Cardinal Mario Grech, the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops; and the General Relator of the Synod, Cardinal Jean Claude Hollerich, have addressed a letter to the world’s bishops in which they discuss the role of bishops in the ongoing synodal process.
In this interview with Vatican Radio, Cardinal Grech summarizes the bishops’ role and explains why it was important to address the question at this stage of the process.
This morning, along with Cardinal Hollerich, you released a letter regarding the role of the bishops in the synodal process. In brief, what is that role?
Well, it is a fundamental ministry for the Church. There is no synod without a bishop because bishops have been entrusted not by the Church, but by the Lord to guide, to shepherd their flock. And so the bishops, in communion among themselves – so collegiality – and in communion with Peter, are those who can really guarantee that the discernment carried out by the Pople of God is correct.
Bishops really have [a lot] on their shoulders because they have to offer this important, vital service to their flock.
In the letter, you also mentioned that you felt there was an urgent need to share the reflections now, what is that urgent need, and why now?
Considering that in the coming weeks, a new stage and new phase in the synodal process is going to start – I am referring to the Continental Assemblies – Cardinal Hollerich and I thought that we would offer a further service to the local Churches, to the Continental Churches, reminding them about fundamental truths that we have been addressing from the very beginning of this process.
In fact, what we state in this letter, in substance is already present in the Preparatory Document that our Secretariat published at the various parts of this synodal process. As they say, repetita iuvant. So we repeat what we have already said. (…) , After all, as what the Council, Vatican II, taught us, it will help to foster a fruitful dialogue, discernment at the stage where the People of God, together with the bishops, are invited to help us as a Secretariat with their reflections, because every Continental Assembly is going to produce a document. And then from those seven documents, we will elaborate the instrumentum laboris [“working document”] for the bishops’ Synod next October, in which, as we try to underline in our letter, the central theme of this synod, is synodality.
Once the Church becomes more synodal, then it will be in a better position to address important issues raised by the People of God – as also underlined in the Working Document for the Continental Assemblies. Considering that this is a new venue – because after all, as we said, synodality is not a new element, but it is an important dimension of the Church which Paul VI had underlined. And throughout these 50 years, the Church continued to experience this synodal spirit in the synod, so bishops know what they have to do. Well, a word from their brothers to encourage them, to accompany them, and also to express our gratitude not only to bishops, but to the people of God, who we must say really took the message and are contributing.