By Sr Bernadette M. Reis, fsp – Bangkok
Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod, addressed the Asia Continental Assembly. In his remarks, he related that he recently told Pope Francis he would be coming for the Assembly. The Pope, the Cardinal said, “sent his father blessing and he is following our activity very closely. The Holy Father would like to tell you, ‘You are not forgotten.’”
The Cardinal then characterized the Continental Stage of the Synod as “a further moment of listening to which the Church is called: ‘mutual listening, in which each one has something to learn,’ “ citing Pope Francis’s speech for the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops.
“It should be evident to all,” the Cardinal continued, “that the success of the process depended on the active participation of the People of God and their Pastors. And, therefore, a great deep thank you for all your work carried out.” He further explained that the “consultation in the particular Churches has enabled the People of God to implement that proper way of participating in the prophetic function of Christ.”
Cardinal Grech reminded the delegates that the request to listen to everyone meant just that – everyone, with no exceptions, was to be invited into synodal conversation with the Church. But, he also acknowledged, many did not participate for various reasons. “In the consultation, we were able to listen to all voices, except the voice of those who did not speak, either because they could not or did not want to speak. We also listened to the silence! We have also listened to the empty chair!” he said.
He also explained the task of the Continental Assembles: “to discern whether and to what extent the contents of the Document for the Continental Stage (DCS) correspond to the understanding of synodality as lived out by the Churches on the continent…. It is in fact, a ‘stage,’ an important moment in our journey towards the goal of this Synod, namely a full understanding of the synodal form of the Church.”
Concluding his remarks, Cardinal Grech reiterated that the goal of the process is that of tracing the “Catholic path to synodality.” “Our desire,” he explained, “is to preserve the legacy of a Tradition that always keeps synodality, collegiality, and primacy in relation as necessary and inalienable elements of the synodal process, built on the respective functions of the People of God, the College of Bishops, and the Bishop of Rome.”