Launching The Archdiocesan Phase Of The Synod On Synodality At Lubaga Cathedral.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I welcome you all who are here and those who are following us on various media platforms as we celebrate the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. In a special way, today, we join the Universal Church to begin a 2-year synodal process, which will conclude in 2023, with a Synod of Bishops in Rome under the theme: “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission”. The Holy Father Pope Francis has instructed us to use these 2 years leading up to the synod as a period of sharing, reflecting and listening at all levels in the Church with the aim of enhancing communion and participation of all people of God in fulfilling the mission of the Church of evangelizing all nation.
What is a Synod?
A synod is a meeting of Bishops called by the Pope in accordance with Canon 342 of Code of Canon Law, to discuss a particular issue in the Church. The word ‘Synod’ comes from the Greek ‘Syn-hodos’ which means, ‘to move together – to journey together’.
The theme of the 2023 Synod
The Synod of 2023 will be celebrated under the theme, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission”. As we prepare for this synod, we are called upon to reflect, share and come up with ideas regarding how best we can journey together as Church, in communion, and how best we can improve our participation as believers in the Mission of the Church. We pray that the Holy Spirit may guide is in this endeavour, and that this journey we are beginning today may be fruitful.
The Word of the Lord
In his word, the Lord has reminded us today to be servants, especially when we are given positions of responsibility and leadership. A good leader is one who does not concentrate on his own selfish interests, but one who looks out for the interests of those he leads. We Pray for our leaders at all levels that God may grant them the humility to be true servant leaders. We also pray for ourselves that God may grant us the Grace to fulfil all our responsibilities well for His greater glory and the good of those under our care. The Lord be with you!
KAMPALA ARCHDIOCESE SYNODAL TEAM OF facilitators
On Wednesday 9th March, our SYNODAL TEAM of FASCILITATORS has been convoked for a meeting in Lubaga Cathedral, starting at 9 am. The SYNODAL TEAM OF FASCILITATORS includes the following:
- Episcopal Vicars
- Heads of Departments in the Sanctifying, Teaching, and Governing Commissions.
- Bassabakristu ba Deanery.
- 22 Members of the Council for the Laity.
- Vicariate Education Secretaries.
What is synodality?
“Synodality” refers to the way that these synods make decisions. It is a model that includes listening to a broad range of people and then discussing the issues together with the goal of hearing where the Holy Spirit is calling the church. Synods have been following an inductive rather than a deductive method. Past synods tended to start with church teaching and talk about how it could be applied to the world. This follows the classical philosophical and theological method that the seminaries apply in their pedagogy. What’s happening within the synod under Pope Francis is that it follows a more inductive way of reflecting. It starts from the true situation of people and trying to figure out what’s going on here. That’s why Pope Francis has supposed, this means not entering the discussion with the idea that there will be “winners” who get their way and “losers” who do not. Rather it means speaking with “frankness,” “boldness” or “courage”, listening humbly and being open to other people’s ideas.
Making decisions “synodally” is a top priority for Pope Francis. On the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Synod of Bishops, the Pope said, “It is precisely this path of synodality which God expects of the Church of the third millennium.” He would like to see this type of decision-making not only among the bishops meeting in Rome but “at every level of the Church’s life,” beginning with the laity (the “people of God”), then the pastors, the bishops and finally, the Pope.
Why hold a ‘synod on synodality’?
Pope Francis thinks there is a long way to go before the church learns to make decisions “synodally” at every level. In fact, it is difficult to even imagine what that may look like. Some commentators think that for a Church that is accustomed to a command-and-control model, it does not familiarise easily to synodality. But with this two-year “synodal process” focusing on synodality, Pope Francis decided that the best way for the church to figure out what synodality means in practice is to try it out.
By pulling the entire church into this participative process, Pope Francis aims to give Catholics an experience of a church that comes together instead of disintegrating, that discerns together instead of making decrees in isolation and that walks together. It is different from what most of us Catholics are used to, and by its nature involves disagreement. But it also involves mutual listening, courage, humility and respect. The Church of today needs to grow in all these virtues. By journeying together and reflecting together on the journey that has been made, the Church will be able to learn through Her experience which processes can help Her to live communion, to achieve participation, to open Herself to mission.
The Synod On Synodality In The Archdiocese Of Kampala
The Archdiocese of Kampala through pastoral office has embarked on the programme to prepare the People of God in the Archdiocese for the Synodal process on “Communion, Participation, and Mission” that the Universal Church is undertaking over the next two years. As we are all aware, the universal synodal process formally kicked off on Sunday, October 10, 2021 with a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis at the Vatican. Here in the Archdiocese of Kampala, then Apostolic Administrator (now the Archbishop of Kampala) His Grace Paul Ssemogerere launched the same synodal process on Sunday, 17th October 2021 in Lubaga Cathedral. It has been named the “synod on synodality.” In this synodal process, Pope Francis wants to hear from the whole Church about what is happening in local parishes and Basic Christian Communities. The Pope and the Bishops would like to know what individuals think we should all be doing to help make our parishes better. It has been a common theme for the Holy Father, Pope Francis to highlight the importance of thinking together. He has often emphasized the importance of the synod in the ecclesiology of the Church. He said recently in fact, “synodality expresses the nature of the Church, its form, its style, its mission” (Address of Pope Francis to the Faithful of the Diocese of Rome on Saturday, September 18, 2021) The synodal process began with a diocesan listening phase from October 2021 to July 2022.
What is a synod?
In order to understand the meaning of synodality, we first need to understand what a synod is. In simple language, a synod is a meeting or assembly of church leaders. The idea of a synod has New Testament roots in Acts of the Apostles 15. The Church has used synods for centuries to gather bishops and laypeople together to reach consensus on important issues in the Church ranging from doctrine, Church practice and discipline, relations with other religions and the position and ministry of the Church in the world.
In the 55 years of her existence, the Archdiocese of Kampala, has convened 6 synods. There are some significant synods in the history of the Church in the Archdiocese of Kampala. In 1974, Emmanuel Cardinal Nsubuga, then Archbishop of Kampala convoked a diocesan synod to deliberate on the Small Christian Communities as an adopted pastoral programme in the Archdiocese. After the Synod, the Cardinal said:
“One week synod that started on the 11th August, 1974 and ended on the 16th August at Ggaba National Seminary was intended in the first place to evaluate what we had proposed in the first five years’ plan, and secondly, to make a new plan in response to new needs. This time we have to build up a strong Christian Community starting from the family.”
Apart from the 1982 synod that resolved to firmly establish Small Christian Communities as a pastoral priority throughout the entire Archdiocese, the 1989 and 2006 synods are considered major Archdiocesan synods because of the impact on the pastoral landscape in the Archdiocese of Kampala. As an example, the most recent Archdiocesan synod was held in 2006 and the synodal resolutions were promulgated on August 15, 2006. Unlike the previous synods, the 2006 synod had a different arrangement of the synodal resolutions, into three parts each with subparts under it. The major divisions are: (a) the Sanctifying Office of the Church, (b) the Teaching Office of the Church and (c) the Governing Office of the church. This division is rooted in the understanding of the baptismal grace which incorporates the baptised person in the threefold ministry of Christ as Priest (Sanctifier), King (Leader) and Prophet (Teacher). The 2006 synod wanted to go back to the basics of Christian life as founded in baptism and this explains why the main theme was Grassroots Evangelisation. This implied going back to baptism, that primordial sacrament that initiates one in the Christian life in which one is grafted in the godhead of Christ.
The preparation for the listening phase of the Synod on Synodality in the Archdiocese of Kampala from January 2022 – July 2022. And much of the richness of this listening phase will come from discussions among parishes, lay movements, Schools, young people, hospital chaplaincies, university chaplaincies, prison chaplaincies, the religious and consecrated communities, the societies of apostolic life, those with a distinctive charism in the church all have a voice that speaks into the conversation. Catholic organisations and charities also have a role to play in this work.
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