Indian Ocean Catholic Bishops Highlight “priority areas” in Synod on Synodality Process

Members of the Episcopal Conference of the Indian Ocean (CEDOI). Credit: Courtesy Photo

Catholic Bishops in the countries of the Indian Ocean have, in a collective message at the end of their Plenary Assembly, highlighted some priority areas to guide the ongoing preparations for the Synod on Synodality in their region.

In their collective message circulated Monday, July 11, members of the Episcopal Conference of the Indian Ocean (CEDOI) express gratitude to the people of God under their pastoral care for their participation in the synodal process.

CEDOI members say they were “particularly touched by the many testimonies of children and young people”, which they consider “signs of hope for our islands”.

“We have heard your cries and taken into account your dreams. We warmly thank all those who participated in these listening sessions in a fraternal atmosphere,” they say, and proceed to highlight some important areas that Catholics in the region are expected to focus on during the synodal journey.

“The priority areas where we want to strengthen the commitment of our churches are: concern for the environment, young people and children who are victims of scourges and lack of guidance, the family and couples in complex marital situations, the cost of living and the fight against poverty,” Catholic Bishops in the countries of the Indian Ocean say in their message dated July 5.


They express their desire to promote Parish movements, services to “institutions that are more missionary and that foster participation and communion”, CEDOI members say, adding, “Pope Francis invites us to a missionary conversion in a synodal culture.”

“First of all, it is to make Christ known in order to engage with him in the world,” the Catholic Bishops, and continue, “The co-responsibility between priests, religious and laity is gradually bringing about a new mode of governance. It is a question of accompanying the changes and transitions in the appointment of all pastoral agents.”

Moreover, they further say, “we are called to promote missionary initiatives and animation that are not limited to the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.”

The Catholic Church leaders also “encourage solidarity and inter-island formation: in the same synodal spirit”.

“We will continue to journey together by proposing exchanges of experience between Churches: catechesis, charity work, meetings of Diocesan movements and services, formation for young Priests entering the ministry, and any other type of session taking place in one or the other Diocese or Vicariate,” they say.

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CEDOI members implore, “Let us ask our God, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Star of Evangelization, to inspire us to live and radiate a bold, creative, active and persevering faith.”

In October 2021, Pope Francis formally launched the two-year global consultation process leading to the 2023 Synod on Synodality with a call to “look others in the eye and listen to what they have to say”.

Earlier, in May 2021, the Vatican had announced that the Synod on Synodality would open with a Diocesan phase lasting from October 2021 to April 2022. A continental phase, the second, is to take place from September 2022 to March 2023.

The universal phase, which is the third part of the synodal process is to begin with the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican in October 2023, under the theme, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission”.

In September 2021, the Vatican released a preparatory document and handbook for the 2023 Synod to be reviewed by all Catholic Dioceses in the world over the next six months.


The handbook includes prayers, a description of Synodality, the objectives of the Synodal process, and the main questions to which the local Catholic communities are asked to react, and give feedback.

It is required that Dioceses focus on “maximum inclusion and participation” among baptized Catholics in the Diocesan Synod process.

The preparatory document was released for the period of “pre-Synodal discernment” that is expected to influence a second draft of the text to be published before June 2023.

According to the Vatican, the preparatory document is “a tool to facilitate the first phase of listening to and consulting the people of God in the particular Churches” for the Diocesan phase of the Synod.

One objective of the Synod on Synodality, the preparatory document indicates, is to “encourage a participative and inclusive process that offers everyone, especially those who for various reasons find themselves on the margins, the opportunity to express themselves and to be heard in order to contribute to the edification of the people of God.”

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Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.