Sr Nathalie Becquart: ‘Synodality – the process that ecclesializes'

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Sr Nathalie Becquart: ‘Synodality – the process that ecclesializes'Day two of the Asian Continental Assembly on Synodality began with an orientation provided by Sr Nathalie Becquart, who praised the delegates for their ability to talk about tensions without tension.

Moderating Saturday’s proceedings for the Asian Continental Assembly on Syndality were Archbishop Anil Joseph Thomas Couto of Delhi, India; Dr Christina Kheng, a member of the Commission on Methodology; and Momoko Nishimura, a member of the Discernment and Drafting Group.

The orientation for the day’s work was provided by Sr Nathalie Becquart, Under-secretary for the General Secretariat for the Synod. She began by reiterating that synodality is a “call of God.”

“At this stage of the reception of the Second Vatican Council,” she continued, “synodality has been discerned as the will of God for the Church of the third millennium.” Synodality has already been defined in the Synod on Youth, she noted. “One of the fruits” gathered from “listening to the young people and discerning,” that took place during that Synod, is the understanding that “the only way to transmit the faith today… is to be a synodal Church.”

Synodality presupposes transformation

Synodality requires kenosis, self-emptying, Sr Nathalie continued. “It's really a path of conversion and transformation that asks us a lot of courage to speak, to listen with humility”, she said. It requires attentiveness to the movement of the Spirit of truth within. She also commended those participating in the Asian Continental Assembly, observing:

“You have talked a lot about tensions, but without tension.”

Synodality is creative

Gratitude is also a necessary ingredient, Sr Nathalie explained. “The more we can discern the gift of synodality we have already received, the more we will unfold the past for the future because synodality is a creative path.” She compared the journey we are on as the journey the disciples understood in Matthew 14 when they had to cross the lake. “It's an unknown side and at the time we can be afraid like the disciples.” But crossing the lake will lead us to the heart of synodality which is “to deepen our discernment of the signs of the times.”

Moving from I to WE

Characterizing the work before the Assembly on Saturday, Sr Nathalie underlined the importance of choosing priorities. These priorities, she suggested, should help deepen “an ecclesial, Asian ‘we – W-E’" since the document the delegates are preparing represents “the specific contribution of Asia for the next step of the synod, and for the drafting of the working document for the assembly in Rome. Synodality is this process that ecclesializes us.” She further clarified that it is the “methodology of spiritual conversation” that leads to communion, moving from “I” to “we – W-E.”

Sr Nathalie concluded by recognizing that fear is naturally part of the process. The spiritual transformation synodality presupposes is “an adventure because everywhere you have a call for change, a new way of being, we experience…some resistance of fears."

“But if we are confident that it is really the call of God, and the will of God, we will receive the grace to continue to discern the path.”

Discerning the “gaps”

Dr Christina Kheng introduced the small group work examining the “gaps,” issues that are missing from the Continental Document: concerns or issues not sufficiently discussed, Asian realities that can be included as “gaps,” and any comments or observations they want to include in the dialogue. After a moment of prayer and group discussion, groups reported to the large assembly regarding what their group’s responses were. Among the gaps that were expressed were the domestic Church and family life, where synodality begins; human trafficking; migration; care for the common home; missionaries of peace for peacebuilding; interreligious dialogue in countries where Christians are a minority; and communicating as a synodal Church.

Discerning the priorities

The second group work focused on priorities, a very important phase of the Assembly, said Dr Kheng. She reminded everyone that these priorities are not general priorities, but those that “are the most urgent for Asia as a continent now” regarding synodality. The family, formation of all categories of the faith, the liturgy, inclusivity and hospitality, accountability and transparency, and care for creation were among the priorities cited frequently.

Before breaking for lunch, delegates took 30 minutes in silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. After lunch, the small groups spent an hour in spiritual conversation on the process they had experienced so far. Then proposed amendments to the Draft Response were discussed in small groups and submitted to be considered by the entire Assembly. The second full day of the Continental Assembly concluded with the Eucharistic Celebration presided over by Cardinal Joseph Coutts, Archbishop emeritus of Karachi.

Sr Bernadette M Reis