The first part of the Synod on Synodality’s two-part assembly concluded Sunday leaving many unanswered questions about the next steps in the process.
The synod synthesis document published over the weekend calls for bishops’ conferences to “play an important role” in encouraging theological and pastoral reflection “on the most relevant and urgent issues and proposals” outlined in the document.
It says that the bishops’ conferences and hierarchical structures of the Eastern Catholic Churches are to “act as a link” between their local Catholic Churches and the general secretariat of the synod in this “development of the reflection” in the coming months.
Yet much remains unclear about what concretely will take place in the year leading up to the second and final synod assembly in October 2024.
According to the Instrumentum Laboris, the working document for the first synod assembly that took place Oct. 4–29 at the Vatican: “The main objective of the first session will be to outline paths of in-depth study to be carried out in a synodal style, indicating the relevant actors to be involved and ways to ensure a fruitful process in service to the discernment to be completed in the second session in October 2024.”
While the synthesis report published at the end of the assembly calls for further study on multiple issues, as well as the establishment of commissions of theologians and canonists, nowhere in the document is it specified how these new “commissions” would be composed, who would choose the members, or how or when they would meet.