Bringing Christ to Everyone

As we enter the month of October, there is much for us to remember in prayer. On Saturday 30th September, in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis has asked for an ecumenical time of prayer in preparation for the Synod on Synodality. This will be led by the Taizé Community. The Synod begins on 4th October and goes on to the 29th October. Our Archbishop, John Wilson, is one of three bishops from the UK who will be in Rome for this gathering.

As the Pope has stressed many times, the Synod on Synodality will be about involving the entire Church, the whole people of God, in the fulfilment of Christ’s commission to announce the Gospel to all nations. It will be about all of us — clergy and laity — walking together (syn-hodos, “on the way with” in Greek) under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In this measure, the synod will be very much in continuity with Vatican II’s universal call to holiness, with the consistent post-conciliar emphasis on a “new” evangelisation. It will embody Pope Francis’s oft-stated desire for a Church that goes out from itself all the way to the margins in order to bring Christ to everyone.

As has been stated many times, the Synod is not about sorting out doctrinal issues. That is not its purpose. Some have expressed the fear that this will be a Synod that’s going to make big doctrinal changes – some fear that, some desperately hope for it. Both groups will be quite disappointed if they’re looking for big doctrinal change, because the Pope’s focus is on the ‘who’ of the Church, on the question of the way in which our life itself is focused on mission to the world. As Professor Anna Rowlands stated, on the Bishops of England and Wales website:

‘The Church is the only institution that exists not fundamentally for its own members, but for the sake of the conversion and the salvation of all. So [we need] a renewal in that focus on mission. But you don’t get to that mission if you haven’t done your housekeeping – thinking about the kind of community that we are, and that we would be drawing people into.’

In Pope Francis’ mind the Synod is about drawing all the members of the Church, and those beyond the Church, into a deeper relationship with God and a deeper relationship with each other. This, too, links into the Parish Plan we have been called to draw up before Advent; what will we do in our community to evangelise, catechise and call to mission, in order to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with all?

This month is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary. As you pray the rosary this month, ask Mary our mother, and Mother of the Church, to guide all those who meet in Rome to have a listening heart, so that the prompting of the Spirit will be perceived and understood.

Canon Father Anthony Charlton
Canon Father Anthony CharltonParish Priest