‘Walking together’… without lay movements and associations?

The Vatican has published the last participants for the forthcoming first session of the Synod on Synodality:


I count 276 bishops, 67 priests, 87 women including 49 religious, & 33 other men.

Here’s the spreadsheet I’ve created:


(Please let me know of any errors or omissions!)

And for my instant reaction, please see these tweets:

Trying to start positively, it’s good to see a growing number of women represented but, as mentioned, most of those of these are representing religious congregations.

In addition, there are 33 non-ordained males including one lay brother (as far as I can see).

That leaves 38 other non-religious lay women and 32 lay men.

Of those many are theologians or otherwise working for the institutional (hierarchical) Church.

Meanwhile, I can only find reference to four associative (mainly lay) movements, two of which are Italian (Azione Catolicca Italiana and Mediterranea Saving Humans), one Spanish initiative (“Frater España – Fraternidad Cristiana de Personas con Discapacidad), and one international movement (Focolari, itself of Italian origin).

Where is the rest of the world in this picture?

And, as Kevin Ahern has just pointed out in a tweet, there is also a complete absence of representation of the voice of young people.

Frankly, how is this is not a complete slap in the face to the thousands of lay associations, groups and movements comprising literally millions of lay Catholics around the world, devoting their time, energy and lives to the building of the Kingdom, particularly to those organised in international movements and the like?

If synodality means “walking together”, how is it possible to organise a Synod on “Synodality” without any effort to provide systematic global representation of those groups, many of which are grassroots initiatives by volunteers.

This is a complete retreat from not to say an almost total reversal of the developments pioneered over the century leading up to Vatican II.

By the Third Session of the Council, many movements had succeeded in obtaining representation by lay auditors, as this list from a report in The Tablet clearly indicates:

It is obvious from this that the Council organisers made a serious and systematic attempt to provide for and ensure representation of a full range of lay movements.

I spoke about this in the panel on “Reshaping Global Catholicism? Comparing Models and Experiences of Synodality” at the European Academy of Religion at St Andrew’s, Scotland earlier this month:


As I asked at the end, “Where are the lay movements and organisations represented in the Synodal process???”

Where is any similar attempt to provide for such representation at the 2023-24 Synod?

The answer is that there has been no such attempt.

In a globalised or at least globalising Church, this is simply inexcusable if the Synod is to earn any credibility as a synod on “synodality.”

Stefan Gigacz