Broome Bishop Christopher Saunders has conveyed his thoughts on the upcoming 2020 Plenary to The Record
I am elated that a Plenary Council will be held in Australia in 2020.
This is a defining moment for the Church in this country and is therefore an event of outstanding importance for all the faithful.
Without a doubt, the decision to have a Plenary has been born out of a sense of vision and courage. It is, I believe, a work of the Holy Spirit encouraging us to reengage faithfully with our tradition, living the Gospel as disciples of Jesus.
During the time of preparation for 2020 this sense of vision and the courage that sustains it will need to be nurtured through prayer and charity.
At the heart of this activity, and all that it entails, must be the person of Christ, our companion on the journey. Then, like the disciples walking to Emmaus we shall rejoice when we can say, in certainty, that our eyes were opened and that our hearts burned within us as he talked to us.
Some years ago the Bishops of this country in conference sought to discover a means to engage modern society with its shifting ways and its always complex construct.
As someone said just recently: “This is not an era of change; it is a change of era”.
The Bishops saw that there is an urgent need to grow a Church in Australia that will successfully engage society so as to face the obvious contradictions and challenges at work among us; the subjectivism, the materialism, the secularism, the continuing injustices and the negation of God in peoples’ lives.
The Bishops came to the conclusion that to hold a Plenary Council is the appropriate mechanism to engage the people of this nation regarding the Church in society, the faith in our nation and our future together as a people.
A process leading into the Plenary has now been devised.
The first phase is a listening time with meetings to be held among peoples in parishes or groups or regions within the Diocese. Some of these meetings have already been held in various locations.
It is in these gatherings that will be articulated, as far as possible, the hopes of the people and their aspirations for the Church in the future, living as a vibrant prayerful Communion of the Faithful. It is my hope that such aspirational matters will be revealed and discussed thoroughly at the local level.
Most importantly, and it cannot be emphasised enough, we must listen to each other, to what is being said, during this phase in 2018 in the period up to Easter 2019.
In its second phase from Easter 2019 we enter into the period of discernment. Some ideas and evolving propositions will be carried forward to the national level from this discernment – a time of listening, evaluating and assessment.
However, it will be up to the discernment group I am establishing to sort through the information, the ideas, the yearnings, the suggestions and the propositions.
By December 2019 we will have put together a submission to be sent to those running the National Process, in readiness for the Plenary of 2020.
This opportunity we now relish to engage our people at the Parish and at the Diocesan level, and to grow our Church in these modern times, must not be missed.
It is a God given moment that will be as wonderful as we make it and as grace-filled as we allow it to be.
Come Holy Spirit Fill the Hearts of the Faithful. And Kindle In Them The Fire Of Your Love. Send Forth Your Spirit And They Shall Be Created. And You Will Renew The Face Of The Earth.