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Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, Australia Lisa Bourne/LifeSite
Paul Smeaton

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Australian archbishop silent on proposed ‘rite of blessing’ for same-sex, divorced, remarried couples

Paul Smeaton

BRISBANE, Australia, October 16, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) -- An event hosted by the Catholic archdiocese of Brisbane has proposed a “rite of blessing” for same-sex couples and for the divorced and remarried. 

The proposal was made on large screens at the Brisbane Assembly, a two-day event organized by the archdiocese. Archbishop Mark Coleridge, primate of the Brisbane archdiocese, was seated in the front row immediately underneath the screens when the proposal was displayed.

Shortly afterward, Archbishop Coleridge gave his concluding speech for the event in which he asked the audience of approximately 400 people, “So brothers and sisters, sisters and brothers, I ask you, are you ready to surrender? Are you open to being transformed? Are you willing to let God reshape you? Are we as a Church, as a diocese, willing to let God reshape us?”

The event was being held in preparation for the 2020 Australian Plenary Council.

A plenary council is the highest formal gathering of the Catholic Church in a particular country. The last one held in Australia was in 1937. Decisions made by the Plenary Council must be approved by Rome, but if approved they will be binding on the Church in Australia. 

At the beginning of the two-day event in Brisbane, Fr. Noel Conolly, a Catholic priest and member of the Plenary Council Facilitation Team, gave a presentation calling for major reform in the Church. Fr. Conolly said, “We're in the birth pangs of a new church in Australia. A listening church, a discerning church, a pilgrim church. It won't be the same church, I hope, after the plenary council. Well, hopefully, it’ll be the same church, but it will have a totally different kind of culture.”

Archbishop Coleridge stressed during his opening speech that the Brisbane event was a genuine part of the plenary council “journey.” Regarding the upcoming council, he said “a plenary council is called plenary because it is a journey of the whole Church.”

Speaking about the event in Brisbane specifically, he said, “It’s not a journey to the plenary council, we are on the journey of the plenary council.” He noted that the council had three stages – preparation, celebration and implementation – and that the event in Brisbane was a part of the preparation stage.

In Archbishop Coleridge’s concluding speech, he asked that those present make a “commitment” expressing their support and faith in the plenary council journey, urging them “to do so now in the light of all that we have been given, and all that we have experienced through this day and a half.” This “commitment” began with the words “In the presence of the living God, Father, and Holy Spirit, I believe that the Spirit is moving among us now, that the Plenary Council is the Spirit’s gift, that this assembly is the Spirit’s work.”

Since the event, Archbishop Coleridge has offered no clarification or reassurance to Catholic faithful that no such liturgy will be developed at the upcoming council. He has, however, found time to post pictures of baby elephants to his Twitter page, as well as to use the popular social media platform to express his desire to run outside and stand in the rain and to comment on the complexion of Prince Charles during the recent Queen’s speech in England.

In his opening address to the Brisbane Assembly, Archbishop Coleridge said, “The question at the heart of this journey, the question that we seek to address in listening to God here in these next two days, is what is the future of the Catholic Church in this country?”

Given the events of the Brisbane Assembly and the failure of Archbishop Coleridge to assure the Catholic faithful that no “rite of blessing” for those in immoral unions will be developed in Australia, many faithful Catholics in Australia and around the world will be asking themselves the same question.

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