Georgetown synod dialogue to feature African-American delegate Dr. Cynthia Bailey Manns

Georgetown University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life will host a hybrid event on Tuesday, March 12, featuring Dr. Cynthia Bailey Manns, one of two African-American delegates to the landmark and lay-inclusive Synod on Synodality.

Manns will join several other synod delegates for “The Francis Factor at 11 Years: The Synod, Lay Leadership, and the Social Mission of the Church” at the university’s Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart, where moderator Kim Daniels will guide the discussion.

“This Dahlgren Dialogue will focus on Pope Francis’ mission and message and this extraordinary effort to build a Church that listens and lives out the Gospel,” reads an event description.

“This dialogue will particularly focus on two major Synod themes: promoting lay leadership in ecclesial and public life and strengthening our response to Catholic social thought, answering the Gospel call to ‘bring glad tidings to the poor… to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.’ (Luke 4:18)”

The event follows two Francis Factor events a year ago, marking a decade since the election of Pope Francis, who has in a relatively short time changed the face of Catholic leadership in Rome with a disposition of openness and dialogue. The larger Francis Factor series has been ongoing with the Initiative since 2013.

The latest comes just months before the final convening of the 2021-24 Synod of Bishops, which has itself focused on the theme of synodality, the people of God walking together as a listening Church in an age of polarization and religious disaffiliation.

Manns, a lay minister and scholar from Minnesota, will be joined in Washington by Sr Nathalie Becquart, XMCJ, the undersecretary for the Vatican’s General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops; Bishop-delegate Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine; Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, executive director of Catholic Mobilizing Network, a restorative justice ministry focusing on death penalty abolition; and Christopher White, the Vatican correspondent for National Catholic Reporter.

The Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life previously hosted a live podcast recording with Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington on Feb. 28, also on the topic of synodality. Gregory is the second African-American delegate who was present in Rome at the Synod of Bishops gathering in October 2023.

That meeting produced a synthesis report that month, highlighting focus points determined line-by-line by synod delegates from around the world. Laypeople and women were included as voting members in a Synod of Bishops for the first time in Church history. 

Following additional synodal dialogues on the ground in local dioceses and other Catholic institutions, this fall’s Rome meeting is expected to revisit those matters, including strategies to reach lapsed Catholics, fight racism and LGBTQ+ exclusion, empower women, and promote active listening in the global Church.

Tuesday’s dialogue at Georgetown, to be livestreamed on YouTube, will begin at 6pm ET. In-person attendance requires registration, which can be completed on the Georgetown University website.

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger.

Want to support the work of BCM? You have options.

a.) click to give (fee-free) on Zeffy

b.) click to give on Facebook