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ROME – During this week, 36 Australian bishops are in Rome taking part in the once-every-five-year pilgrimage to Rome all bishops around the world make to meet with the pope and heads of various Vatican offices, to talk about their local church.The Australians arrive at an especially difficult moment back home, as the country awaits a ruling in Cardinal George Pell’s appeal of his December 2018 conviction on charges of “historic sexual offenses.” With many members of the Australian bishops’ conference notoriously active on Twitter, several have already shared some thoughts on the visit, from images of a beer on a hot afternoon after a day-long flight to Gospel quotes to mock one another.
We could all listen to each other in a very deep way. During the retreat, we were in the same place with the bishops from Angola, who had just been with the Holy Father. As he was moving on, he asked someone, ‘Where’s this guy from?
I’m not taking away from that, but I do think that you need to give it a focus.” Umbers would like to have a broad spectrum of people participating, not only Catholics or Christians, but followers of all religions and even non-believers, since, he says, the matter of life beginning at conception is a “scientific fact.” Most of you arrived in Rome early, to participate in a spiritual retreat. We’re always at meetings, catch up at the end, maybe share a drink.
But this was an amazing time to actually open up and share our concerns and worries. But, every five years, the Holy Father receives bishops form a particular country and we prepare a report, and we bring our questions … But if I had a chance, I would probably talk about social media, I’m pretty sure.
People in the Archdiocese [of Sydney] were really worried, thinking I might be meeting up with a murderer or something, but it’s really interesting. Going to the conferences before and after organized by university students was really something.
Much like online dating, you don’t always know what you’re going to encounter … But I met with a lot of college students, people from all walks of life. You were in the States this year for the March for Life in Washington. I would like to organize something like that in Australia, but to get there you need to basically energize people and get activists who’ve seen it in operation elsewhere doing the groundwork.
There’s also the fact that evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, we don’t actually live our lives online. You can make new friends online, but then you have the opportunity to extend that to real life. I even have some Americans asking if they can join the Aussie tour. Yes, there were a few nutcases, but they were drowned by the others.