Update from Australia: Instrumentum Laboris – a major disappointment…

The Instrumentum Laboris (IL) or Working Document is the latest product of the Preparatory Stage for the 5th Plenary Council of the Catholic Church in Australia, convened to address the huge existential crisis facing the Church in this nation. The final document will be the Agenda. After that has been approved by the Holy See, the Council will be officially convoked with the 1st General Assembly scheduled for 3-10 October 2021.

The IL’s stated purpose is twofold: to provide an account of what emerged from the national consultations, and to invite the whole Church, especially the Plenary delegates[1], into a deeper discernment and listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit (n. 3).

However, measured against these aims the IL is a huge disappointment. Instead of setting out a clear, concise and coherent blueprint for reform, it is a ground plan for inertia.  A tedious, meandering document, it lacks theparrhesia – frankness, lucidity, and boldness – which Australian Catholics were entitled to expect of it.

So states the March Editorial in Catholics For Renewal. Link to article:


While John Warhurst writes: A Skeleton for the Plenary Council agenda in Eureka Street:



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  1. Pól Ó Duibhir says:

    Why is the title in Latin. Surely that is a bad start?

  2. Roy Donovan says:

    One of a number or criticisms put out about the Working Document is its very negative view of Australian secular society. Contrast this with Thomas Merton (rejected by the American Bishops) –

    “On March 18, 1958, Thomas Merton was running errands in downtown Louisville when he had an experience that would change his life and influence countless others. The spot is marked with a historical marker, the only one that I know of in the United States that marks a mystical experience”.

    Merton described it this way Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander:

    “In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness… This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud… I have the immense joy of being (human being) man, a member of a race in which God Himself/Herself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”
    (Roy took the liberty of putting in (human being) & Herself!)

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