They want us all to participate in a structured "discernment" process guided by facilitators. Perhaps, being progressives with a bureaucratic-administrative sort of mindset--i.e. the sort of people who like this sort of thing--they don't realize that for many or most others it's partly to be ridiculed and partly to be feared. It's frequently manipulative, aimed at pushing a group in a certain direction while providing a veneer of consensus.
I wonder if it's not just frequently but intrinsically so. Maybe not. But I don't think I'm far off in thinking that most people who have been obliged to participate in it see it as something of a sham. This is especially true if the "facilitators" are in positions of power over the facilitated. I'm slightly surprised that America magazine would spill the beans on this. But here is the former editor, Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J., asserting that "Pope Francis wants the synod in every parish":
Like the members of the synod, parishioners should be divided into groups of 10 members sitting at round tables.
In addition, at the synod, there was an experienced facilitator to guide the members of each group in the process. The facilitator’s job is not to impose his or her views on the group but to be an impartial moderator who encourages respectful listening and makes sure everyone is able to participate.
Each group also chooses a secretary to draft a report of the group’s discussions.
The actual work of the small groups involves “conversation in the Spirit” on the question they want to discern. The question could be a decision facing the parish or any of the topics (Communion, Mission, Participation) outlined in the synod working paper or Instrumentum Laboris. Perhaps most fruitful would be reflection on the questions that come out of the first session of the synod, which ends this week.
At the parish level, I doubt that many people apart from those odd ones who thrive on committees and meetings and such would really want to do this. Likely conclusion, whether at synod or parish: "The Spirit is telling us to do what we wanted to do. Our God is a God of surprises!"
Or maybe I'm just too cynical. That's probably it.
There was a similar program back in the '80s. It was called Renew. Everybody who participated recalls it with excitement and nostalgia. Those who are too young speak of it reverently and regret that they were not present for it. Right?