August 26, 2022


Guiding the Church through prayerful listening, dialogue

On June 9, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis formally submitted its report on the Synod Listening Process that was conducted here during the previous year. This report has now been forwarded to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and is available in English and Spanish at

The USCCB will formulate its own report based on input from dioceses across the country. This report, along with others from bishops’ conferences from around the world, will then be sent to the Vatican as it prepares for the 2023 Synod of Bishops, where how the faithful are called to contribute to the guiding of the life of the Church through prayerful listening and dialogue (“synodality”) will be the topic of discussion.

Through this process, dioceses throughout the world have been given an opportunity to participate in guiding the Church as it journeys through the opportunities and challenges of this moment in history. The methods we have been invited to use—prayerful listening and respectful dialogue—in order to advise the bishops who will gather in Rome next year are as ancient as the Church herself, and yet they address contemporary challenges.

What do we need now to heal the wounds caused by the health crises, economic uncertainty and social unrest that have created so much havoc in our society and in our Church?

First, we need to listen to the word of God, and to each other, prayerfully and in ways that are open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And, secondly, we need to stop shouting and cursing at one another long enough to engage in respectful dialogue with one another—especially those we disagree with.

As Archbishop Charles C. Thompson has observed, “The notion of synodality is about a process of praying, listening, dialoguing, accompanying, encountering and discerning the movement of the Holy Spirit in the life and mission of the people of God.”

This idea of coming together in synod to learn from each other as we journey together dates back to the experience of the early Church. Through the synodal process, Archbishop Thompson continues, the Church “seeks mutual respect, understanding, reconciliation and a path forward as a pilgrim people in faith, hope and charity. The Church, the body of Christ, comprises a rich fabric of peoples, cultures, languages and customs. Remaining vigilant, we must remain open to divine revelation through word, sacrament and service.”

This is how we Christians have traditionally faced crises and come to a deeper understanding of who we are called to be as disciples of Jesus Christ, united in spite of our very real differences.

As part of the synod preparation, Catholics across central and southern Indiana were surveyed to answer questions about the life of the local Church. Input was collected from multiple sources: an archdiocesan online survey, the archdiocesan pastoral council, parish pastoral councils, young adults, Hispanic Catholics, those involved in Catholic schools and leaders of Christian and other faith communities in central and southern Indiana.

Catholics in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis are urged to read the full synod report (, which summarizes “what archdiocesan and parish leaders heard” from individuals and groups representing a broad cross section of people in central and southern Indiana who responded to questions originally developed by the Vatican for use in dioceses throughout the world.

Reflecting on what the synod report says, Archbishop Thompson noted, “The process of synodality is only as effective as the participation of those willing to engage in prayerful, sincere relationship with one another. The Archdiocese of Indianapolis is blessed with incredible clergy, religious and laity throughout central and southern Indiana. There is a place at the table for everyone. May God continue to renew our hearts and minds, bringing to completion the good that has begun in the journey of salvation.”

Listening prayerfully is not something that we do easily, especially today, but it is absolutely necessary if we’re ever going to break the vicious cycle of resentment, anger and fear that dominates so much of what passes for discussion among us. Guiding the Church effectively is possible only when all of us—clergy, religious and lay people—are willing to open our minds and hearts to what the Holy Spirit is saying in and through us, the people of God.

Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to walk with us and to help us be open and respectful in our dealings with all our sisters and brothers on our spiritual journey.

—Daniel Conway

Local site Links: