Ahead of the meeting of the Continental Assembly of the Synod for Europe in Prague in February, cardinal Mario Grech told this paper that “the Church can do better” in giving its attention to women and that “it is very important that there are steps forward not just in the [Church’s] centre but also in the local churches”.
Cardinal Grech is the Secretary General of the Synod and was speaking to The Synodal Times from Rome. The cardinal said he was touched by many stories of women in the Church which have emerged during the synodal listening.
One story, the cardinal said was of a woman who resides in a remote part of Africa who, when she got to know that the Church wanted to listen to her views, she told all the other women in her tribe. “It is easy for us to miss the experiences on the periphery” the cardinal said.
He also recalled being in Guatemala where he was brought to a very remote area where there was a vibrant Catholic community led by women. “The women proclaimed the Gospel” recalled the cardinal and he was asked “Do you have a problem with that?”. “What problem can I have?” the cardinal said.
However the cardinal warned that the Synod of Bishops in September in Rome “won’t address doctrinal issues. It will strengthen synodality and challenge ourselves to be more available to the people. A synodal Church will then be more equipped to address concrete doctrinal issues. In this particular Synod our attention has to be focused on the synodal dimension of the Church”. Asked if he felt there was a need to listen more to a broader group of people he said he was well aware there were people who had not been listened to “but it is a process, an ongoing process”.
He added that “it is wise to wait for the Synod of the whole Church because the aim is about synodality, to help the Church get to know better ways to engage the whole Church”. Asked if synodality could die with the Pope, he said “synodality is not the personal dream of Pope Francis but rather a fundamental dimension of the Church” adding that “synodality was in the early Church and the Church has evolved through the ages.
“While Vatican II does not mention Synodality expressly, Lumen Gentium, the Constitution of the Church, talks about the people of God and this is what synodality is. It is a great help to priests who are alone often and need synodality, even the bishops are crying for help. Widen your circle, enlarge your tent, create the space, that’s what we are trying to do” he said.