Pope Francis has last week 10 January appointed Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB as a consultor of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.
The appointment is in conjunction with Archbishop Costelloe’s concurrent appointments as a Member of the Preparatory Commission, and as one of the nine President Delegates to the Synod.
In announcing the appointment, the Holy See Press Office also confirmed that the Holy Father has appointed a total five Consultors to the General Secretariat of the Synod, who are
– Monsignor Piero Coda, Secretary General of the International Theological Commission;
– Gaby Alfred Hachem, Professor of Theology at the Université Saint-Esprit de Kaslik, Lebanon;
– Giuseppe Bonfrate, Full Professor of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome;
– Father Paul Béré, S.J., Professor of Sacred Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute.
The next phase of the Synod – an assembly of clergy and lay people from around the world – is set to be hosted by the Vatican in October.
The General Secretariat’s main role is implementing the work of the preceding assembly and preparing for the next.
In the lead-up to October, it will choose the themes to be discussed, initiate the consultative process and draft preparatory documents, incorporating the results of the consultation.
In the phase following the assembly, it will see to the implementation of the synodal recommendations approved by Pope Francis.
Archbishop Costelloe, the President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, was among those who took part in the first assembly of the Synod that was convened in Rome in October 2023.
Archbishop Costelloe said he was grateful to Pope Francis and Cardinal Mario Grech, the Secretary General of the Office for the Synod, for the appointment.
“While I am already involved in the Synod as a member of the Preparatory Commission and as one of the nine President-delegates of the Synod, this further appointment will enable me to continue to support the implementation of Pope Francis’s vision for a more synodal Church once the second and final Assembly of the Synod concludes at the end of October this year.
“The fundamental aim of the Synod on Synodality is to assist the whole Church to re-discover an essential dimension of its identity: to be a listening Church.
“Pope Francis reminds us that through our baptism we are all given the gift of the Holy Spirit, a gift which is renewed and strengthened through Confirmation.
“If we are to be truly open to the voice of the Spirit then we need to listen to all the ways in which God speaks to us. This includes listening to our brothers and sisters who, like us, experience the presence of the Spirit in their lives.
“Accompanying the task of listening is the challenge of discernment. How and where do we, as members of God’s Holy People, recognise the presence of the Holy Spirit in our own experience and in the experience of others?
“It is the task of the Synod on Synodality to consider and propose ways in which this two-fold task of listening and discernment might be more deeply embedded in the life of the Church at every level.
“The conviction of Pope Francis, which I share, is that this focus on synodality will lead the Church to be a more missionary, evangelising Church. I am looking forward to playing my small part in this important endeavour.”
The 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for a Synodal Church is a three-year process of listening and dialogue which began with a solemn opening in Rome in October 2021.