Media and Communicatons Office
Last night, around 200 people gathered at Francis Xavier Hall in Montmorency to listen to Fr Noel Connolly SSCC speak about the Plenary Council, the process of listening and the challenges of becoming a synodal church. The evening was organised by the Archbishop’s Office for Evangelisation, in partnership with the Diamond Valley Deanery and Yarra Deanery.
Fr Connolly is a lecturer in Missiology at Broken Bay Institute and the Catholic Institute of Sydney, and a member of the Adult Formation team with Catholic Mission Australia. He was also recently appointed by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference to be the Plenary Council national facilitator.
In his presentation, Fr Connolly expressed the Church's need for change in light of the worldwide spread of sexual abuse.
‘We are facing the biggest crisis of our history and we’re going to have to pray and work and discuss and dialogue our way to the future,’ he said.
‘I think our biggest problem in the Church today is to build trust,’ revealed Fr Connolly.
‘You’re not going to solve trust by theological examinations or a social analysis of the whole Church in Australia. It will only be solved if we actually listen to one another,’ he said.
'The Plenary Council will allow us to review the Church’s mission, including how to give more responsibility to lay people. Importantly, we need to learn to involve women in the Church—not just in the running and the governance of the Church but in the ministry.'
Fr Connolly expressed that Pope Francis welcomes a revolution. ‘He is a Pope who wants not to lecture us but to talk to us,’ he said.
‘Pope Francis has instructed the Bishops to speak up, even when they think they have something to say he doesn't want to hear.' In the same way, explained Fr Connolly, the Plenary Council invites all Catholics to speak up ‘even if you think we, the clergy, don’t want to hear it.’
The Plenary Council 2020 listening and dialogue phase will conclude in March 2019. During this phase, Catholics are encouraged to form groups, pray and discuss what they want to see in the future of the Church in Australia.
For more information about the Plenary Council and how to get in involved in Melbourne, go to http://www.cam.org.au/plenary/.