We Are Church International (WAC) offers its contribution to Synod 2021-2023 "For a Synodal Church : Communion, Participation, and Mission "in light of the Preparatory Document and, in particular, the "Ten Thematic Nuclei to be Explored".
To-day, in our Catholic Church, the "journeying together", that «enacts and manifests the nature of the Church as the pilgrim and missionary People of God» (PD 1) and “allows the Church to proclaim the Gospel” (PD 2), is realized in a very weak and defective way because :
a) the hierarchical dimension and the concentration of power in the ordained ministers generate a systemic separation between them and the laity who are merely executors,
b) there are few examples of synodality since the councils that do exist (pastoral, presbyteral, etc.) are then merely consultative, and
c) the few successful achievements of synodality are linked to the personality, ideas and availability of open-minded ordained ministers. But they are subject to his will and often disappear when he moves on.
All this generated a “culture imbued with clericalism … and with those forms of exercising authority on which the different types of abuse (power, economic, conscience, sexual) are grafted. " (PD 6). To remedy this, the Church must convert to synodality and have faith/trust in the Spirit who always leads his Church.
To grow in synodality, the Church must respond to the Spirit's invitation to become a more community-based Church of brothers and sisters, equal in their life as disciple, an "inclusive" Church capable of "recognizing and appreciating the richness and variety of gifts and charisms" of its members, including the least of these, a Church that credits them with their good faith and must become accustomed to living in the pluralism of ideas (PD 9). This requires in particular:
a) opening of all ministries to those who are currently excluded (women, married men, LGBTQ+ persons, etc.) according to their competence and charisma,
b) relationship of equality between all members of the Church whatever their responsibility are since they are sisters and brothers. This means in the present situation relationship of equality between laity and clergy, even at the level of decision-making,
c) revision of governance, including the separation of powers,
d) establishment of small ecclesial communities (promoted by Vatican II, see also EG 29)
e) the abolition of all kinds of sanctifications/ ordinations, only assignments/commissions, gladly in solemn form
All this would be in keeping with the Gospel and the situation in the early Church and at the same time it would be the decisive way out of the current Church crisis, to promote a discipleship of equal brothers and sisters taking on different responsibilities for the community in different ministries/services.
This involves promoting:
a) training in synodality,
b) the creation of synodical structures, including the creation of particular synods to settle disputes, especially when the “depositum fidei” is at stake, whose existence is not left to the will and sensibility of the clergy and whose functioning expresses co-responsibility and not a simple consultative character;
c) the definition of procedures to prevent the sensus fidei fidelium from being left to the good will or sensitivity of priests and bishops; this implies the establishment of academic freedom for Catholic theological researchers;
d) the establishment of new structures (national and continental ecclesial assemblies, patriarchates or continental episcopal conferences, ;etc.);
e) the establishment of structural forms of consultation, exchange and comparison with other Christian Churches;
f) the creation of a new legal system with separation of powers, participation in decision-making and independent control of power.