Plenary Push for Paganism

This was send to me by a reader and shows what’s behind the paywall of The Australian.

Catholics could soon be acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which their churches, schools and parishes stand, before Mass and meetings.

The recommendation is contained in a set of proposals to the Church’s Plenary Council, to be voted on at an assembly of bishops and others later this year.

The draft document also calls for greater decision-making roles for women in the church, and considering women for ministry as deacons should Pope Francis authorise such a change.

Since 2020, a study commission set up by the Vatican has been reviewing the possibility of a female diaconate. The proposal to the Australian Plenary Council also says the Church should “remunerate more appropriately those women already leading and serving’’.

The draft document, which will be controversial among many Mass-goers, is in line with parts of the Greens/teals agenda. It emphasises “the urgency of environmental degradation and climate change and the call of recent popes for an ‘ecological conversion’ and development of an integral ecology of life’’.

In line with other faiths, as reported on Friday’s front page, the proposal “endorses the Uluru Statement from the Heart’’.

The draft document, given to The Australian, will be circulated within the church hierarchy on Monday.

It was written by theologian Dr Elissa Roper, a specialist in Synodality, and others, as part of a two-year consultation process involving two Plenary Councils assemblies and widespread consultation across the church. The process drew 17,457 submissions from individuals and groups, representing more than 222,000 people.

The first Assembly was held mainly online in October last year due to Covid-19. The second, at which binding decisions will be made, will be held in Sydney in July.

As part of the process, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council, made a submission “in the hope that the Catholic Church in Australia will more resemble the Church that Jesus Christ wants her to be in relation to Australia’s First Peoples”.

NATSICC recommended that “the traditional custodians of the land on which the church, school, parish or organisation stands be acknowledged in a prominent and appropriate manner. Verbal acknowledgment prior to meetings and Mass is also encouraged’’. It also noted that “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander spirituality contains symbols and rituals, that when used appropriately in Catholic liturgical contexts, enrich our celebrations and facilitate a welcoming environment for Indigenous Peoples.’’

The overall proposal urges the Plenary Council to joyfully accept NATSICC’s recommendations. The Plenary Council, it says, should say “sorry to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in and beyond the Church for the part played by the church in the harms they have suffered’’ and commit “to continuing to work towards recognition and reconciliation’’.

The Catholic Church in Australia, it said, had been caught up in Indigenous People’s history of dispossession, Stolen Generations, the undermining of language and culture, and racism.

The document also tackles controversial issues surrounding marriage and gay and transgender rights. During the first Assembly, it said, “the entire Council devoted its time to thinking of and praying for people who have experienced marginalisation within the Church, including Indigenous peoples, women, those divorced, those who identify as LGBTIQA+, and those who have suffered abuse of any form’’.

In a society that sees the Catholic understanding of marriage as “outdated and irrelevant”, it calls for an “urgent and clear need for a renewed catechesis on marriage”.

At the same time, “there is a great pastoral need to care for all those called to marriage, and for those who struggle to accept the church’s teachings about the nuptial sacrament. The sacrament of marriage is at the heart of how the church understands the sanctity of human life, from conception until natural death’’.

———–Tess Livingstone in The Australian

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