Plenary 2020: Listening Phase
In preparation for the Plenary Council 2020, it has been proposed that the period from Pentecost 2018 to Pentecost 2019 be a time of ‘listening’. The notion of listening is one promoted by Pope Francis. For example, in preparation for the upcoming Synod on young people the Pope has said, “We must listen to young people.”
It has been recommended that each diocese institute a Plenary Working Group to assist in the preparation for the Plenary Council, the major focus of which will be to advise the bishop on how to conduct this ‘listening’ process. The members of the working group will be announced shortly, followed by an announcement about the listening process.
The question posed to all members of the Church in preparation for the Plenary Council is: “What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?”
In preparation for this phase, it is important that we clarify the nature of this listening process. Firstly, the idea of listening is understood as a listening to the Holy Spirit. Thus our focus is on what God saying to the Church at this particular time? (Rev 2:7) Our starting point therefore needs to be prayer. I encourage all in the Archdiocese to place the future of the Church here in Tasmania and throughout Australia before the Lord and ask for God’s merciful guidance.
The Pope recommends that one of the important ways in which we can listen to the Spirit is by listening to one another. Hence, the listening phase will involve Catholics across the Archdiocese coming together to listen to one another in a desire to know the prompting of the Spirit in our midst.
The Pope teaches in his latest exhortation, Gaudete et exultate, that “listening entails obedience to the Gospel as the ultimate standard, but also to the Magisterium that guards it, as we seek to find in the Treasury of the Church whatever is most fruitful for the ‘today’ of salvation”. (GE 173) Thus, it is important to understand that the Plenary Council, as an ecclesial event, is a work of the Church conducted within the parameters of and faithful to the doctrine and discipline of the Church.
As we enter this important phase of preparation for the Plenary Council 2020 we are invited to prayerfully listen for what God may be saying to us at this time in order to advance the life and mission of the Church.
I invite all members of the Church here in Tasmania to participate in this listening process so that each person might make their own particular contribution to the future of the Church in Australia.
Archbishop Julian Porteous
May 20, 2018