BRISBANE Archbishop Mark Coleridge met with Darwin Bishop Eugene Hurley and New Zealand’s Bishop Charles Drennan during the week to hone their preparations for the Synod on the Family.
They were to have met in Darwin from Monday to Thursday to consider the Synod on the Family to be held in Rome in October.
Archbishop Coleridge and Bishop Hurley are the Australian synod delegates and Bishop Drennan, of Palmerston North diocese, is the New Zealand delegate.
The October synod follows a preparatory extraordinary synod held last year.
“Each of us has received many submissions and contributions on the synod, both local and international,” Archbishop Coleridge said before the Darwin meeting.
“We will sift through and try to assess this mountain of material which runs the length and breadth of the spectrum.
“It’s important to attend to the sensus fidelium (sense of the faithful), but it’s not made any easier when the fideles, the faithful, say so many different things.
“We will also share where we have come to in our own reflection upon and preparation for the synod.”
Archbishop Coleridge said this “will mean considering what we might say on the floor of the synod”.
“Usually the synod offers three opportunities for bishops to have input – the four-minute prepared interventions submitted beforehand, the free discussion and the small groups,” he said.
“Different themes are better suited to one of these or the other. We will look at what might be said where and when.”
He said there had been “some talk that Pope Francis may change the format of this synod, perhaps abolishing the prepared interventions to allow for more free discussion”.
“Past experience has shown me that it pays to prepare well for a synod, and I think that’s specially true of this synod,” he said.
Previously, Archbishop Coleridge has said he hoped the synod could find, as the Second Vatican Council did, a new language to speak to society’s many “hot button” issues.
“The questions that gather around marriage and the family matter to everyone,” he said.
“In a sense, they’re where the rubber hits the road for the Church.
“That’s why this synod has a special edge and has stirred such wide interest.”