Listening Session – Holy Family Catholic Church, Hannibal, Mo.
This process … is an exercise of mutual listening, conducted at all levels of the Church and involving the entire People of God. The Cardinal Vicar, the auxiliary bishops, priests, religious and laity have to listen to one another, and then to everyone else. Listening, speaking and listening. It is not about garnering opinions, not a survey, but a matter of listening to the Holy Spirit, as we read in the book of Revelation: ‘Whoever has ears should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches’ (2:7).
Pope Francis, Address to the Faithful of the Diocese of Rome, 18 September 2021
These listening sessions are the first phase of a universal gathering of the Church, called a Synod.
In this first phase, Pope Francis is asking each of the approximately 2,250 dioceses in the Roman Catholic Church to gather people in their territory to listen to each other’s joys and hopes, and griefs and anxieties (c.f. Gaudium et Spes no. 1). After we listen to each other, we are called to encourage one another to grow in holiness. Listening and speaking within the Church always involves prayer. We are listening and praying together so we can hear the voice of the Holy Spirit.
The “goal” of this activity is not to create a new vision or pastoral plan with objectives. Instead, we are going back to the beginning of our Church to understand what the Holy Spirit is calling us to become.