American Bishop Says Amazon Synod Will Enrich the Catholic Church

Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego. Photo courtesy of Diocese of San Diego

While the focus of the synod this month in Rome has been on the needs of the Amazon region, an American bishop at the meeting has suggested the synod can enrich the rest of the church and the world.

Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego is one of the few prelates called to the Vatican for the three-week meeting who is not from the Amazon region. With doctorates in theology from the Gregorian University and in political science from Stanford University, he is considered one of the brightest U.S. bishops.

McElroy spent the first week of the synod listening. When he did speak, rather than telling the Amazonians how to deal with their issues, he chose to talk about how the synod — and perhaps the Amazonians themselves — could potentially impact the rest of us. In a sense, he was explaining to Americans why this synod is important to them too.

The synod is a gift to the church, McElroy explained, because it shows how the church can listen to those who are not usually heard. The “lived synodal experience,” said the bishop, “places at its very center the dreams and the sufferings of the people of God. It is a synodal experience that has privileged the perceptions and experiences of those continually excluded from meaningful participation in church and society.”

McElroy liked that the synod “places the pastoral imperative at the heart of the church’s theology and mission” and that it “prioritizes listening to the Spirit, bold and honest discussion, and an unswerving focus on the mercy of God.”

In these ways, “the church of the Amazon has illuminated a grace-filled pathway for the embrace of synodality that will enrich regional and local churches throughout the world,” said McElroy.

In other words, the Amazon synod is a living example of what Pope Francis means when he speaks of a synodal church that listens, discerns and acts as disciples of Jesus.

The second contribution of the synod to the rest of the church and the world “lies in its witness to the nature and power of ecological conversion.”

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Source: Religion News Service