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Students ask bishops to keep the faith

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Around 600 Australian Catholic university students have called upon the country’s bishops to publically reject submissions to the Plenary Council 2020 which contradict Church teaching.

The request is one of nine recommendations made by the Australian Catholic Students’ Association (ACSA) in its submission to the council’s Listening and Dialogue phase, which ended on Ash Wednesday.

“The Plenary Council must affirm the ageless teachings of Christ, the Church Fathers and the clear dogma of the Church and reject items for consideration by the Plenary Council which clearly breach those teachings,” they wrote.

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“The Church should not discourage young people following its rules in love, nor its priests from teaching them.

Related article: EXCLUSIVE: Students want faith

ACSA members with Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP
Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher OP with (left to right) ACSA’s Christopher Wilks, Madeleine Gilbert and Alexander Kennedy at the society’s Newman Dinner at St John’s College in 2018.

“Therefore, the bishops of Australia should make it clear to the faithful about what may and may not occur at this Council and emphatically reject heterodoxical proposals.”

Other recommendations of the student body led by president Christopher Wilks and gained through listening sessions held online and at various locations around the country focussed on spiritual formation of young people in schools and universities, with the student body calling for an increase in Eucharistic Adoration and promotion of the Liturgy of the Hours.

The students representing Catholics at around 26 tertiary institutions asked for more resources at university Catholic societies and the addressing of the “deterioration of the Catholic identity at Church-run residential colleges in secular universities”.

The students’ submission said religious education and catechesis of young people deserved “particular attention” while the scheduling of Masses and Reconciliation should accommodate the needs of students and workers.

They recommended St John Paul II’s Theology of the Body as a tonic for the “many people, young and old, who have been disillusioned by the empty promises of promiscuity seek and year for”, while “an emphasis needs to be placed on forming young people in our schools with a view to marriage”.

Another source of healing is art and literature, they wrote.

“In today’s world where so much can be bought but leave the individual unsatisfied, the promotion of beauty as a means to evangelisation presents the Church with a unique opportunity”.

Christopher Wilk
Australian Catholic Students Association NSW chairperson William Brazier.

“We the young people of Australia earnestly ask that the Church preach the Gospel prophetically and not shy away from even its more unfashionable doctrines,” they wrote.

“Youth do not want fashion or ease, we yearn for truth and we ask our bishops as the true doctors of the faith to continue to preach the Gospel in season and out of season.”

Mr Wilks told The Catholic Weekly that the document reveals a “genuine concern among our members that what has been proposed publically to date through the listening and dialogue sessions have departed from the Church’s teaching and tradition”.

“They want to do what they can to make sure the Church in Australia stays true to these,” he said.

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