It has been twelve months since Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, shared his thoughts for envisioning the roadmap for the future of the Catholic Church in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains at a Diocesan Forum. This forum brought together key leadership and local representatives from parishes, schools, ministries and agencies.
Twelve months on, it is an opportunity to revisit Bishop Vincent’s address. How do his words reflect our own personal and communal journey? Moving forward, how may the Holy Spirit be calling us to Go Out Into the Deep?
Catholic Outlook will be republishing Bishop Vincent’s address to the Diocesan Forum over the coming days.
To read the full address, click here.
Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv DD STL, Bishop of Parramatta
Address to the Diocesan Forum 2019, Parramatta
“Envisioning the Church in Western Sydney for the New Millennium”
13 July 2019
PART 3: A LISTENING, SYNODAL AND INCLUSIVE CHURCH
As we move to a more pilgrim community model, it is also necessary to foster a culture of encounter and dialogue. Pope Francis speaks of an “inverted pyramid” which is a radical way of exercising power and authority. It is not a top-down and centralised approach reminiscent of the monarchical model.
Rather, it is a synodal church at every level, with everyone listening to each other, learning from each other and taking responsibility for proclaiming the Gospel. Vatican II already spoke of the key principles: collegiality, subsidiarity and sensus fidelium, all of which pointed to a more listening, dialogical and inclusive Church.
Pope Francis has really lived up to his vision of the Church daring to break loose from its comfort zone and self-referential mentality. He has challenged us to be a compassionate, merciful, open and inclusive Church.
He has privileged a style of leadership, which involves more deep respectful listening and collective discernment.
Transformation within the Church will not be facilitated by divisiveness and polarising disposition. Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini SJ wisely observed that we must learn to “quarrel peacefully” in the spirit of open and honest dialogue.
While there is no instant reconciliation, nor perfect convergence of minds and hearts, we must not resile from the task of listening, conversing and understanding one another in the spirit of mutual trust. The synodal journey can be chaotic and disruptive.
But it is this journey – like the exodus of old- that forms us and transforms us into the People of God.
Part 4 will be published tomorrow.
To read Part 2 of Bishop Vincent’s address, click here.