Working document next steps on plenary council journey

Media Release: Working document next steps on plenary council journey

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Media Enquiries: Gavin Abraham, Australian Catholic Bishop Conference, 0408 825 788,

The working document – or instrumentum laboris – for the Plenary Council will provide a constant reminder of the need for deep and ongoing discernment of God’s will for the Church, the Council’s president has said. Work recently began on the development of the instrumentum laboris, with the document drawing heavily on the first two preparatory phases of the Council journey: Listening and Dialogue and Listening and Discernment.
The voices of more than 220,000 people across the country, as well as discernment and writing papers on each of the six National Themes for Discernment, are being considered alongside Church teaching, Scripture, papal documents and a range of other sources – within and beyond the Church – in preparing the instrumentum laboris.
Plenary Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB pointed to a national review of parish and diocesan governance, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the COVID-19 pandemic as some of those sources. “It is the task of the instrumentum laboris to give voice to all these elements of our individual and communal experience, and deepen the process of bringing them into dialogue with the Gospel and the Church’s living tradition,” said Archbishop Costelloe.
Archbishop Costelloe is joined on the instrumentum laboris writing team by Daniel Ang, who has served on the Plenary Council’s executive committee since 2016; Trudy Dantis, the director of the National Centre for Pastoral Research; and Fr Kevin Lenehan, the master of the Catholic Theological College in Melbourne. Dr Dantis, whose centre was responsible for the collation and summation of more than 17,000 submissions during the opening stage of the Council, said the instrumentum laboris carries forward the voices heard in that period. “The joys and hopes, questions and challenges that have been shared during this phase and through the writing of thematic papers form the basis for the continued process of reflection and discernment,” she said.
“They continue to be a crucial element of the path of synodality as we work towards the ongoing mission of the Church in Australia and for the proclamation of Christ to the world.”
She said the document the writing group produces will discuss “the pastoral realities and issues essential to the faith and life of the Church in Australia and synthesise them with inspirations from the Gospels and the teachings of the Church”.
Mr Ang, who has worked in evangelisation for several years and held leadership roles across multiple dioceses, said the preparation of the instrumentum laboris is “one part of a Plenary Council journey that will stretch well beyond our group’s work together, to engage other voices”.
“I hope that our work will provide a faith-filled platform from which conversation among the delegates at the Council can spring,” he said.