SYNOD CONSULTATIONS. Dumaguete Bishop Julito B. Cortes speaks during the launching of the Synod of Synodality at the Cathedral of St. Catherine of Alexandria on Sunday (Oct. 18, 2021). He said unlike in the past, even people who are not members of the Roman Catholic Church are now being consulted by the Diocese of Dumaguete as part of its “listening process” for the Synod on Synodality 2023. (Screen grab from the Dumaguete Cathedral's Facebook page)

DUMAGUETE CITY – Unlike in the past, parishioners, lay leaders, and even people outside of the Roman Catholic Church are now being consulted by the Diocese of Dumaguete as part of its “listening process” for the Synod on Synodality.

In an interview on Monday, Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes said the Synod on Synodality 2021-2023 is a two-year process, which Pope Francis officially opened last October 10 for all the dioceses in the world to embark on a journey of discussions and consultations to help the bishops and the Catholic hierarchy in choosing the direction of church governance.

“This is unique in that in the past, the synod of bishops was only limited to the prelates coming together in Rome to talk about church governance, but this time, Pope Francis has decided to involve the people in a bottom-up process,” Cortes said.

The Dumaguete bishop led Sunday’s opening liturgy at the Cathedral of St. Catherine of Alexandria here, joining a simultaneous launching of the Synod on Synodality 2021-2023 by the different dioceses around the world.

Cortes described the process as a “people-listened to” approach where their concerns, experiences, and even suggestions will be noted over the course of about four months until a final document will be prepared and submitted to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

“This is the time for people to be heard. The important thing is that we listen to them so that whatever pastoral plans we make, we have to take into consideration the actual experiences of the people,” he said.

Cortes reiterated Pope Francis’ message of listening to the people’s questions, concerns, and hopes “without judgment”, and going to the peripheries, reaching out to those who do not attend mass, and even talking to people from other religions.

Aside from listening, he also underscored the need to pray, share, and discern while going through the synodal process.

The Diocesan Synodal Team is headed by Msgr. Glenn Corsiga, who is joined by a lay counterpart coordinator, Nanie Malayo.

Corsiga said the synodal consultations involve three phases namely, preparation, celebration, and implementation.

Aside from the parishes, among the sectors lined up for consultations include farmers, fisherfolk, the youth, persons-with-disabilities, persons deprived of liberties, and even those in politics, he said.

The “meat” of the discussions will be collated from the chapel and parish levels, onward to the vicariates, and then to the diocese.

The diocese will then put together a report that will be submitted to the CBCP, which in turn will also come up with collated data from the different dioceses and forward it to the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference, which will prepare the final regional document for submission to the general assembly in 2023 to be attended by the bishops.

Because of limited time, with the Diocese of Dumaguete having to submit its final document to the CBCP in February of 2022, representatives from the different levels have been identified to participate in the consultation process, Cortes said.

Corsiga said a questionnaire is available for those who want to participate outside of the consultations, but they will be guided accordingly when answering it. (PNA)