Photo by Thomas Lefebvre on Unsplash

Diocesan survey launches Toronto’s synodal process

  • December 16, 2021

It’s been a long time since Moses brought 10 commandments down from the mountain, but at last Toronto Catholics have a chance to send 10 suggestions back up the hill to Church leadership.

The Synod on Synodality has begun in Canada’s largest diocese with an online survey that asks people how connected they feel to the Church, whether they believe the Church listens to them and how parishes and the diocese can do better.

Archdiocese of Toronto chancellor of spiritual affairs Fr. Ed Curtis said a lot of Toronto Catholics have been wondering when the archdiocese would get on board with the two-year global synod process that was launched by Pope Francis Oct. 11.

“We’ve had a lot of requests, which I think is very encouraging — that people are excited about this,” Curtis told The Catholic Register as the survey went live online (at Dec. 10. “It’s something they want to voice their input into. I think that’s a really good sign.”

For Cardinal Thomas Collins, the underlying purpose of two years of listening is to push the Church out of its shell.

“The whole point is not that we just sort of circle together, but that we reach out,” the cardinal says in an introductory video to the synodal process. “We’re called to evangelize. That’s really at the heart and centre of the Synod on Synodality. We listen, we pray, we reflect and then we move outward.”

Curtis and his archdiocesan synod committee are putting effort into getting the survey out to the people who aren’t in church Sunday morning. Posters that bear a QR (Quick Response) code have been distributed to parishes so that anybody with a smartphone can use it to link to the survey.

“Those are precisely the people we would like to hear from,” said Curtis.

Reaching out to the peripheries, as instructed by Pope Francis, will take some special effort. But the periphery also includes those who can’t see themselves going to Mass or making friends at their parish.

“I’m curious to know the reasons why they’re not attending church,” Curtis said. “But also my hope is that the synod is going to serve as an evangelical tool.”

Following an Oct. 29 extension granted by the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops, dioceses now have until Aug. 15 to complete the first, local phase of the synod listening exercise.

Over the summer Canadian dioceses will summarize the results of the first phase of the synod for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. The CCCB will then produce a digest of the contributions for a regional meeting between the CCCB and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in March of 2023. This feedback will go to the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops for a global synod in Rome in October of 2023.

But it’s the local process that reigns supreme, said Collins.

“Because this is where we encounter Christ. This is the place where we gather together and we celebrate the sacraments. We listen to the word of God, we evangelize. It begins here,” the cardinal said.

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