The point is not to leave this event in Rome without prayer so that out of all this, the Church will grow, mature, and be able to become more active – said the President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki in a video message to a press conference held at the Episcopate Secretariat on preparations for synodal discernment before the commencement of the Rome session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on synodality. A special insert was presented during the press conference, which accompanies the latest issue of major Catholic weeklies, entitled The Synod of the Church. „Toward a Synodal Church: communion, participation, mission – important themes and inspirations.
The President of the Episcopate acknowledged that the Synod is an unprecedented event because it gathers the experience of at least two years of preceding work, namely the diocesan and continental stages. „Now we are reaching the final stage, which is to prepare us for the final discernment of the opinions that have been gathered and submitted from all over the world so far,” he noted.
He added that the texts in the insert take up the main challenging topics of the synodal process. „We deliberately chose the most difficult matters to familiarize Catholic opinion with the issues, so individuals may form their own opinion and accompany this Synod. It’s not about creating unnecessary obstacles, but about communicating the fundamental concepts of the Second Vatican Council that are evolving, which every baptized person in Poland should comprehend,” Archbishop Gądecki stressed.
The President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference explained that the point is „not to leave this event in Rome without prayer, that the Church would grow, mature and become more active; that the baptized would open more and more to the voice of the Holy Spirit and the cooperation between the clergy, consecrated persons and lay people would mature and become more profound and authentic.
Polish Bishops’ Conference spokesman Father Leszek Gęsiak SJ presented the synodal insert added to Catholic weeklies, explaining that „the Synod poses many questions, encourages discernment, listening to the voice of the Church and seeking the will of the Holy Spirit for today’s times, which have their peculiarities, and the Church is changing, developing, living its ever-important Gospel truths in different historical, social or geographical contexts.”
The Episcopate spokesman admitted that the Church in Poland has taken several initiatives to help the faithful follow and understand the ongoing synodal process. „It seemed like a good thing to prepare some materials that would help the faithful understand why this Synod has been convened, what it is leading to, and how the voice of the particular Churches should resound in it.”
Fr. Henryk Zielinski, editor-in-chief of the „Idziemy” weekly, noted that the insert appears in Catholic weeklies on September 17, the Day of Social Media in the Church in Poland. „The Synod is supposed to be a time to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit. He is supposed to be that voice, not some factions,” he stressed. „We want to make the faithful in Poland aware of the topics that will be on the agenda at the Synod so that the faithful in Poland pray for these intentions,” Fr. Zielinski noted.
„I have great satisfaction that we were able to publish such texts. It is not the first time Catholic weeklies have published an insert together. When there are important issues, then we speak out together. We unite our efforts and speak with one voice under the auspices of the President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference,” noted Fr. Zielinski.
Fr. Prof.Piotr Mazurkiewicz, head of the Department of Political Theory and Political Thought at Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw and a member of the Council of the Apostolate of the Laity of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, explained that more texts about the Synod will be posted on the internet in the future. „The question arises as to how to experience the Synod properly. The crisis of the Church in the West is evident,” Fr. Mazurkiewicz added, „and therefore, one cannot act exactly as in the past but must look for a different pastoral approach.”
Referring to Yves Congar, Fr. Mazurkiewicz noted that there are two approaches to reform. One, from theology to the social sciences – and this is the approach of the true reformers of the Church. The other, from the social sciences to theology, is the innovators’ approach, which undermines the entire Catholic tradition. „It is necessary to put theology at the center of the synodal discussion to restore its proper position,” he stressed.
Fr. Prof. Jarosław Kupczak OP, head of the Department of Theological Anthropology at the Faculty of Theology and director of the Center for Research on the Thought of John Paul II at the Pontifical University of John Paul II in Krakow, noted that „the synodal insert is our response to the call for unity because it is our common contribution to the synodal debate.” „We are dealing here with the voice of the Polish Church, Polish intellectuals. This addition flows from the experience of the Polish Church, from the experience of faith. I hope this voice will be considered significant in the synodal debate.,” he admitted.
Fr. Kupczak assessed that the Synod faces the task of translation, that is, translating God’s eternal truth into modern language. „One of these words is ‚inclusiveness’ – inclusiveness; yes, in the sense of inviting everyone, inclusiveness; no – in the sense of lowering the requirements. The Pope is committed to the inclusion of all,” he added. „Another issue is the difference between centralization and decentralization. Our debate should make it clear that neither political nor sociological reality accurately reflects the reality of the Church.,” he stressed.
Michael Gierycz, Ph.D., dean of the Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences at Cardinal Wyszyński University in Warsaw (UKSW), spoke in turn about the contexts of synodal unrest and controversy. „This Synod will be unique in that not only bishops but laity and religious will have a voice. Here we have a certain modification of the Synod’s form of action,” he noted.
A special insert is attached to the weekly magazines Idziemy, Niedziela, Gość Niedzielny, and Przewodnik Katolicki, titled The Synod of the Synod. Toward a Synodal Church: communion, participation, mission – essential themes, and inspirations, features interviews and articles on the Synod’s theme of synodality. The insert opens with an interview with Archbishop Stanislaw Gądecki, President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference. It is followed by articles by Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Fr. Prof. Piotr Mazurkiewicz, Fr. Andrzej Dobrzynski, Fr. Dariusz Kowalczyk SJ, Fr. Prof. Jaroslaw Kupczak OP. The insert will be translated into four languages.
Press Office of the Polish Bishops’ Conference
Translated by Sr. Amata Nowaszewska / Office for Foreign Communication of the Polish Bishops’ Conference