My ten minutes with the Pope: Let’s build an open and merciful Church

By Sr Sophie Boffa, 13 January 2022
Julen Reyes and Judith-Grace Vella. Images: Supplied.


What would you say to Pope Francis if you had ten minutes to chat with him?  

This question reflects the theme of listening which is at the heart of Synod 2021-2023, a two-year process of listening, dialogue and discernment for the entire Catholic Church. The Synod is particularly interested in hearing the voice of youth, and Catholic Outlook put this question to several young people involved in ministry around the Diocese.  

For Julen Reyes, youth minister at Our Lady of the Angels, Rouse Hill, truth and tradition are two main points he’d like to raise. “Youth are longing for the full truth of Christ, for his merciful love and for the teachings and traditions of the Catholic faith”, he says. He feels encouraged by the Tradition of the Church, particularly the “beauty, mystery and meaning” of liturgy, and says it’s important to stay true to those central elements. 

Judith-Grace Vella, youth minister at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Kellyville, says she would want to talk with the Pope about her hopes for a more open Church which is truly the “welcoming field hospital” he speaks of. She sees that many people have become disillusioned or doubtful of the possibility for change. “There is an unfulfilled appetite for change”, she says, “and many have grown tired of talking about and hoping for reform that seemingly never comes.” 

Both Julen and Judith-Grace feel it is crucial to uphold the central tenets of our Catholic faith. At the heart of our faith are the qualities of accompaniment and mercy, which God bestows on us and calls us to give to others in openness and welcome. Living these values requires a shift away from formality and rigidity, Judith-Grace says. “The Church has become notorious for emphasising these things, and this prevents the coming of Christ to those who need Him most.” 

Building a more open and merciful Church requires us to be present to those who need openness and mercy. Judith-Grace acknowledges that “we cannot be what we cannot see and hear.” If she could speak with Pope Francis, she says that she would share her hope for a greater involvement of the laity, and especially of youth, at all levels of Church leadership, and of a greater openness to new ideas on the part of the Church’s decision-makers. “This would hopefully promote practical change so that we can see a braver Church who is willing to ‘go out into the deep’.”  


What would you say to Pope Francis if you had ten minutes to talk with him about the Church and its future? Until 27 February 2022, you can share your own thoughts and opinions via the Diocese of Parramatta’s official Synod website. All responses will be collated by the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference and presented at the XVI General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will be held in Rome in 2023. Your voice and your opinion matter. Share your thoughts and hopes for the Church here. 


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