Letter of Cardinals Grech and Hollerich to the Bishops of the World
Vatican City, 30 January 2023
On the eve of the celebration of the Continental Assemblies, it is with a letter addressed to all the eparchial bishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches and diocesan bishops around the world that the Secretary General of the Synod, Cardinal Mario Grech, and the General Relator of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, address the topic of the bishop's role in the ongoing synodal process.
Recalling the process-oriented nature of the Synod on Synodality convened by Pope Francis, the two cardinals recall the responsibility of Pastors, "the principle and foundation of unity of the holy People of God" (LG 23), with respect to the synodal process.
In fact, write the two cardinals, "there is no exercise of ecclesial synodality without the exercise of episcopal collegiality," testifying to how these two 'dimensions' of the Church's life are not in opposition, but that one cannot exist without the other.
To avoid any misunderstanding, the letter then strongly reiterates the primary theme – that of synodality – chosen by Pope Francis for the work of the synodal assembly of bishops next October. “There are in fact some who presume to already know what the conclusions of the Synodal Assembly will be. Others would like to impose an agenda on the Synod, with the intention of steering the discussion and determining its outcome. However, the theme that the Pope has assigned to the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is clear: ‘For a Synodal Church: communion, participation, mission’. This is therefore the sole theme that we are called to explore in each of the stages within the process. The expectations for Synod 2021-2024 are many and varied, but it is not the task of the Assembly to address all the issues being debated in the Church".
On the eve of the continental Synod Assemblies, the letter then dwells on the primary goal of these assemblies: to grow in the synodal style of being Church. "The more we grow in a synodal style of Church, the more all of us as members of the People of God — faithful and Pastors — will learn to feel cum Ecclesia, in fidelity to the Word of God and Tradition. Besides, how could we address pointed questions, often divisive, without first answering the great question that has been challenging the Church since the Second Vatican Council: "Church, what do you say of yourself?".