Why aren’t lay and other ecclesial groups and communities represented?

In this post, I’ll just take a look at the representation of lay and other ecclesial groups, communities, movements, etc at the Plenary and compare it to the representation of religious institutes.

The 275 members, formerly known as delegates, are listed here:

As one would expect, every diocese has a delegation comprising the local bishop(s), other diocesan officials and usually several lay people.

So too are the various Eastern Church dioceses and eparchies, including the Melkites, Chaldeans, Maronites, Syro-Malabars and Ukrainians.

In addition, the personal prelature of Opus Dei has a representative, as does the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross and the Military Ordinariate.

Finally, several “Catholic Ministries” are represented:

  • National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC) has 3 representatives
  • The Association of Ministerial Personal Juridical Persons: 1
  • Catholic Health Australia: 1
  • Catholic Social Services Association: 1
  • National Catholic Education Commission: 1
  • St Vincent De Paul: 1

These are the large scale Catholic service institutions, the only one of which has a grassroots membership being Vinnies.

Finally, it seems that every Religious Institute has a representative.

All well and good. I don’t think anyone would argue that any of these groups should not be represented.

But surely there is a great absence here?

Where are the lay movements and other ecclesial communities, ranging from the Catholic Women’s League, to the Legion of Mary, the YCW and YCS, not to mention more recent communities including Focolare, the variety of Charismatic groups, Christian Life groups and the like?

Why are these groups not represented? 

Some may answer that they are in fact represented through the various diocesan members. This may be so but there’s no indication of it on the Plenary website.

And when one notes that every religious institute is represented, including some at least that are not particularly numerous, the absence of representation of lay and other ecclesial groups and communities appears even more striking.

Nearly 60 years after Vatican II, this is surely an astonishing and grave oversight.

In fact, this is almost worse than the way things were at the beginning of Vatican II. I’ll write another post about that soon.

Stefan Gigacz


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