In a presentation at the Grange Golf Club, attended by 170 people and viewed online by more than 200, Sr Nathalie outlined what synodality means and the next steps in the synodal process that will culminate in the Synod of Bishops in Rome later this year and in 2024.
Sr Nathalie said every person in the Church was “a subject”.
“You don’t have on one side those who know, who teach, and on the other side those who discern and are passive,” she said.
“The Holy Spirit is working in all of us. We are all called to play an active role in as much as we, the baptised, share the one priesthood of Christ and we are meant to receive the various charisms given by the Holy Spirit in view of the common good.”
The big challenge, she said, was to put this into in practice.
“Living synodality as mission is to put into practice this idea of ‘Together on the Way’ that you have in your diocese…always putting first the poorest, the discarded, those who suffer, those who have no voice.
“It’s about finding ways and processes that foster communion, enable the participation of all, and always in view of the mission.”
She warned against thinking the Church should only be concerned with the people of God but rather needed to be for “all the people of the earth”.
“We have to look at the Church as going hand in hand with others, being in dialogue with society, building fraternity with all the people, even those who are not believers of God,” Sr Nathalie said.
“The challenge is that you don’t learn missionary synodality in a book, or a nice lecture, even if it can help, it’s learning by doing, by experiencing it.
“The only way to become more synodal is to stop, to reflect back, to re-read your experience, how does this journey together which takes place today on different levels allow the Church to proclaim the Gospel in accordance with the mission entrusted to her.”
Sr Nathalie said from what she had seen and heard during her short visit to Adelaide, the Archdiocese was “not starting from nothing”.
She added that being a synodal church didn’t happen overnight and was a “step by step process”.
“We are focused on short-term change in our society, we want things to go fast, but no, it’s a process and what’s most important is to be on the road, to start and to continue,” she said.
“The experience of the great joy of synodality makes us want us to be more synodal.”
She said input from around the world into the consultation process for the Synod of Bishops, had highlighted the call to “enlarge the space of the tent” and to become a more welcoming and inclusive church that is open to everybody, without discrimination.
Another theme emerging through the Synod process was that “if we really want to carry out the mission altogether, if we really want to listen to everyone and discern together, we need to make room for those who don’t have the same view, the same experience of faith”.
“We have to let go of some part of ourselves to really be guided by the Spirit, so it’s a path of conversion, a path of change,” she said.
“We will have resistance, fears, but the question is, are we led by the call of the Holy Spirit we have discerned or are we led by our fears.
“We have to face tensions, integrating the voices of the baptised, you won’t have one voice. We embrace them as generative tension that will allow us to go further, the aim of the Synod is always to find a consensus. The way the Holy Spirit is working is to enable a consensus. A new path that you’ve never imagined before…to serve the mission.”
Responding to a question about the role of the bishops in the Synod, Sr Nathalie said the bishop was “not his own voice, he is representing all the people of God in his diocese”.
“He is breathing with them, you can’t speak about the bishop without speaking about his people, that’s what we have to rediscover,” she said.
View Sr Nathalie’s presentation at adelaide.catholic.org.au