“How often have we allowed divisions in the Church because we refused to listen to each other?” the Chairman of Communications Commission of ECM poses.
In listening to each other, Bishop Stima says, Christians will be able to speak the word of God.
The ministry of listening has been given to Christians by Jesus Christ “who is himself the great listener and whose work they should share,” he adds in his statement ahead of the 56th WCD to be marked on Sunday, May 29.
In his statement published May 25, Bishop Stima says that this year's WCD “scratches where it is itching. Both members of the Clergy, the Religious and the lay faithful must do a soul-searching exercise.”
Making direct reference to the Message of the Holy Father for 2022 WCD, the Malawian Bishop says, “Listening to several voices, listening to each other, even in the Church, among brothers and sisters, allows us to exercise the art of discernment, which always appears as the ability to orient ourselves in a symphony of voices.”
He adds that Pope Francis urges everyone to learn how to listen and to be ready to change his or her mind and to modify his or her initial assumptions for the good of the Church.
The Bishop who has been at the helm of Malawi’s Mangochi Diocese since February 2014 says that “listening always requires the virtue of patience, together with the ability to allow oneself to be surprised by the truth, even if only a fragment of truth, in the person we are listening to.”
“Listening to several sources, ‘not stopping at the first tavern’ – as the experts in the field teach us – ensures the reliability and seriousness of the information we transmit,” he further says, adding that it is good that this year’s WCD is being marked within the context of the ongoing preparations for the Synod on Synodality.
“We are privileged that as we celebrate the 56th World Day of Social Communications, the Synod of Bishops on synodality is underway. This is a consultative process of discerning within the Church what important voices feel about the Church,” the 64-year-old Malawian Bishop says.
“Let us pray that synodal journey should be a great opportunity to listen in order to hear one another,” Bishop Stima implores, and adds, “Communion and journeying together is built on mutual understanding as brothers and sisters and not strategies and programs.”