Cardinal Grech on drafting the first global synod synthesis—and what’s in store for phase 2

By Gerard O'Connell, 23 September 2022
Rabbi Zalman Kastel (right) speaks with a gentleman during a consultation on interreligious dialogue for the Synod of Bishops at the Bishop Bede Heather Centre, Blacktown, 24 February 2022. Image: Supplied.


Even though the first phase of the Catholic Church’s two-year-long Synod on Synodality convened by Pope Francis only ended in mid-August, “We can already see the fruits of the synodal process,” Cardinal Mario Grech, the general secretary of the synod, told America’s Vatican correspondent, Gerard O’Connell, in an exclusive interview conducted for America’s “Inside the Vatican” podcast at the Jesuit Curia in Rome on Sept. 14.

Cardinal Grech gave the interview before leaving Rome for two weeks starting Sept. 21, with a team of 35 people “summoned from all continents” to study and analyze the feedback from the first phase, also known as the consultation phase, of the synodal process.

In the interview, Cardinal Grech spoke about what has been already achieved in this process and his hopes for both the synod’s second phase—the “continental assemblies” that will take place from January to March 2023—and its third phase, the “assembly of bishops” that will be held in the Vatican in October 2023. He spoke, too, about the role his office plays in the synodal process, and the substantial changes introduced by Pope Francis regarding the aim and work of that office, not least of which include its name change from the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops to, simply, the General Secretariat of the Synod.

Cardinal Grech hailed the feedback from the first phase as “historic,” because “already 111 out of the 114 bishops’ conferences have sent the results of the consultation to the secretariat.” He noted that “in past synods there was not this high percentage of contribution.” Conflicts or turmoil in their countries prevented the other three conferences from submitting responses, he stated.

“Considering this is the first time that we carried out this wide consultation, the results are very positive,” he said. “We are not after numbers. But what really is interesting is the way that, if not all, at least the majority drafted this report. It shows they took this process very seriously. They really tried to engage not only themselves, but also the communities. I think that someday when they look back, they would like to have had more time so that they could include others,” the cardinal said.

To continue reading this interview with Cardinal Grech, please click here.

Gerard O’Connell is America’s Vatican correspondent and author of The Election of Pope Francis: An Inside Story of the Conclave That Changed History. He has been covering the Vatican since 1985.

With thanks to America and Gerard O’Connell, where this article originally appeared.


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