H.E. Joseph Cardinal Tobin
In an effort to further the mission of the Church , to inspire and encourage the People of God to contribute to the life of the Church in the AMECEA region, His Eminence Joseph William Cardinal Tobin of Newark, New Jersey in USA has invited the entire People of God in the region to journey together, to “accompany” each other.
While presenting at the 19th AMECEA (Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa) Plenary Assembly that is underway in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Cardinal Tobin said synodality exists for the mission of the Church and must be experienced in all the various collaborative structures.
Synodality is a term that briefly focuses the theology of Vatican II which invites the entire People of God to journey together, to “accompany” each other, as we live as the Church.
He said that through baptism and confirmation all members of the Church have been anointed by the Holy Spirit and that the entire Christian community is reliable when its members discern together and speak with one voice on matters of faith and morals.
“All the baptized possess a sensus fidei (sense of faith). The Synod always acts cum petro et sub,” Cardinal Tobin said in his presentation.
He added that ensuring the synodality of the whole church will be impossible, if people misunderstand the church’s hierarchy and see it as a structure in which some people are placed above others.
“A Synodal Church listens, but that does not undercut ecclesial authority. The Church’s structure is like an upside down pyramid with the top on the bottom, which is why those who exercise authority are called to serve the people of God,” he stated.
He urged the delegates to listen to what the faithful have to say because in every one of them the spirit of God breathes.
Referring to the Synod of Bishops of 2015, he said the process for each synod must begin with listening to the faithful, which Pope Francis calls a “constitutive element” of the Church.
The prelate emphasized that the role of bishops at a synod is to “act as authentic custodians, interpreters and witnesses of the faith of the whole church.
By Jacinta W. Odongo