Instrumentum laboris (IL)
Nature of the Instrumentum laboris
As the Latin word suggests, the IL is first and foremost a working instrument, a document for the discernment of the participants in the work of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. In this sense, the IL does not suggest answers, but notes, opens up and invites deepening.
The IL comes at the end of a long process of listening to the people of God in the local churches and the subsequent stages of discernment by the Bishops’ Conferences and Continental Assemblies. However, the IL is not a summary of the journey so far, but rather the result (the fruit of experience) of what has been learned about the nature of the synodal Church. The IL is also the fruit of a discernment on the questions-tensions to be explored that are deemed necessary to bring about the synodal conversion of the Church in an evident and permanent way.
Here again, the question around which the entire document revolves is the same from the beginning of the synodal process, as formulated in no. 2 of the Preparatory Document (PD): «how does this ‘journeying together’, which takes place today on different levels (from the local level to the universal one), allow the Church to proclaim the Gospel in accordance with the mission entrusted to Her; and what steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow as a synodal Church? »
The IL as a whole bears witness to the faith experience of the People of God and the points on which they feel called to take further steps to deepen the practice of the synodal dimension of the Church. The real protagonist is the Holy Spirit, who accompanied and guided the journey and infused the hope and confidence to move forward so that we can grow as a missionary synodal Church proclaiming the Gospel, in fidelity to the task entrusted to Her by the Lord.