Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan launches the Synod on Synodality process with a Mass at the St. John the Evangelist Cathedral in Dagupan City on Oct. 17, 2021. SCREENSHOT/DAGUPAN CATHEDRAL
By Mariel Celine L. Serquiña
October 18, 2021
Manila, Philippines
As dioceses on Sunday opened the synodal process, a Catholic archbishop on Sunday asked for prayers that the synod will lead the church to renewal.

What kind of church does the world need today and the years to come?

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan said during a Mass that, first and foremost, “it must be the Church of Jesus Christ”.

“Let us pray that the two-year consultation in preparation for the Synod on Synodality will truly bring about the new Church,” Villegas said in his homily at the Dagupan Cathedral.

He said this also means that the Church should always choose Christ over ideology and must emulate Christ’s “all-embracing” and “all-sacrificing” leadership.

“The Church cannot be yellow or red or pink because these things separate us. The Church of Christ does not choose any colors [because] Christ should be the center of decision making,” the archbishop said.

The world, he added, also needs a “Church that leads without being elitist” and “a Church that goes to the margins without being marginalized”.

“This is the dream Church. This is the Church that we want to be. This is the Church we want to become,” Villegas said.

“We cannot do it by ourselves. We can only do it by the power of God and the power of Christ working in our lives,” he added.

Pope Francis on Oct. 10 formally opened for the entire Church the Synod of Bishops with the theme, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission”.

The diocesan phase begins the synodal process and will include consultations with local clergy and laity.

After the local consultation, the bishops will prepare for a three-day assembly on the national level on March 7 to 9, 2022 so that they can submit a national report to the Synod General Secretariat by April 2022.

This will be followed by a continental phase from September 2022 to March 2023, leading on to the “universal phase,” to be held in Rome in October 2023.