Catholic bishops in Thailand prepare for synod on synodality

Bishop Silvio Siripong Charatsri 2 celebrating Mass at Sacred Heart Seminary Sriracha in Chantaburi Diocese in Thailand on June 13 2015 Credit Antonio Anup Gonsalves CNA 6 13 15 Bishop Silvio Siripong Charatsri says Mass at Sacred Heart Seminary, in Sriracha, Thailand, June 13, 2015. | Antonio Anup Gonsalves/CNA.

Church leaders in Thailand are preparing for the 2023 synod on synodality, as the Vatican released a preparatory document for review by dioceses over the next six months.

Francis Xavier Kriengsak Cardinal Kovithavanij of Bangkok has announced that the archdiocese will start next month the first phase of the process, which will involve consultation meetings and reflection sessions.

He said an online “pre-synodal” gathering will later be held to come up with proposals to be submitted to the Thai bishops' conference.

Cardinal Kovithavanij made the announcement following the orientation meeting on Sept. 8 ahead of the forthcoming synod at the diocesan level.

The cardinal explained that the 2023 synod of bishops will be different from previous meetings, because it will involve the whole Church through a process of “listening and discernment.”

The 2023 synod will have to go through diocesan, national, and continental phases before culminating in the universal Church phase in Rome in October 2023.

Cardinal Kovithavanij said Thailand’s bishops will have to undergo a “period of discernment” on the proposition it will receive from dioceses before coming up with a document that will be submitted to the Vatican.

The Vatican released Sept. 7 a preparatory document and handbook for the synod on synodality, to be reviewed by all Catholic dioceses over the next six months.

The 22-page preparatory document, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission”, is accompanied by a 42-page vademecum for the diocesan phase.

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.

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.

During the diocesan phase, each bishop is asked to undertake a consultation process with the local Church, from Oct. 17 to April 2022.

The vademecum says that dioceses should organize local gatherings for “synodal consultation,” and also enable individuals to give their feedback directly to the diocese.

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