In September 2021 the Bishop asked me whether I’d agree to be the Synodal Contact Person. And I accepted (How I got appointed). I then called a number of people, asking them whether they would join a team to help me with this job. This team (I call it the sinoditiim in Estonian) received benediction and was officially presented to the public on 2021-10-17 in the Cathedral (The opening mass).
In September and October 2021, the first big job of the sinoditiim was to produce a website where we invited people to participate in the consultation phase (https://sinod.katoliku.ee). Consenting on the content of this website took us much energy. I was grateful and proud about the result.
In November 2021 it had become clear that the sinoditiim and I had difficulties to dialogue because we had a number of opposing convictions. See The two camps. I felt as if I was talking to a wall. During a meeting on 2021-11-09 the Bishop made clear that he considered my plans for the consultation phase as useless individual endeavour. I started to unconsciously abandon the hope that this team would produce something useful and gradually gave up dialogue.
One week later I had a vision (The naked Pope) and started to tell people about it. It caused controversial emotions but helped me to enter into dialogue with non-catholic people.
In December 2021 I had the idea of using an incremental method: I published a “draft” and told people “This is what I would write to the Vatican if I would have to write my synthesis right now. Tell me what’s wrong or what’s missing.” Several people reacted irritatedly, saying “How dare you write a synthesis before the consultation phase has finished!”. But many people gave concrete feedback, both critical and complimentary.
Between January and March 2022, I formed an “alternative” team and lead a project of writing an inter-confessional consultation report based on my draft. I submitted this document to the sinoditiim on 2022-03-31 as our report of the consultation phase. See The inter-confessional report.
Together with “my” report, the sinoditiim received a total of 17 documents, 9 of which were meeting reports, 8 were individual responses.
In April 2022, the sinoditiim started the discernment phase, where our job was to synthesize all reports. I had had my plans for this phase, I imagined to finally get the other members to collaborate with me, using my methodology. But another team member took leadership, and I did not fight back. One can say that I quiet quitted the sinoditiim during the first meeting in April. My remaining interactions with them were just work-to-rule. In my comment, I tried to summarize what “we” did during this phase.
On 2022-05-27 the new leader of the sinoditiim had produced a first internal draft of a 10 pages report, which reflected what they believed “good” Catholics in Estonia would say at the Synod. It was a selection of what they had liked in the reports. Not a single idea expressed in the inter-confessional report had made it into this synthesis. All members of the sinoditiim –except me– agreed to this synthesis without discussion. I suggested to start a new synthesis from scratch where the authors of the 17 reports would participate. But I had to admit that time was running out. And of course a team that uses the Waterfall approach cannot imagine to start from scratch when you are close to the end. The Bishop then found a compromise: I would write my personal “comment”, which he would include into his letter along with the synthesis.
In June 2022 I worked on this comment, where I concluded that the “fact of having failed to reach a consensus between the two teams might be our most valuable contribution to the Synod”.
In July 2022 I had final discussions with the Bishop about minor details and on 2022-07-22 I finally sent “our” synthesis and the Bishop’s letter to the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops. Done.
In August 2022 I read that the Bishop changed his mind and gave permission to publish the Estonian synthesis (Estonian synthesis went public).
On October 4th, 2022 I informed the Bishop that I won’t work any more as the Synodal Contact Person (Prophets not welcome in Estonia).