The People Speak Out

Local voices connecting globally

This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.  (Pope Francis)

Canon Law 212 calls upon the laity to speak up:

2 - The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

§3. - According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

What do we think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?

I think God is speaking to the whole world, not just Australia, and saying it is time to have a WHOLE church – a church that does not discriminate and does not exclude. A church that shows it knows that each human being, both male and female, are made in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:27) and that there is “no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28)

Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge says a “change in culture in the Church is needed” and “part of the culture shift we’re trying to bring about is to break the hold of that clericalism.” He also says that “obviously lay people need to take on responsibilities that are new in the Catholic church.” ( )

While these quotes are in connection to preventing child abuse, I believe it is time for the whole culture of the church to change. The Roman Catholic church could use this moment in time to turn its wisdom of changing its culture to become world leaders in equality and inclusiveness. It could be saying to the world that it recognizes the Church has to change if there is any chance of being a WHOLE church.  The knowledge that every part of creation is connected tells us that if one part is denied wholeness, then it follows that all parts suffer the same fate.

Fr Richard Rohr ofm, with a group of Christian leaders in the USA, says it beautifully –

We believe we are one body.  In Christ, there is to be no oppression based on race, gender, identity, or class (Gal 3:28).  The body of Christ, where those great human divisions are to be overcome, is meant to be an example for the rest of society.  When we fail to overcome these oppressive obstacles, and even perpetuate them, we have failed in our vocation to the world – to proclaim and live the reconciling gospel of Christ. ( )

For this culture change to be genuine, I believe that God would want the following –

  • Women to be given their rightful place beside men, as equals, to answer the call to priesthood. If man and woman are going to contribute to the healing and wholeness of our Church, we have to start dancing together, where we “step forward and back, twirl and bring out the best in each other” (Andrew Hamilton, Pope’s lessons in boldness for Australian politicians. Published in Eureka Street 10 July 2013. Source
  • For seminarians and those discerning their call to the priesthood to be encouraged to meet with female spiritual directors in order to gain a wider perspective. This I believe, would help break the hold of that clericalism that Archbishop Coleridge referred to and would encourage those trained in spiritual direction to answer the Archbishop’s call to take on responsibilities that are new in the Catholic church.
    At the moment in the Archdiocese of Brisbane, according to Canon Law, seminarians are only permitted to see priests for spiritual direction.
  • That all people are welcome at the Table of the Lord. The Eucharist should not be a prize for those who follow the rules but a table of nourishment for us all.
  • The Third Rite of Reconciliation was a wonderful life-giving celebration of communal forgiveness and churches were packed when these ceremonies were offered. Since this Rite has been discontinued the sacrament has lost that feeling of community connection which in turn has impacted on the attendance at reconciliation.
  • That LGBTQI people are not labelled with derogatory terms, such as ‘disordered’ and that they too are welcome at the Eucharistic table.

What questions do you have about the future of the Church for the Plenary Council to consider in 2020?

Are you genuinely wanting culture change in the Church?

Are you, as the listening Church, ready to make major changes….not cosmetic changes?

Do you want to be part of a WHOLE Church?

Do you have a story of your experience of faith, or the Church you would like to share?

While I have never had the call to the priesthood, I have never understood how the church can exclude those women who do have the call and are prevented from answering that call. That goes against all I know about Jesus and what scripture says about all being equal. Up until the age of 55 I would never miss Mass on Sunday and now I struggle to go as I long for a WHOLE church and what I hear from the pulpit does not match that longing.

I hear from the pulpit that it is everyone’s responsibility to spread the word of God’s Kingdom and yet when I asked those parishes to advertise retreat days that I was running, these same parishes, except for three out of eight, did not even respond to my email and never advertised the retreat days. 

I believe we all have a piece of the universal puzzle and if we are not encouraged to answer our call, the Catholic Church, and indeed the whole world will be the poorer for it.

I pray that the call of the Holy Spirit will be heeded at this time.

Peace and blessings to all involved in the Plenary Council 2020.

Yes, I would like the Plenary Council team to contact me about sharing more details of my story. My contact details are:

Carolyn Doherty (Mrs)

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

0416 268 316