Oceania Catholic bishops publish response to Synod of Bishops document.
The Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania met in Fiji in February this year to consider the region’s response to the Working Document for the Continental Phase (Enlarge the Space of Your Tent).
The Oceania response was drafted by a writing and discernment group which met in Melbourne in January. It was then prayerfully reviewed and submitted to the Synod Secretariat in Rome.
The Oceania Response is available here.
AN AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND RESPONSE
A new year has begun, and the Continental Phase of the global Synod is well under way. Last October the Vatican published the Working Document – Enlarge the space of your tent – that brought together the many Synod syntheses from around the Catholic world including Aotearoa New Zealand’s. This Working Document was sent back to each Bishop’s Conference for further discernment at the end of 2022. In New Zealand, diocesan and national groups were invited to take part in a discernment process on the document, which took place between late October and early December. Those responses were synthesised into the Aotearoa New Zealand response recently published by the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference. Read more about the process here.
This document will now be considered by the bishops’ conferences of the Oceania region at a joint meeting in Fiji in February. Similar processes are currently taking place in all other countries and regions.
The Working Document has been compiled from Synod submissions from around the world from bishops’ conferences, the Eastern Catholic Churches, religious orders, Vatican dicasteries, and other Catholic organisations. Some 30 theologians, pastoral workers and bishops gathered from 22 September to 2 October at Frascati near Rome to draft the working document for the continental phase of the Synod. The document is referred to as the Document for the Continental Stage (DCS). It brings together the syntheses submitted by Bishops Conferences, religious orders, Catholic organizations, movements, dicasteries and others. The Synod Office received 112 submissions from the 114 Bishops Conferences in the world which is unprecedented.
WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
SYNODALITY AS OUR WAY FORWARD
Now that the diocesan phase of the Synod is over, many ask what difference this will make for their local parish. Together we can indeed bring about change, and each one of us needs to be part of the journey – that’s what synodality is all about. St Joseph’s Parish in Upper Hutt are already having the conversation – listening to one another and exploring what this new way of being Church could mean for their local community. What about your parish? Get in touch with us to know more. Contact Lucienne or Chris on 04 496 1715 / 04 496 1709 or firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
NATIONAL SYNOD HUI
The next step in the Synod process is the national phase. All six New Zealand dioceses have published their synthesis, which are available on the NZCBC website. Representatives from dioceses, parishes, schools, priests and religious orders will attend a hui at St Catherine’s College, Kilbirnie on Saturday 2 July, to discern the themes that emerge from the six diocesan syntheses.
“The bishops look forward to gathering with a very wide group of people as we look at the synodal question ‘How do we as a Church journey together?’,” says Bishop of Auckland Stephen Lowe, Secretary of the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference.
ARCHDIOCESE OF WELLINGTON
The outcomes of the day were then integrated into the final Diocesan Synthesis which has now been submitted to the New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ Conference. This in turn will become part of the National Synod Synthesis.
Many thanks to everyone who participated in this process – we received a high number of responses from groups and individuals, and are thankful to everyone who took the time to participate and contribute. We received submissions from parishes, community groups, social groups, workplaces, schools and more.
On Saturday 28th May 2022, over one hundred representatives of the Archdiocese gathered at Our Lady of Kapiti Church in Paraparaumu for our pre-synodal gathering – an important part of the Diocesan phase of the global Synod and a key moment of discernment for the Archdiocese. Together we took time to pray, listen, reflect, and discern the themes that have emerged from the many submissions received.
“The purpose of the Synod is not to produce documents, but “to plant dreams, draw forth prophecies and visions, allow hope to flourish, inspire trust, bind up wounds, weave together relationships, awaken a dawn of hope, learn from one another and create a bright resourcefulness that will enlighten minds, warm hearts, give strength to our hands …” (PD32)
A number of resources were made available for use in the Archdiocese – in English and in Samoan. These included a Synod booklet with information on the background of the Synod, the process of discernment (individual / communal) and the Synod themes for discernment. Resources such as notes for group facilitators were also available.
The group discernment process is a prayerful exercise that fosters deep listening and builds relationships of trust. For information on how you can continue to use this process in your parish or faith community, please contact Lucienne at firstname.lastname@example.org
SYNOD IN SCHOOLS
Students in our Catholic Schools had the opportunity to participate in the Synod. Classroom resources were sent to all schools in the Archdiocese and made available on our website. Submissions made by students and their families were included in the Diocesan synthesis. In the meantime, teachers from various schools met online to participate in the Synod discernment process. For many, it was a new and refreshing experience of Church as a faith community.
Click on the image below to watch an explanation of the two icons of the Synod on Synodality. Visit the official Synod wesbite to read more…
THE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION: JOURNEYING TOGETHER
A synodal Church, in announcing the Gospel, “journeys together:” How is this “journeying together” happening today in your particular Church? What steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our “journeying together”?
LIVED SYNODALITY – TEN THEMES
As a way to help us understand what “lived synodality” means, ten themes were named that can help us become a #ListeningChurch that journeys together. The themes were:
- Journeying together
- Speaking out
- Sharing responsibility for the mission
- Dialogue in Church and society
- With the other Christian denominations
- Authority and participation
- Discerning and deciding
- Forming ourselves in synodality
PARISHES ENGAGE WITH THE SYNOD PROCESS
Parishes around the Archdiocese are engaging with the Synod process, and submissions are flowing in. Our Synod Team have been working with parish leadership teams, pastoral councils, and ethnic community leaders, guiding them through the process and enabling them to facilitate Synod groups in their respective communities.
Some parishes are hosting open events for anyone to take part in. Others have started by engaging groups already established within the community, such as stewardship groups, liturgy committees, teaching staff at the local school, prayer groups and youth groups and even the parish book club!
The discernment process is not complicated and can easily be used with family and friends. The key is to remember that it is a spiritual conversation, rather than a discussion, and that prayer and listening are key to the whole process. A simple outline of the process is available below.
TAKE PART IN THE SYNOD
“Do you want to be part of this great adventure? Read, listen, share, dialogue with others, have your say in the consultation process…”
YOUR BAPTISM CALLS
“I want you to be involved in this Synod process. Your baptism calls you and entitles you to be involved…. I am looking forward very much to your involvement in imagining a different future for the Church. Please use this opportunity, it is essential that we do so. This Synod sets out to change the fact that most of the people of God have been passive spectators for years. You can help to change that. Please take up the invitation to be involved in this Synod process.” Cardinal John Dew
“There is no need to create another church, but to create a different church…”
Pope Francis, 9 October 2021
Listening – Discernment – Journey – Mission – Future – Sharing – Creativity – Communion – Authenticity
These are some of the themes we will be reflecting on in the coming weeks as we embark on a journey with Catholics around the world. In the words of Pope Francis, “we need creativity of the Gospel, not ‘a defensive Catholicism”. This global synod gives us all the opportunity to listen to the Holy Spirit, reflect on what it means to be the People of God journeying together, and be creative as we imagine a Church of the future where all are welcome and nobody is left behind.
The purpose of the Synod is to CONNECT, ENGAGE and INSPIRE.
“…the purpose of this Synod is not to produce more documents. Rather, it is intended to inspire people to dream about the Church we are called to be, to make people’s hopes flourish, to stimulate trust, to bind up wounds, to weave new and deeper relationships, to learn from one another, to build bridges, to enlighten minds, warm hearts, and restore strength to our hands for our common mission” (Synod Preparatory Document)
Pope Francis has convoked a Synod, inviting the whole Church to question itself on synodality: a decisive theme for the life and mission of the Church. On Sunday 17th October 2021, every diocese in the world will celebrate the opening of this Synod : “For a Synodal Church: communion, participation and mission”. The Synod will have three phases (diocesan, continental, universal) of consultations and discernment, culminating with the XVI Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome in 2023. In his recent message to the Diocese of Rome (18 September 2021), Pope Francis said: “I have come here to encourage you to take this synodical process seriously and to tell you that the Holy Spirit needs you… Listen to Him by listening to yourselves and do not leave anyone out or behind”. This holds not only for those present, but for the whole of the Church, “which is not strengthened only by reforming structures, giving instructions, offering retreats and conferences, or by dint of directives and programmes, but if it rediscovers that it is a people that deires to walk together, among itself and with humanity. A people which contains the variety of all peoples and all conditions: what an extraordinary richness, in its complexity!”
“The Holy Father wants to hear the voices of all the baptised. He believes the time is ripe for a wider participation of the people of God in a decision-making process that affects the whole Church and everyone in it.” (Cardinal John Dew)
The Diocesan Phase
Pope Francis has indeed asked all Catholic dioceses around the world to start consulting with parishioners from October 17 to hear the voices of the People of God. In the Archdiocese of Wellington, this consultation will happen through parishes, schools, faith communities and individual submissions. “After that consultation, the New Zealand bishops will meet early next year to listen to what the Spirit has inspired in the churches entrusted to us,” says Cardinal John. The Bishops’ synthesis of the diocesan consultations will then form part of an Oceania document which will be submitted to the Synod of Bishops in 2023.
You are invited to participate in this global synodal journey by taking the time to pray and reflect on how we journey – both individually and with others. Parish leadership teams and pastoral councils are encouraged to make time for this process within their teams, and to organise opportunities for parishioners’ participation. People are encouraged to come together within established groups or informally with friends to engage with the process. Those who cannot participate in the group discernment process are welcome to make individual submissions. We encourage everyone to take part, and to find creative ways to engage others in the process.