The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) recently issued the North American Final Document for the Continental Stage of the 2021-2024 Synod: For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.
Begun in late 2022, the Continental Stage of the Synod was the second stage of the three-year process initiated by Pope Francis in October 2021. For the North American Continental Stage, the United States and Canada held twelve virtual assemblies: seven in English, three in Spanish, and two in French between December 2022 and January 2023. In total, 931 delegates and 146 bishops from Canada and the United States were appointed to participate in one of these twelve assemblies to share their reflections and responses to the Document for the Continental Stage (DCS) issued by the Holy See’s General Secretariat of the Synod in October 2022. Those reflections were brought together by the North American Writing Team to create the Final Document.
Bishop Raymond Poisson of Saint-Jérôme-Mont-Laurier, president of the CCCB welcomed the release of the Final Document and expressed gratitude at the conclusion of the Continental Stage, “We wish to extend our most profound gratitude to all those who participated in the North American Continental Stage. In a special way, we would like to thank all those throughout the continent who kept the process and those involved in prayer over these last five months. The Holy Spirit is truly at work in the Church in North America and we hope this Final Document will serve to strengthen our communion as sisters and brothers in Christ.”
The Final Document from North America, along with the contributions of the six other Continental Assemblies, will form the basis of the Instrumentum Laboris to be released by the General Secretariat of the Synod in June 2023.
Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Doctrine, who has been shepherding the synodal process in the United States, commented on the significance of the Final Document, “This document is an important step in our commitment to become a more synodal Church. While we await the next steps of the formal process to be carried out in Rome, we have an opportunity to make synodality truly present among us here in North America. We invite you to discern prayerfully the joys, laments, and tensions raised in this Final Document and discern together how you can make present the first fruits of synodality in your local community.”
Begun in October 2021, the “Synod on Synodality” was recently extended by Pope Francis through October 2024, to allow for more time for reflection and discernment from both the local and universal Church. The Universal Phase of the Synod will be held in two parts, the first in October 2023 and the second a year later in October 2024.
The North American Final Document for the Continental Stage is available in English, Spanish, and French. More information about the North American Continental Stage of the 2021-2024 Synod – For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission, as well as additional resources can be found at usccb.org/synod.
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