Catholics for Renewal


News 2022

Earlier News 2022 (January-July)  HERE

A broad and  diverse mix of Local, National and International faith-related News, Information and Opinions. 
     Views expressed are those of the Authors and may or may not always represent those of Catholics For Renewal.
Editorial (20 June):   Plenary Council Motions: no match for the Church's crisis

Limited Extract:
At Pentecost 2018, just months after the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse had exposed the gross failings of the Catholic Church in this nation, Australia’s bishops launched the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia to address the Church’s huge and existential crisis: identify the underlying problems, propose solutions, and provide hope for new life. Then there were the 30 draft  Motions arising from the 1st Plenary Assembly, to be voted on on at the 2nd Assembly in July...........What do we think of those Motions?     

       Read Full Editorial HERE       Photo: Pompei FORUM (        Previous Editorials Editorials:HERE


Be part of the discussion: CREATING A JUST SYNODAL CHURCH

WHEN:  Wednesday Evenings – August 10, 17 ,24  & 31
TIME: 7:30-9:00pm (AEST)*
WHERE: Online via Zoom 
COST: $22.00 incl. GST (covers all four sessions). Excludes TryBooking fee.
BOOKINGS: via TryBooking
Concessions may be available, contact

DETAILS &  Registration HERE
Garratt Publishing
Join us over four Wednesday evenings in August as we focus on synodality, governance, and leadership of the Church in the context of Church inclusion.  

As the official Plenary process moves to a new phase, there is much work still required to create a just, synodal Church; a Church where all are included equally and inclusively.

You’ll hear from an outstanding line-up of local and international experts offering insights post the Plenary’s second assembly, the ongoing work required as we move towards the Pope’s Synod of Bishops, and insights from the German Synodal Path.

In this, its 50th year of Theological Education, Yarra Theological Union – along with the Australasian Coalition for Catholic Church Reform and Garratt Publishing – invite you to attend this series of ground-breaking, crucial zoom webinars as we journey together towards a just, synodal Church.

For a synodal Church – community, participation and mission”
Extract from The report of the German Bishops’ Conference
to the World Synod of Bishops 2023, German  Bishop Conference,  5 August 2022
The following report is divided into two parts. The first reflects on experiences with synodal processes in the (arch)dioceses and at the level of the German Bishops’ Conference, and also incorporates synodal experiences into this process from the member organisations of the Council of Christian Churches (ACK) in Germany.
The second part summarises the feedback from the German (arch)dioceses on the ten topics listed in the official manual for consultations in the local churches     (“Vademecum for the Synod on Synodality”, Ch. 5.3).  
Part I: Reflection on synodal experiences in the Church in Germany.....(SOURCE)
Pope Francis is right. The Catholic Church can't go backwards.
Extract from Opinion Piece, Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter, 3 August 2022
During his press conference on the plane returning to Rome from Canada, Pope Francis made a remark about so-called traditionalists that rankled some conservative Catholics and confused others. "A church that does not develop its thinking in an ecclesial way is a church that goes backward," the pope said. "That is the problem of many today who claim to be traditionalists. They are not traditionalists, they are 'backwardists.' Tradition is the root of inspiration in order to go forward in the church."     The operative word here, of course, is not "traditionalists" or "backwardist," although the latter is expressive and accurate. The key word is "ecclesial." And unlocking what the pope means can be found in the text of the talk Francis gave at vespers at the Cathedral Basilica of Notre Dame in Quebec. There he gave the kind of Christocentric ecclesiological vision that the Second Vatican Council made normative.       Recalling his programmatic 2013 apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, the pope said, "That is also true of Christian joy: it is a free gift, the certainty of knowing that we are loved, sustained and embraced by Christ in every situation in life.  Because he is the one who frees us from selfishness and sin, from the sadness of solitude, from inner emptiness and fear, and gives us a new look at life and history: 'With Christ joy is constantly born anew' (EG, 1)."       Then, in his classically blunt style, the Holy Father asked, "So let us ask ourselves a question: How are we doing when it comes to joy? Does our Church express the joy of the Gospel? Is there a faith in our communities that can attract by the joy it communicates?"....(Source)  Photo: Pope Francis vespers Cathedral Notre Dame Quebec July 28 CNS Paul Haring, NCR 20220803 
After Australia's Plenary Council
An interview with the Secretary to the Council on what comes next for the Church
Limited Extract from Geraldine Doogue, Australia, Subscription Journal La Croix International, 30 July 2022
What did Australia's Plenary Council mean exactly, and what comes next for the church? Secretary to the Council, Fr David Ranson, offers a rich and bracingly realistic set of observations about the Plenary.
As secretary, Fr David was deeply absorbed in the lead-up, in the events of the week itself and now in assessing what comes next.      He might surprise you with his judgements. They're delivered by a man with an acute sense of Church procedures but also with an eye to possibilities.    Geraldine Doogue: How are you?     David Ranson: Still exhausted Geraldine… But I think it wasn't only just the week…there was a great deal of work required leading up to the second assembly [that was] increasing in demand for the last six months…..       Meeting in person in the second assembly was something of an unknown and therefore demanded a great deal of preparation…it was a great privilege to be able to be part of such a team.         Yes. I hope you really mean that because I think it must have been an amazing– I mean in other words, it's almost a compliment to the scale and the solemnity of that, that you are still exhausted… Was it what you thought it would be?       Yes and no. Because I'd been involved, particularly over the last six months in this role as secretary, we had a clear enough sense of how the days might unfold.       We knew the agenda, which as you know was contained in the motions and in their amendments that had been developed and articulated prior to the week.      So there was a general sense of what needed to be done through the week and the organisation was really at the service of enabling what we knew needed to be achieved to be so achieved.       But of course, thankfully, the best plans get thrown into disarray, which is a positive thing, and as you will know of course, come the third day, which is very interesting really from a spiritual perspective because in a retreat context it's always the third day that the dissembling and reassembling takes place and true to form, on the third day of the second general assembly, things were disrupted.....(Source).  Image: La Croix International, 20220730
Research groups to crunch the numbers in webinar
Extract from CathNews, ACBC Media Blog,  26 July 2022
Two of Australia’s most prominent religious research organisations will host a webinar tomorrow to share initial insights into the latest Census results, including on religious affiliation.            The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s National Centre for Pastoral Research has teamed up with the Christian Research Association to present the free webinar, titled “What the 2021 Census Figures Really Mean”.        The Australian Bureau of Statistics released the first data from the 2021 Census last month. Figures on religious affiliation showed Catholics now make up 20 per cent of the population – down from 22.6 per cent in 2016.         Catholics, at almost 5.1 million people, remain the largest religious group by a significant margin, followed by Anglicans at 10 per cent.                The combined Christian population is now 44 per cent. Those professing no religion comprise 39 per cent of those who answered the question on the Census.       Stephen Reid, who works for both the National Centre for Pastoral Research and the Christian Research Association, will present the overall Census data trends in the webinar.        Professor Philip Hughes, former director of the Christian Research Association and Professor of Research with Alphacrucis University College, will examine the different patterns across denominations and age groups.       National Centre for Pastoral Research director Trudy Dantis will then explain how the Catholic Church in Australia uses Census data to assist its pastoral research.       “The data from the Census and other research projects are critical to helping the Church respond to the current and emerging demographic trends in Australian society,” Ms Dantis said.     The webinar will be held from 4-5 pm AEST on Wednesday, July 27, and is open to all. Access the meeting at // and use the Meeting ID: 959 6573 1004......(More).   Photo: religious research organisations analysing interpreting Census data since 1990s, Cathnews, 20220726
Pope begs forgiveness from Canada’s Indigenous for Church role in ‘cultural destruction’
Extract from Elise Ann Allen, Crux, 25 July 2022
ROME – In his first public event in Canada after landing in Edmonton yesterday, Pope Francis met with members of different Indigenous communities, offering a highly-anticipated apology for the Catholic Church’s role in what’s been described as a “cultural genocide” associated with the country’s residential school system.       Speaking to members of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities on the grounds of the former Ermineskin residential school in Maskwacis, Alberta, Pope Francis Monday said the land he was standing on “preserves the scars of still open wounds.”       I am here because the first step of my penitential pilgrimage among you is that of again asking forgiveness, of telling you once more that I am deeply sorry,” he said, and apologized “for the ways in which, regrettably, many Christians supported the colonizing mentality of the powers that oppressed the Indigenous peoples. I am sorry.”         Francis asked forgiveness for the ways in which members of the Catholic Church, especially members of religious communities, cooperated “in projects of cultural destruction and forced assimilation promoted by the governments of that time, which culminated in the system of residential schools.”               While not every part of the legacy of the residential schools is bleak – devotion and charity were also present – Pope Francis said the overall impact of the policies that led to the residential schools “were catastrophic.”         Christian faith, he said, “tells us that this was a disastrous error, incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”........(More)   Photo: Pope Francis kisses hand residential school survivor Elder Alma Desjarlais of Frog Lake First Nation, July 2022, Nathan Denette The Canadian Press via AP, Crux 20220725
Reflection on the Final Assembly of the Plenary Council
Extract from Homily by Bishop Vincent Long, Parranatta Diocese,24 July 2022
...Last week, nine delegates from our Diocese, including myself, participated as members of the Plenary Council in the Final Assembly in Sydney.  This was a historic event in the life of the Church in Australia. We gathered to pray, listen, discern and make decisions, mindful of the voice of the Holy Spirit through God’s Word, tradition, the magisterium and the signs of the times. We were conscious of your communion with us through personal interest, prayers and loving support. As at the first gathering on the feast of St Francis of Assisi, we were stirred by the call issued to us as once to him: “Go and rebuild my Church that is falling into ruins”.  We earnestly sought to address the many challenges we face as a community of disciples and map out a better future for the Church going forward.           I am pleased to say that the Plenary Council has been a moment of grace, a celebration of hope and a conviction of God’s enduring accompaniment. Like the disciples with Mary in the Upper Room, we were bonded in one common faith, one baptism and one Lord. Despite our differences, which were many and intense at times, we came together with the best interest of the Church at heart.         Of the many issues discussed, debated and voted upon, the Plenary Council showed strong support for the Uluru Statement from the heart.  Catholics have largely been ahead of the general community on First Nations concerns. We have long learned to honour indigenous language, culture, wisdom, sovereignty and way of life. Calling for a First Nations voice to Parliament to be enshrined in Australia’s constitution is indeed a momentous step.        On ecology, there is a recognition of the urgency in addressing the environmental crises of our times and a commitment to join the Laudato Si’ Action Plan.  This call to action obliges us not only to care for our common home as a matter of planetary sustainability but also a sense of God-given stewardship. In other words, ecological conversion in all of its manifestations is a deeply spiritual concern arising from our love of God and all of His creation.  Our response to the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth is inextricably linked together.      One of the most contentious issues was the motion concerning the equality and dignity of women and men in governance structures, ministry and decision-making mechanisms.  The discussion took place at a half-way point and proved to be a pivotal moment.  Providentially, the reading for that day was part of the Pentecost story. It read “and suddenly from heaven, there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind and it filled the entire house where they were sitting”. We did not expect a kind of “violent wind” that disrupted, changed the group dynamic and led to a moment of profound revelation........(More).  Photo: Vincent Long Bishop Parramatta 2nd Assembly PC, Diocese of Parramatta 20220724
Pope Francis failed to change the "hierarchicalist" ethos at the Vatican
An unsigned Vatican warning to reform-minded German Catholics shows that the pope's "attitude adjustment program" has still not penetrated the culture of the Roman Curia
Limited extract from Robert Mickens, Letter From Rome, Sunsbcription Journal La Croix International, 22 July 2022
It became apparent this week that Pope Francis has been unsuccessful in bringing about the most fundamental Vatican reform he's been aiming at during his nearly ten years in office -- a change of mentality at the Church's bureaucratic center in Rome.       "The first reform must be the attitude," the Jesuit pope said in a wide-ranging interview in September 2013. "The structural and organizational reforms are secondary—that is, they come afterward."       But while officials have learned to conform -- at least outwardly and most of the time -- to the pope's demands for a kinder, gentler Roman Curia, it's obvious that not all of them have sincerely bought into his "attitude adjustment program".       The latest proof of that was the July 21 publication of an unsigned "Statement of the Holy See" that sternly warned Catholics taking part in Germany's Synodal Path that their deliberations have no binding force, especially on the country's bishops.         The statement -- which was issued as a "clarification" (Erklärung) in German -- was released by the Holy See Press Office late Thursday afternoon,......(Source) Photo: Pope Francis St Peter's Mass June 2022, picture alliance, Stefano Spaziani, Newscom, MaxPPP, LaCroix Int 20220722
Pope Francis' reforms to church governance are unlike any since Vatican II
Extract from Opinion piece, Thomas Reese, Religion News Source, National Catholic Reporter, 15 July 2022
After the reforms laid out by Pope Francis are fully implemented, the Vatican Curia will never be the same. His recent predecessors talked about reforming the Curia, but compared with Francis they were simply rearranging deck chairs.       Francis' changes, most laid out in his March 19 apostolic constitution Praedicate Evangelium ("Preach the Gospel"), are the most dramatic made to church governance since Pope Paul VI, who, in 1965, established the synod of bishops to advise the pope. This innovation never lived up to its potential because synodal bishops were forced to defer to curial cardinals. Only under Francis have the synodal fathers been freed to speak boldly.      Paul also reformed the papal election process by increasing the number of cardinal electors to 120 and barring cardinals over 80 years of age from participating in papal conclaves. He also required curial cardinals to submit their resignations when they reached 75.       The reforms of Francis are equally dramatic.       He has opened almost all Vatican offices to lay leadership, including heads of dicasteries (formerly called congregations). This means that the even the Dicastery for Bishops, which recommends candidates for the episcopacy around the world, can now be headed by a nun. The head of the Dicastery for Doctrine of the Faith could be a woman theologian. Even the secretary of state, the highest Vatican official under the pope, could be a layperson....(more).  Photo:Pope Francis greetings to Roman Curia, Vatican, 2016, Gregorio Borgia, Pool, NCR 20220715
Pope Francis ‘pointing the People of God forward'
Edited Extract from Mary Brazil, Catholic Outlook, CathNews, 15 July 20222
Pope Francis is helping to “reshape the Church for the third millennium”, British journalist Christopher Lamb said during his recent visit to Australia.  Christopher Lamb, who was in Australia to observe proceedings at the second assembly of the Plenary Council, delivered a public lecture titled ‘The Outsider Pope: Where is Francis leading our Church’, hosted by Parramatta Diocese on July 5.        Lamb is the Vatican correspondent from The Tablet, and his latest book, The Outsider: Pope Francis and His Battle to Reform the Church, draws on his close observations of Pope Francis and his efforts to renew the Catholic Church.        He said the Pope’s consistent and relentless focus on a lived, authentic Christianity has stirred up some arguments against him.      “How can a pope both make an incredible global impact, yet also (arouse) intense opposition at the same time? And can he succeed in the battle for Church reform?” he asked.         “At its heart, the Francis pontificate is an attempt to implement a Gospel-based reform of the Church by applying the essentials of the Christian faith. It is rooted in a deep trust in the action of the Holy Spirit to update and renew the Church, including its structures.”        Lamb described how the Pope got his “outsider” moniker – by being from the "Global South", having not worked or studied in Rome ahead of his election and by choosing to model his pontificate on St Francis of Assisi.       “This Pope, like St Francis, seeks a renewal of the Church first and foremost by living the Gospel authentically, embracing poverty, simplicity and a deep love of the Cosmos, the natural world.      “It is about mission rather than maintaining the Church’s institutional prestige or financial position.”....(More).  Photo: Christopher Lamb lecture Sydney July 5 , Parramatta Diocese, CathNews 20220715
Archbishop Costelloe begins term as Conference president
Extract from CathNews, ACBC Media Blog, 14 July 2022
Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has officially taken over the presidency of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, two months after being elected to the post.             The Bishops Conference’s biennial election of president and vice-president took place at its May plenary meeting. Archbishop Costelloe was elected president, with Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP re-elected vice-president.        The bishops agreed to delay the handover of the role until after the second assembly of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia, for which Archbishop Costelloe served as president for more than four years.       The second assembly concluded on Saturday, but the date for the change of president was July 13 – to coincide with the completion of a retreat for bishops that ended on Wednesday afternoon.       Archbishop Costelloe, the Archbishop of Perth, becomes the first bishop of a West Australian diocese and the first bishop who is a member of a religious order to lead the Bishops Conference.               He succeeds Archbishop Mark Coleridge, who served as president for four years.         When elected in May, Archbishop Costelloe said: “As we continue to contemplate how we live out the Gospel in this age ... I look forward to working with my brother bishops and the People of God to carry forward Christ’s mission.”....(more)Photo: Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB (ACBC)
Pope names three women to Dicastery for Bishops
Extract from CathNews, Vatican Media, CNS, 14 July 2022
Ten days after saying he would name two women to the group that helps him choose bishops, Pope Francis appointed three women to the office.    The Vatican announced yesterday that the Pope had named 14 new members of the Dicastery for Bishops.        For the first time, the members include women: Sr Raffaella Petrini, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, who is secretary-general of the office governing Vatican City State; Sr Yvonne Reungoat, a French Salesian and former superior general of the order; and Maria Lia Zervino, an Argentine who is president of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations.       The dicastery is led by Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet and is responsible for helping the Pope choose bishops for Latin-rite dioceses outside of the Church’s mission territories. Members meet twice a month to review dossiers submitted by Vatican nuncios about potential candidates and to vote on the names they recommend to the Pope.       Before Pope Francis’ reform of the Roman Curia took effect in June, members of the dicastery were only cardinals and a few bishops.         The other new members of the dicastery include: Cardinal Anders Arborelius of Stockholm; Cardinal Jose Advincula of Manila, Philippines; Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonca, Vatican archivist; and Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops....(more).  Photo:The Pope with Sr Raffaela Petrini , Vatican Media, CathNews, 20220714
The 2nd General Assembly of the 5th Plenary Council of Australia July 3-9 2022
Concluding Statement
Decrees, Motions and Voting, Relive the 2nd Assembly, Timeline.
Linked from Plenary Council, 14 July 2022
Plenary Council Blog, John Warhurst, Final day of the Plenary Assembly, 8 July 2022   HERE

Plenary Council Blog, Francis Sullivan, 8 July 2022   HERE

Plenary Matters. Geraldine Doogue Podcast with ++Mark Coleridge, Dr Maeve Heaney, 8 July 2022  (2 X 15 Minutes)  HERE
UK Synodal consultation – key issue is Church governance
Extract from Editorial, The Tablet 7 July, linked here 13 July 2022
The consultation of the Catholic faithful in England and Wales, designed to promote the concept of synodality, has to be seen as a striking success. While many features of Catholic life were found to be overdue for reform, the tone was not angry and reproachful but constructive and respectful. The laity, in summary, are appreciative of parish clergy but have had enough of clericalism and want their relationship with the clergy to be reset – for the sake of priests as much as for themselves. Most priests will welcome this, as they too are frustrated. But some have chosen to opt out of the synodal process.  They can see nothing wrong with the way things are, and the limit of their ambition is the successful management of decline.         Serious questions lie just below the surface of this consultation exercise. Why, 57 years after the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, has the kind of Catholic Church it called for still not arrived? Why are large groups of lay Catholics, most notably women, still feeling marginalised and excluded, their energies wasted or ignored?  Why is the Church not functioning as it should, as a sacramental embodiment of the values of the Gospel, a shining light in a dark world?            This may seem like a criticism of the people in charge, the bishops, but none of them has deliberately set out to frustrate the Church’s evangelistic mission.  The remedy must lie elsewhere, in a transformation of the culture that the laity and the clergy at all levels are part of – and to a degree stifled by – and in the structures, largely set by Canon Law but also by custom and practice, within which they have to operate. Culture and structure need reform: probably both at once, as they shape each other.         Attention should be given, for instance, to the demoralising effect of Canon 129 of the 1983 Code.  “Those who have received sacred orders are qualified, according to the norm of the prescripts of the law, for the power of governance, which exists in the Church by divine institution and is also called the power of jurisdiction.” While it goes on to add, “Lay members of the Christian faithful can cooperate in the exercise of this same power according to the norm of law,” governance in the Church – the power to make executive decisions – is denied to those who are not ordained.  The Catholic Church has to ask itself whether that makes the appearance of a clerical caste inevitable, with a sense of exclusion for those not belonging to it.         In his reform of the Curia, Pope Francis has signalled the end of the theology behind Canon 129, by allowing senior posts in the Curia to be opened to lay men and women.  That reform has universal implications. Why should the Catholic Church of England and Wales, or anywhere else for that matter, be governed exclusively by a priesthood of celibate males?  That suggests either that government in the Church should be opened to people who are not celibate males by widening the criteria for ordination; or that Canon 129 should be repealed altogether, with its heavily clericalist presumptions, so that the laity can be fully empowered, yet still as laity. Theologically, as Vatican II reminded them, they too are part of a holy priesthood.....(More).  Photo: Cardinals Pope Francis' celebration of Mass & process leading to world Synod of Bishops 2023, CNS Remo Casilli, Reuters, The Tablet 7 July 2022
Plenary Council decisions to impact Church communities across Australia
Extract from Mark Bowling, Catholic Leader, 11 July 2022

Australia’s historic Plenary Council ended on Saturday with a Mass and approval of a final statement by the 277 Council members that “The Holy Spirit has been both comforter and disrupter”.           The Council’s final six-day assembly in Sydney included tense and difficult moments, especially last Wednesday (July 6) when the assembly was left in disarray after two motions aimed at promoting women’s roles in Church did not pass.              The motions were redrafted and five, reshaped motions relating to the role of women in the Church went to a vote on Friday and passed.            Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge who flagged a Plenary Council in 2016,  said decisions made after voting on dozens of plenary motions would “have their effect in communities all around Australia”.        “These are not decisions made on Planet Mars, they are really quite concrete decisions that will have all kinds of effects seen and unseen upon the communities that make up the Catholic Church around Australia,” Archbishop Coleridge said.         “I can’t predict in detail what those effects will be, but I know that they’ll happen over time.”        The final statement said the Council had been an “expression of the synodality that Pope Francis has identified as a key dimension of the Church’s life in the third millennium”.        “Synodality is the way of being a pilgrim Church, a Church that journeys together and listens together, so that we might more faithfully act together in responding to our God-given vocation and mission,” it said.       The statement agreed with Pope Francis’ assessment that synodality is “an easy concept to put into words, but not so easy to put into practice”.        Townsville Bishop Tim Harris agreed the Council assembly had been a “powerful and palpable experience of synodality.         “And I think that now we’re at the end it’s proved to me that what the Pope has asked us to do is the right thing to do… the end of the Plenary is now the beginning of the implementation,” he said.         The Plenary Council directly engaged with some of the tough issues that have confronted the Australian Church – First Nations recognition and identity, historic child sexual abuse and the safeguarding that is now needed, and the place of women in the Church.              The Plenary attempted to capture the major issues affecting contemporary Churh life in Australia, hearing from 222,000 people and the contribution of 17,457 submissions.           Now, after final voting, dozens of motions will be scrutinised in the weeks and months ahead.         The Plenary concluded with Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral in central Sydney on Saturday morning. Earlier Council members confirmed the decrees of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia, which were then signed by all bishops present.            After a November meeting of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, the decrees will be sent to the Holy See.         Once recognitio is received by the Holy See, the decrees will be implemented and become the law of the Church in Australian six months later......(MORE)    Photo: Plenary Council expression of synodality Mark Bowling Catholic Leader 20220711

Catholic bishops backflip on status of women in Church, giving hope to reformers
Extract from Matthew Knott, The Age, 10 July 2022
Australia’s Catholic bishops have agreed to work to elevate the status of women in the Church – including by potentially serving in the ministry as deacons – after a major gathering plunged into chaos over the issue last week.       The schedule for the church’s fifth plenary council, a powerful policymaking event, was suspended after two motions affirming women’s role in the Church failed to pass, prompting about 60 participants to stage a silent protest.       Catholic leaders acknowledged the failure to pass the motions had damaged the Church’s reputation, creating the impression its leadership was indifferent to the concerns of female churchgoers.       After the motions were slightly redrafted, the plenary council voted overwhelmingly that each Catholic diocese in Australia should commit to creating “new opportunities for women to participate in ministries that engage with the most important aspects of diocesan and parish life”.       The participants – including 37 of 43 bishops – supported a motion saying the Church would examine how to best allow women to serve as deacons if such a move is approved by the Vatican.       Pope Francis has launched a commission examining whether Catholic women should be able to serve as deacons.        Deacons are ordained ministers who do not intend to become priests but can conduct baptisms, witness marriages, perform funeral and burial services outside of Mass, and distribute Holy Communion.      Women are allowed to serve as Anglican deacons in most dioceses in Australia, but not in the Catholic Church.       The council also passed a motion committing the Church to ensure that “the experiences and perspectives of women, including women who exercise ministry, are heard, considered and valued at local, diocesan and national levels”.      Voters also backed a motion calling for the Church in Australia to act “in ways that witness clearly to the equal dignity of women” by “overcoming assumptions, culture, practices, and language that lead to inequality”....(More).       Photo: Marilyn Hatton, Catholic feminist, glad Church recognised need to do more to promote role of women, Alex Ellinghausen,The Age 20220710
A week of positives and negatives for the Plenary: Archbishop Anthony Fisher
Extracts from Peter Rosengren, Catholic Weekly, 9 July 2022
As the four year process of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia comes to an end, there have been both positives and negatives, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP of Sydney said in an interview on its final day.           He said he was cautiously optimistic about its achievements.        “There’s been a direct engagement with some of the really ‘hard’ issues, like Indigenous issues, child sexual abuse and the place of women in the Church,” he told The Catholic Weekly newspaper. “Those discussions were sometimes very emotional and potentially very divisive. Yet in the end there was a high level of agreement on most of them.        “It’s much better that such matters were confronted directly rather than presenting a kind of faux unity by avoiding the hard issues,” he said.  A challenging process        “The assembly has offered some good thoughts on liturgy, marriage catechumenate, youth ministry, formation programs for lay leaders including those in rural and remote areas, and stewardship of the earth.”        Other positives included a much greater appreciation of the place of the Eastern Catholic churches in Australia than has been seen in Church gatherings before now.        It was always going to be difficult to hear, distill and then do justice to contributions from near a quarter of a million people down to two one-week assemblies and the processes in-between. And underrepresentation of ‘ordinary’ priests and indeed ordinary Catholics , including overseas-born ones, was also potentially distorting according to Archbishop Fisher.............“The assembly was structured in a way that created pressure upon the ‘determinative voters’—mostly bishops—to vote along the same lines as the other members (the ‘consultative voters’) in order to show they’d listened to the people. And there were other pressures from some of the members who were quite ideological and outspoken,” he said.        “I think we are clearly in a very different world to that of the previous Plenary Councils, where the bishops were seen as undisputedly the leaders of the Church and it was their task as pastors to decide the pastoral direction of the Church. This Plenary was very much set up so the bishops would listen and enact what others thought were the pastoral priorities.”         He said this was partly influenced by the spirit of the age and partly by developments in Church thinking.        “There’s a very different attitude to authority, leadership and hierarchy today – partly due to the spirit of the age which reduces truth to popular opinion, and partly due to the synodality movement which has called the pastors of the Church to listen to their people and discern alongside them rather than above them. So I would say some of this has come from the heart of the Church and some of it is coming from other places that are not so healthy.”....(MORE)  Photo: Archbishop Fisher OP of Sydney, National Catholic Education Commission chair Jacinta Collins, Plenary Council final day, Sydney, 8 July, Giovanni Portelli The Catholic Weekly 20220709
Members happy with revised women’s motions on Plenary’s final day
Revised motions on women and the Church have received the necessary votes to pass on the Plenary Council's final day
Extracts from Marilyn Rodrigues, Catholic Weekly, 9 July 2022
The Plenary Council prepared to draw to a close on 8 July after two days of catch-up in an altered voting format, passing almost all of the motions in its guiding document including a revised version of the section on the equal dignity of women and men in the Catholic Church.      Members were noticeably tired after a long week but the general mood in the assembly hall was buoyant as the final full day ended.              The Co-director of the Sydney-based Marriage Resource Centre, Francine Pirola, said that the Council had produced a “vastly improved” revision of section 4 of the Motions and Amendments document on women which had been the focus of a major disruption mid-week.      “Instead of being comprised of only two motions, all of the action items were separated out, so that was really good and felt a lot more respectful,” she said.    “The document was theologically more concise and accurate as well, so I think that made it easier for people to swing behind it,” she said. “Mostly the women who had previously been very distressed seemed to be happy with it.”........“Where ever they find themselves on the spectrum of what it is to be a Catholic woman we’ve found a mid-point,” she said.      “It was an opportunity for a foundation and a starting point. I feel like I can go home to my daughter now and say yes, the Catholic Church values women and men, and it is a good day in that respect.”.......Prof. Kohler-Ryan said the greatest challenge and responsibility was trying to do justice to such a diverse range of views expressed in discussion and written feedback.        “The wisdom of Christ’s Church, her Scripture and tradition, shines a path that actually places demands on all of us,” she said.      “Catholics are still to realise the ‘hour of woman’ that Paul VI spoke about at the close of the Second Vatican Council...........“As the drafting team has expressed: there is still much work to be done.”.........(More) Photo: Members Second Assembly Plenary Council final day, Giovanni Portelli, The Catholic Weekly 20220709
Voting Outcomes for the 5th Plenary Council of Australia
(Parts 4,5,6,9,10 and 11 of the Motions And Amendments Documents. 8 July 2022  (HERE)
Further to reports below on Part 4 (Witnessing to the Equal Dignity of Women and Men) note a qualified majority and passing of Motions 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, and 4.4

For all voting results see HERE

Plenary Council backs action on ecology, Church governance reform
Extract from ACBC, 7 July 2022, Catholic Outlook,  7 July 2022
Plenary Council Members have passed all six motions they considered on Thursday across parts of the agenda in the areas of Church governance and integral ecology.       Among the reforms backed were a call for the establishment of diocesan pastoral councils across the country, the hosting of diocesan synods within five years of the conclusion of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia and the undertaking of broad consultation about the creation of a national synodal body for Church collaboration.        Those were captured in the four motions that emerged from Part 7 of the Council’s Motions and Amendments document entitled “At the Service of Communion, Participation and Mission: Governance”.        All four motions achieved a qualified majority in both the consultative and deliberative votes cast on Thursday, and so were passed.        Members also voted on two motions in Part 8, Integral Ecology for the Sake of Our Common Home, with those two votes achieving a qualified majority in both the consultative and deliberative votes, therefore passing.       The Council said ecological conversion is “both personal and communal”, and that there was “urgent need for action” from Catholic entities through the development of, or alignment with, Laudato Si’ Action Plans inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical letter of the same name.      The Council called for the promotion of initiatives in Church and society that “promote and defend human life from conception to natural death, especially those who are most vulnerable”.      Details on the final wording of motions and the voting outcomes can be found on the Motions and Voting page of the Plenary Council website.      Follow the second assembly HERE       View the Voting Outcomes for the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia on Parts 7 and 8 of the Motions and Amendments Document, announced on 7 July 2022, HERE.    Rewatch the livestream of the opening session of Day 5 of the Second Assembly HERE.......(MORE)    Image: Plenary Council Members plant seeds table gardens PC 2nd Assembly Sydney, ACBC, Catholic Outlook 20220707      

Other international reports, Australian Plenary 2nd Assembly:
Tensions flare in Australia council over role of women in Catholic Church
Christopher Lamb, in Australia.The Tablet   HERE
Australia's Catholic plenary council in crisis over role of women in church
by Marilyn Rodrigues, Catholic News Service. National Catholic Reporter,  HERE
Nun challenges Australia's plenary council to give real witness to all baptized
Scriptural studies and theology demand the inclusion of women in the language of Church documents, rituals, says theological adviser, La Croix International   HERE
Australian bishops nix vote on women issue, plenary council disrupted
Motion regarding the consideration of women for ministry as deacons received a majority among consultative voters but fell short of a majority among deliberative voters – bishops – and did not pass
Limited Extracts from International Staff, Subscription Journal La Croix International, 7 July 2022
The Second Assembly of Australia's Plenary Council was disrupted after more than 60 of the 277 members protested over issues of women and the Church, including considering women for ministry as deacons.          The initiative was "thrown into crisis," reported The Catholic Weekly newspaper as divisions erupted July 6, midway through the final general assembly of the four-year project to revive the local Church.         At the plenary council assemblies, consultative votes are exercised by lay, religious and clerical members; deliberative votes by the Australian bishops. The 277 plenary council members include bishops, priests, religious and laypeople.     The protest occurred after the outcome of the bishops' votes on "Witnessing to the Equal Dignity of Women and Men." It included various motions such as ensuring that women are appropriately represented in decision-making structures of Church governance and should Pope Francis authorize women for ministry as deacons.     The motion considering women for ministry as deacons received a qualified majority among consultative voters but not among deliberative voters and did not pass.     Another motion that each Australian diocese foster new opportunities for women to participate in ministries did not pass failing to receive a qualified majority on either the consultative or the deliberative votes........(More)

Pope Francis to appoint women to Vatican office responsible for selecting bishops,
Extract from Christopher White, Vatican, National Catholic Reporter 6 July, linked here 7 July 2022
ROME — Pope Francis intends to appoint two women to the Vatican's Dicastery for Bishops, marking a historic first for the office tasked with advising the pontiff on which Catholic priests to appoint as bishops across the world.       "Two women will be appointed for the first time in the committee to elect bishops in the Congregation for Bishops," Francis told Philip Pullella, the Reuters' Vatican correspondent, in an interview that took place on July 2 and was published on July 6.      Under the Vatican's new constitution, which took effect on June 5, all Vatican congregations and councils have now been renamed with the newly streamlined title of "dicastery."        The constitution also notes that  "any member of the faithful can preside over a dicastery," and in the newly published interview, Francis said that Vatican's office for Education and Culture and the Apostolic Library are among those that could be headed by a lay man or woman in the near future......(More). Photo: Pope Francis Sister Jolanta Kafka, president of the International Union of Superiors General May 5, 2022, CNS Vatican Media, NCR 20220606

UPDATED Version of report below. Vote over role of women disrupts Plenary Council Assembly
Extract from Mark Bowling, Catholic Leader, 7 July 2022
AUSTRALIA’S historic Plenary Council assembly was left in disarray on Day 3 after a vote to elevate the role of women in the Church failed to pass.      The program for the 277 assembly members meeting at St Mary’s Cathedral College in Sydney was dramatically put on hold after a final vote by bishops rejected motions aimed at ensuring women play a greater role in the Church, and included support for admission of women to become Church deacons, if the Pope agreed.        Dozens of members, mainly women, walked from the assembly floor in protest, some of them crying.      “We were really disturbed,” congregational leader of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, Sr Patty Fawkner, said.       “We stood silently on the sidelines of the assembly.    “One of the fruits of the Spirit is peace, and there was definitely no peace in that room.”          One assembly observer, theologian, Professor Gerard Kelly said “a crisis is a fork in the road. What these motions basically say is the Church has nothing to say about the role of women, which is devastating”.       “It basically obliterated all that was there on paper,” Prof Kelly said........(More). Photos: LHS. Plenary members silent protest after failed vote on women, Fiona Basile, and RHS  Church Leaders watch Plenary Assembly disarray, Fiona Basile, Catholic Leader, 7 July 2022
Vote over role of women disrupts Plenary Council Assembly
Extract from Mark Bowling, Catholic Leader, 6 July 2022
On day 3 of the Plenary Council a “crisis” erupted inside the assembly about the role that women should play in the Catholic Church in Australia.      The program for the 277 assembly members meeting at at St Mary’s Cathedral College in Sydney was dramatically put on hold after a final vote by bishops rejected motions aimed at ensuring women play a greater role in the Church, and included support for admission of women to become Church deacons, if the Pope agreed.       Dozens of members, mainly women, walked from the assembly floor in protest, some of them crying.      “We were really disturbed,” congregational leader of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, Sr Patty Fawkner, said.      “We stood silently on the sidelines of the assembly.      “One of the fruits of the Spirit is peace, and there was definitely no peace in that room.”       One assembly observer, theologian, Professor Gerard Kelly said “a crisis is a fork in the road. What these motions basically say is the Church has nothing to say about the role of women, which is devastating”            “It basically obliterated all that was there on paper,” Prof Kelly said.           One of the rejected motions mentioned “ensuring that women are appropriately represented in decision-making structures of Church governance at the parish, diocese or eparchy, and national level, and in Church agencies” and “ensuring, through formal policies and intentional practice, that the experiences and perspectives of women are heard, considered and valued”,           Prof Kelly said: “What is quite clear is that there has been a real sense of anger, disappointment, frustration – a sense that the Church is not listening to the people who are talking to it.”       “There’s a sense this is going to force people to walk away again.”         Plenary Council vice-president Bishop Shane Mackinlay addressed the assembly proposing that members spend additional time discerning what reservations and concerns are being expressed in the voting process.        An official media release from plenary organisers said “the assembly is undertaking this reflection before deciding how to proceed”.         During the scheduled lunch break bishops held a closed-door meeting aimed at salvaging the assembly agenda.         The assembly reconvened for an afternoon session and at least half of the Plenary Council’s 277 members supported a move to reconsider new motions that addressed Church roles for women.        Bishop Shane Mackinlay said this had clearly been an emotional time for many members, but that what had ensued was a sign of the “journeying together” the Council has promoted.      “We were able to hear from members – women firstly, but also from men – about how we can better respond to and recognise the gifts that women offer in service of the Gospel,” he said.         A four-person writing group has been set up to receive recommendations from members to redraft revised motions. The new motions are expected to be considered later in the week.        Townsville bishop, Tim Harris, who supports a greater Church role for women, said he hopes the plenary assembly process can now resume quickly.         “I felt terribly for the women who felt ostracised, and some men, by the way,” Bishop Harris said.......(More)      Photo: Voting crisis at historic Plenary Council 2nd Assembly, Mark Bowling, Catholic Leader 20220706
Deeper discernment invited during Plenary Council
July 6, 2022
Extract from Diocese of Wollongong, ACBC Media blog, 6 July 2022
Members of the Plenary Council are being invited to spend additional time to discern after two motions did not achieve a qualified majority in voting that has taken place over the past 24 hours.     The outcomes of the consultative and deliberative votes for motions of parts 3 and 4 of the Motions and Amendments document published last week have been announced. They can be found on the Plenary Council’s Motions and Voting page on the Council’s website.    All four motions in part 3 of the document – entitled “Called by Christ – Sent Forth as Missionary Disciples” – achieved qualified majorities on both rounds of voting. Two-thirds of voters present must support a motion to achieve a qualified majority.     In part 4 of the document, entitled “Witnessing to the Equal Dignity of Women and Men”, one motion received a qualified majority among the consultative voters but fell just short of a qualified majority among deliberative voters. It therefore did not pass.     The other motion did not receive a qualified majority on either the consultative or the deliberative vote.     For the deliberative vote on both motions, a majority of votes were placet, which means assent. However, a significant number of votes were placet juxta modum – which means assent with modification – and so a qualified majority was not achieved.      Plenary Council vice-president Bishop Shane Mackinlay addressed the assembly after the outcome of the votes was announced. He proposed that the members spend additional time discerning what reservations and concerns are being expressed in the placet juxta modum votes.      The assembly is undertaking this reflection before deciding how to proceed....(more).   Photo: Plenary Vote baskets 062_20220704_Sessions_FBasile_338
Plenary Council assembly reaches decision day about the Church role of women
Extract from Mark Bowling, Catholic Leader, 6 July 2022
AMIDST global debate about the role of women in the Catholic Church, Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge says it will be “a close call” today whether a motion to support women becoming Church deacons is supported at Australia’s historic Plenary Council assembly in Sydney.       Motions aimed at providing women and men equal dignity in the Australian Church are being put to 277 assembly members – a first vote has already been cast by religious, lay men and women – with a final vote – made exclusively by bishops – to be known later today.      To pass, a final vote by bishops on whether to support women deacons would require a two thirds majority.     “I suspect it will be a close call but there are very different perspectives on this all held in good faith,” Archbishop Coleridge, outgoing president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, said.     Inside the Church, he said a “tectonic shift” is happening in terms of allowing women into decision-making positions, however, he added “it can’t be reduced to simply women being ordained deacons” – an action that would ultimately hinge on Pope Francis agreeing to it.      “I think the current model of governance in the Church, where it’s so closely tied to ordination, looks to me to be unsustainable in the future,” Archbishop Coleridge said, outside the closed-door plenary assembly.       “Currently you can only govern in the Church if you are ordained… and I think we have to move more to a team approach to governance and leadership and women will have to be very much part of that.”      Plenary member, Bishop of Wagga Wagga, Mark Edwards OMI, said that if the deaconate for women went ahead the “great advantage it would offer us is that we would hear a woman preaching at Mass”, but he said from his experience the move would not really help with Church governance since “decisions in the parish aren’t made by the deacon they are make by the priest, and decisions in the diocese aren’t made by the deacon they are made by the bishop”.       “So I don’t think it’s a help with governance, governance needs to be addressed in other, creative ways,” he said.      Plenary member, Dr Maeve Heaney, Director, Xavier Centre of Theology at Australian Catholic University, said finding a decision-making space for women in the Church implied thinking how our “baptismal identity as prophets, priests and kings interacts with theologies of priesthood and theologies and episcopate”........(more)       Photo: Mark Coleridge ponders great Change in Catholic Church, Mark Bowling, Catjolic Leader 20220706

2nd Assembly Results of first six Plenary Council votes announced
Extract from CathNews, ACBC Media Blog, 5 July 2022
The outcome of the initial rounds of voting for the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia were announced yesterday, with all relevant motions being passed with a qualified majority.        Members of the Plenary Council voted on six motions from the Motions and Amendments document. Prior to voting, the members agreed on three amendments.      Under the Reconciliation: Healing Wounds, Receiving Gifts theme, the members voted to pass a motion that would, among other things, commit the Church to say sorry to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for the part played by the Church in the harm they have suffered, as well as endorsing the Uluru Statement from the Heart.      The members voted for Catholic schools, parishes, dioceses and organisations to respond to recommendations contained in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council position paper “Embracing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the Life of the Catholic Church”. Members also approved a motion for the Bishops Commission for Liturgy and NATSICC to "develop options for the liturgically and culturally appropriate use of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander symbols and rituals in Catholic liturgical contexts”.
        The second theme considered was Choosing Repentance – Seeking Healing. The members voted for the Plenary Council to say sorry to abuse victims and survivors, their families and communities and recommit the Church to respond with justice and compassion to those who have suffered from the trauma of abuse.      The members voted to request the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Catholic Religious Australia, and the Association of Ministerial PJPs, with assistance from appropriate experts, to study, acknowledge and address systemic factors which have facilitated abuse within the Church.          The members also voted to adopt a new name for the annual Safeguarding Sunday, and for the Bishops Commission for Liturgy to develop appropriate rituals and liturgical resources to be offered to parishes for use on the day.     The full details of the motions and votes can be found online at the Motions and Voting page of the Plenary Council website....(more).  Photo: Plenary Council members vote on a PC motion ACBC, Fiona Basile, 5 July 2022

Towards a new hopefulness
Extracts from Gail Freyne*, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue website 3 July 2022
....When Joan Chittister toured Australia these past six weeks a whole lot of hope washed over us.
And a very big meeting was opened: Thousands of us bought tickets to hear her in person, nearly two thousand in Melbourne, eight hundred in Adelaide, eight hundred in Sydney, eight hundred in Brisbane and they were just the public events. Privately, she spoke to hundreds at a gathering of Catholic Religious Australia, for her ‘family’ of Good Samaritan Sisters and Benedictines, and for Mater Health with its ten thousand employees. Most of these events were recorded for national and international viewing, many for religious working overseas. More thousands tuned in to the programme, ‘Soul Search’ on ABC National radio, and on ABC South Australia.         Thousands watched a Zoom presented by ACCCR, read interviews in the Adelaide Advertiser, they watched her on The Drum on ABCtv, and listened to her in conversation with Rachael Kohn, Geraldine Doogue and nationally on Zoom conversation with John Warhurst for the states she was unable to visit: Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania. And, of course, for those in hospital, jail, aged care and the far reaches of the continent who were unable to attend in person. Finally, she spoke to two hundred and fifty of our 14-17 year old students from eighteen Catholic high schools in the Melbourne Archdiocese. They, the hope of the side, blessed with a privileged education, were urged to take the responsibility of being a Public Intellectual in the tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.       Why did all these people turn up or tune in? One religious superior put it to me very succinctly: “Joan is an orthodox Catholic to her core”. She is not contradicting church teaching, she is asking us to live it and live it faithfully and more abundantly.........Here we are taught a theology that gives us all we need and yet it is a theology that for nearly five hundred years we backgrounded. The Council of Trent, concluding in 1563, was concerned not so much with orthodoxy but with reform: to abolish the sale of relics and indulgences, to critique the shallowness of church governance, the extremes of sexual and financial misbehaviour of our clerics that seem eerily close to our church today. Happily, this time we have a Pope who teaches that our problems arise from the still present evils of that clericalism and the hierarchy’s refusal to adopt the reform centred Council, Vatican II.       Pope Francis has told us that the failure to implement the reforms of Vatican II is central to the dysfunctional situation in which the church finds itself today.           Sr. Joan explains: “this Council called upon the church to be the church that the church was meant to be”........(More) *Gail Grossman Freyne, PhD, LL.B, Vice President of Catholics for Renewal, Founding Member, Women’s Wisdom in the Church (WWITCH).  

Image: Church Ceiling, PxHere, Pearls & Irritations, 3 July 2022


Earlier News 2022 (January-July)  HERE