Plenary voices: Fr Anthony Percy

Some important things were missing form the Plenary, writes Fr Anthony Percy, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn

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Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB addresses Plenary participants at its opening. Photo: Archdiocese of Sydney

The new buzz word is ‘Synodality.’

It means ‘walking together.’

‘Walking’ is, as we well know, a symbol of the moral life. The letters of Paul are helpful in this regard.

According to St Thomas Aquinas, without a reasonably developed emotional life, the moral life – the integration of emotions, will and mind – becomes difficult. You might have experienced this ‘integrating process’ while walking physically?

The other part of synodality is ‘together.’ The virtual Plenary Council rendered this difficult.

But there was a lot of goodwill and with goodwill much can be done.

The experience was frustrating, but not just because of the virtual format.

A Plenary Council is about renewal of faith, pastoral outreach, morals and way of life.

Input on this helpful paradigm was lacking.

There were plenty of female and male theologians at the PC who could have provided needed pastoral and theological knowledge, and methodology.

Take child abuse.

We know about the horror of this – the damage done, the shame we feel.

But we don’t know about what is happening now in the Church.

Why would we not have had those who work in Professional Standards Offices address us with the facts? We really need them ‘walking together’ with us.

How do we try and help survivors?

What are our procedures and policies now to avert further catastrophic behaviour?

Do we know that the Church in Australia is spending $36 million per year on Child Protection? I did the sums in 2019.

I am hopeful for PC July 2022, but we need more direction so as to utilise our time, money and talent more effectively.