The Members of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia were urged to “cling to the cross” and “ask the Holy Spirit to help us” as they commenced the Council’s second assembly on Sunday evening.
The Council brings together Catholics of many different backgrounds, seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit to discern what God is asking of the Church in Australia.
At the end of the Assembly, Australia’s bishops will vote on any future directions for the Church in our country.
The opening Mass began with a heartfelt Welcome to Country ceremony that included an apology to First Nations peoples on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday.
In his homily for the Mass, Wilcannia-Forbes Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green OSPPE referred to the Aboriginal crosses provided to members. Holding up his own cross, he said it was a reminder “that we need to cling to the cross and ask the Holy Spirit to help us understand the role of the cross as the reason for our joy and our hope, that we can rejoice in the midst of maybe our tiredness”.
“It’s the antidote to the tiredness,” he said, after comparing the exile and struggles of the Israelites in the Mass’ first reading to the challenges facing the Church today.
He suggested that perhaps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people understand this tiredness “in a way that most of us couldn’t”.
“There are a lot of people in the Church today who feel tired too,” he said.
“There have been profound changes they’ve seen in the Church and in society. Our Plenary Council could be, like the prophet Isaiah, a prophetic voice that communicates through the Church comfort, hope and encouragement to a tired people.”
This Second Assembly will continue until Saturday 9 July. Masses and sessions will be live-streamed each day and people are invited to send messages of prayer, hope and support to the members gathering in Sydney.
For more information or to find the live streaming schedule please visit the ACBC Plenary Council website, www.plenarycouncil.catholic.org.au