Plenary Council           Plenary Council Website

 

The last Plenary Council held was in 1937… 81 years ago. Times have changed, let’s move forward together.

The Plenary Council is upon us all.

What is a Plenary Council? Why a Plenary Council?
A Plenary Council is a formal meeting of the bishops and other representatives of all the dioceses and eparchies of the Catholic Church in Australia. Its purpose is to discern what God is asking of us in Australia at this present time. While the church should be asking that question continually, a Plenary Council is a particularly graced instrument for seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance. And it has the authority to make church laws on the results of its discernment.
Although in the end it will be the bishops who will vote on any future directions for the church in Australia, they will be making those decisions in the light of a long listening to the Holy Spirit speaking through the voices of any of the faithful who wish to speak around Australia. This makes the Plenary Council 2021/22 different from the last one in 1937. Everyone has a chance to participate and to express whatever the Spirit is saying to them in their heart.
Vatican II spoke of how God, who spoke in the past, “continues to converse” with the church (Dei Verbum, 8). Through our Plenary Council 2020, the Catholic Church hopes to enter more intensely into that divine-human dialogue.
source: https://plenarycouncil.catholic.org.au/pages/about-us/theology/

Submissions were accepted until Ash Wednesday, March 2019 and have now closed.

Please read the final submission from St Kevin’s Parish in Templestowe. 

1st June 2020

Discernment Papers Released

Six Discernment and Writing Groups, one each for the six national themes for discernment that emerged from the Council’s Listening and Dialogue phase, were tasked with writing papers to bring some major themes and issues into focus.
“The papers are the fruits of communal discernment. The aim of the discernment process was to draw upon the lived faith and experiences of more than 220,000 Australians, the living tradition of the Church, sacred Scripture, papal teachings and additional insights from outside the Church,” said Archbishop Costelloe, the Plenary Council president.
Each paper provides a reflection on some elements of the relevant pastoral reality, articulates a theological vision, outlines a number of challenges to be overcome, suggests prioritised questions to be answered and develops some proposals for change.
They will be foundational to the next stage of discernment toward the Plenary Council – the development of the working paper, or Instrumentum Laboris – and ultimately the agenda for the Council assemblies.
 
 
Click each theme to read the released discernment paper
 

Have you seen it?

senseofthefaithful.org .au

Have you seen it?  A group of diverse Melbourne Catholics (including a St Kevin’s odd couple!) have established a challenging & interesting website.
Suggest you have a look. 
 
Whom do you think might be “the odd couple?”
“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. I do not want a Church concerned with being at the centre and which then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures.
— Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, paragraph 49.
News about the Plenary Council

• The launch of the Plenary Council encouraged 220,000 people to speak out on much needed change in our
   Church. While not everyone was in agreement, there was a considerable number calling for change in
   governance, male dominated clericalism, climate change, language in the liturgy to name just 4 areas.
• 26 Melbourne parishes (including St Kevin’s) came together and sent a joint statement to all the bishops
   and the executive of Catholic Religious Australia.
• The same group of parishes has established a website called “senseofthefaithful.org.au” to facilitate
   discussions between parishes all over Australia.

The current delay of the Plenary Council process for 12 months is both a blessing and a curse. It gives us more time to consider the written material that will be the basis of the Council discussions; however, there is some scepticism the delay will slow the momentum for change.

• We invite you to sign up to become a subscriber (no cost involved) to the Sense of the Faithful website;
   and to get involved in the conversations about the need for change in your Church.
 
And so we invite you to add your name as a subscriber at the bottom of the home page of the “senseofthefaithful.org.au” webpage, to receive the regular newsletter.
We hope you enjoy its content and that it inspires you to respond. See the link above.

Plenary Council 2021/22 journey – Phase 2 -Let’s Listen & Discern Workshops

Phase 2 is all about ACTION: Let us come together for our Church & make a difference.
 
Last year, as a Parish, we successfully came together and work shopped Phase 1 – “What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?” Australian wide submissions resulted in 6 themes; established as focus areas to encourage the Bishops to discuss and make decisions for the Catholic Church of Australia.
Now we have Phase 2 – “How is God calling us to be a Christ-centred Church in Australia that is…”  Writing groups have been established for each of the 6 themes and it’s now our turn to assist them on the ‘How’ – the practical suggestions moving forward on how as a Church- the steps we take to achieving our ‘what’.
 
St Kevin’s workshops held in November provided opportunities for real actions.
Read our Phase 2 submission -Actions
 
A joint initiative After the St Kevin’s parish submission was made to the Plenary Council on 6 March 2019, representatives of the St Kevin’s began working towards a joint parish statement to represent 20-30 parishes in Melbourne. Following a meeting of over 60 people from 22 parishes on 13 April 2019, a drafting group prepared a joint statement which has been sent into the Plenary Council committee for consideration as part of a further submission.  This statement is consistent with our original parish submission, and is intended to show that there is strong support for the themes of that submission across parishes. 
 
View the Joint Statement here: Plenary Council 2020 Joint Statement May 2019
 
 
‘Catholics For Renewal’ have some great articles to read, including very good analysis of the Plenary council issues/themes, taken from submissions across each diocese.
Please visit their website https://www.catholicsforrenewal.org/ directly, but for a taste, have a  read below:
 
Editorial, April 2020 (extract)
 
Priorities for the Plenary Council agenda
 
As preparations for the Plenary Council proceed and the bishops prepare to set the Council agenda, Catholics for Renewal believes it is appropriate to ask the question: What should the agenda priorities be?
 
Australian adult Catholics are among the best educated and informed in the world. Over 20 per cent have tertiary degrees, including many in theology. Their inquiring minds as well as their love and concern for their Church led over 200,000, from every diocese in Australia, to respond to the question. In 12,758 individual and 4,699 group submissions they raised 119 issues they believed important for the Plenary Council to address. Those issues provide the best contemporary evidence and insight into what Australia’s Catholics believe (sensus fidei) and think about their church and its role in making the Kingdom of God a reality. 

 

Women and Ministry in the Church

(full article below taken from Catholics for Renewal Inc)
The profound misogyny in the Catholic Church, embedded in both its culture and practice, is a sexual scandal of another kind.  It is a main reason for an underlying despair among many of Christ’s faithful and the cause of widespread and declining participation.
The ‘specialness’ and ‘feminine genius’ often emphasized by popes (EG, 103-104), while appearing as an acknowledgement, can, in fact, be a strategy to differentiate women as ‘other’. There can be no doubt that women within the Catholic Church are not fully acknowledged for who they are, and even diminished: when they speak they are not listened to, and when they act their work is considered merely ancillary to the great projects of the ordained. Catholic women may serve, but they only lead to the degree permitted by the male hierarchy.
An examination of the top ten issues raised by some 200,000 Catholic respondents to the question What do you think God is asking of us in Australia today?  (see Editorial above) shows that 5 of the top 6 issues relate to women, and 3 directly call for women to have a greater role in church ministry and governance.  Christ’s faithful in Australia have expressed an emphatic view that the way female members of the Catholic Church have been and continue to be regarded and treated is misogynistic.  Men alone determine the nature and doctrine of the Church.
A clear ‘sign of the times’ which the  Council must address is the chasm that has opened up between the expectations of many lay men and women and the mindset of the Church’s clerical leaders on ‘Women and Ministry’.  We refer readers to our Summary document on Women and Ministry
Catholics for Renewal calls on all those called as participants to the Plenary Council to courageously challenge the ‘business as usual’ mindset on women and ministry, with its fixed restrictions, limitations, and structures, and dare to launch out (Duc in altum) into the ecclesial deep.
Image: From the cover of Getting Back on Mission, He Qi’s painting ‘After Resurrection’ depicts women who were first to see and be empowered by Jesus at Easter dawn.

 

 
 

Incremental set of 2020/2021 Plenary issue summary documents
1) Sensus fidelium (sense of faith of Christ’s faithful) [Dec. 2019] document
2) Synodal governance for a pastoral church [Jan. 2020] document
3) Co-responsibility: sharing in church governance [Feb. 2020] document
4) Clericalism [March 2020] document
5) Women and Ministry [April 2020] document

…and more till to come over the next few months – subscribe here 

6) Priests and celibacy [May 2020] 
7) Subsidiarity [June 2020] 
8) Signs of the times [July 2020] 

(other women and ministry resources are published at Document. No.96 on the website Documents page.

 

For more or to subscribe directly to their newsletters, please visit: https://www.catholicsforrenewal.org/
 
                  

 PlenaryPost  edition 24 April 2020 

 
The past couple of weeks have been bittersweet ones for the Plenary Council. On March 23, we announced the more than 250 delegates that have been called to the Plenary Council, providing a ray of good news in the midst of a Church and a country consumed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just two weeks later, the pandemic and the changes it has caused prompted the decision to postpone the first assembly of the Council, which has been scheduled for Adelaide this October.

There’s more information about both stories below, as well as news of the appointment of a new Archbishop of Adelaide – someone who has been a key Plenary Council advocate in his current diocese – and some historical and theological insights.
 

FacilitatorFocus:

Entering 
into Holy Week
in these unusual times

by Lana Turvey-Collins
 
Holy Week marks the beginning of my fourth week of working from home and I know many millions of Australians are making similar adjustments. I found the first week or so was a little bit of a relief and I treasured the slower pace, the lack of commute and the quiet of my home environment. But by the second week, I missed the social interaction of the daily office “hellos” and the background hum of chatter indicating other humans in my near vicinity.  
The more time I have spent at home, the more reliant I have become on telephone calls, video chats and screens for connection, and for accessing information and updates on what’s going on in the world. In my very multicultural neighbourhood, there have been some incredible efforts made by the local council, the police, the various church communities and individual “good Samaritan” citizens to look after those who are housebound, those people who are sleeping rough and a number of other particularly vulnerable people we know are part of our local tapestry.   
Over the four weeks of working from home, I have transitioned through relief, to exhaustion, to anxiety, to gratitude and found many moments of joy. Sometimes all in the space of a couple of hours! I know that my own experience is the shared experience of many.  
        
I share these thoughts because I feel that this year, the “holiness” of Holy Week is such a visceral experience in a significantly changed society. There is a beautiful opportunity for all of us to challenge ourselves and be truly transformed by the Holy Spirit during the coming weeks and the Easter season. I encourage every person to seek the opportunities to respond to the Spirit, to reach out – driven by our faith – to be agents of hope. 
The journey of the Plenary Council is about thinking, talking, praying and making decisions about the future for our Church. Our current context gives us much more to consider. 
Postponing the first assembly will provide a little more time and space to do this and, this Easter, I encourage each person to spend some time in conversation and prayer about how we each are called to “love one another” and be disciples for the world in this change of era that is marked by COVID-19.
Peace,
Lana x
 
First assembly postponed due to COVID-19 concerns
Due to significant concerns over the ability of Plenary Council delegates and the wider Catholic community to prepare properly for the first assembly in October 2020, it has been postponed — with a new timeline to be considered next month.

Plenary Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB said in a time of such upheaval, including severe restrictions on travel and group meetings, the postponement was unavoidable.


“Even though it is possible Australia may have moved through the worst of this health crisis by October, our capacity to adequately continue the process of discernment and formation – for everyone in the Church and in particular for the delegates – is severely compromised,” he said.


Archbishop Costelloe said the Church’s focus at the moment, and for the foreseeable future, is ensuring people continue to be cared for pastorally, spiritually and emotionally during the COVID-19 pandemic.


At its Plenary Meeting next month, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference will review recommendations on the timing, location and sequencing of the two assemblies.


Plenary Council facilitator Lana Turvey-Collins said work has already begun to consider how the changed timeline provides opportunities to embed the practices of dialogue, listening and communal discernment.
 
New Archbishop of Adelaide announced
With Adelaide scheduled to host the first assembly of the Plenary Council, the Catholic Church has been waiting expectantly for the appointment of a new Archbishop of Adelaide.

Pope Francis made that announcement on March 19, naming Sale Bishop Patrick O’Regan the 12th Bishop — and ninth Archbishop — of Adelaide.


Archbishop-Designate O’Regan pointed to the Plenary Council as a pivotal moment in the life of the Church in Adelaide, which is still expected to host one of the Council’s assemblies, and in Australia.


“I look forward to playing my part alongside the people of the Archdiocese in welcoming to Adelaide the Church from right across Australia,” he said.


Due to the coronavirus travel restrictions, it is unclear when Archbishop-Designate O’Regan will take up his new appointment.

Click here to read more from The Southern Cross.
 
With thanks to the Plenary Council and the ACBC.
 
 

Plenary Delegates in Service to the Gospel Mission

Wednesday 4 March 2020

Communications Office

The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne (CAM) has submitted the names of eight possible delegates to the Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council, from which four will be chosen to attend both the assembly in Adelaide (4-11 October 2020) and the assembly in Sydney (27 June – 2 July 2021).
A total of 78 applications were received by the Archdiocese, from which a Selection Panel recommended eight people to Archbishop Peter A Comensoli, who accepted the recommendations.
Chair of the Selection Panel, Mark Edwards OMI, Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne, said that each one of the 78 names submitted could have easily been put forward as a delegate for their example of Christian wisdom and faith. He stressed that delegates are not ‘representatives’ of particular causes, groups or issues, but ‘delegates’ in service to the Gospel mission.
 
Other members of the Selection Panel were: Fr Martin Ashe (Parish Priest, Mernda/Whittlesea), Tiffany Davis (Communications Manager, CAM), Tricia Norman (Senior Pastoral Associate, Parishes of Deepdene & Balwyn and Camberwell), Teresa Rhynehart (Director of Mission, CAM), Fr Albert Yogarajah (Parish Priest, Werribee) and Nigel Zimmermann (Principal Advisor to the Archbishop, CAM).
Of the 78 applications received, 44 were women and 34 were men—all with active participation in the various areas of the Catholic Church across the Archdiocese (e.g. parish life, education, healthcare, social services, etc.). Many of the growing ethnic communities were represented and the ages of applicants ranged from 18 to 82 years old. It was also encouraging to have received applications from all four regions of the Archdiocese.
 
The following criteria were used to assess the applications received:

The chosen candidates must reflect:
a commitment to living the Gospel through prayer, sacramental practice and work;

– an informed awareness of the broader context and challenges of the Church in Australia;
– an evident ecclesial practice in Melbourne;
– a potential for leadership in the Church and/or her ministries; the diversity of cultural identity, age and gender balance in the local Church.

Also necessary was a demonstrable maturity and ability to read material, engage in discussion and make an informed contribution for the good of the wider Church community. While theological qualifications were not necessary, it was identified that a spiritual and prayerful sense of personal growth in Jesus Christ would be helpful features to sustain a contribution to the work of the Plenary Council.The Selection Panel was also sensitive to ensuring the diversity of cultural identity, gender, age, and pastoral and professional experience in the list of recommended candidates, so as to enhance the contributions of the local church to the national assembly.“Members of the panel were very sensitive and considered in their assessment of each candidate and worked for a balance of ministries and experiences in the group of eight candidates,” Bishop Mark said. “There was a real openness in the panel and we approached this question mindful of the many needs and hopes of the Catholic Church across our Archdiocese. We are grateful to all those who put themselves forward as possible delegates.”

The announcement of the final list of delegates will be made in the week of 16-20 March 2020. Soon after that, the final papers from the six Discernment and Writing Groups – one for each of the six national themes for discernment – will be published. These papers will be central to the preparation of the instrumentum laboris, or working paper, for the Plenary Council—with the first assembly scheduled for October this year.

We pray God’s blessing on the delegates in their work for the Plenary Council.

 

Discernment and writing groups draw on church’s talent  Thursday 26 September 2019 Plenary Council  Seventy people from across the country – including a dozen bishops – will serve on the six Discernment and Writing Groups that will help the Plenary Council build towards its first session in October 2020.

As part of ‘Listening and Discernment’, the second phase of preparing for the Council, Discernment and Writing Groups will have the important task of preparing papers for consideration by Council delegates.

Each group will consider one of the six National Themes for Discernment, which invite people to consider how God is calling the People of God to be a Christ-centred Church in Australia that is: Missionary and Evangelising; Inclusive, Participatory and Synodal; Prayerful and Eucharistic; Humble, Healing and Merciful; A Joyful, Hope-Filled and Servant Community; Open to conversion, Renewal and Reform.

Final National Report released

The Final National report on the Listening and Dialogue phase of the Plenary Council has now been published. It is a lengthy and detailed account of all submissions, explaining how the 6 themes were reached. Download here Final National Report from phase 1, or visit the Plenary Council website resources page where you can view all reports

 Theme ‘Snapshot’ reports published

 
                        

Click on the individual ‘snapshots’ (pictures) above to view/download

The Plenary Council has released all 6 “snapshot” reports that provide an overview of the stories, questions and submissions received during the Listening and Dialogue phase of the Council. These reports will have been released to provide insights into each of the 6 National Themes for Discernment being: ‘Missionary & Evangelising‘; ‘Inclusive, Participatory & Synodal‘; ‘Prayerful & Eucharistic‘; ‘Humble, Healing & Merciful‘; ‘A Joyful, Hope Filled & Servant Community‘; ‘Open to Conversion, Renewal & Reform‘. As well as excerpts from the almost 17,500 submissions received, the reports also include some of the topics that fit under each National Theme for Discernment – with many topics relating to multiple themes. A relevant Scripture quote and other explanatory material is also included. All reports can be found on the theme page on the Plenary Council website or click on the reports above to view/download.

 Key Plenary Council topics emerge from final report of the Listening and Dialogue phase

 

First Nations: Uncle David Miller, Ravina Waldren, Toni Janke, Eric Robinson (kneeling) Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Aunty Joan Hendricks, Cynthia Rowan, Aunty Evelyn Parkin, Marlon Riley (kneeling) Bernice Fisher, Troy Tornabene, Fr Gerry Hefferan, Kevin Eastment at a listening and discernment session at the Catholic Precinct.
 
 
 
 
 
August 2, 2019

By Mark Bowling

CELIBACY for priests, the role of women, and the inclusion of divorced and remarried Catholics were among “strongly discussed” topics contained in the Plenary Council 2020’s latest report. The final report of the council’s Listening and Dialogue phase captures the voice of more than 222,000 Australians and provides insights into 17,457 individual and group submissions. Plenary council president Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe said the 314-page document was the result of the listening process that had produced “an extraordinary treasure of ideas and proposals which represents the heartfelt response of many people”.

“The great challenge ahead of us now is to ‘catch’ the voice of the Holy Spirit within the passionate, hopeful but sometimes contradictory voices of God’s people.”

Among the wide-ranging list of submissions were those calling for ways to improve the sacraments to increase Church attendance and “allow the fullness of a Catholic life to flourish”, and addressing the clerical child sex abuse scandal. The structure of Church life “drew a great deal of attention” around leadership and governance, the need for greater listening between leadership and the laity, and the need to “modernise Church teachings to bring them in line with Australian society in the 21st century”. Read the entire article here

 

TalkTheology

A unique resource for the Church in Australia
by Fr Noel Connolly SSC, Plenary Council Facilitation Team
In Listen to what the Spirit is saying, we have a exceptional expression of the sense of the faithful. We will need patient discernment to grasp the voice of the Holy Spirit among the enthusiastic, strongly held but sometimes contradictory voices of the people of God. We will also need humility and a generous openness to all. It is too easy for us to decide who has the sensus fidei and who should be listened to. 
Individual believers who are committed to their spiritual lives and live a sacramental life will have a special insight. However, few of us live full Christian lives. We all have blind spots. We also need to listen to our prophets.
We need to attend to the victims of child abuse, to gay Catholics and divorced Catholics and all those who are marginalised and find themselves in “ecclesial exile”. Given the sins of the Church in recent times, there are many of these and many who have great faith.
Click here to read Fr Noel’s full article.

Brisbane prepares for diocesan assembly

More than 600 people are expected to later this year attend the Brisbane Assembly, an event building towards the Plenary Council 2020.

Eric Robinson, the Archdiocese of Brisbane’s Plenary Council co-ordinator, said the Brisbane Assembly will be “a really high-quality experience of listening and discernment” that builds on the Plenary Council process so far.

“My hope is that people walk away from the assembly with hope and feeling empowered about this plenary journey and their role in it,” Mr Robinson told The Catholic Leader.

“We really need to hear from the broad spectrum of those people in the Church. If there was ever a time to engage and share what you feel God is asking of the Church today – this whole process is set up to listen to the spirit of the people.”

Click here to read more from The Catholic Leader.

Plenary Council drawing international interest

 
The general secretaries of the episcopal conferences of Germany, France and England and Wales have used their visit to Australia to learn more about the Plenary Council process unfolding in this country. Fr Christopher Thomas from the Bishops Conference of England and Wales saw the Plenary Council as “a bold step because it’s most definitely not a top-down approach. It’s a listening and discerning exercise which I think the Church, under the leadership of Pope Francis, is certainly being encouraged to take,” he said. Fr Thierry Magnin, from the French bishops conference, said he too was “very impressed” by the way the Church in Australia has embraced the concept of synodality, saying the Plenary Council provides an example for how the Church can better engage with the faithful.
 
 

NZ cardinal’s visit has Plenary Council flavour

When Cardinal John Dew, the Archbishop of Wellington, speaks in Parramatta next week, it is expected to help the diocese’s ongoing preparation for the Plenary Council. Cardinal Dew, who will speak on “Servant leadership in the spirit of Pope Francis”, has led his archdiocese through two Synods in the past 15 years, including one in 2017. As with the Plenary Council under way in Australia, discernment was a key aspect of the Wellington Synods. The 2017 Synod led to a number of priorities and directions for the archdiocese, which takes in the lower North Island and upper South Island. Earlier this year, members of the Plenary Council Facilitation Team met with Cardinal Dew to assess what lessons could be taken from the 2017 Synod, in particular, to guide the Plenary Council. Click here for more on Cardinal Dew’s talk in Parramatta.
 
 

Mystery surrounds 1937 Plenary Council discovery

Why did a non-practising Anglican have a Catechism booklet from the last Plenary Council of the Catholic Church in Australia in 1937? That’s still unclear, but the story certainly has people talking.

While sorting through his late father’s old handkerchief drawer, Brisbane man James Anderson came across a number of curious items — including the Plenary Council booklet. As he told The Catholic Leader, the booklet contains prayers, expectations for Catholics and questions and answers about the faith.

The booklet offered up a small number of clues to its origins, including the organisation that published it, but all those led to a dead end.

Mr Anderson told The Leader the discovery is “a great little carry-book for an everyday gentleperson, Christian Catholic”. 

“It’s all very factual, it’s wonderful, it’s really great,” he said. “I’d love to try and reproduce this if we could.”

Click here to read the full story from The Catholic Leader.

Plenary2020 Update: Submission statistics show Council’s national reach

The National Centre for Pastoral Research (NCPR), which is currently conducting the analysis of individual and group submissions, has released a summary of statistical data covering the period from May 2018 until March 2019. 
NCPR director Trudy Dantis advised that the listing of topics that were discussed in people’s submissions should not be seen as pre-empting the National Themes for Discernment, which will be announced on June 9 — Pentecost Sunday. Those themes will emerge from the qualitative analysis, while the report just released focuses on quantitative data. Some of the largest groups to participate in the Listening and Dialogue phase included Catholic Social Services Victoria, a large parish in Canberra’s growing northern suburbs and the Passionist Family Movement. The top five countries of birth for respondents, after Australia, were the United Kingdom, the Philippines, New Zealand, India and Ireland.
Here at St Kevin’s Parish in Templestowe, we thought we’d do things a little differently. So we constructed an online Survey using ‘SurveyMonkey’ to ask our Parishioners their thoughts on ‘The Church’ and the upcoming Plenary Council in 2020.
 

 

The Plenary Council is upon us all.

Here at St Kevin’s Parish, we are having our say. A group of parishioners have come together, constructed and sent a letter to Archbishop Peter Comensoli to voice our thoughts, worries and hopes regarding the upcoming Plenary Council in 2020.
 
 
 

Structure of the Plenary Council

On behalf of St Kevin’s Parish in Templestowe, concern about the structure of the Plenary Council has initiated an insightful proposition in the format of ‘some discussion notes’. This short, powerful document opens our thoughts to perhaps another way for everyday concerned Christians to have their voices be heard. It explores Canon Law 443- which has perhaps allowed a loophole to possibly opening the Plenary Council to others… not just the Bishops.  A very interesting read indeed….
Has a wealth of information, latest news, resources.

The Participation of Women in the 2020 Plenary Council 

A paper was prepared by the Council for Australian Catholic Women as a basis for a discussion with Archbishop Mark Coleridge June 2017.
The Social Justice Sunday Statement in 2000, the Bishops’ response to the Woman and Man, included nine decisions of national significance and 31 proposals for implementation at local diocesan level.  Decision number 8 recommended that the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) establish a Commission for Australian Catholic Women to facilitate the implementation of the decisions and recommendations of the ACBC in response to Woman and Man.
It was accountable to the Bishops’ Committee for the Laity and would have role monitoring the development of strategic planning and evaluation of the ACBC recommendations.The Commission for Australian Catholic Women (CACW) would have an Office, known as the Office for the Participation of Women (OPW), to support its work.
 
In 2006, the Bishops determined that the Commission would be replaced with the Council for Australian Catholic Women.
The Council would now provide advice to the Bishops Commission for Church Ministry about women and their participation in the Catholic Church in Australia.
Questions have been raised as to whether this move has resulted in a downgrading of the voice of women in the Church.  Reduction in staffing and the need for the Director to also support the Australian Catholic Council for Lay Pastoral Ministry raises the concern that the scope of responsibilities for the Director of the OPW has become much too wide.
 
A CASE FOR THE PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN IN THE 2020 PLENARY COUNCIL
The intention of the bishops’ decisions in 2001 was to give women a better platform for contributing their talents, gifts and wisdom to the service of the Church. This would enable their voices to be more readily heard, recognised, reported and brought to the attention of the hierarchical/institutional Church in a positive, respectful and consultative way. The pioneering and spirit-led decision by the bishops of Australia taken in 2001 should be respected in the decisions about the agenda and participation of women in the 2020 Plenary Council. Some progress has been made, but the Plenary Council provides renewed opportunity to hear and respond to the voices of women. The need to be open and responsible to diverse voices, including that of women, has been reinforced by the deliberations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
 
The need for continuing engagement between the ACBC and women remains relevant and is in fact more compelling in 2017.
 
 
source: https://www.opw.catholic.org.au/