Suva (Agenzia Fides) - They entrusted themselves, for the mission of the Church in Oceania, to Saint Peter Chanel, Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Saint Pedro Calungsod, and to Blessed Peter To Rot, Diego Luis de San Vitores, Jean-Baptiste Mazzucconi, asking for their intercession so that believers can "respond to the hopes and challenges they shared with a heart stretched out towards mission and service". This is how the bishops of the Federation of Episcopal Conferences of Oceania, gathered in Fiji for their general assembly, which takes place every four years (see Fides 6/2/2023), concluded their meeting, during which the Bishop of Broken Bay (Australia), Msgr. Anthony Randazzo, was announced as the new President of the Federation.
Celebrating the closing Mass, Bishop Peter Brown CSsR, Bishop of Samoa-Pago Pago said, “We are returning home, I hope, with a little more discomfort than when we arrived.
It's a good sign. This discomfort is an open door for the Lord to work through us".
Among the tasks carried out by the assembly of Bishops, there was that of reviewing and approving the working document for the continental phase of the Synod of Bishops on synodality. “Guided by the voices of the People of God in Oceania, we progressed the work already undertaken to ensure a distinctively Oceanic voice will continue to resonate through the Synod documents,” they wrote, announcing that the Final Document, in its definitive version, will be published in the coming weeks.
In the assembly's final communiqué, it is reported that the bishops focused on three themes: Care for the oceans; Becoming a more synodal Church; and Formation for mission.
" Oceania is a network of islands, large and small, rich in diversity. Our Oceanic identity and location provide the context in which we participate in God’s mission. In our region, the ecological crisis is an existential threat for our people and communities. It is experienced in sea level rise, the acidification of the oceans, droughts, floods and more frequent and more extreme weather events", write the Prelates. "We recognise ecological conversion as an urgent mission priority not only for us, but also for the whole Church. Furthermore, we feel called to make our voices heard for the sake of our ocean home and its peoples", they observe.
On the theme of synodality, the emphasis is on mutual exchange between older communities and newly formed communities: "Oceania - notes the text - is home to some of the world’s youngest local churches: while being young may entail vulnerabilities, it also offers freshness and vitality. The youngest churches in our region have lessons to teach the more established churches about synodality and about maintaining the freshness of the encounter of the Gospel with local cultures and societies". "Our desire is to be communities of ever-closer followers of Jesus Christ, led by the Holy Spirit to the Kingdom of the Father. We recognise that as a pilgrim people we are always on a journey, and at times may make wrong turns", the statement noted, recalling that "We place our trust in the mercy of God who will surely accompany us".
On the theme of "formation at the service of the mission", it was noted that it has various dimensions: the witness of life; explicit proclamation of the Gospel; conversion; entry into and growth within the Christian community; and becoming an agent of evangelisation oneself. "With Pope Francis, we affirm that the witness of life requires the defence of human life from conception to natural death; respect for all life; the promotion of justice and peace; and an ecological conversion that is personal, communal and structural", say the Bishops of Oceania.
"The work of formation should mould us to be people who joyfully accept the invitation to participate in God’s mission. We leave our gathering with this mission in ever sharper focus in our hearts and minds. We carry with us the hopes and dreams of our people, and of our precious region of Oceania", concludes the text. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 14/2/2023)
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