Summary of the Synod's progress in the dioceses

Taking the floor

All are invited to speak with courage and confidence, that is, combining freedom, truth and love.

Does our/my voice matter in the Church and do we find the space to speak and be heard? Do we feel that those speaking on our behalf actually represent us as well? What real impact do we have on this?

Wszystkie syntezy w jednym dokumencie PDF

SPEAKING

During the synod, we realized that there is a lack of space in the Church where the voice of the laity is listened to and heard. “The lack of openness to a frank exchange of opinions and discussion causes me, as a person who is a member of the Catholic Church, to lose enthusiasm and motivation to engage with its structures, because my voice is most simply ignored or overlooked.” Synod participants were often accompanied by uncertainty about whether their voices would be heard. For many, the synodal consultation was their first opportunity to speak. Especially people who do not belong to any communities or movements, but pray every day in the community of the parish church, approached them with great enthusiasm.

The faithful mainly focused on articulating what hurts them in the Church community at the general and local levels, that is, mainly in the parish. So we talked a lot about “wounds of the Church.” “Participants in the synod meetings shared a picture of a Church wounded, affected by scandals and human poverty, whose sinful side related to human weakness often causes scorn and suffering. It is a Church that is often helpless, affected by the shock of change, which often frustrates the faithful, resembling more a mismanaged institution than a community led by articulate shepherds.” Images of the Church illustrating its institutional rather than communal nature were presented: “a vehicle in need of major repair,” “old, timid and tired,” “a concubine of the state,” “an institution without cordiality,” “an organization with a supposedly religious character,” “something for the older generations.” The belief was expressed that “the Church is detached from life, boring, too little is said about doubt and what faith means to us.” It was pointed out that it was dominated by “empty words, life and words don’t go hand in hand,” and “difficult issues in the Church (abuse of power, sex scandals) make it difficult to find oneself in the community.”

In the consultations and syntheses, the harsh criticism of the priests, based primarily on their own parish experiences, was heard very clearly. We perceive the pastor as an absent and uninvolved person, while on the other hand we are aware that we need him very much and are looking for guides on the paths of our faith. Our attitude toward priests clearly reveals the tension between expectations and desires on the one hand and unpleasant realities on the other.

The laity notice and highly value in their priests a consciousness of vocation, deep faith, true piety, living according to principles, attention to worship and teaching, concern for people, love for the Church, apolitical while engaging in social issues, selflessness and, above all, authenticity and witness. Examples were cited of zealous priests, especially parish priests, thanks to whom the pastoral ministry and parish community are developing. At the same time, the lay faithful perceive in priests a lack of faith and authentic piety, materialism, violation of moral principles, lack of sensitivity to people’s needs, poor quality of relations with the parish and local community, an erroneous anthropological vision, revealed in an extremely negative understanding of man, and, finally, a lack of building relationships among themselves and neglect of their own formation. This view of priests reveals a profound contrast between the “truly committed priest” and the “delegated priest.” He raves about the “phenomenon of the unbelief of priests” who have “lost God” or sometimes show that the Church is “a giant business, a financial syndicate,” which translates into a sense of “not yet physical, but already spiritual shortage of priests.” The synodal consultations emphasized the deep-rooted and widespread clericalism, for which not only presbyters are responsible, but also laymen who reinforce such attitudes among priests.

While expressing often harsh criticism of priests and demanding changes, we clearly emphasize that they flow from a concern for the Church and a desire for charismatic priests who, through the word they preach and the example of their own lives, would draw the faithful to God and attract them to the Church.”

The criticism was accompanied by a reflection on the need to pray for and support presbyters in their work and for the laity to develop a not at all universal willingness to take joint responsibility for the parish. The voice of criticism translated into the formulation of specific pastoral demands. Among them, the need to preach catechesis to adults, to develop pastoral care that responds to the authentic needs of the faithful, to strengthen (or build from scratch) pastoral care for children, youth, families and the elderly as untapped potential in parish life, to extend pastoral care to people who remain to varying degrees on the periphery of the Church (especially those living in non-sacramental relationships, people with disabilities and, less frequently, LGBT+) were commonly mentioned. These demands largely boil down to the ability to read the spiritual needs of parishioners.

At this point, it must be emphasized that the expectations for pastoral care that emerged from the synod have nothing to do with a “service” vision of the Church. On the contrary. The demands formulated revealed a longing for community, ties and good shepherds who can accompany the faithful on the path of their faith.

An important space for believers to speak out is Catholic media and new forms of communication. We see the need for a nationwide, thriving, professional portal, radio, television program on Christian issues, with the possibility of interaction of interlocutors from different religious and cultural backgrounds. We emphasize the role of new media in communicating with the faithful and the need to use them in the new evangelization (e.g., creating online applications, broadcasting worship services). Also important is the smoothness of the transition from online ministry, which has become a necessity in the era of the pandemic, to a ministry based essentially on face-to-face encounter.

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

1.1 Taking the floor

1.1.1 How do we cultivate a free and authentic style of communication within the community and its bodies, without duplicity and opportunism?

– Any “anonymous” layperson even uninvited can come to a priest and say what he thinks about an issue (he will say and leave). In a worse situation are those who work in the Church, for their speech they can face consequences, (it is not known if and what) stigmatization, up to and including exclusion. (This hurts a lot.) The Church is a difficult institution in this regard.

– A tough topic, I processed this in the community I belonged to for a few years (in the rz-k church). Freedom and authenticity were dissected if they did not agree with the “discernments” of community leaders.

– I think there is a big problem with speaking frankly all the time.

– I don’t think the communication style is free and authentic. Somewhere deep down we have a coded conviction that one does not discuss with the clergy. This is an issue that stems from upbringing, but also a lack of a sense of importance in the conversation.

– Communication within the church community is often not objective and is not based on sincerity in relations between the clergy themselves as well as between clergy and laity.

– I cultivate it in such a way that I try to talk with gentleness as to form but with firmness as to content. I try not to pretend that I like something if it clearly destroys the Catholic faith.

– We do not root, only the synod gave us the opportunity to do so.

– This is only possible in freedom, without pressure. Anyone can speak, but when he is full of fear and shyness he will only gain courage if he is sure that he will not be judged, that no one will prove anything to him, even if they disagree with him. So it is necessary to create just such a climate of mutual trust.

– The communication in the community is not insignificantly influenced by the style of parish leadership – a free and authentic style of communication within the community is influenced by the attitudes of pastors, who either allow parishioners to be involved in the life of the church, speak up and make decisions together. Or rather, priests imposing their opinions. The function of leadership significantly impinges not only on the atmosphere in any social group, but shapes the pattern of interrelationships and the formation of a certain type of interpersonal ties. With an authoritarian style of parish leadership, sincere dialogue is impossible; rather, there is an atmosphere of intimidation blocking sincerity in relationships. Such a situation has an inhibiting effect on taking initiative and shared responsibility. This has happened more than once in the history of our parish, when the parish priest only informed the faithful about the issues at hand and made decisions on his own without consultation, In the participatory style, however, also known as democratic, are hidden the greatest opportunities for developing dialogue within the group. This type of exercise of leadership in the parish makes it possible to make dialogue more effective, both between pastors (the hierarchy) and the lay faithful, and between parishioners themselves.

– Parish councils don’t quite fulfill their functions. Sometimes the laity do not get a positive response from the clergy, support for their initiatives. Priests do not interact enough with the faithful. This situation depends largely on a close relationship with the parish priest and vicar priests. The laity, on the other hand, sometimes lack perseverance in pursuing initiatives in the parish and humility in relation to the clergy.

1.1.2 And with regard to the society to which we belong?

– We address the message of the local Church not only to our own faithful, but to the residents of the entire neighborhood, to visitors and guests who visit our parish for various reasons, especially those using the sacrament of penance and others.

– It seems to me that we place too much importance on the need for acceptance in society. People don’t change easily, and we certainly won’t change their minds just by talking. Communication can bridge and clarify differences, but society needs authentic witnesses. People who live according to the principles of faith.

1.1.3 When and how do we manage to say what is important to us?

– As for the affairs of the Church, this is the first time I can speak on this issue, although I still have doubts about how sincere they are to be . I often talk about it in my circle of relatives and friends.

– There is no point in saying what is important to us, because as laymen we have no influence on decisions in the Church. Parish councils are mostly fictions, and communities live in their own little closed world.

– In fact, we always have this option. It is only up to us to be brave enough to express our own opinion on a given topic of faith. Any time is good, time after Mass, during pastoral visit…. The time and the way we choose, because if the faith in us increases then, in my opinion, the number of questions should increase.

– Every member of the parish has the opportunity to voice his or her own opinion on important issues both in the operation of the parish and in matters of faith. At the moment, there is no fear that his voice will not be heard. However, the synodal team noted that this has not always been the case in past years.

– Some Catholics have the courage to respond on social media to the vilification of faith and religious symbols, it is important to do so in a way that does not incite hatred, in a Christian spirit.

1.1.4 How does the relationship with the media system (not just the Catholic media) work?

– There is a kind of “preacher’s war” on the Internet. Some love Szustak others Fr. Eye. Still others look blindly at David Mysior’s YT channel.

– If clergy persons are “”debriefed”” in various media, they should testify about Jesus Christ

– It still depends on the views of the priests. Strongly conservative priests are predominantly found in the Catholic media. Yet there are many priests who speak with real love for their fellow human beings and are able to speak out in private media, on the Internet.

The media seem to have some central guidance, as often their narrative is “only right.” I’m often heartbroken by the content of the so-called “”I”. catholic portals.

– The Church has been categorized as belonging to only one side of the political scene and is portrayed as such in news programs. Only radical attitudes not always in line with Church teachings are emphasized.

– Rather, the Catholic media is geared toward spreading hard rules about what is allowed and what is not allowed, prayers for retirees who pray to pictures.

– I believe that in today’s world, the media ( TV) mainly falsify the image of the Catholic Church, try to spread the alleged rot in the church as much as possible, and any weaknesses, failures with increased force to publish as evidence in the futility of our faith, and actually the pillars of the church, namely the priests. Little is said, about what is good (in fact, not said at all), and only cheap sensationalism is sought. And here the Evil One has a large field of appeal to spiritually lost people, people who would like to join the Catholic community anew, but again they do not have such a strong foundation of faith we delineate between good and evil.

– The elderly are generally passive consumers of media messages. They use televised services, check announcements from their parish or listen to conferences posted on websites. Younger people often actively participate in media life. However, parishes are perceived as rather passive centers of media life.

– We have a wealth of press, media, websites, opportunities to use, expand knowledge, deepen faith, share information, in fact, each parish (and each person) has the opportunity to create its own medium. Are there relationships? Probably not necessarily. My impression is that everyone is doing it for themselves.

– The messages often contain manipulation. Fortunately, Catholic media is growing, especially on the Internet.

1.1.5 Who speaks for the Christian community and how is he or she elected?

– In my opinion, Pope Francis, in the Polish CC there is no such person with whom I can identify.

– Pope, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, etc. This is called the church hierarchy. I don’t know exactly how bishops are chosen, and that’s why this is a highly morally suspect process for me. The rules are opaque to the ordinary, gray Catholic. I know that bishops used to be elected by communities of the faithful, but that is no longer the case today. I have not heard of the faithful voting when electing their own bishop. This should be a matter of course, but unfortunately it is not.

– In the current situation of media accessibility, anyone can speak. The quality of speech is important. And going to the sources, not interpretations. Perhaps the Church could use an asceticism of expression.

– Priests, lay people – anyone can “delegate” themselves and preach (this is especially true of the Internet). These contents are not always theologically correct, and often even clerics make contradictory statements, creating confusion and division among the faithful. There is a lack of control over what they preach. They preach to clerics known to be banned or even suspended.

– Rather, it is decided by program editors, who ask well-known Church hierarchs, priests, nuns or laymen to speak on various topics. It is completely different on the Internet, where there are statements made by random people impersonating clergy. They harm the Christian community by preaching slogans of hatred.

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

1.1 My voice in the Church

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

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

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

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

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

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

1.1 Key conclusions gathered during the diocesan stage of the synod

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

(…)

1.1.1 The problem of interpersonal relations in the archdiocese

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

1.1.1.1 Relationship between priests and laity

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

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

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

1.1.1.2 Relationships among priests

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

1.1.1.3 Relationships between church communities

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

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

1.1 An analytical look

1.1.1 Taking the floor

The biggest barriers to speaking out in the community are personal embarrassment and a belief that they lack public speaking skills. Another problem is the lack of a space where everyone can have a voice on key issues in parish life and forms of pastoral care.

It is important that those who are directly responsible for the life of the parish are willing to create a space of dialogue that could be used for people to present their pastoral needs and ideas. Therefore, those pastors and leaders of parish communities who are open to various types of meetings should be appreciated.

The key to being able to open up and talk about priority issues is to feel mentally comfortable. Only when a person is confident that he will not be rejected and his point of view will not be completely negated is he able to speak openly about what is important to him.

The primary representative of the community is the parish priest, over whose election the faithful have no influence. Parish councils also play an important role, but care must be taken to select council members appropriately.

Sometimes bishops and priests are disconnected from reality and from what the faithful live on a daily basis. Contact between the faithful and the bishop or priest can sometimes be difficult. Shepherds of the Church should be with their sheep and , “smell them.

If lay faithful living a sacramental life see a problem with speaking up, what are they to say to people whose lives have turned out differently, are in non-sacramental relationships, yet are believers, want to be in the Church, to have a role in it and a heard voice. There should be pastoral care for these people.

The need for a clear message, a position, regarding difficult situations. The need for unity of the Church in various areas of religious, moral, social life (e.g., the statement of one bishop and clergy should not contradict the other. Unanimity is important here).

A place and tools that provide opportunities for dialogue and conversation should be developed. There should be adult catechesis and communities actively involved in the life of the Church.

There is a lack of opportunity to pose questions to the bishop, the pastor. The need for ordinary role models without exaltation. There are artificially created Parish Councils that have no say.

Not being able to speak leads to murmuring.

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

1.1 What does the Church enjoy?

1.1.1 Taking the floor

The faithful have the opportunity to speak out due to various circumstances. They have the opportunity to express themselves during a pastoral visit or during personal meetings with the parish priest. A much better opportunity to speak is available to members of parish councils and members of various church groups and communities.

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

1.2.1 Taking the floor

Difficulty in speaking up is often due to being judged by others or fear of exposing oneself to others. Often the views of the majority are duplicated. Many people are afraid of expressing their own opinion on a subject, lest they be misjudged or attacked. In more than a dozen synodal conclusions, the conviction was expressed that only those who are determined to face all kinds of difficult consequences choose to speak out honestly.

It is worth considering the language of the articles contained in the Catholic press, since the audience is mostly elderly or middle-aged people. Articles should be written in clear, understandable language. Also, the language of the bishops’ pastoral letters is often too difficult, laden with strictly theological terminology.

Speaking about the Church outside the Church is difficult. Increasingly, one can encounter the hostility of an interlocutor who already has his or her own established negative views on Church issues and does not want to listen to people with a different opinion, but only to voice his or her opinion. There are more and more situations when people make extremely bold and even aggressive statements about the Church or the doctrine the Church preaches.

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

1.1.1 Taking the floor

“Christians, too, can become part of the network of verbal violence created through the Internet and in various forums or spaces for the virtual exchange of opinions. Even in the Catholic media, boundaries can be overstepped, detraction and slander tolerated, and it seems that respect for the reputation of others is not included in any ethical standards. (…) the tongue stripped of all control becomes ‘a space of evil’ and ‘itself consumed by the fires of hell ignites the circle of life’ (cf. James 3:6).” (Gaudete et exultate 115).

The topic of speaking up in the Church aroused two kinds of associations among participants in the synod meetings. Firstly, it was noted that the Church is under attack in the media and a “vandalism” is underway that “projects its image and ruins authority.” Second, the Church often uses a stigmatizing and aggressive voice, that it is not open to discussion . Participants in the meetings criticized the lack of a coherent message, contradictory messages and the anachronistic and incomprehensible language of the pastoral letters. Attention was also drawn to the need for good (“on the level”) homilies, in search of which people today are increasingly opting for the so-called “good” homilies. CHURCHING. The Church’s greater use of new means of communication (such as social media, online broadcasts, YouTube videos) than before was appreciated. The existence of Catholic media and Catholic broadcasts and programs was viewed positively. The promotion of culture and the arts by Catholic media is also recognized. At the same time, participants in the synod meetings believed that the Church’s weakness is its too modest presence in social media. Attention was drawn to . on the need to focus not only on the message, but also on communication with the world. There were voices of disappointment regarding the under-use of traditional media (radio, press, television), in terms of informing and promoting initiatives organized by church communities. As a response to the Church’s shortcomings in the area of speaking out in the public space, it was proposed to increase the use of media in general (traditional and new) for evangelical and catechetical messages, as well as to further develop social media, without neglecting traditional media, which “is an invaluable treasure for the middle and older generation, the sick.” The need for greater use of diocesan media was emphasized. Participants in the synod meetings also emphasized the role of parish media (newspapers, websites), which, according to them, should be focused primarily on current local issues, and at the same time free of “graphomania and extremely subjective opinions.” Desirable support for parish media would be a dedicated person in the diocese (e.g., a spokesperson), providing official and authorized materials (documents, announcements, appeals and decrees) for media use.

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

1.1 Taking the floor

The space for updating the authentic communication style should be the pulpit, parish office, catechesis, choir, parish council, small group meetings, pastoral visitation, pilgrimages, helpline, surveys. It is necessary to treat the laity as partners of equal value, subject and not object, as not only instructed, but worth listening to. Current trends indicate that there will be no mass church, and only true-believing Christians will remain involved in the community. In dealing with them, the Church must use the mass media. The church hierarchy in Poland is not taking full advantage of this tool, especially with regard to young people. It has not developed a style of communication with young people that has had a visible pastoral effect. The content communicated is sparse, incomprehensible to most audiences. In doing so, it is important to emphasize the fatal sense of the subject and the frequent omission of current affairs, the most important from the point of view of a Christian audience. It is necessary to improve the readability, quantity and subject matter of communications with the faithful. The language used to convey the content of faith to young people in religious lessons and sermons is often characterized by anachronism, artificiality, and, as a result, low communicativeness. At the same time, there are effective ways for individuals to act in transmitting the faith through online channels and face-to-face evangelistic meetings. It is also important to emphasize the underestimation of the voice of women in the Church, which is painfully felt by Catholic women who are educated and competent in professional and social roles.

Although we live in a country described as Catholic, we are increasingly encountering difficulties in speaking the language of faith, which is incomprehensible to many Poles. A burning problem has become the departure of young people from the Church and the abandonment of catechesis. The urgent need, therefore, is to communicate the faith with the witness of life, openness, radical following of Jesus. Here, philosophical and intellectual formation is very important, due to the galloping phenomenon of redefining basic concepts.

What is important for our life of faith, we manage to say often only in the closest family circle, in small communities. Polish society practices cultural Catholicism. The Church needs to develop such forms of evangelization so that young people feel the need to encounter God, not just ritual or traditional celebrations.

Speaking on behalf of the Christian community is the Pope, shepherds of the Church, superiors, catechists, representatives and leaders of formation groups.

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

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

1.1 Taking the floor

1.1.1 What makes it possible or difficult to speak out boldly, honestly and responsibly in our community?

Certainly the open attitude of pastoralists is of great importance, an attitude of listening and opening up to the other, finding time to stop and at least show kindness. A pastor who “officiates” during the office hours and has no time outside the office is bad. Such information is passed on, and trust in the pastor diminishes. In such a situation, there is little room for open, honest expression. That leaves only the path of whispered negative information.

A sense of bilateral sincerity between clergy and laity. If that’s there and that’s what you feel, then the conversation is sincere and makes sense. (…) Second: competence – based on knowledge and facts. Third: willingness to cooperate – Not “the priest should do it,” but “we will help the priest do it.”

In large parishes, courage and candor are hampered by anonymity and lack of personal relationships. In small, rural parishes, fear of indiscretion is an obstacle. Even if the rumor spreads without personalities, people will still know who it is about. What helps one to be open to a frank conversation is the kindness and openness of the clergy, while what hinders it is the reluctance on their part to accept critical comments. Many laymen refrain from speaking out because they feel they don’t know the parish or the relationship between the parish and the curia well enough. Opinions about the Church presented in the media also influence the shape of the dialogue.

In a community of people living in non-sacramental unions, we can talk frankly about anything, while in a parish rosary community, you have to be careful what you say so that gossip doesn’t come out of it. (…) In the parish group I belong to for the second year, I don’t know the problems of other people, because simply no one there talks about problems, everything seems to be fine.

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

1.1 Travel accompaniment/listening/speaking engagements

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

1.1.1 Taking the floor

Very often the view was expressed that there was no space until now where the voice of the laity was heard and listened to at all. The synodal consultation is the first time this has happened, and it has been received with great enthusiasm especially for parishioners who are not members of specific communities, but who pray every day in the community of the parish church. Satisfaction at being given this opportunity was often accompanied by uncertainty about whether that voice would be heard: “The lack of openness to a frank exchange of opinions and discussion causes me, as a member of the Catholic Church, to lose my enthusiasm and motivation to engage with its structures, because my voice is most simply disregarded or overlooked”; “In my parish Church – by the same token, in the universal Church – I do not find the space to speak out and be heard. This example does not apply to all communities. There are parishes where there are thriving pastoral councils whose advisory voice has an impact on actions taken. However, I believe that these are individual cases”; “Sometimes we have doubts whether it is worth speaking up, saying what we think, because there is a feeling that somewhere ‘upstairs’ the decisions to be made will be made anyway. It even raised doubts about whether any critical voices would reach the Vatican without ‘technical processing,’ or whether ‘truths’ of convenience would be passed on.”

It should be noted that many syntheses have cited examples of authentic faith experience in the parish church community and good cooperation between the laity and presbyters. On the other hand, critical voices prevailed. Due to the fact that the synodal meetings were considered one of the first opportunities to speak, the opportunity was taken to express all that is difficult and what really hurts in the Church.

The most common observations and expectations of priests:

  • For most laymen, the real problem is the attitude of many priests. Attention was drawn to the difference between a “truly committed priest” and a “delegated priest,” to the “phenomenon of the unbelief of priests” who have “lost God” or sometimes show that the Church is “a giant business, a financial syndicate,” which translates into a sense of “not yet physical, but already spiritual shortage of priests.” emphasized the pervasiveness of clericalism, for which not only presbyters are responsible, but also laymen who reinforce such attitudes of priests;
  • sometimes the dependence of development in faith on the quality of pastoral care/attitude of the priest is maturing. Many people leave the Church because they ended up with “delegitimized priests,” especially during important stages of formation: “it can’t be so in the Church that whoever is lucky stays in it” (the voice of a young person in the context of preparation for Confirmation); “why do I have to seek pastoral care in another parish, because there is none in mine?” (voice of a person who has moved and his current parish is languishing);
  • expectation of authenticity: “You can’t go together if you pretend to be someone you’re not. In order to go together it is also necessary to see the presence of those people who are in every space” (the voice of the clerics) and bear witness : “The image of a priest praying in a church outside the designated prayer times is rare today,” he said. – “The first Sunday of the month – exposition of the Blessed Sacrament from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The faithful come, there are no crowds, but there is always someone watching. We have never seen a priest appear even for a moment” (voice of the faithful). “Priests should go out from the parish to homes, to shelters, to the poor and to the rich, to different communities. It must be a mass phenomenon so that non-believers can ask: ‘Who Are They?” and know that they ARE disciples They must not see them only within the Temples. They must see that they are ‘on fire’ and toiling for Christ!!! Maybe the example will warm their hearts.” The laity are aware that these are big demands, so they appreciate all the more the priests who are able to meet them. They also do not expect perfection, but sincerity, and they often see “The killing loneliness of presbyters left alone in the parsonage. We don’t know what’s going on in their lives. Maybe it’s none of our business, but we’re worried about their isolation, which becomes apparent in parish life,” because one can see “Lack of experience of brotherly love – why doesn’t the community of priests love each other?”; “Young, energetic priests are often left to their own devices. I have the impression that their enthusiasm, enthusiasm is a matter of concern for many pastors.”

Included in each synthesis were expectations for parish ministry or a more general vision for the parish community. They were formulated not so much in a postulatory mode, but as an indication of specific actions that will contribute to the deepening of faith The most common recurring voices are captured in the following points:

  • conducting systematic parish catechesis for adults – the most frequently indicated need;
  • Taking care of the quality of homilies , which should be based on the Word and resulting from its meditation, free from political commentary. It’s also a very common voice in which the homily is seen as an important source of inspiration for understanding the Word and translating it into one’s own life experiences;
  • The development of pastoral care for children, adolescents, young adults – after college, but still before in the stage of family life or so-called “family life. singles; elderly “The Church should teach the art of aging beautifully, of not focusing on oneself. The need for efforts to ensure that the elderly are not just passive participants in the life of the Church,” for the elderly two forms:
    1. Care, support in loneliness;
    2. modern pastoral care for sacramental marriages (not just the Domestic Church) and non-sacramental marriages , which are a growing group of believers and many of whom want to find their place in the Church, families with disabled children, couples with experience of infertility;
  • In addition to the above-mentioned forms of pastoral work, creating a space for communities that bring together people with different experiences of families with healthy and disabled children;
  • the constant encouragement, expressed by priests, to be formed in communities;
  • to raise awareness of the works of mercy not only through the collection of monetary and in-kind donations, but the establishment of parish Caritas teams and, above all, the formation to serve others and see the various needy in the space of their parish;
  • Ensuring that the various parish groups work together to undertake evangelization campaigns together, rather than competing with each other;
  • the possibility for lay members of the communities to give a testimony of their faith life from time to time , e.g. shortly after the sermon or before the announcements;
  • the need to not only encourage priests, but even urge them to lead at least Bible study groups in parishes;
  • The need to create pre-evangelization places. “In our view, there is a great need to create public spaces where people who are seeking God and who previously had no experience of being in religious communities can meet.”
  • The need to create a meeting place for parishioners and priests after Sunday Mass. (Parish cafeteria);
  • the need for parish councils to actually work ( “parish councils are a sham!” – the opinion of their members should count, meetings should be open and public);
  • community thinking needs to be rebuilt. “Something that attracted people to a community more than 20 years ago won’t necessarily work today.”
  • changing the language in homilies and letters – it is often completely incomprehensible to the faithful, among the young it is sometimes an object of ridicule. The Church has completely failed to keep up with the changes taking place in the ways of interpersonal communication, and in this regard the clergy should also be supported by the laity. The environmental bubble in which priests are enclosed does not allow them to penetrate the daily lives of their parishioners;
  • Reconstruction of the experience of community and its living in the parish, between priests and the faithful, among the faithful, between priests, in religious orders,
  • Appreciation of the role of women, including nuns, and, above all, a change in the perspective of the perception of the role of women in the Church – especially the relationship between priests and nuns, whose voice is often not listened to;
  • Strengthening the role of lay and consecrated persons in the Church’s mission of evangelization;
  • Changing the formation of alumni in seminaries – substantive preparation for preaching the Word (the quality of homilies) and sensitivity to others, so that the priesthood is a service and not power (Suggestions for internships in hospitals, nursing homes, families, and workshops on communication) “It is strange why so many presbyterians have not already learned from seminary how to become a good leader (so humanly speaking, no great spirituality or holiness is needed for that), they have been placed above us in a hierarchical system, and have not been given the skills to meet such a task.”
  • Openness to the pastoral needs of parishioners – “Many priests hesitate to meet the proposals of the faithful, some abandon existing communities in the parish because of their own preferences, so it is important to maintain the continuity of previously established communities regardless of the sympathies of the priests serving in the parish.”
  • The need for ongoing formation of presbyters – through their participation in retreats, evangelization courses, etc.
  • Transparency of finances in parishes – informing parishioners about financial matters, delegating some responsibilities to parishioners;
  • Elimination of the so-called. price lists – introducing designated fees for sacraments is demoralizing!
  • greater trust in the laity and involving them in the work for the parish, the mission of evangelization;
  • proposal for tenure of pastors – “evaluation of parish work among parishioners, if it is positive leave, not very satisfactory determine a plan of correction, if it is bad dismiss.”
  • Proposal to create a set of good practices in the activities of parish communities.

Despite a great deal of criticism of priests and demands for change, participants in the synod meetings made it clear that they flowed from concern for the Church and the desire of “the faithful in need of charismatic priests who, through the Word they preach and the example of their own lives, would draw the faithful to God and attract them to the Church.” There are many such presbyters as indicated by citing examples of zealous priests, especially parish priests, thanks to whom the pastoral ministry and parish community is developing. The criticism was accompanied by a reflection on the need to pray for and support presbyters in their work, and the development by the laity of a not at all universal willingness to take joint responsibility for the parish.

The demands indicated above are a reading of the spiritual needs of parishioners. It should be emphasized that this is not a purely “service” vision, where the Church is seen as an institution that should offer us something concrete. The church is experienced as a community at various levels, primarily parishes. Deficiency , then, means a sense of lack of community, lack of connection, lack of shepherds with a capital P.The syntheses thus show a clear tension between the Church‘s focus on “internal affairs” mission and evangelization. While this self-centeredness does not remove the mission from sight, the task often overpowers us when we see how many people, including those in our families, are drifting away from the Church.

1.1.2 Absentee votes

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

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

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

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

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

1.1.1 Taking the floor

Many of the reports resounded with the emphasis on the value of and opportunities for the laity to have a voice, especially in parish councils.

Young people appreciated the existing ways and methods of listening to young people, which in the Diocese of Plock include. Annual meetings in Rostkowo, two Youth Synods, the “Stop Jesus” initiative, evangelization during music festivals in Plock. The young people pointed out that women should be given broader opportunities to take responsibility for the Church.

Today’s race for careers and the acquisition of new skills prevent many children and young people from engaging more fully in the activities offered in parishes. With many extracurricular activities, children’s and youth groups have become unattractive to some.

  1. Different types of councils, at different levels of diocesan life, are spaces for work and exchange of opinions. However, it seems that their potential is not always sufficiently realized. Annual meetings of parish council representatives at the parish as well as diocesan level should be valued. A special space for the exchange of voices and opinions about the Church is the one that has existed since 2007. Social Council to the Bishop of Plock.
  2. Despite the many changes that have taken place in the Church, there is still no shortage of priests who refuse to listen to the faithful, or even prevent them from speaking up.
  3. Priests should be sensitized to prepare sermons that take into account the Sitz im Leben of a particular parish, answering biblical, theological, moral, canonical questions that bother people. It would be worthwhile in the permanent formation of priests to include workshop classes in homiletics, preaching, so that sermons are not read from cards, but speak words thoughtfully, flowing from the heart and reason of the preacher. The faithful have repeatedly pointed out the low pastoral effectiveness of reading any pastoral letters from the pulpit.
  4. Also up for rethinking is the current way of conducting Advent and Lenten retreats. Many believers postpone confession until the end of these powerful periods in the liturgy, while a small portion of the parish participates in retreats.
  5. It is necessary to improve the skills of alumni and clergy in preaching and proper language of expression, especially during the liturgy.
  6. There is a pressing need to build proper parish and diocesan relations with the media. Only a third of the diocese’s parishes have an online presence through websites, Facebook fan pages, while a few dozen parishes publish regular parish newsletters. A proper understanding of the Church’s evangelization mission, including through the media and press, still needs to be discovered. What is needed, however, is consistent and clear communication of the truths of the faith, honest conversation about the Church and building a positive image of the Church. While sin and evil should always be condemned, especially pedophilia and other abuses of power in the Church community, care must be taken to properly portray the role of priests and laity, to build a climate of trust and concern for the common good, including in the media space. For the past few years, one can also notice a declining interest among the faithful in the Catholic press, which calls for more advertising of Catholic magazines.
  7. It was pointed out that there is an urgent need to rethink the social mission of the Church, and to clearly demonstrate that its mission is not to associate with certain political factions, but to build a world in which the followers of Christ will undertake various public and social tasks, forming consciences that are certain and righteous, in order to transform this world and make it more Godlike.
  8. An important issue, especially in urban parishes, is to notice people living in irregular relationships, the condition of their relationships, the situation of children. Accompanying these people according to Francis’ paradigm from the exhortation Amoris laetitia (receive – accompany – discern – integrate) is one of the most important tasks of entire parish communities and district pastors of these associations today.

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

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

1.1.1 Taking the floor

According to Synod participants, “the Church in Poland is clearly trying to reach out to all people.” He uses modern tools to do this. In the local context, many syntheses describe positive experiences from meetings “in pastoral groups, which are opportunities to speak up, speak out and make their point.”

The predominant voice, however, was that a rather difficult relationship prevails between the faithful and priests, or one that is simply lacking, which does not allow people to speak freely: “The faithful have the feeling that one should not speak up in the Church,” “The hierarchical Church speaks, not talks.” In the syntheses, statements recur quite often: “the bishops are not listened to because they are not authentic,” “they do not speak frankly,” “they lack a clear and coherent vision.”

Many Synod participants, in different ways, expressed a desire to initiate a “permanent platform for the voice of the laity in the Church.” On the other hand, those situating themselves outside the Church expressed discouragement to speak up and engage in dialogue due to the attitude of some Church authorities.

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

1.1 Listening and speaking up

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

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

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

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

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

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

1.1.1 All are invited to speak with courage, combining freedom, truth and love

What fosters sincerity to speak out without duplicity in “our Church” about what is important to Him? The synod material shows that it is conducive to: seeing needs and talking about needs, real support, kindness, openness to criticism, witness, mutual respect, a humble attitude of listening, truth in relationship, identification with the community, active Parish Council activities, mutual trust, a living relationship with God. What hinders a sincere relationship: is closing oneself off in the world of one’s own affairs; not wanting to enter into a relationship; criticism. Mention was made of the duplicity of priests, clericalization, fear of ostracism, but also the lack of involvement of the laity, gossip, the opinion of others, and human malice.

Awareness of the shared responsibility for “our Church” (laity and clergy), encourages the effort: sincerity on both sides, openness to listen to each other is possible, as long as one allows Christ as a witness in the encounter, which is not wishful thinking. With God in one’s heart, one can “speak with courage, combining freedom, truth and love.” In addition, sincerity is fostered by boldly defining boundaries – where doctrinal boundaries are unclear, it is difficult to talk about dialogue – there is no proper reference point – so it is worth caring about the “doctrinal reference point.”

To speak with courage, combining freedom, truth and love is a social challenge in the media field as well. For the modern Church, the media is a mandatory areopagus of competent, dynamic and interesting transmission of the faith by laity and clergy – it is important that this voice be consistent, without discord, communicative, simple, non-judgmental. Sharing living faith in a highly specialized way has one goal: “to guide the recipient of religious content to a free choice of values worth living by.”

The media’s voice on the Church is varied: objective, biased, quite negative. Opinion about the Church depends on the type of media: Catholic media, obviously, serve the Church, promote the apostolic mission of the Church; there are media that draw attention to the weaknesses of the Church, show its mistakes, negligence and misdeeds. The media profile directs the evaluation of the Church, shapes opinions about it, and influences attitudes and beliefs.

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

1.1 Taking the floor

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

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

1.1 Taking the floor

Although we prefer to speak rather than listen, we often fail to speak up in matters related to the life of the Church. Many people lack the proper knowledge and courage to speak out on issues of faith and community. Some do not do so for fear of criticism or disregarding the problem, others do not want to expose themselves to superiors. However, the biggest problem in this regard is indifference to matters of faith and the Church. Some felt invited to speak for the first time at the synod: “It was the first time I felt invited to speak and wanted to be listened to,” and “through this opportunity to speak, I was able to look at my personal relationship with the parish community.”

We see the need to speak up – especially by the laity, who have so far perhaps been less involved in Church affairs than the clergy. Opportunities to “speak up” are provided by meetings of consultative teams, such as pastoral or economic councils. The voice of the laity can be extremely helpful in matters related to the management of church property, economic or organizational work. It is also very important for laymen to talk about faith. “There is a need to allow lay people to speak and bear witness, as this can strengthen the faith in others.”

Synodal Proposal:

Creating a space, a forum in which both laity and clergy could dialogue on issues of importance to our parish communities and the Church.

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

1.1 Speak out

  1. All the faithful should be given the opportunity to speak before priests about the parish community, pastoral care, homilies preached and renovation work, so that they feel they are co-creators of the Church community.
  2. It is valuable to speak up based on values such as freedom, truth, love, respect and responsibility. A Christian is a man of dialogue and responsibility for the spoken word, because words have spiritual power.
  3. Difficulties in speaking up, for example, were noted. through misunderstanding on the part of others, mistrust of those to whom one speaks, moralizing, and a desire to impose one’s views on others as only right.
  4. Maintain the appropriate intellectual level of those who speak publicly during the liturgy and read the Word of God, so that they do so with dignity and understanding.
  5. We recognize the importance of speaking out and reaching out with the Gospel through social media, websites, radio and television programs. It is sad to see that people’s lives are increasingly becoming digital, online, to the considerable detriment of interpersonal relationships.
  6. The younger generation is becoming less and less able to express itself in Polish and form friendly relationships. We are painfully aware of the fact that life is being reduced to telephone communication, with the disappearance of actual live meetings. A major threat to social life is the promotion of so-called “communication. remote, exclusively through the Internet, which leads to the weakening of real interpersonal relationships.

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

1.1 Conclusions of the meetings

1.1.1 Meeting I: the common way – listening – speaking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1.1.1 Taking the floor

In terms of speaking opportunities, the incoming responses saw significant progress from earlier times in the Church in general. This is probably due to many factors, including social and cultural ones. Certainly, there is also a growing awareness of shared responsibility for the Church community. Here are sample responses: “Parishioners know that they have the opportunity to speak in the community of the Church, but many of them believe that they do not have the competence or ability to formulate factual conclusions, often explaining their lack of knowledge or fear of criticism”, “everyone has the opportunity to speak”, “in the Church everyone can speak on various topics, an example of this is not only the Synod, in which we answer various questions about all areas of the life of the Church, its functioning. We can speak in direct relations and conversations with priests, express ourselves and ask questions on various issues, but also on topics that concern the faith and functioning of the Church,” “on the example of the Fifth Synod of the Diocese of Tarnów, it can be said that everyone can express themselves and exchange tips on the topic raised. Today there are a lot of opportunities to speak up, such as a personal meeting, email, traditional letter. This applies to the parish as well as the person of the Bishop.”

Already in the preparatory period, the 5th SDT, in addition to many opportunities for community voice, provided the opportunity to individually submit your proposal, comment, request, including anonymously. The address of the Synod Secretariat, which acts as a correspondence box, is in operation.There is also an opportunity to call and meet with the Synod Secretary and submit your application in person. Individuals also benefited from meeting the Bishop of Tarnow in person and presenting their synodal thoughts.

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

1.1 Synthesis of the various synodal themes

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

1.1.1 Taking the floor

1.1.1.1 Space

Answers: Everyone has the right to speak, but lack of space to speak out; Lack of dialogue, lack of willingness to dialogue; Formation in the community gives the opportunity for mature speech; In the community – honesty, openness, trust, freedom of speech; Evangelization with life in their communities; Synodal meeting as the first meeting in the parish giving the opportunity to speak out; Lack of state teachings for maidens, widows, divorced women; Parish Councils as a forum in which to take a stand on a particular issue – not in all parishes.

1.1.1.2 Persons

Answers: Lack of formation to prepare priests for dialogue with the faithful; Lack of communication; No word in the liturgy to respond to current problems and conflicts; Pastoral letters written in unintelligible language; Lack of speaking from the hierarchy on important issues; Closure of the hierarchy; Lack of confidence that one will be heard; Dependence of the faithful on the openness and sincerity of the pastor; Communication of the pastor only with those who go to church; Experience of not answering or waiting long to answer questions directed to pastors or the curia; Only Fr. Pastor; Usually priests or community leaders speak out. One and the other are stuck in their information bubbles and do not meet; The voice of the laity is not taken into account; Divisions – lack of agreement between communities, between the faithful – helplessness of pastors; Pastor open to suggestions, communicating with his faithful.

1.1.1.3 Form

Answers: Community as the only space for open, honest expression; Use of caroling; Authenticity important, and often lacking; Church does not know how to communicate; Many do not believe they can be taken seriously; Lack of courage, fear, inability to stand up for values; Immaturity – not speaking up so as not to argue; Low culture of communication and often hurting each other; Low intellectual level and lack of need on the part of laity and clergy; Lack of loving expression.

1.1.1.4 Media

Answers: The parish priest has the opportunity to speak in the parish media on behalf of the community; Lay people do not have the opportunity to interact with the media; Lack of authority, media for all believers; Speaking on forums and social networks; Radio Maryja as the only Catholic voice, which is a spiritual support; Censorship or self-censorship in the Catholic media; Important professionalism of the content prepared on the Internet; Necessity of a good message through the Internet – the young there.

1.1.1.5 Applications

Speaking out seems to be one of the most neglected areas in the diocese.

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

1.1 Taking the floor

Among the circumstances that make it possible to speak out in the local Church, consultation participants pointed to conversations with priests (at the parish office or during a pastoral visit or even confession). In addition, they stressed in this regard the role of parish community meetings, the Parish Council, as well as the work and consultation of the ongoing Synod. However, the focus was more on what hinders speaking out than enables it. It has often been said that the problem is the attitude of priests – their lack of interest in the faithful, their ignorance, their conviction that they are right, which often discourages dialogue and activity. This has sometimes been described as an “insufficiently open relationship” between priests and the faithful. It was also stressed that priests show too little initiative to encourage the faithful to express their own opinions.

In addition, speaking up is hindered by the faithful’s fear, shame and the possibility of criticism or negativity from other people. In a world of media hype and pluralism, often unverified facts and views, people take cover with their own opinions. They are overwhelmed by an overabundance of information and an inability to make critical choices. Therefore, due to uncertainty, they believe it is better to remain silent. One feels an overwhelming fear of criticism, misunderstanding, rejection. Only a few are breaking through with their opinions. Significantly, too, the laity do not believe that their opinions can influence the Church.

It was pointed out that there was a lack of information on how to speak up in the Church, or even something more basic: a formula within the Church for expressing opinions and comments. It has been stated that the laity has virtually no access to forms of effective communication with the clergy. In this connection, there was talk of the need in the parish space for such “open meetings,” “forms of consultation,” in which people could talk about their daily problems, be heard, talk about the Church and ethical problems. This is especially true of people who do not formally want to be associated with any community.

There were also a number of voices referring to the forms of expression about the Church in the media: care and formulation of balanced opinions, expressed by those authorized to speak on behalf of the Church, were emphasized. At the same time, the need for lay people to express their opinions was recognized. They pointed to the problem of “polyphony,” “the lack of unambiguity of opinions expressed before Church representatives on the same subject.” Attention was drawn to the language used by the clergy – it was described as “hermetic” and “detached from life.” Among the positive voices, it was noted that many priests in their homilies reach out to their listeners and address important existential and contemporary topics.

Positive comments were made about the role of Catholic media, which contribute to a deeper knowledge of the truths of the faith, as well as provide up-to-date information from the life of the Church. Voices were also raised about the lack of media in Poland officially representing the Church. The need to use media in the parish, both traditional and social media, was emphasized.

The Christian community’s relationship with the media system has been called variously. Either the pastor or the leaders of each group were identified as the people to speak on behalf of the local community. However, it was noted that the Church is negatively perceived by the public and the media: there is no room to talk about the good things that are happening in the Church, only criticism. The opinion was also expressed that the Church has not found its way in the modern media space.

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

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

1.1.1 Listening and speaking up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1.1.1 Taking the floor

It also stressed that everyone is invited to speak with courage and parezia. Speaking out enables confidence in the community/group and knowledge of the people who make it up. An impediment is fear, fear of being misunderstood and negatively judged by others, and sometimes of revealing one’s own ignorance.

A group leader/representative speaks for the community. He can be appointed ex officio or elected from among the community.

It was pointed out that the opportunity to submit your observations and opinions and advice on the functioning of the parish is the possibility of meeting directly with the priest in the parish office as well as submitting your comments and proposals through representatives of the Parish Council.

Participants in the synodal meetings are aware of the potential of today’s social media. It was found that an excellent communication tool is the parish newspaper or website, where all the information about the most important events in the life of the parish, the community is posted on a regular basis. The ability of visitors to the site to post comments is also one form of voice. However, one must learn to be responsible for one’s words. It was also pointed out that the Internet provides anonymity and thus a sense of impunity and emboldens unjust attacks on people and institutions. Objections have also been expressed to the ubiquitous hate speech.

It was also noted that in the local Church, as well as in Polish society, it is difficult to formulate bold and frank answers both in topics related to the problems of the Catholic Church and in everyday, secular life. The thesis of increasing anti-clericalism, or even fighting against the Church, was pointed out with concern. This is done on many levels: in the family, at work, in social and political life. All the alleged “flaws of the Church” are reported by the secular media, and only some issues are properly explained by the Catholic media. Hence was born the demand that the episcopate establish a Catholic radio station that would be the voice of the Church in Poland.

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

1.1 Taking the floor

Speaking sincerely and imbued with love for the interlocutor and the community is fostered by praying and listening to the Word of God beforehand. Many people are afraid to speak in the Church because they think they will not be heard or properly understood. There is also the fear that the opinions expressed will give rise to judgments, criticism, the speaker will face some form of punishment for expressing an opinion that is erroneous or different from the one officially held in the community. Some lay faithful choose not to speak out because they see that “the world of the clergy and the world of the laity are separate and do not intermingle.” Some call such a situation a “systemic lack of interest in the voice of the faithful.” It’s bad for the willingness to speak out when people don’t believe that their voice matters and that it will change anything. A puzzling question was raised from the mouths of young people as to why only preschoolers and young children are allowed to dialogue during Mass, the rest, including the youth, are only listeners.

It is the desire of the laity that the opportunity to be listened to patiently and authentically is provided by episcopal visitations. The faithful also need personal conversations with their pastors and a space where they can express themselves and receive support, including those who, for various reasons, live further away from the heart of the community. It is good to encourage shy people to speak up – they often have many good thoughts to share, but they need time and a sense of security. It is worthwhile for catechesis to be, by design, a space where young people can voice their expectations, longings, difficulties and enter into conversation with the catechist as a representative of the Church.

There is a problem with speaking in the media. There is a feeling that many in the Church do not understand the media and do not know how to speak in it, so that as a result of the incompetence of the speakers, the voice of the Church is disregarded or compromised.

On behalf of the parish, the pastor usually speaks, sometimes the chairman of the parish council, people involved in the life of the community. In religious congregations, only superiors speak on behalf of the community. The Synod in many parishes represents the first opportunity for the lay faithful to speak out authentically.

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

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

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

Pastor of the city parish

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

Participant in the diocesan synod

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

Pastor of the city parish

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

Faithful layperson from a rural parish

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

Faithful layperson from a rural parish

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

Voice from the decanal consultation meeting

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1.1 Listening and speaking up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

List of synodal topics

Towarzysze podróży

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

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

Zestawienie odpowiedzi na te pytania zawarte w syntezach diecezjalnych.

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Słuchanie

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

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

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Zabieranie głosu

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

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

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Celebrowanie

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

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

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Współodpowiedzialni w naszej wspólnej misji

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

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

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Dialog w Kościele i społeczeństwie

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

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

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Ekumenizm

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

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

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Władza i uczestnictwo

Kościół synodalny jest Kościołem uczestniczącym i współodpowiedzialnym.

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

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Rozeznawanie i podejmowanie decyzji

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

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

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Formowanie się do synodalności

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

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

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Peryferia

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

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Młodzież której nie ma

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

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