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The aim of these three talks will be to illustrate, within the theological/ecclesiological background of Vatican II, the significance and potential of the topic chosen for the next synod – for a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission.  The talks will take account of Pope Francis’ recent decision that a synodal process of three phases –  diocesan, continental, and universal – should begin in October 2021 and culminate in the synod of bishops in October 2023.

Course Leader: Dr Peter Coughlan

Dates:  6th, 13th and 20th October 2021 , 4.00– 6.00pm

This mini-series is online. 

Session One will focus on:

  • Synods in Christianity today: synod in first and second millenniums: a rapid contrast.
  • The challenges faced by the nineteenth century Catholic Church: impact on Vatican 1.
  • ‘Roman’ centralisation, in tension with currents of change up, and into Vatican II.
  • Vatican II: major theological/ecclesiological developments: conciliarity.
  • Paul VI: establishes the synod of bishops – why? how? papacy in transition

Session Two will focus on:

  • Experiences of the early synods: positives and negatives.
  • The 1985 synod called to celebrate 20 years after Vatican II: strengths/weaknesses.
  • Underlying theological tensions; synods partly ‘on hold’, a degree of stagnation.
  • Pope Francis: ‘collegiality’ within ‘synodality’ central to reform/evangelising agenda.
  • Synod/s on family, 2014/2015: Church understood as the holy, faithful people of God.

Session Three will consider Pope Francis’ synod vision:

  • Pope Francis’ address, 17 October 2015, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the synod of bishops
  • ‘Path of synodality which God expects of the Church in the third millennium’
  • Sensus fidei of the baptized; sacramental ministry in service to communion/mission
  • Pope Francis’ three key words for the synodal process: parrhesia (boldness), mutual listening, and discernment
  • Three phases plan:  diocesan, continental, and universal, 2021 to 2023
  • What for the future? Developing synodality: witness/dialogue/proclamation in world.

COST:   £50 FOR ALL THREE SESSIONS.
(EARLY BIRD £45  –  before 20 September 2021)

Registration opens 1 September 2021

Register at Eventbrite :  https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/the-margaret-beaufort-institute-of-theology-33109216441

Dr Peter Coughlan was formerly Under-Secretary of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Laity, and a visiting lecturer at Heythrop College, University of London, on Environmental Ethics and on Ecclesiology/Ecumenism. He has also lectured in recent years at the Margaret Beaufort Institute for Theology, Cambridge.

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