Synod of Bishops official stresses Pope’s focus on ‘a primacy of listening that works from the bottom up’

By Christopher White, 30 October 2021
Xaviere Missionary Sister Nathalie Becquart attends a news conference to discuss the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment at the Vatican Oct. 9. Image: CNS/Crux.


Pope Francis is reorienting the power structures of the Catholic Church from a vertical, top-down style of governance to a circular, more relational approach through the global synod process, according to Xaviere Missionary Sister Nathalie Becquart.

“The focus is no longer first on the primacy at the top of the pyramidal view. The focus is first on all of the people of God,” said Becquart, who is the undersecretary of the Vatican’s office of the Synod of Bishops.

“Papal primacy can no longer be conceived on its own or in itself, and it is clear that for him [Francis], primacy can only be exercised in relationship to and with all the members of the people of the body of Christ,” she continued.

Becquart’s remarks came during an Oct. 22 lecture on “Primacy, Collegiality, Synodality: The Experience of the Synod of Bishops” at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas.

In a comprehensive hourlong address, Becquart offered a sweeping overview of the historical tension between papal primacy and collegiality among the church’s bishops — both of which have often been at odds with the laity.

Francis, she noted, has put a “spotlight” on that and has discerned that synodality is the mechanism to properly implement the Second Vatican Council to restore a better relationship between the pope and bishops, as well as all the people of God.

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Christopher White is the Vatican correspondent for National Catholic Reporter (NCR). His email address is Follow him on Twitter: @CWWhiteNCR.

With thanks to Global Sisters Report, a publication of the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) and Christopher White, where this article originally appeared.


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