Catholics contribute ideas ahead of Rome assembly  

Australia’s Catholics have provided a wealth of ideas on how to improve the way the Church listens to the faithful and promotes its message in the community.

From February to April, hundreds of Catholics contributed their thoughts to the Australian Summary, an eight-page document which has been sent to the Vatican ahead of the October Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

The National Centre for Pastoral Research ran the consultation process which occurred at a local (diocese) and national level.

Twenty-five dioceses and three Eastern Catholic Church eparchies submitted summaries of their consultation outcomes, while a further 13 organisations submitted summaries from the national consultation – culminating in the final report.

National Centre for Pastoral Research director Dr Trudy Dantis said those who took part in the process had appreciated the opportunity to listen to differing opinions in a deep and respectful way, as well as contribute ideas about how to become a synodal Church in mission.

“One thing that was acknowledged widely was the changing nature of the Catholic Church in Australia through migration and differing patterns of engagement,” Dr Dantis said.

“There were many comments on finding ways to encourage the involvement of all cultural groups in the mission of the Church, improve the awareness and enactment of co-responsibility and overcome barriers by deeper listening.”

Social media, liturgy and faith, reaching out to families and young people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ministry, the equal dignity of women and men, working with other churches and encouraging the use of peoples’ unique gifts were themes emerging from the consultations.

“I greatly appreciate the way Australian Catholics have engaged in the process of discerning, in a synodal way, how they might best live the Gospel in their different communities and contexts,”  said Australian Catholic Bishops Conference President, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe.

“This material will now be considered as we develop the Instrumentum Laboris for the second assembly of the synod and prayerfully consider the pathways in which the Holy Spirit is inviting us to walk.”

The document, and others like it provided by other nations, will provide the basis for talks in Rome in October.

Fifteen Australian participants – including bishops, priests and lay people – will attend the second assembly from October 2-27, 2024.

The full document and testimonials can be found here.

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