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After the Plenary

  • 27 July 2022
What did the 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: How are you?

David: 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.

G: 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?

D: 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. But I do think that our capacity to attend to that disruption was in no small way supported by the work and the planning that had gone in. I think if we hadn’t had planned and organised it