Cardinal Dolan chose just the right words last Sunday to announce the beginning of preparations for a Synod of Bishops called by Pope Francis to convene in 2023 at the Vatican.
The pope, he said, has called on bishops around the world to “commence an examination of conscience on how we as a Church are living up to the model of the Church given us by Jesus.”
That’s a concept as important as it is refreshing.
The Church, as any entity, needs to take stock every once in a while. We do it regularly in the archdiocese, where evaluations of the myriad departments and ministries are ongoing. Doing it on a global scale is a lot more complicated, and our prayers and support are with those who will undertake the effort.
It’s a monumental task, and involves not just discernment and examination of conscience as well as listening and discussing ways to more effectively and lovingly encounter others as we live out the Gospel.
On Sunday, in a Mass homily in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the cardinal launched the archdiocesan preparation process for the synod. Representatives of various archdiocesan ministries who will take an active role were present.
Shepherding the project for the archdiocese are Elizabeth Guevara, director of Adult Faith Formation, and Msgr. Joseph LaMorte, vicar general and moderator of the curia, who’ll guide the prep teams as they follow guidelines set by the pope and announced by Cardinal Dolan, who reminded the archdiocesan leaders that the energy and direction driving the Church comes from the Holy Spirit, not ourselves.
Our guiding principles, the cardinal said, come from the Gospel, revelation and the Church’s teaching, and the dignity of every human person and the sacredness of all human life are the moral lighthouses on our path.
Our journey through life is just that, the cardinal said, a journey accompanying one another with Jesus as a guide, paying special attention to those “at the side of the road,” especially the sick, weak, poor or those unable to keep up with us; and our wealth comes only from faith, trust, prayer, the sacraments and God’s grace.
Our only tools, the cardinal said, are “mercy, love, invitation, humility, joy, selfless, generous service, and good example,” not harshness, condemnation, or pride.
Pope Francis, in an Oct. 10 Mass homily in St. Peter’s Basilica, said, “Celebrating a synod means walking on the same road, together” just like Jesus did—encountering, listening and discerning with all whom one meets.
“Are we prepared for the adventure of this journey? Or are we fearful of the unknown, preferring to take refuge in the usual excuses: ‘It’s useless’ or ‘We’ve always done it this way?’” he asked.
It’s a challenge, to be sure, and like all challenges, the road ahead can be intimidating and exciting at the same time.
We’re confident the dedicated clergy, religious, administrators and lay Catholics of the archdiocese are more than up to what they’re called upon to do, and we’ll be watching and reporting with interest as they progress.
Our prayers are with the endeavor.