WASHINGTON - Earlier today, the Holy See’s General Secretariat of the Synod issued the Instrumentum Laboris for the First Session of the 2021-2024 Synod: For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission. The Instrumentum Laboris will form the basis for the discernment and discussion for the participants of the first session of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to be held in October 2023 in the Vatican.
This document comes after the first two stages of the 2021-2024 Synod, the first consisting of local listening sessions held across the world followed by discernment from local bishops’ conferences; and a second stage where continental groupings of episcopal conferences conducted discussion and reflection that concluded with the production of seven continental reports that were submitted to the Holy See in March of 2023.
Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Doctrine, who has been shepherding the synodal process in the United States, welcomed the document saying, “The Instrumentum Laboris presents the People of God with a remarkable opportunity to reflect on what we have learned thus far about the nature of a synodal Church and how we might embrace that more fully. While this document’s main purpose is to form the basis of the discernment taking place in Rome this October, I encourage everyone to read, pray and discuss this important document, and to see it in relation to the insights and fruits of their local, national, and continental Synodal consultations.”
The Instrumentum Laboris consists of two main sections that will guide the discernment of those present at the first session of the Synod in October 2023: a reflection on the experience of a synodal Church thus far; and the articulation of three main priorities for a synodal Church. Centering on the main themes of the Synod, communion, participation, and mission, these three main priorities are then explored in greater detail through a series of fifteen worksheets aimed at supporting the discernment of possible next steps for the Church.