Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation

Learning from other churches

Butembo 25.07.2023 A cura di Jpic-jp.org Translated by: Jpic-jp.org

Saint Paul said: There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. There are different ways of serving, but it is the same Lord we serve. There are different ways of doing things, but it is the same God who works everything in all. In each person the Holy Spirit manifests himself as a gift for the good of all (1 Cor 12:4-7).

Pope Francis has asked the local Churches to include at all levels other Churches in their preparations for the World Synod. In their history, they have often preserved the synodal character of the Church better than the Catholic Church, which has insisted above all on hierarchical structures. We can learn much from their strengths and weaknesses.

1-. In the Orthodox Churches, synodal practice has continued in accordance with the tradition of the Fathers and is still alive today, for example through the practice of a permanent synod to clarify liturgical, legal and practical issues. A weakness of Orthodoxy is the close link between the Church and the State, which exerts an influence on the life of the Church.

2-. In the Anglican Communion, synodical practice has remained a reality at all levels - local, national and supranational. It creates a synergy between the legislative authority of the synods, in which all members of the People of God participate, and the executive power of the bishops.

3-. A trigger for the Reformation was the abuse of authority in the Church. Then it was the sale of indulgences and the corruption of the clergy, now it is sexual abuse. The reformers rightly insisted on the universal priesthood of all the baptised and on the laity’s responsibility in the decision-making process. But the lack of a definitive authority and the one-sided emphasis on Christian freedom led to a Protestantism’s fragmentation.

4-. The rapid expansion of charismatic churches, especially in the countries of the South, shows that the pastoral care of traditional churches no longer meets the religious needs of many Christians. What attracts young people in particular is a form of worship in the language and music of today's culture, the experience of a living community and the freedom for individuals to bring in their charisms.

The synodality of the Church and "the principle of hierarchical and charismatic gifts equal importance in the Church" were rediscovered at the Vatican Council 2 and anchored in new pastoral structures at all levels: regular episcopal synods, national and regional episcopal conferences, diocesan and parish pastoral councils. The synodal process has several objectives:

- To instil a missionary spirit into these existing processes, so that they do not deal solely with internal Church’s matters, but know themselves to be primarily responsible for the Church's mission in the world.

- Involve lay people in decision-making not only as advisors, but also as co-responsible parties.

- Not to see decision-making as a dispute between different opinions, but as a common search for God's will for us today.

An African proverb "Ba alu pamvu siri ru" (Lugbara - Uganda) says, "The footprint of only one person is very weak".

The Proposal of a Decalogue

So, Bruno Forte, Theologian and Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto (Italy) offers for a true Synod : The Proposal of a Decalogue. If ‘dialogue’ means ‘meeting through the word’ (dia-logos), dialogue is necessary to walk together, to live, that is, that style of ‘synodality’ (synod means journey made together), with which Pope Francis is calling for the Church to face the challenges and promises of our times.

To experience an authentic synodal process, the Church must increasingly be a people in dialogue, within herself and with others. The path of synodality asks us all to verify ourselves on the ability to dialogue in truth. I invite you to do so by examining ourselves on this decalogue, which I elaborated several years ago and put to the test on many occasions to educate us in dialogue, says Bruno Forte.

1-. There is no dialogue without humility. By accepting to listen to the other, by renouncing all claims on them, the way is opened to the truth, to which we all owe obedience.

2-. There is no dialogue without listening. It is necessary to silence prejudices and fears, to be open to the new, to be respectful of the foreignness of the other, welcoming them with trust as an inner guest, eager to live the common belonging to the truth and to the love that save us all.

3-. There is no dialogue without amazement. Being amazed, seeing the world with different eyes, feeling part and not all, getting involved and taking risks, disorient but free from false resistance and make one capable of welcoming the truth from wherever it comes.

4-. There is no dialogue without a common language. To understand the words of the others, one must listen to their hearts and respect the vital situation from which they come. Only in this way can dialogue be an ‘encounter in the word’ (dia-logos).

5-. There is no dialogue without silence. Silence is necessary both to listen and reflect on what is being proposed by the other, and to express authentic closeness, often conveyed by gestures rather than by many words. We will not speak true words if we have not first walked the path of silence for a long time!

6-. There is no dialogue without freedom. To open up to dialogue and live it, we need to be free from ourself, willing to question ourself; free from others, rejecting the conditionings and fears that they sometimes impose; and free to obey only to the truth, which sets us free (cf. Jn 8:32).

7-. There is no dialogue without mutual forgiveness. Anyone who wants to dialogue must clear his mind and heart of any wrong suffered resentment or wound. Remember, the heart must be purified with the request and offer of forgiveness.

8-. There is no dialogue without mutual knowledge. Ignorance of the other, of his culture, of his vital world, is at the basis of misunderstandings and closures. To dialogue, it is necessary to know the others and to be known by them.

9-. There is no dialogue without responsibility. Whoever dialogues must never forget the network of human relationships from which he comes and towards which he is responsible. Dialogue does not eliminate, rather it increases the sense of responsibility that each one must have towards the good of all.

10-. There is no dialogue without truth. Anyone who has no passion for the truth will not be able to dialogue. In dialogue the heart opens to the one who is the truth, the living God, who comes to dwell in whoever – in dialogue with him – welcomes His love for him.

Therefore, dialogue requires humility, listening, the ability to be amazed, understanding, silence, freedom from oneself, from others and from things, reciprocity in forgiving and knowing one another, responsibility in wanting the good, and obedience to the truth.


Leave a comment

The comments from our readers (3)

Bernard Farine 23.08.2023 J'aime bien ce décalogue qui est ouvert mais sans concessions. Il pourrait servir, en l'adaptant, à beaucoup de situations de dialogue. L’article souligne les faiblesses de l'église orthodoxe (proximité avec la pouvoir politique), des églises protestantes (morcellement) mais il ne souligne pas les faiblesses de certains mouvements charismatique (pas tous) alors que j'en vois beaucoup. En particulier une certaine fermeture sur la vie civile et un risque sectaire important impliquant parfois des risques d'agressions sexuelles par les responsables de ces groupes (par exemple L'Arche de Jean Vannier en France).
Dario 02.09.2023 Forse l articolo dovrebbe andare ai cardinali a vescovi a preti locali (usa in particolare)..Chissa Gesu cosa direbbe oggi? Rivolterebbe i tavoli nella "sinagoga/chiesa/" ..Mi sa forse andrebbe oltre.. il" capitalismo "della Chiesa Cattolica ovvero Vaticano ed i suoi grazie a Dio pregi e tesori, ringraziamolo,,dovrebbe avere una funziona potente..universale..dovrebbe avere preti studenti in economia, macro economia, lavoro, scienza.. etc..meglio una societa in sviluppo che comprende il movimento dei preti operai bellissimo, forse era troppo ambiguo per alcuni allora, non andava bene..li vedi il cuore della classe lavoratrice, di ogni livello politco.. oggi sarebbe forse un prete che lavora da amazon.. pero..abbiamo troppa teologia ..( che io stesso studio la sera nel mio piccolo per sconfiggere la mia ignoranza) Insomma la verita quale e"?
Margaret Herdersion 26.09.2023 I found the article about learning from other churches very helpful because it reminded me that in dialogue it is very important to listen to what the other person is saying. This is extra relevant to me at the moment because I’m trying to set up a new night shelter for destitute asylum seekers and a highly intelligent, very articulate person is publicly opposing me. I’m now not really angry with her because I have tried calmly to listen to her arguments and understand them - but it doesn’t mean I AGREE with what she says!