Plenary Feedback: Fr Eric Skruzny

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“The crux of the issue for the Catholic the Church in Australia: the lack of Christian Initiation to Faith.”

The Plenary Council’s working document, Towards the Second Assembly, was circulated to members for feedback by 4 April. Although Towards the Second Assembly has not been circulated for the wider Church to read, The Catholic Weekly will publish the feedback of members between now and the release of the final Plenary Council documents, in the interests of transparency, openness and co-responsibility.

Christian Initiation

The Plenary Council should not be ashamed, nor miss the challenge of encouraging the Church in Australia to go to the crux of the issue for the Catholic the Church in Australia: the lack of Christian Initiation to Faith.

There is some talk of education, formation but Initiation is at another level.  Just as society has moved and changed very quickly through the course of the 20th and 21st centuries, without giving time for humanity to grow in maturity and responsibility, neither has the faith of the people kept up with all the moral challenges identified in this initial phase of the Plenary Council.

Initiation is a journey not unlike that of Abraham, who embarked on a journey on the basis of a promise that he had received; he did not know where he was going nor how the promise was to be realised.

It was a journey that needed time in which he experienced his freedom to stray, to sin in front of God before finally and eventually seeing the power of God truly realized in the birth of his son Isaac and in the gift of a land.

Similarly the chosen people of Israel, as a body of people, embarked on a journey, a long journey from a state of slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land; an adventure where there were no short cuts nor compromises. This journey for them has in fact not ended, as the promise made is yet to be realised. They still live in hope and expectation.

Much of what is being discussed and proposed would be the fruit of a healthy Catholic Church. The Church is not well, and so we cannot demand of her fruits that can only come from healthy branches on a healthy tree.

All the statistics show the diminishing percentage of practicing Catholics. The lives of Catholics point to a crisis of faith.

New Ecclesial Realities

The document misses the opportunity to highlight that the life saver for so many Catholics today has been their involvement in the new Ecclesial Realities inspired by the Holy Spirit and fruit of the Second Vatican Council.

Unlike many of the proposals discussed, these New Ecclesial Realities come at no financial cost to the parishes nor the dioceses. They do not dare promise quick-fix solutions, but a renewed way of living for all without discrimination of any kind.

Fr Eric Skruzny is Rector of Redemptoris Mater missionary seminary, Sydney.

The Catholic Weekly will publish the Plenary Council feedback of members online in coming weeks. Some submissions may be edited for style, compared to the original versions submitted to the Drafting Committee. Plenary Council members who wish to share their feedback may email [email protected].