Do “to sprout dreams in the Church” by collecting the opinions of the laity, this was the purpose of the consultation within the framework of the Synod on the future of the Church, according to its launching text, published last september. A year later, the episcopal conferences of many countries deposited on August 15 their synthesis of this “giant consultation”. Back to the central points of the Swiss, German, Belgian and Irish relations, which share the desire for a Church that is more open to society.
► A Church disconnected and losing influence
the swiss report summarizes the crisis in three key words: “loss of relevance of the faith tradition of the Church, loss of trust in the Church and increasing estrangement from the Church”, in a context marked by the scandal of sexual abuse. A finding shared in other countries, where reports point the finger at the “disconnection” from the church, “considered as foreign to the world”according to belgian catholics questioned. “Many feel that the message of the Church does not correspond to the life of people in our current society. »
“The absence of young people from the parishes” is one of the consequences, regret the report of the Irish Bishops’ Conference. But also a Eucharist which “loses its meaning for a significant number of the faithful”Germans. They claim to feel a “marked disconnection between their daily life and the Sunday liturgy”.
► Giving more space to women
One of the solutions put forward by the laity to respond to this crisis of confidence would be to give more responsibilities to women within the Church. On the one hand, by allowing them to participate in the Synod of Bishops, as well as by giving them the right to vote, as proposed by the German faithful.
On the other hand, by speaking out in favor of the ordination of women. The Belgian and Swiss reports thus mention “open reviews” in their consultation regarding “the exclusion of women from the priestly ministry”. And “the arguments are diverse”recalls the Belgian document: “the shortage of ministers of worship, the quality of pastoral care, the sharing of responsibilities, the happiness of ministers and the fundamental credibility of the institution”. Same observation for the access of married men to the priesthood, called from all sides in Belgium and touched upon in Switzerland and Ireland.
► Welcoming the “marginalised” and the “excluded”
The Swiss faithful call for a Church “who does not reject, prejudice or look down on anyone because of their gender, sexuality, lifestyle, age, social status or personal attitude to faith”. A central demand of the Swiss, German and Irish reports is the improvement of the reception of marginalized people. In the first place, LGBT +, even if it means revising the Church’s vision of sexuality, as requested by voices in Ireland and Switzerland.
Also mentioned are divorced people, people with an immigrant background, people with disabilities and, German wording, “people who do not belong to the educated middle class”. Less loquacious on this point, the Belgians nevertheless report numerous criticisms of “the ambivalence of a Church that speaks of a loving God, proclaims the Gospel and, on the other hand, excludes people on the basis of their orientation”.
► Towards more responsibilities for the laity
Opening their synthesis on the “open wound” of sexual and emotional abuse committed and covered up in the Church, the Irish link them in particular to clericalism. The four reports criticize the excessive hierarchy of the Church and call for greater participation of the laity in decision-making.
While the Swiss are proposing to involve “the people of God” in the appointment of bishops with limited powers, German dioceses report successful experiences of “participatory leadership” where priests and lay people shared the tasks of leadership at different levels of the diocese according to their vocation and skills.
The sending to the Vatican of the national summaries marks the end of the diocesan phase of the Synod on Synodality. The General Secretariat of the Synod will now rely on these reports from all over the world to draw up a first Instrumentum laboris. After a phase of dialogue at the continental level, the Synod will end in October 2023 in the Vatican with the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.