CBCP’s National Team on Synodality organizes in-depth synodal discussion on key issues from Synodal Synthesis Report

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) National Team on Synodality, in collaboration with the University of Santo Tomas – Graduate School, organized an in-depth discussion and discernment session on key issues identified in the Synodal Synthesis Report. This event, which took place on March 15, 2024, at the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex, aimed to facilitate dialogue and communal discernment regarding pressing matters within the Church and society.

The consultation meeting featured a comprehensive program, including plenary sessions, workshops, and open forums. Msgr. Bernie Pantin welcomed the participants by providing the rationale for the event, while Dr. Estela Padilla, a laywoman theologian delegate to the Synod, provided an update on the status of synodality by sharing her personal experience at the Synod in Rome. Most Rev. Pablo Virgilio S. David delivered the plenary talk by highlighting the scriptural reflections and insights of the Council of Jerusalem as the framework of synodality. Bishop David exhorted the participants to allow the Holy Spirit to guide their conversations toward communal discernment within the Church. Afterward, the participants were divided into five groups based on the issues identified in the Synodal Synthesis Report, including ethical concerns related to artificial intelligence, identity and sexuality, complicated marital situations, end-of-life issues, and the possibility of women deacons in the Church—an issue added by the Church in the Philippines which requires communal discernment.

The shared discernment involves an in-depth discussion among experts from diverse disciplines and backgrounds coming from different institutions, including people who are directly affected by the matters under consideration. It is noteworthy that the Artificial Intelligence Discerning and Writing Group is chaired by Dr. Marciana Agnes G. Ponsaran from the UST Philosophy Department, and the Complicated Marital Situation Discerning and Writing Group is chaired by Dr. Marites R. Redoña of the UST Institute of Religion.

The main objective was to explore synodality’s role in addressing controversial issues through collaborative reflection and action. The aim was to understand these challenges, discern their implications in light of theological reflection and Church teaching, and propose pastoral principles and guidelines.

Throughout the discussions, the members of the various discerning and writing groups  engaged in an open and respectful dialogue, encouraging a constructive exchange of ideas without dismissing opposing viewpoints while acknowledging the plurality of voices within the Church. The session’s outcome will contribute to the CBCP Report to the Synod on Synodality, providing insights and recommendations shaped by collective discernment.

The event concluded with closing remarks emphasizing the importance of continued dialogue and collaboration in addressing controversial issues. Participants left with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to fostering a Synodal Church that embraces diversity and promotes unity in the service of the mission.

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