Elizabeth Proust, Deputy Chair of the Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council, recently stated:
"I fear there’s a view that once the royal commission reports, and the publicity around what will be a fairly dire report all dies down, that life will go back to what it was."
In the last newsletter, we wrote of the danger of the 2020 Plenary Council being ill-informed - little more than a means of kicking the Church’s problems down the road for a few years. We pointed to the need for each bishop to listen to the faithful and for the institutional Church to address the real governance dysfunction of the Church exposed by the Royal Commission.
In this newsletter, we describe in detail the steps necessary to ensure that the 2020 Plenary Council can address the real issues facing the Church: steps that ensure the people of the Church are listened to by their diocesan bishops and that the Plenary Council is truly informed by the sensus fidelium (the sense of faith of the faithful). Diocesan bishops must be informed by the views of the faithful of their respective dioceses when they exercise their privileged role at the Plenary Council. But do bishops respect the sensus fidelium? They must listen to the people of their dioceses, the very essence of their role as pastors as stressed by Pope Francis.
Peter Wilkinson, who authored a 2011 report Catholic Parish Ministry in Australia: Facing Disaster? and a 2011 study Catholic Synods in Australia: 1844-2011, is the author of this latest piece ‘Catholic Church 2020 Plenary Council: bishops must tap into the grassroots without delay’ which was originally published in John Menadue’s Pearls and Irritations. Peter’s knowledge and expertise on Church synodality is widely respected.
Peter Wilkinson has just been elected as President of Catholics for Renewal. Peter Johnstone, the author of the last article, has stepped down as President after seven years in the role and has now assumed the role of Vice-President. His report to the recent AGM reflects on the first seven years of CathfR and its future direction, and can be read here.