Listening key for Plenary Council members
The Archdiocesan Women’s Taskforce continued its groundbreaking work on 11 July by convening a meeting with the local Plenary Council members to put forward the hopes of local women about the renewal of the Church. So far this year the Taskforce has meet with women in Goulburn, Young and Yass and has taken to heart their concerns about transparency and accountability at the parish level, parish councils working collaboratively and communities becoming more welcoming.
At this most recent meeting, four Plenary Council delegates spoke of their hopes for the Plenary Council. Brigid Cooney, currently studying to be a secondary teacher, is aware that this is the first time the Church has asked her to contribute, and she is keen to listen and to be heard. Archbishop Prowse reflected on how a new national agenda will bring an Australian face to the church and support the Archdiocese in moving forward on matters such as an Archdiocesan Pastoral Council. Fr John Woods reminded the group about the challenge of genuine listening and shared a tip about ‘not listening with your own answer running’. John Warhurst acknowledged that while he is unclear how much impact one person can have, he is keen to be a good citizen of the Church and will do his best to help the Church move forward.
In an atmosphere of openness, the members of the Taskforce were able to express their concerns, especially those of young women and their families about the changing nature of society and therefore of the church and its role in society. The position and role of women and their inclusion within the governance of the church was highlighted as was the need for a more inclusive language in all church liturgies and documents. The Church’s failure to publicly condemn against violence against women was underscored.
Plenary Council members and the Taskforce shared their disappointment that women’s role in the Church, while the subject of many submissions, is not part of the formal agenda for the Plenary Council. Similarly, all agreed that great opportunities currently exist for lay women and men within the Church when complementary gifts are acknowledged and when welcome rather that sanction is exercised.
Archbishop Prowse, considering the approaching Feast of Mary Magdalene on 22 July, urged all present to follow Mary’s lead in proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus to a world in need of hope. The Taskforce plans to celebrate women’s ministry and to promote a greater understanding of Mary Magdalene by holding a dinner on 3 September at the Woden Southern Cross Club. All are welcome.