Second assembly ends on high note
On the final full day of the Plenary Council, Members have celebrated the passage of almost all motions contained in the Motions and Amendments document that formed the second assembly’s agenda.
Eighteen of the 19 motions considered on Friday passed. All five motions in Part 4 of the document, entitled “Witnessing to the Equal Dignity of Women and Men”, passed decisively.
Earlier in the week, two motions in that section received simple majorities, but not the necessary two-thirds to achieve a qualified majority. They therefore did not pass.
Plenary Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB addressed the assembly on Wednesday after the motions did not pass, acknowledging it was a challenging moment for the Council.
“We are journeying together trying to find the way forward that God is opening for us. We must be ready to allow for God’s time to unfold for us,” he said.
“There is a long way for the Church to go in the understanding of the proper role of women in the life of the Church.
“The way we move forward to properly understand God’s plan in relation to women is important. As the People of God, we should understand that this moment is one of the calls of God to us.
“It is clear from the Plenary Council journey that the Church, the People of God, is committed to understanding the proper role of women.”
After overwhelming support was given for the Council to reconsider Part 4, a four-person writing group began work on preparing a new draft. That draft was published on Thursday evening, after all Members spent significant time discerning a path forward and providing feedback to the writing group.
Sr Melissa Dwyer FDCC and Professor Renee Kohler-Ryan, both Plenary Council Members, were part of that writing group.
Sr Melissa said the group “wanted to honour the diverse range of experience that we have experienced first-hand here during the Plenary assembly”.
“We acknowledge that it is not the beginning. Much work and much good work has been done for years by both women and men and yet we seek to highlight that there is much to be done on the journey ahead,” she said.
Professor Kohler-Ryan said the greatest challenge and responsibility was trying to do justice to such a diverse range of views expressed in discussion and written feedback.
“The wisdom of Christ’s Church, her Scripture and tradition, shines a path that actually places demands on all of us,” she said.
“Catholics are still to realise the ‘hour of woman’ that Paul VI spoke about at the close of the Second Vatican Council.
“As the drafting team has expressed: there is still much work to be done.”
Sr Maeve Heaney VDMF said at the end of the business of the second assembly that it had been “a tough week, but also a very graced one”.
“Tough, because we are all invested in this beautiful yet shadowed Church Jesus called us into, but we are so very diverse as well,” she said. “Graced, because we did not step back from the cross but stepped into it.
“I am hopeful it will mark a ‘before and after’ for the Church in Australia, but I also pray this will be so.”
The Council Members also passed a series of motions in Part 5, “Communion in Grace: Sacrament to the World”, and Part 6, “Formation and Leadership for Mission and Ministry”.
Among the motions in those parts of the document were ones related to the sacrament of penance, review of the ministry of preaching and the development of formation programs.
Additional motions passed on the implementation phase of the Plenary Council and on the closure of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia, which will take place tomorrow morning.
Information on all the motions and voting outcomes can be found on the Motions and Voting page of the Plenary Council website.
The closing Mass for the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia will be celebrated on Saturday morning at 10.30am at St Mary’s Cathedral. The Mass is open to the public and will be livestreamed at www.plenarycouncil.catholic.org.au