Kia tau te rangimārie ki a koutou
Last Saturday I was privileged to spend the day at the New Zealand National Hui in preparation for the Synod which Pope Francis has called on making Synodality the way the Church operates in the future. It was, I believe, a special day for the Church in Aotearoa New Zealand. I was delighted at the way participants from the six dioceses had picked up and were committed to the process of discernment. I am sure that if we use this prayerful process of listening and dialogue in all areas of Church life we will grow more and more into the Church Jesus asks us to be.
I am now privileged to be in Sydney at the Second Session of the Fifth Plenary Council in Australia, the last Council being in 1937. We are now into the third full day of a six day process. There have been many special and prayerful moments in these days.
This Plenary Council has been in the making for almost ten years and was well under way by the time Pope Francis called for a Synod on Synodality. This meant that the Australian Church needed to quickly make some changes and adapt so as to use the prayerful listening and discernment Synodal process. They have done this very well. Topics are reflected on, debated with many pauses for prayer and reflection.
One memorable time for me was during the voting process on making apologies for the ways people have been dreadfully damaged by sexual, emotional and physical abuse. This process was interlaced with prayers of lament and sorrow, haunting music and powerful words were used in song and prayer. I am sure that every heart in the hall was moved by this deep prayer. That of course meant that this was far more than just discussion and voting on a topic.
On Monday night in St Mary’s Cathedral the Mass was celebrated in the Ukrainian Rite. For me the fact that the bishops of Australia enabled this to happen was a sign of real solidarity for the Ukrainian bishop and clergy who celebrated the Mass as a part of the Plenary Council. The Latin Rite priests and bishops and the other Eastern Rite Bishops concelebrated with the Ukrainian Bishop.
With blessings and good wishes, and asking for your prayerful support for our own Synodal process and for the Church in Australia at this time of their Plenary Council.