Catholics in Vietnam’s dioceses have been urged to live out the spirit of communion, participation, listening, discernment and mission while they celebrate and prepare for the 2023 assembly of the Synod of Bishops at diocesan level.
Bishop Louis Nguyen Anh Tuan, apostolic administrator of Ha Tinh, said the novelty of the next Synod of Bishops is that it starts from the bottom up with the vision of a synodal Church where the whole People of God move forward together, listening to the Holy Spirit and God’s Word, being in communion with one another, and participating in the Church’s mission.
Bishop Tuan said all of God’s people are invited to get actively involved in the synodal journey to listen to one another, and thereby to listen to the Holy Spirit speak to the Church through meeting, listening and discernment at diocesan, continental and regional levels.
The prelate said his diocese’s synodal journey starts with opening celebrations at local churches on Nov. 28, the first Sunday of Advent, and ends on Aug. 15, 2022.
Local people will study the theme of “synodality” through retreats, workshops, sharing sessions, liturgical services and communication coordinated by a four-member facilitation group set up by him.
He said Catholics including everyone from children to old people, people without relatives, abandoned people, those who have renounced their faith, followers of other faiths, and government authorities from local parishes and deaneries will be consulted at meetings and services at local churches during the coming Lent. All their positive and negative views should be documented and sent to the Office of Ha Tinh Bishop’s House by May 18.
The diocesan phase aims at offering as many people as possible a truly synodal experience in listening to one another and moving forward together under the Holy Spirit’s direction
He said the local Church plans to hold a pre-synod assembly which will be attended by 300 people representing local clergy, religious, seminarians, associations, parish councils, students, youths, businesspeople, disabled people and followers of other faiths, who will pray, reflect, listen to and discern their synodal experiences together.
At the event, scheduled for Pentecost, June 5, at Van Hanh Cathedral in Ha Tinh province, participants’ opinions will be documented and filed with Vietnamese bishops.
They will discuss issues and challenges suitable for their situations such as ways of journeying with others, respecting and listening to one another’s views, voice positive views freely and courageously to build the local Church, celebrate services, do evangelization and have constructive dialogue with others in the Church and society, promote ecumenism, teamwork, co-responsibility, consultation and accountability.
“The diocesan phase aims at offering as many people as possible a truly synodal experience in listening to one another and moving forward together under the Holy Spirit’s direction,” he said in an open letter to local people.
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Bishop Tuan called on local people to spend time listening to one another, speak up courageously, candidly and responsibly, and let go of their complacent attitude and contentment that make them reach decisions based solely on old ways of working.
He said they should break down the wall that threatens their communion, like age, gender, gaps between poverty and wealth, abilities, education and others. They are called on to be beacons of hope, not heralds of doom, for other people.
They should live out the synod of bishops’ spirit of communion, participation, listening, discernment and mission. They must be united in the same faith, and pray, listen, analyze, have dialogues and offer opinions on making pastoral decisions that are as consistent as possible with God’s will.
On Nov. 10, Bishop Peter Nguyen Van Kham, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam, announced that the country’s 27 dioceses will open the pre-synod at the diocesan phase on Nov. 28.
Bishop Kham said in their situation they will stimulate the process of meeting, listening and discernment according to the guidance of the Office of the General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops. They are requested to file their conclusions to local bishops by August 2022.
He said bishops declared the local Church’s ministry theme for 2022: “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission.”
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