A Church of the 21st century

By Jos Moons SJ, 24 May 2023
Parishioners are seen following Mass at St Luke's Catholic Faith Community, Marsden Park. Image: Diocese of Parramatta


Discernment is not an individual process – it’s achieved by sharing, asking questions, proposing suggestions, and a fundamental exploration of the Faith, writes Jos Moons SJ.

Synodality is the way forward for Church governance, according to Pope Francis. He dreams of the Church as the people of God on a journey, seeking to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches in our time. The topic features both in the new format of interviews – the famous 2013 interview by Antonio Spadaro shortly after his election and the recent interview by Austen Ivereigh, published as a book by Ivereigh – and in the more classical form of encyclicals, exhortations, homilies and so on.

For example, in his memorable reflection at the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Bishops’ Synod, Pope Francis stated that ‘from the beginning of my ministry as Bishop of Rome, I sought to enhance the Synod, which is one of the most precious legacies of the Second Vatican Council’. For the Pope, this view of the Church and of Church governance is nothing short of a calling from God.

Now walking this path of synodality is not a goal in itself; the objective is to follow the Spirit’s promptings. It is therefore crucial to ask how the Spirit’s ‘voice’ can be heard, all the more so as usually a variety of viewpoints claim to result from listening to the Spirit.

The synodal pilgrimage need pilgrims: people who take the risk of the journey and, as Abram let go of Haran (read: indifference); people with a pilgrim’s culture (read: faith culture); people who share the journey with fellow pilgrims (read: dialogical way of proceeding). Finally, a pilgrimage needs a focus and some information on the trajectory (read: grounding in reality).

Ultimately the pilgrim’s attitude is a way of professing the faith. It witnesses to a deep belief that the Church is the people of God on a pilgrimage and to a deep faith in the Spirit’s person and guidance.

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Article taken from the chapter written by Fr Jos Moons SJ: ‘Synodality, the Holy Spirit and Discernment of Spirits’ which is featured in the book The Synodal Pathway: When Rhetoric Meets Reality

With thanks to The Synodal Times, a monthly publication bringing you news, features and commentary to break down the ongoing Synod, where this article originally appeared.


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