What is synodality?

Synodality means journeying together as the People of God. It indicates a way of listening to each individual person as a member of the Church to understand how God might be speaking to all of us. In this way, synodality reminds us of the work of the Holy Spirit through each of us and through all of us working together for our common mission. 

Since the beginning of his Pontificate, Pope Francis has been highlighting the importance of cultivating synodality in our Church. In his own words, synodality is the path “which God expects of the Church of the third millennium” because it is “a constitutive element of the Church”. That is why Pope Francis has called for a Synod on Synodality, happening from 2021 to 2023.

Pope Francis’ call for us to focus on synodality is a call to restore and deepen our roots as the People of God journeying together in a common mission as followers of the Way, Jesus Christ himself. Inspired and motivated by this journey that our Church is undertaking at this time, Laudato Si’ Movement will also be going through a synodal process during 2022 to evaluate and deepen its own synodality in communion with the Catholic Church.

Why focus on synodality at Laudato Si’ Movement?

Synodality is a central part of who we are, as reflected in our identity statement:

“A spirit-led movement that brings Catholics together to accomplish our stated mission. The movement brings together a broad range of Catholic organizations and grassroots members from all over the world. These members walk together in synodality and communion with the universal Church on a journey of ecological conversion.

“Striving for unity in diversity, organisational and grassroots members come together to pray, collaborate and mobilize in response to ‘the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor’. Guided by a spirit of subsidiarity, when the timing and context are right, together they create or engage with local Laudato Si’ Circles and Chapters and connect with the global movement in a wide range of initiatives to bring Laudato Si’ to life.”

Laudato Si’ Movement 2022 synodal process

In 2022, the Laudato Si’ Movement will be reflecting on how we can deepen our synodal journey as a movement and in communion with the wider Church engaged in the Synod on Synodality. As part of this year-long reflection we will engage in a public consultation process and reflection that will result in a submitted paper to the Synod on Synodality by August 2022 and statement of Laudato Si’ Movement principles related to synodality by December 2022. 

This process will be made up of listening sessions, organized by Laudato Si’ Circles and Chapters in all the regions where Laudato Si’ Movement is active, as well as an online survey open to our whole network.

This process will allow for the experience of synodality to be lived by all Laudato Si’ Movement members who will have the opportunity to participate in encounters for reflection on their experiences and expectations regarding the mission of Laudato Si’ Movement in communion with the Church. In the same way, they will be able to express themselves through the survey that will assess how they view synodality in relation to Laudato Si’ Movement’s strategic goals: Ecological Conversion, Prophetic Advocacy and Sustainable Lifestyles.

The results from our 2022 synodal process will also be reviewed in the light of the post-synodal exhortation by Pope Francis, expected to be released after the Synod on Synodality. In this way, Laudato Si’ Movement seeks to continue on its journey of deepening its synodality, improving the capacity of listening and journeying together to care for our common home, always at the service of and in communion with the Catholic Church.

Synodality throughout Laudato Si’ Movement’s history

Synodality has been present within Laudato Si’ Movement from the beginning and it grows at the same pace that our movement seeks to deepen its capacity for listening and journeying together. Our movement was born in 2015 as the fruit of a kairós, the opportune moment of the Laudato Si’ encyclical release and the Paris Climate Agreement. Right from the beginning, the foundation of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, as we were called then, was rooted in deep synodal values

Within the founding members, there was already the practice of intergenerational dialogue as symbolized by young Tomas Insuá founding the movement along with older representatives – this gained new proportions with the launching of Laudato Si’ Generation at World Youth Day Panama, in 2019.

The founders also symbolized unity in diversity through the presence of so many different charisms of several congregations including the Franciscans, Columbans, Sisters of Mercys and also different vocations with a great respect for the majority of laity. E – every year the presence of different congregations and lay movements increases through new partners and Member Organizations, as well as the engagement with the Creation Care Prayer Network.

As our movement grew, the presence of youth, women, lay people, and people from vulnerable contexts in the Global South became increasingly evident not only in the growing staff but also in the growing branches of Laudato Si’ Animators. Always guided by the Holy Spirit in the commitment to bring Laudato Si’ to life, our movement came to understand its own complexity: we are a hybrid movement composed of grassroots and grasstops drawn together by the common mission of caring for our common home in the spirit of integral ecology.

A clear example of synodality present in our story is our name change process. As indicated in our name change statement, our movement underwent a series of listening sessions and consulting stages with all its branches and levels of representation. The main goal was to discuss the intention of changing our name and clarifying our mission, our core values and our structure, but making sure that all were included in this decision-making process. 

The importance of listening to all its branches is recognized as a fundamental need for Laudato Si’ Movement to continue its work and mission. This has concrete effects on how Laudato Si’ Movement structures itself internally, being composed by the Board of Directors, the Advisory Council, staff and the Global Membership Council, as well as externally through Laudato Si’ Animators, Laudato Si’ Circles and Chapters, and Member Organizations.