In the Church and in society, we are on the same path, shoulder to shoulder.
When we say “our Church,” who do we mean? Who in our Church “walks together”? Who is waiting to go out more towards him and invite him to share the journey of faith? What individuals or groups are neglected and not included in the concern to walk together on the path of faith and constitute one community of the Church?
Wszystkie syntezy w jednym dokumencie PDF
All human life is a pilgrimage through the earth, a journey during which we meet many people. Some for a moment (a fellow passenger on a train, an expeditor in a store), others for many years (family, schoolmates, workmates). Man needs other people, he needs a community, although sometimes he fears that the community will absorb him, kill his individuality. The synod highlighted the conviction contained in the experience of faith that life is a “shared journey.” In turn, in hiking together, relationships are key. The community of faith is formed primarily by practicing it together. “The synod talks showed that we need to grow in this walk together. How to do it? First of all, by rediscovering the relationship between the universal priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial priesthood of bishops and priests. The universal priesthood is the goal (i.e., the holiness of God’s people), and the ministerial priesthood is the tool to reach the goal.” Such reflections provided the background for expressing what “we” means in the Church.
Traveling together happens in the first place in families. The family is the first, home Church, and is responsible for passing on the faith. We are faced with the dramatic question of whether our Church also includes our families (our domestic Church), and above all, whether there are still young people in it. What should we do so that we do not lose young people, especially those who, even if they have come out of believing families, do not want to continue on the path of the Church and do not identify with it? It is those who have disappeared who have left empty seats in the pews of parish churches. For many young people, “the Church is sad.” Young people “do not feel encouraged to participate in the life of the Church,” to receive the sacraments (especially Confirmation), the preparation for which, according to young people, is poorly conducted. “This way you don’t participate, you just ‘pass'”; “No one ever showed me that the Church is cool, I was just forced into everything over and over again”; “It can’t be the case in the Church that whoever is lucky, stays in it.” Young people make no secret of the fact that they give up religious practices due to lack of time, a proliferation of school and extracurricular activities, work or preoccupation with planning for the future. They also doubt the validity of the sacrament of penance. They ask: “Why should I confess to someone who also sins?”. They expect authenticity from priests, and need them not as “friends,” but as managers and spiritual fathers. “We (us adults and us priests) need to listen to what the young people we ask have answered our questions, because from the answers they give, it seems that zeal for the Church often consumes them much more than it does us.” Young people often openly cry out for greater interest in them in the design of community life, for consideration of their sensibilities and mentality.
Members movements and communities who have formed synodal groups focus on walking together. Such a path, on the one hand, develops and enriches, but on the other, it closes to the experience of others in the Church. We declare that “our Church” is the parish and the communities to which we belong.
The synodal meetings made participants aware of the diversity of sensitivities, ways of being in the Church, and prompted them to ask what unites us. The space where everyone can come together is to pray together. It is much rarer to meet in joint action, evangelization actions. There is often doubt as to whether we are really creating a community in the parish. The lack of ties is due to the lack of involvement of priests, including the parish priest, parishioners, staying within the confines of their own formation (communities and movements are often seen as “silos of spirituality” – hermetic circles living for themselves). Unfortunately, nowadays we often lack involvement in the community, we do not notice other people, and we choose the Internet as our companion on the road or fall into another form of loneliness. So in the most general terms: there is no community and there will not be one without the involvement of each of us.
The presence of others allows us to look at our lives from a different perspective. In order for this to become possible, one must first see others, know their needs, views, talents, and be willing to help them in an effective way and with respect for human dignity. In such a context, special mention was made of those seeking an experience of faith, those hurt by the clergy and by their anti-testimony, people living in non-sacramental relationships, LGBT+ people, people caught up in addictions and refugees. A sense of remoteness on a common path is also expressed by people representing the traditionalist trend. People with disabilities, who have difficulties with mobility and are thus unable to participate fully in the life of the Church community, also sometimes feel excluded. Connectivity between generations is also lacking in the parish. Outside the community are people who are guided by a false and stereotypical image of the Church and Catholics, as well as non-practicing people for whom lingering on the periphery is convenient and their personal choice. These groups and environments are clearly of concern to us. At the same time, we ask ourselves whether pastors and committed lay faithful are too quick to give up on courting people with faith difficulties and crises.
– Those who “walk together” are those who are in the community of the Church, actively participate in the events of the Church, care about the welfare of the Church despite the difficulties. Also those who want to change for the better what is difficult.
– They are all those who belong to Christ, whether they admit it or not. Also those who do not participate in customary religious practices. It is customary to assume that only bishops, clergy and those we can “meet” in temples belong to the Church. However, the Church is all of us, we are also accompanied on this journey by those who, for various reasons, do not practice.
– People who are aware of the fundamentals of our faith,
– The Church in the local dimension is alive insofar as answers to human problems and dilemmas find their place in it. Not only in terms of faith, also in terms of needs. Whether they “go together” I’m not sure, the motivation for going to church especially in the small-town and rural world where most people know each other is a “what will people say if I don’t go” type of exit, also habitual exit is not a choice, it is a compulsion imposed on young people who are left with old habits when they grow up. They go because they have to, getting nothing out of it, feeling no need to change, because they feel no connection with God. So at some point they stop going by their own choice. The other extreme is Catholics “so immersed in spiritual life, a series of prayers and activities” that they don’t need God for anything. They are the ones who often scare people away from the church with their attitude. They are anti-testimony. Somewhere in between one and the other are those who struggle for their spiritual life with varying degrees of intensity. People who feel the need for formation and growth, who want to be in the Church, want to take an active part in its life. Here I would see the greatest hope of the Church in this group, certainly in the sociological dimension is the importance of family, environment, relationship with pastors, in the theological dimension good confession, sacramental life, and therefore personal conscious choice. The local church is also a dynamic between pastors and the faithful. It is impossible to stand still for long listening to the same things from 20 years ago given in the same way for the hundredth time. Updating theological knowledge, growing up to new challenges, not duplicating old answers to new questions is very demanding. It is difficult to be a good priest without deep internal formation. But only witnesses of their own relationship with God are able to show people who are searching that it is worthwhile to be with God.
– I have two responses to this whole synod: Let the Church live in accordance with the truth and follow the Magisterium of the Church, and let the members of the Church bear witness with their lives as did St. Paul. Andrew Bobola. Nothing more is needed.
– On the same path we also follow with those who cannot come to church, we connect with them spiritually. We walk a common path together with all those who want to deepen their faith, grow spiritually, in communities, in the church, individually. We learn from each other, from those who follow along with us.
– All of God’s people who are addressees of God’s promises, having a common dignity and vocation derived from Holy Baptism. All who, by virtue of Baptism, are called to actively participate in the life of the Church. In parishes, small Christian communities, lay movements and other forms of communion, women and men, young and old, everyone.
– There are all people included in it by virtue of the sacrament of baptism and doing service in the proclamation of the Good News. All united with Christ. Clergy and laity. Those who care about the community, participate in spirituality and take care of the material existence of the parish.
– Each of us has our own personal experience of the Church. Each of us carries a different image of him in our mind and heart, depending on a number of factors-from the people we have met (especially priests, other believers), the situations we have experienced, the events in which we have participated….
– Baptism is that sacrament which is the foundation of our community. It is through him that we can say that we are connected to Christ and to each other, forming , “our church” local and universal.
– I do not accept the Church’s hostility to homosexuals
– The church is not a place for politics and political rallies of people who are fighting for votes in elections
– my church is a distant concept I can’t find myself in it
– In the modern world, Christians have lost their sense of community. Increasingly, we are going separately. The reasons are various: worldview, political. The Polish Church was united in moments of trying struggle – against fascism or communism. Now, in the free world, there have been clear divisions – including among Catholics themselves.
– By “our Church” I mean, our Bialystok Archdiocese with Fr. Archbishop Joseph Guzdek Metropolitan of Bialystok, who heads the community. “Our Church” stricto sensu is my parish community, which brings together priests, the faithful, communities operating in my parish and undertaking various initiatives.
– The Church belongs first and foremost to Jesus Christ. The Church is also entrusted, inflicted on its members who belong to the Church, when I say “our Church” I also think mine.
– For me, the Church is the Roman Catholic Church, a bit more broadly – it is the entire Christian Church, and narrowly – my diocese or parish. Most often, however, I think of my parish community first. All baptized believers belong to it, but in practice, middle-aged and elderly people regularly participate in religious practices, to a lesser extent children and young people.
– “Our Church” is a term that probably each of us can interpret a little differently; nevertheless, the term “our” suggests a belonging, a sense of community that one feels towards a group of other people; I, speaking of our Church, mean the Roman Catholic Church, of course the whole Church, embracing people all over the world, but this “our” one is more local, specific to the place where we live (Bialystok), in particular, parochial.
– Being abroad, our Church is also the faithful from other countries, whom we find in temples, then when we go to the Eucharist or other spiritual meetings. Our Church, is primarily Catholics, but also faithful of other Christian denominations.
– It includes all the faithful of the particular Church, as well as the world Church, of the Catholic faith. United in faith in one God under the leadership of Jesus’ representative on earth, we aspire to heavenly glory. When I say everyone, I mean people without disabilities as well as those with disabilities, but it is difficult to speak in this regard about homosexuals openly sinning before God’s majesty.
– It is first and foremost our parish community, further the diocese and the entire universal Church, of which we are a part and which we co-create. However, we are often closed inwardly to people who also belong to the same universal Church, but have a different understanding or perception of certain truths and principles of the faith.
– All the baptized are called to responsibility for the Church, because the Church is a communio, a community of mutually giving persons. The Church needs our commitment to grow and develop. This call applies not only to the clergy, but also to the laity.
– Our Church, for me, is all those I care about, all those for whom I desire salvation. For me, the Church is every created human being, sinful, lost, sick.
– To our Church belong first of all baptized people, among whom are believers and practitioners, people who declare that they believe but do not practice their faith. We also meet people who occasionally participate in the liturgy but their faith seems indifferent. Our church also includes people who are sick, alcoholics, divorcees, living in extramarital relationships.
– I don’t go to church anymore because I don’t like the sermons preached in the parish, the organist falsifies, in general the church is not what it should be? Because the priests drive expensive cars, because this one and that one did something scandalous, because the priest treated me badly, because the Mass is boring/too long, confession is unnecessary for me… The Church is wrong about many things, it meddles in politics and my life, the priests take out money….
– The 99 sheep that watch out for the Shepherd, as well as the 1 sheep that got lost? – Both those who actively participate in the life of the Church, and those who have left the Church for some reason-or do not get involved,
– Both those who go to Emmaus and those who return to Jerusalem,
– If I think of the Church, the Holy Spirit asks me, us. Perhaps he is not so much asking as inviting you to walk together with your fellow brothers, for the building up of the Church.
-Jesus Himself. He prayed to the Father, asking that we be one. In my opinion, this is tantamount to saying “that they should walk together.”
– Man is free. And choices can be made in freedom or enslavement. The choice in enslavement is not a true choice, it is conditioned. God gives freedom, he always says if you want. He respects the man. I have lived in many places and often had to look for “my” place, my parish, one where I felt well taken care of and not just belonged territorially. A well cared for person wants to share. It is easier in big cities, there is a choice, in small cities a person is often condemned to a particular parish and pastors. It should be the wisdom of the bishop to direct very good pastors to small especially one-man parishes. Sometimes you hear about “exiles” as punishment. But then the consequences of the relegation are borne mainly by the parishioners, and the priest himself has no possibility of correction.
– Some pastors and priests unfortunately divide the faithful into better (e.g., those who give more money to support the parish) and worse (e.g., those who are lost in life). These priests are unlikely to care that we walk together. There are priests who do not want to hear the truth, especially the uncomfortable truth, drawing attention to imperfections, abuses. Sometimes they embarrass the faithful and provoke them to move away from the church, or eliminate them from parish councils (pastoral and economic).
– The essence of the Christian faith is to love and walk together. It is Christ who is our way, truth and life.
– They are all those who do not practice, because they have either left on their own, felt rejected, or do not understand God’s mercy. This includes those in socially excluded groups. Finally, it is people who practice other religions.
– All people or maybe all people of good will. All those who have not closed themselves off and are open-minded. Who respect humanistic and universal values. And finally, who do not feel aversion to the word Gospel, church, Christianity.
– Outside the church areas, the traveling companions are unrecognized. Only God knows who they are.
– If they are outside the church areas, it means they have chosen a different path, so they are not traveling companions. If we meet, we can also discuss faith and even become friends. May it not lead us off the previously chosen path of faith.
– We are accompanied on the journey by brothers and sisters from other Christian churches, who also bring us closer to Christ by showing us their perception of the Living God.
– They are also people who do not adhere to our faith, but adhere to common all-human values such as love, goodness, beauty, respect), who respect our faith, spiritual needs and religious practices.
– Every person we meet, including those who have a different opinion, because with this opinion can enrich us/be a lesson/trial/examination/grace.
– People on the margins, the divorced, those looking for their place, atheists and those who have decided to apostasy.
– I think it is often a person’s own choice that I want to stay on the margins.
– All “other” people: non-believers, of other orientation than heteronormative, people of other faiths, people who disagree with everything that happens in the Church, people with liberal views. The Church, despite teaching about love, excludes a lot of people, sometimes even despises them.
– Today, in the world on the margins of rights, Catholics are beginning to be the ones who “should” give up everything, respect everyone and be smiling, and in the meantime, someone is destroying what is most sacred to us, forbidding prayer, gatherings, and mocking our faith and Christ. Or maybe it’s supposed to be like this, then there will be only me and Christ left, and other believers, of course.
– About misguided sexual orientation – unfortunately, very few of them understand their problem. If someone seriously has a problem with it, he will find his place. The Holy Spirit will take care of that. Rather, one should pray for good priests.
– Agnostics, homosexuals, divorcees.
Formally or actually left on the margins are: people who identify themselves as believers but not practitioners, socially excluded people (in a special way the homeless), unmarried people, non-sacramental couples, abortion supporters, LGBT people, non-believers.
– This is not an easy answer, the church does not leave anyone on the sidelines, the problem is that many people for various reasons, especially convenience, laziness, give up participation in the life of the church, then grow up the self-explanation that he does not like something, or alienated by something.
The Church is local, tradition-conscious, open-minded, timeless, future-oriented, visionary (in terms of ideas, values, pastoral planning and purposefulness of actions taken), socially engaged (involved in politics yet free from its influence), sensitive to the needs of those most in need. He advocates open discussion; promotes a culture of criticism, patiently listening to the voice of interlocutors; and is able to persevere despite mistakes, lapses and face them. By authentically preaching and listening to the Gospel, it enables individual faith formation in the community. It creates space for frank exchange of views without fear of judgments. He recognizes and takes seriously the realities of believers’ lives. It has a diverse accessible message and accepts a variety of life forms. It integrates them, strengthening the community. It educates in the spirit of Christian values. Those involved in pastoral care – pastors and close associates communicate with each other in an open and binding way, seeing themselves as members of a team. Parishes are led, in addition to the pastor, by selected and qualified lay people together with him. All baptized persons enjoy the same rights, have the same dignity, are heard and participate in decision-making processes.
The role of the pastor has been redefined. The pastor is supposed to have time for pastoral care (in the classical sense of St. Gregory the Great), he is supposed to promote the community, show a real readiness to talk, see the person and the real needs of his parish, take concrete action. In order to integrate into the local community, a culture of friendliness is needed for both community members and those who are not affiliated with the Church. The Church does not just revolve around its own problems, but shows more zeal for the message of faith and speaks boldly about it. Personal testimony of faith is not judged, but treated as a wealth, a potential for further growth in faith. Professionally conducted biblical formation – including in ecumenical cooperation – broadens the horizons of faith, connects it to life and enables joint activities of Christians in the field of political and social affairs. It awakens a vision for the Church and everyday life – as a community that is also needed and useful to non-believers or the indifferent.
1.1.2 Ambivalent experience of the church in specific categories: Church – parish / place of worship – pastor – pastoral care – formation of the liturgy of services – spirituality / common prayer.
The following selected quotes and descriptions representatively reflect the ambivalent range of experiences.
The church is seen toward two extremes: from a small homeland, home to a place of hatred. The term Church itself is difficult for many to define. Among the opinions expressed were: faith space; small homeland; strong community; community of all the baptized; “I am the Church”; “vehicle in need of thorough repair”; “old, timid and tired”; “concubine of the state”; “institution without cordiality”; “organization with a supposedly religious character”; “something for the older generations”; “the synodal way is destroying the Church.” opinions positive actions of the Church are interspersed with negative slogans; “greater presence of laymen in decision-making processes”; “growing polarization between traditionalists and progressives”; “an enlightened community in which universal human rights are taken for granted only theoretically”; “the Church’s offer is too poor to put down roots”; “lack of presence of charismatic people capable of giving authentic witness to the faith.” “places (associations, communities, church educational institutions, groups) foster open conversations about faith and doubts”; “in the community I find real trust”; “questioning the hierarchy and commitment to tradition fosters the renewal of the Church”; “a lot of voluntary commitment”; fraternity; exchange; conversations about faith; the need for “a sense of self-responsibility “need more respect for people than for buildings and structure.”
The role of the pastor is viewed ambiguously. – on the one hand, as absent and uninvolved, and on the other hand also, as a sought-after guide on the paths of faith. The pastor’s right and duty to perform administrative functions has been repeatedly criticized. “One senses very accurately who is the real pastor”; “exaggeration and idealization of the priest’s image” and “his language and way of teaching make it impossible to accept the faith”; “the pastor’s lonely decisions alienate and alienate him”; “there is a lack of willingness to have direct conversations”; “understanding of the language of the community”; “respectful contact; openness to all people”; “they should marry and start families.” There was also the phrase “the priest’s indecent behavior…. outrages parishioners.”
Quality pastoral care is seen as a desirable good and a need for many of the faithful. This is an absolute value that is often lacking in the realities of parish life. Respecting and valuing people’s life experiences; sincere willingness to talk; “hospital chaplains very good”; “poor quality of ministry puts people off”; “too formalism”; “need for good confessors”; “doubts are legitimate and lead to deeper understanding of faith and concretization of Christian life.” “pastoral care going outward; need for individualized approach to individuals”; “without cash register, the problem cannot be solved”; “lack of view of the realities of life and overemphasis on the material dimension of parish functioning”; “recognition and appreciation of the work of volunteers; “cooperation with non-church associations and institutions and NGOs.” Pastoral care requires constant building of trust, security, time, adequate space.
 The following are listed as positive qualities and behaviors of pastoralists: awareness of vocation, deep faith, true superficiality, living according to principles, attention to worship and teaching, concern for people, love for the Church, apolitical (in the sense of party, while being involved in social issues), selflessness. Lack of faith, secular way of life, materialism, lack of authentic piety, violation of moral principles, lack of sensitivity to people’s needs – low quality of relations with the parish and local community, erroneous anthropological vision – an extremely negative understanding of the human being) are indicated as unequivocally negative characteristics.
 The following are listed as positive qualities and behaviors of pastoralists: awareness of vocation, deep faith, true superficiality, living according to principles, attention to worship and teaching, concern for people, love for the Church, apolitical (in the party sense, while being involved in social issues), selflessness. Lack of faith, secular way of life, materialism, lack of authentic piety, violation of moral principles, lack of sensitivity to people’s needs – low quality of relations with the parish and local community, erroneous anthropological vision – an extremely negative understanding of the human being) are indicated as unequivocally negative characteristics.
The parish community is made up of baptized people who are at different stages of intimacy with Christ. Some are on the periphery. This group consists of people burdened with various problems, scarred, often addicted to alcohol and other drugs, living in non-sacramental relationships, people with unpleasant experiences in contacts with Church people, focused on material, mundane matters, chasing money, comfort, work, fashion, for whom matters of faith are secondary or completely indifferent. It is noted that there are more and more people declaring themselves non-believers. In some cases, they choose to commit an act of apostasy.
There is a lack of going out to the people, meeting them in their territory, but also joint trips, integration, opportunities to get to know each other, inviting them to participate in various areas of parish life.
Lost people are those who see no hope for change. They are pigeonholed into their world. Such ones distance themselves most from the Church.
Church people often judge others, and form hermetic communities without allowing others on the margins.
There is a great need to be authentic, courageous witnesses to Christ. This flows from the source, which is the Eucharistic Jesus. The starting point is a conversation with Jesus. From Him you can draw motivation to go to people, talk to them and listen to them. Hence, what is needed is an attitude of open-heartedness and acceptance of another person and devotion of time to the other person. Also, young people signal that no one has time for them, no one listens to them, no one understands their problems and needs.
The experience of God’s love, the holy sacraments, the witness of other people’s lives, the experience of the community of the Church, individual and community prayer, finding common ground with those distant from God and the Church, and well-prepared and soundly conducted catechization, especially of adults, can motivate one to enter into the attitude of a traveling companion.
Travel companions in most cases are those who come to church. Priests, permanent deacons, religious sisters and lay people are walking together. Parish community formed by people of different status and education, different degrees of religiosity. These are people who identify with a common creed, who are drawn to the same path by this creed and Christian values, and who identify with the Church’s teaching. Many of the synod’s conclusions emphasized that walking together is better seen in the individual communities that exist in the parish and in small parishes. Then one knows the other personally, knows his joys, sufferings and difficult experiences. There is room in the Church not only for those who practice sacramental life, but also for those who, for various reasons, are deprived of it.
Travel companions are mainly household members, relatives, neighbors, friends, co-workers. On a daily basis, church members do not have time for each other. They don’t have time to build community among themselves and with each other beyond a time of praying together and participating in the Eucharist. Not everyone who is “on the margins” wants to belong to the Church, and not everyone wants to receive such help from the Church.
The problem is the lack of a common language and the lack of relationships with other community members. This causes people to feel left behind, feel neglected and consequently end up on the margins or leave the Church. The lack of unity in the church hierarchy and the lack of authority are also obstacles to forming a full community. On the sidelines remain those who do not want to be involved in any way in the life of the Church. This attitude is often dictated by indifference and dislike of the Church. It is disturbing that many people live outside the Church and are in no way interested in living their faith.
We definitely do not want to go along with dissenters and those who call for various forms of deviation from the principles of the Catholic faith.
The meetings resulted in the accumulation of knowledge, which can be put into buzzwords and themes.
22.214.171.124 Need to bridge the gap between clergy and laity.
Among the difficulties in the Church is the lack of ties between Church members, both within the laity and between the laity and the clergy, as well as between the clergy themselves, including the hierarchy of the Church. The lack of a sense of community is noted not only at the parish level, but also at the diocesan and universal Church levels. The lack of community ties manifests itself, among other things. anonymity and treating the faithful as a collection of parishioners and the lack of an individual approach to a particular person. Half of the synod’s statements deal with the difficulties the faithful have experienced in communicating with pastors (from simple daily contact to issues of shared responsibility).
The faithful are pained by the fact that some clergymen lead dual, worldly lives, are attached to material matters, escape into activism, and forget about spirituality and the apostolate. The result of such attitudes is a distance from the faithful, especially from simple people of faith, focusing on the duties of administration, management, rather than on actions guided by concern for the salvation of each person who has been entrusted to priests by the One God and placed on their path of vocation. They also raised the issue of transparency and the inability to resolve cases of abuse in the Church.
126.96.36.199 A greater burden of responsibility for the Church falls on the clergy.
Various circles, including young people, complain of difficulties in finding their place in the Church. The evangelization (catechization) offer is unattractive, causing these people to leave the Church or adopt a passive attitude. There have been claims about the low level of catechesis and the lack of adequate programs for particular age groups of young people, resulting in the extinguishing of faith.
Catholic media was found to be fading among many others. It was suggested that the Church invest in modern communication and teaching tools, as well as cultural events to promote the good that comes from the Church. The possibility of involving competent laymen would give the desired effect in this matter. This is illustrated by positive examples such as running the social media of parishes and communities or broadcasting prayer and preparing evangelization materials.
188.8.131.52 Polarization of Catholics.
A clear division has been drawn between the faithful who prefer the Tridentine rite, do not accept the reception of Holy Communion. on hand and in a standing posture, as well as for those with different liturgical sensitivities.
Modern evangelization work is taking place in highly secularized environments, especially through the media. This causes missionary fervor to diminish quickly. In this connection, the faithful expressed their understanding of the hardships associated with the service of clergy and catechists in the Church, and noted the need to provide support for priests, such as organizing communities for them, where priests can receive assistance. The pastoral work undertaken by the clergy also demands that seminary education be brought closer to the realities of life, so that future priests can learn to communicate at different levels that take into account the varied life realities of the communities to which they will be sent. . The scientific community has drawn attention to the need for competent use of the visual sphere and visual perception in the life of the Church (in catechesis, pastoral care, liturgy), as well as the need to use reliable and up-to-date scientific knowledge for the formation of both consecrated persons and laity. The community of consecrated persons expressed regret over the failure to use their charismatic evangelization potential. It declared its readiness to undertake new initiatives with a vocation and the promotion of Christian values (such as the festival of nuns).
Priests complained about the passivity of the laity, their lack of responsibility for organizing the life of the parish, the habit of having everything taken care of by the priest, an approach to the Church in which clientelism reigns, and the parish is treated as a place to provide and buy services within the framework of a cultivated tradition. A characteristic feature of parishioners’ attitudes is their individualism, which consists in limiting themselves to personal satisfaction with participation in the liturgy (however not always and not necessarily in a full way), which is reflected, among other things, in the relatively weak response to the invitation to express themselves on the topics proposed by the Synod. The disconnect between the declaration of faith or commitment to the Church and the practice of parishioners’ daily lives is strong, as evidenced by living in non-sacramental relationships and the large and growing divorce rate in Catholic marriages.
Around the five themes identified, it is necessary to highlight some common issues “resonating” in our diocese. The selection of original statements (comments) of meeting participants – as suggested by the ISKK – is subjective, but consulted/discussed within the team of diocesan coordinators and other collaborators:
In response to a question about the pastor’s contact with different groups of believers, the following breakdown of participants in the synodal path was made:
- involved – prayer and formation meetings, meetings of the Parish Council once a quarter, in addition to discussing current important issues as needed (including meetings with those responsible for communities operating in the parish);
- Sundays – pastoral visitation, occasionally in the chancellery, when dealing with various matters (ordering Mass intentions, pre-baptismal teachings, preparation for the sacrament of marriage), meetings with parents of children preparing for First Communion;
- non-practicing – occasionally (one-on-one contacts, sometimes as part of a pastoral visit).
Question: what individuals or groups are actually left on the margins of parish life?
“During the discussion, members of the synodal group recognized that, indeed, only those who do not practice and do not have special economic or sacramental needs are excluded from the life of the parish, by their own choice they remain outside the community. This is because charitable diakonia or formation related to sacramental preparation always reaches people traditionally considered marginalized (low economic status, difficult family situation). However, the feeling of the meeting’s participants was also that in a broader sense, children and young people (other than the Marianas and altar servers) in a parish sense may be a marginalized group, because catechists in schools that are located within the parish are implicitly responsible for their formation.”
More and more people who are active and involved in parishes and communities undertake ongoing spiritual formation and undertake, for example. Formator Course organized by our diocese.
, “The intimacy of the Church with Jesus is intimacy “on the road,” and the communion “in its very essence takes the shape of missionary communion. It is vital that the Church, adopting faithfully the example of the Master, go out today to preach the Gospel to all people, in every place, on every occasion, without delay, without reluctance and without fear.” (Evangelii gaudium 23).
Participants in the synod meetings shared a picture of a Church wounded, afflicted by scandals and human misery, whose sinful side associated with 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 a mismanaged institution more than communities led by incisive shepherds. The synodal meetings raised the problem of the melting number of the faithful, the abandonment of the faith by young people, declining attendance at Sunday Mass or the conservative attitude of those who, although they still identify with the Church, are afraid to publicly admit it. They also spoke of the superficial experience of the Church by many believers, of fading family ties and crumbling relationships within parish communities, and of the often very complicated life situation of some of those who still remain in them. However, the picture of the Church emerging from these meetings was not exclusively negative. On the contrary. It was emphasized that the Church – though seemingly dormant, in need of a new impetus and awakening – still remains a home, a haven for many. A place to meet Jesus and a way to Him, a safe environment that gives support and a sense of closeness to God and the strength to overcome life’s difficulties. They pointed not only to the human dimension of the ecclesial community, but also to its divine dimension, constantly generating a sense of holiness, unchanging in its sacramental structure, giving meaning and spiritual salvation to many who seek help.
Among the strengths of the Church lived in this way, synodal participants cited the fact that the Church maintains a tradition of passing on the faith, the great importance of the testimony of families who share their experience of God with the Church community, the involvement of a sizable group of laity in pastoral activity and the zeal of many pastors in the exercise of sacramental ministry and the word, as well as the growth of Christian maturity in those who identify more consciously with the Church. They also emphasized the value of such initiatives as pilgrimages, evangelization retreats, modern forms of pastoral care through which a living relationship with Jesus and a more personal relationship between presbyters and the faithful are built, as well as the great potential of grassroots religious initiatives and the involvement of the laity in parish groups, especially where, in place of top-down control, a model of partnership and shared responsibility for the parish of the pastor, vicars and laity is developing. Attention was paid to the positive fruits of listening, direct contact and individual forms of pastoral care, as well as the good that comes from the activity of those parish groups that are accompanied by presbyters and are actively present in them, supporting the involvement of the laity through their service, care, witness to life, kindness, attitude of respect and openness. In turn, the tendency to marginalize some people (e.g., those living in non-sacramental unions) was considered a particular weakness of the common way in the Church. those living in non-sacramental unions), the isolation of some priests from the faithful, the failure to respond adequately to the evils of sexual abuse, the objectification of women and the undervaluing of their role, the decline in vocations, the divisions that prevail among the faithful, the overworking of presbyters, the deepening anonymity among parishioners, the lack of mutual cooperation, the hermetic nature of some communities, often being left to their own devices, and the very weak transmission of the faith in families.
What ways of overcoming the weaknesses identified in the Church have been advocated? Participants in the synod meetings spoke of the need to build a parish along the lines of a community of communities, where the basis for the involvement of the laity in the life of the parish will be dialogue, encounter, relationships based on listening, trust and mutual respect, as well as the support provided by the presbyters to the communities operating at the parish, especially those that undertake various evangelization and apostolic activities. It was stressed that the activation of the laity in the parish can only be accomplished through unprejudiced personal contact between presbyters and the faithful, and requires a search for new forms of outreach to children, adolescents and adults, adapted to the current times, in which the emphasis is not on judging, disciplining and moralizing, but on proximity, kindness, support and accompaniment.
Almost all participants in the synod meetings stressed that those who should walk together are the baptized, members of the parish community belonging to the universal Church. It was noted that among the parishioners there is a group of people who practice and build the community of the Church, but there are also many who belong to the Church only nominally. Those in the first place should be included in the Church’s care, which is to lead to their full involvement. It was also stressed that the question of “going together” alone is incomplete. In the Church, we should also ask in what direction we are going. The Church is a community of pilgrim people, that is, a community moving toward a specific goal, which is faith in God revealed in Christ. Simply walking together without indicating a goal could suggest building a community that is moving toward an unspecified goal (this could suggest that the community itself is more important than the goal, which is God). This, in turn, makes the question of who we could walk together with or accompany should rather be: who can and should go on pilgrimage with us, and how to include them in the Church’s pilgrimage. In this context, the Church’s missionary concern to include Christians of other denominations and unbaptized people in the pilgrimage is only understandable. Many statements stressed the need for evangelization activities that do not seek to build a supra-denominational Church community, but that seek to integrate Protestants into the Catholic Church. Individual voices expressed concern about the lack of integration of the faithful with the fullness of Catholic doctrine, and some noted that the synodal questions are also phrased in such a way as to sanction the separation of pastors’ concerns from the deposit of faith.
Attention was drawn to the need for greater involvement of the laity in the work of evangelization, while emphasizing that this involvement is to be linked to the witness of life, i.e. the realization of the Gospel in accordance with the secular state. Also important to the synod respondents is the concern for the Church, which is to be an element of witness that builds correct faith regarding the nature of the Church, which is our mother. It also resounded with the self-recrimination that the faithful unfortunately cannot properly defend the Church, which is an anti-testimony that depreciates its value.
Some stressed that in the interest of including people outside the Catholic Church in the common walk, we must not blur our own identity. Care should be taken to ensure that the fullness of Catholic truth is not secondary to the desire to build unity. The value of the Church’s hierarchical structure was also emphasized. The faithful, it seems, do not wish to follow without shepherds, but rather expect them to properly point out the way of the common pilgrimage. Also noted that the thesis that the Church does not invite every person to go on pilgrimage together is false. The perception of the faithful is that the obstacle to going on pilgrimage together more often lies with those who are on the margins of the Church, as for some reason they do not agree to accept the truth carried by the Church and make a full conversion. This does not mean that we can remain indifferent to their situation. Some also expressed concern that in addition to those who remain on the margins of the Church through no fault of their own, there are also those who are pushed to those margins by their pastors, despite their faithfulness and zeal. It is about people who are faithful to Tradition and clearly opposed to modern liberal currents.
There was also a strong desire for greater care and involvement directed toward particular states and groups (children, young people, married couples, people seeking or for various reasons lost, non-sacramental families). A means of strengthening the community should be better catechization, focused on traditional doctrine, and especially making the faithful aware of the meaning and essence of the Sacrifice of the Mass, care of the liturgy and celebration that emphasizes the sacredness of the liturgy.
Some of the discussion of the problems seems to be captured by the saying: “Anyone could have done it, and no one did,” in reference to the poem: “Everyone, Someone, Anyone and No One.” Many Christians participate in criticism of the Church. The claims of the faithful against priests are being revealed. It can be said that, for the most part, the accusations are made by Christians who are more involved in the life of the Church than those who are actually all the same. It happens that their initial activity, characterized by evangelistic concern and disinterestedness, in problematic situations turns into criticism of church institutions or outright clergy of the parish community. Where does it come from? During the discussion, many answers were given. Attention was paid to church-social conditions (e.g., few priests, declining attendance at Sunday liturgy), work-family situations (e.g., haste, fatigue, inability to cope with stress), spiritual-religious condition (e.g., not enough prayer). Rather, synthesizing, the problem was seen in the scarcity or excess of some element, belonging to the quantitative category: not enough of something or something is too much! Above all, a cure was seen in the improvement of the quantitative condition. However, there were also voices that spoke of the need for qualitative changes that absolutely come from approving Christian spiritual formation. She, by design, transforms any “quantity” – with the help of God’s grace – into “quality.” Isn’t conversion a qualitative quantity!
The discussions, inspired especially by biblical texts, sought a panacea for certain rifts inherent in the Church. However, less was entered into the basic source of the lack of unity, which is personal sin, behind which are, among other things, the search for meaning, the fear of losing the pleasure experienced or simply greed. One stopped at not caring enough to work out a common goal. Even if far-reaching goals were agreed upon, the actions to actually achieve them were outlined vaguely, as small-minded. Mention was made, for example, of nationwide pastoral programs that were inadequately adopted to diocesan conditions and, in fact, did not even inspire individual parish pastors. They were virtually absent from Parish Councils. Incidentally, it was stated that the focus should not be so much on deficiencies, which many find “fascinating,” but more and more explain the goal, so that it, as it were, with its “power” attracts, arouses the desire to achieve it. In the context of concern for unity, those causes that paralyzed, even prevented, the spiritual development of marriages and families were also analyzed. Attempts were also made to diagnose neighborhood, parish and local government life. The issue of priestly unity in the deaneries was also not overlooked. The theme of unity included the issue of helping refugees, caring for the poor and excluded, especially socially conflicted people. These were all considered in the specific circumstances formulated by the pandemic, the war in Ukraine or the general “overload”, which does not even have a name! In sum, it was absolutely stated that God is the source of unity, and the path leading to it was also prompted by Him.
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.
1.1.1 What is your experience of walking together in a parish or diocesan community? What are you moving towards? With whom? What are the fruits of this?
The answers are most often “catechismic” in nature: respondents say how things should be, rather than showing how things actually are. Some statements may indicate a misunderstanding of the meaning of the questions posed. Here’s an example:
The most important thing is Jesus Christ. He leads us and we follow Him. Everything we do should flow from His teaching, be clear, legible and unambiguous. So my life, my actions, my choices, my marriage, my attitude toward younger, especially young children, must be like this. Only then can I be real and legible, expressive to others.
Those involved in ministry groups have a greater awareness of the community. For them, the parish is not an anonymous reality. They know the pastors, they have friends in the community, and they can count on their help.
We have the experience of leading our small community [neokatechumenalnej] through the Church to a mature faith. When communities from the diocese meet, we have the experience of being in the diocese together.
However, there are also voices in which a note of resentment and disappointment can be heard:
I have the experience of following together in a family community, the Focolari Movement, a Jesuit pastoral ministry and a priest from outside the parish. The parish provides no community in which I could find support. (…) I don’t find a place for myself there.
Respondents quite often emphasize that participation in a small pastoral group is not only about praying together, meditating on Scripture or deepening religious knowledge, but also about mutual care and assistance, visiting sick congregants. People from small communities are also more aware of their material responsibility for the Church, helping with parish ventures and fundraising. They also stress that it was only by attending small group meetings that they were able to overcome their anonymity in parish life.
The time of the pandemic uncovered the innovation of pastoralists. (…) Not only did they take care to maintain sanitary rules, out of concern for the health of parishioners and their own, but they reorganized the pastoral ministry in such a way that ministry could be provided to the widest possible range of parishioners (introduction of additional hours for Mass and services, prayers outside the church premises). A separate problem is the fact of increasing migration of parishioners. A significant group is made up of people renting apartments in the parish. Their connection to the parish, in most cases, is negligible. They are here, so to speak, “in passing”, they are not interested in building relationships, neither with the parish nor with the community of residents, with practically no one.
A separate problem is the sense of parishioners’ ties to the diocese. It seems that for the statistical parishioner, “Church” is primarily associated with the parish. She is the mirror of the Church for many. Parish affairs are a priority. It is comforting, however, that group leaders remember to include the affairs of the diocese and the universal Church in the “prayer plan.” The extent to which the faithful in a parish feel responsible for the diocesan or universal Church is evidenced, for example, by their involvement in synodal work. We do not hide the fact that it was difficult to invite, to recruit people to the parish team. There is also no hiding the fact that the level of commitment to his work is average. There are some people who find it difficult to communicate their thoughts. In some, one notices a “servant” mentality: questions are answered in such a way as to please others, such as pastors. There is a lack of courage in thinking. In others, on the other hand, revolutionary, millenarian and even apocalyptic thinking prevails.
In summary, a parish is a community rooted in the Church. For nearly a quarter century [jej istnienia] we have also defined our local identity. We feel responsible for the fate of our community, we are aware of the challenges ahead and current problems. The goal is salvation, prayer, finding a sense of God’s childhood, strengthening faith, formation, passing faith to the next generation, intercessory prayer, worshipping God in the liturgy, strengthening a sense of connection in the community of the Church. The goal is to have as wide a range of communities as possible, but communities are declining because there is a lack of leaders, so a Church of specialization must be born, a specialized ministry that is open to parishioners and people outside the parish. At the senior citizens’ club – shaking hands, talking, getting closer to the elderly and lonely. Our goal remains to build the bond of believers also through the “going out” of pastors to the people, building a family atmosphere during our parish meetings (although this is difficult, because people’s expectations are different, sometimes you can see passivity, lack of response from parishioners, the relationship created by parishioners is official, with distance). We note that the greatest fruit is borne by those forms of activities in which there is integration of the faithful with pastoralists, jointly undertaken and carried out works and tasks. There is joy in the renaissance of liturgical service, personal and community reading of the Word of God (two Bible study groups, there is a copy of the Bible in every pew in the church, the faithful rewrote the entire Scriptures during the pandemic), popularization of the person of the parish’s patron saint (new services in his honor). Many positive fruits come from parish festivals, involvement in charitable outreach, participation in retreats or joint preparation and celebration of the church’s consecration.
1.1.2 Which communities in your parish are growing most rapidly, and which are in crisis? Why is this happening?
Over a dozen years there is no dynamism (…) there is stagnation, lack of interest. One observes a desire for “holy tranquility” – parishioners want it, probably priests too. People experience “personal catholicity” (…) as consumers of worship: it is to be fast, because most have little time, efficient, nice (…), and outside the doors of the church – ordinary life.
Certainly, a pandemic state plays a huge role, when people lock themselves in, fearing for their health and lives. Fewer and fewer people come to church, communities do not meet with each other, it is difficult to organize any action. The state of pandemonium only helped something that started earlier, namely the lack of new people willing to join in joint works. Observing the situation in our parish, it seems that one of the more thriving communities is the Domowy Kościół (Home Church), while the other communities seem to be rolling along “by force of momentum.” Rosary circles, in which the place of deceased members is left empty, are becoming less and less numerous. Why is this happening? Talking to several people and proposing to join in praying the rosary, one usually hears the argument in response: “I pray, but I don’t want to make any commitments”. – implicitly: I will come to church, I will pray in the evening, but I do not want to enter the community, it is enough for me to be a passive element of it.
Communities like the Living Rosary or the Legion of Mary are in crisis. Older members are getting sick, dying, and at the same time there is a lack of new takers. The crisis is also evident in youth communities, especially the Catholic Youth Association. The loss of youth confidence in the Church, lack of dutifulness and parental support are cited as reasons.
The lack of interest in the faith in young people is the fault of parents, but also of pastors who fail to arouse interest in young people. (…) Forcing candidates [przygotowujących się] for Confirmation to attend services throughout the year and document it in booklets, has the opposite effect: “disgust” with the church. (…) Also, church music performed by vocal and instrumental “geniuses” only deters from the church.
Among the groups that are growing most dynamically, the Domestic Church and the evangelization and formation community Friends of the Spouse are mentioned quite often.
This is due to the advanced age of the participants, many who have died, the difficulty of attracting new ones, the spread of secularization, and frigidity or religious indifference. In addition, there is a crisis of responsibility, of masculinity. There is a lack of testimonies from participants of communities operating in the parish in spaces accessible to all parishioners, e.g. during services, retreats. Arguably, some forms of piety need a change, because they have become, either too elaborate or unsuited to the mentality and needs of modern people. Perhaps the solution to this situation, the remedy, would be broader information campaigns, videos on the Internet popularizing groups and associations, information in showcases, up-to-date announcements, articles in the parish press or on the website and social networks. A common phenomenon is the participation of the same people in several communities, so that these communities become somehow “similar” to each other in composition, appearing to be closed to others. The meeting formula must also adapt to people’s post-pandemic habits. An important aspect is the openness of parishes, the creation of new communities that meet the needs of contemporaries. Maybe not dynamically, but the academic ministry in the parish is thriving. The decisive factor here is the presence of a pastor who meets with young people, is with them, organizes trips, participates in academic life, celebrates Mass. Sunday for this group. The crisis of the communities lies in the lack of discipline on the part of group participants and priests. It has become accepted that some groups “run themselves,” lacking the systematic presence, availability and accessibility of a pastor. It would be good to create communities from people, for example, after confirmation, maybe something more for them is worth doing, make an effort to make at least some of them find a place for themselves in their parish (involving them in liturgy, inviting them to activities according to their age and abilities). Every young person who identifies with the parish is a precious gift to our community.
1.1.3 What communities or pastoral groups are missing in your parish? (This is not to give a specific name, but to specify the nature of such a group and the people to whom it should be addressed.)
Many parishes lack youth groups, and this is due to a lack of volunteers:
It seems that for many young people the Church is not an authority and belonging to some parish community is “passé.”
It was noted that in addition to the old, proven forms of pastoral care, new forms are needed that go beyond the canon of school catechization, such as reaching out to the young through sports, scouting and tourism. In rural parishes, the faithful note a lack of groups for young people and for married couples, while expressing concern about whether there would be takers if such a group were initiated. Young people, if in a parish, often study off-site, returning home only on weekends. Young couples work in nearby cities, and the house in the countryside is just a place to stay. Such people most often identify neither with the parish community nor with the local community in the broader sense.
People don’t want to associate, they don’t want to belong to groups, because that creates obligations.
There is a lack of groups connecting single people and charity groups. Volunteers to care for the lonely and elderly are increasingly needed. There is also a perceived lack of groups for middle-aged, single people or those whose longing for community is not understood by their spouse. Many people emphasize the need not for formal groups and communities, but rather for open Bible meetings for deeper learning and study of the Scriptures.
There is a need for groups for men to help them find their place in the Church, both in terms of a spirituality more in keeping with their nature, and in terms of mission, i.e. those that would provide opportunities for concrete action, especially in the sphere of charity, social solidarity.
The more communities with different profiles, the greater the chance that they will include more people from the parish, and (…) individuals will find in them the right forms of apostolic involvement. One feels the need for prayer, another needs support in the life of his family, another support in the fight against addiction, another seeks a systematic deepening of faith….
Members of the synodal teams recognized the need to emphasize that the Church is to become more communal, rather than moving toward an expanded office. It’s about a space where pastors are accessible to people, create places that foster relationship building and encourage dialogue. It should be stated that a large part of the faithful perceive the parish as a “service point.” However, young people in particular are looking for spiritual authorities, guides, good confessors or simply friends and shepherds. It is worth emphasizing the aforementioned issues during seminary formation. The synodal teams also wanted to emphasize the importance of passion and authenticity in priestly ministry.
“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, she “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.”
Thus, traveling together is primarily about communities, and this is where their richness is revealed. At the same time, the synodal meetings made participants aware of the diversity of sensibilities, ways of being in the Church, which raised the question: what do we have in common? The space where everyone can meet is to pray together, less often to do things together, evangelization actions or simply to dialogue, meet and build the parish as a community of communities, which is why there is often doubt as to whether we are really creating a community in the parish. The reasons for this are varied, although they can be defined by one general statement: the lack of involvement of each of us. Lack of involvement of priests, including the parish priest, lack of involvement of parishioners,lack of involvement of communities beyond their formation (communities are often seen as “‘silos’ of spirituality”. – hermetic communities living for themselves and not for the parish). “My first thought after reading the question is: there is no common wandering in our Church today, everyone wanders in their own direction, the clergy in one direction, the faithful in another, the rest completely in another. We seemingly have a common goal – eternal life, but I think we are not listening to the Holy Spirit, and this spoils the way for all of us – our common way.”
It has been repeatedly emphasized that the Church’s journey together begins in families. The family is the first domestic Church, and is responsible for passing on the faith. The question has often been posed here as to what to do so that in this journey we do not lose children and, above all, young people who, even if they have come out of believing families, do not want to continue on the path of the Church and do not identify with it. It is those who disappeared, often before our eyes, who left empty seats in the pews of parish churches and at the altar, because many of them were altar servers. One person shared a difficult experience when her adult but still very young son committed an act of apostasy. This took place after hours of discussions and then several weeping days. The conclusion, however, was that one cannot reject one’s beloved child, one must continue to be a witness of faith and love for him. There are also those who, although baptized, have never really been in the Church. Their absence is noticed and hurts, and at the same time it is disturbing that we care too little about them. In the picture there was less criticism of those who reject the Church, and more self-criticism – we don’t know how to evangelize! There are also those who were pointed out as pushed away, marginalized, deprived of a voice. First mentioned were young people, parents (especially those preparing children for the sacraments), non-sacramental unions, the elderly, those with disabilities, the poor and homeless. Often the Church wanders without them through pastoral neglect. Representatives of such groups spoke out on the issue: “By virtue of the grace of baptism, we develop our faith, hope and love despite our limitations. Unfortunately, we often feel, as believers, excluded from other communities. There is still a huge misunderstanding of the peculiarities of our community among the spiritual with moralizing, logic of exclusion and stigmatization included. Despite the fact that we do not receive Holy Communion, we still seek from union with Jesus in ways other than sacramental” (voice of people from non-sacramental unions). “I understand my place in the Church as a situation where someone is talking about me. Meanwhile, the Church is unable to offer anything to married couples who cannot have children, and I am in such a situation. There is no pastoral support and understanding of the problem” (voice of a person experiencing infertility). “The straightforward attacks on the Church also affect me and many other believing homosexuals.” “I would like to live life as best as I can. How? This is a question you have to ask yourself every day. I would like the Church to support me in this in a real way. “Entering the path of dialogue and using a little more empathetic language does not yet mean>diluting the doctrine<” (voice of a homosexual person).
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.
- 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) .
- 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 synodal 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 synodal meetings of parish groups?
- 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 of 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.
Many participants in the synod meetings, representing different generations and backgrounds, consider the family: parents, siblings, spouse or grandparents, as the primary space for walking together. They want to follow Jesus with someone and someone who is an authority for them on the path of faith and closeness to God, even giving him the right to admonish them. However, the progressive crisis of authority and the breakdown of healthy family relationships are noted in unison, hence the experience of “going it alone” and, in the case of young people, also “going nowhere” or “following money, wealth, material things” in the voices of the elderly, but also of young people. Many seem to correctly diagnose that the increasing pace of life, growing individualism and selfishness are a serious obstacle to moving forward together.
The second most frequently mentioned environment for following together is the parish community, where participation in Mass, reception of the Holy Sacraments, communal worship, as well as membership in parish groups and other pastoral initiatives such as pilgrimages, vigils – provide an awareness of following together to the goal of eternity. In the parish community, the faithful seek authority in pastors; they want to follow them, listen to them. They depend on their qualities (openness, willingness to dialogue, readiness to listen and devote time to the faithful, care for the beauty of the liturgy and the way the Word of God is preached) for the condition of the community and the possibility of following Christ together. To them, they also acquiesce in exhortations and pointing out the way, but on condition of the clarity of their attitude and testimony of life.
Members of religious groups and movements see the best environment for walking together in their community. The bonds developed there, the trust, as well as the loyalty and help shown to each other, provide a sense of security and the opportunity to share the experience that God loves us. However, when there is rivalry within them or religious fanaticism resulting from a lack of healthy formation, these circles lose their ability to inspire spiritual growth and walk the path of faith together.
Speakers in the discussion unanimously noted that outside the family, parish and community, it is increasingly difficult to have a consciousness of following together, because the environments of their lives, work and rest are increasingly made up of people who are religiously indifferent and hostile to the Church.
Sharing the experience of walking together and the difficulties encountered along the way, the participants dared to define a number of concrete demands of a pastoral nature, among them:
- Building good relationships in the Church based on listening to each other, defining each other’s needs, talking to each other and sharing the faith; the need for priests and the faithful to meet and be together (including physically) not only during the liturgy;
- the need for pastoral investment in marriage and the family so that it is an environment for growth in faith and the transmission of good traditions; making marriages and families an entity in the Church, supporting them in being domestic churches through catechesis and various forms of liturgical and extra-liturgical influence; allowing families to bear witness to the faith in the parish community, and parents to prepare their children for First Holy Communion;
- The need for the Church hierarchy to present an unambiguous and consistent position on issues of faith, morality and current social issues and thus build up the Church’s authority; to address media reports of the sins of Church people clearly and lucidly, so that there is no impression of “sweeping difficult issues under the rug.”
- the need for pastors to maintain unity in making demands on the faithful and enforcing church discipline related to the reception of the sacraments (“we expect the Church to show us the way”) and for pastors to fulfill the bishop’s decrees and recommendations (“ignoring the bishop’s decrees and orders is inflammatory and demotivating to carry out the pastor’s instructions”);
- The need for priests to be concerned about the “quality” of the liturgy and the preached Word of God, which should be free of political references, moralizing and disrespect for the views of others; the presence of priests in the confessional and in the chancery, a willingness to provide spiritual direction, to be a “companion and not a steward” of the faithful;
- Undertake pastoral initiatives conducive to walking together: initiate small communities, care and ongoing formation of existing groups, especially those bringing together young people: altar servers, Children of Mary, liturgical scholars, Oasis; ensure that communities do not compete with each other; organize parish discussion forums, pilgrimage trips; abandon online pastoral practices during epidemics;
- Respecting and returning to the “healthy tradition” of the Church and avoiding “rotten compromises” with the modern world; a bolder return to the Tridentine liturgy and less distance of pastors (bishops and priests) from its “proponents.”
The third area touches on the functioning of the laity and clergy, whose primary field of cooperation is parishes. During the synod meetings, in which both laity and clergy participated, we saw that, paradoxically, the primary area of concern for the development of co-responsibility and increased involvement of the laity in the Church should be their concern for priests, who create the climate and functioning of parish communities. We can feel how much the transformation of the shepherd affects the transformation of the entire parish fold. It was surprising to us how much concern and sensitivity there is in people’s hearts to the difficulties experienced by priests, and to what extent the need to care for the clergy resounds.
The perceived potential difficulties that clergy may face have been collected and categorized by source and the possibility of recognition by outsiders according to the diagram below.
- Perceived threats EXTERNAL (OUTSIDE THE CHURCH)
- fake news about priests
- Insults from non-believers, media attacks
- Temptations of “easy life” outside the Church
- A stereotypical view of the priesthood
- sense of superiority, showing it to others
- sometimes political and financial connections
- Perceived threats EXTERNAL (from inside the church).
- desire for advancement, materialism
- failure to listen to the faithful
- unreal, isolation
- treating the priesthood as a profession
- lack of proper preparation of priests
- Lack of feeling of being heard by superiors
- excessive responsibilities (renovations, finances, solicitations)
- forcing priests to conduct school catechesis despite their lack of competence in this area, and thus its low effectiveness
- Crisis caused by cases of abuse by clergy, reflecting on other priests, distrust in entrusting children to the care of priests
- Lack of understanding on the part of the faithful, confreres and superiors
- small prayer support of the faithful
- adopting an attitude more of an official than a father
- Perceived INTERNAL (PERSONAL, SPIRITUAL) risks.
- Routine in the ministry and celebration of the Eucharist
- lack of humility
- Lack of time for spiritual development, lack of personal prayer, self-formation
- loss of faith and vocation
- entanglement in abusive relationships
- loneliness – the inability to experience it
- Inability to deal with one’s own sexuality
- Improperly formed image of priestly ministry
Synod participants emphasize that the vocation of the priest is unique, he is sanctified, and looking at him only from a human perspective we will not fully understand it. The spiritual support of priests is therefore essential. Just as Jesus needed the disciples to keep vigil with him in prayer in Gethsemane, so today Priests united with Christ the Priest need lay faithful.
Due to the area of experiencing particular struggles, we see that there are some, threats that can be observed from outside (external outside the Church and some external threats inside the Church). However, there are also those of which the priest himself who is struggling with the threats in question is aware (internal and some external threats from within the Church). The former can be responded to with support or, if the situation calls for it, with a fraternal admonition. Threats from the second group, invisible to the “naked eye,” are a space where one can help only when the priest expresses the need and opens himself up to such help. Taking all this into account, the Synodal Team has compiled the forms of support for priests mentioned in the statements:
- Margaret Mary apostolate
- Work of Spiritual Adoption of Priests.pl
- Communion for the intention of priests
- COOPERATION (support in activities – the Church is our common Home)
- Participation and support in parish initiatives
- The involvement of the laity, so that the priest can devote himself to spiritual matters, relieve the burden of some tasks
- Sharing suggestions that can improve parish operations
- physical work at the Church
- standing up to be judged – we are on the “same side”
- CARE (relational – human approach to the priest).
- kind word and goodwill
- showing gratitude and respect
- appreciation of their work
- fraternal admonition
- daily and simple care of the relationship with them
- presence, willingness to talk
- spiritual assistance
- HOUSING (financial / in-kind support)
- Financial assistance in achieving parish goals (“donate money”)
- in-kind support (“share what you have”)
- undertaking various ministries (“donate your time”)
In addition to the issue of the priest himself, the synodal hearing drew our attention to the need to work on the relationship between priests and laity in parishes. There is no need to create new “synodal entities,” but to transform the reality that is. This requires a change in the thinking of both priests and laity, the courage to cooperate.
We see that priests are convinced that they have to take on a huge amount of responsibilities forgetting that there are many lay professionals around willing to help. Investing in the formation of leaders, strengthening mutual bonds in respect and trust, gives hope for a greater sense of community in the parish and a greater availability of the priest for strictly pastoral ministry. At the same time, the laity must understand and personally accept this truth that the Church is made up of all the baptized, not just the priests themselves. The basic step that a lay person can take to become involved in the life of the community is to actively participate in the liturgy, this increases the confidence of priests in the laity. The relationship we will build will allow us to make plans together, develop goals and implement initiatives. Developing the ability of priests to work with the laity in parishes can strengthen the desire to participate in the Church’s mission and open these communities to those who are lost, seeking, religiously indifferent and in need of support. For this we need the courage of love, to give up ourselves for Christ’s sake, and in Him to accept the other as a brother.
The synodal process allowed us to determine what are the different models of parish ministry in our diocese.
“Each to himself” model – there are no areas of cooperation, both priests and laymen feel alone in their activities. Lack of experience of the Church community. The church is becoming more institutional, and the laity is becoming claimant.
“One point in common ” model – apparent cooperation, there is some area that provides justification – for priests before the bishop (e.g., I have a lot of altar boys, so I don’t have to do anything more) and for laymen before themselves (I clean the church once a week, so I do more than others).
“Common Area” model (respect for the diversity of functions) – in the parish community we have an area of dialogue in which both the priest and the laity have a say and the opportunity to co-determine. At the same time, each side recognizes the priorities of the other – the laity are aware of the function of the priest in the parish, and the priests know that the first vocation of the spouses is the family – no one steps into anyone’s shoes, cooperation is done with respect.
“No Disconnect” model – cooperation without borders. The priest focuses on tasks that are not his own, or on private activities, and shifts responsibility for pastoral activities to lay people. The laity, in their sense of responsibility, take on an over-responsibility seemingly bailing out the priest. There are different functions, but they blend together, and there are no clearly defined rules for who is responsible for what.
With four models before our eyes, the question arises as to which of them is the synodal path leading to? Nowadays, it may seem that the “ideal version of the Church” is the total equality of all members, and this is what we should aim for. Diocesan meetings, during which we listened to the Holy Spirit together, opened our eyes to the beauty of the diversity of functions in the Church. Everyone has a unique place in Him, and in that place they can fulfill His mission. The key is to discover, name and fulfill one’s vocation, and then join the life of the Church in accordance with it. The “common area” model enables the realization of personal vocation and creates a space for listening to each other and taking shared responsibility for the Church.
We discern that the Holy Spirit invites us to “walk together” rediscovering the identity of the Church and rooting ourselves in Him by drawing from the source of the Eucharist. We experienced the importance of listening to God and our neighbor. We realized how far we have been deaf to each other and how much we have to do, by listening to each with love has become a lifestyle following the example of Christ.
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.
The question of “walking together,” that is, the synodal nature of the Church’s community in its various dimensions and spaces, ran through the meetings and reflections of various groups. On the answer to the question of what is and what constitutes “our Church” depends the formulation of other diagnoses and projects, and above all the definition of the goals of pastoral action.
Today’s postmodern culture and “fluid,” often even dialectical thinking about the world and values are not conducive to mutual wandering and listening. Not insignificant is the ingrained homo sovieticus in many Poles and such treatment of the Church to see it only as a temporal reality of charity and service. Many scandals and sins of churchmen have caused a huge decline in trust, building walls that are difficult to break down, especially in the attitude of young people’s trust in priests. The downplaying of various abuses and the attitude of preserving the former status quo of churchmen at all costs have often led to great indifference and even hostility to the good that flows from pastoral ministry.
However, these are not reasons why the Church should give up or give in in its ever-present mission of evangelization. Especially in view of the situation of “change of epoch” emphasized by Francis, the people of God of Mazovia need a dynamic and concrete response to what the new signs of the times bring. In addition to caring for the sheep who “stand firm in the faith” (cf. 1 Cor. 16:13), reaching out to those Christians who have become Gentiles anew is at the forefront of the Church’s pastoral conversion. This raises the question of how to convey the unchanging and empowering content of faith to modern people who are often bored, discouraged and present only in the virtual world. Young people in particular indicated that there is a decline in general interest not only in scandals in the Church, but in general in the institution itself, which for a not inconsiderable number of the baptized seems to be separated from their peculiar understanding of faith. That is why the words of Pope Francis from the apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium are so timely, including for the Diocese of Plock: “Today we do not need “ordinary administration.” Let us be in all regions of the earth in a ‘permanent state of mission'” (FRANCISZEK, Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii gaudium,” Vatican 2013, no. 29).
- Among the wanderers who understand and see the need to belong to a community are the residents of Northern Mazovia and Dobrzyń Land, traditionally attached to God, the Church and the Fatherland. Many of them are people who are open to helping others, charity and social activities. For the vast majority of them, faith in God is an important part of existence, even if it is not expressed in regular piety and religious practices.
- Walking together is hindered by the spiritual laziness present in the lives of some clergy and laity, lack of maturity, selfishness, thinking about temporal success, stubborn repetition of patterns and old times, working alone and individualism, and failure to understand the contemporary challenges of the universal Church. This requires asking questions about the fundamental human willingness to work, as well as the motivation and evaluation of the actions taken.
- Unfortunately, a significant abandonment of sacramental practices, especially confession and Sunday Mass, by children and adolescents has been observed in recent years. Also not insignificant is the failure of increasing numbers of young people to attend religious classes in schools, thus increasing their distance from faith and the Church. It seems that this group of young people, with whom in previous decades people of the Catholic Church have engaged in constructive dialogue, today requires special attention and understanding of why they have found themselves actually, and often formally, on the margins of the Church.
For Synod participants, the Church is a place of prayer and sacraments. It is a community where one grows in faith. The basic experience of the Church in the syntheses emphasizes associations with ritual religiosity and teaching, especially in the context of school and sacramental catechesis.
Many of the recorded testimonies reveal the deep belonging of Synod participants to the Church, mainly through their involvement in ministry groups and communities. In the syntheses we find many descriptions of positive experiences flowing from cooperation and friendship with priests, bishops and consecrated persons: “Many people throughout their lives have met wonderful priests on their path.”
Answering the fundamental question of how we walk together in the Church and society, Synod participants paid special attention to the relationship of Catholics with non-Catholics. They did not so much focus on “together in the Church” as on “the Church together with everyone.” They recognized that people who are connected to the Church, living on the borderline of the Church or who have no direct relationship with the Church do not separate themselves in their daily lives. They cooperate with each other in various dimensions of life, primarily by undertaking charitable activities together. According to most participants, however, the daily life of the Church is not characterized by a willingness to follow a common path with everyone: “Those who do not attend the liturgy are primarily stigmatized.” “The Common Way” is seen more in an intra-church context, with an emphasis on practitioners and those involved in church life.
An important category describing the synodal Church was “familiality.” Many syntheses include the word “family” in various references, mainly in the context of the needed renewal of relationships in the Church community. The family experience is an important source of learning to walk together with everyone, because it is in families that these “everyone”, people with different views and life choices, form a common living space. The family, according to many Synod participants, should have the Church’s support in building lasting relationships, even when it is experiencing difficulties: marital, intergenerational, parent-child or in siblings. Families should be helped, but not overestimated, not idealized. In addition, it should be equipped with solid knowledge to counter ideological arguments and make counter-cultural decisions when the dominant culture imposes an anti-family lifestyle.
There is a recurring concern in the syntheses that not only those outside the Church, but also believers and practitioners will find it increasingly difficult to identify with the Catholic Church. They motivate this by the scathing sins of the clergy, especially the inadequate response by superiors to information about sexual abuse by some clergy, the abuse of authority through the unreliable handling of some reported cases, and the misinformation of the public on the subject. Those on the borderline of the Church also told of their disappointment caused by the Church’s unwillingness to engage in serious dialogue with them.
According to a significant group of Synod participants, the Church’s attitude toward LGBT+ people is inadequate: “There is a lack of love of neighbor.” Young people representing the Church’s fringe, identifying with LGBT+ communities, and a very small group of people who have performed acts of apostasy, expressed their pain over the tough and sometimes even aggressive language of some clergy and laity toward LGBT+ people. A very small group of Synod participants expressed an expectation of changes in Church teaching. Another, equally small, expressed its strong satisfaction with the current state of affairs. The majority of Synod participants who spoke on the subject made it clear that a change in language and attitudes toward these people is needed: “We expect them to be treated with respect, compassion and gentleness, just as the Catechism speaks of.”
Occasionally, the theme of mistreatment of immigrants and refugees from non-European countries recurred in the syntheses. “Sometimes they are talked about, but not much is done, and if they do speak, it is rarely and not very forcefully.” Some people stressed that such a situation is the result of the Church authorities succumbing to the currently dominant political narrative. Others expressed full support for not accepting refugees and a policy of “helping only on the ground,” that is, in their countries of origin.
The experience of meeting representatives of other faiths and religions was very positive. The prevailing conviction of all participants in the meetings was that dialogue is much needed to better 6 understand each other and break down stereotypes. A clear deficit of mutual openness and cooperation has been noted, sometimes generating unnecessary tensions and mutual misunderstanding.
Participants in the synod road affirm the sense that the Church is a walk together on the path of salvation. “Every day the Lord God places in our paths people who are given to us as help or simply placed for daily fulfillment. This shows that we are not alone on our road to salvation, although sometimes it may be the road to Mount Tabor and sometimes the road to Golgotha. Every day we stand between the glory of Tabor and the suffering of Golgotha.” In the minds of the members of the synodal groups, three groups of people, i.e. clergy, laity and religious (less often consecrated persons), have been clearly identified, which interact with each other to form the community of the Church.
The basic reality in which the community dimension is realized is the parish. It is a place that has an impact on the development of faith and the experience of the Church. “Here I listen to the word of God, partake of the holy sacraments, adore the Lord Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Here I can also serve others in different ways.”
Community in the parish is based overwhelmingly on the relationship between priests and laity. The main problem of life within the Church, beyond the narrow confines of the parish, probably also comes down to this relationship. This cooperation was the subject of the most speeches on the synodal road. The overwhelming majority of the members of the synodal groups are laymen, so the syntheses of these groups are dominated by observations, both positive and negative, and comments and expectations of priests. Of course, the attention and the amount of space given to this issue does not come only from the number of lay participants in the synodal path, but is certainly also derived from the condition of the clergy, the situation of the Church and the way various problems are perceived.
Increasing secularization, liberalism, exuberant individualism and consumerism were identified as significant problems that strongly determine mutual cooperation between priests and laity. These phenomena are often the cause of new forms of atheism or the formation of false authorities.
While appreciating the commitment of priests, their dedication, expressing their gratitude and respect, and recognizing their increasingly difficult situation in modern society, they also point out the many shortcomings and deficiencies associated with the priestly ministry. Some note that a priest is, after all, a human being, so it would be naive to expect his attitude to be perfect in all dimensions. However, they point out that more than one element of a priest’s attitude is the result of a lack of formation, sloppiness, carelessness, or even a lack of personal culture, or even a lack of faith. Specifically, one points out, for example, succumbing to the temptation of the “easy life,” materialism, haughtiness, arrogance, isolation, lack of openness to the faithful, being an official and treating the priesthood more as a profession, routine, constant haste, entanglement in improper relationships, bias, addictions. A necessary consequence of such attitudes is the bad testimony given around, which causes distrust and distancing of many people from the Church. Of course, it is also recognized that many accusations against priests flow from generalized negative opinions related to their lives or even a stereotypical view of the priesthood. At this point, one can’t help but think of the “uproar following confirmed and publicized cases of immoral behavior and crimes committed by the clergy,” especially among young people and those on the periphery of the Church.
However, the issue of cooperation between priests and laity is primarily a problem of mutual trust and openness. There is still a lingering view among many priests that activities in the Church and parish should be the domain of priests, they are supposed to be in charge of everything. In many laymen, in turn, this results in a comfortable withdrawal combined with ceding all responsibility to priests. They only assume that the role of the layman is to materially support the activities of the Church. In others, on the other hand, it causes a sense of frustration and lack of any influence on the reality of the Church, including the way the local Church functions. This results in the deepening of the belief that “the Church is them,” i.e. the clergy.
Hence the calls for greater openness to the laity in all dimensions, while preserving and respecting the proper vocation of the laity and clergy. “Not to overlook, let alone exclude, any person; to be open to every person, regardless of their social status or views; to listen to others, trying to understand their opinion, asking ourselves where that opinion comes from; to look in one direction at what unites us rather than divides us. It is important to remember that the Holy Spirit uses different people, so we are to live with an open heart and open eyes to see His guidance. Be authentic in relationships with others.” Among the laity, there is no shortage of prepared people whose substantive potential can make an invaluable contribution to the Church’s mission. “The Holy Spirit uses different people in the Church: the poor, the rich, the healthy, the sick, the educated, the uneducated, people who have been wronged in life. All life experiences can serve in the Church.”
A special field of cooperation, accompaniment is all kinds of groups, communities and associations of lay people. “Thanks to the involvement of these groups, we see that the parish is ‘alive,’ that the priests are active extra-liturgically, we feel needed and can find our place in the community.” “A parish is a community of communities, so it’s good as if conditions were created in them for their activity and development; directing a “favorable” view of communities by pastors and priests. There is also a need to integrate the various communities operating in a parish, to undertake joint activities, initiatives, evangelization works – reaching out to other faithful of the local Church. In fact, there is no synodal synthesis in which the claim about the necessity of groups and their advantages is not repeated. “In order to grow in the community of the Church we need: small groups, preaching on various occasions, support for those already involved in the life of the Church, openness to new people.”
Groups and communities help the faithful find their place in the Church, help them abide in it, but they are also able to reach out more easily to those who remain on the margins of the Church or have already left it. The exclusion of individuals, although not always, is usually their individual and conscious choice. Among them are people who are baptized but not practicing, people in non-sacramental relationships, people who are preoccupied with the world, migrants, homosexuals, people of other cultures and religions, addicts, and the homeless. “Also left on the sidelines are those who, even while in the Church, have not been evangelized.” To some extent, they may also include people who are sick, disabled and elderly, or even men who live alone. Specific was the voice of those associated with traditional circles. “We feel tolerated, but unwanted.” They have a sense of marginalization of their experience of the liturgy and are concerned about the tendency to extinguish it.
Certainly, the Church is getting farther and farther away from the youth, who are heavily influenced by the media and the prevailing fashion. Hence the increasing acts of apostasy in this group. These groups require special attention to reach and accompany them. Children and adolescents require that such environments be created for them, where their sense of belonging will be satisfied and, at the same time, they will be a place for the transmission of God’s values. “Showing the beauty of the Church, its richness and that there is a place in the Church for young people is very important, crucial. Experience the living God and that the Church is not only the Eucharist, although the most important. Different forms of religious experience are needed. The inclusion of this group in the life of the Church is certainly served by catechization, but it must be carried out at the appropriate level. School catechization alone is not enough, the one at the parish is also necessary.
One cannot help but add that there must never be a lack of mutual prayer for each other by the various groups that make up the Church community.
The synodal questions (37), as already explained, have been grouped according to the synodal magisterium into specific thematic areas (10). Based on the collected statements, synodal conclusions were derived from each area.
“Following together” is another way of abiding together, striving together; the baptized follow Christ-Teacher, that is: they listen to the Gospel, read the Gospel, pray, receive the sacraments (means of salvation), abide with God, are anchored in Him, abide in the revealed, unchanging truths of the faith. A community that walks together in faith towards salvation, helps each other (including materially), and cares about the quality of this help. Awareness of walking together does not exclude differences in the pilgrimage of faith, however, it requires seeing those aspects of the journey that unite community members. To walk the path of faith together is to constantly seek opportunities for dialogue, to listen to each other and to be concerned about unity. The condition for walking together is unity with Christ-Way. Walking hand in hand, the community ensures constant spiritual contact with the Lord. All effort in this regard does not come from the power of intellectual calculations, but from humble submission to God’s will and the inspirations of the Holy Spirit.
“Community” is based on the permanent bond of people who live the spirit of the Gospel and strive for salvation; they understand the value of service – through service they possess themselves in giving themselves to others – in this way they constantly discover their identity, the charism of their mission according to their state. The community bears witness to God and is convinced of the need to share the faith. The main space in which the community grows is the Eucharist – it builds the bonds of community members. A true community, in which the baptized are on the same path and walk hand in hand toward salvation, lives the spirit of the liturgy.
“Our Church” is the one to which we belong through Holy Baptism, and further through active participation in its life and community; we feed on the Word of God, receive the Holy Sacraments; to the Church also belong those baptized who are distanced from it, who are lost in the faith, whose spiritual wounds bleed, who are discouraged from the Church, feel resentment or resentment towards it. When we say “our Church,” we should exert ourselves for the sake of ecclesial unity – we cannot be extras in the Church, “mute consumers of a faith locked only in rituals, rites, feasts.”
The Eucharist unites all the baptized, and is the source of faith in the real power of God’s Word. The Word of God is the treasury of our faith, preached (kerygma) revitalizes our faith. Listening to and believing the Word, we see “with the eyes of faith.” Our faith, through the Word, is our vision. The Word is a lamp on the path of our lives. God’s word, preached with care, seriousness and anointing, is always enticing, invigorating and directional. It is worth taking care of His message. This one is effective when the priest lives the Word (he is an alter Christi). He by faith and will, not just by office, is the preacher of the Word.
The community is formed by one spirit – one should talk more about the Holy Spirit and live His inspirations. It is worth caring about the spiritual life of the community. It is worth talking about the role of the Holy Spirit in the Church – to show the real power of His influence, explain His essence – through a concrete example: for example, the unity of spouses, the unity of priests, nuns, consecrated persons living in spiritual unity with God. Every member of the community of believers is responsible for the community – it is worth constantly realizing this – it is worth, with faith (God in the heart), showing the forms and areas of expected responsibility – specifically, who for what (e.g., for the poor, for the sick, for the youth). It is worth believing in the sense of a living community by supporting what is good in the community – not to reprove the community for minor shortcomings, but to always support it and strengthen the spirit of service in it. The Church, which is a community of laity and clergy, must nurture the spirit of relationships. There must be one spirit in this relationship – how? – The state strengthens the state (Masses for parishioners, for communities; parishioners, communities for priests); spiritual adoption of a priest by communities; clerics for families, the sick, the lonely, the suffering (these are treasures of the Church); families for the formation of clerics, for the pastoral ministry of priests. The invigorating lymph of the breath of the Holy Spirit must circulate in the Church for it to live. Moreover, in the community of the Church, those who are weak, who spiritually do not demand, need to be assisted, valued – pulled upwards – this is where the testimony (lay and clergy) of the life of God counts.
How does a clergy person take care of the spirit of the community? He cares as much as he cares about his own spirituality. What does it mean? He nurtures within himself the gift of spiritual Fatherhood. He believes in the meaning and great value of personal fellowship with God. As a result, he knows his identity, which allows him to take care of the identity of the Church community. The spiritual fatherhood of the priest is needed by the community. Clergy cannot care about their well-being, but by virtue of their chosen path, they should realistically, by example, live the spirit of the evangelical virtues. Their example, is proof of the Father’s love for the Church. All semblance hurts the community, insults it, mutilates it. A clergy person’s genuine love for the Church always serves the community, enriches it, integrates it and endows it with a cooperative zeal.
It is worth deepening the awareness of belonging to the Church: take care of all occasions that strengthen the unity of the community (various forms of retreats, including secular forms that integrate the community); create opportunities for joint adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; organize penitential and thanksgiving services, organize catechesis, pastoral conferences, invite and involve (personally!) lay people, members of the parish to actively join in the preparation, organization of various parish events (“our Church” does not cross out anyone, tries to listen to Everyone). Concern for the transmission of the faith in the community of the Church (laity and clergy), is a manifestation of real co-responsibility for “our Church.”
The common path of the baptized, walking hand in hand toward salvation, is not obvious to everyone. Participants in the synodal consultations signaled that “on the margins, on the periphery of the Church” are young people, there are homeless people, single people, adults, homosexuals, parents of children conceived by in vitro methods, people who are baptized but do not identify with the Church’s teaching, people living in non-sacramental unions, divorced people and those who remain in the strength of the marriage knot but live in new unions, believers but do not practice the sacraments; Also on the margins are those who have been pushed away by the community of believers (silent separation), spiritually wounded people who have not had an example of faith, people who have been hurt, people in a crisis of faith, people working abroad, Catholics of the preconciliar rite, single women, addicts, the homeless and poor, people with disabilities, the mentally ill, priests in a crisis of faith, also “traditional Catholics,” i.e., sacramental couples, who also need attention, pastoral care that will strengthen their Christian identity for the witness needed by others.
In the context of the common journey of the baptized, who walk hand in hand towards salvation, the participants of the synodal consultations suggested, among other things: parish communities must not be allowed to close themselves off to Christians from the “margins of the Church” – communities must not be exclusive, “tightly closed” groups, but through their permanent formation (one grows into the community and grows in it), a well-thought-out pastoral formula, they should always open themselves to those who are sincerely seeking God. Pastoral care requires a willingness to seek all inspiration only in connection with Christ; the pastoral idea should always be prayerfully discerned as to content and form – the goal is one: concern for the formation of souls. Integration of marginalized Christians is a pastoral challenge; the ways of this integration are known to Christ the Lord – He cares about every lost sheep – so it is worthwhile to search with Him for ways to reach the hearts of people distant from the community of the Church; one cannot rely on the existing pastoral schemes (“if they want they will come by themselves”), even less can one rely on oneself. Christ is the Lord of every community, in which, if He wills, there will be (with the pastoral involvement of laity and clergy) people who are currently on the periphery of the Church.
The joint synodal pilgrimage proposed by the Holy Father Francis forced all believers to reflect that we are part of the community of the Church, and involvement in the life of the local church helps in understanding this. New spaces of poverty especially moral and spiritual poverty are emerging in modern society. It’s also worth noting that nowadays young people are increasingly confused. They are looking for the meaning of life and their place in the modern world. Unfortunately, sometimes in the community of the Church they are not able to find themselves, because the world offers a more pleasant and easy life, without sacrifices. This is also the reason why young people are very critical of the Church, not, however, of faith (religion) itself, as in many cases it is important to them. Many of them say that the Decalogue and values derived from religion are evaluated as guideposts in life. Criticism of the hierarchical Church is most often led by the negligence of Church persons themselves.
The modern young man is increasingly confused. On the one hand, he lives in a stabilized, free world, where there is a lot of technological development. On the other hand, he has to deal with the disturbing situation that he meets a lot of people who are lost, detached from their roots, without a world of values. Today’s technological innovations result in a lack of personal relationships, family warmth, where he could find himself and be heard. It is noteworthy that the synodal group discussions emphasized that most often the place where young people live is the virtual world, where people are anonymous and focus only on themselves. In such a world, a person, not only a young person, is lonely, deprived of a relationship with God and the other. It is a world of moral relativism, in which everyone chooses what suits them. Such entrenchment in the virtual world results in the development of a certain style of behavior in a young person: easy, fast and convenient. Escaping into the virtual world fills the void of interpersonal relationships.
This situation of young people causes the Church to face a great challenge. Seeking out such young people and accompanying these individuals in discovering their own identity and God. The most important thing is for the Church to notice the cry of such young people, which is often a silent cry. The task of the Church community is to accompany young people on the paths of life and faith. Accompaniment is the starting point. The most important predisposition of a companion should be empathy combined with the ability to listen, to show respect for the other person and to be close. It is also important to listen to ask questions and seek answers together. This attitude can help restore faith to those who have lost it or are seeking it. After experiencing the closeness of the other, one must be led to build a personal relationship with Jesus, which will lead to a lively involvement in the life of the Church community. It is also worth noting that accompaniment requires time and patience.
In accompanying people, it is necessary to avoid rivalry between different communities in the Church in favor of cooperation for the good of the whole community. The activities of these groups should not be limited to prayer alone, but also to organize themselves into various evangelization activities.
We are aware that we are united by our faith in the Triune God. The sense of being part of the Church community is helped by involvement in parish life – both religiously and materially. However, we recognize the need for a broader understanding among the faithful that the parish is our common asset. Of particular value to us is the easy access to temples and ministers, the opportunity to receive the sacraments and hear the Word of God. Also noticeable is gratitude to the ancestors who passed on the faith to us. We appreciate the social media – Catholic radio stations, newspapers and websites dealing with topics of faith, helping to shape our awareness of belonging to the Church.
“We are lucky, because we live in Poland, in small towns, our parish is also small – our location is an additional advantage. We always have a Parish Priest in the parish, we don’t have to wait for him to come to us from another parish and administer the Holy Sacraments. The presence in the parish of a Parish Priest who points in the right direction is a treasure…”. Many statements have been made:
“We are proud of our parish”, or “we are happy that our parish church… is functioning properly…”.
We notice numerous communities and movements religions. “It can be said that the Church is a community of small communities. It is in the community that it is easier to build ties, whether with the laity or the clergy. It is here that we have the opportunity to shorten the distance, to create relationships. This is where we stop being anonymous. Diversity of communities operating in the Church today means that everyone can find “something for everyone.” It is necessary to avoid mutual rivalry between communities in favor of establishing broader cooperation aimed at the welfare of the entire parish community as well as the local Church. The activities of these groups should not be limited only to prayer activities; it is worthwhile to undertake other activities (social, artistic) that will also be able to contribute to evangelization and religious formation – especially of children and young people.
A special place where we experience “going together” is the family. The experience of love in the family home translates into the ability to see another person as a brother. We see how many good and religious families there are, but nevertheless we also see a growing family crisis. The need, then, is to nurture the value of the family, and here we see a priority space for work in the Church.
“We took the consultations in groups and reflections to the family, in order to seek answers in a wider circle to the question of how to currently “walk together” with the community of the Church and how to implement this in our parish.”
We also see young people in the community. You have to give them a chance to be heard and take them seriously. Many young people are involved in formation in Catholic movements and associations, but more and more young people do not identify with the Church. Here we see a space for work. It is essential to combine the enthusiasm of the young and the wealth of experience of the elderly. According to the young, the Church should encourage, not impose.
People are increasingly tired of the pace of life, lost, discouraged, preoccupied with their own problems, critical of others, sometimes indifferent and withdrawn, so they do not want to participate in the life of the Church. Sometimes they feel excluded because of the circumstances of their lives. We see the need for support, pastoral accompaniment for those living in non-sacramental relationships and after divorce. We should also go out more to the elderly, the sick, the lonely
“Walking together.” – most frequently indicated difficulties
o straddles the path between the Church and the world;
o the consciousness of the faithful regarding their membership in the Church varies;
o weak faith and personal prejudices against church people;
about the lack of unanimity in the Episcopate, conflicting information, which also causes the faithful to get lost at the parish level;
o among many believers there is no understanding of the essence of the Eucharist, the Word of God, common prayer, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament;
o fewer and fewer believers are participating in the life of the Church (some statements point to the pandemic as one of the reasons);
o more and more people (not just young people) are leaving the Church;
o the decreasing number of priestly and religious vocations;
o many people in religious formation have stopped at the stage of school catechesis;
o the apparent disappearance of the transmission of faith from “generation to generation.”
about the Church’s waning authority as a result of internal crises, lack of unity among the clergy and unfavorable media coverage;
about the conduct of some clergymen affecting the opinion of the clergy as a whole, and thus declining trust in the Church;
o The secularization of life is increasingly noticeable in the lives of families, children and young people;
about the lack of unanimity among Church people appearing in the social media, on many issues concerning the Catholic faith.
- Life is sacred and should last from conception to natural death. God is the Lord of life, and each person is individual and unique as a unique and important person in the history of salvation.
- We appreciate the value of the compatibility of science with divine revelation and reason with faith.
- God is the Creator of the world. He created us out of love and for love. God gave us life through the love of parents. We are as humanity limited by earthly time, but at the same time we are grateful to God for creation and responsible for the fate of the Church in the third millennium.
- God’s Son Jesus Christ is the Messiah for Christians to follow and the Person who offers salvific hope. A Christian is a man of faith who has a personal Savior and Lord in Jesus. Through the “Our Father” prayer, we ask that as God’s people we do not lose the grace of faith, but persevere in union with God.
- Our Lady, Mother of the Church, leads us to Her Son and points us to Him. We see the value of consecration to the Mother of God according to the recommendations of St. Joseph. The prayer of St. Louis Grignion de Montfort and the prayer of the rosary.
- We appreciate following a common path of faith as laity, clergy, persons of consecrated life, while maintaining the unity of the Church’s teachings under the leadership of the Church’s Shepherds.
- In the spirit of evangelization, we see a desire to take a greater interest in those “standing on the sidelines,” less involved in spiritual life, so that all will experience close relationships to break down anonymity and be included in the community of the Church and discover Christ living in the Word and Sacraments.
- The important thing is to follow a common path as friends, companions of one way of faith, without exaltation or unnecessary divisions between laity-clergy-consecrated.
- It is positive to activate and involve individuals and social groups who want to contribute to the Church community.
- We extend constant care to socially excluded people. We see this as an opportunity for their development, through charitable service through works of mercy.
- All the wounded in the Church receive appropriate help and care in spiritual, therapeutic, legal, canonical-state, psychological and social aspects. We maintain a constant pastoral openness to all laity, clergy, persons of consecrated life who have been wounded in the Church, so that they retain the grace of faith and prayer, and the Church is a Mother to them.
- We remain open to non-sacramental relationships, divorced people or those abandoned by their spouses. Pastoral ministry does not overlook these people, but creates a proper place for all in the liturgy and life of the Church and parish.
- There is a lively concern for the sick and disabled in parishes, such as in the form of growing volunteer and charitable activities carried out by Parish Caritas branches, youth and church communities.
The first meetings were held in December 2021 and January 2022. These included 3 groups of questions (see Appendix 1). The questions addressed the issues of listening, speaking, and awareness of following a common path.
Among the participants of the meetings, there were often voices that indicated a lack of unity in the Church and a sense of common purpose, resulting in a lack of trust in the Church’s shepherds, who differ in their views. There is also a noticeable variation in the reception of Pope Francis’ teaching. Lay participants in the synod groups pointed out, when talking about people excluded from the Church community, that these are most often “neglected” people and groups for whom there are no pastoral proposals, who themselves often leave: young people (almost all pointed out this group); people in non-sacramental relationships; young parents, young adults; LGBT people (mentioned especially by young people, but also many parish groups).
Many accounts of the meetings signaled a lack of a sense of being heard – there is also a lack of the existence of a proper forum, a place, a space for conversation, dialogue; “There is a lack of building closer relationships between the faithful by staying together and sharing faith and religious knowledge. The space for listening and dialogue with the faithful is far too small.” What clearly emerges is a desire to establish relationships, a cry for conversations about the Church, about the faith (although the fear that this could lead to a dilution of doctrine shines through in some of the notes). It was pointed out that the faithful are not listened to by priests, curates by pastors, catechists by pastors, pastors by the bishop. It was also pointed out that at times women are in a particularly bad situation, with their voices disregarded. They pointed to the lack of dialogue, as decisions are made top-down, without consultation. In very few parishes it can be said that people have a sense of being listened to by the pastor, priests.
It was often noted that communication with priests is hindered by “priests’ sense of uniqueness compared to other people, being convinced of their superiority and special value.”; “the basic stereotype also held by priests is that the parish priest is the boss at the parish, not a servant of God. This makes it most difficult to talk about important topics.” Priests, on the other hand, mostly believe that there is a possibility of meeting, that they are available, and cite the parish chancellery, carol service and confessional as possible meeting places.
It was emphasized that relationships exist if the faithful are in some type of community, they then have relationships with each other and with the priest who works with them. If there are many different communities in a parish, most often there is also no mutual dialogue between these groups. There is a belief that even if someone has the courage to say something, they are blocked by a sense of meaninglessness, that nothing will change anyway. There have been claims that speaking out would cause harm. In some (few) parishes it was declared that “we are listened to by the parish priest and the parish council.” At the same time, some people declared approval of the status quo, that they had no need to speak up and be heard.
According to participants in synod meetings, parish councils often do not exist. If they even are, they perform a fictitious function. 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 young people is poorly conducted, is deficient: “this way you don’t participate, you just ‘pass'”; “no one ever showed me that the Church is cool, I was still forced to do everything”.
Answers to this question were generally based on Church teaching and referred to the provisions of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. There were also more descriptive answers. For example, that “the community of the Church is all baptized people. No one, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is rejected. Therefore, there is a need to listen to the voice of non-practicing people,rejected people, migrants, etc.” and emphasizing that today in the Church there is a need to open up more strongly to seekers. There were also references to the very questions sent to the dioceses. In the synthesis prepared by the Congregation of the Servite Sisters of the Virgin Mary Immaculately Conceived, we find the words that “the content proposed by the Synod of Bishops focuses very strongly on relationships in the horizontal dimension, while, in our opinion, there is too little reference to Christ, who is the Head of the Church.” It is worth noting that the V SDT strongly emphasizes the fact that Christ is at the center of the Church community, in line with the Synod’s goal of shaping the Tarnów Church “after the example of Christ.” As we read in the description of the V SDT logo posted on its website, “in the center of the Logo is the Christogram, one of the oldest signs defining the person of Jesus Christ. It is a composite of two Greek letters Χ (Chi) and Ρ(Ro), which is an abbreviation of the word Χριστóς (Christós) – Christ. The central position of theChristogram reflects the truth that Christ is the unchanging model for the Church.”
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.
184.108.40.206 Our Church, who belongs to it?
Answers: Our Church is all the baptized; All the people of the parish community belong to it; It’s those who practice, get involved; It’s a gathering of people who love God and other people; It’s people who are accustomed to the organizational rhythm of being in a parish community, but without reflection; Our Church is mainly the elderly; It belongs to all people who support each other in faith: believers in the family, close friends, priests leading us, parents, acquaintances; Everyone belongs to it, because God created us and called us to it; It is the people we know, with whom we share the experience of our faith resulting from contemplation of the Word, prayer and daily life.
220.127.116.11 Who is asking us to walk together?
Answers: No one is asking us to walk together, we need it to become better on the way to Jesus; No one is asking us – priests are only ministers of the sacraments and church officials, they do not speak with their lives, we are beside them, not together; We are invited to live our faith together and experience the presence of God by priests and consecrated persons serving in our parish; We need priests who initiate, who listen to the voice of the faithful, who are open to the faithful, who reach out to the members of the parish even beyond the celebration of the Eucharist; We need priests who are not afraid to reach out to the faithful with proposals to help them walk together, and who are also able to involve the laity.
18.104.22.168 Who are the traveling companions?
Among those who “walk together” were listed by the participants of the meetings: neighbors, family, colleagues, community members, parish groups, the pastor, people sincerely seeking God, believing parishioners. People who walk together are those: who cultivate the faith of their parents, grandparents, ancestors; they are those who participate in the Eucharist, catechesis and community meetings. , “They walk together.” Those who believe that the Holy Spirit leads the Church and more or less believe in what happens during Mass. One participant stressed that: she does not feel that the bishop walks with us because he is far away, and his visits to the parish community are too formal. Among those walking together, those who ask for prayer were also listed.
22.214.171.124 What kind of people are on the margins?
Those left on the margins are, for example: non-sacramental marriages, or people who have excluded themselves by signing a deed of apostasy, but are baptized; they are also non-believers, members of LGBT groups, dissenters, single people, residents of nursing homes, alcoholics, women, divorced people, the sick, the hard-working, the poor, people struggling with the Church because of injuries, forming communities in the parish but left to fend for themselves. One answer: young people are left on the sidelines, whose minds, unfortunately, most priests have trouble reaching.
Participants in the synod meetings highlighted the insufficient outreach to people who need help and support from Church people. It was also pointed out that there is a lack of lay involvement in local churches and catechesis for believers (whether young people, married couples or the elderly).
The Archbishop Metropolitan of Warmia, as well as the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, jointly recognized that this question is fundamental to synodal deliberations, because in order to dialogue about the Church, one must first find common ground and determine what is meant when one talks about the Church. The gathered synodal reflection on the subject can be collected in six main points. For the faithful of the Archdiocese of Warmia, the Church is:
- a community, a family, a place to which one belongs thanks to the faith of parents and grandparents;
- home, a place of prayer and recollection;
- Assistance in living a life in accordance with the commandments;
- a place where you can meet people with similar values;
- A place where one can unite with God.
The Pastoral Council, in analyzing the response of the faithful to this question, noted that many of them reduce the Church to an institution with secular characteristics to the exclusion of the supernatural, often forgetting that it is holy, that it is the way to salvation. However, it was gratifying to note that in many of the voices there was a proper, holistic view of the Church, seeing it as a salvific institution, called to lead the faithful to salvation. It was also evident in the voices of those who have drifted away from practicing their faith in the Church that for them it has become a purely human institution, detached, as it were, from God, with whom they can reconcile or make contact without the Church’s help.
Through this question they wanted to find out what place the Church has in the lives of the faithful, whether it is important to them, whether they feel they are members of the community. Many voices pointed out that the Church is an important community for people, a home, a place that allows them to be closer to God, a space where they can meet and pray with other people, receive the Holy Sacraments that strengthen faith. It was gratifying that most of the synodal votes were testimony to the relevance of the Church’s community in the daily lives of the faithful. It was noticeable that many of them could not live without the Church, that it is for them a place where they can move towards salvation together with their brothers and sisters.
However, there were also voices of people who stressed that the Church is not an important community in their lives, as it is just an institution they have left. Many of them gave reasons for leaving, which ranged from a personal crisis of faith, to being scandalized by various scandals in the Church, the indecent lives of priests, involvement in politics or disagreement with certain teachings preached by the Church.
Particular voices that require deeper pastoral reflection are those from believers who practice, but the Church is not an important community for them. There were voices in which synod participants said they felt no connection in their parish community to the priests serving there, but also to other people coming to Mass. Very often those sharing this insight saw fault in themselves, saying that they were not doing much to build community in their parish. Many, however, blamed this state of affairs on priests who, in their view, are not working to make their parish a true community. There were also testimonies from people involved in Catholic movements and associations, who said that the Church is an important community for them, but only because of the community to which they belong. They pointed out that during services for all parishioners they feel alienated, not like at meetings of their movement, where they experience true brotherhood in faith. The Pastoral Council, reflecting on these voices, drew attention to the need to create space in parishes for the activities of the laity, to increase their involvement in parish life, in the liturgy, as well as the importance of further developing Catholic movements and associations while integrating them into the parish and involving them in responsibility for its daily life.
In our Archdiocese, the faithful who walk together are primarily those baptized believers who have made a conscious choice to participate in the life of the local church, in parishes or in the diocese. Among them we find all states of the Church: diocesan and religious clergy, consecrated persons and nuns, members of church associations, families.
We realize that this active part of our local Church, which follows together, represents a small part of the faithful and residents of our Archdiocese. We see many groups and backgrounds that seem more distant and remain on the margins of the Church: divorced people, in remarriages, homosexuals and their relatives, people from other cultures, addicts, especially those with alcohol, people who have been hurt in the Church, the sick, the lonely and the elderly who cannot leave home, young people whom the Church does not reach with the Gospel, those who have apostasized for various reasons. Toward these people in the vast majority, the Church should show more gentleness, empathy, asking itself whether Christ would reject those who feel rejected today. In this context, the synodal work in our Archdiocese has shown how important it is to listen to each other without prejudices and ideological biases. The clear realization is that it is not a matter of changing doctrine, but that our pastoral care should be open to the challenges of the modern world and move toward personal discernment of each situation in light of the Gospel.
The synodal work of our Archdiocese has involved the community of homosexuals, who do not feel understood by the Church and are asking for pastoral care that takes into account their life situation. Also active were circles associated with the Tridentine liturgy, which drew attention to the importance of being faithful to the centuries-old tradition of the Church and to the danger of pleasing “the world.”
The synod talks showed that we need to grow in this “walking together.” How to do it? First of all, by rediscovering the relationship between the universal priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial priesthood of bishops and priests: the universal priesthood is the goal (i.e., the holiness of God’s people), and the ministerial priesthood is the tool to reach the goal. Attention was given to the need to rethink the formation of priests in seminaries. It was emphasized how important it is in this growth, in which we are to be traveling companions, to rebuild relationships with each other so that the parish is no longer anonymous. A decisive role in moving away from anonymity is played by movements and associations where members experience true synodality and where there is generally no problem with clericalism. The model of the parish as a community of communities with unity in diversity seems an adequate response to the signs of the times, as long as the communities work for the parish and not for themselves. The synod meetings showed how much people need community: parishioners who did not belong to any communities said they had finally found a place in the Church where they could express their opinions and feel like active members of the parish. The need for the formation of the laity was also emphasized. Formation and assistance to the family, to young married couples, was considered particularly important, since parents are the first educators of the younger generation, which in our Archdiocese is participating less and less in the life of the Church. In this context, synodal meetings at all levels have shown what a pressing challenge it is to reach the young with the Gospel: the Gospel itself is a beautiful and attractive proposal for life, but we often lack the right language to convey it to the younger generation. Youth ministry is one of the biggest challenges for our local Church.
The vast majority of all those who filled out the surveys believe that a parish or community is a place to develop their faith. For members of communities such a place is, of course, the community much more than the parish while for most of those completing the survey individually it is the parish that is the place of faith development. To the least extent, this is what anonymous people think.
A parish is mainly Mass, celebrations and liturgical rites (sacraments), as well as a place for prayer, recollection, opportunities for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and a meeting place for religious groups. The community, for its members, is first and foremost a place for formation and spiritual development.
Among the elements that hinder parishes from being truly places of faith, respondents cited: closed church buildings on weekdays; lack of fixed opening hours for the chancellery (some parishes); low parish activity in the form of a small number of conferences, meetings and other activities; weak, boring and schematic sermons; poor relations with priests (especially the pastor); and taking up political topics in the Church. Individuals are bothered mainly by the priest’s attitude (most often autocratic or rude) and the lack of Mass celebrated in the Tridentine rite (many people in individual surveys pointed out the unfair treatment of the Tridentine liturgy after the introduction of Pope Francis’ Tradicionis Custodes guidelines in our diocese).
Somé people admitted that they go to masses and services at other parishes, where they feel̨ better (it’s mostly about the sermons), while some rarely go to the Church because of what they believe are mistakes made by the Church – bishops and priests don’t want to cleanse the Church of the sins of pedophiles.
In general, parishes and communities are places for faith development, hindrances are there, but it is not that they prevent faith formation and development. The surveys show that anyone who just wants to form and deepen their faith in a parish or community has the opportunity to do so in our diocese.
Responses in surveys that formulate definitions of the Church include a very wide range of different content. Most often, the faithful emphasize that the Church is:
- Jesus Christ,
- Priests and hierarchs of the Church,
- all believers,
- community members,
- All sharing similar values,
- all baptized,
- me, us.
Such a broad understanding of the term Church applies to all the groups that took part in the survey.
All the synodal surveys emphasized that what unites people in the Church is faith in God and the sacraments. Of particular importance is baptism, which forms the baptized into a community, walking together to the kingdom of heaven. At the same time, there is a perceived need to remind or explain to the faithful the importance of this sacrament in human life and the tasks that result from it. Bishops and presbyters were identified as guides. It was clearly resounding that the faithful expect their pastors to be wise and knowledgeable in matters of faith and morals, deeply pious and prayerful, and above all to have a witness of life with which to confirm the word they preach. It emphasized that they should be authorities on these issues.
The role of communities that help in walking through life was also emphasized. These groups give people support and a sense that they are not alone, and formation meetings provide opportunities to deepen their faith and knowledge. However, every effort should be made to ensure that communities do not become hermetic groups, but are open to new members.
There was also an expectation on the part of the laity to be more open to their initiatives and at least the presence of a priest during their implementation. As said, admittedly rarely, but nevertheless, you can sometimes hear from a priest: “you can do it, but don’t count on me”.
Touching on the issue of those remaining “on the sidelines,” it was emphasized that there is a place for everyone in the Church and no one should feel unwanted, unneeded or unwelcome. The reason for such a state is the departure from the community and the alienation of the very people who are leaving God and the Church. The reasons for this were attributed to a weak, unestablished faith, a lack of a sense of connection with the Church, a misunderstanding or lack of elementary religious knowledge that one does not go to church for/to the priest, but to the Lord God. It was also pointed out that the reasons for such “self-abuse” are most often misunderstandings, clashes and personal grudges in the relationship with the priest, neglect of the sacramental life, the so-called “self-abuse”. “free relationships,” a sense of self-sufficiency and a lack of spiritual needs. The problem in reaching these people is their reluctance and indifference to any efforts to bring them closer to the Church.
Another problem is the excessive influence of the media, which is increasingly replacing interpersonal relationships; children and adolescents’ relationships with their parents, who, seeking relaxation, allow their children to play with smartphones, tablets, etc., are particularly suffering.
The life of our Church is carried out primarily in parishes, and as a result, those who “go together” are, in the perception of the faithful, usually those who are part of the same parish. For residents of large cities, in the face of social mobility, it is also those who belong to the same movement or community who attend the same churches. In priestly relationships, a sense of walking together is born especially when experiences can be shared among priests.
Family and groups involved in the life of the parish, having a living relationship with Christ ie. among others. Parish Councils, Altar Servers, Extraordinary Ministers of the Blessed Sacrament, Rosary Roses are those most often recognized as sharing the same experience of the journey. They usually constitute the part of the parish most aware of the purpose of life in the Church, and to them the faithful most often refer to the term “our Church.”
Not insignificant in many local communities is also the presence of groups at the intersection of the Church space and wider social life such as all kinds of councils, associations with their representatives, as well as friends and acquaintances of those involved.
It is painful to note that young people – who for various reasons end up on the margins of Church life – are becoming more and more distant from the experience of walking together. Young people often openly cry out for greater attention to them in the design of community life, to take into account their sensibilities and mentality. There is a need for greater appreciation of religious sisters in the life of the Church and individual parish communities. Those asking to be included in the joint pilgrimage also include those seeking an experience of faith, those hurt by churchmen and by their anti-testimony, remarried spouses, LGBT people wanting to live out their faith seriously, those caught up in addictions, and refugees. A sense of closeness in a common path is also difficult for those representing the traditionalist trend. Disabled people with mobility difficulties sometimes feel excluded, due to their inability to participate in parish life. The lack of intergenerational connectivity in the parish disrupts the sense that it is a community. Outside the community are people who are guided by a false image of the Church, or stereotypes, as well as non-practicing people for whom it is convenient and their personal choice to persist on the periphery. At the same time, it seems that pastors and committed believers are too quick to give up on courting those with faith difficulties and crises.
The experience of walking together is built through participation in the parish liturgy: Sunday Eucharist, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, community meditation on the Word of God. It is strengthened by the realization of the practical dimension of community life: the organization of indulgences and parish festivals, charitable actions, activities related to the care of the material structures of the parish, i.e. Cleaning of buildings, movable equipment.
The faithful, especially the young, sometimes see that “the shepherds follow their own rhythm and the sheep follow their own rhythm,” making them “distant and alien to each other.” Unnecessary barriers are built by the haughtiness of priests in their words and lifestyle. This distancing of priests from the faithful consequently brings a lack of bonds, loneliness, self-avoidance, loneliness of priests in carrying the responsibility for the parish and a serious difficulty in involving new people in the life of the parish. This is illustrated by the inaccessibility of priests to people coming to the rectory, making phone calls and writing emails, as well as the unknown way to access curial offices. Also felt among the faithful is the lack of meetings with the bishops, their remoteness, the inability to communicate directly to them their thoughts, problems concerning everyday life. The sense of unity with the Church, with the diocese, is also disturbed by a perceived lack of transparency and silence in accounting for abuse and neglect in the lives of priests and contradictory media messages from the episcopate.
Wherever priests who are deeply spiritually formed and able to be guides for the people entrusted to them serve, the sense of a common path deepens. The deep longing for a Church experienced as a common home has a chance to find its satisfaction there. Such a church is attractive, and the believers involved in it have the power to attract those who stand on the periphery of the community or outside it, and have the ability to recognize each other as brothers and sisters. In a Church seen as a home, there is room for everyone, there is openness to diversity, to the existence of different groups to avoid anonymity, or the service provider-petitioner relationship that afflicts so many parishes today. Such a Church ceases to be overly concerned with itself as an institution, and begins to be correspondingly concerned with the salvation of people.
During the ongoing war in Ukraine, non-believers are engaged in various relief efforts in cooperation with parishes. Unfortunately, this involvement does not bring an awakening of faith and does not result in inclusion in the parish community.
Participant of the decanal synodal meeting
During the entire period that I have been leading the pastoral care of non-sacramental relationships – that is, for 22 years – about thirty couples have passed through our meetings. Recently, only four couples have been coming regularly. Most couples end their adventure with pastoral care at the first visit, as soon as it becomes clear that participation in meetings will not lead them to the possibility of sacramental marriage. The lack of interest is not due to a lack of knowledge as to the existence of this ministry, as there have been various initiatives in past years to promote our group, but the response has been negligible. It could even be argued that none.
Long-time pastor of non-sacramental unions
The problems we are discussing as part of the synodal process are well known to us. We have been struggling with them for some time and are looking for solutions. Do not expect to get any ready-made solutions. We don’t have ideas to work with children, with young people, because if after the first Communion. everything goes awry and the parents are gone, it means that the methods we currently use are not right.
Pastor of a parish in a larger city
Until a few years ago, when colleagues at work found out that someone was a believer, they regarded it with respect as a guarantee of certain values. Today it provokes rather unfunny jokes, is received with pity and causes us to be treated as unprofessional and illogical.
Lay participant in diocesan synod
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The joint reflection helped both parishes and the diocese as a whole to realize how many people and communities continue to be distanced from the Church or remain marginalized within it. First pointed out were labor migrants, mainly from Ukraine (and in recent months war refugees). Most are Orthodox or Greek Catholics, who are characterized by a sincere and open faith. They seek help from our churches. These are people with great spiritual potential who need to be taken care of, to create a space for them to develop their faith and formation, to involve them in the life of the parish. There are also non-believers among the immigrants. Some of them express interest in the faith and even ask for the sacraments of initiation, although it is not uncommon for current church regulations and formal requirements to be difficult to meet due to their special situation. More flexibility is needed in this area. It is also worthwhile for the diocese to seek contact with Catholic pastors working in the East, in order to learn from their experiences and use them in the pastoral care of immigrants.
Numerous remote are youth and children. Although they still largely participate in religious lessons at school (but this is becoming increasingly difficult), this does not translate into their relationship with God and Christian life. In particular, the pandemic has directly “chased them out of the church,” and the virtual world in which they live literally “devours” them. They are not hostile to the Christian faith, but simply indifferent. They seem to have no religious needs. Trying to keep them “by force,” as it were, with the Church, for example, by prolonging formation to prepare them for the sacraments, has quite the opposite effect. Pastors blame this on families, where young people often do not find an example of living faith and a religious atmosphere. However, even in those families where parents are deep believers and sacrificially involved in their children’s religious upbringing, young people lose their faith and leave the Church.
A significant group of the remote are also those in abnormal marital situations: living with each other without marriage, divorced, living in the so-called “marriages”. non-sacramental unions. Their situation prevents them from serving as godparents. These people have a sense of exclusion, feeling like “second-class” Christians.
Attention should also be paid to the rural population, which is currently experiencing profound social changes associated with the disintegration of the traditional community. Until now, the community has been based on close relationships related to jointly undertaken farm work. Farmers in the countryside, however, are becoming fewer and fewer. In such a situation, rural parishes, which for objective reasons offer much less developed pastoral activities than urban centers, are unable to create a sufficiently strong and engaging community.
In addition, the following categories of remote and marginalized were still indicated:
- People busy all day with professional work.
- Residents of the parish who went abroad for professional reasons.
- Occasional practitioners, appearing in church only on the occasion of a funeral, wedding, or other family event. Current pastoral proposals do not reach them and do not cause an awakening of faith.
- Roma and others in a similar situation. Their way of life and mentality contradict the applicable formal requirements under canon law. This discourages them and thus makes it difficult or even impossible to access the sacraments.
- People who practiced the faith before the pandemic, but now – after the related restrictions were lifted – are no longer in church. They put work and duties before formation and spiritual life.
With the awareness of the existence of all these remote groups, however, in the synodal reflection there were also voices, by no means isolated, that only those who have chosen it themselves remain remote and on the margins. They want to stand at a distance and criticize, or even cut ties with the Church altogether.
In order to reach the remote and marginalized, there is a need to “go to the periphery,” to actively seek out those who have left the Church, to focus pastoral efforts more on the excluded and absent people. In this context, the important and even decisive role of the witness given by the lay faithful was pointed out. There was talk of the need for specialized pastoral care for non-sacramental unions, catechization of adults, proposals for formation for young people after confirmation, the need to renew the teaching of religion, perhaps even to abandon teaching it at school. It was pointed out that the preparation of children for First Communion, the preparation of young people for Confirmation or premarital courses should be used as a space for evangelization.
However, all these proposals remain general demands. In practice, pastors and committed lay faithful frankly admit: we don’t know what to do. The attempts made do not bear the expected fruit, although they are sometimes paid with great effort and resources. An example of this is the synodal process itself. Consultation meetings in the parish were usually attended by the most committed parishioners (group leaders, people from the pastoral council). Those who rarely attend church could not be reached.
Among the obstacles to pastoral activity and evangelization is the overwhelming of pastors with very absorbing administrative and economic issues. Quite mundane issues are also pointed out, such as the lack of heated churches and other meeting facilities. In smaller and poorer parishes, this forces pastoral activities during the colder season to be reduced to the bare minimum. Some parishes in rural areas also report problems with Internet access, making it difficult for them to use new media in their evangelization efforts and in communicating with the faithful and with diocesan institutions.
Evangelization is not only a task facing the parish or other church entities, but also the task of every Christian. The faithful are generally aware of this, although here and there the belief still lingers that missions are only about the so-called “missionaries. mission areas. Lay Catholics, however, experience a variety of difficulties in their daily Christian witness in their communities. The following are most often cited as obstacles to the missionary commitment of all believers:
- Fear of harassment or rejection or ridicule.
- Lack of a strong Christian identity among the faithful. Lack of living faith or faith only superficial, traditional.
- Lack of consistency in one’s own life, inconsistency of one’s own conduct with the professed faith.
- Lack of religious knowledge or too little knowledge.
- Lack of support from the clergy. The point is that the Church in its official statements is increasingly perceived as ambiguous, abandoning a clear and lucid “world of norms,” reacting too weakly or too timidly to the attacks directed toward it.
For many people, the Church is a community of believers. A place where you can calm down, experience God, find answers to the questions of everyday life, and see the testimony of other people’s faith. It has often been emphasized that it is through the community that one can better know God and understand the teaching of the Church.
The Church is a community of people able to talk to each other, exchange views, discuss important issues, for whom the highest gift is the Eucharist. The church is the place where man meets God. Not only in the Eucharist and sacraments, but also in each other.
Some believe that evangelical following of Christ is becoming more and more of a theory rather than a practice. The hierarchical church is seen as a separate group lacking unity. The laity and the clergy – these are two worlds, and this gets in the way of synodality and joint accompaniment. The interviewees stressed that many of the problems facing the Church are more about its structure, not the community. The closure of the institution to those who have the best interests of the Church at heart and who want to reform and heal it authentically and wisely was perceived.
Many laymen noted that the understanding and openness of chaplains to people and their problems is valuable in the field ordinaries. They stressed that the chaplain is a unifying person who can come to the aid of another person. Most valuable is the fidelity to the Christian tradition, the awakening, propagation and revival of religious and patriotic values. “It is valuable that Christians are also in uniform,” – stated a person.
It has been recognized that the Field Ordinariate cares for those who serve the Fatherland on a daily basis, rushing to their sacramental service, thereby strengthening the faith of “uniformed people.” Participants emphasized the chaplains’ humane approach to the problems of the faithful, the understanding and support they need and expect in matters of faith and morals.
Unfortunately, the Church of committed people is a minority. People who come sporadically to the Church only on the occasion of baptism, First Communion, weddings and funerals are considered to be on the “margin”. The group of excluded also includes people who have committed an act of apostasy and those who consciously do not participate in the life of the community. It was stressed that many people live “on the periphery of the Church” due to living a life that is not in accordance with the commandments, according to the principle: “if you don’t live the way you believe, you will start believing the way you live,” finding the Church’s principles too difficult and unsuitable for modern times.
One of the issues that came up in the consultations was the topic of marginalizing people in non-sacramental relationships, of which there are a growing number in both the military and civilian communities. The faithful said they lacked a more “human” approach to such unions and the ability to receive Holy Communion.
The Church is not just a so-called “church”. “practicing Catholics.” One gets the impression that the majority are those who still receive the sacraments of baptism or marriage, but treat these events as some kind of tradition, social gathering or folklore. At the same time, they completely neglect confession and Mass.
The number of people who identify with the Church is declining. It seems that the Church does not feel responsible for this, often justifying it by external conditions: liberalism, the rise of the media, the decline of authority in the modern world, consumerism, etc. However, among those who are leaving are those who have made this decision as a result of personal contact with the pastor, shallow statements made by church people, and, above all, because of the shameful acts of some clergy.
The great problem of the modern Church is the growing indifference of many young people. With their rebellion they show that the Church does not know their world, that it speaks in a language they do not understand. This confusion and departure from the Church of young people is due not only to the fault of the Church, but also to the crisis that the modern family is experiencing. Many young people feel lost because of the lack of an example of living the faith from their parents. Some parents, by the children’s own admission, do not attend church regularly, do not participate in sacramental life. This is noticed during the preparation for First Communion, when the Communion ceremony itself is only an occasion, a pretext for family gatherings, rather than a personal reception of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist.
Participants in the meetings stressed that the Church is open to everyone. The only common denominator is the accepted sacrament of baptism. For the Church includes supporters of different political options and practitioners with different frequencies.
There is also no shortage of attitudes that treat the parish as a service point where everything is due, even bypassing canon law.
The fairly widespread criticism of priests not only results in a lack of respect toward clergy, but is also a bad example for young people who are looking for authority figures and, in some cases, are considering choosing the priestly state or joining a religious order.
Deficiencies in the Church often stem from the shortcomings of the ordinary people who make up the community – the laity. They are not the domain of clergy only. The behavior of ordinary people is also sometimes worse. Society expects clergy to help people become better through knowledge and experience.
What is lacking in the Church is paying more attention to those who are failing, who may even be ostracized in places and have difficulty returning to the community. The need for priests’ presence for the ordinary faithful, understanding and humanity, care and openness. Also missing are young people and young families, the authentic joy of the Eucharist and the spirit of renewal in the Spirit.
Here are the testimonies of some people: “In the current church, I lack peace of mind. Accounting for misdeeds and crimes.” “One cannot remain indifferent to the attacks on the modern Church as a whole and stand by without taking a stand.” “What is missing is for us to walk through life in unity, not in feuds, disputes, divisions and hatred (…).”
From the surveys, a picture emerges of a believer who defines himself as a Catholic based on his self-declaration and participation in religious rituals. Some believe that the faithful are selective about dogma – people believe what they want or what is convenient for them. Upbringing, tradition and transmitted values were most often cited as reasons for persistence in the faith. Religiosity ceases to be mass or imposed, and often becomes thoughtful and personal. One gets the impression that religious practices are important, but personal feelings have become the most important.
Some respondents believe that one should not look for some kind of crisis of faith, it would be more appropriate to turn one’s gaze towards the growing negative attitude of the faithful towards the institution of the Church. Some of the people acknowledged that disputes related to, among other things, the following are responsible for such a state of affairs. With “in vitro” fertilization, abortion, living out of wedlock or divorce. It is worth noting that the Church continues to attract many young people and is able to offer them answers to questions that are missing in the modern world.
Christians in the uniformed environment are expected to be fraternal, to care more about others, and to share a common commitment to proclaiming God’s goodness and mercy. Availability, readiness for action – as in service to the Fatherland. Reasonably combine service with kindness, sincerity, justice and the dignity of a Christian. Christian behavior, forgiveness of neighbors and keeping the commandments. Equal treatment without hierarchy, credibility and not hiding with Christian practices.
List of synodal topics
W Kościele i w społeczeństwie jesteśmy na tej samej drodze, ramię w ramię.
Kiedy mówimy „nasz Kościół”, to kogo mamy na myśli? Kto w naszym Kościele „podąża razem”? Kto oczekuje, aby bardziej ku niemu wyjść i zaprosić go do wspólnej drogi wiary? Jakie osoby lub grupy są zaniedbane i nie objęte troską o to, by iść razem drogą wiary i stanowić jedną wspólnotę Kościoła?
Zestawienie odpowiedzi na te pytania zawarte w syntezach diecezjalnych.
Słuchanie jest pierwszym krokiem, ale wymaga otwartego umysłu i serca, bez uprzedzeń.
Czy umiemy słuchać siebie nawzajem w naszym Kościele? Czyj głos jest pomijany lub za mało słyszany? Z jakiego powodu? Czy potrafimy określić uprzedzenia i stereotypy, które utrudniają nam słuchanie innych? Czy z otwartym umysłem i sercem umiemy wsłuchiwać się w poglądy inne niż nasze; także osób spoza wspólnoty Kościoła?
Wszyscy są zaproszeni do mówienia z odwagą i zaufaniem, to znaczy łącząc wolność, prawdę i miłość.
Czy w Kościele nasz/mój głos ma znaczenie i czy znajdujemy przestrzeń do wypowiedzi i bycia wysłuchanym? Czy czujemy, że przemawiający w naszym imieniu faktycznie reprezentują także nas? Jaki mamy na to realny wpływ?
„Wspólna droga” jest możliwa tylko wtedy, gdy opiera się na wspólnotowym słuchaniu Słowa Bożego i sprawowaniu Eucharystii.
Czy liturgiczne celebracje i doświadczenie wspólnotowej modlitwy w naszym Kościele mają realny wpływ na moją/naszą praktykę codziennego życia: decyzje, wybory, inspiracje? Czy czujemy się zaproszeni do czynnego (praktycznego) zaangażowania w liturgię, czy też pozostawia nam się rolę „widza”? Czy sami pielęgnujemy w sobie pragnienie zaangażowania? Czy przeżywanie liturgii umacnia i motywuje mnie/nas do podjęcia misji ewangelizacji?
Synodalność służy misji Kościoła, do udziału w której powołani są wszyscy jego członkowie.
Czy mamy świadomość, że jako ochrzczeni wszyscy jesteśmy powołani do misji ewangelizowania? Co nas hamuje w podejmowaniu tej misji i wspieraniu w niej innych: w nas samych, w środowisku życia, we współczesnej kulturze?
Dialog wymaga wytrwałości i cierpliwości, ale umożliwia także wzajemne zrozumienie.
W jaki sposób w naszym Kościele rozwiązywane są konflikty i trudności wynikające z różnicy poglądów, dążeń, oczekiwań? Czy dialog jest naszym sposobem wychodzenia z tych problemów? Jak w tym kontekście wygląda współpraca różnych instytucji, organizacji i ruchów kościelnych? Czy umiemy uczyć się form dialogu od instytucji niekościelnych? Czy dialog jest również przestrzenią naszego spotkania z wyznawcami innych religii i zniewierzącymi?
Dialog między chrześcijanami różnych wyznań, zjednoczonymi przez jeden chrzest,
zajmuje szczególne miejsce na drodze synodalnej.
Jakie relacje ma nasza wspólnota kościelna z członkami innych tradycji chrześcijańskich i wyznań? Co nas łączy i jak razem podążamy? Jakie owoce przyniosło nam wspólne podążanie? Jakie są trudności? Jak możemy zrobić następny krok we wspólnym podążaniu naprzód?
Kościół synodalny jest Kościołem uczestniczącym i współodpowiedzialnym.
Kto w naszym Kościele podejmuje decyzje i czego one dotyczą? Czy jest to wyłącznie forma indywidualnego przewodniczenia czy jest też w tym wymiar wspólnotowy? Czy istnieje współpraca zespołowa i czy w tym kontekście promowane jest zaangażowanie świeckich, np. w radach duszpasterskich i ekonomicznych, w kierowaniu wspólnotami? Czy jesteśmy gotowi podjąć się współodpowiedzialności za podejmowane decyzje i działania?
Na drodze synodalnej podejmujemy decyzje poprzez rozeznawanie tego, co Duch Święty mówi przez całą naszą wspólnotę.
Jak rozumiemy to, że Kościół jest hierarchiczny a nie demokratyczny? Czy w tak zorganizowanym Kościele widzimy miejsce dla wspólnego rozeznawania i podejmowania decyzji całego ludu Bożego wraz z pasterzami? Jak możemy wzrastać we wspólnotowym rozeznawaniu duchowym?
Synodalność pociąga za sobą otwartość na zmiany, formację i ciągłe uczenie się.
Jak formowane są osoby, zwłaszcza te, które pełnią odpowiedzialne funkcje we wspólnocie chrześcijańskiej, aby były bardziej zdolne do słuchania i dialogu, rozeznawania? Czy mamy świadomość odpowiedzialności za własną nieustanną formację do odpowiedzialności i misji ewangelizacyjnej w Kościele?