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Heartfelt plea for an inclusive Church


Young Adelaide Plenary Council member Maddy Forde has called on the Catholic Church to give greater consideration to the realities of people’s lives in a courageous ‘intervention’ at the first general assembly being held this week.

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Council members are able to be make brief verbal and/or written interventions on a particular topic each day at the virtual assembly.

Maddy, who is now based in Sydney as campus pastoral associate at the Australian Catholic University, addressed the 278 members on Wednesday morning.

Maddy Forde (left) during a SHC Old Collegians Cambodia immersion experience in January 2020.

The former Sacred Heart College student and youth minister said she acknowledged her privileged position but also recognised that she was “in a vulnerable position as a young female, speaking these words”.

“I don’t have a theological understanding or vocabulary, so I speak instead from a place of experience, where there is uncertainty and fear that the reality is not being accepted,” she said.

“The reality of increasing mental health rates, the reality of young people facing increased insecurity in all areas of their lives, the reality of climate change, the reality of the challenges our First Nations brothers and sisters encounter daily.

“We forget at the core of these realities are people.”

Maddy reflected on the people who made her feel welcomed within the Church, who fostered and supported her growth as a young woman with “love, care, compassion, and role modelling”.

They taught her that love was “the greatest gift we have to offer others”.

“I look at the people who made me feel safe, welcomed and gave me that ability to encounter the goodness of the faith, who have now left the Church,” she said.

“I still see in them, the goodness, and the love they offer to others, and I still see God and the love of God, outside of the church walls.

“It breaks my heart that the goodness they introduced me to, they no longer feel for themselves. But I understand because I feel the same tension.

“I witness a church guarding tradition and choosing to ignore the pain they have caused, and still cause.

“Words are not enough because our actions offer no learnings.”

Maddy said she refrained from using the word ‘Church’ because she felt it was so far from its core of love and inclusion.

“I have listened to young people within our community who say they don’t belong because of their gender and their age,” Maddy told the assembly.

“I have witnessed young people excluded, and their future taken away, because of who they love.

“Where, in this, is the unconditional love I grew up hearing about?

“What God do we show to young people in this? Are we really offering unconditional love, acceptance, and safety? Where is our focus? Who is at the centre?”

Maddy concluded by citing a Maori proverb:

He aha te mea nui o te ao

What is the most important thing in the world?

He tangata, he tangata, he tangata

It is the people, it is the people, it is the people.

Footnote: The Plenary Council interventions are delivered in confidence but Maddy gave permission for her address to be made public.

For more information on the Council visit



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