WelCom February 2023
The New Zealand Catholic Church response to the ‘Document for the Continental Stage’ of Pope Francis’ Synod on Synodality has been published.
The Catholic world is now in the Continental Stage of the Synod process, in which each ‘continent’ will produce a response to the continental document approved by the Vatican’s synod office last October.
The continental document, titled Enlarge the Space of Your Tent, was itself produced in response to the national syntheses from the initial diocesan and national discernment parts of the Synod process, worldwide.
Aotearoa New Zealand held a national hui in Wellington last July. The outcomes of the hui, plus the six diocesan syntheses produced after parish discussions, formed the source material for the National Synthesis sent to the Synod Office in Rome last August. Our synthesis was one of the 112 national syntheses submitted by the 114 bishops’ conferences around the world, along with 1040 submissions from religious institutes, lay movements and other groups.
After Enlarge the Space of Your Tent was published in October, the combined bishops’ conferences from each region or ‘continent’ were asked to provide a response to it, to contribute to each continental response.
Aotearoa New Zealand is a member of the Oceania continental group. It includes the bishops’ conferences of New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, the Pacific, and the Eastern Churches of Oceania.
In this country, diocesan and national groups were invited last October to take part in a discernment process on the Enlarge the Space of Your Tent document, which took place between late October and early December. Those responses were synthesised into the New Zealand response, titled For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission – New Zealand Discernment on the Document for Continental Stage, published on January 17, 2023, by the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference.
The bishops stress this document reflects the voices of the People of God of the New Zealand Church, with the bishops listening to the people, and follows the continuing process of discernment.
Taking the process to its next step, the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO) has convened an Oceania Taskforce to draft the region’s response to Enlarge the Space of Your Tent.
The taskforce has representatives nominated by the four bishops’ conferences of the region and the Eastern Churches of Oceania. A group from it met in Melbourne in January to prepare a draft response, which will be considered by all the bishops of Oceania when they convene for the FCBCO General Assembly in the Archdiocese of Suva, Fiji, from 5 to 10 February.
Pope Francis launched the Synod process in 2021 to hear what ordinary Catholics from around the world think should be the future direction of the Church. After the Continental phase, a two-part 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in the Catholic Church will be held in Rome; the first part in October this year, the second in October 2024.
More information is online at these links:
• The New Zealand bishops’ statement, a timeline and update of the Synod process: www.catholic.org.nz/news/media-releases/synodresponse/
• New Zealand synthesis of responses to Enlarge the Space of Your Tent, published 17 January 2023, by the NZCBC: www.catholic.org.nz/assets/Synod-NZCBC-DCS-Synthesis-of-Responses.pdf
• Enlarge the Space of Your Tent: www.catholic.org.nz/assets/1_ENG-Working-Document-for-the-Continental-Stage.pdf
• Synod on Synodality homepage: www.synod.va/en.html