31 May 2019

Bishop Greg O'Kelly SJ June message

The Southern Cross June 2019


The time of Pentecost is upon us. ‘Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle within us the fire of your divine love’. It is a good word enkindle. It means to set something alight, to create a new reality, to produce light and warmth.

We have just completed the listening phase in preparation for the Plenary Council 2020.

An extraordinary number of more than 220,000 people were involved in the 17,400 submissions made in response to the question, ‘What does God want of us in Australia at this time?’ When one thinks of the challenges and disedifying episodes that have blighted the Church in recent times, it is remarkable and consoling to note the intense interest and love for the Church that prompts such large numbers to go to the trouble of communicating their thoughts to the bishops.

Some of the answers are not as broad as the question, and were more like what an individual thought might be a good idea for the Church. Some suggestions would be beyond the scope of the Plenary Council. For example, the request for women’s ordination. The Australian Church could not legislate for that, because we are part of the Universal Church, and cannot act separately from the whole Church. Other thoughts are stimulating, such as a renewal of sense of mission amongst all members of the Church, in acknowledgement of the vocation baptism gives us. There are also many stimulating suggestions concerning the governance of the Church and ways to change a clericalist culture which has all authority in the hands only of the ordained.

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