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USCCB aims to clarify after 'jargon' synod post criticized

Logo of the Synod of Bishops on the topic, “For a Synodal Church: communion, participation, and mission.” Credit: General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops.

The U.S. bishops’ conference says it will continue encouraging engagement in a “listening Church,” after Catholics online lambasted this week a social media post about the Church’s “synod on synodality,” a global consultation process being undertaken at the behest of the Vatican.

The bishops’ conference on Monday posted Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter posts containing a graphic offering “seven attitudes we can all adopt as we continue our synodal journey together.”

The listed attitudes were: “innovative outlook,” “inclusivity,” “open-mindedness,” “listening,” “accompaniment,” “co-responsibility,” and “dialogue.”

“Which one inspires you the most?” the bishops’ conference asked.

Answers to that question might not have been what the conference had in mind.

While the graphic did receive some positive responses, hundreds of Catholics — among them laity, religious, and priests — weighed in to criticize the list as “corporate buzzwords,” or “consultant jargon.”

The posts were, in the vernacular of the social media milieu, ratioed.

The Pillar requested on Tuesday an interview with USCCB officials, to ask whether the feedback might have elicited any internal reconsideration of the synod on synodality’s branding strategy, and whether other lessons might have been learned at the USCCB from the public’s response to the graphic.

In response, Richard Coll, executive director of the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, who was appointed last summer to be the USCCB’s liaison for the Synod of Bishops on the topic, “For a Synodal Church: communion, participation, and mission,” told The Pillar that:

“As you know, many dioceses are engaging in specific plans for communication, dialogue and virtual or in person meetings to discuss the topics and questions as formulated in these synodal materials. More than anything, the synod is an opportunity to engage in a process that fosters the active participation of all, and that necessitates an openness to be responsive to the needs and realities of each diocese. This is how we become a listening Church that journeys together. As the synod materials anticipate, this will result in fruitful conversations that, at times, may be frank and challenging. The USCCB will continue to support these endeavors through the preparation of supplementary resource materials, procedural guidance and information sessions designed to encourage and share best practices, in the hopes of fostering the active engagement of as many as possible.”

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