Wrap up Summary


  • Where do we go from here?
  • Act at parish level
  • Set up listening groups
  • Continue to push for equality for all
  • Obedience to Church hierarchial order often blinds our leaders to Christ's message of love and justice



  • ‘We’re all just sheep. We just want to be lead.’
  • We don’t have clear models of leadership
  • Some leadership will come from lay people
  • Pope’s statement on the Family. The church is not here to replace conscience. It is here to inform conscience.
  • We have to trust laity to exercise wisdom/conscience
  • Put structures in place in our local parishes
  • Expect to fail. Experimental. Try again
  • Pope: ‘God is not afraid of new things’. Remember: God is with us.



  • Church is running a commentary on life rather than providing advice on how to do life.
  • We alienate people
  • If we are low on energy it’s because we’ve touched the passion of what we believe
  • Prayer, contemplation is about the heart. Hearts speak to heart.
  • Doesn’t matter whether or not everyone believes in bodily resurrection etc.
  • What matters is the Gospel
  • One victim said: ‘Don’t you dare let us down again’
  • What matters is that we have a heart and that heart is respected
  • People run away from the church because their heart was not recognised
  • During the Royal Commission, the adults were allowed to come out
  • Church is still acting out of old understanding. The wake has happened. You missed it!
  • We are not replicas of the Vatican
  • Biggest problem we’ve had to confront is fear of ourselves and what change can look like.
  • Don’t need to have one eye on Rome
  • Explore opportunities for real conversation
  • Try to harness agendas relevant to our daily life and hold people to account for that
  • Plenary Council 2020. There will be great cynicism. Only some can vote. We must insist on being active participants. We need to know the ‘how’ and the ‘what’ will go to the vote. Otherwise we should insist the church does not waste our money.

Quotes from feedback

I wish I could say I was more confident about the future of the church, but I’m worried that this is simply an interesting forum that happened…. I hope this leads to something more.

I worry that change will only be structural change and not about the way we see ourselves as church.

Look out, not inwards. Inclusion, respect, kindness, humility.

We must be a prayerful church.

It is hard to be a Catholic at times in the current environment, but tonight has reinforced the importance of my faith to me, and my faith in other people. If we don’t push hard for reform, our church will continue to wither.

For me as a Christian woman, the main issue is the role or lack of it of women in the church. I occasionally attend a Catholic Church but my spiritual ‘feeding’ presently comes from an Anglican Church with a woman priest.

The problem of bringing Christian accountability and collegiality in our broken church model is much complicated by the conservative trend in the remnant who have remained circling the wagon, and the few priests recruited in the last 20 years. The 2020 Council, and comparable local initiatives for renewal must therefore find means to represent the disaffected and create representative structures that are unprecedentedly inclusive.

The current church is nothing like the church Jesus established. I think Jesus would be horrified!... The Church is nearly dead, irrelevant and empty. Please let us help the church come alive again. Jesus included everyone. The Church needs to do the same. Change obedience for respect. Broaden the decision-making process.

Thank you for opening the windows tonight. There is a long way to go, but tonight is a start. Let us all act on our hopes, not our fears.

The Bishop’s crook is a metaphor of the present-day church. Instead of being a simple implement for the shepherd to rescue member of his flock, it is so complicated in its design that it could not cat or rescue anything!

My concern about the church is that to the young, at least, it has become irrelevant. The Vatican tells us what we can do with our ashes, but I have not heard any public statement from any Catholic cleric protesting about our treatment of refugees, our trashing of the environment and our pursuit of material things. Public honesty has ceased to exist. That is why our children don’t go to mass.

Thank you for making the evening so hopeful. Encouraging at many levels to hear the speakers and read the written contributions. The nadir of our church is the turning point that history is waiting for: Catholics lovingly educating our leaders in the Church and in doing so, sharing the new evangelisation effectively. In exposing the weakness of Humanae Vitae the renewed church will be taken seriously by people who work for justice and respect for the earth.

We came from Sydney after seeing a notice through ARC of which we are members. I learned that recovery and healing in the church is a long journey… There is no such initiative in our own Sydney parish or diocese which is painfully frustrating. We are all at a different stage of our own spiritual journey and an important focus needs to be on bringing most Catholics along on the journey.

Promote Christian marriage and families because this is the lifeblood of the church….. The current proposals are divisive and lack solidarity with the mainstream church and its bishops.

Summary of responses 

Sixty five people provided written feedback on the night. There was cautious optimism from many, with a clear call for action. Many people are keen to see more forums and discussions, including at parish level. One or two challenged the need for change. Most people are are optimistic about renewal. Many are sad their children no longer participate in the Church.

Comments relate to

  • Cultural and structural Issues
  • Archdiocese
  • Future Forums
  • Reform

Cultural issues include

  • Clericalism, priests set apart, unapproachable
  • Needs to be more loving, humane and connected to its people.
  • More heart
  • Need to access wisdom and love of catholic leaders, men and women.
  • Support Fr Peter Day’s views on humility and service
  • Bishops should start local reform without having to refer to Rome
  • Loosen the ties with Rome to give the Australian Church greater autonomy
  • Current structure is burdensome and prevents individual churches from responding to local need
  • Cultural difficulties with overseas trained priests
  • Training and evaluation of priests
  • In-service is essential in most professions
  • Put God, Jesus, Holy Spirit back into the church, not just power and men out of touch
  • Train priests in universities, not seminaries
  • Administration by the laity, under a CEO.       

Comments relating to the Archdiocese

  • Archbishop could become an example of positive change
  • Wonderful to have the Archbishop here
  • Irrelevant for Commission of Women to be included with family and youth
  • Seek discussion in local parishes

Future forums

  • Include prayer
  • Include liturgy


  • Get on with it. Stop saying it will take a long time
  • Schools should be agents for change, engage young.
  • Stop attending mass. Stop giving money until reform is taken seriously.
  • Stop amalgamating parishes
  • Engage married priests
  • Discuss having women priests
  • More women in decision making roles