Bishop Greg Bennet has just completed the course for new bishops in Rome. The course entitled, To Announce the Gospel in the Changing Epoch and After the Pandemic, gathered 152 bishops from around the world who had been ordained during the Covid pandemic 2019-2022; a further 180 will attend the second session this week.

In commenting on the course, Bishop Greg said, “it has been a wonderful experience to gather with bishops from so many countries, whose experience is shaped by the culture and context of their local Church. Among the bishops nearly a third represented the Eastern-Oriental Catholics which further enriched the perspective of the universality of the Catholic Church in terms of liturgy, theology and pastoral practice.”

The course provided the new bishops to engage with various dicasteries of the Holy See and to understand how they exist to support the mission of the Church.  “It is clear” said Bishop Greg, “the call of Pope Francis for the Church to act in a synodal way is being embedded in the manner of every dicastery. There is clearly a process of renewal under way at every level which reflects the vision and mission of the Second Vatican Council. The Church is listening more clearly to the joys, hopes, aspirations and anxieties of her people and this dialogue enhances her missionary stance to the world.”

The establishment of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development led by Cardinal Michael Czerny SJ, demonstrates synodality in its approach, dialogue and action. Other dicasteries such as Bishops, Clergy, Communication also engaged with the new bishops.

The week concluded with the bishops having an audience with Pope Francis in the Clementine Hall within the Vatican. The Pope entered the hall aided by his walking stick and was greeted warmly by all. While his mobility is somewhat diminished, Bishop Greg suggested, “he is as sharp as ever.” Pope Francis chose not to speak from a formal text, but rather wanted to dialogue with the bishops; again, modelling his synodal approach wishing to listen, dialogue and reflect together.

Pictured: Bishop Greg Bennet at St Peter's Basilica, Vatican City. 

“His capacity to draw upon scripture, personal experience, prayer and pastoral stories enriched out time together. He encouraged us to pray deeply, to be close to the Lord, to one another, our clergy, our people and to seize every opportunity to bring Christ to others. He called us to be imaginative and creative just as we learn in the Acts of the Apostles - a missionary Church in a change of era requires faith, daring and respectful engagement with everyone.”

The scheduled one-hour meeting continued for two hours concluding with an opportunity for every bishop to greet Pope Francis and to encounter the See of Peter.

“Our week together has gathered us from around the globe. The daily gatherings for prayer, Eucharist, meetings and dialogue, meals and sharing, provided a wonderful opportunity for each so if as we continue to our episcopal ministry. We arrived as strangers and return home with new friendships in faith, mission and fraternity” reflected Bishop Greg.

Bishop Greg will now spend some days of personal retreat in Assisi.

Bishop Greg and three other Australian bishops attended the first seminar together, other Australian bishops are attending the second seminar. 

 Pictured: Bishop Karol Kulczycki SDS (Bishop of Port Pirie), Bishop Mykola Bychok (Eparchy of Sts Peter & Paul - Ukrainian), Bishop Shane MacKinlay (Bishop of Sandhurst) and  Bishop Greg Bennet (Bishop of Sale) are pictured on their way to the Beatification of Pope John Paul I in Rome. Photo: Greg Bennet.