Talk to us

CathNews, the most frequently visited Catholic website in Australia, is your daily news service featuring Catholics and Catholicism from home and around the world, Mass on Demand and on line, prayer, meditation, reflections, opinion, and reviews. And, what's more - it's free!

Pope Francis and leaders of the assembly of the Synod of Bishops applaud at the conclusion of the assembly’s last working session on Saturday in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

A report summarising discussions at the Synod on Synodality’s first assembly said the Church may need more welcoming pastoral approaches, especially to people who feel excluded, but also acknowledged fears of betraying traditional Church teachings and practices. Source: CNS.

Among the topics addressed in the report were clerical sexual abuse, women’s roles in the Church, outreach to the poor and the concept of “synodality” itself.

The assembly, with 364 voting members – 365 counting Pope Francis – met in working sessions six days a week from October 4-28 after a three-day retreat outside of Rome. 

The assembly’s discussions set the stage for a year-long period of reflection that will culminate in the second and final synod assembly in late 2024 on the same topic.

The 41-page synthesis report, voted on paragraph-by-paragraph on Saturday, described its purpose as presenting “convergences, matters for consideration and proposals that emerged from the dialogue” on issues discussed under the headings of synodality, communion, mission and participation.

Every item in the report was approved by at least two-thirds of the members present and voting, synod officials said. 

Within the synod topics, members looked at the role of women in the Church, including in decision-making, and at the possibility of ordaining women deacons. The report asked for more “theological and pastoral research on the access of women to the diaconate,” including a review of the conclusions of commissions Pope Francis set up in 2016 and 2020.

Assembly members also discussed pastoral approaches to welcoming and including in the life of parishes people who have felt excluded, including the poor, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ Catholics (though that term was not used) and Catholics whose marriages are not recognised by the Church.

The report also acknowledged fears, including that “the teaching of the Church will be changed, causing us to depart from the Apostolic faith of our forebears and, in doing so, betraying the expectations of those who hunger and thirst for God today.”

This report will go back to local churches around the world for further consideration and input for the next phase of the synodal process and the next session in Rome in October 2024.


Synod synthesis shows agreement, divergences, including on ‘synodality’ (By Cindy Wooden, CNS via USCCB)


Synod on Synodality 2023: Final report calls for greater ‘co-responsibility’ in Church (By Jonathan Liedl, CNA)

Synod report proposes ways to foster synodal Church (The Pillar)

Synod Report: A Church that involves everyone and is close to world’s wounds (Vatican News)

Pope’s major Vatican summit ends without action on women deacons, mention of LGBTQ Catholics (NCR Online)