Bishop Anthony Randazzo has expressed his hope that the Plenary Council set to be held in the Catholic Church in Australia in 2020 will “spark the desire for Christ” in people’s hearts, rather than become merely an occasion to implement more programs.
At a lecture given at ACU’s Strathfield campus on 22 August, Bishop Randazzo said the Plenary Council should not be an opportunity to indulge in “self-fulfilment” and self-centred desires about what the Catholic faith should be.
“It can be tempting to turn the Plenary Council into a long shopping list of what I want the faith to be for me,” he said.
Instead, it should be about encountering the person of Jesus Christ, and bringing that encounter to others.
“I’d like to bring the Plenary Council back to one thing, or rather, one person,” he said.
He warned that reducing the outcomes of the Council to a program, while tempting, missed the fact that, “Ultimately the Church is not a program.”
“If all we come up with is a program then we’ve missed a valuable opportunity to do something more radical… We need to keep constantly in mind that the root of our faith is a person—Jesus Christ.
“More accurately, it is the experience of an encounter with Jesus Christ. This encounter has the potential to inflame our hearts.”
Bishop Randazzo referred to his favourite Gospel passage where Christ speaks to the Samaritan woman at the well. Just like the Samaritan woman, we also desire freedom from what binds us and communion with one another, he said.
“Self-fulfilment, or feeling good in yourself, will not address the many challenges facing the Church in Australia today. Nor will it give us the freedom and communion we seek.”
“What does give us true freedom is communion with the body of Christ—the Church.”
“If there is a program that I want to see reflected in the Plenary Council, it is the building of the desire for the person of Christ and a desire to stay in communion with the Church by following Christ constantly,” he said.
It is through the Church and the sacraments that the faithful encounter the person of Christ, Bishop Randazzo said.
Describing the Church as a “sacramental well,” he said it is “the site for encounter with Christ as well as the vehicle for mission.”
“My hope is that the Council will be a true ecclesial encounter that will spark the desire for Christ… so that all may come to see that transformative gaze of the face of Christ.”
Bishop Randazzo is a member of the Bishop’s Commission for Plenary Council 2020.
For more info about Plenary Council 2020: plenarycouncil.catholic.org.au