By Courtney Mares
The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem has announced that the synodal process in the Holy Land will open simultaneously in Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Cyprus on Oct. 30.
Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa has published a letter that describes the synodal process in the Holy Land as an occasion of encounter and listening in which all voices are heard.
“In the Holy Land … we decided that the diocesan phase of the Synod should involve the Catholic Churches as a whole and not separately. In short, we will make a single path of preparation, the same for all our Churches,” Pizzaballa wrote in the letter published Oct. 15.
The patriarch invited parish priests, young people, contemplative monasteries, movements, migrants, and foreign workers to be involved in the local synodal process.
“All those who feel they have a word to speak should be enabled to do so,” Pizzaballa said.
“However, this moment of the synodal journey must not be limited to speaking only of our problems because it would make everything sterile, without perspective. It must be a path illuminated by the Word of God, which is always the bearer of life,” he added.
The synodal process, launched by Pope Francis earlier this month, is a two-year, worldwide undertaking during which Catholics will be encouraged to submit feedback to their local dioceses.
A synod is a meeting of bishops gathered to discuss a topic of theological or pastoral significance, to prepare a document of advice or counsel to the pope.
The 56-year-old Church leader, who was appointed Latin Patriarch in October 2020, highlighted the Gospel account of Jesus’ conversation with his disciples on the road to Emmaus as a “methodology” for encounter within the synodal process in the Holy Land.
“Rather than making theoretical speeches, it is helpful to listen and meet experiences from which to learn: it is more beneficial to go to a monastery and listen to the religious life experience than to make a speech on the religious life. It is more incisive to listen to the life experience of the Holy Land parishioners than to elaborate a fantastic theory about the local Church,” he said.
“Moving even physically from one’s parish hall, from one’s familiar center to meet another unknown reality of one’s Church can, I think, make a difference in many cases.”
Piazzaballa noted that the opening of the local phase of the synod in the Holy Land will coincide with the Solemnity of Mary, Queen of Palestine.
The synod will officially open at 11 a.m. across the patriarchate, with gatherings in Deir Rafat, the Shrine of Our Lady Queen of Palestine and of the Holy Land, as well as the Church of Our Lady of Nazareth in Swefieh, Jordan, and the Maronite Cathedral of Nicosia in Cyprus.
“We should not expect dramatic changes from all this or extraordinary fruits. The fruits always arrive after a long time and if you have worked in the field,” Pizzaballa said.
“It would already be profitable if the Synod marked the beginning of a new way of finding ourselves as a community, where all feel part of each other’s life, united in the person of Jesus, the heart of our faith, who gives meaning to our being here in the Holy Land and who nourishes and illuminates the love that sustains our lives.”
“In the hope that this journey begun by Pope Francis will rekindle our passion for the Church, with good wishes to all and as I await the opportunity to see you again I invoke the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Palestine, so that She may accompany us on this way,” the patriarch said.