From Sunday to Thursday, February 5-9, 2023, the delegates of the European Bishops’ Conferences met in Prague for the European Continental Synodal Assembly, in preparation for the Synod convened by Pope Francis. The theme of the Synod is: “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission.”

In total, there will be seven such assemblies around the world: Africa; Latin America and the Caribbean; Asia; Europe; Middle East – Oriental Churches; North America; and Oceania.
The mission? The purpose of the Continental Assemblies phase is to incorporate the conclusions of the diocesan phase of the synodal process into the document for the continental phase. After synodal discernment, a final document will be produced, which will help define the Instrumentum laboris for the next phase.
The key question is: how does this journey together, taking place at different levels (from local to universal), allow the Church to proclaim the Gospel according to the mission entrusted to her. Moreover, what steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow as a synodal Church?
In Prague, about some two hundred representatives of the European Bishops’ Conferences studied and discussed these issues. On Sunday evening an opening liturgy was celebrated. On Monday morning, the participants met in the assembly hall, where they were greeted by the Most Reverend Jan GRAUBNER, Archbishop of Prague, Czech Republic. The Most Reverend Martin KMETEC, OFM Conv., Archbishop of Izmir (Smirne), Turkey, was also present and concelebrated at the Mass.
After opening remarks and an explanation of the methodology to be used, Professor Tomáš HALIK gave a lecture. He stated that the Church as a communion of pilgrims is a living organism. This means that the Church must always be open, transforming and evolving! He suggested that the task of the Church is to keep ever-present in human hearts the desire for this goal and, at the same time, to resist the temptation to consider any form of knowledge, from the Church, society, religion, philosophy or science, as being final and perfect. Finally he warned that we must not approach others with the pride and arrogance of those who claim to possess the truth. The Truth is a book that none of us has yet read all the way through. We are not owners of the truth, but lovers of the truth and lovers of the One who can say, I am the Truth. We must not be afraid. This was his closing appeal to all those attending and probably to the whole Church.
In addition to the representatives in the hall, there were 390 online representatives who also participated in the five-day conference. All thirty-nine European Bishops’ Conferences collaborated to nominate ten representatives. Friar Andreas MURK, the President of the German Conference of Major Superiors, was sent as a representative of the German Episcopal Conference.

Friar Andreas MURK