New DPC Working Party welcomes input
Easter and Pentecost are the time to focus on new life and new opportunity. In Holy Week this year, Archbishop Prowse announced the formation of a Working Party to advise him on the formation of an Archdiocesan Pastoral Council. He is very open to a range of options about what this body would look like and how it would function. However, the Archbishop is insistent that the Council’s task is evangelisation – to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the Church and to the world.
This echoes Pope Francis’s call for the Church in the 21st century to be synodal. Synodality, is a way of being Church, the Holy Father teaches. It is a journey together in solidarity. It involves listening to each other while responding to the needs of those at the margins who are in need of a merciful field hospital. It is also about understanding our place within an integral ecology. These three elements: a synodal journey; a responsive field hospital; and, a commitment to integral ecology are central to Pope Francis’ sense of evangelisation. They are also central to the mission of the Church in the Archdiocese. They are about a movement from within the Church to the world.
The Archbishop is insistent that the Council’s task is evangelisation – to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the Church and to the world.
The Working Party comprising Fr Tony Percy, Alison Weeks, Brigid Cooney, Soomin Chung and Patrick McArdle has begun our work. We have read a number of historical, theological and canonical documents on diocesan pastoral councils. We are convinced that the time is ripe for a renewed pastoral council in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn. We believe that such a council must be synodal, building on our rich legacy but also reaching out to those in need.
In Canon Law, a diocesan pastoral council exists to investigate, consider, and propose practical conclusions about those things which pertain to pastoral works in the diocese (CIC 511). Its membership should be selected in such a way that they truly reflect the entire portion of the people of God which constitutes the diocese, with consideration given to the different areas of the diocese, social conditions and professions, and the role which they have in the apostolate whether individually or joined with others (CIC 512 §2).
At one level this is very clear – but questions arise about what these provisions mean in 2022 and beyond? What would such a council look like to reflect the people of the Archdiocese? How can such a body contribute to the evangelising mission of the Church here in Canberra Goulburn Archdiocese? How is activity in that mission responsive to the needs of the people of God in the disparate parts of the Archdiocese?
These are not simple questions with straightforward answers. We live in a geographically large Archdiocese comprised of diverse populations of people seeking to serve God as well as they can. How will a diocesan pastoral council both represent them and elevate the pastoral progress of each parish and each community? The Working Party is seeking to identify the ways in which a listening, synodal Council can also be an active body working to help the Archdiocese respond effectively to the pastoral needs of its people.
The Working Party has established an email address: firstname.lastname@example.org – we welcome any thoughts or ideas that any member of the Archdiocese has to assist us in our work.
In August we will submit a formal report to Archbishop Prowse which will then be the basis for a more formal consultation with the communities of the Archdiocese.