Plenary Prayer Campaign – 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Plenary Document Reflection

Instrumentum Laboris

93. At the turn of the millennium, Pope John Paul II spoke prophetically of the Church’s need for an “examination of conscience”[1] and for acts of repentance in the light of historical failures by Church members to live according to way of the Gospel. The starting point for a renewed mission must be a communal “purification of memory” and a request for forgiveness from those injured or alienated by the words, attitudes and actions of Church members.33 As the Second Vatican Council put it: “the Church is not blind to the large gap which exists between the message which it delivers and the human frailty of those who are entrusted with the Gospel”. [2]

106.  It is particularly in relation to the desire for a Church that heals wounds and warms hearts, that we are confronted with the tragic history of sexual abuse of minors within the Church. The shame, disillusionment and anger of so many members of the Church was evident in the submissions to the Council. The damage inflicted on those who have suffered this abuse continues to impact on their physical, emotional, social and spiritual wellbeing. This suffering extends beyond the survivors to their families and friends, to the wider community of the Church, and to our society. Because of this, the healing of survivors—which needs to be our first priority— must be accompanied by our mutual care and support for each other.

107.  The Church emerges as a “wounded healer”,[3] both as the sacrament of Christ’s presence and as an imperfect pilgrim people who are called to conversion. Acknowledging that the Church is composed of saints and sinners, we look to the Lord who alone can give us the grace of healing and reconciliation that so many seek today.

164.  Australian Catholics are deeply aware of their own limitations and failings in witnessing to the kingdom of Christ in the world. The Gospel of God’s saving love is a great treasure, yet “we hold this treasure in clay pots” (2 Cor 4:7). In many ways, the Church itself is deeply wounded and in need of the healing love of its Lord. We will only find this healing by going out to others.

165. Central to this Gospel-inspired mission of healing and mercy is the commitment of the Church at all levels to developing ‘a culture of listening and dialogue’ among Church members and with those beyond the Church.[4] As the risen Jesus listened attentively to the grieving disciples on the  road to Emmaus before revealing himself more deeply to them “in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24: 13-32), so the Church must learn to listen more closely to the stories of people on their journey. Creating pastoral encounters with people and accompanying them as they reflect on their experiences and seek to respond to life’s challenges, is the way to a deeper encounter with the Lord’s presence and with the power of the Gospel.

Reflection Question

How can the Church become a sign and instrument of the ‘ecological conversion’ called for by the teaching of recent Popes and by the sensus fidei of Catholics around the world?

Univeral Prayer Petition

For the Plenary Council Assemblies of 2021 and 2022: may the Assemblies to be held this year and next year renew the Church and make it more humble, more hopeful and more beautiful.
(Pause for silent prayer)
Lord, hear us.

Reflection

Australian Catholics are deeply aware of their own limitations and failings in witnessing to the kingdom of Christ in the world… In many ways, the Church itself is deeply wounded and in need of the healing love of its Lord.

[1] John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, n.6. 33 John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, n.6.
[2] Vatican Council II, Gaudium et Spes, n. 43.
[3] Henri J. M. Nouwen; The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society (New York: Images Books/Doubleday 1979).
[4] Plenary Council Thematic Discernment Papers, “Humble, Healing & Merciful”, 16; “Missionary & Evangelising”, 19.