On the Agenda for the 5th Australian Plenary Council is this question: How
might the Church in Australia open in new ways to indigenous ways of
being Christian in spirituality, theology, liturgy, and missionary
discipleship? How might we learn from the First Nations peoples? Fortuitously,
a special webinar examining some of these issues has been organised by
the Divine Word Missionaries and the ecumenical Australian Association
for Mission Studies to take place on Saturday 2 October 2021, the eve of
the Council Opening.
The webinar is FREE to attend. Details, Flyer and Registration on our EVENTS page
Is it time to re-think seminaries?
We need seminaries to be places that train new generations of clergy to be servant leaders who can pastor — not rule over — the faithful
Extract from Gideon Goosen, Australia, National Catholic Reporter. 25 September 2021
The Catholic Church in Australia has reached a critical point in its journey where a total re-generation of the church is required. The findings of the sexual abuse of children in the Church has been the main catalyst, documented in the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The Final Report identified clericalism as a significant contributor to abuse across religious institutions Australia-wide. Clericalism is rooted in a theological belief that the clergy are different to the laity, having undergone an 'ontological change' at ordination (a change to the very nature of their being on receiving Holy Orders) and feeds the notion that the clergy may not be challenged. And according to the report, the culture of clericalism is on the rise in seminaries in Australia. According to the report, 'Clericalism is the idealisation of the priesthood, and by extension, the idealisation of the Catholic Church. Clericalism is linked to a sense of entitlement, superiority and exclusion, and abuse of power.' A person suffering from clericalism sees himself as special, superior to others and worthy of greater respect. This could lead to arrogance and the belittling of others. Lay people can also be guilty of clericalism if they support this attitude.....(more). Photo:Seminaries-is-it-time-to-re-think NCR 20210925
Don’t blame the boomers for decline of religion
Extract from CathNews NZ, 2 September 2021
The generation born in the two decades after World War II has long touted itself as the revolutionary religious demographic that grew up dutifully sitting in the pews before rebelling — as they did in music, politics, art and the bedroom — and freeing American culture from its hidebound superstitions. OK, boomer. Examining the data from the General Social Survey, it turns out it’s not the baby boomers who were the last vestige of a highly religious, very Christian era of American history. Instead, Generation X — born between 1965 and the early ’80s — is the last to come of age and even perpetuate an overwhelmingly Christian and largely devout religious landscape in terms of church attendance and beliefs about God. The GSS has been asking people about their belief in God since 1988, when the oldest members of Gen X were moving into adulthood. The Silent Generation, the baby boomers and Generation X show up in its findings as just as likely (if not more) to have a certain belief in God in 2018 compared to 1988. That’s clearly not the case for millennials, who dropped about 10 percentage points in 20 years in reporting their certainty about a supreme being. It’s still very early to come to any firm conclusions about Generation Z, but there’s ample reason to believe that they are half as likely as Gen X to express a certain belief — leaving millennials as the generation that was the great divide.....(more). Photo: CathNews NZ
Lay Catholic to represent Poland in Rome at Synod opening
Extract from CathNews NZ, CNA, 2 September 2021
In a first-ever appointment of its kind, a lay Catholic will represent the Church in Poland at the official opening of the synodal process next month. The two-year synodal process is a consultative phase involving Catholic dioceses around the world. Chosen by the Polish bishops’ conference president Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, Professor Aleksander Bańka is the first lay person to represent the Church in Poland at an inaugural session. He is one of 10 representatives from Europe at the official opening. The others include the president of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences, two bishops and seven lay people. The Vatican says immediately after its official opening in Rome next moth, the two-year “synodal path” will begin in dioceses throughout the world. Continental assemblies will follow the diocesan consultations. The process will culminate in the October 2023 synod of bishops at the Vatican. The synod theme is “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,”.....(more). Photo: Professor Aleksander Bańka first lay representative of Church Poland at an inaugural session of Rome Synod.
Pope Francis announces a requiem for the Old Latin Mass
Francis boldly overturns Benedict XVI's most significant legislative act, takes steps to eventually eliminate use of the Tridentine Rite
Limited extract from Robert Mickens, Letter From Rome, Subscription Journal La Croix International, 16 July 2021
In a truly gutsy move, Pope Francis has overturned one of the most significant (and many believed enduring) pieces of universal Church legislation that was issued by his still-living predecessor, Benedict XVI. The 84-year-old pope on Friday severely curtailed the exclusive rights Benedict gave priests in 2007 to celebrate the Tridentine Mass at will and without permission from their superiors. In a new "motu proprio" called Traditionis custodes (Guardians of the Tradition), the Jesuit pope nullified almost every key provision set forth in Benedict's own "motu proprio" of fourteen years ago, Summorum Pontificum. The bishops are to limit use of the Old Mass.....(source). Image: La Croix International 20210716
Limited extract from Chris McDonnell, United Kingdom, Subscription Journal, La Croix International, 10 July 2021
There has been much talk in recent weeks about facing up to our responsibility in the Church. The offered resignation of Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Germany, which Pope Francis declined (thankfully), was one high profile instance. It has brought to our attention issues that many of us have been avoiding for too long, often through concern with the possible consequences. But there comes a time when we must face reality and ask the difficult question: where do I stand? With the Synod of Bishops' next assembly now due to open in 2023, there is a real opportunity for radical change. Do we wait for an invitation to contribute to the preparation for the Synod or do we open wide the door that is ajar and make a worthwhile contribution? Maybe now is the time for individuals to approach their bishop and raise pertinent questions. The question is, how? Where communities have functioning parish councils, there already exists a structure for formulating opinion that might offer a way forward. It beggars belief that there are still so many places where there is no recognized structure for parishioners to have a voice, where the management of parish life is centered on one person. What is the emerging Church going to look like? We are paying the price for our casual acceptance of clericalism over so many years. You take people with you by offering the option for real participation, by hearing their voice and responding to their concerns. Whether we like it or not, circumstances have changed. The monolithic structure that has been accepted for so long deemed by many to be no longer fit for purpose. What will replace it? What is the emerging Church going to look like? How will we sustain continuity with the faith that has nurtured our lives? The question of faith is ever-present in the Gospel narrative. The challenges that are so often posed by Jesus the Nazarene ask for a response that demands confidence and trust in his word. Sometimes that seemed too much to ask. We are told when the gift of the Eucharist is first mentioned that many turned away from him. Rather than explain that they had misunderstood him, he turned to those near him and asked if they wished to leave him as well. The reply given by Peter in the Gospel of John is well known: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life". Without doubt, what would faith really be?.....(Source)
The Italian Church needs to find itself in a synodal state
Do we not feel the need for a kick from the Spirit today, if only to wake us up from our torpor? asks Father Antonio Spadaro, SJ, Editor-in-Chief, La Civiltà Cattolica
Limited extract from International Staff, subscription journal LA Croix International, 30 June 2021
From May 24 to 27, 2021, the Italian Episcopal Conference held their 74th General Assembly. Pope Francis opened it with a prayer and a dialogue with the bishops present. The work of the Assembly, under the guidance of Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, focused on the theme: "Proclaiming the Gospel in a time of rebirth. Starting a synodal journey." In his introduction Cardinal Bassetti defined this journey as "a necessary process that will allow our Churches in Italy to continue to adopt a better style of presence in history that is credible and reliable." The pontiff urged the bishops to take up the challenge proposed at the Florence Ecclesial Convention, and to improve a path that starts from below and puts the people of God at the center. He has always complained of a certain "amnesia" regarding the directions he gave during his speech to the bishops in the Tuscan capital on November 10, 2015. Clearly, the overlap between the calling of the Synod of the Universal Church – about which we will speak later – and the start of the synodal path of the Italian Church will be a unique opportunity to harmonize these paths. The General Assembly then voted on the following motion: "The Italian bishops should initiate, with this Assembly, the synodal journey as indicated by Pope Francis and proposed in a first draft of the Charter of Intent presented to the Holy Father." The Permanent Council of the Italian Episcopal Conference will establish a working group to harmonize its themes, timetable and forms. The measured words of the motion summarize and relaunch a debate that has lasted six years. It was the pope who opened the debate in Florence, suggesting the synodal method: "The nation is not a museum, but is a collective work under permanent construction in which the very things that differentiate, including political or religious affiliations, are to be shared," Francis said. "I like a restless Italian Church," he added, "ever closer to the abandoned, the forgotten, the imperfect."
The Vatican confesses: the hierarchical Church has lost the people
Holy See makes ill-fated, last-ditch attempt to alter proposed anti-homophobia law supported by most people in democratic Italy
Limited extract from Robert Mickens, Vatican City, subscription journal La Croix International, 25 June 2021
Call it the Vatican or call it the Holy See. It hardly matters anymore because the difference and nuances between the two terms (or entities) are lost on most people. That includes the majority of Catholics. Increasingly, it seems, people don't care whether a distinction even exists. Holy See and Vatican mean only one thing to most folks -- headquarters of the Catholic Church or bureaucratic center of a two-millennia-old religious behemoth. And that behemoth, as I argued last week, continues to experience an implosion that dates back to at least the Reformation. Certainly by the time of the Enlightenment in the 17th century, this implosion became an ongoing process. As the ancien régime arrangement of "throne and altar" in Old Europe was giving way to democracy, the Church -- especially the part tethered to Rome -- tried mightily with every weapon in its spiritual and worldly arsenal to barricade itself and its subjects against the modernizing trend. The Church's futile attempt to make peace with modernity. From time to time "enlightened" Christians raised their voice to warn the Church's hierarchs that this was futile. Then, finally, the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) sought to make peace with "modernity", including democracy. It is now obvious that the Council did not succeed, at least not completely. One need only observe the the continued attempts by Catholic bishops in various parts of the world to dictate to democratically elected governments and heads of sovereign states the course of political action they should pursue.....(source). Photo: Vatican La Croix International 20210625
FIFTH PLENARY COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA
Plenary Council, 18 June 2021
As children of God, disciples of Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, the Members of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia are called to develop concrete proposals to create a more missionary, Christ-centred Church in Australia at this time.
‘I dream of a “missionary option”, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channelled for the evangelisation of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.’ - Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium 27
Download Agenda HERE
Dead end or no end? could synodality really be the "turning point"?
Limited extracts from Justin Stanwix*, Australia, Subscription Journal LA Croix International. 16 June 2021
Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Germany made a noble gesture when recently he tendered his resignation to Pope Francis. He stated his impression that the Church is "at a dead end". Quintessentially, he allowed the potential of a "turning point". That is the essence of Jesus' message. Thankfully, the cardinal's offer has been refused and for good reason. The pope reminded him that it remains time to tend the sheep. Probably more urgently than ever. The generosity and undoubtedly prayerful discernment that preceded the cardinal's offer must be acknowledged. The inherent rectitude and personal penalty involved as he shouldered vicarious responsibility for the sexual abuse crisis, in the interest of the whole Church, may appeal to many. A missionary Church that has made many mistake throughout history But his offer raises the question about how we see ourselves as Church. Even for a reason of generous proportion is it acceptable to offer to quit in such circumstances? No cavil about the sinful situation in which we find ourselves. My issue is about how we should respond, move forward and give example. How we live the Gospel message now. We are not solely individuals in our Church, the institution is not only human and its fundamentally divine nature is not of our making. We are a missionary Church and a pilgrim people. The People of God have accumulated plenty of missionary mistakes, repeated atrociously sinful behavior and have failed to learn even obvious lessons. We wasted no time after the death of Jesus in Beatitudes-absent behavior. Given the history of the two thousand years since, we are highly likely to engage in some lamentable repetition. At some point we must move beyond the sexual abuse crisis. Obviously, I don't mean ignore it or avoid the guilt, the shame and the ongoing responsibility we have in many ways to victims and families. The Holy Spirit is in charge As Church we have a rugged history. Our missionary Church has faced division, scandal and an abundance of challenge. The whole while we have been blessed by the presence of the Holy Spirit. No doubt at times the Spirit has shuddered but the promise of Jesus to be with his Church until the end of time is no mean promise. We may never gainsay that certainty because it is the Gospel message. We can celebrate prayerful and beautiful liturgies for the great occasions of our Church – or not. But we cannot ignore the Holy Spirit in our lives and his presence in our Church and in the world............The pope seeks to encourage a synodal Church where we work together collaboratively at all levels, abandon clericalism and monarchical structures and operate much differently from the way we do at present. In this context, the decision to defer the Synod of Bishops' assembly on synodality, while a world-wide consultation of the international Church takes place, must be embraced for the quantum change it represents.............(Source) *Justin Stanwix is a deacon at St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish in the Diocese of Wollongong (Australia).
All New Zealand Catholics will get a say in upcoming synod
Extract from CathNews NZ, 3 June 2021
The NZ Catholic Bishops’ Conference says the views of all New Zealand Catholics will be sought during an expanded Synod of Bishops’ process announced by the pope. Pope Francis has frequently called for the bishops, priests and people to walk together in a common mission of the Church,” says Conference president Cardinal John Dew. “He believes it is imperative to listen to the People of God, which means going to local churches to hear what they say.” Francis wants all Catholic dioceses to consult with parishioners from 17 October to get local-level views on the topic for the next synod, entitled a “Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission”. “The Holy Father wants to hear the voices of all the baptised,” Dew says.......Most of these people consider they are no longer regular parishioners and wonder how limiting the process to going to parishes and consulting parishioners will work. Jerome De Rosario is a 40-year-old Wellington professional. A “retired catholic”, he thinks the Church needs a different strategy and fresh ideas and hopes the Synod might accomplish this. However, he expressed surprise the Church did not factor in what it already knows, that most Catholics don’t belong to parishes and do not go to Mass. Alex Jordan, a university student from Massey, Auckland, also picks up on the parish emphasis. “The voice of the bulk of baptised Catholics won’t be heard because they don’t belong to the outdated parish structure, he said. “At most, they’re gathering 5% of the baptised. “The data will be skewed from the outset”, he said. “If this is worth doing it’s worth doing well. I hope the Church gets good advice.” Non-parishioners also need to be considered says Richard McKenna, a 30 something manager in Wellington. “By focussing on parishes many people who are still fringe Catholics but not regular parishioners, and may feel excluded. This statement seems to confirm our exclusion”. He hopes it is not the ‘last word’ and the criteria and methodology will also consider non-parishioners may wish to contribute and have valuable ideas. “I much prefer the Vatican’s focus, consulting with ‘The People of God'”, he said.....(more).