Unmute yourself and consider the outrageous

Auckland Diocese

New Zealand’s Catholic bishops have opened the diocesan phase of the 2021-2023 synodal journey.

We should “unmute ourselves”, and everyone should share their dreams for the Church says Auckland’s bishop, Patrick Dunn.

We should also consider “outrageous” issues in walking the synodal journey, Dunn said as he opened the synod in his Auckland.

As Auckland remained in level 3 lockdown, Dunn led the liturgy opening on Zoom, Facebook live and YouTube.

Auckland’s synodal journey will involve people being invited next month to gather in small groups, he said.

“I realise that this couldn’t be a more inconvenient time for us in Auckland diocese. We’re in lockdown. It’s coming up for Christmas and the summer break . . . It might have to be on Zoom or online, please God, it might be able to be in person.

“But we’re asking people to share what is in your hearts and to listen to what others have to say.”

Dunn suggests questions to ponder could include: What is our dream for the Church? How do we think the Church could or should change? How would we like the Church to be?

“One really big question, it’s a little bit of an outrageous one, is: does the current parish structure suit our purposes, especially in an urban setting.

“Parishes have been very resilient through history, but are we perhaps being called to think of a different model or different models in a large city like Auckland city itself?”

Dunn also wants people to consider how effective we are as a Church in caring for the poor.

“Even with the present vaccination programme in New Zealand, one of the points being highlighted in the past couple of weeks has been groups who feel on the fringes of society.

“They feel that they don’t belong to mainstream New Zealand society. That mainstream New Zealand society doesn’t care about them. Are we caring for them?” Dunn asked.

It’s important even as people share their thoughts and dreams during the synodal journey, that they also listen to others, especially those who may be overlooked in our society.

Wellington’s Cardinal John Dew stressed the call to serve in his homily at the synod’s opening at St Teresa’s Pro-Cathedral.

2015 Dew said he was struck by two specific lines in Pope Francis’s speech at the Synod on the Family.

“The first was ‘the only authority we have is the authority of service.’

“I have repeated it many, many times, and I will never forget him saying those words,” he said.

“The second was, ‘it is precisely this path of synodality which God expects of the Church of the third millennium’.”

This synod is about what kind of Church we imagine and want for the future.

“It’s hard to be succinct and to put into a homily what ‘synodality’ is, but, in a nutshell, it is about all members of the Church, all of us, walking the path of life together, truly listening to and being of service to one another,” he said.

The pope is determined the synod will re-capture Second Vatican Council’s vision, Dew said.

“Let’s make it an adventure: walking together with faith; listening to each other (as Francis put it, ‘How good is the hearing of your heart?’); engaging in a process of healing guided by the Holy Spirit, and supporting one another, looking for new paths and new ways of speaking.”


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