With only one week to go before the start of the first Assembly of the fifth Plenary Council in Australia (3-10 October). Archbishop Peter A Comensoli asks the community to pray for him and other Plenary members who are preparing for this momentous occasion. The Archbishop also gives an update on the work that faith leaders in Victoria are undertaking with Government to safely open up churches in the coming months.
Hello friends. I'm recording this exactly one week prior to the beginning of the first Assembly of the Plenary Council that is being held in Australia, in our local Church. As you know, the planning for the Plenary Council has been going on for a number of years now. Most recently, two years of our listening and dialogue, especially with all of our local communities throughout Melbourne and throughout Australia of course, which led to the development of a working document (Instrumentum Laboris) for picking up the themes and the agenda that was revealed in all those listening and dialogue sessions. And so we now come to the point where the members of the Plenary Council will gather for the first time in the first Assembly, starting next Sunday. And so, the Assembly will go for the whole week and it will involve… sadly it will be on Zoom, not the ideal way but nonetheless, the Holy Spirit can work in all sorts of environments and it's not confined by time and place and so on...
And so I just wanted to remind us that this point is arriving. And to just ask for your prayer that you might pray that the Holy Spirit may come into the hearts and minds of the members of the Plenary Council, over 300 who are the members, and that in your prayer the Spirit of the Lord may come to the Members … a prayer that also opens us, who are Members, to freely receive what the Lord wishes for our Church at this time in our history. So, your prayers would be most gratefully received. And in offering those prayers may it also be something of an opening of yourself to the movement of the Spirit in your life and in your family.
Also I would like today to just acknowledge the ongoing struggle that each of us here in Melbourne are going through at this time; the distressing nature of our grappling with the pandemic is revealed sadly in the protests that have emerged in our city over recent days. It is quite understandable that people are distressed and wishing to find ways in which to give expression to that. But let us also do so in ways that are looking towards the good of one another—always to look to the good of one another. In the end, Jesus Christ gave himself for the good of everyone else, for the entirety of the world. And may that be also therefore a model which we might also act and look to deal with the problem, the difficulties and struggles that we have, but also in ways that are leading towards the freedom and the good and the protection of our neighbours, our family, and so on.
I am working with some of the other church leaders here in the city, to ensure that in due course our churches may be open not only for the vaccinated, but also for those who cannot be vaccinated or, for whatever reason, have chosen that now is not the time for them to be vaccinated. And in trying to do this, we are working with the Government and with the health authorities to enable our churches, and for other people of faith – mosques, synagogues, temples and so on. That all those of faith might be able to practice their faith, and that they might also be able to do so with the whole of their community and not separated out into different parts. That will take a few steps to get to but we will continue to work with Government and with health authorities to bring that about. May we all come together in due course, as we make our roadmap out of this pandemic.
My prayers go with you... I ask for your prayers for me, and especially your prayers for those participating in the first session of the Plenary Council.
—Archbishop Peter A Comensoli
Fiona Basile24 January 2023
Melbourne Catholic18 January 2023