Press Conference with the Fraternal Delegates to the 2023 Synod

30 Oct 2023

A press conference on the ecumenical dimension of the First Session of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (Vatican, October 4-29, 2023) was held at the Holy See Press Office on October 26, 2023.

In attendance were His Eminence Cardinal Kurt Koch, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity; His Eminence Iosif, Romanian Orthodox Metropolitan of Western and Southern Europe, who participated in the Synod as a fraternal delegate; Rev. Dr. Fr. Opoku Onyinah, former President of the "Church of Pentecost, Ghana", also a fraternal delegate, and Prof. Catherine Clifford, Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at St. Paul University in Ottawa, a member of the International Catholic-Methodist Joint Commission, who participated as a representative of the Synod process for North America.

Cardinal Koch affirmed that "baptism is what unites us, the foundation of ecumenism and the basis of synodality" and that "there is a reciprocity between ecumenism and synodality". He also referred to the importance of learning about different forms of synodality in other Christian traditions, recalling the Dicastery's recent publication "Listening to the East".

Metropolitan Iosif then spoke. "As the Orthodox Church, we are very happy to be part of this process," he said, recalling that reflection on synodality and primacy has been ongoing for ten years within the International Joint Commission for Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue. As an example of collaboration, the Metropolitan pointed out that in Italy "the Catholic Church lends more than 300 churches to the Orthodox Church of Romania. Moreover, he added, "ecumenism is happening at the grassroots level" through the witness of many mixed families that have been formed in Europe and around the world.

Pastor Opuku Onyinah, representative of the World Pentecostal Fellowship and member of the International Catholic-Pentecostal Joint Commission, said that "the invitation to the other churches to participate in the synod was an act of humility on the part of the Pope and the Catholic Church". The synod process, he added, "is very transparent, open and gives people an equal opportunity to share their views. Moreover, "every contribution is considered equally important. This is, in Onyinah's view, "a high expression of maturity that the Catholic Church is showing.

Prof. Catherine Clifford then spoke, pointing out that each bishop in the world "sees the Synod as a primary instrument, the fruit of decades of reflection, where the journey between ecumenical partners continues and is nourished by dialogue". Referring to the pre-synodal journey in the Canadian context, she pointed out that "there has been an important exchange between the different Christian Churches: there has been a truly receptive ecumenism in which each Church has recognized a need for renewal and growth. Synodality is indeed a paradigm of our common journey towards a reconciled Church, where the faith we share in Jesus is much greater than the issues that divide us".

Also participating in the press conference were Dr. Paolo Ruffini, Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication and President of the Synod Information Commission, Dr. Sheila Pires, Secretary of the same Commission, and H.E. Mgr Stanislaw Gądecki, Archbishop of Poznań, President of the Polish Bishops' Conference.