Updates from the Synod

Synod Information

As we go through this year of more discovery and discussions, Cynthia is sharing links to articles that may be of interest to you. They will be available in this space. 
A Tribute to the Women of the Synod
Transsexual and Homosexual Persons and the Sacraments
Vatican's Transgender Guidance Reflects Pope Francis' Pastoral Approach
Jane Leyden Cavanaugh interview in Rome aired on KSTP News
The Trouble with 'Gender Ideology'

Vatican News webpage: Highlights from the Synod including videos and articles covering the daily activities.
The Catholic Spirit has an article running on its website pre-Synod
The Catholic Spirit followed up with an interview with Cynthia in Rome

Navigating Difference, Celebrating Unity: The Promise of Synodality for a Polarized Church

Each 1-hour virtual lectures in this series will explore  how the practice of synodality (encountering with love, listening with empathy, and discerning a faithful response) can help people respond to experiences of polarization in the Church. Each lecture will be followed by a LIM alumni/student panel responder. 
March 13, 2024: Dr. Cynthia Bailey Manns: "Spirituality and Synodality: Holding Space for Conversations in the Spirit."  Register HERE

The Synod, Lay Leadership, and the Social Mission of the Church

"Eleven years ago Pope Francis stepped out on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica with words of welcome and gestures of humility. He has spent the following years emphasizing that we are called to be a “poor Church for the poor” committed to the most vulnerable among us..."
Participants: Dr. Cynthia Bailey Manns, Sr. Nathalie Becquart, XMCJ, Bishop Daniel Flores, Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy and Chris White
Tuesday, March 12, 2024; 5pm-6pm CDT
RSVP for the Livestream
Sponsored by Georgetown University's Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life

Vatican Synod Listening Sessions

As part of the ongoing Vatican Synod and to prepare for the 2024 gathering in Rome, all U.S. dioceses have been asked to host listening sessions this Lent. In our Archdiocese, Archbishop Bernard Hebda is hosting two virtual events where participants will gather in breakout groups and participate in “Conversations in the Spirit,” as they were practiced by Vatican Synod delegates last October. Feedback provided by attendees in breakout groups will help inform a national report sent to Vatican Synod leaders.
February 25, 2-3:30pm; February 27, 6:30-8pm - Both sessions on Zoom.
Register Here

Synod on Synodality organizers invite 300 parish priests to a listening session in Rome

The Vatican announced on Saturday that Synod on Synodality organizers are inviting 300 parish priests to come to Rome for a meeting of “listening, prayer, and discernment” that will help shape the next synod assembly discussions.  Read more...

Inside the Global Synod

With Dr. Cynthia Bailey Manns, Global Synod Delegate - Podcast
Encounter: Conversations on Faith with the Church of St. Timothy episode five. Host Rhonda Miska welcomes Dr. Cynthia Bailey Manns, one of 54 women in the world selected by Pope Francis to serve as a voting member of the Global Synod on Synodality. Cynthia shares about her experience participating in the Synod assembly in Rome in 2024 through the conversations in the spirit method and describes her personal encounter sharing with Pope Francis about Sister Thea Bowman. Cynthia also shares what next steps for the Synod are before the October 2024 assembly in Rome.  Listen Here

The Synod & LBGTQ+ Issues: Towards October 2024

New Ways Ministry 
The Synod on Synodality concludes in October 2024 with a second global assembly. Between now and then, the Vatican has asked Catholics to both deepen and broaden their engagement with the synodal process.

New Ways Ministry invites you to an online panel featuring two Synod delegates, Dr. Cynthia Bailey Manns and Julia Osęka, aimed at helping LGBTQ+ people and allies respond to Vatican's call. The panelists will offer insights about how issues of gender and sexuality have been addressed in the Synod so far, and how LGBTQ+ people and allies can continue engaging the Synod in the lead up to this October. Their remarks will be followed by a question and answer period.

The panel will be held on Zoom on Tuesday, January 30, 2024 at 6:30 - 7:45 p.m. Central U.S. Time. To register, click the button below. I hope you will join us for the panel—and for all of New Ways Ministry's efforts to help LGBTQ+ Catholics voices be heard in the synodal journey.

 Register for the event Here


I continue to be humble and grateful by Pope Francis’ appointment to participate in the Synod on Synodality in October 2023 and 2024. I expected an incredible, life changing experience and that is the gift I received.

I spent September 28th thru October 30th in Rome as one of fifty-four women delegates, who for the first time in church history, have the right to vote alongside deacons, priests, bishops, cardinals, and Pope Francis.

To do this sacred work, I grounded myself in spiritual/contemplative practices so I could be present to the Holy Spirit. I created a Synod spiritual treasure box filled with images, songs, quotes, prayers, words of encouragement, and my Bible. And I leaned into Sister Thea Bowman’s strength, love, patience, wisdom, and commitment to justice for ALL.

Sister Thea Bowman, the granddaughter of enslaved persons, converted to Catholicism at age nine and later joined the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration pre-Vatican II. She died of cancer in 1990. The edict opening the formal investigation into her cause for canonization occurred in 2018. Even in death, her spiritual authority as a witness for God continues to challenge us to participate in the healing of the world. During my time at the Synod, she was my constant spiritual companion, and I wore my Sister Thea lapel pin every day we were in session. I am grateful I had the opportunity to gift a sister Thea lapel pin to Pope Francis.

The Church continues to be reformed. May we all continue to listen deeply to the Holy Spirit and one another as we embody Jesus’ love.

National Catholic Reporter

Council to ask pope to authorize studies on key synod topics
Vatican News 
"The council of the Synod of Bishops will ask Pope Francis to authorize studies on the need to update canon law, revise the rules for priestly formation, deepen a theological reflection on the diaconate -- including the possibility of ordaining women deacons..."


Black Catholic Messenger

Interview: Dr. Cynthia Bailey Manns, an African-American laywoman at the synod
by Dr. Valerie Lewis-Mosely and Nate Tinner-Williams

"It was a challenge to anticipate what it was going to be like...I knew that whatever happened, based upon the “Conversations in the Spirit” process we had, it would be a place of transformation for me."


Two Important Articles

As we have reached the end of the 2023 session,  these two articles may help us understand: What really happened? What did you do? And, crucially, what was the point?

Father James Martin: What happened at the Synod on Synodality
America Magazine

"So the foundation of all we shall do in this synod should be the friendships we create. It does not look like much. It will not make headlines in the media. “They came all that way to Rome to make friends. What a waste!” But it is by friendship that we will make the transition from “I” to “We.”" - Timothy Radcliffe, O.P.

To my mind, that was the most important thing that occurred at the synod: Friendships were built across boundaries, within the boundary of our love for Christ, whose love knows no boundaries. Read More...

Cardinal McElroy: There should never again be a synod without lay people as voting members
By Gerard O’Connell, America Magazine

Q: Now we have the synthesis document. What is your overall take on it?
Cardinal McElroy: It’s a transitory document. It’s for this moment. To a great degree, it encapsulates where the discussions have led, but it’s oriented toward the future, in two different ways. One is for when we come back together [in October 2024], but also, in the interim, to have conversations with people at the grassroots level, in the local dioceses and parishes, on these issues as they have fermented and developed within the document. Read More...

I Am Grateful

I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Synod on Synodality.  I am deeply concerned about the "crushing blow" to the  LGBTQ+ community in this report. My hope lives as I know SJA will continue our sacred work AND I will do all I can to share our community's sacred stories. I am excited to come home on Monday! Thank you for your continued prayers! Cynthia

National Catholic Reporter article 
Vatican News: The Synod Report: A Church that Involves Everyone 
Future Church: Final Report on Women Deacons and LGBTQ+

Synod General Assembly to People of God: 'Church must listen to everyone'

Participants in the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops have approved a Letter to the People of God giving thanks for their experience, detailing the work of the past few weeks, and expressing the hope that in the coming months, everyone will be able to "concretely participate in the dynamism of missionary communion indicated by the word 'synod'". Read More...

Working In Our Groups

Cynthia writes: I am right by the red fire extinguisher at the table at the top of the picture. This is a good article for you to read: How The Synod Is Modeling A Solution To The Church’s Polarization.

Prayers for Peace

During  SJA Sunday Masses, I am grateful for our minute of silence when we pray for peace in the world.  I have never experienced the dreadful impact the violence of war has in so many countries of the world.  Beginning with our Synod opening retreat, we have prayed for those suffering in the midst of wars and prayed for peace. On October 12th, we had an incredible morning prayer service led by participants from countries in conflict, including Israel and Palestine - please read this article from Maryknoll Magazine. Their witness stories of the pain and suffering of the people in their countries who have been hurt or killed, including friends and family, will remain seared on my heart. 

Each day we are working, I have the opportunity to listen to someone, including some of the speakers mentioned in the article, whose country is currently at war. It is during breaks, over coffee/drinks and snacks, that we have a chance to engage in heart to heart conversations about their lives in the midst of unrelenting violence. It is during breaks, with coffee cups in hands, that I have prayed and cried, with them.  It is also during these times that we hold the tension, and sometimes guilt, they feel about being in Rome participating in the Synod, when so much suffering is happening at home. 

Please continue to pray for me this week - that I may continue to be a loving presence to all those here who need to feel God's love as they prepare to return to their home countries.  
Thank you!


Small Group Meetings

My third Small Group. 
Photo Credit: Bishop Joseph Do Manh Hung, Diocese of Phan Thiet, Viet Nam
Article Link
National Catholic Register: Synod Consensus: Everyone is Tired

My second Small Group where I was the reporter and had to give my report to over 350 people. I was also the reporter for my group last week and had to give my report with Pope Francis in the room! 

Check out these links to articles about the synod
National Catholic Reporter: Welcoming What Jesus Would Do
Vatican News: Pope Francis meeting Whoopi Goldberg Interview
National Catholic Register: Members ask for Greater Discernment of Church Teaching on Sexuality

Opening Mass

How did I get here?, is the question I asked myself as I walked in the Synod Opening Mass processional in St. Peter's Square. I reminded myself to "be here now!" I am aware of the Holy Spirit moving throughout the crowd and Pope Francis reminding us, "The Church finds itself at a crossroads and the urgent challenge strictly speaking is not of a theological or ecclesiological nature, but how in this moment in history the Church can become a sign and instrument of God's love for every man and woman.”

I am called to be here with this community engaging in discernment about what the Holy Spirt is saying to us about the future of our Church. Pope Francis said, "The Holy Spirit,” often shatters our expectations to create something new that surpasses our predictions and negativity. He continued by saying, “Let us open ourselves to Him, the protagonist, the Holy Spirit. And let us walk with Him, in trust and with joy."

My prayer: Come Holy Spirit, Come.

We also received a link to an article in America Magazine that may be of interest: Analysis: The synod is not Vatican III. It's Pope Francis' implementation of Vatican II.

Retreat update October 3

Today is our last day of the Synod delegates' retreat. As you can see from the picture, it is a beautiful place to rest one's mind and body while being spiritually fed. 

Retreat Meditation - Authority
The Spirit of Truth 

I am grateful. 

Retreat update October 1

I arrived in Rome safely! I am grateful I can enjoy this view for the next thirty days! Saint Peter's Basilica, in the middle, is beautiful! Thank you for all your prayers!

Here is how we are currently spending our days:
"Hoping Against Hope"
'At home in God and God at home in us'