African Jesuit Theologian Believes Synodality Work ‘Will Begin’ After Rome Meetings

The Nigerian-born Catholic priest, however, noted that the ongoing conversations in Rome are a “once-in-a-lifetime experience” for theologians and “will provide the resources for this synodal journey to continue and to succeed.”

Father Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, the dean of the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University in California, speaks at a press conference Oct. 17, 2023, at the Synod on Synodality.
Father Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, the dean of the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University in California, speaks at a press conference Oct. 17, 2023, at the Synod on Synodality. (photo: Courtesy photo / Vatican Media)

The work of synodality “will begin” when the ongoing conversations in Rome come to an end, an African member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) participating in the Oct. 4–29 Synod on Synodality has said.

Father Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, the dean of the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University in California, said that synodality is about how people live.

“As far I am concerned, the work of the synod will begin when the gatherings here conclude. Synodality is about how we live and journey together. That is going to be tested in the years to come,” Orobator said during a press briefing at the 16th General Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on Tuesday, Oct. 17.

The Nigerian-born Catholic priest, however, noted that the ongoing conversations in Rome are a “once-in-a-lifetime experience” for theologians and “will provide the resources for this synodal journey to continue and to succeed.” 

Father Orobator, the immediate former president of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar, said the ongoing conversations in Rome are more important than the outcome of the process.

“I remain convinced that the process is going to be more important than the outcome. And the process for me has been truly enriching, focusing on elements, mechanisms, or frameworks of listening, of dialoguing and discerning,” Father Orobator said.

He added: “I believe that this is the kind of framework and mechanism that would lead us as a community called Church to experience a new way of being, where people no matter who they are, status, station, or situation in the Church are able to be part of a process where they are not only heard but they are also able to contribute to a process of discernment. I am very grateful for the process that has been adopted.”

Father Orobator noted that the diversity, wisdom, and insights shared by the participants in the synod are a gift to the Church.

“From experience, there has not been any shortage of [divergence] and differences,” he said. “Divergent positions and differences of opinions and what the process allows us to do is not only to note convergence or consensus but also to note divergent and differences and that is part of the process.”

Orobator continued: “I can testify that these divergent and differences have not degenerated into hostilities and animosity, and so that it is the constellation of convergence of divergences and differences that is going to be the matter for creating something new so that no voice is suppressed on any of the issues.”

This story was first published by ACI Africa, CNA’s news partner in Africa, and has been adapted by CNA.

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