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Ecclesia Semper Reformanda: An Expository Analysis of Synodality in the Catholic Bishops

Roel Joe Abonal (Philippines)

Master of Arts in Theological Studies with field of specialization in Systematic Theology
Fr. Rowan Rebustillo, S.T.D., Ph.D. (Adviser)


Announced on 21 May 2021, the 16th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops would focus on synodality. The preparations for it began with local consultative meetings in the dioceses throughout the world, followed by national and continental phases, and would end with the actual meeting in Rome in 2024. Through this synod, a lived synodal experience in the Church would hopefully be fostered, nurtured, and deepened.

This paper analyzes how synodality is present and experienced in the Philippine Church through the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines and the movements of renewal—the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines, the National Pastoral Consultation on Church Renewal, and the Era of New Evangelization. To answer this question, the study surveyed the history of synodality in Scripture, Tradition, and its contemporary understanding as well as the development of the CBCP and the mentioned movements of renewal.

The results of this paper show that synodality is present in the CBCP and the movements of renewal albeit tacitly. It is present in the way the CBCP progressed and the way the movements of renewal were celebrated through the years. However, some threats and challenges were identified that might slow down and even impede the full synodal experience in the life of the Church, particularly in the Philippines. These could obstruct the Church’s efforts for further renewal, which may be construed as a failure in listening to the Spirit and fulfilling Christ’s mission in the world.

Final Defense:

28 June 2023, Wednesday, 4:00 p.m., Online

Board of Examiners:

  1. Fr. Cristopher Fajardo, S.T.D. cand. (Second Reader/Principal Examiner)
  2. Fr. Hartono Budi, S.J., Th.D.
  3. Fr. Salvador Agualada, Jr., C.M.F., S.T.D.

Proposal Defense:

18 March 2022, Friday, 10:00-11:15am, Online via Zoom (hosted by Mr. Jerry Orio)

Board of Examiners:

  1. Fr. Rowan Rebustillo, S.T.D., Ph.D. (Adviser)
  2. Fr. Salvador Agualada, Jr., C.M.F., S.T.D.
  3. Fr. Christopher Fajardo, S.T.D. cand.
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Loyola School of Theology