“Their task will be to draw up a list of priorities, upon which the First Session of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will be held from Oct. 4–29, 2023, will carry out their discernment,” the document says.
Bishops are also asked to meet to “collegially reread” the synod experience and validate and approve the final document produced by the Continental Assembly to ensure that it is the “fruit of an authentically synodal journey.”
The Vatican published “Enlarge the space of your tent” one year into the three-year global synodal process. Synod leadership, an advisory committee, and approximately 30 hand-selected people drafted the working document in September at a retreat house outside Rome in Frascati, Italy.
The continental phase of the Synod on Synodality follows the local stage, in which parishes and dioceses held listening sessions and solicited feedback from Catholics on the future of the Church. The document is filled with direct quotations from the reports sent by bishops’ conferences around the world, summarizing the feedback from the diocesan stage of the Synod on Synodality.
For example, the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference wrote in its report: “Southern Africa is also impacted by the international trends of secularization, individualization, and relativism. Issues such as the Church’s teaching on abortion, contraception, ordination of women, married clergy, celibacy, divorce and remarriage, Holy Communion, homosexuality, LGBTQIA+ were raised up across the dioceses both rural and urban. There were of course differing views on these and it is not possible to give a definitive community stance on any of these issues.”
Pope Francis recently announced his decision to extend the Synod on Synodality to 2024. Following the Continental Phase, the Synod of Bishops will meet in Rome in October 2023 and October 2024.
The feedback from the seven Continental Assemblies on the Document for the Continental Stage (DCS), will be used as the basis for another instrumentum laboris, or working document, that will be completed in June 2023 to guide the Synod of Bishops’ discussion.