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Church Vitality “depends on your participation”: Mauritian Cardinal in Message for Synod

Maurice Cardinal Piat of Port Louis Diocese in Mauritius. Credit: Port Louis Diocese

The need for the people of God in Mauritius to fully participate in the upcoming Synod on Synodality has been emphasized by the Bishop of Mauritius’ Port-Louis Diocese.

In a pastoral letter issued Friday, October 8, Maurice Cardinal Piat addresses the concept of synodality and underscores the need for participation.

“Synodality for the Church is a way of walking together to listen to each other, to listen to the Spirit together, to bring each one of us to participate in the mission of the Church,” Cardinal Piat says in his message to the people of God in the Indian Ocean Island nation.

The Cardinal further says, “I encourage all the faithful, lay people, Priests and Religious to take advantage of this opportunity to make their contribution for the vitality of our Church depends on your participation.”

For a successful Synod in Port-Louis Diocese, the members of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans – CSSp) invites “Christians in Parishes, young people, children, adults, elderly, practicing or not practicing, Christians involved in movements and services (education, families, charity and social work, the sick, hospital and prison chaplaincies, etc.) to fully participate.”

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“In each place we will be invited to pay special attention to people who have become somewhat distant from the Church. They too have things to say and must be listened to,” Cardinal Piat says.

In the same way, he further says about the Synod on Synodality, “We will be able to listen fruitfully to our brothers and sisters of other Christian Denominations or other religions whom we meet in our different places of life or commitments. They too have things to tell us and deserve to be listened to.”

The concept of “synodality” has been a topic of frequent discussion by Pope Francis, particularly during the previous ordinary Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith, and vocational discernment in October 2018.

Synodality, as defined by the International Theological Commission in 2018, is “the action of the Spirit in the communion of the Body of Christ and in the missionary journey of the People of God.”

In March last year, Pope Francis announced that the next ordinary Synod of Catholic Bishops would be on synodality and that Catholic Bishops from around the world would gather at the Vatican in October 2022.

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However, the meeting of Bishops was pushed to October 2023 to allow for wider consultation with the people of God across the globe.

Organized under the theme, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission”, the Synod on Synodality is set to solemnly open on 9–10 October 2021 in Rome.

It has been lauded for involving people at the grassroots in the decision-making process of the Church, inviting all members of the Church to journey together as a community. It is to solemnly open in each particular Church on October 17.

On September 7, 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 give feedback.

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

The preparatory document has been released for a period of “pre-Synodal discernment” that will 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, according to the preparatory document, 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.

In his October 8 Pastoral letter, Cardinal Piat notes that “the originality of this Synod comes above all from the subject it will address. It does not deal with specific themes like the previous Synods on the Family or on Youth.”

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“This time, it is a question of questioning ourselves on how we are to journey together in the exercise of the mission entrusted to us,” the 80-year-old Cardinal adds.

The Synod, Cardinal Piat continues, “is the joyful step of a Church that goes out to meet the people in whose midst it lives, to listen to their joys and sorrows and to share the Good News with them.”

“We are a church where many people are already involved. It is fortunate that this is the case. But through this Synod, the Church invites us to go further in this same direction,” the Mauritian Cardinal says in his two-page pastoral letter.

He urges the people of God in Mauritius to take “this opportunity to enter into this joyful journey where some are already on their way.”

“Let us listen to one another, and together let us listen to the Spirit who blows where he wills. He will open new horizons bathed in rainbows, symbols of the hope that allows us to move forward without ever becoming discouraged,” Cardinal Piat says in the Pastoral letter obtained by ACI Africa.