Summary of the diocesan report on the synod on synodality available online

Friday, July 29, 2022

By Linda Peterson

Intermountain Catholic

SALT LAKE CITY – The Diocese of Salt Lake City recently completed a summary report of listening sessions held across the state as part of a global effort to gather feedback from the faithful on the nature and mission of Catholic Church. This document has been submitted to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for inclusion in a report to be presented to the Synod of Bishops in Rome in 2023.

The summary of the diocesan report is available in English and Spanish on the diocesan website.

Although only 4,933 people, or 1.7 percent of Catholics in Utah, participated in the 248 listening sessions, the responses provide insight into what active members think of the Church today. “If we consider that approximately 20,000 Catholics in Utah attend Mass on any given weekend, then our attendance rate for listening sessions is 25%, which is quite spectacular,” the summary states.

In remarks published with the summary report, Bishop Oscar A. Solis expressed his gratitude to all who participated or contributed to the process.

“When our parish communities joined Pope Francis and all the Catholic Churches around the world last November to launch the Vatican Synod on Synodality 2021-2023, it was an act of faith,” the Bishop wrote. “I wondered how our diocese would be able to carry out such a gigantic effort to bring parishioners together during this pandemic.”

Thanks to the diocesan synod team and the participants, “we were able to ‘journey or walk together’ as a community of faith in a process of Christian dialogue, commitment and accompaniment,” the Bishop added.

“A large number of parishioners representing the diversity of our Church: clergy and laity, men and women, young and old, active and disengaged, deprived and peripheral, and even some of the ecumenical groups have opened their hearts to the calls of the Holy Spirit and participated for a few months in the listening sessions organized throughout the diocese,” he wrote.

He commended those who “shared their joys and hopes, as well as their difficulties, frustrations and disappointments with their church amidst some skepticism, uncertainty, much hesitation and misunderstanding of the process. The information we heard and received expressed very well the feelings and aspirations of the people of God today and for the future of our local Church.

The report has been made available on the Diocese’s website “so that we can listen and learn from what has been presented so that we can all prayerfully consider the summary and respond openly to where the Holy Spirit leads us to shape our local Church now and in the years to come,” Bishop Solis wrote.

The report described eight topics that emerged from the listening sessions:

A welcoming church

Overall, participants in the listening sessions said that the Church and its institutions need to be more welcoming. “Those already part of the Catholic community, but also those by association or interest, sometimes feel unwelcome,” the report said. “Although not universal, the experience of being marginalized (differences in culture, generations, ecclesiology, ideology, language, LGBTQ+, women, young people, etc.) remains a very important to many people.

Women

The role of women in the Church is also a priority for many Catholics in Utah. “Women want their voices more than heard, and there is considerable sentiment that women are blocked or held back in various ways,” the report said.

Many participants believe that the Church needs to evolve and provide more leadership opportunities for women. While some find an all-male church hierarchy distressing, others have expressed the view that men and women have different roles in the Kingdom. Some also felt that women could do more to support women, especially that older women could mentor younger women more.

Youth

While participants recognized the important role Utah Catholic schools play in nurturing young people, they felt that more needed to be done at the parish level and more support needed for parents.

“It is clear that much more is being asked for in the education, training and development of our parish youth programs,” the report said. “We need to better serve our young people in our liturgical celebrations with tools like the Liturgy of the Word for children, specific music for them, and make the liturgy more accessible for them.”

Active life

Parishes thrive when opportunities are provided for dialogue, ministry, prayer, social time and worship among parishioners, the comments revealed. However, too often it is up to pastors to make this happen when all the faithful should be involved.

“Our activity and the intentionality and motivation behind it should come from below, that is, from the parishioners and not just from the pastor or the parish council,” the report says.

Language and cultural barriers must also be overcome, said those who responded.

“We must continue to work and be deliberate to bring together different communities of people and help them flourish through our ministries, leadership, prayer and worship. We need more activities in adult faith formation, catechesis, support of Catholic schools, liturgical understanding, opportunities for dialogue, prayer, retreats, social events, spirituality, youth ministries and ‘return to faith’ programs,” the report said.

Catechesis and formation

Many Catholics feel their knowledge of the faith is insufficient and want more opportunities for formation, especially with other adults, according to the report.

“There is a desire for faithfulness to truth and this is cultivated in our character and faith formation at all levels and in all age groups,” he said. “Better catechesis and better formation lead us to better accomplish our common mission.

Ecumenism and interreligious

Working with people of other Christian denominations, especially with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the predominant religion in Utah, is important to participants. Although the quality of these relationships varies, many Catholics have been able to find common ground in shared family values ​​and a desire to serve the community as a whole.

“No matter what obstacles we may face, we must always remember that we are Catholic Christians and… God loves us all,” one person wrote.

Communication, Dialogue, Discernment

Church members need to feel respected and listened to, according to the report. Crossing the linguistic and cultural divide to communicate is especially important for Hispanic and English-speaking Catholic communities.

“When people feel that no one is listening to them, that their voice is not heard or ignored, they feel they are no longer part of the Church,” one person wrote.

Authority and participation

While many participants acknowledged the hierarchical structure and governed authority of the Church, headed by priests, bishops and the pope, some felt that the Church should be more democratic and even called it ” outdated, archaic or closed-minded”.

“A lot seems to depend on the leadership style of the pastor a parish has assigned them,” the report said.

Although the synodal process revealed a variety of perspectives and experiences, “it was a moment of grace for us to learn to listen to one another,” the report says. “We experienced deep dialogue, friendship and unity, a manifestation that the Spirit is alive and that God is in our midst. Let’s continue to journey together and advance the kind of church we want and love.

“It will take patience to work diligently on the final outcome of the Synod so that we can be in greater communion with the Church,” the report concludes. “Nevertheless, much of the fruit obtained can begin to illuminate our directions and our new horizons. May it not be the fruit of the forbidden tree, but the fruit of holiness in the truth of God.

The full summary report, which includes some suggestions for addressing concerns raised during the listening sessions, can be viewed at www.dioslc.org/about-us/synod-of-bishops-2023.

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