The Church listens to you

A path to bring the synodal process of the Church to the Digital Continent

“Today, as in the beginning, we need to go out to encounter each person; moreover, it is our mission to do so, especially the most distant and those who suffer. We must reach the existential peripheries of our world! You know your contemporaries, you know that many are alone, that many do not know Jesus. Go, go and take the Lord, go and fill up your environments, even the digital ones, not with convictions, not to convince, not to proselytize, but rather by bearing witness to Jesus’ tenderness and mercy.” [1]

1. What is the “The Church listens to you” Project about ?

It arose from the call that the Holy Father made to the entire Church to carry out the Synod on Synodality, with the intention of extending it also to digital environments, so that no one is excluded from the synodal process, and no one is left without the possibility of being heard or to offer their contribution to the Church, even if they do not interact with Church institutions. That is why it is, so to speak, a complementary part of the regular synodal activity in the digital world.

The project was born out of the two great principles of Pope Francis: to be a Church which goes forth and to go to the existential peripheries

  • Church which goes forth: in the process of the synodal journey, the Church must have the courage and creativity to open her heart to a new experience, with so many risks of being wrong (Cf. EG 49), but with much missionary love to listen even in digital spaces to the voice of the People of God, so that these spaces, typical of our contemporary culture, are not left without a voice or, left unstructured and not listened to with the appropriate dynamics, dedication, time, and “ears”, thereby lacking the opportunity to offer their input or express their needs.
  • Existential peripheries: digital environments lie within the existential peripheries, which is why the initiative was born, which arises from numerous contexts and Christians who carry out their apostolate precisely in these spaces where people live. This reality impels us to carry out, even there, a journey and synodal process, to learn to see and listen to those who normally spend a large part of their time there, as they seek out others to listen to them and with whom to share, in the midst of a world full of principles and ideas, but which does not know how to listen.

2. Why is it important?

“Pope Francis, on April 24, 2021, approved a new synodal Itinerary for the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, with the theme: “For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission”. (…) The articulation of the different phases of the synodal process will engender a true listening of the People of God and the participation of all in the synodal process will be guaranteed. It is not just an event, but a process that completely involves the People of God, the Episcopal College and the Bishop of Rome, each according to their own role.” [2]

“Pope Francis, on April 24, 2021, approved a new synodal Itinerary for the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, with the theme: “For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission”. (…) The articulation of the different phases of the synodal process will engender a true listening of the People of God and the participation of all in the synodal process will be guaranteed. It is not just an event, but a process that completely involves the People of God, the Episcopal College and the Bishop of Rome, each according to their own role.” [2]

In this «participation of all» we must understand that it must be possible to listen to all kinds of people who feel linked, in some way, to the Church and her mission, wherever they are and whatever their condition. We must look especially for people who are not usually involved in the Church’s life, going «out», that is, «beyond», where we must go as Church.

The project “The Church listens to you”, therefore, arises to bring the “synodal process” to digital environments, to listen to the “digital continent” [3] , with courage and creativity [4] , in response to the call of Pope Francis: “… we are all called to participate in the life and mission of the Church. If there is no real participation of the entire People of God, our speech on communion run the risk of remaining pious intentions. … The participation of everyone is an inalienable ecclesial commitment! All the baptized: this is the identity card: Baptism[5] ”

3. Who is the project aimed at?

It is important to understand and come to know the portion of the People of God which does not participate in institutions, but which will be able and will want to take part in this process if it has some way of accessing it and it is properly presented to them.

That is why this listening process is directed «only and exclusively» to those in digital environments, which lack the presence and participation of ecclesial institutions.

Therefore, it is about going to those people whose lives largely take place on the digital continent, which has grown and in recent years has become more multifaceted, more complex, and much more numerous.

In those spaces, people communicate, learn, create art, inform themselves, buy and sell, meet, and pray in digital environments. They certainly have a physical life and a domicile in a geographical location, and many go to Mass on Sundays, but their ecclesial center of gravity is not in a specific parish, and they do not feel linked to a specific, physical community, but rather a virtual one. There is no way to reach these people through the ordinary means of approaching them in parishes. So, how is the synodal consultation going to reach these people? How can we listen to them?

4. Who carries out this project?

  • Digital missionaries, Catholic «influencers», and all those who, in some way, carry out a task of evangelization and accompaniment in the faith of other people.
  • Through digital media (social networks, emails, WhatsApp…), that is, any digital medium that normally connects people online.
  • Employing an appropriate methodology to govern the conversation and the responses to the topics proposed by the Preparatory Document.
  • There exist various communities, usually divided according to language, that bring together the numerous digital missionaries, but all united in a single project.

The goal is to assist «influencers» and other missionaries present in digital environments to assist in the work of the entire Church so that those who do not participate in the life of parishes and other ecclesial institutions still have the possibility of being heard, so that their voices reach the Synod.

5. Who drives it?

The project was created by the RIIAL (Information Technology Network of the Church in Latin America), an institution founded by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (PCCS) and CELAM (Latin American Episcopal Council) in 1992.

The RIIAL, together with all the other institutions that have decided to take part, echoing the speeches of Pope Benedict XVI [6], welcomes the call of Pope Francis to fill the Church with the attitude of the Good Samaritan «of listening» and service to those who suffer and require the tenderness and Mercy of God [7] .

  • Several realities that work in Digital Evangelization have been added to this first initiative of the RIIAL: from the first moment iMision has joined, as well as different networks and realities of digital evangelization such as JDN (Juan Diego Network) which have continued to join each day , Ilumina Mas, Catholic Link, Fruto del madero, Zenit, Catholic Net, Macro Fiesta, Building Bridges, Cançao Nova, FormED en Español, El Arca Digital, Tan Cerca de Mí, El semi 26, Somos Suyos, Cafeteando con el Fr. Lalo, Fruto del Madero, Catholic Bible for Young People, evangelizame_, @KarenAhued and @FundacionASIF, Growing in the faith, Forming Apostles, Enriquísimo Tv, Restless Heart community, Thoughts and prayers from the depths of the soul, Paso Santo, Cielo Abierto, Centro of Martín Valverde Training, Catholic Faith and Love, Zoar Factory, Arca Iberoamérica (Catholic Artists), Cielo Abierto (Fan Page), Católicos Digital (@catolicosdigital), PadreWilli / Healing Wounds, The Door Next Door, A Little Father and A Millennial Priest, Unspiritual Journey, I loved you late and your word gives us life, Digital Evangelization, Sentinel of Faith, Catholic Recreation Network, Conversing with Sharon, Sembrado Esperanza, RCCES Monterrey (Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the Holy Spirit of the Archdiocese of Monterrey), Moved by love, New Fire, Sunday Reflection, Mass Workshop with Vianney Children, One in God, El Santo Podcast, Rayo de Luz Magazine (@revistarayodeluz), Sí fiat, Active Evangelization, Los de María, I am a Young Catholic, Mission Land, I want to be a Saint, SERCODE, The Daughters of the Priest, Grace and Virtue, Dos Son Uno, Macrofiesta del Rosario, ONE ministry,PsicoFray and PJ Capuchinos, Digital Servants,, Super Santos, Renova+, Vitae, Grace and virtue, Exaudi.
  • The methodology is based on the Delibera Collaborative Intelligence group (, which was joined from the outset by the Blanquerna Observatory. Subsequently, Sondeo & Jefferson Davis and the chair of Marketing research at the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) of the University of Rotterdam continued to join.
  • The project was presented to the Secretariat of the Synod and is welcomed by the Dicastery for Communication.

6. How is it carried out?

The Vademecum offers several methodological indications and also leaves a wide margin for each Diocese, movement, congregation or group to create its own methodology.

“In this listening phase we encourage people to gather, respond to stimulus questions/images/scenarios together, listen to each other, and provide individual and group feedback, ideas, reactions, and suggestions. However, if circumstances (such as pandemic restrictions or physical distance) make face-to-face interaction difficult, then it is possible to use moderated online discussion groups, self-guided online activities, chat groups, phone calls, and various forms of social communication, as well as paper-based and online questionnaires.«

The methodological process has various stages, which seek to follow the process indicated by the Secretariat of the Synod for the whole Church:

  • Individuation of Influencers and Digital Missionaries and their digital communities
  • Formation and Missionary mandate of each of person
  • Catechesis and introduction to the Synod in each digital community
  • Weekly virtual meetings for community follow-up, animation and collaboration
  • Sending of a «questionnaire» to listen to the voice of those who wish to participate
  • Collection of the results of the surveys of various communities
  • Analysis and synthesis of the results (multidisciplinary teams, Collaborative Intelligence, Artificial Intelligence)
  • Presentation of the results to the Secretariat of the Synod, along with all other Church presentations.

To carry out the Synodal process in digital environments, remaining true to the spirit of a «Samaritan listening/response«, the various methodologies tend towards active listening , which is why it is made up of various elements, including invitation, motivation, questionnaire, dialogues on digital networks , etc.

The Synod is a process of listening to understand the pain and injuries of each person and to offer oneself, as a Good Samaritan, to heal the wounds with Christ. That is why we have to know Him; we have to know the pain, the injury (also our own… we also need Samaritans who come to us).

The questionnaire is merely an instrument that has to help us recognize the wounds, sufferings and hopes, as well as the opinions and contributions from the experience of personal and community life of each person, to convey the loving presence of Christ.

7. In summary…

1. The Pope is promoting a profound change in the Church, in her structures and procedures, but more deeply in the «way of being Church», to behave more according to the Gospel. To live in a more «Samaritan» way, he encourages the whole Church to follow a «synodal path» to listen to the People of God, which begins now, but also invites everyone to do it more permanently, promoting dialogue and participation.

2. The synodal listening process is being promoted in Dioceses, Parishes, Congregations, Movements and institutions, etc. around the world. The participants have mainly been the people who already attend Mass and are present in other activities in parishes and chapels.

3. The Synod also wants to reach those who are far away, people who feel Catholic but who do not usually go to Church, or who perhaps only participate in family ceremonies or sacraments.

4. There is also another sizeable portion of the people of God that must be listened to: the “digital continent” (as Pope Benedict XVI said). Millions of faithful Catholics of all ages and conditions, who do not physically participate in any specific parish or institution, but who «inhabit the Digital Continent», interacting in different ways such as social networks (or WhatsApp communities) and following some Catholic influencers, looking for answers, spirituality, accompaniment in life to help face their daily situations.

5. The Church takes advantage of the potential of the digital continent and decides to meet its needs. Synodal listening is an extraordinary opportunity to better understand the dynamics of digital communities and incorporate them into the life and mission of the Church as much as possible. It is also an opportunity to bridge the gap between both realities.

6. The first objective of this project is to reach and listen to the people who interact in the Digital Continent through their Catholic influencers and the Digital Missionaries, with whom they talk and learn. The Church also wants to explore other ways of reaching people who are present  on this «continent» in a different way.

7. Another objective is to listen to the influencers and digital missionaries themselves, because in the Digital Continent they represent the “new missionaries” who must be understood, helped, supported, trained and accompanied.

8. Finally, the project “The Church listens to you” wants to establish a more stable link between Influencers/missionaries, so that they can receive mutual support, integration with other fields of Pastoral action, and act as a powerful «bridge» for the Church, fully integrated into each person’s life.

9. The final beneficiaries to whom the project seeks to contribute can be divided into:

  • The People of God “living in” the Digital Continent
  • Influencers and other missionaries who use digital media
  • the Church at large

[1] Video message of the Holy Father Pope Francis to participants in the meeting organized by the National Conference of Young Catholics (NCYC) in Indianapolis (November 21-23, 2019), 11.22.2019

[2] Cf. Message for the XLIII World Day of Social Communications 2009 and Message for the XLIV World Day of Social Communications 2010, where the Pope speaks about the Digital Continent and the need that, like the Apostles of Jesus’ time, today we go out into our world to evangelize.

[3] Address of the Holy Father Pope Francis, Moment of Reflection for the beginning of the Synodal Process , op. cit.

[4] Note of the Synod of Bishops, 05.21.2021

[5] Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for the XIII World Day of Social Communications, New technologies, new relationships. To promote a culture of respect, dialogue, and friendship, May 24, 2009.

[6] “The Church which “goes forth” is a community of missionary disciples who take the first step, who are involved and supportive, who bear fruit and rejoice. An evangelizing community knows that the Lord has taken the initiative, he has loved us first (cf. 1 Jn 4:19), and therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast. Such a community has an endless desire to show mercy, the fruit of its own experience of the power of the Father’s infinite mercy.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 24).

[7] Speech of the Holy Father Pope Francis, Moment of Reflection for the beginning of the Synodal Process, New Synod Hall, 9.10.2021,

Summary of the Listening Conversation – Digital Culture

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