Next stage of Synod underway

The next stage of Pope Francis’ Synod on Synodality has begun, with the Vatican publishing the working document that brings together the many synod syntheses from around the Catholic world, including Aotearoa New Zealand’s . 

Titled “Enlarge the space of your tent”, this Working Document for the Continental Stage will now be reflected on locally by Catholic groups from around the country, before being considered by the bishops’ conferences of the Oceania region at a joint meeting in Fiji in February. Similar processes will take place in other countries and regions. 

The working document has been compiled from synod submissions from around the world, from bishops’ conferences, the Eastern Catholic Churches, religious orders, Vatican dicasteries, and other Catholic organisations. 

The local New Zealand process ended with the National Synod Hui held in Wellington on July 2, which produced the synthesis sent to Rome for reflecting on the working document. 

Each “continental” region will now reflect on this new document. The continental stage for Oceania involves the countries and territories covered by the bishops’ conferences of New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, and the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific. 

Cardinal John Dew, president of the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference-Te Huinga o ngā Pīhopa Katorika o Aotearoa, said that this stage in the synod process is a deeper contemplation of the issues raised in the various national local phases, and summarised into the working document. 

“About 50 expert participants from all over the world met in Frascati in Italy last month to listen, dialogue and discern from the many syntheses,” said Cardinal Dew. “Using the method of ‘spiritual conversation’ during their twelve days of work, the experts wrote the working document”. 

“National and diocesan groups will now be invited to take part in this reflection and discernment of the working document.” 

The work of reflecting on “Enlarge the space of your tent” needs to take place between now and December 5, so that the New Zealand response can be ready by December 22. 

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 next year, the second in October, 2024. 



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NZ Catholic Staff