Forum Comments

Fifth Plenary Council of Australia: A Call for Agenda Development
In General discussion
thecowans
Aug 30, 2021
In response to the invitation to give feedback on the document, Fifth Plenary Council of Australia: A Call for Agenda Development, we offer the following observations: We found the Preamble at first somewhat confusing. The six sets of questions which form the agenda for the Plenary Council are described as ‘excellent’, yet the Preamble seems to be saying at the same time that the questions in themselves make for an incomplete/unsatisfactory process towards concrete action. We were also unsure as to why, in the first paragraph, the agenda was called a ‘present draft’, when it was published as a final document in June 2021 (Plenary Post 36). However, the basis for the concrete proposals in the paper makes sense. The fact that there is strong reference to the Phase I and Phase II data also gives authenticity to the paper. Likewise, can we assume that the non-mention of the Instrumentum Laboris is deliberate, given its inadequacy in regard to concrete proposals? We appreciate the fact that this paper is strongly grounded in Pope Francis’ synodal approach, especially his understanding of ‘overflow’ in discernment and dialogue, or as he says in Let us Dream - The Path to A Better Future, p.80, ‘we recognise this process as a gift from God because it is the same action of the Spirit described in Scripture and evident in history.’ With this understanding, it is absolutely imperative and, in a real sense, an underlying purpose in holding a Plenary Council, that difficult/controversial and seemingly insoluble issues are raised and addressed, if/as they are fundamental. We commend the Sense of the Faithful team which developed the paper not for their excellent reflections, but for the comprehensive substantive proposals listed under each of the six themes/headings. Whether it is indigenous spirituality, ecological conversion, prayer/Eucharist/liturgical renewal, laity formation and leadership (especially the role of women in leadership and ministry), local and diocesan structural issues, governance or understanding of mission that are to be addressed by the Plenary Council, the Council has to be prepared to tackle the difficult aspects of all the above and other issues. The proposals in the team’s paper address some key matters very honestly and in a grounded way and should be ‘front and centre’ of the Plenary Council’s agenda. Thank you, Peter & Carmel Cowan.
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