“What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?”
That’s the most important question confronting Catholics in the wake of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, says Father Dermid McDermott.
The Mary Queen of Apostles parish priest is encouraging parishioners to make their views known at a forum on November 22 in the lead up to a national Plenary Council in 2020.
A Plenary Council is an ecclesiastical synod, representing the entire church. The Archdiocese of Canberra/Goulburn is just one of many in Australia reaching out to parishioners to ask their views before the Plenary Council’s first session in Adelaide in 2020.
It will be the first one held in Australia since 1937.
“After all Royal Commission it is designed to see what people have to say about the Catholic Church,” Father McDermott said.
“...People are asking how did it all happen. The other aspect is that people are losing faith and that applies to all the churches.”
The sessions are designed for listening and dialogue in the initial phase. Father McDermott describes it as a “free for all” with no set agenda. Mary Dorian from Queanbeyan will be the independent facilitator.
A series of questions will be asked of attendants including: ‘Why do you think Catholics have left the Church?;’ ‘What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words Catholic Church?’; ‘If you had the opportunity to speak to Pope Francis face to face, what would you say to him about the Catholic Church?’
“It is not an argumentative process but just listening and letting people have their say. I don’t intend to go because it is not a matter for the clergy,” Father McDermott said.
Two sessions have already been held in Canberra and one has been planned for Queanbeyan. A second forum in Goulburn will be held next March. All information gathered Australia wide will be collated, published and then further refined through further dialogue.
This will then be considered by the Plenary Council in Adelaide in October 2020, followed by a second session, possibly in Sydney.
The gathering involves religious and clerics and is governed by Canon Law. The Council, including the Bishops Commission chaired by former Archbishop of Canberra/Goulburn and now Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge, will consider all the responses and decide a way forward.
The Goulburn gathering will be held at the Goulburn Soldiers Club’s Merino Room on Thursday, November 22. People can choose one of two sessions – 10.30am to 12.30pm or 7pm to 9pm.
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