10 August 2022, The Tablet

Synthesising the synodal process through listening to the laity and the Holy Spirit

“Chief scribe ” Austen Ivereigh gives an insight from within the synodal process in England and Wales.

Synthesising the synodal process through listening to the laity and the Holy Spirit

The National Synthesis Team, with the author, second from right
Photo:Bishops’ conference of England and Wales


At the centre of the great listening exercise, the universal Church is engaged in a highly charged new ministry: the faithful capture of the voice of the People of God as they respond to the Holy Spirit

The People of God of England and Wales have spoken: at least, those – perhaps 30,000 – who have taken part in the “synod on synodality”. But what, exactly, have they said? And, more deeply, what has the Holy Spirit prompted in them? 

It was to answer those questions that nine members of the National Synod Synthesis Team met at the end of April for an overnight session in an Anglican retreat house in London. By the time we had had Mass, Adoration, eaten and spent time getting to know one another, there was little time to reflect on some 900 pages of synod reports from the 22 dioceses of the Catholic Church in England and Wales that we had spent the previous fortnight reading. (I envy the French team, who disappeared for a week to a chateau to write their collecte des synthèses synodales.) But it was enough to agree a general methodology and a thematic structure, divide up the workload, and agree a schedule to prepare the first draft for feedback from the bishops and synod leads on 1 June.


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