In 2018 the People of God in Australia began preparing for their first Plenary Council since the Second Vatican Council. After delays due to the pandemic, the Australian Catholic Church gathered for the first Assembly of this Plenary Council in Adelaide, October 2021. A second assembly will be held in June 2022.
“It’s the first time really, the first time, in Australian church history that there has ever been an effort to listen to anybody else but official voices. And that means those participating have to learn a whole lot of new skills and aptitudes to be able to make the thing work,” La Civiltà Cattolica, English publisher Fr Michael Kelly says.
In this podcast, Fr Kelly interviews Geraldine Doogue, one of Australia’s most respected journalists, about the Council and its processes. Geraldine works for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation presenting Saturday Extra for ABC Radio National and Compass for ABC TV. She is one of the most experienced people in Australian media.
An informed and searching Catholic, she has followed the recent, landmark Australian Plenary Council meetings to understand the way these have and will contribute to the growth of the Church she loves.
“There are groups trying to derail this but I think there’s a broad bulk of middlebrow Catholics who are members, who are determined that it be a genuine process,” Doogue says.
But with such opposition could that process be a Pandora’s Box?
“Episodic and systematic, and you might be inclined to say, ‘oh, dear, how mediocre’. But by the same token, that process… is forcing people to talk to each other,” Doogue believes.
Together, Michael and Geraldine follow the evolution of the Synodal approach in Australia.
“Most of the effective work of the Australian church is done through ministries, schools, hospitals, welfare institutions, which are run by lay people. So that’s only going to get more so and become much more significant as time unfolds,” Kelly says.