Bishops urge NZ Catholics to study Synod’s working document Instrumentum laboris

The country’s Catholics are being urged to read the working document that will guide the Synod meeting in Rome in October and help to set the future direction of the Church.

Bishop of Auckland Stephen Lowe, President of the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference, says the Instrumentum laboris (Working Document) published by the Synod Secretariat is another step towards the future, not its final word.

“This working document is the product of the process of the Church listening to and hearing what the People of God have said during the parish, diocesan, national and continental stages of the Synod process that Catholics here and around the world have been part of,” says Bishop Lowe.

He says Instrumentum laboris is a starting point for the two-stage XVI General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to be held in Rome in October 2023 and October 2024.

Priests and lay Catholics will also take part and have voting rights. Earlier this month, Pope Francis announced the names of those he had chosen from around the world to attend. From Aotearoa-New Zealand, Manuel Beazley (Vicar for Māori Auckland Diocese) and Fr Dennis Nacorda (Parish Priest, St Joseph Hāto Hōhepa Parish Levin) will attend with Archbishop of Wellington Paul Martin SM, who is the NZCBC General Secretary.

Cardinal Mario Grech, who heads the Synod General Secretariat, has also made it clear that the Synod’s conclusions have not already been written and that Instrumentum laboris is a document of discernment that reflects the voices of the People of God from the previous stages of the Synod process.

Bishop Steve says the document an opportunity for people to continue the journey they have started, and an opportunity to involve those who have not taken part until now: “It is a document that reflects the Holy Spirit speaking to people throughout the world. As such it is a document for the whole Church, and I invite everyone to prayerfully read and reflect on it, and to pray for the Synod's work over the next 18 months.”