Kia tau te rangimārie ki a koutou
Last December Pope Francis published a book called “Let us Dream – The Path to a Better Future”. It was written in conjunction with the author Austen Ivereigh. It is a wonderful book and well worth reading. Francis has now encouraged us in another way to think about “The Path to a Better Future”
I believe that the invitation of Pope Francis to all of us to participate in preparing for the next Synod in Rome is a step on that path to a better future. We have all been invited to have a say in imagining the Church we want in the future, so don’t miss this opportunity. Some people have become confused about Synods and have thought they are about changing what we believe as Catholics. When Synods take place, whether they are International Synods in Rome, or like our own Archdiocesan Synods in recent years (four of them), the traditional truths of Christianity are not under discussion. Synods are concerned about how our teaching can be lived and applied in the changing contexts of our times. That is clearly important for us. How we live the Gospel daily amidst the many challenges and changes of the world we live in needs to be thought about often.
Last Saturday we took the first steps in becoming involved in this journey to be a Synodal Church. Because of COVID Level 2, the usual Archdiocesan Pastoral Council meeting was much shorter and held by a Zoom call. I have had a lot of Zoom calls over recent months and some of them are very tiring, but last Saturday’s was excellent. It was excellent because we did one of the Synod discernment/listening processes. We were able to break into two groups on Zoom, everybody spoke, everyone was listened to respectfully. I know that this can be multiplied and experienced around the Archdiocese over the next few weeks. The invitation is there for all to participate, to have your say. This means listening to others with respect, being ready to listen, not having our own answers already prepared, but being open to listening to the person who speaks and to listening to the Holy Spirit.
In his book Francis wrote “What characterizes a Synodal path is the role of the Holy Spirit. We listen, we discuss in groups, but above all we pay attention to what the Spirt has to say to us. That is why I ask everyone to speak frankly and to listen carefully to others because, there, too, the Spirit is speaking.”