Zagreb, (IKA) – The first session of the Second Synod of the Archdiocese of Zagreb began on Friday, December 9, in the Vijenac Auditorium of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Institute in Zagreb. The beginning of the session was attended by Bishop Josip Mrzljak of Varaždin, Bishop Vlado Košić of Sisak, Bishop Nikola Kekić of Križevci, Bishop Vjekoslav Huzjak of Bjelovar- Križevci, and the president and vice president of the Croatian Conference of Major Superiors of Men and Women, Friar Jure Šarčević, O.F.M.Cap, and Sr. Miroslava Bradica.
The session began with the solemn chanting of Vespers, during which the chancellor of the Archdiocese of Zagreb, Msgr. Stjepan Večković, carried the evangelistary in the procession.
The Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Josip Bozanić, greeted the participants in the Synod, who represent “our entire archdiocesan family, its communities and bodies, agencies and institutions. Gathered here is our archdiocesan Church, the many types of associates of the episcopal service and ecclesial witness. Here are the members of the Cathedral Chapter of Zagreb, the College of Presbyters, Council of Advisers, Archdiocesan Ordinariate, archdeacons and deans, pastors and parochial vicars, representatives of parish councils, catechists, religious communities, the young faithful, seminarians, religious societies, associations and ecclesial movements. Here are representatives from various areas of Church activity, service and testimony of caritas, education, health care, science, culture and entrepreneurship. I want the work that we are now beginning to help all of us to draw more closely together spiritually, to make it possible for us to live that communion of Christ’s Church, whether in its universal dimension or in the individual areas of its activity.” Then the Cardinal presented a brief overview of the preparations for the Synod, which began with an announcement on the Feast of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac, February 10, 2002, that it would be convened. In the autumn of the same year, further preparation began through prayer and archdiocesan consultations, which were followed by pre-Synod discussions in parishes, deaneries and other communities of believers, including a wide circle of believers in the archdiocese. In early 2003, the bodies of the Synod were established, which were the Central Preparatory Commission and the Secretariat for the Preparation of the Synod. After processing the minutes from the pre-Synod discussions during 2008 and 2009, the preparation of the Working Document was undertaken, and was completed in 2015. Cardinal Bozanić mentioned that the Servant of God Cardinal Franjo Kuharić had thought about the Synod and was particularly gratified when it was announced in February 2002.
On this occasion, Cardinal Bozanić thanked everyone who had readily and generously participated in the preparations for the Second Synod of the Archdiocese of Zagreb. “I pay tribute to the expert contributions made by all the members of the Central Preparatory Commission, the leaders and members of study groups, the group of experts who developed the Instrumentum laboris, members of the Secretariat for Preparing the Synod and the Synod volunteers, including the young. I particularly thank the secretaries of the Synod, Dr. Tomislav Markić, who performed this duty from the beginning of preparations until 2011, and his successor, the current secretary, Dr. Denis Barić.”
Noting that the pre-preparatory and preparatory periods were lengthy, the Cardinal said that the pre-Synod discussions yielded many proposals, some of which have already been implemented, such as the Catholic University of Croatia and the Archdiocesan Pastoral Institute. He recalled that during the course of preparations for the Synod, two new dioceses had been established, Sisak and Bjelovar-Križevci. In addition, this preparatory period was marked by the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Croatia during the celebration of the First National Day of Croatian Catholic Families.
In our particular Church, the Synod has launched new momentum, encompassing priests, religious and, especially, the lay faithful. In many of the faithful at Synod meetings, an awareness has been awakened of their mission and responsibility for their Archdiocesan Church. Thanks to this synodal process, a new style of co-responsibility is developing among the faithful for their parish and archdiocesan community, that is, for the particular Church in which they live. This helps all of us in the Church enrich each other and recognize each other as members of the same parish, the same archdiocese and the same Church, said the cardinal, and continued: “By sharing and exchanging opinions on various issues, we hone our spiritual view, making it more farsighted, and become better prepared to confront the countless challenges of our time. We become more mature and ready to embark on the adventure of life with God and bring God into all aspects of life. Through the efforts concerning the Synod, we want all our life to be permeated by God and afford God more space, not only in our parish communities but in our families, schools, workplaces, and in culture, science and art, in health care, business, politics, the media and sports, so that we are always prepared to explain the hope that is in us to others, albeit gently and respectfully.”
Synodality is characteristic of the Church, which cannot be equated with similar events in society. A synod takes place in God’s people, in a place in which the Church feels and recognizes the action of the Holy Spirit, which is always surprising if we are open ourselves to it. God is always greater than our logic and our accounts. I wish to emphasize that the Synod can be a place for the action of the Holy Spirit only if the members of the Synod prayerfully and trustingly open themselves to God, if they listen to what God has to say to them in the silence of their consciences. All of us need evangelical humility but also ecclesial courage. Using Pope Francis’ vivid comparison from his introductory speech at the opening of the Synod of Bishops on the Family, I want to emphasize that the Synod is “neither a convention, nor a parlor, nor a parliament or senate, where people make deals and reach compromises.” The Synod is a Church event, i.e., the Synod is the Church that is together on the path to see reality through the eyes of faith. It is the Church that explores and examines its fidelity to the deposit of faith (depositum fidei) as a living spring that sustains the Church and in which the light for guiding our lives and activities is to be found, said Cardinal Bozanić, who then directly addressed the participants: “… every one of you is called to make a contribution to the Synod. It is necessary to speak clearly, openly and courageously, obedient to the voice of our conscience and the Holy Spirit. Let us listen attentively to one another, in mutual respect. Each contribution, each intervention, is valuable and important. It is necessary to take care that no seed sown here for the advancement of our Archdiocese of Zagreb shall be lost.”