Common discernment and decision making in a Synodal Church

Contributors Biographies (English) de Formacion Continua – STM-Boston College
Program de Formacion Continua – STM-Boston College

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The course starts on July 4th

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About the Synod

The Synod on Synodality represents a new and exciting phase in the life of the Church. This phase deepens the ecclesiology of the People of God developed at the Second Vatican Council and invites us to generate processes of conversion and reform of relationships, communicative dynamics and structures in the Church. This will require a process of common discernment and formation in the short, medium and long term to stimulate the awareness of a Church lived and understood in a synodal key. Therefore, with this course we offer some fundamental dimensions for building a synodal Church.  The learning will take place over three weeks, in which we will offer conferences, in-depth talks and testimonies of ecclesial experiences that already exist in the different continents.

A few days before the opening of the Synod, the Pope addressed the following words to the Diocese of Rome (September 18, 2021): “Synodality is not a chapter in an ecclesiology textbook, much less a fad or a slogan to be bandied about in our meetings. Synodality is an expression of the Church’s nature, her form, style and mission. We can talk about the Church as being “synodal”, without reducing that word to yet another description or definition of the Church. I say this not as a theological opinion or even my own thinking, but based on what can be considered the first and most important “manual” of ecclesiology: the Acts of the Apostles.”  Therefore, this online course on the theology and practice of synodality aims to provide some elements that encourage us to commit ourselves to the construction of an institutional model for the Church of the third millennium. A Church that is all synodal.

This is the invitation that the current Synod on synodality makes to us when it states, in its Preparatory Document, that “the meaning of the journey to which we are all called consists primarily in discovering the face and the form of a synodal Church, in which “each one has something to learn. Faithful people, Episcopal College, Bishop of Rome: one in listening to the others; and all in listening to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth (Jn 14:17), in order to know what he says to the Churches (Rev 2:7)”. The Bishop of Rome, as the principle and foundation of the Church’s unity, asks all the Bishops and all the particular Churches, in which and from which the one and only Catholic Church exists (cf. LG, n. 23), to enter confidently and boldly on the path of synodality” (Preparatory Document 15). This is the sentiment and motivation of all those who have made this course possible. We hope that it will be a contribution to the synodalization of the whole Church.

Course Format

Weekly Schedule:

  • Introductory Lectures to the program
  • Week 1 offers some criteria that will help to assess and deepen the theology and practice of communal discernment and the building of ecclesial consensus.
  • Week 2 focuses on the elaboration and decision making in the Church. One of the great challenges for a new institutional model.
  • Week 3 and final weeks offers reflections on leadership and governance in the Church, and how many of the changes in the Church in the third millennium depend on this.

All themes are grounded in the Christian tradition deepened in the light of the Second Vatican Council and read from our present ecclesial contexts.

This program is asynchronous and participants can complete all elements of the course in their own time. Each week requires a time commitment of approximately three hours. Total time commitment is 12 Hours (Including Introductory Videos) .

Introductory Lectures

Video 1: The Council of Jerusalem: analysis of Acts 15

Juan Bytton Arellano SJ is a Jesuit priest. He holds a Degree in Economics from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP) and Bachelor and Master in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute (PIB) in Rome with studies in Jerusalem (HU).

In this video he gives an analysis of Acts 15.

Video 2: The Council of Jerusalem: Discernment and Conflict Resolution

Carmen Bernabé-Ubieta. Laywoman. PhD in Biblical Theology from the University of Deusto and postdoctoral research at Creighton University.

In this video, she speaks about the Council of Jerusalem and Acts of the Apostles 15 and their importance for Synodality

Video 3: Introducing synodality

Rafael Luciani, Venezuelan layman, Doctor in Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University. Professor at the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello in Caracas and Extraordinary Professor at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.

Introduction to the concept of synodality and its nature as a path for our church

Course Content

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