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Ekklesía Online



Communitarian discernment
in a Synodal Church

Piero Coda

With this essay, the Secretary General of the International Theological Commission offers a valuable aid for the diocesan phase of the worldwide synodal process launched by the Catholic Church in October 2021. Coda suggests points for reflection around communitarian discernment and focuses on three issues: where the synodal process began; spiritual and theological attitudes crucial for communitarian discernment; and the dynamics driving this discernment.

1. The context of the synodal process

Pope Francis has announced that a Synod is not about a specific theme. Rather, it is a call to the Church’s conscience to rediscover its synodal vocation. It is not a response to a crisis, then, but a welcoming of a grace that puts us in an ongoing evangelical crisis which constantly invites us to spiritual, pastoral, and structural conversion. 

Francis hopes for an authentic event of the Spirit, one involving as many as possible in this period of ‘reform, purification, discernment’, in relation to ‘a new stage in proclaiming the Gospel’ (cf. Evangelii gaudium [EG] 287 and 30).

The goal is "Towards a synodal Church". But is this realistically possible? We obviously need to be realistic—obstacles, criticisms, resistance, the inertia of doing nothing, the risks—are certainly there and weigh heavily. We must take them into account, fac