Following the example of Jesus, The National Catholic Partnership on Disability works with dioceses, parishes, ministers, and laity to promote the full and meaningful participation of persons with disabilities in the life of the Church.
Pope Francis is calling the Church to rediscover its deeply synodal nature. This rediscovery of the synodal roots of the Church will involve a process of humbly learning together how God is calling us to be as the Church in the third millennium
The Synod of Bishops encourages the participation of persons with disabilities to contribute to the Church through the Synod now in the first stage at the diocesan level. NCPD and all Catholic organizations are invited by to participate in the consultation of the Synod 2021-2023 to bring the needs, desires, and concerns of persons with disabilities and their families.
Diocesan and ministry leaders are invited to participate in the Synod process by providing accessibility, adaptations, and accommodations for equal participation.
People of God walk together. The objective of the current Synod is to listen, as the entire People of God, to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church.
The purpose of the Synod is not to produce more documents, it is intended to inspire people to dream about the Church we are called to be, to make people’s hopes flourish, to stimulate trust, to bind up wounds, to weave new and deeper relationships, to learn from one another, to build bridges, to enlighten minds, warm hearts, and restore strength to our hands for our common mission (PD, 32).
Synodality enables the entire People of God to walk forward together, listening to the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, to participate in the mission of the Church in the communion that Christ establishes between us.
Listening to the entire People of God will help the Church to make pastoral decisions that correspond as closely as possible.
This rediscovery of the synodal roots of the Church will involve a process of humbly learning together how God is calling us to be as the Church in the third millennium to God’s will.
Pope Francis is inviting all the baptized to participate in the Synodal Process that begins at the diocesan level.
- The diocesan Bishop, auxiliary Bishops, and the Diocesan Contact Person(s)/Team
- People whose voices are often inadequately heard, such as those who experience poverty, the elderly, minority groups, isolated persons, people with disabilities, migrants, refugees, indigenous communities, etc.
- Lay leaders (men, women, young people of various ministries and diocesan bodies)
- Other lay persons (men, women, and young people invited from parishes and other Church organizations).
- Clergy (diocesan priests, religious priests, deacons, etc.)
- Members of Institutes of Consecrated life and Societies of Apostolic life (reflecting the diversity of charisms) and leadership of institutions of apostolic and charitable works.
- Interested ecumenical and interreligious delegates (and others who may not be Catholic but who can contribute helpful perspectives for the Church.
- People with specialized skills are required for the meeting, including facilitators and pastoral or theological experts in ecclesiology.
HOW DO MINISTRY LEADERS INCLUDE PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES, PERSONS WITH MENTAL ILLNESS, AND THE DEAF COMMUNITY IN THE SYNOD PROCESS?
Participating with the diocese in the sessions is appropriate for each community, ensuring resources, accommodations, and accessibility are provided for meaningful participation.
Some dioceses will have meetings with parishes, Catholic schools, cultural ministries, specific audiences as many participants as possible.
If circumstances (such as pandemic restrictions or physical distance) make face-to-face interaction difficult, then it is possible to use moderated online discussion groups, self-guided online activities, chat groups, phone calls, and various forms of social communication, as well as paper-based and online questionnaires.
- Accessible room
- Large-print handouts
- ASL interpretation (if requested)
- Materials to communicate through Art
- Sensory items
- Other accommodations (as needed/requested)
The Experience on the Local Level
THE UNFOLDING OF THE SYNODAL PROCESS AT A LOCAL LEVEL MUST ALSO INVOLVE:
- Discernment through listening, to create space for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
- Accessibility, in order to ensure that as many people as possible can participate, regardless of location, language, education, socio-economic status, ability/disability, and material resources.
- Cultural awareness to celebrate and embrace diversity within local communities.
- Inclusion, making every effort to involve those who feel excluded or marginalized.
- Partnership based on the model of a co-responsible Church.
- Respect for the rights, dignity, and opinion of each participant.
- Accurate syntheses that truly capture the range of critical and appreciative perspectives of all responses, including views that are expressed only by a minority of participants.
- Transparency, ensuring that processes of invitation, involvement, inclusion and aggregation of input are clear and well communicated.
- Fairness, ensuring that participation in the listening process treats each person equally so that every voice can be duly heard.
ATTITUDES FOR PARTICIPATING IN THE SYNODAL PROCESS
- Being synodal requires time for sharing: We are invited to speak with authentic courage and honesty (parrhesia) in order to integrate freedom, truth, and charity. Everyone can grow in understanding through dialogue.
- Humility in listening must correspond to courage in speaking: Everyone has the right to be heard, just as everyone has the right to speak. Synodal dialogue depends on courage both in speaking and in listening.
- Dialogue leads us to newness: We must be willing to change our opinions based on what we have heard from others.
- Openness to conversion and change: We can often be resistant to what the Holy Spirit is trying to inspire us to undertake.
- Synods are an ecclesial exercise in discernment: Discernment is based on the conviction that God is at work in the world, and we are called to listen to what the Spirit suggests to us.
- We are signs of a Church that listens and journeys: By listening, the Church follows the example of God himself, who listens to the cry of his people. The Synodal process provides us with the opportunity to open ourselves to listen in an authentic way, without resorting to ready-made answers or pre-formulated judgments.
- Leave behind prejudices and stereotypes: The first step towards listening is freeing our minds and hearts from prejudices and stereotypes that lead us on the wrong path, towards ignorance and division.
- Cure the virus of self-sufficiency: We are all in the same boat. Together we form the Body of Christ. Setting aside the mirage of self-sufficiency, we are able to learn from each other, journey together, and be at the service of one another.
- Overcoming ideologies: We must avoid the risk of giving greater importance to ideas than to the reality of the life of faith that people live in a concrete way.
- Give rise to hope: Doing what is right and true does not seek to attract attention or make headlines, but rather aims at being faithful to God and serving his people. We are called to be beacons of hope, not prophets of doom.
- Synods are a time to dream and “spend time with the future”: We are encouraged to create a local process that inspires people, with no one excluded to create a vision of the future filled with the joy of the Gospel.