The second year of the Synodal Training Course, which began in 2022, has been launched. The Course is organized by the Sophia University Institute’s Evangelii Gaudium Centre (CEG), with the collaboration of the General Secretariat of the Synod.
The second year of the Synodality Training Course will focus on being “missionary disciples” at the service of universal fraternity. The 2023/2024 Course was inaugurated on 12th September: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0set08JiKY
Initiated by the “Evangelii Gaudium” Centre (CEG), a theological-pastoral training centre present within the Sophia University Institute in Loppiano (Italy), with the valuable collaboration of the General Secretariat of the Synod, the lessons will begin on 6th November. To learn more about it, we interviewed Prof. Vincenzo Di Pilato, Professor of Fundamental Theology at the Pugliese Theological Faculty in Italy and Coordinator of the CEG.
Professor Di Pilato, what was your experience last year and what were the results?
The first year of the Online Course on Synodality, which ended last May, was very rich and, I would say, exciting. The 248 participants came from the English-speaking world (Canada, Ireland, UK, and USA), Latin America (Brazil and almost all Spanish-speaking countries), Asia (India, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, and Singapore), Africa (Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa) and almost all European countries. There were many representatives of diocesan or national churches engaged in the synodal process, including priests, religious and lay people. The majority were Catholics of all vocations: priests, nuns, consecrated persons, lay people, even a Bishop. There were also representatives of other sister Churches. Although the videos and texts of the lessons were available on a web platform (especially for those who for whom the time was inconvenient), there were students from Asia who connected live, at three in the morning (local time). It was a strong experience. Then in June, at the end of the Course, we held the fourth and final module in a face-to-face workshop, at the “Vinea mea” Spirituality Centre in Loppiano (Italy). 130 people participated. We focussed on themes such as: clericalism, participatory processes and community discernment.
It is now clear that the Course, which will open for the second consecutive year, represents an attempt to respond to the call that the Holy Spirit, since the days of the first Pentecost, addresses to us to “go out”. Among the many letters received, one was from a person in charge of the diocesan level of the synodal journey in Malaysia: “Thank you very much for the wonderful sessions. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to learn so much about the origins of the synodal Church and synodality. It really opened my eyes to the great wisdom and suggestions offered by the Holy Spirit who guides the Church. Honestly, while listening to the sessions of the first module, I felt so poor, but at the same time enriched. And that’s why I’ll be signing up for the next year. ”
What issues will be addressed in this new year?
First of all, we will try to be in tune with what will emerge from the Synodal Assembly next October. When we looked at the basic text (Instrumentum laboris) on which the members of the Ordinary General Assembly of the October Synod will work and which is the outcome of the community discernment during the listening phase, we realized that some issues seemed more urgent than others, such as: ministry, places and method of participation, formation to become “missionary disciples” at the service of universal fraternity. Each 3-hour lesson will take place via internet from 6.00 to 9.00 pm (Italian time) on Mondays from November 2023 – May 2024. The course will be in Italian with translations into English, Portuguese and Spanish. This year too, we will conclude with a face-to-face residential meeting here in Italy, again using a workshop methodology. You can register for the Course at this link:
The active support of the General Secretariat of the Synod in these two years encourages us to move forward in being builders of unity in the Church and in the world, according to that synodal form with which Jesus lived his human-divine existence with the Apostles and with all his disciples. The “going out” to which the Holy Spirit impels us, through the clear voice of Pope Francis, is not, in fact, equivalent to dispersing, to fragmenting, but is to lead our individual spiritual life to that of the Forsaken and Risen Jesus who embraces everything and everyone. As the title of the Working Document for the continental stage of the Synod stated, it is a matter of “widening the space of our tent” (cf. Is 54.2).
You have just edited a book entitled, “Synodality and Participation, the ecclesial subject of mission”, (published by Città Nuova). It is a collection of interventions of experts from the ecclesiastical and theological world. What is the contribution of this text in the light of the documents which have emerged from the various stages of the Synodal Path and on the verge of the new universal stage?
The book is a collection of the inputs of a research seminar organized by the CEG, on 24th June, 2023 at the “Vinea mea” Spirituality Centre in Loppiano (Italy). The seminar was entitled: “Participate/preside/decide. Sacramental root and communal dynamic in the journey of the people of God on mission”. Over thirty scholars participated, including theologians and canon lawyers engaged in responding to the invitation expressed in the Instrumentum laboris, to rebalance the relationship between two fundamental ecclesiological principles: that of “authority”, strongly affirmed in the current Code of Canon Law, and that of “participation”, which the current Synod is relaunching as an ordinary practice of the life of the Church. We asked the experts present at the Seminar how we can effectively enable the active participation of each member of the people of God (faithful and pastors) within our communities? Will such participation remain at an advisory level or will it have authority? Will it be a matter of negotiating for a legal “concession” or rather of “recognizing” the decision-making capacity of the collective subject of ecclesial action as it emerges from the ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council? And will an update of the Code of Canon Law be necessary? As Card. Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod, said, the synodal journey has entered a new phase: it is called to become a generating, dynamic event and not simply to be reduced to a solemn celebratory transient moment. How can the Church listen to the Holy Spirit without listening to the entire holy people of God? As Card. Francesco Coccopalmerio, Severino Dianich, Alphonse Borras and P. Coda, in their dense interventions contained in the book say, the answer to this question has an impact on pastoral practice (think of the various parish, diocesan councils, etc.) and on formation, as well as on theology and canon law.
Maria Grazia Berretta