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European Continental Assembly: final remarks

The first part of the Continental Assembly of the Synod, taking place in Prague from 5 to 12 February, concluded with greetings from Archbishop Gintaras Grušas, president of the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe.

Four days of prayer and intense work. In the daily Holy Mass and in moments of common prayer, the participants prayed for peace in Ukraine, for the victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, for Christian unity.They were accompanied, and it will be like this until Sunday 12 February, by the silent and continuous prayer of many brothers and sisters of contemplative life, in 180 monasteries scattered throughout Europe.

During the working sessions, the 39 national reports on the questions of the Document for the Continental Stage were presented; the free and serene confrontation continued in the group work: divided into 13 groups, the participants continued the reflection “on the intuitions that resonate, on the tensions and differences that emerge, on the priorities and calls for action to be shared with the other Churches.”

In addition, 270 online participants took part in the assembly. They were delegates of the national Bishops’ Conferences, divided into 12 groups, and presented the summaries of their work to the Assembly.

There were also many free interventions and guests present, for a real synodal experience: Archbishop Grušas recalled that “synodality is the theme of our meeting, and I think we have experienced the fruits of listening to each other with the ‘other. We have experienced being a family, a Church, lay people, men and women, consecrated people and bishops. And we have experienced what this family is at a European level”.

The Redaction Committee presented a draft of the final document to the Assembly. The document was drawn up following the indications and words of the assembly, not prepared in advance.This makes it an interim document and still subject to the “amendments” of the assembly and to some editorial adjustments. The document, which was approved by the Assembly, will be returned to all participants, after the requested modifications, for possible further revision before being delivered to the General Secretariat of the Synod.

The conclusions of the document, amended following the indications of the Assembly, can be considered the first fruit of the work of these days. They are sent to you in full. The document can be disseminated for common reflection.

Among the points described by the document, the need to deepen the theology of synodality and that of a formation in synodality that also takes into account the signs of the times. One of the strong proposals of the assembly is that a meeting of this kind, which brought together bishops and lay people, be held on a regular basis, at least every ten years.

From tomorrow, and until February 12, only the Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences will meet to collegially re-read the synodal experience lived together.

Prague, Feb. 9, 2023

(photo gallery of the last day available here)