The synthesis was compiled by a Synod team comprising diocesan officials as well as representatives from across the diocese. It has been approved by Bishop Salvatore R. Matano and forwarded to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as part of the synodal process begun by Pope Francis in October 2021.
The 10-page synthesis sums up commentary from diocesan groups and individuals on various faith-related topics and includes census- and faith-related charts.
Synod sessions surfaced many concerns
The diocesan document notes the following points, which were among the leading issues to emerge from the local Synod discussions this spring:
• Contrasting views in the local Catholic community about liturgy, ranging from support for the Latin Mass to calls for women to become deacons or priests and to preach at Mass. The synthesis adds that Catholics also are split on such social issues as racism, immigration, the role of women, same-sex attraction, gender identity and abortion.
• Divisions in the local Catholic Church reflecting polarization in our society as a whole. “The secular polarization and inability to be in relationship with those from a different perspective has infected the Church nationally and seems poised to fracture it if unity cannot be embraced,” the synthesis states, noting local Synod participants’ calls for a better understanding of who we are and what we believe as Catholics in order to achieve greater unity.
• The challenge the coronavirus pandemic posed to the faithful’s ability and desire to gather for Mass and to other aspects of church life. “Many have not yet returned to Mass or to Faith Formation, particularly young families,” the synthesis notes. It adds that pandemic-related disruption of parish communities has limited their ability to afford staff and gather volunteers, leaving “significant gaps in ministries.”
• The need for evangelization to reverse declining participation in the sacraments, promote inclusion — especially of young Catholics — and bring back to the church people who are at odds with its teachings.
• Concerns about church leadership in such areas as communication between the diocese and its parishes as well as demands placed on priests due to the limited availability of clergy.
The synthesis notes that many participants expressed hope that dialogue would continue beyond the Synod discussions.
“Synodal gatherings in vibrant communities, while still impacted by polarization, were better able to acknowledge the value in struggling with such important issues. A path to unity was more clearly seen when members of the community understood the critical underlying unity in Christ,” the synthesis states.
Eucharistic Revival to build on Synod conversations
With the diocesan phase concluded, the synodal process now moves to gathering and combining other reports from around the world that will be sent to the Vatican for further synthesis. The worldwide Synod will conclude with the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, set for October 2023 in Rome on the theme “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.”
Simultaneously, the U.S. Catholic Church is engaged in a National Eucharistic Revival that began in June 2022 and will run through 2025. The USCCB-led revival aims to foster deeper devotion to and knowledge about the Eucharist among U.S. Catholics, with a particular focus on local dioceses, parishes and families.
“This (Eucharistic) Revival offers the opportunity to build upon the (Synod) conversations held over the past months and focus our communities of faith on the source and summit of our life in Christ,” the local Synod synthesis states.
The diocesan synthesis also noted a 13-percent increase in diocesanwide Mass attendance while synodal gatherings were taking place. “We would hope to believe that this is not a mere coincidence. The synodal gatherings have provided the groundwork for the revival to be successful.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Further details about the Synod are available at www.dor.org/synod, which features links to Synod syntheses from other dioceses in New York state. Synod information also can be found at www.usccb.org/synod and www.synod.va/en.html.Tags: The Synod on Synodality