Catholic Union invites people to join major Synod discussion

The Catholic Union is launching its 2023 webinar programme with a major discussion on the Church’s Synod.

The online event will bring together an expert panel of speakers to consider the theme of “The Synod on Synodality: Where are we now – challenges and opportunities.”

Our speakers will be Gavin Ashenden; Columnist at The Catholic Herald, Christopher Lamb; Rome Correspondent at The Tablet, Anna Rowlands; Professor of Catholic Social Thought and Practice at Durham University, and Sr Gemma Simmonds, Senior Lecturer in Pastoral Theology at the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology, Cambridge. 

Each panellist will provide their views and perspective on the Synod before taking questions from the audience. The Catholic Union is encouraging as many people as possible to take part.

The webinar is taking place on Thursday 9 February from 6.30-8.00pm. It is free to attend and open to everyone, but people will need to register in advance in order to receive the link to join the talk.

The event coincides with the Continental Stage of the Synod and the gathering of Bishops for the European Assembly in Prague from 5 – 12 February, which makes this discussion particularly timely.

The webinar builds on the Catholic Union’s proud history of leading public discussion, including our annual Craigmyle Lecture and a new “Pub Talk” series which starts later this month.

Catholic Union Deputy Director, James Somerville-Meikle, comments: “Most Catholics have probably heard of the Synod but are less likely to know what it involves and what it means for their daily lives as practising Catholics. Our event will help educate people on what the Synod is about and the challenges and opportunities coming from this major process being undertaken by the Church.

“I’m delighted that we have managed to bring together such a fantastic panel of speakers to consider this topic. It’s crucial that lay Catholics are given the opportunity to hear from different voices, and to do so in a respectful and balanced way. If you have not engaged in the Synod so far then this is your opportunity to find out more. It promises to be a fascinating discussion.” 

Dr Sr Gemma Simmonds comments: “The Synod has made it possible for the voice of religious women and men to be heard from across the world.  At the heart of the church’s mission as well as its life of prayer, religious reflect on where the challenge of contemporary culture and its issues impacts the church most strongly.  As a member of the 4-person team of theologians tasked with collating the Synod response of the world’s religious congregations I find myself profoundly moved, dismayed and challenged by their witness to questions of power, community and mission within the life of the global church.”

Dr Gavin Ashenden comments: “One of the last things that Cardinal Pell wrote before his untimely death at the beginning of January (2023) was: ‘The Catholic Synod of Bishops is now busy constructing what they think of as ‘God’s dream’ of synodality. Unfortunately this divine dream has developed into a toxic nightmare despite the bishops’ professed good intentions.’ Only by discerning the theological and cultural source of the toxicity can this process of Synodality be rescued from having become such a nightmare.”