and thus ceases to be a clear sign to the world and a beacon for the strayed, the lost, the wounded.
The invitation to be open to the Holy Spirit is a path that begins with looking carefully, noticing other walking companions, listening to them and taking joint responsibility for the gift of the Church. Gratitude for the parish family, no matter how far short of perfect, is for many the first fruit of Pope Francis’ proposed bold sharing of dreams and visions of a merciful Church that heals wounds, inspires trust, and witnesses to Christ’s love.
We see our mission and our task in today’s world as joyfully, openly and in solidarity loving God for His sake, living with an attitude of discipleship and practicing missionary commitment. The editorial group of this study of the Diocese of Bydgoszcz focused on feedback from the survey described in the introduction and meetings of individual groups of believers. The feedback reflects the ambivalence in the perception of the Church in our society.
Deficits and shortcomings have been clearly and unequivocally named (lack of ecclesial self-awareness, lack of a friendly, spiritual dimension to the Church, abuse of power by priests that hurts and demotivates), so that as a Church we can continually grow and strengthen our relationship with God and people. The feedback evaluation also revealed many positive insights about faith and the Church. On this basis, longings / perspectives for the future were revealed: a longing for spiritual depth, intensification of personal relationship with God through prayer, Bible study and mutual deepening of faith; a longing for community. In addition to experience in larger communities, smaller communities are also important. The faith lives on in parishes, associations, communities, monasteries and educational institutions – these are what make the Church approachable, personal and attractive – the “Church of first contact.” In this way, the Church can be a small homeland and give people a much-needed refuge.
In addition, many synod participants reveal:
- desire for pastoralism in the original sense of the word: pastoralism that is close to the people, that has a high quality. Continuous improvement of priests’ competencies, intensive spiritual life and regular exchange of experiences among pastoralists are pointed out as conditions that enable pastoralists to grow,
- The desire for solidarity and subsidiarity: small pastoral units are supported by larger units, but not replaced. As much responsibility as possible should rest with individual lay leaders,
- longing for the proper exercise of authority in the Church: the clergy must serve to proclaim the Good News and build the Kingdom of God and cooperate with the faithful,
- Longing for new, creative models of governance (pluralism): Greater participation and shared responsibility of lay people – men and women,
- Longing for the participation of many in the life of the community (inclusion): A path must be taken from a congregation that is cared for to a congregation that is self-sufficient. We want to motivate, support and assist this. The different abilities and charisms of the faithful should be recognized, awakened, promoted and used to build up the congregation.
- longing for a Church that lives in the spirit of Jesus and is for the people: active love of neighbor is and remains the fundamental, core mission of the Church, which must be further developed. In this way, God’s love for people becomes tangible.
The Diocese of Bydgoszcz wants to continue on the synodal path. The number of men and women, clergy and laity involved in the life of the Bydgoszcz Church is its great joy. We accept these great challenges of the present times and we want to carry the faith and build the Church further, we want to be close to God and close to people.
In a summary of the synodal work in the Archdiocese of Czestochowa and after a comprehensive analysis of the synodal votes collected, the need to continue the spirituality and synodal attitude in the Church of Czestochowa was noted. Although the synodal work did not involve many parishes and communities, the desire for further such meetings was clearly outlined. The synod provoked many church circles to seriously reflect on the current situation in the Church, and showed the direction of these activities, based on common prayer, analysis of the situation and drawing conclusions. It would be a waste of the effort and expectations undertaken if the synodal process did not culminate in at least an attempt to outline possible courses of action and formulate concrete pastoral proposals.
The first conclusion is the need to continue this type of meeting in all bodies of the Archdiocese of Częstochowa. There seems to be a need for a common, constant and systematic thought on the Church among curial institutions, in priestly communities, parishes, movements and associations.
After holding two major meetings with synodal animators in the archdiocese as part of the synodal process, the necessity of continuing these meetings is drawn. The enthusiasm and palpable concern for the Church of lay representatives of individual parishes and communities demonstrates the need to recreate a permanent and integrated formation of the laity in the archdiocese. Their initial formation meetings should develop into something like a Diocesan Center for Lay Formation. This function has so far been fulfilled by the Higher Theological Institute in Czestochowa, which prepares laymen for ministry within the framework of studies around the institute. However, it was noted that this preparation was too academic and not practical enough. Nowadays, the laity need practical spirituality classes, evangelization courses and formation more than lectures, which would prepare some of them for the ministries of lector, acolyte and catechist. Special thought should be given in the archdiocese to preparing for the ministry of catechist in order to form lay people to cooperate more effectively and fully with priests in parish catechesis.
Parish councils have been identified as the most basic communities that involve the laity in parish life and include them in shared responsibility for the Church. It is necessary to continue to strive for the establishment of parish councils at each parish, set up to exist in accordance with the regulations and operating in accordance with their purpose and function, and not just in appearance. At the archdiocesan level, a specific program for the formation of members of parish councils should be created to give them knowledge of the competencies and possibilities of their action.
It seems that an equally urgent task concerns the ongoing formation of priests. The great cry for the sacred in the Church and the spiritual life of priests prompts reflection on improving the formation of priests after seminary. What emerges from the synodal voices is the need to rebuild the spiritual formation of priests.
The family was mentioned as a key environment that should receive priority attention in the Church’s activities. It is in it that all faith-related problems are concentrated. It is in the family that the faith of children and young people is formed, families are the home churches and provide the necessary foundation for the Church’s pastoral work. There should be even more organized efforts in the archdiocese for the evangelization and formation of families.
- clericalism must be shed
- traditional pastoral care is no longer enough in the Church today, but individual pastoral care is needed
- formation of lay people, mystagogical catechesis is necessary
- the priesthood of women is unacceptable, although there is one dissenting voice among the surveys collected, advocating the ordination of married men, as well as allowing women to be ordained as priests
- girls should not be altar servers
- It should be taught that cohabitation and homosexual marriage are evil
- Holy Communion. should be given only by a priest, should be received only on the knees
- saints should have a say in managing the economic affairs of the diocese and parishes
- new spaces of activity should be opened up for the laity, especially for catechists
- it is necessary to be more active in working with young people in order to keep them in the Church (the need to organize pilgrimages, trips, involvement in the life of the parish, and especially volunteer work, to which young people are open)
- independently of religious instruction in school, the parish should conduct various forms of catechesis and formation for children and young people
- communities should be created for children after First Communion, so that their sacramental and communal bond with the Church does not disappear
- smaller formation and prayer communities are needed in the parish
- Evangelization of parents is needed to stop the exodus of young people from the Church
- small groups also need to be formed in the parish for the religiously weaker people
- In addition to formation meetings in parishes, integration meetings are needed
- Confirmation should not be given until age 18
- Christian politicians must maintain high moral standards
- Church teaching must be separated from current politics
- “we expect to clarify the rules of faith from scratch”, bishop should visit parishes on edge of diocese more often
- vetting processes of the clergy should be completed and those who committed the crime of pedophilia should be punished
The communities involved in the synodal meetings tried to keep them spiritual. It was intended to allow listening not to opinions, rather, but to what the Holy Spirit wants to convey through the participants.
We captured the needs and personal expectations of the faithful: the need to deepen their faith by focusing on their relationship with God; the desire to be faithful to Christ; the need to love the Eucharist, to pray and listen to His voice, to discern what He is saying. Among the faithful, the need to deepen the liturgy with the sphere of images that bring people closer to God has been noted. It also noted the need to abandon in the liturgy and in the sacred space theologically erroneous images that distance from God, make it necessary to look away from them and are an insult to God. There is also an expectation that modern multimedia tools be used in the liturgy. As for deepening and creating a closer relationship with God, the need for greater trust in God and abiding by Him was noted; the need for joy (enjoying the faith), conversion and repentance; the need to live in accordance with the faith, the Decalogue and bear witness to the Gospel. In the context of going outward, the needs for: courage in professing the faith; evangelizing others; showing others the beauty of the Eucharist; honesty and authenticity; holiness; humility and living in truth; living by sanctifying grace; openness to charisms; getting out of one’s comfort zone; becoming more involved in neighborhood and parish life; and demanding of oneself.
We have discerned at this time that God’s desire is for the Church to continually call upon the Holy Spirit, to defend the dignity of the human person and the family, to renew spirituality, to improve activities that deepen religious awareness and faith, to care for the younger generation who will choose the path of faith; to make the Church clean and transparent (transparent). There were repeated calls for the Church to return to its sources; to involve the laity; to approach people with various problems on an individual basis; there was a desire in several statements for the Church to reflect more deeply on the place of non-heteronormative people in the Church and to make appropriate changes in pastoral practice toward LGBT people; to revise the message of the so-called “LGBT”. of the six main truths of the faith addressed to children and young people and valorized them by the aspect of God’s mercy that is absent in them, and not to order children and young people to mindlessly learn them by heart. The voice of the Holy Spirit seemed to indicate that the Church should uphold truth, justice and love; was open, giving every person a place at home; strengthened the catholicity of communities; created fraternities for priests; supported the faithful in their struggles with the adversities of the faith; was a “sign of opposition” to actions hostile to the Gospel; made demands on his faithful and evangelizers; changed the mentality from clerical to synodal; reflected on ecological issues; was open to sinners, lost people, people in an irregular life situation; to separate himself from politics; educated the younger generation well; prayed for unity; was poor; created an atmosphere of fraternity and community; fascinated.
In addition, the Church should be a “Church of families” – take care of the evangelization and formation of families, children and young people; make parents aware that they are God’s first witnesses to their children; give attention to children, bringing them up in such a way that they feel comfortable in the Church; show support and better prepare them to start a family and to bear witness that marriage can last; bear witness to the exemplary Christian life of parents, guardians, educators.
Most Synod participants noted the dangers that can come from an attempt to subjectivize, schematic approach to the Church, to limit it with a frame of arbitrary expectations. It was emphasized that the Church should persevere in fidelity to doctrine despite the pressures of secular circles; see the beauty in diversity; organize common ground for people representing different generations and states; embrace every state in the Church and society in prayer; form leaders of apostolic groups in parishes; used communicative language of love (“for the people”); used the media; promoted the saints and other authorities of the faith; did not succumb to the temptation of conformity, but remained on guard for the deposit of faith; sought unity; built a civilization of love; stopped secularism; deepened formation for family life.
We read that the desire of the Holy Spirit is to act dynamically wherever the Church gathers, that the Spirit of God wants to fill human souls with his gifts in the ecclesial community, and urges us to renew and re-evangelize Europe.
The synod highlighted the shared responsibility of all the faithful for the Church, and in many parishes allowed the faithful to experience authentic responsibility for the Church for the first time. It was also the first experience of common concern for the needs of the Church, as the synodal path gives everyone a chance to speak up, to speak out. Synodality and co-responsibility can and should be learned by not standing still on the synodal path – and doing so on a daily basis in the life of the parish – and thus forming in oneself and others the right social attitudes, developing the Christian ethos.
The drive to deepen community will gradually, systematically contribute to changing the mentality and habits of the faithful. This will allow everyone to feel like brothers in the faith, no longer divided into groups of people with different positions in the Church, more or less privileged because of their functions. The faithful should be encouraged and inspired to deepen their prayer life – this is a method of forming the Christian ethos and the basis and source of good, useful parish activity. Parishes should become communities through the synodal path, continuing it on a daily basis. The effect of persistence in synodality being a path of parish development should be to enter together – laity and clergy – on the path of sanctification, dialogue, caring for relationships and communication in the community. Synodality practiced in parish communities will be easily discerned and recognized by the spirit of cooperation and the practice of mutual aid. It’s also about inspiring each other to new activities, after joint discernment.
Worthy of consideration are the negative comments about the ongoing Synod, which point to empty activism and little interest in synod meetings in parishes. Parish and community synod teams have expressed concern that the conclusions of the synod’s work will be disregarded and forgotten, especially since the Synod is still on the periphery of parishes and communities in many assessments and statements.
Synodal statements indicate that formation for life in the synodal spirit begins already at the level of catechesis of children and youth, and develops in the activities of parish groups. To this end, it is necessary to develop communication skills involving “giving of oneself,” involvement in the community. Dialogue should be learned by everyone in the community. This is done by improving communication on day-to-day issues related to life in the parish and churches within the diocese. The urgency, therefore, is to listen to each other, talk to each other, co-determine the fate of the Church and work together. Although it seems obvious, the number of demands for this reciprocity and attitude of dialogue shows how much this lifestyle is needed, even necessary, and must exist in the local Church. What is needed is a bold opening of the clergy to the laity, the courage to meet the needs, a spiritual partnership, a willingness to cooperate. There are expectations that the voice of the faithful be heard not only at the parish level, but also at the diocesan level; this could include. competent assistance in creating a training program for future priests that prepares them for the challenges posed by secularization and the expectations of the faithful who have spiritual aspirations that take into account their level of intellect. It is important for the Church to be able to adapt to modern forms of social communication, which would allow it not to lose its ability to influence modern man. This includes updating the linguistic forms of prayers as well as the level of transmission of gospel content. It is also expected that the Shepherd of the archdiocese will take responsibility for the visual sphere and its content in places of worship, which would preclude bad and incompetent decisions by pastors.
The purpose of developing synodal spirituality is to develop responsibility for the Church in taking up the fight against evil in the Church. There is a need to form the awareness that everyone makes up the parish and is therefore responsible for it according to their vocation. The authors of the synodal statements suggest acquiring practical skills derived from synodal spirituality by participating in groups active in the parish according to pastoral needs (especially charitable, such as helping Ukraine). They show initiative of their own in studying the Church’s documents, especially on the subject of synodality. In addition to emphasizing actions aimed at preserving the synodal attitude, the statement about the role of prayer in opening hearts to each other was valuable: the foundation of synodal spirituality is systematic, communal prayer for parish intentions (e.g., in the form of the Eucharistic Diakonia leading prayer for the parish before the Blessed Sacrament).
The priests noted the need for the formation of priestly fraternities, through which priests could deepen their formation and receive support in moments of crisis; this would be a great help to priests who may feel lost or have lost the sense of their ministry.
The synod pointed out that the sign of the times is the concern for the “dream church.” It triggered imagination regarding desires for the beauty of the Church. The image of the Church according to the “dreams” of the Synod participants is: “Our House of God,” people who love God, understand the value of the Church, a Church clearly guided by the Holy Spirit, with the faithful committed to building the Church community and having a sense of responsibility for the Church. In the “dream Church,” the voice of all the faithful is noticed and heard in order for the Church to discern how to live the Gospel in modern times. The Dream Church recognizes the different sensitivities of the faithful to the transmission of Gospel content, including the visual transmission of God’s revelation, using human abilities based on image thinking and visual perception. The dream is to see in the Catholic Church God’s pedagogy affecting man not only through the word, but also through visuality, which in the history of salvation plays a very important role of bringing God closer to man. The dream is to be together in the Church – to accompany each other on the road. This is what all Church people need to be spurred on to do, learning to be responsible in the small things, not giving up preaching and the charism – even in difficult circumstances; building unity among individual parishes and communities. The church that the faithful want is the parish as a true community of communities, where everyone knows his place and fulfills his tasks. In such a Church, the faithful value first and foremost the opportunity for conversation and direct contact with priests and each other, and all kinds of meetings (synodal, festive, in pastoral groups) meet this goal.
Thanks to the Synod on Synodality, the Archdiocese of Gdansk was able to hear the voice of God’s people. In terms of the number of participants, the effect is far from the desired one, but already this relatively small group of people participating in the Synod has made it possible to discover areas of pastoral action for the coming years. On the basis of the statements that the synodal groups provided, we are preparing a document that will form the basis for a diagnosis of the spiritual life of our archdiocese. He will justify decisions on how to address the Church’s most pressing needs and how, perhaps through a diocesan synod, to meet the expectations of the lay and clergy faithful, including those who have expressed their desires for a “dream Church.”
The Synod’s experience of synodality unveiled two cultural images that can be called the “Remnant Church” (in analogy to the biblical Remnant of Israel) and the “Tower of Babel.”
18.104.22.168 Catholic Identity.
The Synod was attended by a small portion of the faithful, mostly more closely related to the Church, believers who want to be closer to the Church. The small number of people should already be wondering whether the idea of the Synod has been misunderstood and insufficiently explained to the faithful; moreover – aren’t the practicing people in our parishes primarily recipients of “services” and lack a missionary spirit toward their neighbors? Those attending the Synod can certainly constitute a group of responsible believers who can take action to evangelize their parish or community. This should be noted by pastors.
22.214.171.124 Concern for the fulfillment of the church mission.
Statements by Synod participants indicate concern for the welfare of the Church and the effectiveness of evangelization, which is motivated by the realization of God’s universal salvific will. An analysis of synodal materials from parishes and communities reveals a desire to repair the Church, especially along clergy-laity lines. Such frequent demands, in various forms and aspects, reveal the need for better communication among all the faithful. “The rest of the Church” wants to take advantage of the good that exists in the Church and avoid the mistakes of the past. Both laity and clergy should be open to this novelty. The sense of the Synod participants was that the days of the Church being decided solely by its hierarchical part are over. The hierarchy is much needed, but it should take into account the valuable voice of the faithful living in the world.
The synod meetings revealed that there are many people in love with the Church and the Gospel, that they are aware of the signs of the times and the needs of the Church. Experiencing the laity is an invaluable gift, since they have different charisms than the clergy faithful, and the combination of the two groups in some synodal communities has had the desired effect of discovering a common path to salvation. In this context, one can see how much widespread and mutual conversion is needed to make joint action possible.
126.96.36.199 Awareness of responsibility.
One can still sense the spirit of clericalism, manifested, for example, by the fact that, in the opinion of some Synod participants, the renewal of the Church’s lifestyle is to be handled by priests. On the one hand, this is a sign of appreciation of the role of the clergy, and on the other, the danger of shedding personal responsibility. Regardless of this conviction, a strong sense of a call to accountability is noticeable in the synodal process. The Old Testament “Remnant of Israel” knew that it was – the Old Covenant faithful realized that the renewed quality of God’s people depended on their decision at any given time. A similar tendency can be seen in the experience of the participants of the synodal meetings: not revolutionarily, but resolutely, all the baptized should be implemented in the Church to have a synodal attitude towards each other.
188.8.131.52 Need to see the process at the beginning.
The stage the Church is at, and not only at the Synod on Synodality, is a time to meet each other in their differences. The biblical story of the Tower of Babel in its theology shows the moment when people met as different (different languages) and tried to hear and understand each other. Wherever possible, they settled down and formed communities of life, and when they failed to meet – they dispersed. Ultimately, humanity from all peoples and nations, from all parts of the world, came together in the event of Pentecost. He is the Connector despite all the differences, like a conductor directing a variety of instruments and bringing one harmonious sound. However, symphonic playing requires a stage of training and the ability to tune in with each other. The symphony is a combination of contrasting parts. However, a concert in front of an audience is only in the distant future for musical personalities getting to know each other, individualistic in their approach to art.
184.108.40.206 Need to learn the art of dialogue.
The synod on synodality has its stages, and they are stages of guiding the whole Church. The initial part of the journey exposed the state of the listening and dialogue skills. Where meetings were approached in a spirit of love and listening to the voice of one’s neighbor, the results of synodal meetings brought peace and joy. Such communities communicated their desire to continue meeting. In contrast, where people tried to influence to stretch their vision of the Church and the detailed practices within it, there were disputes, misunderstanding and exclusion. In such cases, attempts have been made to convince people of their reasons and views, fearing otherness and the need to revise their own views.
Standing firmly by one’s position can be understandable in dialogue with people with non-Catholic views, declaring a certain split: I don’t recognize the Church’s teaching, but I want to belong to it. In such a case, it is important to present the Good News after hearing the opinion. However, this is a further task and was not the purpose of the Synod meetings on synodality.
Conversations between believers who remain orthodox, on the other hand, can and should be a meeting in the spirit of brotherly love. Fear of (non-doctrinal) otherness paralyzes human action and weakens the work of the Holy Spirit. Attempts to standardize charisms are attempts to limit the work of the Holy Spirit.
220.127.116.11 The need to stand in truth and take a new look.
Following a common path requires meeting in one place. For mankind, “after the Tower of Babel,” it was Jerusalem living the news of Christ’s Resurrection, to which people from all over the world flocked. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles, Peter’s catechesis and the baptism of a growing number of followers aroused enthusiasm, new potential was revealed in the Church.
The synod on synodality has highlighted the great need for our parishes and communities to be places where we experience the presence of the Holy Spirit together. He leads the Church and makes each of us needed. The tremendous opportunity provided by synodality is already evident in the fact that we recognize the routine, static functioning of the parish and the community, we are looking for an invigorating dynamic of faith, ways of praying, talking, openness and strengthening the attitude of witness to the faith, and for those who are seeking and inquiring, this can be an incentive to join and find Christ.
While the participants did not seek to accept non-Catholicity in the Church, there was certainly a lack of understanding in many cases that non-Catholicity comes to the Church and it is here, from the Church, that it wants to hear the Gospel.
The Acts of the Apostles and Church history show that after Pentecost, Christ’s followers faced new problems. There was no shortage of questions about the otherness of the pagans, about the management of property, about the evaluation of the activities of those who invoke Christ and are not in communion with the Apostles, etc. Echoes of the division “under the Tower of Babel” were making themselves known. However, the Church passed all these trials thanks to unity in the Holy Spirit and the certainty of life in Him. God’s people and their shepherds met, talked, discerned and adopted decisions confirmed by the Apostles and their successors.
Looking back – at the joys and sorrows of the diocesan stage of the Synod on synodality – we saw among the clergy and laity that this is the path God’s Spirit is leading us down, and that it is currently much needed by all of us.
1.1 How the Spirit invites the Church to grow in synodality so that the diocese and parishes become more synodal
- To make the Word of God and the Eucharist the center of the Church’s life, good preparation of the liturgy with appropriate transmission of the Word of God and singing, more frequent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in each parish, meetings with witnesses of the faith.
- So that points are created to facilitate meetings with specialists psychologist.
- So that there are decanal tournaments, festivals, sports competitions, etc.
- That a chapel of Perpetual Adoration be established in Gniezno.
- So that better formation of parents before their children’s First Communion is carried out, and not just topics concerning decorations, contributions and Communion outfits.
- So that groups, communities in the parish become evangelistic, do not exist only for themselves.
- There is a need for adult catechization (about the Eucharist, basic truths of the faith).
- There is a need for catechists who can “ignite the youth with the spark of God,” who will be witnesses to the faith, not just religious teachers.
- Clean up the scandals as soon as possible to rebuild the Church’s authority, as it is needed.
- Devote more time and attention to the living building of the Church community, not just to material matters.
- Openness to diversity, more courage to leave the schemes that do not bear fruit today in the form of conversion.
- Strengthen prayer for the gift of new vocations.
- The bishop’s meetings with parishioners during the visitation, not just with selected groups.
- Form and educate members of Parish Pastoral and Economic Councils.
- The need for meetings of the economic department or pastoral department with parish representatives (e.g., once a year).
- The need to organize meetings for a variety of groups and people living in difficult situations (for non-sacramental marriages, divorced people, single people, those suffering for various reasons). People who are divorced or from broken families should not have the conviction that they have been expelled from the Church, that there is no place for them.
- It is worthwhile to take initiatives to ensure that pastoral councils from the deanery meet and share their experiences.
- There is a need for joint meetings not only within their own parishes, but also between parishes to get to know each other better, to listen to each other and to strengthen the faith.
- There is also a need for greater cooperation at the decanal level, e.g., meetings of priests at the decanal level to exchange experiences and develop new solutions for involving the faithful in the life of the parish and the Church, meetings of lay people with priests from the decanal level, the creation of a decanal calendar of various pastoral initiatives taking place in parishes.
- The synod meetings allowed many people to speak out on parish issues for the first time, so as they themselves pointed out, their voice is quite critical in nature, although it primarily expresses concern for the Church, presenting all that is difficult and what hurts in the Church.
- An attempt has been made in parishes to find ways in reaching out to the young.
- The synod meetings have formed a community of people who want to do more so as not to stand still.
- In several parishes, initiatives have been taken to establish new groups for adults, an adult Bible circle, as well as adoration groups have been initiated.
- Some pointed out that thanks to the synodal meetings, aid for refugees from Ukraine has taken off in the parish. Some of the syntheses ended with gratitude for the synodal path and the expressed belief that it can change the style of parish and diocesan leadership.
The Church – although scarred, torn by many conflicts, experiencing many problems – is OUR Church and we are responsible for it, so we want to feel needed and we want our voice to be heard. For the Church is not only the clergy, it is also the faithful, so every voice should be respected, because it is the voice of the experience of such and not another Church.
During the synod meetings, a picture of the future of the Church outlined by Fr. Professor Joseph Ratzinger ( 1967): ” Zof the current crisis will emerge the Church of tomorrow – a Church that has lost much. It will be small and will have to start over, more or less restart. He will no longer be able to occupy many of the structures he erected in times of prosperity. As the number of his supporters dwindles, so he will lose many of his social privileges. But once the process of this sifting is past, great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. In a totally planned world, people will be terribly lonely. If they completely lose sight of God, they will feel the full horror of their misery. They will then discover the small flock of followers as something entirely new. They will discover it as the hope that is destined for them, the answer they have always secretly sought.”
- Building personal relationships between clergy and laity in the parish (conversation after Sunday liturgy, parish cafes, oratories…);
- Emphasizing the missionary-evangelizing vocation of the parish;
- Building diocesan and parish community, e.g., renewing the pilgrimage movement of groups, communities, associations;
- A proposal for daily homilies during the liturgy;
- creation of diocesan courses for adult lectors; formers of communities, groups and associations;
- cooperation of parishes and communities, e.g. Schools of New Evangelization in the organization of school and parish retreats, training and evangelization courses;
- Verification of the effectiveness of pastoral activities in the parish with the possibility of improving their efficiency;
- Increasing awareness of the teaching of Catholic social teaching;
- Continuation of meetings and catechesis to deepen the synodal questions;
- The promotion of a culture of dialogue and encounter – openness to remote people, the so-called “culture of dialogue”. “sympathizers” (F. Blachnicki) and those living in non-sacramental unions, contesting the moral teaching of the Church, etc.
- Updating parish web pages, with the possibility of constant correspondence and exchange of opinions (clergy – laity).
Meeting facilitators noted that many of their participants had prepared in advance for the questions asked. A common concern for the fate of the Church was evident in the statements. Despite the demonstrated weaknesses of the Church, pride in belonging to the community of Christ and the opportunity to engage with others was also expressed. The discovery of imperfections in the functioning of the Church was accompanied by a search for their causes and the drawing of lessons for the future.
Participants stressed that the meetings were held in a spirit of openness, kindness and sincerity. The statements of others were addressed respectfully and without polemics, despite the presentation of often differing views. Participants also showed engagement, were eager to speak, and often had too little for longer speeches. This deficiency may bear fruit in the future in the development by the faithful of a synodal process based on conversation and mutual listening.
Among the feedback from local meetings, the most surprising observation was that some of the faithful have concerns about talking to their priests about the faith. The reason for this is the fear that they will be judged as people of little faith, or that their faith is weak. This is a kind of paradox, something that should not happen, because priests should help the faithful in the faith, not be a source of fear (distancing shepherds from the sheep). This shows how necessary it is to build trust and break down the barriers that keep the faithful from deepening their faith.
The faithful expect from priests not only a clear and transparent testimony of faith, expertise and competence in spiritual life. A frequent signal, reflecting the needs of parishioners, is the need for ongoing adult formation, catechesis to introduce and explain the truths of the faith, making them both more understandable and closer to human existence. This is a pressing need, because an analysis of the synodal statements, which is a panorama of the local Church (both urban and rural) reveals a dangerous superficiality in understanding and professing the faith. A reflection on the Church and the place of a particular person in this community exposes the poverty of faith, limited only to a certain sloganism (beautiful, noble, but only sloganism). Behind them are general biblical-theological (e.g., child of God) or vocational (e.g., husband/wife, priest) phrases, emphasizing the importance and subjectivity of each person. Behind these facade terms, however, there is a lack of depth, evident in the life of a particular person. Very many people profess faith, but do not live it at the level of the heart. Faith does not touch their lives, its essence. Hence the strong need, cry and emphasis that should be placed on the mystagogy of faith, its interiorization. Undoubtedly, the world has been saved by God, but man has not been made happy because – so often – he has not accepted the fruits of this salvation.
Another “paradox” is the voice that says that the Church lacks a place for the Good News! It would seem to be an unthinkable thing. And yet, he resounded and pointed out that Jesus is missing from the Church! There is a perception in society that life should be simplified, and that knowing or finding God is a process that takes time. In the age of consumerism, building a relationship with God is relegated to the background, because the tangible benefits are not immediately apparent. It also reflects negatively on people’s involvement in pastoral groups and daily parish life. Simplifications, shortcuts, apparent “going easy” on some, ultimately reflect badly on the process of deepening and strengthening the faith. Consequently, giving up the truth leads to the belief that one is giving up God. There is a risk of pushing the Church into the role of providing religious services. The restoration of God in the Church seems to be something completely unexpected. Although everyone is chasing “this world,” there is a deep longing in his heart for community. This is the path that needs to be taken so that there is no shortage of believers in the Church.
Accordingly, a strong emphasis in the synodal statements was placed on the fundamental dimension of the Church’s mission, evangelization (re-evangelization). The need to be open to people, regardless of their views; to accompany people, especially those experiencing difficulties, stressing the need for empathy, time and attention, was indicated. The Church’s mission, the synod participants stressed, is also expressed in patient dialogue and listening. From the statement also emerges some specific dream that the Church should resemble as much as possible the one described in the Acts of the Apostles, and become a home where everyone can feel “at home.”
Particularly significant is the fact that no parish report has ever said that what unites the faithful in the Church is investment or material matters. Although this is how many perceive the functioning of the parish, the material factor ultimately turns out not to be that important.
However, the reports very often included an element somewhat related to the financial side, namely, the faithful emphasize the great importance of beauty, opening to transcendence. The beauty of architecture, art, attention to the liturgy, are undoubtedly this space of the Church’s life, which allows people to experience the sacrum, to enter into the presence of God.
Among the voices talking about the difficult sides of the Church, those pointing to the lack of transparency within the Church are predominant. Many don’t want to enter into the conversation claiming that the church administration needs to clean up its act at home. Smaller parish communities suffer from a lack of support from the diocesan curia. These areas are most in need of healing. The faithful are aware that since the Church is a family it is not perfect, because families are not perfect either. But they are solving problems together.
A sore point for many parents is the difficulty of passing on the faith to their children. The influence of factors from the world is so strong that it is difficult to resist. The search for ways and means to evangelize children and youth is a challenge that will not be easily met.
In this context, it is worth recalling – mentioned above – the urgent need for catechesis of adults, who themselves, properly formed, will be able to properly form and educate their own children in the faith. Evangelization of children and adolescents is essential, but are we not devoting more time, attention and energy to it, at the expense of re-evangelization and formation of adults. With parents well grounded in the faith, we will also have children and young people.
Many people have taken up the topic of the synod with hopes for change. However, they are not concerned with changes regarding the loosening of moral norms, as discussed in the media. Above all, the faithful want there to be more “Church within the Church.” Even at the cost of abandoning acumen and ad hoc parish activities to deepen piety, living the Gospel and the Eucharist.
The “threads” raised, which can be called synodal, were really a whole lot. Those that managed to collect were not without either prayer or personal commitment. The experience of living in the Church and for the Church spoke. Factual statements alternated with emotion, testimonies of faith by some triggered boldness in action by others, good thoughts paved the way for good deeds. This is how the Church was taught during the synodal process in the Diocese of Legnica.
The diocesan consultation stage is an experience of the joy of meeting, establishing relationships and searching for good solutions together. This time became an opportunity not only to better understand the Church community, but also to cooperate and exchange good experiences
The synod meetings seem to have allowed many people to speak out on parish issues for the first time. Perhaps that is why some voices are critical, although they express concern for the Church. Thanks to the Synod, an attempt has been made in parishes to find ways to reach out to the young. Synodal meetings led to the formation of communities of people concerned about the fate of the Church and parishes. In some parishes, it was decided to establish groups of the new evangelization: church movements and associations. Some stressed that thanks to the Synod, aid to refugees from Ukraine has taken off. In addition, some of the decanal syntheses ended with expressions of gratitude for the synodal path and the belief that it can change the style of parishes and dioceses.
Finally, a question must be raised about the fruits of the synodal consultation phase. Certainly, many of these will emerge in time, but today we should consider to what extent the synodal meetings have become a real opportunity to (re)build a sense of community, and to what extent they have become a missed opportunity in a situation where there is also a lack of interest in the synod among many people actively participating in the life of their parishes and communities, the failure of synodal groups to gather in many parishes, the passivity of priests and laity, and the often questioned relevance of synodal meetings. It should be made clear: lack of interest, and often denial of the idea of a synod, is the attitude of most of the faithful. Synod participants wrote: “Is participation in the Synod also a form of evangelization? Unfortunately, we know of cases of priests outraged by the announcement of such a Synod: ‘what do you mean, they are supposed to ask the faithful, and even pagans, how they should teach? Where is the Church going? This is a scandal!”. However, such a common movement will allow us to better understand who we are in the Church, what tasks we have to perform.”
On the other hand, there was a real stirring of the Spirit in many of the groups that met, many of which were formed in connection with the synod. The most important thing is what was accomplished during the synod’s work from the bottom up in parishes and communities. Care must now be taken to ensure that this is not a temporary stir. At the same time, many of the syntheses noted that the first fruits of meetings and discussions in parish communities became concrete decisions, such as the frequent idea of convening a parish “synod”; “creating a space to pray together for the intentions of the parish and the works in it”; “we agreed that on the first Saturdays of the month, Mass at 8 a.m. will be celebrated for this intention and for the intentions of the parish communities”; “to create a space for common conversation in the framework of the organized ‘community days’, that is, meetings of all willing with representatives of groups and associations operating at our parish with the clergy”; declaration of groups online to continue the meetings; “parishioners and the parish priest pledge to pay monthly for a Nursing Home for a person who has been active all his life in our parish”; “Our openness in references and relationships to those next to us, including in our temple, reaches us as we walk together. So we try to do this kind of experience by undertaking networking, creating relationships with our ‘neighbors’ from the church pews or those we know from our surroundings or sight. The pleasant, surprising first impressions of our church acquaintances when we approach them and make contact are mixed with a kind of asceticism – as if not quite open to the need to create a full and authentic, deeper relationship. Perhaps it still requires some time and persistence in this full openness and readiness to walk together with those who constitute our parish local Church since this is, we trust, God’s will.”
These concrete proposals see needs transformed into action. This should be taken as the first and most important fruit of synodality at this stage, but also the beginning of the journey. At the same time, the comments and proposals expressed in the syntheses should inspire reflection on various dimensions of pastoral care (including the formation of alumni, presbyters, laity) visible from the broader perspective of our archdiocese.
“Summing up the time of the synodal meetings, it should be emphasized that these meetings changed us, sensitized us to the other, to the affairs of the Church. The Synod is for us. We discovered that we are a part of the Church, and thus realized our co-responsibility for the affairs of the Church, for its vitality, and asked ourselves – what can I do for the Church.”
The experiences of the synodal meetings described above, or rather only summarized, allow us to hope that synodality, as walking together in an atmosphere of common prayer, mutual listening, openness to the action of the Holy Spirit and sharing the responsibility for the Church in action, will more henceforth become a way of daily functioning of the Opole Church. However, the successful realization of this dream will require taking and optimizing actions already underway, including.
- creating spaces for dialogue and encounter between the bishop and priests, priests among themselves and priests with the lay faithful; one of these will be the bishops’ declared more frequent presence in the deaneries for meetings with priests and the lay faithful, including outside of the canonical visitation;
- to optimize the preparation of the lay faithful for ministries in the Church and to introduce in the diocese, after proper preparation, the functions of catechist, lector and acolyte;
- return (after the pandemic) to the regular formation of Parish Pastoral Councils as a well-established synodal structure in the diocese, and further synodal orientation of its functioning in parishes;
- Using the competencies of the members of the new Parish Economic Councils and sharing with them the responsibility for the material well-being of the parish communities;
- optimizing the ongoing formation of priests toward a deeper experience of the Church as the People of God and a readiness to cooperate and share responsibility for the Church with the lay faithful;
- Investing in the pastoral care of young people using, among other things. The methodology of synodal meetings based on presence, meeting, listening and acting for the benefit of others; the involvement of lay faithful in this pastoral care, who show deep concern for the spiritual condition of young people and declare their willingness to provide competent assistance;
- courageous return after the epidemic to the regular formation of parish and supra-parish communities and groups.
Taking these steps will certainly unveil further needs and dreams that need not be feared. Indeed, the experience of the synodal meetings showed the great zeal and love for the Church of many pastors and faithful. Therefore – despite the crisis the Church is experiencing at the present time, rightly diagnosed in many places in the synodal reflection – there is still “with whom” and “for whom” to move towards the synodal Church through communion, participation and mission.
Synod participants said that meeting and listening to each other, attentively and respectfully, allowed them to rediscover the value of dialogue. They believe that it is missing in everyday life: whether in marriages, families or workplaces, or in social life, in the Church and the state. The experience of listening to each other showed them that where there is attentive listening, gentleness is also born. The even methodical focus on listening to each other without judging has opened up new perspectives of being together, learning about others’ opinions and the motivations behind them. Listening to each other has reawakened to the hope that even very intricate community and social problems can be solved in new, more synodal ways. In doing so, they expressed their desire to strive for the greatest possible social and ecclesiastical unity. They don’t want to blur important differences that could compromise the Church’s faith identity. They want to build ties and seek common ways of life with all people, including those outside or on the fringes of the Church. A small group of Synod participants signaled the need for greater confrontation with dissenting circles, arguing their position with the need for purity of faith and clarity of witness.
In various ways, Synod participants have made it clear that they treat with respect what the Church teaches. And even more: the majority of voices affirm the desire for unity of teaching in the Church and at the same time lament that this unity is now deeply violated. One can find statements in the syntheses testifying to disappointment over the distance of many clergy in Poland, including bishops, from the teaching of the Holy See. Most pointed out that some elements of Pope Francis’ teaching were omitted. There were also voices claiming that the lack of unity of teaching is the result of actions by the Pope and the Holy See, breaking, in their view, with the “traditional teaching of the Church.” Be that as it may: in principle, all Synod participants would like to see consistent Church teaching and clear communication of its contents.
Various forms of practicing dialogue in the Church and sharing responsibility for its mission – which reflect a more primordial, biblical view of the Church – have been highlighted especially by members of religious communities and movements. Referring to examples of the effectiveness of synodal forms in their own groups, they declare their readiness to share their experience.
The biggest misunderstandings were spawned by the synodal process itself. Tensions arose in the area of the Synod’s theological rationale for synodality and how to implement it. Group coordinators and facilitators made this clear during “training” meetings. Indeed, the intention of the Synod is to include all the baptized and even those outside the Church. The rationale for such an intention is the Church’s belief that the Holy Spirit speaks throughout God’s people, and through the conscience He speaks in the heart of each person. However, both of these truths are not widely known. Moreover, they are often understood incorrectly in relation to the pastoral authority of bishops and the Pope: “as if they all have the same charism that allows them to decide what is and what is not the faith of the Church.” On the other hand, however, it was the realization of one’s subjectivity in the Church, at such a deep theological level, that awakened in many group coordinators and moderators the hope for a new face of the Church. Although it should also be noted that a small group of coordinators said explicitly or made it clear that they shared concerns about the failure of the process: it was either “disbelief in its efficiency” or “disagreement with synodal consultation with everyone.” Basically, everyone was of the opinion that “the synodal process should be accompanied by solid catechesis.” In addition, the preparatory work for the Synod was carried out very quickly. Clarifying the theological underpinnings and next steps of the synodal path was a major challenge, raising tensions.
However, based on the syntheses sent, it can be concluded that most Synod participants sensed the basic intention of Pope Francis. She found it consistent with their view of the Church as a community and the role of the laity, which has been talked about so much in recent decades. Very many Synod participants were of the opinion that the synodal path is a “sign of the times,” a path leading to the healing of the Church’s wounds. Only a small group of people expressed opposition to the Synod – disapproval of the synodal path as a method of discovering truth and improving governance in the Church.
Distance from the Synod was shown by a significant portion of the clergy: 139 of the 415 parishes in the Archdiocese of Poznań did not join the synodal work. Of course, the lack of involvement of some parishes may also have had other legitimate reasons. Nor did the priests send any synthesis that was created only among themselves.
The synodal way brought together many people, despite the narrative of some media – including through the mouths of guest clergymen – which commented on the synodal way in a radically negative way: “the Pope is a heretic,” “the synodal way is destroying the Church,” “it is a sin to participate in the Synod,” etc. Some circles identifying with the Church promoted materials designed to convince people of the “harmfulness of this path”: a brochure discouraging the Synod reached every parish in the Archdiocese of Poznan. A group of people with banners showed up at the Presynodal Meeting to protest the synodal path.
Differing viewpoints emerged in assessing the value of social dialogue, especially in the context of state-church relations. Most Synod participants expressed a great need to improve the quality of dialogue in the Church and public life. It also recognized the need to ensure the autonomy of the state and the Church. A minority of Synod participants recognized the opposite: social dialogue, in their view, dilutes Church teaching and inhibits fruitful witness. She also expressed satisfaction with the attitude of those priests and bishops who clearly declare their support for the current state authorities, who in their view are standing up for “Christian values.”
Differences of opinion, with the high temperature of emotions expressed, also arose in the context of abuses in the Church. The vast majority of Synod participants believe that the Church is losing credibility by responding inappropriately to cases of abuse of power by churchmen and abuse of minors. Not only are they disgusted by the fact that there have been and continue to be child abusers in the ranks of the clergy, they also see the problem in the way these issues are handled and the treatment of victims. The Church’s communication is unclear, giving the impression of “protecting its own at the expense of the disadvantaged.” A very small group of Synod participants felt that the problem of abuse of power and exploitation of minors is marginal in the Church, while it is exaggerated by some media, making it a tool for fighting the Church. In the syntheses, one can also find voices calling for the fair handling of these cases, so as not to harm innocent people and not to create a social atmosphere as if every defendant is guilty in principle.
The Church’s attitude toward LGBT+ individuals and communities also varied. A significant number of Synod participants expect a change in the attitude of some Church authorities toward these people. Another, albeit less numerous, group of people gave clear support to radical actions and words. The topic of possible doctrinal changes was the voice of very few people.
Similar differences have made themselves known in the treatment of refugees from non-European countries. Despite majority support for prudent hospitality to these people, a small group gave a clear sign of approval for the closed borders policy. For the latter, the Church welcoming refugees “naively supports multiculturalism.”
Differences of opinion also arose in the understanding and evaluation of the Synod itself. A small group of Synod participants objected to hearing from people outside the Church on the synod track. A small group felt that the criterion for participation in the Synod should be the state of sanctifying grace.
The fruit of the Spirit was first and foremost, common in synod groups, a sense of being noticed and heard. The experience of meeting and listening to each other, without judgment, yet with a palpable respect for others’ differing opinions, has led to the formation of hundreds of groups. Thousands of people want to continue the meetings. For the good of the Church, the development of one’s own faith, and the strengthening of friendships formed during the synodal journey. The fruit of the Synod, then, was a clear sense of unity, especially at a time when consensus was forming amidst a diversity of opinions.
Synod participants want to think about the next steps that will allow them to take greater responsibility for the local Church, the community, the parish, the diocese and the Church in Poland. The Holy Spirit has awakened hope that in diversity we can build a more communal Church and a more fraternal society. That it is possible to bring together communities that until now have refused to talk to each other. Very often it turned out that the mutual distance was the result of not understanding the intentions and views of the other party. And sometimes simple prejudice about people who present a different point of view. The differences described above did not divide the Synod participants to the point of not wanting to talk to each other. The divisions and apparent disagreement over the continuation of the meeting were a marginal experience.
The hope shared by Synod participants may not be shared by those who did not attend: “The experience of the synodal groups can only be understood from the inside, i.e. by attending the meetings.” Therefore, they would like to invite others to attend the meetings: “The road should be continued.”
Most surprising according to Synod participants were the immediate fruits of the synod meetings. They experienced a church where one can truly listen to others attentively and be heard. They pointed to a meeting methodology that allowed them to truly hear others: by refraining from an immediate response, much less an answer that negates someone’s opinion. The meetings focused on the experiences that conditioned the opinions expressed, which made the mutual openness and respect for people of different opinions all the more important. By listening to each other for relatively long periods of time and looking for inspiration from each other’s statements, the conversation seeking final consensus was often a gentle and sometimes even pleasant agreement between the parties.
Many people took part in the Synod only on the basis of the “credit of trust” given to the Church, without confidence that it would succeed and that there would be lasting fruit. After the first stage of consultation was completed, the opinion of most of these people changed. Important fruits were already born during the meetings: “it was a very deep experience of faith”, “it’s been a long time since I attended such meetings”, “we felt that we were together in the Church”, etc.
The reaction of those situated on the borderline or outside the Church was also significant. For them, the mere fact that a Synod is taking place, during which the Church opens up to the voice of all, was important. Participation in the Synod was a watershed experience for some of them, especially in the context of their previous relationship with the institution of the Church. It was a break from the image of the Church that had formed in the public space as inaccessible and confrontational. Therefore, in the Synod they found hope for a Church more open to dialogue. At the same time, many expressed disbelief in the lasting effectiveness of the process in the Church.
Many also stressed the value of a thorough synthesis, the public presentation of the results of the consultation, and the bishops’ willingness to talk openly.
According to the majority of Synod participants, the current difficult situation of the Church, internal and external problems, can be an opportunity for its renewal. The fall of the façade Church – most often identified with opacity – can, in their view, bring a refreshing of faith. This is because the Synod is seen as a form of building dialogue in the Church and forming for co-responsibility. On the other hand, witness to the faith expressed through participation in the life of the Church and taking responsibility for it can be one important remedy for unbelief in the world. Thanks to the Synod, many people have either gained a sense of agency in the process of building the Church or hope that this agency can be effective in the future.
An important voice on the synod road was the sharing of stories of family life that required self-denial and struggle for mutual love and fidelity. Especially important were the testimonies of people who changed their life plans because of a close sick person they decided to take care of. The family, understood as a place to mature in love, sometimes requiring very difficult decisions, has been one of the most important reference points when talking about the Church as a community of mutual support and a common path.
The stories of those helping the needy or serving the Church with dedication in the parish, in various communities, in lay, religious and priestly life also resonated significantly. Moving stories about how such a life can be very fruitful and happy gave hope to many Synod participants who are facing their questions about the future. They mobilized to make difficult and demanding life decisions closer to the ideals of the Gospel. Thus, the conviction that a fulfilled life consists of friendship with Christ and following Christ in daily life became apparent. It was accompanied by a clearly named desire that no one who wants to live in accordance with the requirements of the Gospel should be left alone. Especially when it is difficult for him to meet these demands.
In the syntheses there are recurring descriptions of various meetings with Church representatives. In addition to many examples of cordiality, the “officialdom of the Church” made itself known. Many people told of their negative experiences in encounters with clerical officials. Later perceptions of the Church had their deep roots in these experiences.
Particularly poignant were the testimonies of people with disabilities, although few of them attended the Synod. They expressed their joy at participating in the pastoral ministry and their admiration for their pastor. However, they pointed out the need for higher superiors making decisions to listen more to their needs: “You can’t treat pastoral ministries for people with disabilities the same as any other,” “Only someone close to us can understand us.”
The voice of many women recurred, expressing pain: “we feel misunderstood and not taken seriously in the Church.”
There was a very strong voice regarding the deepening of catechesis for all: children, youth, adults. In relation to each of these types of catechesis, the desire to improve the quality of meeting and teaching, in school and parish, has made itself known. Very many Synod participants expressed the need for answers to their questions. They want the preacher, catechist or catechist to be able to meet them where their real life experience is born, taking into account the different stages of faith development resulting from different life stories. Particularly important was adult catechesis, which would not just be a lecture, but a conversation that would relate to the questions of the catechized and provide answers flowing from Scripture and Church teaching. Simplicity, practicality and vitality are features of the expected catechesis and preaching, which will be firmly rooted in the Word of God and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Synod participants strongly emphasized the fact of scathing crimes and abuses of power by priests, bishops and religious. According to Synod participants, these matters should be handled transparently and fairly.
An important and recurring theme was the assessment of the Church’s role in the public debate. In the perception of most Synod participants, important Church figures are too clearly on one side of the political dispute. Synthes calls it a “problematic alliance of altar and throne.” They see “The Church’s voice as important in the public debate, but it should be consistent with the teaching of the universal Church and conveyed in the manner of social dialogue, with respect for those with different views,” “It should be equally unequivocal toward every power and political party, regardless of how much they favor the Church.”
There was also a recurring theme of defense of life. It was put most often in terms of two points: the defense of the value of human life of unborn children, the seriously ill, abandoned seniors, refugees, etc., and the need for the support that society and the Church should give to those who care sacrificially for the lives of others. A significant number of Synod participants stressed the value of human life, but at the same time pointed out the need for an integral approach: “To go together means not only to demand, but also to support realistically.” On many occasions, the topic of abortion has been addressed in the context of social dialogue, which can make the defense of life a cultural value rather than a legal one.
There was a relative amount of excitement when discussing the Tridentine Mass, even if it was not a topic often present in the syntheses. Opinions on the matter can be synthesized as follows: “The Holy See does not act in a manner analogous to other problems in the Church, and does not have adequate sensitivity for those who attend Tridentine Mass.” Some of those who believe that the growing mental separation of conservative circles from the Vatican is actually dangerous to the unity of the Church have also expressed their incomprehension of the Holy See’s actions in this area. There have been claims that liturgical unity is an important value, and one cannot ignore the fact that discrepancies arising from non-acceptance of the current form of celebration of the Mass and other sacraments have deeper consequences than purely ritual differences.
For greater notice of their presence in the Church, with appropriate sensitivity, they ask divorced people living in remarriages, who “cannot change their situation except at the price of magnifying evil.” They feel negated on principle or treated with cool detachment. Their deep desire is to seek the greatest possible good in their particular life situation with the support of the Church.
One survey highlighted the need for better preparation for marriage.
Few syntheses have revisited the subject of past abuses of power in the Archdiocese of Poznan and the lack of resolution and accountability of those responsible for these abuses. There have been very few voices calling for changes in the discipline of celibate priests and a rethinking of the priesthood of women.
There have also been voices proposing changes to the way bishops are elected, so that lay people can also participate.
Almost all Synod participants expressed the opinion that the summary of synod meetings should not end with the writing of a synthesis and the conclusion of the work. They are of the opinion that an initiative like the Synod can open up the possibility of breathing life into the institution of the Church from below.
The desire of Synod participants, confirmed in most syntheses, is to see the fruits of the path taken: they want a sense of agency. They believe that the Church should become closer to the ideals of the Gospel and better recognize the needs of modern man. They reaffirmed their acceptance of the principle of two stages: working out decisions by all and decision-making by shepherds. They recognized that there are ways to share co-responsibility that will guarantee both listening to the Holy Spirit when He speaks through the entire People of God and when He allows the bishops to make decisions: “A democratic majority cannot decide the future of the Church.” Most of those who have referred to this topic look forward to discerning the results of the synodal consultations and the decision of the bishops and the Pope.
Participants in the Presynodal Meeting confirmed the reliability of the draft synthesis. “Yes, this is our voice,” we can read in the reports of the group discussions that took place during the meeting. Extensive correspondence sent to the Synod Secretariat in the following days, except for one dissenting voice, confirmed this opinion. Only a small group of those present at the meeting felt that the results presented were inconsistent with how they perceived the Church. However, even these people did not deny the reliability of the synthesis made.
The syntheses also include the sometimes recurring concern about the Church’s growth in synodality: “We must not fall into the trap of a wish concert,” “People may treat the Church like a supermarket: this I take, that I don’t.” It also noted the need to educate those who want to share and take co-responsibility: “To understand the Church and its needs, it is necessary to continuously deepen the faith through continuous catechization of adults.”
A notable majority of Synod participants expressed their conviction that through the Gospel and the Church’s teaching, we all have access to the source of truth and wisdom of life. Most – including the young people who attended the Synod – expressed a deep need to belong to the Church. Thus, in the syntheses we find many insights into the future of the Church desired by the Synod participants. They form a very clear picture of the “Church of Dreams.”
A church in which all its members, lay and clergy, are brothers and sisters, everyone is important, regardless of social status, education or age. It’s a community with a shared responsibility to walk together, despite difficulties, supporting each other, working as a team, bridging the gap between the laity and priests and consecrated persons. The bishops and all the clergy, who are in constant contact with the laity in various synodal ways, try to listen to their voice and stay with them. It’s a community where everyone feels like a host (not a guest or “supplicant”). Everyone can speak freely and will be heard.
A church free of clerical priests, but full of presbyters who are accessible and open to meeting, accompanying others on their journey to God. Pastors are wary of communicating Church teachings with an exaggerated emphasis on their own claims, thoughts and ways of living out the faith. The local community does not have a character that corresponds to the religiosity of the pastor, the leader or some dominant social group. Lay people bear witness in house churches and other communities, helped by the consistent teaching of presbyters, bishops and the Pope. Formation is oriented not so much to “participation in rituals,” but to faith understood as a personal and communal relationship with God.
A community in which one senses the clear primacy of God. Where God is worshiped, listened to, sought, received and contemplated. The liturgy is celebrated piously, with the active participation of the laity, with appropriate care, with beautiful musical settings, in the beautiful interior of the church. Aesthetics and spirituality form one unit and invite you to discover the presence of God. The community feeds on the word of God, the sacraments and mutual love: these are the primary sources of its spiritual development. The liturgy is not overplayed, there are not many announcements and speeches. There is room for silence and adoration.
It is a community of people reaching out to others, with respect and understanding. Carrying, above all, love and joy. Participating in people’s daily lives, discerning their needs. Accompanying all who will need it. Allowing for the gradual development of faith and the decisions made. Not judging individuals, but actions. Testifying to the value of Christian life, but not converting by force. Unambiguous about the values it professes, but helping others discover and choose them, including through active listening and discernment.
Its primary mission is salvation. It helps to discover the way to heaven and build the most divine and human world possible with the help of the Gospel and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Everyone is called to live an authentic faith of following Christ and transforming their own lives.
A church that does not change its teaching under the pressure of modern times, but persists in what is its enduring tradition. However, he is constantly deepening his understanding of what he teaches. It distinguishes between what is unchangeable and what can be corrected under a deeper understanding of faith and morality. He guards the unity and consistency of teaching. It remains in unity with the Holy See.
It resolves what is and what is not Church teaching and communicates it clearly.
It is a place of permanent catechesis for all, regardless of age. It helps to constantly grow in faith, offering formation inspired by God’s Word and life, relevant to listeners, their questions and life experiences.
A community where there is always room for everyone, for newcomers, welcoming in the spirit of evangelical love, where clergy and laity are guided by the Gospel, especially by the words about loving God and neighbor, about loving enemies. Where the love shown applies not only to fellow members of the faith, but also to immigrants and refugees, friends and enemies, people who are homeless and wealthy, those living with addictions, those who identify as LGBT+, Christians from other communities and churches, and non-believers. A community that stands up for and helps the weak, the wronged, the discriminated. Open to people who, for various reasons, are not in full sacramental communion with the Church, but wish to mature in the faith, open themselves to a better understanding of their situation in light of God’s Word, and educate their children in the faith of the Church.
The Church of Dialogue is open to the intrinsic diversity of forms of living the faith, which do not “compete” with each other, but complement each other. He is open to conversations with the outside world and does not lock himself into elite groups. Accepts differences in social and political views. Patient in social dialogue. Determined where someone’s dignity is taken away.
He communicates in accessible language that relates to people’s experience. He avoids abstract justifications, hermetic concepts and pompous speeches.
It is a community in which the goals of pastoral activities and ways to achieve them are worked out together. Discernment is made at the community level, then subjected to the decisive discernment of pastors. Clergy and leaders share power and responsibility, apply the principle of participation and subsidiarity. Also in economic terms. Members of parish councils are elected democratically and by nomination of the parish priest in appropriate proportions. Lay people have a say in the election of the bishop. Everyone feels responsible for the Church.
A community that understands the needs of children and young people. Carefully listening and talking to young people, including those who criticize the Church or disagree with its teachings. Looking for ways to establish a dialogue with young people and space for their way of living and expressing their faith. Responding to their real needs, the topics covered, the language they use and their communication style. Using appropriate language in liturgy and catechesis, offering appropriate forms of devotions and meetings. Community building intergenerational relationships.
Catechesis is taught in a way that is relevant to the students, their life situation, questions and level of religious commitment. It is not abstract and evaluative. It is a space for contact not only with the teacher at school, but also with the living community of faith, with priests, consecrated persons. Priority is given to parish catechesis over religious instruction at school.
Understanding the need for transparency and openness. It does not tolerate, does not hide, and openly disassociates itself from all kinds of abuses committed by the clergy. Reliably holds those responsible accountable.
It is transparent in the way pastoral and economic councils are elected and function. The laity interacts with the clergy in an open manner. The Church clearly communicates the goals of its mission, pastoral priorities and plans.
It is transparent about its financial management. Information about clergy salaries, parish and diocesan expenses and future plans is public.
From the beginning, the synodal path has been meeting and listening to each other in small groups to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. However, not all of the opinions that emerged from the first stage of the synodal path turned out to be in agreement with each other: both in the assessment of the issues and the ways to solve them. Moreover, even the voice of the majority, when considered in the process of discernment in the Holy Spirit, does not, in principle, express an opinion that is right and for the Church binding. After publishing the results of the synodal consultations, developing a diocesan and nationwide synthesis, the next stopper is therefore the discernment that Fr. Archbishop with the help of auxiliary bishops and other individuals and permanent synodal bodies. The shepherd of the diocese makes a binding decision on the directions of pastoral conversion and growth of the local church in synodality, and appoints those responsible for coordinating the process.
Community, relationship, financial and task transparency, freedom of the Church from political dependence, adult catechesis, purification, lay participation in community building, youth, families, liturgical and intellectual formation, lay involvement, hope for synodality in the Church, change in school catechesis.
There are many reasons not to be in the Church today: people are leaving or distancing themselves from the Church, for whom faith has become something alien, the Church is too conservative, unfriendly to life, overly demanding, and Church people are dishonest. Also distancing themselves from the Church are those who appreciate the historical role of the Church, its liturgy, its timelessness and the reflection of eternity visible in it. To these, however, it seems that the Church has ceased to be true to itself, that it is moving toward a betrayal of its mission, that it is following fashion and thus losing its soul.
On the other hand, there are also reasons to remain in the Church: those who steadfastly believe in its mission persist in it, who in silence, almost without publicity, live a simple faith, adore God and live their daily life feeding on the Word of God and the Body of the Lord (such, however, have largely fallen silent; they are invisible, hidden, somewhere deeply hidden). There are also vibrant, charismatic communities in the Church, whose members live a spirit of service; they live by faith, hope and love. In the Church, there are also those who do not want to break with old habits that are pleasing to the heart – they are practiced, they are ritualistic, ritualistic, if not even very often confirmed in their lives. Those who know a lot about the Church, discuss it passionately, write intellectual treatises, but to whom the spiritual dimension of the ecclesial community of believers somewhere escapes. Those who also stand by the Church with the greatest determination are those who fight with all their passion against the content that its official representatives are trying to instill or maintain in the Church. These people, even though they want to remove what the Church was and what it is, are still determined not to abandon it to make it what they think it should be. They persist in it, but want to change it to their fashion.
Thus, today we are witnessing a process of momentous significance for the Church: for some, the Church is awakening in souls and growing in communities; for others, the Church is dying out in souls and disintegrating in communities. By inference, church membership becomes (is) a spiritual decision – a decision of the will, which means that one no longer belongs to the church by inheriting Christian beliefs from one’s ancestors, but by personally choosing the values one wants to live by. Wanting to be in the Church in a conscious way, therefore, one must express the will to know it and want to abide in the community of believers. As Christians, we are in the Church because we believe that now and always, and independently of us, Christ lives in the Church. We can only be with Him when we are with His Church, not beside it. To be more specific: it is the Church – despite all human errors and omissions – that gives us Christ. In this context, Cardinal. Joseph Ratzinger, in his Bavarian Lectures, wrote: “I am in the Church for the same reasons that I am a Christian at all. For one cannot believe alone. One can only believe with others. Faith is intrinsically a unifying force. Its primary image is the story of Pentecost – the miracle of people who are strangers to each other in origin and their history understanding each other. True faith demands community, and it can only be a community that has authority and that anticipates me, not one that is my own creation and an instrument of my own desires. Such a community is only the Church.”
Currently, as we follow the synodal path in the universal and local Church, we are asking in our communities about the meaning of the Synod: Is the Synod necessary? In the words of J. Ratzinger, we find the answer:
“The Church lives by constantly converting to the Lord, by breaking with the persistence of its own, of its favorite customs, which so often miss the truth. Where all reform departs from this context and does not take the trouble to convert, and sees salvation only in converting others, in introducing constantly new forms and in constantly adapting to its times, there the Church becomes a caricature of itself.”
By inference, we carry in our hearts questions and hopes, worries and concerns about the fate of “our Church.” And realizing that the head of the Church is Christ, only with Him can we change something in the Church, not the Church! This process must start with oneself. One must courageously decide to change something in oneself for the sake of the Church we all make up. Consequently, by increasing the sum of good in ourselves, we will increase the space of common good in “our Church.” In this context, J. Ratzinger added elsewhere in his Bavarian lectures, “Authentic love for the Church can be neither static nor indiscriminate. If there is any possibility at all of positively changing a person, it can only be done by showing him love and helping him change slowly from the way he is to the way he can be. Should it be different for the Church? Let’s look at recent history: in the liturgical and theological renewal [Soboru Watykańskiego II] there was a real reformation that brought positive changes; this was only possible because there were people who loved the Church with a vigilant love, endowed with the gift of discernment, “critical,” and who were willing to suffer for it. If nothing succeeds today, it is undoubtedly because we are all looking too much for mere self-affirmation. It’s not worth staying in a Church that actually has yet to be created so that you can stay in it; it’s a contradiction in itself. It is worth staying in the Church that is, because it deserves to exist; because it deserves to be loved and, out of love for it, to be transformed again and again, so that, stepping out of itself, it becomes more and more itself – this is the path that responsible faith points out even today.”
In summary, the synodal experience has concretized many intuitions, doctored the vital needs of the local (Rzeszów) Church. The desire to create a Church of closeness, in which laity and clergy walk hand in hand toward salvation, supporting each other, listening to each other and dialoguing, confirmed the Synod’s central tenet, the Pope explained: “God’s style of action is proximity, compassion and tenderness. God has always worked this way. If we do not reach this Church of intimacy with an attitude of compassion and tenderness, we will not be the Church of the Lord. And this is not only by word, but also by presence, so as to form stronger bonds of friendship with society and the world: A Church that does not separate itself from life, but takes on the fragility and poverty of our times, healing wounds and healing wounded hearts with the balm of God.”
Rzeszow, August 2022
Coordinators of synodal work
Rafał Czupryk PhD
- Dr. Rafał Flak
 Text entirely inspired by J. Ratzinger’s lecture, Why I’m Still in the Church, [w:] The same, Bavarian Lectures 1963-2004, transl. A. Czarnocki, Warsaw 2009, pp. 143-166.
 Francis, Address at the Opening of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme Toward a Synodal Church – Communion, Participation, Mission (Vatican Synodal Hall, October 9, 2021)
For many, the Synod represented a completely new experience of the Church. Church, in which we care about each other’s future, in which we are open to listening to others, but also in which we have the opportunity to express our opinion.
Notes from subsequent meetings show that some of the issues systematically recurred in the discussions of the various groups at subsequent stages, as reflected in the summaries of the individual meetings presented above. The recurring themes there can hardly be considered random – they testify to the existence of important problems that need to be solved.
Although the question was not included in the materials, there were spontaneous references to the need and plans for follow-up in about a third of the parish groups.
The activities covered a fairly wide spectrum – from the statement that the work done so far simply could not end there, to the concrete action already taken – the appointment (together with the parish priest) of a team to dialogue and revitalize the parish.
Voices of this type emerged throughout the synodal work, and resonated especially strongly during the meeting with coordinators in Bielawa. In response to these voices and in line with the original intention of encouraging dialogue between the laity and clergy, the synodal team, in consultation with the diocesan bishop, decided to encourage parish synodal groups to hold further meetings (those outside the parish groups were asked to join their respective parish groups). Two more meetings have been scheduled (see Appendix 2). Information about the meetings and the transfer of materials took place during the presynodal meeting. The meetings are aimed at bringing parish priests to meet and dialogue with synod groups and are scheduled for June and September 2022. The coordinators were asked to provide a combined note of these meetings, in a manner similar to previous meetings. Based on the notes sent, an attempt will be made to identify areas where individual groups would need outside assistance. Perhaps further materials will be prepared in response to the needs identified in this process. Earlier notes indicated the need for parishes to form small groups and deepen formation. If confirmed by the notes sent, these materials could include, for example, information about movements active in the diocese and those in charge who could help revitalize the life of faith in the parish.
Below are excerpts from parish notes on the importance and desire to continue the work of the Synod:
- The way to encourage baptized people in missions is through the witness of their own lives. A very positive work also in this direction is the idea of establishing Synodal Groups. It would be possible to stay with this form of cooperation for the benefit of each parish, thus the whole Church (parish group).
- The group had already come up with the idea of holding periodic meetings in the parish at an earlier meeting, during which there would be an opportunity to talk, exchange views, get answers to nagging questions (e.g., left in the question box in the church vestibule). […] Participants in the meeting expressed the need for further meetings after the Synod to discuss current issues. They would like biblical meetings to be held again, gestures to be explained, liturgical prayers to be said, so that everyone understands what the liturgy is all about. Certainly the conclusions of the synodal meetings should be presented to the Pastor (parish group).
- It would be good for synod groups to get involved in parish life. From these people can be created, for example. Pastoral Councils, Parish Councils (a group of parish priests).
- This synodal group gave me a lot, I opened up, I see that others think the same way and I am not alone in this. These groups should remain in some form to assist the pastor (parish group).
- As a parish synod group, we want to and will continue this work in our local community (parish group).
- Everyone has strongly opined that this is not the end. We remain a synodal group. New ideas have been generated for use in our parish. We still want to meet and realize something together. It’s nice because the group was made up of different people, we hadn’t all met before. […] Thank you for your cooperation. We experienced a lot of good things. The power of the problems we analyzed together, many new ones were brought to our attention (parish group).
- Synodal group – God’s spark! There used to be such groups in our parish community, but somewhere it ended. The need is for this Divine spark to be reignited[…] I would like the Church to be synodal, but I would like this synod to continue. But there must be a priest who will be prepared and who will lead us together with the Holy Spirit (parish group).
- I can’t forget the speech of a young person (meeting in Bielawa) who spoke so beautifully about God and the Church in the sharing group. I was just ashamed that I couldn’t talk about God like that. But still, thanks to this group of ours, I have become more open to the Church, I look at the Church differently now. The synod group opened my eyes to the problems and I see a lot of potential for something great… (parish group).
- Necessary discussion of conclusions with Rev. Pastor, adapt them to the work of the parish, try to develop methods of communicating information on activities in the community ( encourage others) (parish group).
- At the end, all participants expressed the desire and need for a group in our parish to start a biblical group, where we could meet, resolve disputes and walk together (parish group).
- The distance from priests, the fact that we do not know them personally, fosters bad opinions about them. We are grateful for being allowed to speak. We hope that the synod meetings will make a difference, we want to continue them (parish group).
- After the last meeting we unanimously concluded that this should not be the end of our meetings!!!! (parish group).
- We ended the meeting with an Agape with the participation of our Pastor. Full of hope and faith, encouraged by the synodal meetings, we wish to continue our meetings. Transfer them to an extended circle of willing parishioners and try to “go together” (parish group).
- It takes a lot of formation work in the parish – we have partially passed it in the work of the parish synod (parish group).
- Synodal meetings should become a practice in every parish and should be held at least once a year. Synodality can change the Church for the better (parish group).
In conclusion, it should be emphasized that the vast majority of the faithful who participated in the consultation phase want a more evangelical, synodal Church, in which clergy and laity work together for its good, fulfilling the salvific mission that Christ entrusted to his Church. In the Archdiocese of Warmia, there have been only isolated voices calling for a return to the pre-Socratic model of the Church. An overwhelming number of votes, consciously or not, were affirmations of the vision of the Church set forth in the documents of Vatican II. The need to discover one’s own tasks flowing from the reception of Baptism was strongly emphasized. And from his state or vocation.
During the consultation phase, many issues were raised that touched on the essence of the Church, that is, how to better, more effectively lead people to salvation, what to do to make evangelization, catechesis and formation more effective. Attention was paid to the need for greater involvement of both clergy and laity in joint action for the Church. The need to create new spaces of responsibility for the Church for the laity was emphasized. The faithful want the Church as a community, not an institution that provides religious services. They want to feel at home in the Church and their parish, to have a concrete responsibility for it, to decide on important issues for it.
The consultation phase of the synod in the Archdiocese of Warmia was based on the already existing synodal structures of the Church, both at the diocesan and parish levels. This has helped raise awareness among the faithful, clergy and laity, of the importance of these institutions and of the need to ensure their greater role and importance in the functioning of the Church. The Archbishop and members of the Pastoral Council expressed their hope that the synodal consultation phase, which has been conducted, will help the local Church undertake self-reflection and implement solutions that will contribute to its more evangelical, missionary and synodal face.
In the work of the various synodal groups, it was widely expressed the hope and even conviction that the Synod would contribute to the revival of Christ’s Church, to the mutual rapprochement between clergy and laity, and thus to the building of a synodal church in which all the baptized are active, form a community of sisters and brothers in Christ, and carry out missionary activities.
In the course of the synodal work, many issues concerning the essence of the Church and its mission were addressed in terms of synodality. Among those most often undertaken are the following: improving relations between the clergy (often closed to cooperation) and the laity (passive, timid); creating new spaces for meeting and establishing relationships between clergy and laity (e.g. parish cafes); building the Church of the community and moving away from treating it as an institution that conducts religious services; discernment and decision-making in a synodal spirit; developing new forms of pastoral care for children and youth – formation of young leaders and youth pastoral structures – formation of youth pastoral councils; more intensive formation of adults, especially families and greater consideration of the voice of women; Formation of seminarians to be more open to the laity and to be able to work with the group; paying more attention to the missionary activity of the Church, to which all the baptized are called; developing pastoral ministries in foreign languages; taking care of the beauty of the liturgy, solid preparation for the sacraments and celebrating them with dignity; greater pastoral openness to people from the so-called “minority”. “periphery” (doubters, seekers who have abandoned the Church, homosexuals, those experiencing various problems in life – homeless, divorced, single, etc.).
Participants in the synodal consultations were aware that the synodal Church is built through the existing “synodal bodies” within it, which are often dormant, existing only in theory or “on paper.” Hence, they were widely convinced that the fruit of the synod should be, in the first place, the activation of pastoral councils and economic councils, and that the associations existing in parishes and in the diocese should open up to each other and join the universal mission of the Church: the mission of sanctification, teaching, and the ministry of charity – Christian caritas.
Individuals and communities participating in the supra-parish work of the synod are encouraged to join in various forms of participation and responsibility in their own parishes, since the parish is the home of Christ’s Church, and by joining in its pastoral mission, every believer fulfills the right and duty received from Christ in baptism.
It should be clearly noted that in the collected surveys there are no regrets at all about the infrastructure and preparation of churches for rituals, services and various liturgical activities. No one complained that the church was untidy, cold, the pews or sidewalks dirty, cobwebs in the corners. This means that most of the churches in the diocese are well-maintained and properly prepared for liturgy. Despite the criticism of the ministry of pastors and priests, it should be noted that in most surveys very positive evaluations of priests dominate, there are many such parishes where everything works properly and priests are evaluated very positively.
Making a brief summary of the most important issues, matters and threats that affect our diocese and the Catholic Church in Poland, the following should be pointed out:
Parishioners pay great attention to the quality of sermons. Sermons that are bad, boring and read from a page cause people to look for other parishes to attend. Due to the fact that people today treat faith very individually, the quality of the homily is of great importance, and thus with what message, thought, word people ultimately leave after Mass. From the church. The faithful expect emotion, excitement, inspiration, words they can reflect on and that change their lives.
18.104.22.168 Church celebrants
If there are no good sermons and catechesis in the parish, the faithful, as came out very strongly in the surveys, educate themselves religiously using religious online platforms – sermons, catechesis and lectures by priests preaching their content online. It seems that, on the one hand, it is a good thing that the Church is present with its content in the digital sphere and uses modern methods of communication, but on the other hand, it can breed alienation from real parishes, communities and relationships, leading to the creation of peculiar informal and ultimately non-ecclesial groups of “fans” centered around celebrity priests and their teaching. This situation – the abundant use and very positive evaluation by the faithful of online religious blogs and channels – calls for serious consideration so that, on the one hand, good formative content is not negated and the zeal of the faithful is not destroyed, and on the other hand, real, not virtual, ecclesiastical, communal, sacramental relationships are built.
22.214.171.124 Nature of communities
One is undoubtedly puzzled by the clearly marked fear of speaking out in community surveys. The fear of ridicule, humiliation and negative evaluation is present.
126.96.36.199 Personal relations with the faithful
Visible in the surveys is the desire to talk, meet, discuss with priests on various topics important to people, the need for personal contact, listening, empathy, closeness.
188.8.131.52 Extreme Groups
Two extreme groups emerge from the analysis of the questionnaires: the young, who expect a Church that is open and very tolerant, non-exclusive and dialogical, and the faithful connected to the environment of tradition and the Mass celebrated in the Tridentine rite, who, as described above, expect a return to the pre-Vatican II rites, language and forms, see dialogue and synodality as a huge threat, want a Church led by the hierarchy with a strong hand, a Church of radical and consistent principles.
184.108.40.206 Evangelization and Ecumenism
Stagnation prevails in ecumenical relations, with the faithful tending to be closed or indifferent to ecumenical issues or meetings. They are focused on the problems of the Catholic Church, turned inward – to parishes and communities. There is little awareness of external mission and the need for evangelization in the surveys.
The most common stereotypes emerging from the surveys relate to a negative assessment of the Church due to clergy pedophile scandals and their cover-up by the hierarchy, as well as a related lack of willingness in the Church to crack down on sexual problems. Synodality is also stereotyped as a kind of democratization and even Protestantization of the Catholic Church. There is little evidence in the surveys of stereotypes about the materialism of priests, their living beyond their means, their detachment from the normal lives of the people, the lack of clear rules for accounting for parish expenses, their reluctance to form Parish Councils and, as noted above, the inappropriate, autocratic, coarse behavior of priests toward the people.
However, the overall picture of the Catholic Church and its priests that emerges from the questionnaires completed by our diocesans is positive. The faithful recognize the commitment, work, sacrifice, hardship and dedication of priests to people and communities. The self-awareness of the faithful regarding the problems, challenges and tasks facing the Church in Poland at the beginning of the 21st century is encouraging. It was expressed in both the community and individual surveys, as one can see a great potential for involvement, a desire to help, and gratitude for the Church and priests, with a simultaneous awareness of shortcomings and risks. However, the negative opinions present in the statements are not a negation of Catholicism or an anti-clerical attack, but are an expression of genuine concern for church communities, the formation of the faithful, the quality of the ministry of priests, the future of young people in the Church and the future of the Church in Poland. Such formulated content fills us with hope, but at the same time is a great call for our diocese to hard pastoral work and zealous responsibility for Christ’s Church.
The first stage of the synodal process in our diocese meant that the metaphors quoted in the introduction gradually began to lose their relevance. This was due to the sincere concern for the Church of the participants in the synod meetings. Their efforts, their desire to take care of the quality and purpose of the road together have exposed what is beautiful and difficult about it. In a surprisingly convergent manner, they pointed out the main directions of the way ahead for our Archdiocese. Of course, it was impossible to include here all the specific demands, which, however, were essentially mainly related to the life of individual parishes or communities. One thing is certain: we want to go forward together guided by the Holy Spirit in building up the Church that is our home.
This synthesis presents, in a very general way, a broad panorama of views and issues raised, as well as the experiences of the participants. It will probably become an inspiration for further, more precisely defined pastoral discernment in the field ordinariate, and then for the search for appropriate pastoral answers. Given that synodal consultation at the diocesan stage has resulted in an increased involvement of laity and clergy in Church affairs and a sense of shared responsibility for the community, the continuation, in some form, of joint dialogue in a synodal manner seems justified.
List of synodal topics
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.
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?
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?
„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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?