Pope Francis wants to hear from people in NZ

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“Pope Francis wants to hear from you” is the message the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand is using to invite people – Catholic or not – to take part in a survey for an international synod on the future direction of the Church.

The Church world-wide is conducting a two-year synod process to let the Pope know what ordinary Catholics think. Begun by Pope Francis last October, the process is currently asking Catholics in parishes and dioceses for their views.

Bishop of Auckland and secretary of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, Bishop Stephen Lowe, said the country’s six dioceses have embraced the opportunity for people to have their say in synod conversations taking place in parishes, schools and Church organisations.

“We also want to hear from people who are Catholic but may not have much or any contact with the Church, or who are not Catholic but might have views on the Church, so we are asking for feedback from people who haven’t been reached at the parish and diocesan level,” Bishop Lowe said.

The survey is being run on Stuff and in social media such as Facebook. Under a photograph of Pope Francis, it asks people whether they have felt welcomed and supported by Catholics, how Catholics could journey with people better, were they currently connected to a Catholic faith community, and what other comments they would like to share.

“Catholics are encouraged to participate themselves, but also to invite their non-Catholic friends and families to share their thoughts,” Bishop Lowe said.

“Most parishes and all dioceses have ways for parishioners to contribute to the process. This survey is for people not reached that way.”

This national feedback survey closes on March 22. The diocesan part of the synod process finishes in March or April, depending on the diocese. The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference will then prepare a report that will eventually be part of feedback to synod of bishops from around the world in Rome in October next year.

This synod process is officially called “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission”. It is the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in the Catholic Church. A synod of bishops is regarded as an advisory body for the Pope.

The survey is at www.surveymonkey.com/r/NZCBCSynod

Last September, the Vatican released a preparatory document and a “handbook” for dioceses concerning the synod.

The handbook stated that, even though dioceses will be asked to spend time doing extensive outreach and consultation with as many people as possible, the synodal process “is not a mechanical data-gathering exercise or a series of meetings and debates”.

“Synodal listening is oriented toward discernment”, in which people listen to each other, to their faith tradition, and to “the signs of the times in order to discern what God is saying to all of us”, it said.

Bishops have an important role throughout the synodal process as “pastors, teachers and priests of sacred worship”, the handbook said. “Their charism of discernment calls them to be authentic guardians, interpreters, and witnesses to the faith of the Church.”

  • Catholic News Service content was used in this article
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Michael Otto

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