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What did the Plenary Council achieve?


The Plenary Council (PC) is over and the time has come for assessments. What did it achieve? In positive terms it brought together an enormously generous group of people whose dedication to Catholicism is extraordinary. It also demonstrated the diverse complexity of the community. As PC member John Warhurst commented: ‘In political terms we [Catholics] range from One Nation to the Greens and everything in between’ (Blog, 9 July).

That’s true, but PC votes consistently indicated that the large majority of Catholics strongly support church renewal. Out of 277 members, the most those opposed to renewal could muster was 65 even when you count the juxta modum votes as ‘no’ votes.

The PC’s most positive achievement was its strong support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart, calling for a First Nations voice to Parliament to be enshrined in Australia’s constitution. In some ways Catholics are ahead of the general community on First Nations concerns. The reason: this has been an issue for the church for decades and was pushed by pioneers like Shirley ‘Mum Shirl’ Smith, Ted Kennedy and many others, making it central to mainstream Catholicism

On the issue of equality, the PC eventually semi-caught-up with the 20th century in a vote on a set of re-drafted motions supporting equal dignity for women and men. Perth archbishop Costelloe, in an understatement, commented: ‘There is a long way to go …in understanding the proper role of women in the life of the Church.’ Exactly, archbishop!

But the problem is that Catholicism has long resisted equality as a ‘feminist plot’ so that we’ve now just caught-up with the 1970s. As Costelloe admitted ‘there’s still a long way to go’ to get the church into the 21st century.


'Awareness has been raised, Catholics wanting renewal are clearly the majority, prominent lay leaders have emerged and many of the bishops ‘get’ the real issues.' 


This debate takes us to the core weakness of the PC. Because some bishops and laity have long resisted the basic reforms of Vatican II, particularly that of living in the real world as mandated by Gaudium et spes (‘The Church in the Modern World’), we are endlessly at a disadvantage, always playing catch-up. As someone said, we’re entangled in ‘pathetic incrementalism.’ For example, there are a set of motions asking bishops to establish diocesan pastoral councils and parish councils, structures already legislated in the Code of Canon Law (canons 511-514 and 536).

Another example: the PC encourages all Catholics ‘to accept Pope Francis’ invitation to join the Laudato Si’ Action Platform…as a vehicle…for their ecological conversion.’ But the environmental movement developed plans like these decades ago, while the church has been stymied by some Catholics talking about ecology as ‘pagan religion’ filling a spiritual void in the post-Christian West and claiming that global warming is ‘the hysteria of alarmists.’

This, despite the fact that Catholicism has had an ecological theology and spirituality for more than fifty years with thinkers like Thomas Berry. Here in Australia, we’d already developed a theological approach and the term ‘environmental conversion’ actually originated here.

Environmentalists moved-on years ago to real issues like winding-down coal mining, stopping native forest logging, confronting global warming and overpopulation. The PC’s ‘integral ecology’ sounds like something from the 1980s. Again, the church is lagging behind the world and pious platitudes are meaningless as we face environmental catastrophe.

Sure, I understand that all the PC could do was to act within the constraints of canon law and find formulations on which members could agree. Sadly, the process was flawed from the beginning and major issues facing the local church were simply ignored.

For instance, there was no forensic analysis of contemporary Australian society. The church must understand the world to speak to it. We live, as Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor says in a secular world where religion and God are literally expelled from the public sphere and relegated to the private. Public spaces, Taylor says, have been ‘emptied of God, or of any reference to ultimate reality.’

He says we have moved ‘from a society in which it was virtually impossible not to believe in God to one in which faith, even for the staunchest believer, is one possibility among others. God is no longer axiomatic.’ The contemporary assumption is that religion is fading away as science explains everything and people search for their own meaning and ethical norms.

Given this context, the PC’s failure to consider questions regarding gender and sexuality was a mistake. These questions are, to use Taylor’s word, ‘axiomatic’ for people today and can’t be ignored. For young people the church’s irrelevance is demonstrated by the fact that it stubbornly resists these issues.

Again, if the hard work had been done several decades ago, we wouldn’t be dealing, as Francis Sullivan says, with some PC members’ ‘gobsmacking level of political correctness over the politics of sex and gender…As if making any reference to “those who identify as LGBTIQA+” is somehow running counter to the missionary outreach of the Church beggar’s belief’ (Blog, 5 July).

Another issue that was largely ignored was the priesthood and the question of ordination itself, especially in light of the fact that over 55% of all priests now working in Australian parishes are foreign born. The anodyne motion on priesthood says nothing new, and seminaries, the seedbeds of clericalism, were hardly mentioned.

Again, this is one of those unaddressed issues from decades ago. Its not that some of us haven’t asked questions. My first public disagreement in the mid-1980s with the then Father George Pell was over his approach to formation in the Melbourne seminary.

So, while thankful for what was achieved, the PC simply side-stepped the major issues facing Australian Catholicism. But all is not lost. Awareness has been raised, Catholics wanting renewal are clearly the majority, prominent lay leaders have emerged and many of the bishops ‘get’ the real issues. And there’s always Sancta Sophia, the Holy Spirit, guiding us.





Paul Collins is the author of 15 books, several of which focus on church governance and Australian Catholicism.

Main Image: Closing session of the Plenary Council (ACBC)

Topic tags: Paul Collins, Plenary Council 2020, Catholic Church



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Clearly, the Holy Spirit didn't turn up to "Plenary'" to guide those to whom he allegedly speaks. and to fulfil the true meaning of the word (plenary). " ...Catholics wanting renewal are clearly the majority ... ' Where is the evidence to support this delusion? Clearly, 90 per cent of baptised Catholics couldn't give a toss about renewal - they have long given up practice and adherence to the moral imperatives of Catholicism. Personal desires rather than the "Holy Spirit ' is what is speaking to all those on both sides of the debate regarding the reformation of the Church founded by Christ. Both sides need to address the insignificance they represent when compared to the Creator, engage humility and believe what Christ commissioned, particularly His clearly expressed governance desires for his (not the people's) Church and His undertaking to be with his people for all days to the end of time and to trust those in authority in what they bind on Earth and in what they loose on Earth. And how do the enlightened know that the Spirit is a woman and how does the immorality practised by large groups of deluded people dissolve morality. Millions of people kill each other in wars - why not accept that on the numbers such killing is moral - after all that's what our society is doing with the inane perversions applied to sex and gender.

john frawley | 12 July 2022  
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You are so right Dr John Frawley: There are far more serious issues that the PC did not address.

The ‘Catholic’ worldview in many of our Aussie Catholic archdioceses & dioceses & parishes & religious orders is indistinguishable from any well-endowed lodge or glee-club. Sometimes quite paly, but no longer founded on the Apostolic teachings of The New Testament, nor on the Magisterial instructions of The Catechism of the Catholic Church.

From archbishops, to bishops, to priests, to religious sisters & brother, to deacons, to seminarians, to Catholic college & university professors, to RE teachers & catechists it is quite common to find disbelief in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ and a general diminishment of His Person and His Word. Unitarianism, universalism, syncretism, and spiritism are not infrequently proselytised.

Morality among certain Aussie clerics is: ‘whatever I can get away with and whatever my brother clerics will cover up’. It has become a zoo, that daily slides from bad to worse. We are is dire need of Holy Spirit inspired and empowered ‘zoo-keepers’.

Lay movements like ‘Emmanuel Covenant Community’, various ‘Charismatic Healing Ministries’, etc. offered a very attractive revival of true Catholicism in Australia but lost most of their people (after years of faithful membership & major financial giving) once it became clear the leaders were freemasons, with a Christ-diminishing spirituality.

It’s a precious blessing indeed to locate an Aussie Catholic parish where the priest preaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ without fear or favour and lives a lifestyle of exemplary morality and humble loving integrity. Such clergy will one day hear those infinitely valuable words: “Well done you good & faithful servant. Now, enter the joy of your Master!”

As for the many others: we should pray that they repent before it’s too late. Facing King Jesus Christ, our Master, they will be cut off and thrown among the eternally lost (Luke 12:46). For the exploitive abuser clergy and those many who collude: it will go even worse for them than to have a millstone tied around their neck and be thrown into the sea (Luke 17:2).

Subtending deadly real problems faced by our Church there’s a failure (individually & collectively) to listen to & value the Word of Christ and to joyfully obey. What a pernicious deception, when so many Aussie Catholics say: “That’s too difficult!”

The truth is The Lord Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden is light.” All we need is to be willing. The choice is ours.

Blessings on all those who hear and follow The Lamb; with love from Marty

Dr Marty Rice | 14 July 2022  

So what would you say is the cause Marty, and what concrete action would you propose to change the situation?

Ginger Meggs | 22 July 2022  

'overpopulation' is the illogical notion that there can be too many souls.

Beliefs have consequences. If you choose to believe in a God who creates humans, and each human with a soul, and no human with no soul, because the way in which God shows his love for any particular human is to give him or her a soul which is immortal so it can share in the eternal bliss of Heaven and the New Earth, the idea that there is such a thing as overpopulation, or too many souls, is inconsistent with that belief.

roy chen yee | 12 July 2022  
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And one of the consequences if you choose to believe that hypothesis Roy, is that the east of 'Creation' gets trashed.

Ginger Meggs | 14 July 2022  

The problem with believing that the planet is overpopulated is that you’re a hypocrite if you’re still thinking that tomorrow. Not everybody can save the world but anyone can save the world from themselves. Of course, if you believe in God, you’re forbidden to save the world from yourself but if you don’t … well, belief, even atheistic ones, have consequences.

roy chen yee | 16 July 2022  

As Paul Collins says in his conclusion, the Church does have have Christ's assurance of the Holy Spirit's guidance, but I don't see that this guarantees our receptivity towards or adherence to it - especially when the Apostolic tradition he initiated is regarded as dispensable, and even, by some, as an impediment to progress, subject to 'discernment' and revising by the criteria of media-enlarged politically correct ideologies of the day, which, for instance, assume an intrinsic incompatibility between hierarchy and equality and elevate consensus above truth in decision-making.

John RD | 13 July 2022  

Paul, I agree completely that "the PC simply side-stepped the major issues facing Australian Catholicism". That leaves me with little optimism. The Plenary Council comprised members selected by bishops, good people but some chosen for their conservatism and many close to the bishops; the motions were drafted by a committee formed by the bishops and proposed amendments from PC members were given little consideration; there was no opportunity for the Plenary Council itself to be involved in the drafting of motions; meeting procedures required that any individual wishing to raise an amendment required the unanimous support of her table less one, an extraordinary demand that protected the approved motions. There was much more control than can be detailed here.

The 'decrees' of the Plenary Council flowing from the motions require no changes of substance in the Church's practices; the 'commitments' were essentially to consider or support matters in principle, not to implement. That includes the role of women, more inclusive decision-making, and "diocesan pastoral councils and parish councils, structures already legislated in the Code of Canon Law (canons 511-514 and 536)". It seems to be 'business as usual'.

Peter Johnstone | 13 July 2022  

Paul on the issue of equality, who made Costelloe the arbiter of women's rights in the church? "There was a rich "Archbishop" who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day."
As Pope Francis has just declared that it is incoherent for Biden to support abortion and declare himself a devout Catholic, it is also incoherent for the Church to support Art 2 of the UDHR and treat women like Lazarus at the city gates.
As for the airs and graces the hierarchy endow themselves with - clericalism is unquestionably the root of the abuse problem in the Church worldwide.

Francis Armstrong | 14 July 2022  
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Agree. Where is the 'smell of the sheep'.

Michael LOWRY | 14 July 2022  

The capacity of women to reason is equal to the capacity of men to reason. Otherwise, women would be less accountable for sin. However, the depth of capacity to reason, accepted without controversy to be a primary difference between humans and other creatures, is not a criterion for whether a human being is a placeholder of grace. If that were so, the intellectually disabled could be aborted or killed. There’s no manual for where, when, how and why God places certain types of grace in one human receptacle than another except, in general terms which need discernment and interpretation, in Scripture and Holy Tradition. Private apparitional revelations even have to be consistent with these.

Christ never reposed the grace or graces to consecrate and to forgive, either two graces twinned and inseparable or just one grace, in women, when he could have. He never appointed a successor to Judas in the forty post-Resurrection days, leaving it up to his appointed college of leaders of the fledgling Church to do so after he had left, and there is no indication that he thought the decision to appoint Matthias was bad. There was no question of any secular differential capability to reason between the men and women of that Church because the first leaders came from the rough classes of society, and there is evidence that Simon Peter was flighty and impetuous and lacked the gravitas one would expect from a leader. In fact, given that it was only Jesus and Peter who were recorded as having to pay the temple tax, there is speculation that the other apostles were youth, under the age where they would have to pay a temple tax. So, it would seem that Jesus had no grounds on the basis of intellectual ability or balance not to appoint women as apostles, yet he never did.

It probably all goes back to the first chapters of Genesis which the Catholic Left would prefer to believe is storytelling by ancients intellectually and culturally inferior to themselves and the people of today. If God is a God of Reason, then it was not a mistake or happenstance or of no significance that it was Eve who was first entranced by the spiritual, and not balanced enough to resist its wiles. The gender difference is also seen in the fact that both God the Father and Lucifer are attributed with masculinity, that Christ certainly is a male, that the Holy Spirit is described by Christ as masculine, and that evil in this world is mostly perpetrated by males. How or by whom it started, it seems that the spiritual battle in the heavenlies and its secular repercussions on earth is largely enjoined by males. So, perhaps the Church ought in its leadership principle to be masculine.

There is no evidence, apart from mere resort to secular reasoning concerning equality, that the advocates of feminism within the Church locate their arguments within the broader spiritual history of continuing Revelation.

If, to God, a thousand years, perhaps of holiness, is like a day or a day, perhaps of sin, is like a thousand years, then it is a matter of discussion or dispute as to whether two thousand years after Christ, or several thousand years after the Old Testaments and the development of human cultural traditions, we know all there is important to know about the similarities and differences between the male and female principles which begin in the Mind of God and were only enfleshed later in the sexual genders.

roy chen yee | 15 July 2022  

What on earth - or perhaps better, in heaven - does it mean for God and Lucifer to be 'male'? Do they both have testicles and or large biceps and deep voices? Don't you realise that every time you seek to ascribe human attributes to the concept of God you circumscribe and belittle the notion. You may as well construct a graven image.

Ginger Meggs | 17 July 2022  

I don't believe the proposal to open the diaconate up to women has anything to do with feminist power or leadership. The role of the deacon is essentially as “helper” diakonos, a role which many religious and lay women already fulfill without the ordained title. If the proposal is referring to the permanent diaconate, I can see how female deacons could be any threat to the status quo and shaky theological grounds justifying male only priesthood. Wasn't Jesus a man of his times who appointed men because that was the culture at the time?

AURELIUS | 25 July 2022  

I take great hope from the women who declined to take their seats after the bishops tried to kybosh the ordination of women deacons motion. This news, like the unrigged and more open deliberations of the German Synod, is reverberating around the world to cries of 'We Was Robbed!' Its only through righteous disobedience like their's that change occurs. Far from reading the events of the PC as a symptom of failure, I see it as a Sign of Hope, triggered by the Paraclete's intervention, when all else, including the synodal rules were so palpably rigged. Not being able to discern how population fits into the picture I urge Roy to devote his attention to encouraging those on all sides, including both Johns, to be less pusillanimous and use the energy they waste in contributing towards engaging in less hand-wringing and more enthusiasm. In similar vein, let me assure Paul that Pell's time, in terms of the havoc he wreaked, is well and truly over. As for John Frawley's remark about empty pews they are a casualty of Pell's edicts, while the reduced coppers in the coffers can be explained in terms of the extravagant sums wasted on Domus Australis.

Michael Furtado | 14 July 2022  
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'Not being able to discern how population fits into the picture'

Complex systems of thought emerge out of simple fundamental rules, one of which is that if a body contains a soul, that body must be loved by God because a soul is, by definition, something that God loves. And because you cannot love something that doesn't exist, a soul exists, and so too the body in which it is housed, because God loves it to exist.

So how can a Christian say that there is such a thing as having too many people? And if a Christian says something incoherent like this, how can we assume that anything else he says is coherent?

Anyway, as to how population fits into the Christian picture, Ginger Meggs got the point even if you didn't.

roy chen yee | 16 July 2022  

The 'point that [I] got' was not about how population fits into the 'Christian picture' but rather how the version of Christianity that you espoused is so home sapien-centred and consequentially destructive !

Ginger Meggs | 17 July 2022  

Righteous disobedience, civil disobedience, non-cooperation, peaceful occupation, boycotts - these can all be very effective ways of demonstrating the limits to assertions of power based on received authority.

It seems that those who refused to take their seats at the PC were emulating those good Irish men and women who, with great effect, ostracised their neighbour Captain Boycott 142 years ago.

Ginger Meggs | 16 July 2022  

Now that the P/C has ended let's see some ACTION. " Deeds not Words " Let's Walk the Talk .
As simple as it sounds, LOVE is our ANSWER.
" Love One Another As I Have Loved You " Jn 13:34.

Andre Adolphe | 14 July 2022  

Hagia Sophia is what is incarnate in Jesus, not the Holy Spirit. Interestingly, it is a feminine figure in all of Hebrew, Greek and Latin! Spirit, meanwhile, is feminine in Hebrew, neuter in Greek, masculine in Latin!

Greg Moses | 14 July 2022  

Paul, I understand where you are coming from in all these issues, you mention. We, as a 'deserved' society think that we should be served, as we require to be served. I would suggest that the foreign priests that serve us should be set to serve the society from which they came and leave Australia to fend for themselves; then and maybe only then we will realise that we need to step up. As far as the ecology is concerned; this is a gift from God that we have been given charge of and must reap the darnel that we sow in it.

Mike Lowry | 14 July 2022  

Laudato Si.
The future of the church must be based on a relationship with creation and with God. Our truthtelling must include - um - truthtelling. About how the church combined with the State to subjugate First Nations peoples and to steal their land, resources, forests, soils; AND to destroy our brothers and sisters. Until we tell the story of the Catholic church's role - in truth - we cannot stand in solidarity, we cannot stand with our brother and sister species, we cannot stand in renewal with the Earth. Australia is KILLING Creation. Australia is blocking action on climate change. Australia is entering a period of gross weapons development and arms sales. Australia is KILLING Creation. Until we separate fully from Australia psychologically and spiritually, we will stand with Australia over God's will and Creation's need. We face eco catastrophe. And the church is full of people who already recycle, compost and use public transport. We must use our relationships to stand up for Christ, We stand for God and for God's Glory. We must stand for Creation and take real action on climate against the imperatives of violent extractionist Australia.

margaret pestorius | 14 July 2022  

I think what the Catholic Church needs is genuine spiritual renewal. Talkfests, with a grab bag of 'preferred options', some both bizarre and contrary to traditional Christian morality, will lead nowhere. If Catholics want to look at the almost complete decline and utter moral shipwreck adherence to what was termed Modernism leads to they only need look at most dioceses of the Anglican Church in Australia. People are abandoning the traditional churches because they provide no light in the current moral darkness engulfing the world. I hesitate to mention events such as the Marian apparitions and ensuing messages at Fatima, Garabandal and Medjugorge but these ring true and provide the necessary direction for urgently needed renewal. These will no doubt be pooh poohed by the self-elected illuminati who supposedly know better. Christianity is not about 'brilliant', often hollow intellectual speculation and experimentation but the Truth and the salvation which comes from adhering to it.

Edward Fido | 15 July 2022  
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I wonder Edward whether it's 'the current moral darkness engulfing the world' that is worrying people and for which they look in vain to the Church? Perhaps its the 'moral darkness' and inwardly-oriented self-centred nature of the current Church that is turning them off.

Ginger Meggs | 17 July 2022  

As a Catholic young person I was taught that God loved everyone and then as a result of Cardijn’s see judge and act methodology learned the importance of bringing the Christian principles to life in the world and then was excited and delighted when Vat 11 reinforced these values and principles—only then to learn that the institution neither supported or even seemed to believe or practice these values and principles.
For me the most important teaching was the first one I was taught ie “Every person is equal in the eyes of God”. When will the institutional church take this seriously?

Bill Armstrong AO | 15 July 2022  
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Jesus tells us that John the Baptist, of whose career the Holy Spirit, as editor and publisher of Scripture, has elected to tell us almost nothing, is the greatest born of woman (and, yet, is the least in the Kingdom of God.)

Perhaps when we figure out what this means, we might have some ground for understanding what ‘Every person is equal in the eyes of God’ means.

roy chen yee | 16 July 2022  

Most Thursdays I alight from a suburban train in Perth and take the overpass with others, all of us going our own way. The overpass allows a glance below at the freeway with the cars and trucks going to and fro; I wonder what is the breakdown: how many locked into their purposes, how many, no doubt the fewer, who are entertaining some kind of constructive novelty in the broad ecological sense. So with the church: those who want to maintain the purposive status quo, and the few who would be ready, not for what 'The Spirit' is asking of humankind in any specific way, but for what the same Spirit might be pleased with because the few have made the world a bit more kingdom conscious (Mt 25).

Noel McMaster | 15 July 2022  

"See, judge and act" in Catholic experience are counsels that presuppose the ecclesiology of 1 Corinthians 12, wherein the believing community is exhorted to manifest a unity-in-diversity that mirrors the very being of the Triune God on whom the community of the faithful depends for its origin and sustaining.
The equality shared by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit does not abolish variety in either the immanent life of the Holy Trinity or its external activity, expressed in and knowable through the diversity of charismata and roles within the faith community.
How then can "equality" be validly collapsed into an ideologized homogeneity whereby the diversity of ministerial gifts distributed among the members of Christ's mystical body for its building up and common good is effectively reduced to a secular, politically correct sameness?
And why should reactions in the Plenary Council's last assembly, described as "visceral" (Michele Frankeni, Eureka Street, "On using our talents" 12/7/2022), automatically be assumed to display a "righteous disobedience" (Michael Furtado, above, 14/7) - especially if Pope Francis's repeated calls for a "deep discernment" in personal and communal Church renewal are to be taken to heart and implemented?

John RD | 17 July 2022  
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It's about equality of opportunity John RD, not about homogeneity. Women are not seeking a takeover or monopoly on reserved occupations or vocations.

Ginger Meggs | 17 July 2022  

JohnRD asks a politically-loaded question in the same breath as he criticises the politicism of others.

As to his claim of papal support for despatching Bill Armstrong's reference to the Cardignian principle, the roots of the See-Judge-Act method can be found in Thomas Aquinas’ description of the intellectual virtue of prudence. Indeed, +Francis’ methodological preference is made clear when he states twice: 'Realities are more important than ideas” (LS, 110, 201), a point first made in Evangelii Gaudium (231). In continuity with the methodological preferences of +John XXIII and +Paul VI, +Francis appropriates the See-Judge-Act method for theological reflection on, and interpretation of, reality, with the goal being transformative action and justice.

In LS, +Francis describes the methodical practice he uses to construct his theological argument (15) by reviewing ('see') the best scientific research today, then considers ('judge') principles from Judeo-Christian tradition, followed by proposals for dialogue and action ('act').

Hence a praxis-oriented methodology that prioritizes a critical assessment of reality (step 1) in order to change reality (step 3) through critical theological reflection as a mediatory step (step 2).

1 Corinthians 12 addresses the theology of work, warning against arrogance, disrespect and the abuse of power, wealth and status.

Michael Furtado | 18 July 2022  

2000 or so years after Jesus' statement "I and the Father are one", who would have thought that would be interpreted to mean "Women can't be deacons". Surely there are more pressing issues of concern in our world that Jesus inspires us to confront.

AURELIUS | 26 July 2022  

Paul has provided a valuable first round review of PC actions and achievements. More specific analyses await, but, for now, an overlooked accolade and observation.
That the PC majority could unite in responding to two pastoral concerns deserves praise: recommendations which will roll on to Rome that the current mass translation be reworked and a more generous provisioning of the third rite of Reconciliation be considered go to the heart of every day evangelisation. Gathering together at the liturgical centre of church life, unencumbered by outbreaks of verbal awkwardness is a joy awaiting restoration: given Francis has already opened the door to translation revisions this may be 'a sooner than you think outcome.'
But, it is to a secular agency that credit goes for, accidentally, placing a spotlight on one of the larger elephants in the PC room. On the eve of the second session, the ABS released its Religion findings from the 2021 Census. These figures, augmented by chancery and other church agencies data, provide a sobering profile and problematic for all committed Australian Catholics to factor into plans for the decade at hand.

Bill Burke | 18 July 2022  

JohnRD (17/7) misinterprets Cardijn's 'See, judge, act' methodology, itself enthusiastically endorsed by Pope Francis in 'Laudato si'. Moreover his allusion to 1 Cor 12 is contested by Catholic scripture scholars who regard the text as warning against power abuse.

Bill's post (18/7), like John's, descends towards cleaning up evidence of the train-wreck. No looking up to observe the commands of Truth itself – yes, there's such an entity – descending on the faithful with a determination to dispel Ignorance, Spite and Prejudice. No vision of Heaven and the Stars, still less an aspiration to join them.

Truth and virtue, the twin bedrocks of ethicism as set out by Socrates, while out there somewhere battling an overheated climate in a high value Jesuit cosmos that includes the likes of Gerard Hughes and Edmund Campion, become the sad casualties of the Australian episcopal train-wreck.

Both posts are bogged down in apologetics: intransigence based on questionable assumptions and rendered meaningless by those who have long since abandoned ship. One has to wonder what the Church understands by its teaching ministry. Is it to search for the Truth or to superimpose a mindset that cannot be sourced in Jesus?

Nero fiddles while Rome burns.

Michael Furtado | 20 July 2022  

Many would assume that the role of the Catholic church is to champion diversity and inclusion, protect children and promote the human rights of all.

Australia's Plenary Council is facing its most serious challenge.

Allowing the continuation of a global and national religion to direct and maintain the invisibility and powerlessness of women is undermining basic human rights.

P Boylan | 25 July 2022  

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