Church is living and working with the poor

National President of the St Vincent de Paul Society, Claire Victory, said last night that the historic Plenary Council process is one opportunity for urgently needed cultural and systemic change identified not just by the recent royal commission, but by faithful lay Catholics for decades.

Speaking as she co-launched A Church for All – A Guide to the Plenary Council and Beyond, Ms Victory, who is a Member of the Plenary Council, said that to transform itself, the Church must strive to be more representative of the entire community it seeks to serve.

She shared a vision of a church which is welcoming, inclusive and representative; a church with an emphasis on living and working with the poor.

Reflecting on her childhood experiences of church and her commitment to Vinnies, she acknowledged the need for greater inclusion and an urgent recasting of church leadership and governance at every level of the Church in Australia.

“In many parts of the country, the inclusive circumstances which nurtured and inspired me as a child were clouded by the impact of misguided clericalism, the abuse of power and of the sanctity of the institution above all else as many sought to return the church to a bygone era,” Ms Victory said.

“The Royal Commission laid bare the tragic results.

“This book is an inspiring record of two national meetings, attended by thousands, hosted by the Australasian Catholic Coalition for Church Reform in the lead up to the Plenary Council.

‘It presents transcripts from convocation speakers including Joan Chittister, Robert Fitzgerald, Debra Zanella, and John Warhurst who each articulate a yearning for a different way of being church in the 21st century.

“This little book is dense with wisdom and insight, with brave and prophetic statements and observations. I encourage everyone engaged with the upcoming Plenary Council to read this book as they prepare to participate in this historic meeting,’ Ms Victory said.

A copy of Claire Victory’s speech is available here. A video, including presentations from Claire Victory, Francis Sullivan, and John Warhurst is available here.

The book is available from Garratt Publishing.

The St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia consists of 60,000 members and volunteers who operate on the ground through over 1,000 groups located in local communities across the country.

MEDIA NOTES: The St Vincent de Paul Society was founded in Paris, France in 1833 by a 20-year old Italian student, Frederic Ozanam. Today, the Society operates in 153 countries and has over 800,000 members. Australia has over 60,000 members, dedicated to assisting people in need and combating social injustice. The Society started in Tasmania in 1899 when founders established a Conference in Launceston. From humble beginnings, the Society has grown to 25 Conferences within three Regional Councils across Tasmania. Each Conference undertake a variety of good works, the most recognised being the traditional Vincentian home visits and the annual CEO Sleep-out to draw attention to homelessness.

Media contact, Mark Wells: +61 414 015 966 (24-hours)
© St Vincent de Paul Society and MWPA.

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