The synodal consultations indicated a desire to improve the way the Church functions and not to change doctrine or structure. The need for change concerns not only the institution of the Church. Central to this process is the personal conversion of both laity and clergy, according to the National Synthesis of the Synod on Synodality, presented at a press conference in Jasna Góra on 25 August 2022.
The synodal consultations, at various levels, were mainly attended by the faithful involved in parish life, members of various associations as well as practicing Catholics not previously directly involved in the life of their parishes. Varying from one diocese to the next, between 30 and 65 per cent of the parishes organised synodal meetings. More than 6,800 people, mainly priests, were local coordinators at parish level. More than 100,000 Polish Catholics participated in the synodal consultations.
The consultations provided an opportunity to express ‚critical concern’. According to the national synthesis for Poland, the faithful focused primarily on articulating what they find hurtful in the Church community; many pointed out the ‚Church’s weakness.’ Emphasis was given to entrenched clericalism, blamed not only on priests, but also on the laity who reinforce such attitudes among the clergy. It was highlighted that the voice of women and young people was not sufficiently heard in parishes. Attention was drawn to the language used in the Church, unintelligible and detached from everyday reality, the low level of homilies, and the need to pray for and support the clergy in their ministry. The demands put forward revealed a longing for community and for good shepherds who can accompany the faithful on their journey through faith.
In the consultations and in the diocesan syntheses, the question of the Church’s mission is relatively rarely mentioned. According to the national synthesis, this does not stem from a lack of desire or motivation, but from the very nature of evangelisation, which is realised through bonds and relationships that are lacking in parish communities.
The national synodal synthesis shows that the Synod affirmed respect for hierarchical authority in the Church. It emphasised that decisions in the Church should be made by those who are called to do so, who are additionally meant to take responsibility for their decision-making. However, it was pointed out that authority is not only a responsibility, but above all a service. This applies to all levels of the ecclesial hierarchy: bishops, parish priests, curates, and deacons. The synthesis highlighted the fact that this gives rise to a desire for a better arrangement of mutual cooperation between laity and clergy.
The national synthesis shows that the Synod emphasised the need to improve the way the Church functions, not to change doctrine or structure. The need for change does not only concern the institution of the Church. Central to this process is the personal conversion of both laity and clergy. The synodal consultation pointed to the need to learn to walk hand in hand in order to build up the community of the Church.
ISKK / BP KEP