The Catholic Church in England and Wales has been following the Synodal Process called by Pope Francis, reflecting on the theme “For a Synodal Church: communion, participation, mission” and has now reached an important moment. As you will know some of us participated in the Listening Sessions held in the parish facilitated by the newly formed Parish Pastoral Council (PPC). From that process a Synthesis was produced and sent to the diocese, under what were tight timescales. Personally, I would have preferred a two year Listening period – but I’m not the pope! I previously shared with you the Westminster diocese Synthesis, based on returns from parishes. Many parishes are not engaging in this current of grace breathed out by the Holy Spirit. Some priests are suspicious of it or feel overcome by their current workload as their parishes recover from Covid and therefore feel they have no capacity for it in parish workload planning. This strikes me as odd, as the process can be easily led by a PPC, with overview from the parish priest. My view is that it must be prioritised as the Church moves forward and discerns the sensus fidelium amongst the faithful, holding to all that is good, true and beautiful in that handed on to us over the ages, as it makes changes for the future, or experience catastrophic institutional decline. The emergence of this is already to be seen in the USA with massive parish closures and mergers in the face of declining numbers of priests and collapse in the Mass-going community. As we move forward, each diocese in England and Wales have produced their own Synthesis from Listening Sessions in their parishes and the bishops of England and Wales have produced a National Synthesis. You’ll find the link to it here. A hard copy will be left in the parish church to read for those who do not use the internet.