Monday, July 16, 2018

Refresh Catholicism at Plenary Council2020

In the last week of June 2017 the Australian Catholic  Bishops Conference rode on a "high" for a couple of days. On 28th June they released the   announcement of a new Plenary Council Executive Council which in pewspeak means a group of people to kick start the Church yet again.

The next day  most of them hoped over to Geraldton  for the ordination of  Michael  Morrisey, the new Catholic Bishop. Somewhere between departure and arrival  their phones lit up with  a news item about George Cardinal Pell that has wiped the gloss off their mitres for the rest of the year.

For Catholics of the "old school",plenary is one of those get out of jail words that conjures up liberation, release,  and a short cut to eternal happiness. This  Plenary Council however has a slightly more modest agenda:

  ‘This is no time for the Church to be putting up signs that say “business as usual”. If we needed any proof, then the Royal Commission has shown that. We need to face the facts, and in the light of the facts, which aren’t always friendly, we have to make big decisions about the future. The Plenary Council will place the Church on a sound footing to respond to what is not merely an era of change but a change of era.’

In keeping with smart marketing the project has a webpage, a Facebook Page, a Twitter account, a Youtube Channel,  and of course, a theme song:

Check out the Catholica commentary on the song here

So  for Catholics "It's Time" for a new era of  Australian Catholicism which will be take off in 2020!! Nor sure if that includes adding to the census tally  So, let's meet the crew heading this project and  see how they line up in communication with  the rest of us in various pews. The link on the name will show a piccie and a bit of a bio or where available a video clip.

The Who of @PlenaryCouncil2020

The official web page provides provides a list of key players with no real biographical or background information. In fact the only people for whom any background data is provided are the members of the Bishops Commission!!!

Facilitation Team

The Executive Committee
Mr Daniel Ang – Broken Bay
In addition to writing timeofthechurch, Daniel can also be followed on Twitter (@DanielAngRC), at LinkedIn or contacted by email ( He is a married layman with two children. Still waiting for him to answer my friend request on Facebook.

Mr Shayne Bennett – Brisbane
·    Manager of FX Mission Teams, the University Arm of NET Ministries at NET AustraliaDirector Mission and Faith Formation at Holy Spirit Seminary, Brisbane  Another FB friend request "in the queue
Br Ian Cribb SJ – Broken Bay

Dr Gemma Cruz – Melbourne

Ms Sally Hood – Brisbane Also "in the queue awaiting response to a FB friend request.

Mr John Lochowiak – Adelaide

Dr Brigid McKenna – Hobart

Ms Sarah Moffatt – Adelaide A FB friend!!

Sr Grace Roclawska CSFN – Parramatta

Rev Dr Ormond Rush – Townsville Has FB so you can follow him but does not have a friend request button/

Mrs Theresa Simon – Sydney (Maronite Church)

Dr Nigel Zimmerman – Parramatta

Very Rev Ian Waters  Senior Fellow of the Catholic Theological College, Melbourne will serve as Historical and Canonical Consultant to the Committee. 

Oh dear, poor old Ian gets a serve as lacking a bit of pastoral sensitivity in this extract from "Hell on the Way to Heaven "by Chrissie Foster. Hope his skills have improved a bit lately for this new role.

Mr Shane Dwyer (also waiting for a response to my friend request)

Initially and on an ad interim basis the Committee will be chaired by Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Chair of the Bishops Commission.

Gender balance is even and lay representation exceeds clerics and religious.  The age range appears good with a deliberate lean to younger voices. The presence of an Eastern Rite Church is welcome and it is worth acknowledging John Lochowiak, a member of the First Nations Peoples.

Bishops Commission


Diocesan coordinators hold first gathering

At their meeting in May, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference agreed that each diocese (including the eastern Churches and Ordinariates) would nominate two people to be part of a national network of diocesan Plenary Council coordinators.
So here we have a nice pic of the selected Diocesan n Coordinators with no names provided. If you use  a zoom tool you can almost read a couple of name tags. 

The How of @PlenaryCouncil2020

One of the reasons there are so many people in the PC Executive Council is that the Australian Catholic Bishops want them to read. Lots and lots of reading in fact if the process is going to work.  At the heart of the project is a questionnaire. The site suggests allocating 10 minutes  to complete the questions. However, the  invitation to submit answers as well as documentation if desired would easily call for quite a bit of reflection.  There are a couple of quirky fields in the template. The age range selection  goes up to 110!! The religion field allows for all sorts including No Religion at the bottom of the selection. As of publication the questionnaire is only available online in English.

What is not clear is who will read the submissions for reform  and even more who will interpret the results?

Plenary Commentary

John Wurhurst
Garry Everett

The Plenary Council process was launched in Australian Dioceses on Pentecost Sunday 2018. Here are a few of the Episocopal homilies and statements from the launch:
+Mark Coleridge (Brisbane)
+Timothy Costelloe (Perth)
+Vincent Long (Parramatta)
+Anthony Fisher (Sydney)
+Chris Saunders (Broome)
+Chris Prowse (Canberra)
+Peter Comensoli (Broken Bay)

Plenary Hiccups!!
While hosting a major conference on Evangelisation Archbishop Mark Colereidge managed to stir the possum with one of his throw away lines: "Proclaim Conference 2018 has commenced andArchbishop Mark Coleridge has opened saying that this is a spirit moment for the church, challenging us to renew and rejuvenate the church in Australia...less stale, less male, less pale. " The Facebook comments are worth following. In particular note the replies to my question about the Welcome to Country.

Plenary Challenge

Faith no more: parishioners lose trust in church - Sydney Morning Herald › National › Religion
Feb 11, 2018 - Half of active Catholic parishioners say their opinion of senior ... Fairfax Media, show the “bond of trust between the laity and their bishops has been severely impaired,” says Professor Neil Ormerod of the Australian Catholic University. ... National Church Life Survey showed a “serious erosion of trust in the ...

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