A copy of the talk I presented at the Masses during August, 11-12, 2018.

You may have heard about the Plenary Council and wondered how will it affect me? How will affect my parish? In 5 minutes I hope to give you an sense of what it means to you, your friends & family.

What is a Plenary Council?

A Plenary Council is a meeting of the Church in Australia that can discuss and legislate on a wide range of matters that will be binding to all Catholics in Australia once approved by the Holy See. The word Plenary means full or complete; so it is a meeting of the full Church – religious and laity.

It came about after years of discernment by the Bishops of Australia. The inspiration started with Saint Pope John Paul 2 at the end of the jubilee year in 2000. He encouraged all to discern what the Spirit was saying to the Church. Pope Francis enthusiastically embodies and has fostered this. He says we should speak boldly and passionately; and listen humbly. Bishop Coleridge (Brisbane) commenced the process in November 2015. Today Bishop Timothy Costello is the president of the Plenary Council. See the video by clicking here.

Why have a Plenary Council?

Bishop Coleridge put it well when he said “We are living in a period of profound change. Not only in the wider community, but in the Church as well”

If I was to ask you, what would you say these changes were? They may include:

the Royal Commission, Relevance of Institutions,
Technology, Distrust of Authority,
Ecological & Sociological challenges, Change in Laws – same sex marriage,
Rise of fundamentalism (Christian & Muslim), Relativism (live & let live),
Frustration by the laity, Wonderful growth in feminism

Who is involved?

We all are. Plenary means complete. The council will hold 2 sessions; one in 2020 another in May 2021. When these are held they will comprise – Bishops, Religious, Advisers and us the laity. We will be giving our input indirectly and directly.

We have a wonderful national facilitator in Lana Turvey-Collins and her team. Trish Anderson, Emma Trenwith and I are your local volunteers and we’re here to help the engagement with you and the wider community. They call us animators.

What is the Process

The stage we’re in now is listening and dialogue. The council wants to know what are your thoughts and feelings. We believe that God is speaking through us all. Yes, He is speaking through scripture and teachings, but also through the realities of our lives and the challenges of our time. And we will also listen to God speaking through each other. We will have some parish-organised sessions, but we encourage you to be imaginative and to meet in small groups anytime and anywhere to reflect on the Question – What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?

We want this to be as inclusive as possible. To include practicing, lapsed, disillusioned Catholics, even non-Catholics of all persuasions.

You will have ideas & suggestions that come from those times together. You can enter these through the Plenary Council website at “Have Your Say” or give them to us and we’ll enter them. You can enter many times. These will be assimilated by National Centre for Pastoral Research – Trudy Dantis and her wonderful very clever team.

There are simple resources available on our website with links to the wonderful Plenary Council website. We have some guides at the back of the Church. Our parish activities will be on August 26 and September 16 as per the bulletin.

Conclusion

Finally, over our history, Australia has had only 5 Plenary Councils. The last was over 80 years ago in 1937. God has not abandoned us. He has not moved on and is elsewhere.

The Church of tomorrow will be very different from today. He wants us to build a more compassionate, more loving, a more inclusive Church – What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?

spbutoto spbutoto spbutoto spbutoto spbutoto spbutoto spbutoto spbutoto spbutoto spbutoto spbutoto spbutoto spbutoto spbutoto spbutoto spbutoto spbutoto spbutoto spbutoto spbutoto