Listening, prayer, communion key to Australia council, pope says

Digeridoo players Brandon Jansen, and his brother Thairon Jansen, perform  together with Donna Ryder and a child during the opening Mass of the First Plenary Council at St. Mary's Cathedral in Perth, Australia, Oct. 3, 2021. (CNS photo/Ron Tan, courtesy Archdiocese of Perth)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis has asked members of the Plenary Council of the Catholic Church in Australia to listen to one another carefully and prayerfully discern God’s call, always in communion with him and the entire Catholic Church.

As the working sessions of the council began on October 4, with more than 250 council members meeting online, the message from Pope Francis was read to the assembly.

“His Holiness prays that the council may be a graced occasion for mutual listening and spiritual discernment, marked by profound communion with the successor of Peter, ‘the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity of both the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful,'” said the message, quoting the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who signed the message, said that through the Plenary Council, “the church in Australia is challenged to listen to the voice of the Spirit and to bear renewed witness to the perennial truth of the Gospel and to develop new and creative expressions of evangelical charity”.

The Church, he said, is called to increasingly become “a home with open doors, ‘a community of communities, a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey, and a centre of constant missionary outreach”.

On behalf of the Plenary Council members, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, president of the Australian bishops’ conference, sent a letter back to Pope Francis, telling him, “The Church in Australia is at a point when we will have to face the truth of our situation with eyes wide open and make bold decisions to ensure that the future is according to the mind and heart of Christ.”

“At a time when we are under pressure and in some ways diminished,” he wrote, “we will have to imagine and enact new ways of mission rather than retire to some self-protective world.”

Archbishop Coleridge told Pope Francis that members of the council hope the process they are engaged in, which began with widespread consultation with Catholics throughout Australia, “will be a gift not just for the church in Australia but for the Church around the world”.

The day’s session began with Mass marking the feast of St Francis of Assisi.

In his homily, Bishop Shane Mackinlay of Sandhurst, told delegates that like St Francis, they are called “to rebuild Christ’s Church,” while responding “in a very concrete way to Pope Francis’ repeated call for us to become a more synodal Church: a Church committed to journeying together in reciprocal listening to one another, listening to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor, and most importantly listening to the Holy Spirit.”

They must be “a Church which gives witness to the Christian vision of community, participation, solidarity and joint responsibility”, he said. “Our council agenda makes clear that this rebuilding is our central focus: ‘As children of God, disciples of Jesus Christ, and guided by the Holy Spirit, the members of the fifth Plenary Council of Australia are called to develop concrete proposals to create a more missionary, Christ-centred church in Australia at this time.'”

Photos: Digeridoo players Brandon Jansen, and his brother Thairon Jansen, perform together with Donna Ryder and a child during the opening Mass of the First Plenary Council at St Mary’s Cathedral in Perth, Australia, Oct. 3, 2021. (CNS photo/Ron Tan, courtesy Archdiocese of Perth)



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  1. Bruce Jones says

    Given the presence of such media communication as
    Facebook, Twitter, and the mobile phone, the youth of
    today who are also confronted by drugs, porn, legalisation of
    abortion, and euthanasia have an uphill battle with the
    omnipresent denial of any supernatural, which includes
    basic dogma and doctrine.
    With the Catholic Catechism’s omissions of discussion of
    the real presence, and little reference to apparitions of
    Mary, on whose shoulders does the lot fall to stem
    the influence of adverse input and for preservation of
    the faith?
    How will youth catch the faith? [faith is caught not
    taught?]. Will it be Hill-song?
    Given that over 40,000,000 pilgrims have been to
    Medjugorje Yugoslavia, surely a closer look at what it
    proposes might be worth a pause for thought.
    Pray, fast, lead simple lives, be reconciled to God
    each day…
    “Abandon yourselves totally to me”.
    In ‘Centessimus Annos’ -the Encyclical by Pope St John
    Paul II is reference to alienation and exploitation (of
    the committed). This alienation of those who are closer
    to eternal truths by virtue of personal prayer, continues;
    Mother Teresa was banned from Twitter !
    Are big media giants complying to the old schema of
    only printing verifiable fact?
    Youth have an uphill climb. They will rise to the occasion,
    provided they are not deluged by various heresy that
    arrives via the TV which continues to destroy shame.
    The advice of Anthony Fisher O.P. Archbishop of Sydney,
    in “The Australian”, “The church will serve
    the culture best, as well as its own members, by being its
    best self, faithful to the mission given by Christ-not by
    reinventing itself as a secular NGO” should be widely
    discussed. It is a trap easily made and easier for the
    gullible to fall into.
    Many problems inside the catholic church continue
    precisely because its members do not listen- to the voice
    of Christ every day, with appropriate listening skills.
    Listening to each others chatter on a Sunday is not conducive
    to spiritual and emotional growth which it sorely needs.
    And many issues which a synod or a plenary or Vatican II can
    easily be faced instead of postponing these to a gathering
    which is tempted to fall into an old outdated
    model of church.
    Silence in churches is one of these. The Rosary at night
    instead of TV is another. Fasting each week ditto.
    Peter Hans Kolvenbach, head of the Jesuits slept with his
    window open on the bare floor near it.
    “The imitation of Christ” by St Thomas a Kempis (read
    by Christian brothers at mealtime), was once
    second only to the bible in published works- until Harry
    Potter arrived. Is there a hunger? Ask the author who
    is now a Billionaire, second richest woman in the world.
    Secular NGO’s the Catholic church are a luxury it can

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