At the end of the first week of the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on Synodality in the Church, here is the testimony of Fr Paul Béré, a Jesuit from Burkina Faso who worked on the preparation of the Synod as a member of the theological commission. He is taking part in the proceedings as one of the experts or consultants.

Judging by what has been happening since 4 October 2023, the synodal journey, which began on 10 October 2021 and will run for three years (2021-2024), shows that there is no predetermined path. “Behold, I make all things new”, says the Lord (Rev 21:5). Having taken part in a number of synods, I feel that the current one is showing a truly new style. Some fellow theologians keep saying that we are experiencing the atmosphere that animated the Second Vatican Council. We are probably in the process of assimilating Vatican II.

As an illustration of the new style, consider how the procession of the opening Mass from the bronze door of the Basilica crossed part of St Peter’s Square. The solemnity of the event was enhanced by the large gathering of the faithful, no doubt an attendance helped by the Wednesday usually dedicated to papal audiences. And then, the arrangement of the participants in the Paul VI Hall around circular tables at which bishops, lay people (men and women), priests and religious looked at each other created an atmosphere of fraternal communion. The Pope himself, along with his collaborators, takes part in the plenary sessions like everyone else. He is accessible to everyone!

On a deeper level, I am struck by the fruitfulness of the spiritual conversation as a method of accompanying the synodal assembly. You can sense a climate of peace. The members are happy to talk to each other, to listen to each other, to welcome each other in their great diversity, because the horizons of the world are converging here. Could this be due to the theme of the first module, which consists of re-reading the previous experience of synodality on the scale of local churches and on a continental scale? All in all, the joy and enthusiasm prove that the Holy Spirit is at work. As a theologian, I feel that we are faced with a style that calls us to conversion in our way of approaching problems, and even of doing theology. In this respect, I would say that, for those of us who haven’t been doing so, we are renewing our commitment to a theology that listens to the feelings of the people of God.

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Source: Jesuits Global