FutureChurch Press Release: Synod Synthesis a Significant Step Toward Authentic Expression of U.S. Catholics Concerns and Hopes

The National Synod Synthesis released by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on September 19 represents a significant step toward advancing the promise of Vatican II.  The synthesis goes a long way in capturing an authentic expression of the faithful – their concerns, joys, sorrows, and hopes for a church where Gospel values of justice, equality, inclusivity, care for the marginalized, and care for creation, and more – are core to its mission.    

“That the concerns and hopes of the nearly 600 faith-filled Catholics who participated in FutureChurch’s synod sessions during Lent were also reflected in the National Synthesis is a hopeful sign,” said Todd Ray, Chair of the FutureChurch Board. “The inclusion of Catholic voices who have long been marginalized or dismissed by popes, bishops and other church leaders is a positive sign that synodality -- a new way of sharing authority, ministry, and decision making -- is unfolding in our time,” he said.

The Rome-bound document synthesized 290 reports received from 179 dioceses, other offices, and 112 Catholic organizations and associations.  Sixteen regions were formed to make the reporting task manageable with fifteen representing dioceses and eparchies. To capture the voices of Catholics who participated through Catholic organizations like FutureChurch and other associations and national ministries, a sixteenth region was created.    

“It is both refreshing and hopeful to see this good faith effort by the U.S. Synod writing team to reflect the voices of faithful Catholics who have long worked for a more just and inclusive church,” commented Deborah Rose, Co-Director of FutureChurch.  “There was transparency in reporting Catholic concerns about the ravages of clergy sex abuse; the need for fully incorporating women in ordained ministry, preaching, and governance; racial and indigenous justice; LGBTQ+ inclusion; and a host of other issues that have been sidelined or ignored for too long.”  Rose also noted the importance of the inclusion of the preferred acronym, LGBTQ+, a sign of respect that was denied at the 2018 Synod on Youth when bishops stripped it from the final document.

“The National Synthesis is hopeful precisely because it fairly represents the prophetic voices of the People of God and not the doctrinaire rigidity and clericalism that we have consistently experienced at the hands of many U.S. bishops,” said Russ Petrus, Co-Director of FutureChurch.  “This initial step must be followed by additional concrete efforts to form and empower all Catholics to actualize this new, synodal way of being and doing Church where all have a share in discernment, leadership, and ministry.”

FutureChurch continues to create opportunities for Catholics to enter more fully and confidently into this new co-responsible way of discerning the future of our church.  Those who are interested can join our three-part study on synodality beginning Tuesday, October 4 at 12noon ET by signing up at https://futurechurch.org/events/synodality-book-study/.  Catholics can also learn more about synodality as a new way of being Church from renowned Synod consultant, Rafael Luciani by signing up for our Fall Event on November 10, 2022 at 8:00pm ET at https://futurechurch.org/events/2022-fall-event-night-two/.  To read report we sent to Rome and to our bishops of our synod process which includes an appendix with all the participant responses go to https://futurechurch.org/justice-in-the-church/synod-report/.