Groups to study most debated synod issues


(Credit: Unsplash/Simone Savoldi)

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By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has decided that some of the most controversial issues raised at the first assembly of the Synod of Bishops on synodality will be examined by study groups that will work beyond the synod’s final assembly in October.

Cardinal Robert W. McElroy, of the Diocese of San Diego, will be among the delegates returning to the final assembly, scheduled from Oct. 2 to 27 in Rome.

The possible revision of guidelines for the training of priests and deacons, “the role of women in the Church and their participation in decision-making processes and community leadership,” a possible revision of the way bishops are chosen and a revision of norms for the relationship between bishops and the religious orders working in their dioceses all will be the subject of study groups.

That Pope Francis did not wait until the end of the second assembly to convoke the study groups, “shows that he listened and is acting,” Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary-general of the synod, said March 14.

Pope Francis approved the 10 groups and their topics; he asked the groups, coordinated by different offices of the Roman Curia, to make a preliminary report to the synod’s second assembly in October and to give him a final report on their work by June 2025.

In a letter to Cardinal Grech, Pope Francis said that with the study groups working on issues requiring in-depth study, members of the synodal assembly in October will be able “to focus more easily on the theme I assigned to them at the time, and which can be summarized in the question: ‘How to be a synodal Church in mission?’”

Pope Francis named the 10 themes to be explored by the study groups:

— “Some aspects of the relationship between the Eastern Catholic Churches and the Latin Church”

— “Listening to the Cry of the Poor”

— “The mission in the digital environment”

— “The revision of the Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis (guidelines for priestly formation) in a missionary synodal perspective”

— “Some theological and canonical matters regarding specific ministerial forms”

— “The revision of the documents touching on the relationship between Bishops, consecrated life and ecclesial associations”

— “Some aspects of the person and ministry of the Bishop – criteria for selecting candidates to Episcopacy, and judicial function of the Bishops”

— “The role of Papal Representatives (nuncios) in a missionary synodal perspective”

— “Theological criteria and synodal methodologies for shared discernment of controversial doctrinal, pastoral and ethical issues.”

— “The reception of the fruits of the ecumenical journey in ecclesial practices”

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