Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church has proposed the most ambitious attempt at Catholic reform in 60 years.
A two-year process to consult every Catholic parish around the world on the future direction of the Church began at the Vatican this weekend.
Some Catholics hope it will lead to change on issues such as women’s ordination, married priests and same-sex relationships.
Others fear it will undermine the principles of the Church.
They say a focus on reform could also distract from issues facing the Church, such as corruption and dwindling attendance levels.
Pope Francis urged Catholics not to “remain barricaded in our certainties” but to “listen to one another” as he launched the process at Mass in St Peter’s Basilica.
“Are we prepared for the adventure of this journey? Or are we fearful of the unknown, preferring to take refuge in the usual excuses: ‘It’s useless’ or ‘We’ve always done it this way’?” he asked.
The consultation process, called “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission”, will work in three stages: listening phase, continental phase and universal phase.
The listening phase would include inputs from workers at local churches, the continental phase would see a gathering of bishops and the universal phase would see a month long gathering in October 2023 at the Vatican.
Towards the end the Pope is expected then to write an apostolic exhortation, giving his views and decisions on the issues discussed.