Sydney (Agenzia Fides) - "What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?" This is the central question, proposed by the National Centre for Pastoral Research of the Australian Catholic Church. The Council recently published the final report of the "Listening and Dialogue" phase, in preparation for the event scheduled for 2020: this is the "Plenary Council", defined by the organizers as "the highest form of meeting of the local Australian Churches since 1937", a moment of dialogue and reflection on the future of the Catholic Church in Australia, which will take place in Adelaide from 4 to 11 October 2020.
As reported in a note sent to Agenzia Fides by the Bishops’ Conference of Australian Bishops, in its 314 pages, more than 222,000 people voiced their views as the Plenary Council Facilitation Team received 17,457 submissions from individuals and groups from May 2018 to March 2019.
The report also describes how the process of "listening and dialogue" occurred, what were the questions asked and the methodology of research used. "In the first phase of our journey, this listening has produced an extraordinary treasure of ideas and proposals which represents the heartfelt response of many people. The great challenge ahead of us now is to “catch” the voice of the Holy Spirit within the passionate, hopeful, but sometimes contradictory voices of God’s people", said the Archbishop of Perth, Timothy Costelloe, president of the Plenary Council.
Trudy Dantis, Director of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference National Centre for Pastoral Research, commented on the initiative: "For the bishops to invite the people of God in Australia to respond to such a broad question was a courageous move and the response was overwhelming. We could not have predicted the number of voices from which we would hear, but we were able to use high-level research and analysis tools to understand the threads and topics on which people spoke".
After the first phase, the Australian Church is preparing to live the second phase of the journey towards the Council, defined as "Listening and Discernment", which should begin in August: after this period of discernment, the agenda of the Plenary Council will begin. (LF) (Agenzia Fides 6/8/2019)