Plenary Matters S3: Wednesday 6th July

Plenary Matters S3: Wednesday 6th July

Looking at the future of the Catholic Church in Australia

Show notes

Well today, day 3, really drew out the latent tensions and challenges always inherent in this Plenary Council process, ones that could not be dodged for much longer. It is not entirely clear as I write, what the final vote will be on issues around men and women’s status in the Church. So this issue could hardly be more significant.

It would appear (I am choosing my words carefully because a lot is opaque) that neither the broader members (the Consultative voters) nor the Bishops (Deliberative voters) gave these moves the requisite majority today. It is possible that the final motion lumped together a range of strands which proved too much for various members, lay and ordained alike. Emotions tipped over apparently within the Assembly and must have raised alarm bells. Because all the scheduled debates have been moved and the whole group sent back for further ‘discernment’: in other words code for ‘re-draw the motions’. Go back and re-think seems to be the message. It’s the first real set of clashes around nuance, tone and theology to my eyes. Virginia Bourke, a prominent Melbourne lay-woman well-known in health and legal realms in Victoria, will bring us up to speed in the second part of today’s pod. She is a lawyer, chair of Mercy Health and St John Ambulance Victoria and just appointed as pro-chancellor of the Australian Catholic University.

My first guest is Christopher Lamb - the Rome correspondent for the vital London Tablet magazine. He has been brought out for a range of speaking duties including the Helder Camara Lecture in Melbourne next week and one at Parramatta Diocese last night, as guest of Bishop Vincent Leong. He outlines the hostility to Francis from particular quarters but thinks Francis is playing “the long game” of finally seeing Vatican Two put into practice. It’s fascinating.

Today’s discussions about women and men was a bit of a wake-up call for optimists like me.



Geraldine Doogue

Geraldine Doogue

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