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A Pocket Companion To Synodality

A Pocket Companion To Synodality: Voices From Africa

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African Synodality Initiative For a synodal African Church

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St. John Paul II said, "Let us listen to what all the faithful say, 5 because in every one of them the Spirit of God breathes." The hierarchy must go before God's people pointing the way and keeping their hopes up. They are urged to stand in their midst with modesty and merciful presence. There are times when a bishop has "to walk after them, helping those who lag behind 6 and above all, allowing the flock to strike out on new paths." Fear is prevalent in the Church. People are afraid of being judged, embarrassed, not listened to, and not taken seriously. Church leaders should therefore let the people speak and listen to them; if there is anything to correct, that can be done afterward. Jesus urged us to know the truth because it sets us free (Jn 8:32). "What he meant was the bad news of sin and the 7 good news of divine love." The laity needs to be respected and encouraged to speak because their synodal participation is not an addendum. Speaking out admittedly takes courage. We need to create pastoral counselling structures in which those who are not as articulate can have a space to speak without fear. We should acknowledge the diverse ways people speak. Speaking happens not only through the use of words and language; it can also be done through poetry and other creative works. It is through encouraging other forms of speaking out that everybody finds his or her voice. 5. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Novo millennia ineunte, no. 45. https://bit.ly/3xGD8LK 6. Pope Francis, Evangelii gaudium, no. 31. https://bit.ly/3QucvSV 7. Dean Brackley, The Call to Discernment in Troubled Times: New Perspectives on the Transformative Wisdom of Ignatius of Loyola (New York: Crossroad, 2004), 2. 19

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