A Laywoman’s Perspective on the Plenary Council So FarJanuary 31, 2019
Where are we at now with the Plenary Council 2020 process, set in motion last Pentecost The Listening and Dialogue phase is due to come to an end on Ash Wednesday, 6 March 2019? What can we say about what has happened so far? From my admittedly limited perspective, I can make a few observations.
Clearly, there is a great disparity among the dioceses as to how much support has been given to the Council. I have been fortunate to belong to one of the most proactive of the dioceses (Broken Bay) where plenty of information, resources and support were provided to enable local animators to work with their specific communities. I facilitated quite a number of conversations around the central question, “What do you think God is asking of us, here and now?”
It quickly became clear that at a grassroots level, there were strong common concerns. These headed the list:
- The yearning for genuine community marked by inclusiveness, compassion, and care for the vulnerable and marginalised;
- A desire for spiritual renewal; a desire to go back to the gospels for a much deeper understanding of Jesus’ life and teaching; and
- A desire for much greater involvement of the laity in decision making of every kind.
On a broader level, reading as much as I can about what has been happening nation-wide, it seems to me that engaged Catholic women, who have for so long resigned themselves to an unsatisfactory status quo, are suddenly seeing glimpses of new possibilities. It seems that we are openly talking about women in the context of leadership in the church. It will certainly be an important topic, both formally and informally, at the Council for Australian Catholic Women Colloquium, Stirring the Waters, to be held in Adelaide in late February. Three of us from the Sydney Grail will be attending.
It’s early days yet but I have a sense that we are starting to wake up. Early cynicism is giving way to fragments of hope. There are many agendas for change being submitted to the Plenary Council, many of them critical of a centuries-old clerical and patriarchal culture on its last legs. The realisation is dawning that there are many of us “out there” who long for a different way of being a church and we are beginning to find one another and talk to one another. We need to keep the conversations going. We need to begin to imagine what the future could be.
The other side of this coin is fear – the fear of what it will cost us. As I have been impelled to go deeper and deeper in this process of listening and dialogue, it has become frighteningly clear that if we take our hopes and our responsibility to one another seriously, it will cost us dearly. It is no wonder that many of the bishops give the impression that they just want business as usual. A cultural change of the magnitude that we are hoping for is the work of a lifetime.
Are we up for it?
Author: Patricia Gemmell
Patricia recently graduated with a Masters in Theology, is a member of the Australian Grail National Leadership Team and has been a parishioner of St Leonard’s, Naremburn, for 34 years.
Deep Sea Mining in the PacificMarch 23, 2023
In mid-January 2023 the French Parliament voted to ban deep-sea mining in its waters, in a move against the controversial practice. Deep-sea mining uses heavy...
Tricia Gemmell’s Speech for the Avila book launch of ‘In Her Voice’March 16, 2023
I want to thank you all for coming here tonight to celebrate with us, not just the publication of In Her Voice, but the whole journey that Australian Women Preach...
A RETURN TO TRADITIONAL FOOD?September 19, 2022
The dangers of too much dependence on imported food are currently being felt through consequences of the Ukraine war. Many countries imported wheat from Ukraine....
Pacific Island Countries Combating Plastic PollutionJuly 19, 2022
Pacific Islanders depend on the ocean for their food and livelihood. These small island countries are surrounded by oceans. The Pacific Island countries are...
CONTROL THE VAMPIRE COMPANIES!July 7, 2022
Oxfam’s Annual Report 2022, World Inequality, warns that 240 million more people are likely to fall into extreme poverty and face dire hunger because of the...
“one small step for women… one giant leap for herstory…”June 20, 2022
There is a little known story in the book of Numbers, chapter 27. The five daughters of Zelophehad dared to ask for an inheritance they felt was rightly theirs....
HIGH LEVEL REGIONAL POLITICAL GROUP ON DEEP SEA MINING LAUNCHEDJune 16, 2022
“As Pacific Leaders and custodians of this vast ocean, we are obliged to preserve the ocean for the sake of future generations and for all living and non-living...
BUILDING WOMEN’S CAPACITY FOR A MORE SUSTAINABLE FOOD SYSTEMMay 12, 2022
Agribusiness companies try to convince farmers to use chemical pesticides, claiming it makes the work easier and helps to produce higher yields. What they don’t...
DEBT AND BIODIVERSITYMay 12, 2022
According to the Third World Network, addressing debt is crucial to halting biodiversity loss. Longstanding economic pressures have been, and are, pushing...