Thursday, October 12, 2023: We're returning to the origin, to what the church was from the beginning
Thursday, October 12, 2023
'"I have this sensation that we're returning to the origin, to what the church was from the beginning and should be, based on the Gospel
On the third day of the Synod of Bishops, Mercy Sr. Angela Perez, of Guam, walked toward Paul VI Hall in Vatican City on Oct. 6 as if it were a normal day of work.
Since women haven't been allowed into such synods as full members before, she had no reference point, nothing to compare it to, she said. Yet as normal as the gathering seems, she also understands something is different and historic.
"I'm experiencing and witnessing the dismantling of the hierarchical," she told Global Sisters Report, describing the scene inside the synod hall — where cardinals, bishops, young and older lay Catholics, and women religious like herself are sitting together at roundtables, without hierarchical distinctions.
Pope Francis, like the other some 460 participants in the synod, is also sitting at a roundtable — the head of the Catholic Church being treated, more or less, just like everyone else in the room.
"It reminds me of when we have our chapter, the Sisters of Mercy, that that's how we gather — and to gather there like that and the pope in the circle at one of those tables with the other participants, it's just very positive to see that," she told GSR.
Likewise, Sr. Iris Altagracia González, of the Dominican Republic and a member of the Congregación de las Hijas de Jesús (Daughters of Jesus), said she quickly realized that for all the seemingly normal procedures, she noticed, too, something is different.
"I arrived all innocent, calm," she told GSR on Oct. 6. "And then, after being here, I realized the enormity, that I'm attending something really historic, really significant for the church. I think this is not a synod like the others. The synod is a return to a focus on Jesus and not on church rules.”
It's puzzling for her to hear people outside the synod express worries about its discussions, since she believes that what's largely taking place is a conversation — a listening to oneself, others, and God, she said.
"I have this sensation that we're returning to the origin, to what the church was from the beginning and should be, based on the Gospel," she said, "to follow Jesus and not to focus on rules. This is about following Jesus as a church, as a community, and from that point, there is nothing to fear."
If there's one thing she could say to those who worry about the synod, said González, it's that the Gospel of Jesus does not inspire fear.
"That, to me, is what's most important, to follow Jesus," she said. "Wanting to build a community like the one Jesus had in mind should not be a reason to fear. I don't understand."
The only thing to understand, she said, is that Jesus was a person who embraced all, who didn't throw stones, who welcomed all.
"So, why could we be afraid to be like Jesus?"