Expectations are firming that Pope John Paul II will travel to Noumea, New Caledonia in the weeks following Easter 2001to present a major document on Church life in Oceania.
But Australia could still be added to the Pope’s itinerary as a secondary port of call. Brisbane or Sydney were originally mentioned as possible stopovers after the Oceania Synod of Bishops in Rome in late 1998.
Brisbane Auxiliary Bishop Michael Putney, who is a member of the post-synod council, said on his return from a meeting in Rome earlier this month that there was a new suggestion that Guam could be added to the Pope’s itinerary. But this had come as a surprise to many.
Members of the post-synod council, made up of Vatican officials and seven prelates from Oceania, met in Rome from April 4-6 to add final amendments to the draft document before it went to the Pope.
The draft, prepared in the wake of the 1998 Oceania Synod, was virtually complete, said Cardinal Thomas Williams of Wellington, New Zealand, who is also a member of the post-synod council.
The synod’s concerns with inculturation – adapting Catholic liturgy, theology and spirituality to local cultures – played a large part in the document, he said.