Headshot of Maike Sieben
MPA 2023
WAPPP Intern, Cultural Bridge
Vatican City, Italy

During her internship, Maike will support the Synod on Synodality, a two-year consultation process within the global Roman Catholic Church. The word "synod" comes from the Greek "synodos," which means "the same path." Traditionally, a synod has been a meeting of bishops together with the Pope, in which they discuss issues of crucial concern for the Church and agree on a "joint way forward." In the light of the enormous challenges the Catholic Church is facing today, Pope Francis broke with the tradition of having synods exclusively focused on bishops. Instead, he invited the entire people of God to join him in a two-year-long consultation process. Particular emphasis is given to hearing the voices of marginalized groups within the Catholic Church and society, for example, due to their socioeconomic background, age, gender, or sexual orientation. In addition, people who left the Church, believers of other Christian and non-Christian denominations, and non-believers have been invited to participate in the process.

The Synod on Synodality proceeds in several stages. It began with a diocesan (i.e., national) phase lasting from October 2021 to August 2022. A second continental phase is scheduled from September 2022 to March 2023. The third, universal phase will begin with the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, dedicated to the theme "For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission," in Rome in October 2023.

Process management for the Synod on Synodality has been entrusted to a General Secretariat, whose staff reflects the diversity of the universal Church. Notably, one of the undersecretaries at the Secretariat is a woman, Sr. Nathalie Becquart, the first-ever woman to hold this position and therefore have the right to vote in a Catholic Synod of Bishops. During her internship, Maike will support the staff of the General Secretariat with evaluating the results of the consultation's diocesan consultation phase and preparing for the upcoming continental meetings.

Internship Blog