WelCom August 2022
Cardinal John Dew attended the Fifth Plenary Council of the Church in Australia as one of its Observers. The Council was held in July (3–9).
A Plenary Council is the highest form of gathering for a local Church to discern what God is asking of Catholics.
Cardinal John said the Australian Church had prepared the Plenary Council over a long time and consulted many thousands of people all over Australia.
‘I was very impressed at how they adapted the processes they already had in place when Pope Francis asked the world to prepare for a Synod on Synodality. The prayerful discernment and listening processes were part of the way the Council operated.’
The Cardinal said the interest in Synodality was high. ‘I think people see that it gives great hope to the Church, in the sense that it is a way to enable all the People of God to have a voice.’
Cardinal John said Council members consisted of a very wide cross-section of the Church in Australia, ‘with a deep concern for the future for the Church and a genuine desire to create and build an inclusive Church, open to all, giving hope to all and especially to those who struggle in different ways.’
A notable event on the programme was the celebration of one of the Masses in the Ukrainian Rite, Cardinal John said.
‘The fact that the bishops of Australia enabled this to happen was a sign of real solidarity with the Ukrainian Bishop and Clergy who celebrated the Mass as a part of the Plenary Council. The Latin Rite priests and bishops and the other Eastern Rite Bishops concelebrated with the Ukrainian bishop.’
Those gathered for the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia are following in the footsteps of the early Christians, Cardinal John said at Mass on the Thursday evening, at St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney. The Cardinal was the homilist for Mass celebrated on the memorial of Blessed Peter To Rot, Papua New Guinea’s first Blessed.
In his homily, Cardinal Dew spoke about the faith and devotion to Blessed Peter, a lay catechist and martyr who suffered persecution during the Second World War.
In gathering as a Plenary Council, Cardinal Dew said the Members were taking their cue from the early Christian community, who ‘gathered under the leadership of the Holy Spirit’ and engaged with one another to discern ‘how they were to live faithful to the experience of Jesus’.