Plenary Council

2021           Plenary Council Website


The last Plenary Council held was in 1937… 81 years ago.

The Plenary Council is upon us all.
From October 3-10, 2021 the Catholic Church in Australia will gather for the first of two Assemblies of the Plenary Council. Due to COVID and the varying lockdown restrictions across Australia, the first Assembly will now take place online. There are close to 280 members from around the country, with 17 from Melbourne. While a face-to-face Plenary would have been ideal, the Plenary Facilitation Team has prepared for all eventualities which means ensuring that each Plenary Member has the tools they’ll need to participate online for the full seven days. 
The agenda for the Plenary Council has emerged from three years and several layers of prayer, listening, dialogue and discernment. The areas of focus and 16 questions, all aim to address the question of how we are being called to create a more missionary, Christ-centred Church in Australia at this time. While Plenary members will be meeting online, the wider public will be able to join by tuning in to the daily livestream, beginning with the Opening Mass in Perth on Sunday 3 October. Visit the Plenary website for more details. We also invite all parishes to keep the Plenary Council in their prayers, particularly over the coming weeks.


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.



Weekend 25th/26th September


Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48


Plenary Council Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit of Pentecost
Come, Holy spirit of the great South Land.
O God, bless and unite all our people in Australia
and guide us on the pilgrim way.
Lead your Church into a hope-filled future,
that we may live the joy of the Gospel.
Though Jesus Christ our Lord,
bread for the journey from age to age.
You can find more information at

Follow the Plenary Council assembly online
With the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia being an event for the whole Church, parts of the first general assembly will be livestreamed each day.

The home page of the Plenary Council website will be the place to go to find the livestream each day. Access Here
Here are some highlights from the livestream schedule:
October 3: Opening Mass of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia, 2pm AEDT from St Mary’s Cathedral in Perth.
October 4-9: Daily Mass broadcast at 9.30am AEDT and on demand afterwards.
October 4-6 and October 8-9: Plenary session livestream starts at 11am AEDT and runs until approximately 12.15pm AEDT.
October 7: Plenary session livestream starts at 12 noon AEDT and runs until approximately 12.45pm AEDT.
October 10: Closing Mass of the First General Assembly, 11am AEDT from St Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane.

Archbishop Costelloe: ‘Pray with us and for us’

Published 23rd September
Plenary Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB is inviting Catholics across Australia to pray with and pray for Council members during the upcoming first general assembly.
The Fifth Plenary Council of Australia will open on Sunday, October 3, with Archbishop Costelloe celebrating the opening Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral in Perth at 2pm AEDT. The Mass will be livestreamed on the Plenary Council website.
Masses during the week will also be broadcast publicly at 9.30am AEDT, with the Mass to close the first general assembly livestreamed from Brisbane at 11am AEDT on October 10. Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge will celebrate that Mass.
Archbishop Costelloe said the Masses being celebrated online allow people across the country to join in common prayer and worship with the Plenary Council as its focus. “With millions of people living in locations where public Masses can’t be celebrated, this online option will help Council members and the wider faithful unite in liturgy,” he said.
“Where people can gather for Mass, the same prayers, readings and musical suggestions used for the Plenary Council Masses can be downloaded for use in each parish across the country.”
The prayers provided to members for their nourishment, including a range of prayer experiences such as lectio divina and the Examen, are also available for download and use.
“This historic moment is a time for deep prayer and discernment, and we are inviting everyone to play their part in praying for the Council and praying for and with the members, who have a particular role during the Council’s celebration,” Archbishop Costelloe said.
In addition to the Masses, opening prayer for each day of the first general assembly will be livestreamed, offering another time of shared encounter for those wishing to join online.
Sr Kerry Willison RSM, the chair of the Plenary Council’s national liturgy committee, said the various prayer experiences and Mass settings draw on the rich local and universal traditions of the Catholic Church.
“During the entire Plenary Council journey, we have been led by the Holy Spirit, and so a special Mass of the Holy Spirit will open the first general assembly,” she said.
“With the feasts of St Francis and Our Lady of the Rosary, there are special focal points during the week, as well as prayers and readings chosen specifically for this purpose.
“The Masses and prayer moments will be full of symbolism. We look forward to having the 280 members of the Council sensing the prayers of others being added to theirs, surrounding them and giving them strength.”
The first assembly of the Plenary Council commences with the Opening Mass on October 3, with members starting to address the agenda the following day.

PlenaryPost edition 38 September 23rd 2021

It is almost three-and-a-half years to the day since we announced that Pope Francis had given his approval for the Catholic Church in Australia to hold a plenary council. It was a long journey from the seeds of a national gathering until that approval, and the time since the official period of preparation began has seen the Church traverse drought, bushfire, floods and an ongoing pandemic.
Through all that, we stand just 10 days away from the Opening Mass, which Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB will celebrate at St Mary’s Cathedral in Perth. There have been moments when we wondered if we’d ever make it to this point, but led by the Holy Spirit and supported by a cast of thousands across the country, we’re within touching distance.
Keen followers of PlenaryPost will know that the newsletter normally comes out on the last Thursday of each month. This month, we’re sending it a week early because there are some timely updates that will help the thousands of people who receive the newsletter to prepare for the first general assembly. 
Read on for a series of updates, including on prayers and liturgies, on the advisers to the Plenary Council, information on livestreaming during the first assembly and other news and notes from around the country.
Keep an eye out for editions of PlenaryPost on the last Thursday of each month through 2021. Send suggestions on local content that can be included to



Hundreds preparing for first assembly on behalf of us all

by Lana Turvey-Collins
Dear Friends, 
There are just 10 days to go until… 
278 Members
20 Expert Advisers (periti)
A Canonical Committee
A Drafting Committee
A Steering Committee 
A Secretariat
11 Facilitators
7 Chairpersons
5 Observers
1 President
And more than 150 volunteers and support staff
…will gather virtually to commence the celebration of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia. It is the moment all of the People of God across Australia have played a part in bringing to fruition. Thank you to every person who has participated in listening and dialogue sessions, set up rooms and invited people to come and be part of something, has emailed, or called or prayed as part of this journey of discernment. It is indeed a final countdown to this very special moment for the Church.  
Yet, in another way, it is another beginning. The commencement of the first general assembly opens the “Celebration” of the Plenary Council, which is scheduled for 10 months — beginning with the first general assembly, continuing the work of the Council between November 2021 and June 2022 and concluding with a second general assembly, to be held in-person (we pray!) in Sydney in July 2022.  
In this edition of Plenary Post, you can find information on the livestreaming schedule for the week and you can access the prayer resources and liturgical materials which have been meticulously developed by the Plenary Council Liturgy Working Group, led beautifully by Sr Kerry Willison RSM. We encourage you to download and use these resources in your local community, parish, family or workplace to pray in solidarity with the members and others attending the Plenary Council.  Stay connected to the Plenary Council website for the week – it will be a one-stop hub of activity and it will keep all of the People of God up-to-date with the discernment and discussions happening throughout the week.  
Earlier this week, members of the Plenary Council joined a formation session with Sr Nathalie Becquart, Undersecretary for the Synod of Bishops, which is planning the 2023 Synod on Synodality: Participation, Communion and Mission. She shared great wisdom on the topic of “No Synodality without Spirituality” and spoke of the experience of synodality being like the experience of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and likened the living relationship of the Holy Trinity to the People of God in communion as a truly synodal church. She also noted that becoming a synodal Church is messy – and that this is normal. Personally, I took great comfort in this last part. 😉 
Please continue to share your stories of faith with one another, engage with the agenda in conversation around your dinner tables or in your online meetings. By speaking boldly, and listening deeply, we connect with one another, and together we continue to “listen to what the Spirit is saying”.
Yours in mission,


Synodality: The Church, called to renew

We cannot ignore the variety of conditions in which Christian communities live in the different regions of the world. Alongside countries where the Church welcomes the majority of the population and represents a cultural reference point for the whole of society, there are others where Catholics are a minority; in some of these countries, Catholics, together with other Christians, experience forms of persecution, including some very violent ones, and not infrequently martyrdom.
If, on the one hand, a secularised mentality tends to expel religion from the public space, on the other hand, religious fundamentalism, without respect for the liberties of others, feeds forms of intolerance and violence that are also reflected in the Christian community and in its relations with society. Christians not infrequently adopt the same attitudes, even fomenting divisions and opposition, including within the Church. It is equally necessary to consider the reverberation, within the Church and in its relations with society, of the fractures caused by reasons of ethnicity, race, caste, or other forms of social stratification or cultural and structural violence, which run through the latter. These situations have a profound impact on the meaning of the expression “journeying together” and on the concrete possibilities of doing so.
Within this context, synodality represents the main road for the Church, called to renew herself under the action of the Spirit and by listening to the Word. The ability to imagine a different future for the Church and her institutions, in keeping with the mission she has received, depends largely on the decision to initiate processes of listening, dialogue and community discernment, in which each and every person can participate and contribute. At the same time, the decision to “journey together” is a prophetic sign for the human family, which needs a shared project capable of pursuing the good of all.
A Church capable of communion and fraternity, of participation and subsidiarity, in fidelity to what she proclaims, will be able to stand beside the poor and the least and lend them her own voice. In order to “journey together,” we need to let ourselves be educated by the Spirit to a truly synodal mentality, entering with courage and freedom of heart into a conversion process that is indispensable for the “continual reformation of which [the Church] always has need, in so far as she is a human institution”.
— From the Preparatory Document for the 2023 Synod of Bishops with the theme “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission”.
With thanks to the Plenary Council and the ACBC.

Strapped in for the Plenary Council ride

John Warhurst
26 August 2021
Since their selection early last year the ground has been shifting under the feet of PC members under the influence of the Covid-19 pandemic. First the assembly was delayed by twelve months. Then it was reduced from a national face-to face assembly in Adelaide to a mixed-mode assembly conducted virtually from five hubs in the major state metropolitan cities. Ten days ago, it was changed again to a fully virtual assembly in which members will be based in isolation in their homes, supplemented by very limited social gatherings in some centres where that is permitted by government regulations. The situation remains fluid, but the members are increasingly isolated. 
The metaphor ‘strapped in for the ride’ has several meanings, each of which emphasises the fact that the members have almost no ability to influence the journey we find ourselves on. We are passengers in a vehicle which has been imported from Rome to facilitate the task of discerning the future of the church in Australia. The Plenary Council vehicle is not Australian-made, although the Australian authorities have been allowed to make some minor local modifications. 

Technology set for Spirit-led Council assembly

Despite large parts of the country being in lockdown, those planning the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia say all is in readiness to deliver the first assembly in October wholly online.

Bishop Shane Mackinlay, the Plenary Council’s vice-president, said the Council journey has adapted to changing circumstances because of COVID-19 – and it is adapting again.

“With most of the country’s population currently in lockdown or having experienced lockdowns in recent weeks, we have plans in place to ensure the first assembly opens on October 3,” he said.

“Just as there was disappointment in needing first to postpone the assembly and then to move to regional hubs, the likelihood that most members will now join the assembly from their home is not what we had planned and hoped for.

“We know, though, that the Holy Spirit can and will work through this assembly, just as the Spirit has led us over the past three-and-a-half years.”

June 2021

The Plenary Council agenda Released   

The agenda of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia calls those attending the assemblies to ‘develop concrete proposals to create a more missionary, Christ-centred Church in Australia’.

The agenda of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia has been published and poses 16 questions, grouped into six inter-related themes: Conversion; Prayer; Formation; Structures; Governance; and Institutions. It challenges the members of the Plenary Council to develop “concrete proposals” in response to the questions.
July 2021
Catholics for Renewal Editorial July 2021

Renewing the Archdiocese of Melbourne
Archbishop of Melbourne, Peter Comensoli, now accepts that his diocese is in a huge existential crisis. He told his diocesan clergy on 28 April 2021 and parish lay leaders on 22 May 2021 that the diocese is on a ‘threshold’ and either we do something or ‘sink into the sunset’.[1]
But Melbourne is not unique among Australia’s dioceses. It is the reason why a Plenary Council has been called.
Vatican II also declared it ‘highly desirable’ that a diocesan pastoral council be established in every diocese and Canon Law expects one ‘in so far as pastoral circumstances suggest’ (C. 511).  Pastoral circumstances have long suggested it, but a Melbourne diocesan pastoral council is yet to be established.
… Archbishop Comensoli has rejected such synodality. Instead of convening a diocesan assembly or synod, laying his concerns before his people, and inviting them to join him in a ‘communal search’, he has made a unilateral decision, settled on his own proposal, and then, only afterwards, invited them to comment on its implementation. That is not synodality. Read in full here

Bishop Long names his ‘hope’ for Plenary Council

(July 2021)
The Catholic Church in Australia has a chance to blaze a trail for the faithful around the world, Parramatta Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv said when delivering the recent Dom Helder Camara Lecture.
While acknowledging the great number of challenges the Church in Australia is facing, including the aftermath of the child sexual abuse royal commission, Bishop Long said the Plenary Council process offers an opportunity for meaningful change.
“In many areas, Australia punches above its weight. Could we be a leading light in the struggle for a more fit-for-purpose Church in this place and in this time?” Bishop Long asked.
“Could Australian Catholics rise to the challenge and co-create the synodal Church that Pope Francis has envisaged?
“While the Plenary Council may not address all of the issues of importance, it is certainly worth the effort in discerning the roadmap for the future.”
Many Catholics hope that the PC2020 will see a change in a number of priority issues such as greater inclusion of the laity, the role of women, clerical celibacy et cetera. While it is important that there is an openness and boldness to discuss these matters, what is more important is to envision a new way of being Church in the world.

Click here to read Bishop Long’s full lecture, entitled “My hope for the Plenary Council”.

Listening key for Plenary Council members

Canberra-Goulburn women meet with members

Some taskforce members with some delegates, Judith Stuart, John Warhurst, Archbishop Prowse, Catherine Conroy, Monica Phelan and Fr John Woods.
(July 2021)
The Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn Women’s Taskforce has taken the opportunity to meet with several of the Archdiocese’s Plenary Council members to help them understand some of the issues local women are facing.
As well as hearing from the four Council members, the members of the Taskforce were able to express their concerns, especially those of young women and their families, about the changing nature of society and therefore of the Church and its role in society.  
The position and role of women and their inclusion within the governance of the Church was highlighted, as was the need for a more inclusive language in all church liturgies and documents.
“Brigid Cooney, currently studying to be a secondary teacher, is aware that this is the first time the Church has asked her to contribute, and she is keen to listen and to be heard.”

Archbishop: Synodality requires listening, isn’t easy

(June 2021)
In an interview with Catholic News Service soon after the official convocation of the Plenary Council, Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge said the synodality Pope Francis is calling for requires deep listening — something that isn’t necessarily easy.
“I’ve learned to listen in ways that don’t come naturally to me,” he said. The Plenary Council process requires him “to just shut up and actually listen and believe that in listening to this person, who may not be saying what I want or like to hear, I might actually hear some deep echo of the voice of God”.
“I don’t feel less a bishop because of what I am learning on the journey of the Plenary Council,” he said.
“There’s something liberating in it that enables you to exercise episcopal authority in ways that may actually work and look credible.”


Click here to read the Catholic News Service story.

Sydney clergy gather for Plenary Council discussion

(June 2021)
Priests from Sydney Archdiocese gathered recently to engage in the discernment process that has been chosen to facilitate dialogue, reflection and discernment during the Plenary Council process.
The process is one described as “spiritual conversation” and was led by Br Ian Cribb SJ, who invited the participants to reflect on Scripture and consider what the Holy Spirit is saying and then to share their thoughts and impressions. The process then moved into group sharing, where each member was encouraged to listen to one another and share their insights. Further reflection occurred and the group considered what the common theme was that had emerged. 
The process will be used in group discussion at the Plenary Council assemblies. The gathering gave all participants an insight into the process as well as a good methodology for discernment in parishes.
Participants described the process as inclusive of all members, giving the opportunity to share and to listen to each member of the group.
Photo above: Fr Erick Niyiragira CP, Fr Michael McLean and Fr Dominik Karnas CSMA at the Sydney gathering
“Respect@Work Shines a Light on Male-Dominated Workplace Cultures”
by Patty Fawkner
This report on women’s safety in the workplace has implications for the Catholic Church in Australia as we journey towards the first Assembly of the Plenary Council.
Two documents from and about the church in Australia issued in December 2020 should be compulsory reading for all Plenary Council (PC) delegates. They offer crucial insights into the state of the church in Australia, and taken together they paint a picture of church inertia and decline.
Read more by clicking on this link below:

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….
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

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

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:

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.