After consulting more than 222,000 of the Catholic faithful on what they think God wants of the Church in Australia, six National Themes have been discerned for consideration by Plenary Council 2020.
The Themes show a “clear desire” for a Christ-centred Church, president of the Plenary Council Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, said.
“We worked to discern what people were yearning for as we move into this next stage of preparing for the Plenary Council,” Archbishop Costelloe said.
“Accordingly, the six National Themes for Discernment flow from that primary goal of being a Christ-centred community of people.”
The voices of the faithful help all of us to understand something of the historical experience and the current reality of the Catholic Church in Australia
From May 2018 to March 2019, more than 222,000 people voiced their views, as the Plenary Council Facilitation Team received 17,500 submissions from individuals and groups.
The question posed to people was, “What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?”
Based on their responses, the six National Themes for Discernment are: Missionary and Evangelising; Inclusive, Participatory and Synodal; Prayerful and Eucharistic; Humble, Healing and Merciful; A Joyful, Hope-Filled and Servant Community; Open to Conversion, Renewal and Reform.
“The National Centre for Pastoral Research was able to pinpoint more than 100 recurring subject areas from those 17,500 submissions,” Archbishop Costelloe said.
“In some ways, those subject areas described what one might call ‘the messy reality’ of Catholic life in Australia today. The voices of the faithful help all of us to understand something of the historical experience and the current reality of the Catholic Church in Australia.”
Plenary Council Facilitator, Lana Turvey-Collins, said the next stage of preparation for the Council would be a time of prayerful consideration of the major questions raised by the faithful.
“The emergence of the National Themes for Discernment is an important moment in our journey towards the Plenary Council,” Ms Turvey-Collins said. “It is an expression of the sense of the faith from the faithful and, from this, we can proceed in our discernment of what the Spirit is saying to us in Australia.”
The fruits of what is discerned during this time will shape the agenda for the first session of Plenary Council in October 2020
Working groups will be established for each of the six National Themes, she said, and people around the country will be invited to participate in communal Listening and Discernment sessions.
“The fruits of what is discerned during this time will shape the agenda for the first session of Plenary Council in October 2020,” Ms Turvey-Collins said.
Australia’s bishops will “reflect carefully” upon the National Themes later this month, Archbishop Costelloe said, when they gather for a retreat prior to their Ad Limina visit in Rome. He said the bishops will share their reflections and conclusions with Plenary Council’s Facilitation Team and Executive Committee based on their “prayerful discernment and pastoral experience”.
For more info on the Plenary Council: https://plenarycouncil.org.au