The Plenary Council agenda

Good to see that the agenda for the Plenary Council has been published and is available here.

Without backing off from my critique of the Instrumentum Laboris, I think the agenda has some very positive elements.

It provides several opportunities for constructive input from a Cardijn perspective, e.g.

Q: “How might the Church in Australia meet the needs of the most vulnerable, go to the peripheries, be missionary in places that may be overlooked or left behind in contemporary Australia?”

A Cardijn response: young workers, workers, unemployed, etc.

Q: “How might we better form leaders for mission – adults, children and families, couples and single people?”

A Cardijn response: Through renewing and promoting the lay apostolate movements in line, e.g. in particular the YCW, YCS, etc.

Lay people and workers ignored

Having said this, it is still striking – not to say bewildering – that, while bishops, priests, religious are mentioned, the ONLY mention of 99.999% of the Church, i.e. “lay people” are only mentioned in relation a) to Church governance and b) in opposition to the “ordained.”

There is not a single reference to lay people in relation to their own specific mission of transforming life, communities and the world.

Similarly, while Indigenous/First Nations people, women/men are specifically and rightly mentioned, there is no reference to young people, workers, let alone young workers.

It appears to be assumed that the Catholic (school) education system will be the (exclusive) way to reach young people.

What would Cardijn, who never ceased repeating the story of how young workers became alienated from the Church almost as soon as they left school, think of this?

The kicker

But here is the kicker question: “How might the Church in Australia be better structured for mission, considering the parish, the diocese, religious orders, the PJPs and new communities?”

Why are the “new communities,” i.e. which are mainly the Charismatic communities, singled out for special mention?

Why are the long established LAY organisations and movements, including YCW, YCS, Vinnies, etc. ignored?

I had to look up what PJPs are, i.e. Public Juridic Persons, a very exclusive group of organisations mainly connected to the field of Catholic schools and Catholic health institutions. While these PJPs surely have a significant role into the future, it’s hard to see how and why they are identified as among the main avenues for the Australian Church’s mission into the 21st or indeed 22nd centuries.

Stefan Gigacz

REFERENCES

Australian Plenary Council Agenda

Association of Ministerial Public Juridical Persons

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