Plenary Council

2021           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 2021, the Catholic Church hopes to enter more intensely into that divine-human dialogue.

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

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

October 2020

Towards the Plenary Council Working Document: Some Reflections

Editorial Committee[1],
The Plenary Council process has moved to the critical stage of preparing the documents and agenda for the first assembly, to be held in October 2021. As a result, four individuals[2] have the challenging, indeed daunting, task of preparing the Working Document (or Instrumentum Laboris) for the Council. This will provide the basis for discussions at the Council and for shaping the Agenda.
The Working Document will draw on the extensive Stages I and II submissions from the faithful and particularly on the six Writing Group reports. These reports, prepared after a process of discernment by six groups of 12 people representative of the diversity of opinion within the Australian Church, provide a central foundation for the new document. Our analysis of the recommendations in these documents is to be found on the website.
We are acutely aware of the challenges facing the writing team, in terms of the variety of issues and the diversity of views across the Church. The final Working Document will not only shape the outcomes of the Council. It must also provide the body of the faithful, sceptical as many are, with signs that a real process of change is at hand. They will certainly need the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and perhaps also the wisdom of Job!
Recognising the difficulty of their task, we here respectfully offer some comments on two issues. First, we note some broad features that we believe are essential for the Working Document. Secondly, a central challenge is how the writing team might identify the key issues and priorities, given the vast complexity of issues and the diversity of views that are before them, and hence chart a path forward for the Plenary Council. We offer one suggestion about how that might be done.
These reflections by the six members of the Editorial Committee reflect a process of discussion and discernment they have undertaken over many months, as well as their ongoing listening to the views from the parishes.

[1] The members of the Editorial Committee are: Anne Marmion (St Thomas the Apostle, Blackburn); Richard Curtain (St Carthage’s, Parkville); John Davies (St Joseph’s, Malvern); Rowan Ireland (St Francis Xavier’s, Montmorency); and Fr Gerry McKernan and Peter Sheehan (St Kevin’s, Lower Templestowe).
[2] The members of the writing team are Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, Mr Daniel Ang, Dr Trudy Dantis and Fr Kevin Lenehan. For further details see

Plenary Council challenges and opportunities

By Rev Peter Maher | Editor of and for The Swag


“a stark reminder of the challenges ahead for those who think the discernment and consultation process is commonly understood by all involved. It is shaping up as a power battle despite the language used generally.”

The success of the Plenary Council is seen very differently by various groups taking very different positions on ecclesiology, sacramental theology and Christian anthropology. Broadly the two contested positions are the belief that Vatican II and the synodal church Pope Francis is promoting is predicated on the equal value of each of the baptised in every aspect of church life including the area of governance. The other view depends on the hierarchical nature of the church and a Pope John Paul II view of the unique role of the ordained to guide and govern.
These are not easily reconciled and indeed may be the death of the plenary council. The fault lines are already surfacing in the writing groups. It may be an extreme example, but it is interesting to note that in the list of those assigned to the group writing the paper on Missionary and Evangelising, Archbishop Porteous appears, but his name is not amongst the contributors on the final paper. We are left to wonder why….

Knockers or Rockers of the Barque of Peter?

By TRISH HINDMARSH | On 15 July 2020

Let’s not entirely knock the six Theme Papers from the Plenary Council Writing Groups.

Short-comings? Of course. Are they a faithful representation of the sensus fidelium expressed through the 220,000 participants in the Plenary lead up? Yes, and no. Could other, more competent people had been working on them? No doubt. Are humans capable of reaching genuine consensus when confronted with a variety of worldviews, back ground experience and formation? Hopefully, but only with difficulty, patience, prayer, study and dollops of respectful listening. I came to some sharp realization of all this as a member of the Writing Group for the theme, ‘Conversion, Renewal and Reform’.

It was challenging for me to work at a deep level with Catholics from totally different faith experiences …

Towards the Plenary Council – people of God on a pilgrim journey

This article was first published in the July 2020 edition of The Good Oil, the e-magazine of the Good Samaritan Sisters

Women and the Plenary Council was the topic for a gathering on Zoom last month when over 100 people registered for the first conversation in a new series, WATAC PRESENTS.

WATAC (Women and the Australia Church) was established 34 years ago to explore women’s experience and place within the Catholic Church. For many of the women, these years have been a long but rewarding journey of faith and appreciation of their own significant contribution to women’s spirituality. Simultaneously, it has been a frustrating journey for some, who feel the Catholic Church still fails to honour women’s experience of the divine in its liturgical, parish and missionary life…


Debra and Clare expressed both their yearnings and despair as they contemplate church renewal, especially for women. As Debra said: “If we truly take Genesis seriously that all are made in the image of God, there is no alternative to a true democracy in the church where authority must be translated into service rather than the command and control that we experience. We need a Christian view of service where governance is about the empowerment of those most marginalised, those who actually do not have a voice, of whom women are many.”

Clare identified three possible outcomes from this national process…

Have you seen it? .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 “” 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 “” webpage, to receive the regular newsletter.
We hope you enjoy its content and that it inspires you to respond. See the link above.
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

 PlenaryPost  edition 27 August 2020 

The postponement of the Plenary Council assemblies by 12 months has been both a blessing and a challenge. One of the blessings has been the additional time to consider how we can be a Christ-centred Church in Australia with a clearer understanding of how COVID-19 is changing the country and the Church.
Archbishop Timothy Costelloe has taken the opportunity to invite people to better understand the practice of discernment. He’s done that through a new paper, titled “A Journey of Discernment”, which he introduces in a video below.
The People of God in Australia have also been invited to read a new report on Church governance and management, which fulfills one of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse. The Plenary Council will likely consider some of the dozens of recommendations, while others are more suited to diocesan or parish implementation.
Read on for more information about those and other matters related to the Plenary Council.


Joining the Facilitation Team and the Plenary Council journey

by Marion Gambin RSJ
It is just on two months since I joined the Plenary Council Facilitation Team. I’ve spent considerable time reading your responses to the listening, dialogue and discernment process, reflecting on the six Thematic Discernment Papers released on Pentecost Sunday and responding to the emails you have continued to send to the Plenary Council. It’s been such a privilege to “sit with” all that is dear to the heart of Australian Catholics and all that you long for from this renewal journey of our faith community. 
I’ve also appreciated the welcome I have received from Peter Gates and Olivia Lee and enjoyed working with them in updating the milestones journey poster. We grappled with the task of rearranging meetings, now that we have the two assembly dates in place for October 2021 and July 2022, at the same time very mindful of the impact COVID-19 continues to have on our daily lives. No doubt you will appreciate it is rather difficult to forecast when we might once again have any meetings face to face, so while we continue to cope with this coronavirus environment, we shall be meeting via Zoom. Perhaps this will continue to be a part of our “new normal” of engaging with each other.
During the past two months the Team has also worked together to prepare a guide for your use as a resource in reflecting on the six Thematic Discernment Papers. I really encourage you to see how you might use this guide in your local Church community and then, if you choose, send in your responses to the Facilitation Team. I also encourage you to take the time to read the paper and watch the video by Archbishop Timothy Costelloe on the Journey of Discernment introduced below. As Archbishop Costelloe says, “the discernment process is the heart of the Plenary Council journey”.
This month we celebrated the feast day of Mary MacKillop, patron of the Plenary Council. Mary was no stranger to coping with the challenges of life’s circumstances. Even during times of enormous suffering, she trusted in the loving providence of God. I have no doubt she would be encouraging us to do the same.
Blessings of peace,
Marion Gambin RSJ



The virtues of synodality
by Reverend Associate Professor Ormond Rush

From Fr Rush’s paper entitled “Plenary Council Participation and Reception: Synodality and Discerning the Sensus Fidelium

Our Plenary Council will be effective only if we embrace what I call “a spirituality of synodality”. Institutional structures such as plenary councils require particular spiritual dispositions on the part of all, if a synodal Church is to be realised. Vatican II spoke of “a collegial spirit (
affectus collegialis)” among the college of bishops (Lumen Gentium 23).

In the end, synodality will only be fully realised when a genuine “synodal spirit” pervades all levels of the Catholic Church, from the single baptised Catholic to the pope. In his greeting to the bishops at the start of the 2014 synod [on the family], Pope Francis spoke of a “general and basic condition” for genuine synodality: the freedom to speak honestly. “It is necessary to say with
parrhesia (boldness) all that one feels.”

However, this must be accompanied, he said, by another condition: listening with humility and with an open heart to what others say with honesty, what he calls “the gift of listening.”

“Synodality is exercised with these two approaches.” We could call them “synodal virtues”.

Click here to read Fr Rush’s full paper.

Dates locked in for Plenary Council assemblies
The two assemblies for the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia will be held in Adelaide from October 3-10, 2021, and in Sydney from July 4-9, 2022.

The new dates mean that the celebration of the Plenary Council has effectively moved 12 months from the original plan of a first assembly in October 2020 and a second assembly in June/July 2021.

Plenary Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB said the confirmation of the specific dates will help in the formulation of a revised program of preparation for Council delegates, who were announced in March, and for the whole Catholic community.

Archbishop Costelloe said the bishops’ preference to hold the second assembly in April 2022, announced last month, had to be revisited.

“The confluence of a number of events in April 2022, including the New South Wales school holidays, Easter in the Latin Rite and Easter in the Eastern Rite, meant that the plan to hold the second assembly then was unworkable,” he said.

Click here to read the full article.
With thanks to the Plenary Council and the ACBC.
A Journey of Discernment
In light of the postponement of the Plenary Council assemblies by 12 months, Plenary Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB is encouraging people across Australia to reflect more deeply on the practice of discernment.

In his paper, entitled “A Journey of Discernment”, Archbishop Costelloe begins by examining the genesis of the Plenary Council, retraces the journey so far and offers insights into the period leading up to the assemblies in 2021 and 2022, as well as the implementation phase beyond.

In the paper, which was published today on the Plenary Council website, Archbishop Costelloe explains the “three fundamental fidelities which need to always be in play, much like a juggler needs to keep three balls in the air and not allow one of them to fall to the ground”.

“Those three fidelities are: fidelity to God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ, made known to us in the Scriptures, and pre-eminently in the four canonical gospels, as those Scriptures are lived and believed in within the community of faith; fidelity to the ongoing presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit in the Church over the last 2,000 years in fulfilment of the promise of Jesus that the Holy Spirit would lead the disciples into the fullness of the truth (cf John 16:13); and fidelity to the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church, and the world, today, speaking to us in the signs of the times (the concrete circumstances of our individual and communal experience) as they are interpreted in the light of the gospel (
Gaudium et Spes 4).”

Click here to download the paper.

Archbishop Costelloe introduces the paper in this video below:

Document reviews Church governance in Australia
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia have published a review of parish and diocesan governance and management that could provide important discussion points for the Plenary Council.

The Church’s Implementation Advisory Group oversaw the development of the report, 
The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia. The report runs to 208 pages and includes 86 recommendations.

Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge said the report “makes an important and substantial contribution to the life and mission of the Church in Australia”.

The Bishops Conference will discuss the report at its biannual plenary meeting in November. Some of the issues will have national relevance, while others are best addressed at the local level.

“Equally, many of the issues will be best considered during the upcoming Plenary Council and what will follow from the Council in each diocese,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

“I encourage anyone who wishes to read 
The Light from the Southern Cross to start with the accompanying reading guide … and read the whole report, rather than just the recommendations.”

Click here to access the reading guide and the full report.

New Bishop for South Australia


Pope Francis has appointed a new bishop for the South Australian regional Diocese of Port Pirie.

Fr Karol Kulczycki SDS served in Western Australia for 20 years before returning to Poland just over two years ago to take up a post within his religious congregation. He served in parish ministry, as a vocations director and as a college chaplain while in Australia.

He will become the 12th bishop of the diocese, which was earlier known as Port Augusta. It is one of the largest dioceses in Australia. As the Bishop of Port Pirie, Bishop-Elect Kulczycki will be a Plenary Council delegate.

Click here to read more about the new bishop.

Vatican document looks at parish renewal
Several key pastoral and evangelisation leaders from across the country have commended a new Vatican document on the life of contemporary parishes as useful for the Australian context.
Sophy Morley, the coordinator for liturgy and pastoral ministry and Plenary coordinator in Sale Diocese (pictured above), says the Vatican Instruction 
The Pastoral Conversion of the Parish Community in the Service of the Evangelising Mission of the Church diagnoses a critical shift in recent decades.
The document “highlights the changing nature of parish life from it being no longer ‘the primary gathering place and social centre’ for people as it once was, to a redefinition of parish as one that is not defined by its geographical territory alone”, Mrs Morley said.

“I think that many parishes are still coming to terms with what this means for their life as a community of faith.”

Daniel Ang, the director of the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation, 
told The Catholic Weekly that the new Vatican document “underscores any structural renewal within our dioceses must be underpinned and at the service of spiritual renewal, to render our parishes ever more conducive to the encounter with Christ that it serves and makes present”.

Deacon Peter Pellicaan, the director of Evangelisation Brisbane, said the Holy See demonstrates through the document that it “believes that renewal will not come from the abandoning of existing structures but rather from the personal encounter with Jesus that transforms the lives of the faithful and imbues them with faith, hope and love”.

“It is this encounter that makes the Church look, feel and sound more like Jesus – and that’s a Church that is attractive, life-giving and can’t help but be relevant,” Deacon Pellicaan 
told The Catholic Leader

Click here to read more from the Bishops Conference’s Media Blog.
Governance review ‘integral part’ of Council journey
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge says a review of diocesan and parish governance will be an important document in the life of the Plenary Council.

A review of Church governance was a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The Church’s Implementation Advisory Group oversaw the preparation of the review, which was presented to the Bishops Conference in May. The final version of the report will be released in August, at which time people will be invited to provide feedback to their local bishop.

“The Conference sees the report as an integral part of the Plenary Council journey, which is why it has been made available to those preparing the Council’s instrumentum laboris (working document) and deciding the agenda,” Archbishop Coleridge wrote.

“It will be up to the Plenary Council to determine what response the Church will make to the report as a whole; and given that the Council is the work of the Holy Spirit, it is the Holy Spirit who will have the final say.”

Click here to read more about the governance review.
Vatican II and the Plenary Council of Australia
 theologian and expert on ecumenical councils says the Church in Australia has a chance to take up some of the key opportunities the Second Vatican Council created for the universal Church.

Fr Ormond Rush, an associate professor at the Australian Catholic University, recently published a book on Vatican II, saying it’s a Council “that wants to be more pastoral and grounded in people’s lives”.

He said greater roles for lay people, especially women, was a discussion point at Vatican II and will likely be so at the Plenary Council.

“We’ve got a long way to go, and hopefully there’ll be a listening to what many of the people in putting their submissions to the (Plenary) Council have highlighted – that we need greater participation of women at all levels of the Church,” he said.

Click here to read more from The Catholic Leader.

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 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:

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.


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.

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.
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.