AUSTRALIAN BISHOPS BLANK POPE FRANCIS
Last year Pope Francis sent out a call for bishops across the world to consult the faithful in their dioceses about synodality. So far, in Australia, all but a few of the bishops have responded with inertia.
In March 2020, Pope
Francis set the theme for the October 2023 XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the
Synod of Bishops as:
“For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and
Synod preparations began in October 2021 with Francis inviting Catholics throughout the world to reflect on the theme and to get involved in their local diocesan consultations aimed at promoting communion and journeying together. Francis’ desire was to proceed “gently, but firmly and tenaciously” towards a synodal Church”
In Australia the low
public profile consultations began in September 2021 with the distribution of
the Synod preparatory document, Questionnaire, and Vademecum (Handbook).
In October 2021 the Australian bishops
set up an online portal with links to the key
documents, the Synod Prayer, and a facility for individuals and groups to make
An invitation was extended
to make submissions, but online submissions are limited to 250 words,
and the deadline for lodging them was set at SUNDAY 27 February 2022 (previously
14 February). [Update: Now 13 March]
there is national coordination for the Synod 2023 consultation process, individual
diocesan bishops are responsible for their local diocesan consultations. The Vademecum
states that “it is necessary to make significant
efforts to involve the highest number of people possible in a meaningful way".
Survey of diocesan
For some time, Catholics for Renewal has been concerned about the lack of publicity and activity for diocesan consultations for Synod 2023. On 5-7 February 2022 it conducted a desk survey of the websites of all 28 Australian territorial dioceses to assess the level of both communication and activity. The findings were astoundingly dismal: just 4 dioceses referred to the Synod 2023 diocesan consultations on their Homepage; only 3 dioceses were actively promoting Synod 2023 diocesan consultations; and only 3 dioceses had planned diocesan or parish coffee conversations. Catholics for Renewal has concluded that 18 dioceses have demonstrated no enthusiasm for consulting their Catholic faithful on the theme of the 2023 Synod of Bishops, 6 show only modest enthusiasm, and just 4 dioceses exhibit significant enthusiasm. This is a national disgrace and an insult to Pope Francis and his and Vatican II’s vision for a synodal church in the 21st century.
In view of this patent lack of enthusiasm by Australia’s diocesan bishops to promote the local consultations that Pope Francis has called for, Catholics for Renewal calls on all Catholic across Australia to study the Synod Questionnaire and vademecum as soon as possible, have conversations, and make a submission online before Sunday 28 February 2022 [UPDATE: Now13 March]. See Submission details below #
Submissions can be made by
individuals or groups, and persons aged under 16 can also make input so long as
a parent or guardian oversees it.
The Holy See has also made it clear that submissions can be made directly to the General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops in Rome. Given the failure of the Australian bishops to adequately consult, many groups may prefer this option.
Of the 200,000 Australian Catholics who made 17,500 Spirit-guided submissions to the Plenary Council many are well aware that their discernment on the question What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time? was grossly undervalued and overlooked in the preparation of the Plenary Council Agenda. Even worse, their discernment is virtually invisible in the so-called ‘Fruits’ document which claims to be the true ‘outcome’ of the First General Assembly held in October 2021.
Many may now ask: what guarantee do we have that our sensus fidei (sense of our faith) will be listened to in another round of diocesan consultations?
Diocesan and National Syntheses
After the online
facility closes on 27 February 2022 [UPDATE: Now 13 March], the National Centre for Pastoral Research
(NCPR) will collate all the local submissions by dioceses and send each bishop
a Diocesan Synthesis. Each diocese will then organise a pre-synodal
meeting to finalise its local contribution and send it to the NCPR for the collation
of contributions from all dioceses. This document will be presented to the
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) which, over 3 discernment
meetings, will finalize the Australian National Synthesis and send it to
the Holy See in April 2022.
Regional episcopal conference consultations are also planned. The ACBC will meet with its counterparts in New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands later in 2022 to prepare for the gathering in Rome. From September 2022 to February 2023 there will also be a series of international pre-synodal meetings to draft the Instrumentum Laboris for the Synod Assembly in October 2023.
The voices of ordinary Australian Catholics were largely ignored and overlooked at the First General Assembly of the 5th Plenary Council. But Catholics for Renewal believes we should not lose hope for the reform and renewal of our Church. Even if you have lost trust in bishops of our nation, please do not lose trust in the sensus fidei fidelium and the power of the Holy Spirit. We therefore urge the faithful across Australia to once again speak out.
There is a better tomorrow for our Church. God’s Kingdom will come.
For Submissions to Australian diocesan consultations in preparation for the October 2023 Ordinary General Synod of Bishops in Rome - Submit [WAS 27 February, NOW EXTENDED to 13 MARCH 2022], HERE
Submissions can also be copied to the General Secretariat in Rome.
If making a submission to the Australian diocesan consultations it is strongly recommended that the submission also be sent to the General Secretariat in Rome.
Submissions to the General Secretariat in Rome the contact details are:
General Secretariat for Synod
Via della Conciliazione, 34
VA – 00120 Vatican City
Photo:Pope Francis, Gugliemo Mangiapane