The Church in Melbourne has invited “all LGBTIQA+ Catholics, Christians and the broader LGBTIQA+ community, family, friends and supporters” to a “safe and inclusive” Plenary Council conversation this week. Source: The Australian.
The gathering will be held on Wednesday night, in partnership with the Andrews Government and Acceptance Melbourne, which describes itself as “open and affirming community” supporting “Catholics who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer”.
The meeting will be part of an ongoing national consultation process being undertaken by the Church across Australia, known as “Plenary Council 2020”.
Melbourne Auxiliary Bishop Mark Edwards, who will attend, said the gathering was “a bit sensitive” following recent disagreements over issues such as same-sex marriage. But he said contrary to concerns raised in some Church circles, Catholic teachings on morality were not up for grabs.
“Similar meetings have been held throughout the country, including in jails and in schools,” Bishop Edwards said.
He said the main role of Acceptance and the Victorian Government in the exercise was to encourage participants to attend. He said attendees would be divided into small groups, to discuss one main question: “What do you think God is asking of us at this time?”
Bishop Edwards said he would be interested to hear whether attendees felt well accepted in Church communities or “a bit marginalised”, at a time when Pope Francis was urging the Church “to reach out to all”. Discussions could also focus issues such as a greater role for women in the Church and religious education, he said.
More than 40,000 individuals and groups have made submissions or participated in the Plenary Council process so far, with submissions due to close on Ash Wednesday, March 6.
The three-year process would culminate in national Plenary Council meetings next year and in 2021, where delegates, including bishops, will vote on possible changes to church life and practices. The Church’s last Plenary Council in Australia was in 1937.