The largest group of Catholic priests in the United States hosted the synthesis consultations for the synod on synodality to highlight common themes of interest to the Church.
“We welcome the publication of the national synthesis outlining the common themes raised during the Synod listening sessions. Our joy is a companion to our constant concern for our Church, so that we can continue to listen to each other and accept the challenges of change,” read a press release from the Association of American Catholic Priests.
The AUSCP, which has about 1,200 priests in its ranks, is the largest association of priests in the United States. It was founded in 2011 as a support group for priests who are inspired by the teaching of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and its continued implementation.
The association said its members “are encouraged to find that the report shares the concerns we have addressed” – a welcoming church, the role of women, Catholic social teaching, racism, ministry to and with the community LGBTQ, improving education and training seminary students for the priesthood, and heartbreaking divisions within church and society.
The great challenges of the Church
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released the 15-page document Sept. 19 that offers the national synthesis in preparation for the synod on synodality to be held in October 2023.
The document pointed to the division within the Church as “a source of serious scandal”. He reproached the bishops for their “lack of unity” among themselves but also “of certain bishops with the Holy Father”.
He also spoke of categories of excluded people – divorced and remarried, “members of the LGBTQ+ community” and victims of racism encountered “both inside and outside the Church” and envisioned a “more welcoming Church as opposed to a Church that “seems to privilege doctrine over people, rules and regulations over lived reality”.
The AUSCP statement emphasized that “Although not addressed in the summary, we would like to highlight other major issues facing the Church: the care of creation for our common home, the end of death penalty and renewed witness to evangelical non-violence”.
“We are encouraged by the release of the synthesis and the bishops’ recognition that this phase of the synod must lead to action,” he said.
The publication of the synthesis, made after a broad consultation in which some 700,000 people participated, concludes the national consultation in the United States in preparation for the synod on synodality.
A continental phase will now begin, which will produce one of the documents that will help prepare for the synodal assembly, convened in October 2023.