Auckland diocese vicar for Maori Manuel Beazley has expressed hope that the Synod on Synodality will “create a space” where everyone’s opinions can be heard and respected, particularly in the current climate of dissension in the Church.
Mr Beazley is one of two non-bishop Kiwis appointed by the Vatican participating in the synod, with the other being Fr Dennis Nacorda. Wellington Archbishop Paul Martin, SM, is the bishops’ representative to the synod.
“For Maori, synodality is not a new thing,” Mr Beazley said. “That’s how Maori move. Whenever there’s an issue or whenever there’s a common concern that the people have, we gather and we talk and we listen. And in the process of talking and listening, we find our way forward.”
Mr Beazley said that, at the synod, though, he will simply be going as a Catholic.
“One of the things that has been stressed to us in the preparation is that we are not representatives, that we don’t represent a particular group or a particular culture,” he said.
“Obviously, I go as a Maori man, but I don’t necessarily represent Maori. I’m going with my experiences as Maori, and perhaps some of my contributions to the synod might reflect that, but it’s more [that] I go really as someone from our part of the world at my time of life.”
He said that synod members were discouraged from adopting any sort of pet issue, but were encouraged to contribute to every issue in the Instrumentum Laboris, the working document for this synod.
“I suppose that probably speaks more to how the Holy Father sees the synod. It’s a gathering of the world-wide Church in its best effort to cover the whole range of the Church (issues),” he said.
Mr Beazley said that, for the first time, non-bishop members were given voting rights.
“What it means to be a voting member, we’re not quite sure in the sense that I don’t think that the synod members are going to be asked to vote on major reforms of any Church teaching or anything like that,” he said.
Mr Beazley said that he knew about his appointment to the synod three weeks before the public announcement was made. He received an email sent by Synod Secretary General Cardinal Mario Grech.
“I just accepted, but it didn’t really sink in,” Mr Beazley said. “It wasn’t until the announcement was made, and all the messages started to flood in that I really felt the gravity of really what this was.”
Mr Beazley said that he has been reading books written by different authors on the topics to be discussed at the synod, but other than that, he wanted to keep himself open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.