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Bishop Shane Mackinlay (ACBC)

Later this week, I will be one of 15 Australians and hundreds of people from around the world heading to Rome for the first assembly of what has become known as the “Synod on Synodality”, writes Sandhurst Bishop Shane Mackinlay. Source: ACBC Media Blog.

Next month’s assembly, and another to follow in October 2024, are the continuation of what has been dubbed “the world’s largest ever consultation”. 

This consultation has been marked by an openness and transparency that hasn’t always been characteristic of Vatican processes. It is part of a wider awareness across the Church internationally of how much we can learn from good practices in other parts of society.

As the Synod on Synodality prepares to open on October 4, there has been some discussion about how the openness and transparency that has been evident over the past three years might continue over the next few weeks.

At this stage, it appears that during next month’s assembly of the Synod on Synodality, the priority will be on ensuring that the confidentiality of the “conversations in the Spirit” is protected, so that there can be a free exchange of people’s thoughts across the questions we will be praying with and reflecting upon.

It is in this context that Pope Francis and his collaborators are seeking to create a “safe space” for Synod participants during the assembly.

As the Holy Father has reminded us, “the Synod is not a parliament”, and so the proceedings of the Synod will not be captured like the debate in Parliament. However, it is expected that a synthesis report on the first assembly will be published to guide ongoing discernment by the whole People of God in preparation for the second assembly next October.

With that in mind, we see the rationale for Pope Francis’ desire to safeguard the prayerful exchange of ideas during the assembly, while still promoting the participation of the whole People of God in the broader synod process. 

As we Australian participants travel to Rome, we ask you to accompany us in prayer and to stay connected to this ongoing journey of renewal in Jesus Christ. 

Bishop Shane Mackinlay was elected as one of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s representatives at the Synod on Synodality. He was also vice-president of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia.


Pope promotes ‘safe space’ for Synod participants (ACBC Media Blog)