The bishops of Oceania were challenged to take up the path of synodality and be prepared to confront a “silent earthquake” in the Church on the third day of their quadrennial assembly in Fiji. Source: ACBC Media Blog.
Synodality and formation for mission are two of the three major themes for the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania assembly, along with the effects of a changing climate on the oceans.
Sr Nathalie Becquart XMCJ, an undersecretary of the Holy See’s Synod of Bishops General Secretariat, addressed the assembly on Tuesday morning, hot on the heels of a multi-city visit to Australia.
In light of some concerns that synodality is a novel concept, Sr Nathalie explained that it is rather a “dynamic vision of the Church in history, the realisation of the Church in history as communion in mission”.
Columban missionary priest Fr Frank Hoare spoke on formation for mission – a key issue that emerged from the churches of Oceania for the Synod on Synodality’s consultation phases and also one of the three central tenets of the Synod.
He saw, through the publication of the Synod’s working document for the continental stage, Enlarge the Space of Your Tent, that the focus is on mission.
“It emphasises listening, welcome, inclusion. No one is to be excluded,” Fr Hoare said.
“The tent is the space of communion, the place of participation and the foundation for a mission.”
Fr Hoare said an emerging challenge to mission in Oceania is the shortage of priests, or at least the shortage of local priests, calling it a “silent earthquake”.
He said some people look to blame globalisation, consumerism, secularisation, radical individualism, moral relativity, the media or other things for that predicament, but “the Church’s own sins and weaknesses also contribute to this silent earthquake”.
Fr Hoare proposed that “a new era of Christian mission will be grounded on a return to the Gospel message” and a simplification of some of the Church’s structures.
The assembly runs until the evening of Friday, February 10. Stories and content will be shared during the week at www.fcbco.org, on the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s Media Blog and through CathNews.
Synodality, mission lead Oceania bishops’ Tuesday agenda (ACBC Media Blog)
Sr Nathalie to Suva Assembly: ‘You are on forefront of synodality’ (Vatican News)
Australian Religious gather with Vatican high ranking woman on World Day of Consecrated Life (Catholic Religious Australia)