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Latin American phase of Synod: Toward a “Church of the people”

As the Continental Stage of the Synod in Latin America draws to a close, we speak with Fr Ricardo González, a member of the drafting committee of the synod synthesis document.

By Joseph Tulloch

From the 17th to the 20th March, synod organisers are meeting in Bogotá, Colombia, to draft a synthesis of the Continental Stage of the synod in Latin America and the Caribbean.

This document will be used as a basis for discussion at the upcoming General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome this October.

Vatican News’ Fr. Johan Pacheco is in Bogotá for the meeting, and spoke with Fr Ricardo González, a member of the drafting committee, about its work.

The drafting process

The process of putting together the document, Fr González explained, was carried out by a group of twelve individuals, “priests and laypeople, women and men”, chosen by the bishops of Latin America to “help in pastoral and theological reflection”.

In drafting the document, he said, they drew on the material produced by previous regional assemblies, which had asked the faithful from across the region about their experiences of and views on the church.

Contributions from marginalised groups – indigenous Amazonian peoples and Latin Americans of African descent – were also added to the mix.

All of this material, Fr González said, was prayed over and discussed, before a final synthesis was then produced.

This process of discernment and drafting, he added, was “a very enriching experience of living together as brothers and sisters, of listening to each other despite the differences in our vocations and ministries, all of us as members of a ‘Church of the people’”.

The voice of the People of God

Fr González stressed, moreover, that the process of drafting the document was not about producing new material, but rather accurately summarising the voices of the faithful who had been consulted in earlier stages.  

“We are not going to say something that has not already been heard,” he said. “We are simply going to give shape to it, trying to be as faithful as possible to the concerns of these regional assemblies.”

For this reason, he said, the final document has been broken into various sections, each focusing on a different priority which had emerged from the earlier stages of the synod.

The key here, Fr González said, was to identify the “constants”, the points which emerged regularly from those consulted.  

The end goal, he stressed, was to produce a document in which “everyone sees themselves reflected.”

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