ZIMBABWE: Bishops outline vision for a Synodal Church in Pastoral Letter to Faithful

By Odiwuor Opiyo

HARARE, JULY 22, 2022 (CISA) – “The Synodal process, if taken seriously will help give shape to a definite style of being Church and will contribute positively to nation building. It will shape our attitudes and models of thinking about the mission and pastoral care and relationships with other Christians, the world, other religions and indeed relationships among the members of the Church,” reads the Pastoral letter of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishop’s Conference (ZCBC) to the People of Zimbabwe and all people of goodwill titled, ‘Together on the Journey of Faith and life’.

In the letter dated July 18, ZCBC outlines its vision for a Synodal church to incorporate a “Synodal presbyterate where priests and bishops work as a team and family of God, Synodal Religious communities where Religious Congregations use their charisms and spirituality to edify and enrich the whole Church and Synodal laity where all laity use their talents in co-responsibility to make Evangelization more effective.”

“The Roman Catholic Church in Zimbabwe has embraced the Synodal process inaugurated in October 2021 by the Holy Father Pope Francis,” they said, adding, “This Synodal journey offers us a unique opportunity to intensively encounter each other in truth as we seek to build a more inclusive Church, a church that listens to the faintest voice, walks along with the slowest among us and seeks to carry the weakest who need help to come along on this faith journey.”

The Catholic bishops reiterated their commitment to the Synodal process avowing that “In going forth we do so as one family of faith, who work together in love and respect.”

“As a Church, we renew our commitment to act as genuine peace-builders in our nation. The Church is a credible partner in creating a broad public consensus to guide our country to peace. The synod does not only require a mutual dialogue but ‘prophetic dialogue’. The church not only listens to all but as a prophet, the church listens carefully to God, is attentive to people’s cries, anguishes and discerns the signs of the times speaks truth to power. There is a serious danger in trying to mute the prophetic voice of the Church,” reads the letter in part.

The bishops also appealed to the faithful saying; “Let us together dream of a Synodal Church, a Church that listens, a Church of mercy and love, a Church that cries out for justice for the poor more than a Church that is enslaved by its systems and structures. Let us dream as a single human family, as fellow travelers sharing the same flesh, as children of the same earth which is our common home, each of us bringing the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all.”