Groups across Australia are now able to participate in the latest discernment process for the global Synod on Synodality, reflecting on the recently-published Working Document for the Continental Stage.
The document, which was drawn from local and national consultation processes undertaken around the world, was published in late October.
Capturing what the People of God said during the first year of the Synod journey, the document is designed to enable deeper discernment on the overall question of how the Church is “journeying together”.
The national Synod of Bishops committee recently announced that groups of seven to 10 people, comprising a mix of clergy, laity and religious, would be invited to reflect on the Working Document for the Continental Stage.
The portal for group submissions is now open and can be found at: www.catholic.org.au/synodalchurch
It is expected that members of discernment groups are aware of Church matters at the diocesan and national level. They should be able to read and reflect prayerfully on the document and have experience doing so with similar documents.
A reflection guide, also available on the Synod of Bishops website, has been developed to assist with prayer and discernment.
“It is important to note that this is not an invitation to start the process of consultation again, but rather the opportunity to reflect more deeply on the voices that have emerged so far,” said Trudy Dantis, chair of the national Synod of Bishops committee.
“This is a ‘handing back’ to the People of God of their hopes and dreams, their prayers and their challenges.
“The distillation and maturation that will take place during this time will help this ongoing journey towards the Synod of Bishops gatherings in Rome in October 2023 and 2024.”
Groups that participate in this round of discernment are invited to reflect on the continental document and provide succinct responses across three areas: Experiences of Church; Challenges to Be Addressed; and Priorities and Calls to Action.
The submission portal will remain open until Friday, December 9. The National Centre for Pastoral Research will then prepare a document to assist with the upcoming continental process in collaboration with the other episcopal conferences of Oceania.
Representatives of the four Oceania conferences and from the Eastern churches will meet in January to draft a document for the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania assembly, which will be held in February.
“Continental or regional bishops conferences from around the world will be hosting their own gatherings in early 2023 to play their part in this journey,” Dr Dantis said.
“The Church in Australia has been heavily engaged with the Synod process so far, and we expect to see similar enthusiasm in the next five weeks.”