Synod on Synodality – NZ representatives’ feedback

Synod on Synodality

Giving feedback on last October’s Synod on Synodality in Rome, the Archbishop of Wellington Paul Martin is highlighting the importance of two key points he took away from the global meeting.

These involve listening combined with an understanding that the Church is not some form of majority democracy.

Martin offered the comments during the first of two online Zoom meetings on Tuesday evening.

The online meetings are part of the feedback from New Zealand’s representatives.

Martin is also highlighting the role of prayer in the Synod’s proceedings.

During the Zoom meeting he said that prayer made a tangible difference during the sessions. Three three to four minutes of prayer after every four or five interventions or speeches was significant at all levels, he said.

“Stopping and praying or trying to recollect yourself is a powerful way of drawing the Spirit into the conversation.

“Prayer also took a lot of the politics out of it,” he added.

Synodality a work in progress

Admitting that the Church seems to be in a synodal phase where Synodality seems to mean whatever we want it to mean, Martin says he is looking forward to the second phase in October this year.

He disclosed that it is not yet clear how the second session will operate, indicating a form of constructionist learning at work.

“We are learning; it’s evolving and ongoing. We’ll get some right and some wrong.

“That’s what trusting the Spirit is at work means” he said.

Martin clarified for the Zoom meeting that being half way through a two-stage process it is impossible to implement big changes..

A realist, he observed that the Synod happened in October – they arrived back in November; during December and January, the country is focused on celebrating Christmas and summer holidays.

Kiwi informality

One of the other ‘takeaways’ that struck Martin is that the New Zealand Church is much more casual and informal.

“While there are exceptions hierarchically-wise, we are not in the same place as some of our sisters and brothers in other countries” he commented.

He admitted that while there is a lot more work to be done to empower all the baptised, each with their own place, he also thought the New Zealand Church had made considerable efforts over a long time in this area.

Speaking as Archbishop of Wellington he said “I want to see these developments grow.

“Ultimately, it’s going to depend on each one of us to listen to each other more and see how we can join it together.”

Divergent discussion

Martin observed the Synod conversations were not always ‘plain sailing’.

One area where there was significant divergence was the Church’s relationship with LGBTQ+ people.

He said the significant issues around the LGBTQ+ community caused quite a bit of conversation, which was publicly reflected in the clear difference between the draft and the final Synodal document.

Acknowledging the divergence of LGBTQ+ views between the sisters and brothers of different parts of the world, he added that the discussion was processed respectfully.

He says he is looking forward to meeting up again with the same people to continue the range of conversations.

Relational focus

Mr Manuel Beazley, the Vicar for Māori in the Diocese of Auckland, also attended the Synod.

For Beazley, the experience seemed more personal and relational than structural for the Church in New Zealand.

While he said he could not talk for the whole diocese of Auckland, he is involved in a couple of areas to progress the work of the Synod.

Commenting that perhaps Māori are more synodal in terms of his own work and area of responsibility, Beazley says he found the process helpful.

For him, one of the key outcomes of the Synod was contacting other like-minded ministers and joining them as if they were another family. He said they continue to keep in touch using modern media.

A highlight for him was that if Pope Francis were in the gathering and not otherwise engaged, people were permitted to approach him. He was pleased to have spoken with Francis several times.

New Zealand’s other representative, Fr Dennis Nacorda, apologised for being unable to attend the meeting. Nacorda is the Parish Priest in the Wairarapa.

The second of two Synod feedback Zoom meetings was held last evening.

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