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. 

Plenary Council Prayer Campaign
People across the country are invited to participate in the “Fan the Flame” prayer campaign leading up to the first assembly of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia.
The assembly starts on October 3.
We are invited at this time to refresh our commitment to the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia, keeping in mind that ‘the love of God calls all Catholics to renew our commitment to share God’s mission in our time and place, reaching out to all people’ (Instrumentum Laboris 23.i)
Each week until then, we continue to listen to the Holy Spirit and prayerfully prepare for the Plenary Council.
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
“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.

PlenaryPost edition 34 May 27th 2021

There are a number of important and uplifting stories below, including about a couple of milestone moments at Pentecost — the launch of a new prayer campaign and the Council’s formal convocation.
While there is a somewhat inevitable focus on the Plenary Council’s Assemblies, the Council has been and remains a journey of the whole Church in Australia. It is always encouraging to hear about the local initiatives that are underway in various parishes in engaging with the Council, seeking to understand how they can “Listen to what the Spirit is saying” in their own context.
We recently heard about a group of three parishes that have come together to enliven their local communities and to aim to “build confidence and trust in the Church that will ultimately increase the spread of the Gospel”. Another group of parishes has been inviting local conversations through a dedicated website that also captures the key Plenary Council documents. In some dioceses, consultations are taking place about the instrumentum laboris — or working document — for the Council, entitled Continuing the Journey. If you haven’t yet read it, we would encourage you to do so. Click here to access Continuing the Journey.
There are plenty of other nuggets of information below, including an upcoming prayer campaign and details on events — past and future. 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



The Holy Spirit is moving amongst us

by Sr Marion Gambin RSJ

Dear Friends,

“Stories are really important. People in all times and in all places have told stories. They help to shape identity and well-being. They carry religious, moral and ethical codes. They are the glue that hold societies and cultures together. Stories are carriers of our memories and memories are containers of grace. Think of how much our lives are contained and conveyed in stories.”
— Mary Pelligrino CSJ
In the last few weeks, the Facilitation Team has been so inspired by the good news stories, of what is happening in several parishes and dioceses in response to the Spirit moving amongst us. You will be able to read some of these good news stories in this edition of Plenary Post.
Over the last month, the focus for the Facilitation Team has been our involvement in preparing the program for the Members’ formation sessions which will take place across several days in June and July. All Members will be attending a set of four sessions across three days and key to these formation, or preparation, sessions will be an experience of engaging in the discernment process to be used during the Assembly in October.
Everyone will be in breakout groups and discern with other Members from across Australia. Also, during the formation sessions it will be an opportunity for the Members to experience this engagement online and hopefully begin to establish a familiarity with using the online platform of Microsoft Teams.
Meanwhile, we know that there is much activity happening for each of the Hubs to operate in Western Australia (Perth), South Australia/Northern Territory (Adelaide), Victoria/Tasmania (Melbourne), Queensland (Brisbane) and New South Wales/ACT (Sydney). This is where the Members will be geographically located while they engage online, as one Plenary Council Assembly, with all Members from across Australia.
We are now only four months out from the first Assembly. We call on the Spirit of Pentecost to continue to inspire us all to tell our stories and listen to others tell theirs as we encourage each other to be hopeful for the future of our Church in Australia.
Blessings of Peace,


‘Connecting communities of believers’
by Bishop Anthony Randazzo of Broken Bay

In our Church of Broken Bay, we have gathered to re-animate our participation in the Plenary Council because we are part of a holy communion. Our local Church is part of the Universal Church. […]
The journey towards the Plenary Council has been an engagement in connecting communities of believers from all over Australia. Thus far it has been an exercise of listening. “Listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches” is repeated seven times in the Book of Revelation. This has become the predominant guide for the Australian Catholic Bishops when we called the Plenary Council.
There is a novelty in the Fifth Plenary Council that was not part of the first four in the history of the Catholic Church in Australia. The novelty is born from the Second Vatican Council and the 1983 Code of Canon Law. For the first time, the Bishop Members of the Council will be joined by Delegates who have been called to the Council. Among the delegates are lay women and men – married, single, and religious. The delegates also include clergy from the local Churches.
One of the aspirations of the Second Vatican Council was the engagement of all the baptised in the life of holiness and the mission of evangelisation. That holy Synod, held from 1962 to 1965, has given rise to the spirit of synodality in our Post-Conciliar Church.
— From Bishop Randazzo’s homily at the Mass of Commissioning for Broken Bay’s Plenary Council Members.


Bishops Conference formally convokes Council 

One of the major final steps towards the Plenary Council has been taken, with the Bishops Conference formally convoking the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia.

The bishops approved the decree of convocation at their plenary meeting earlier this month, with Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge signing the decree on Pentecost Sunday.
The convocation follows the approval of the Council’s statutes and regulatory norms, the approval and February publication of the Council’s working document Continuing the Journey and the recent approval of the Council agenda.
“The journey of the Council began long ago and this is just another step on the way towards the first assembly in the first week on October,” Archbishop Coleridge said after signing the decree.
“And on Pentecost Sunday we have invoked the Holy Spirit upon the entire journey of the Plenary Council but in particular upon the first assembly – to which we now move.”
Photo and video courtesy of the Archdiocese of Brisbane.


Alive in the Spirit - 310521

Online conference seeks to grow faith communities

An online event in July will invite people in Australia and beyond to think about how faith communities can emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for the first Assembly of the Plenary Council.
Alive in the Spirit will feature more than 30 on-demand workshops exploring areas such as best practice for RCIA, how to engage beyond the margins of existing faith communities, planning for mission and renewal, supporting pastoral care, social justice initiatives and much more.
Keynote speakers include Plenary Council facilitator Lana Turvey-Collins, Boston College professor Fr Richard Lennan and Leisa Anslinger, associate director of pastoral vitality for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
Alive in the Spirit is a joint initiative of the Pastoral Ministry Network, Christian Initiation Australia Network and the Mission Planners Network Oceania.  
With thanks to the Plenary Council and the ACBC.
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:

Ambassador: Pope is watching Australia

December 2020
Pope Francis is closely following the Catholic Church in Australia, in part because of the upcoming Plenary Council, according to Australia’s new ambassador to the Holy See.

Chiara Porro took up her post in August and, in an interview with Parramatta Diocese’s Catholic Outlook, she said the Holy Father is “switched on to what is happening in Australia”.

One reason is because of the Church’s recent engagement with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the ambassador said. She added that the Church in Australia is seen as dealing with the issue of child sexual abuse more effectively than some other countries.

But the Pope is also looking to the future.

“Pope Francis is now watching things like the Plenary Council and how the Australian Bishops Conference manages this point in time. He is seeing how they refocus and highlight all the good work done by the Catholic community in Australia,” says Ambassador Porro.

Click here to read more from Catholic Outlook.

Mary MacKillop and the Plenary Council

December 2020

St Mary of the Cross MacKillop is one of two saints — the other being Our Lady Help of Christians — whose intercession is asked for in the Plenary Council prayer.

And one of the people helping continue Mary MacKillop’s legacy says Mary is someone who lived the life the Council’s themes envision.

“I think of the Plenary Council that we are going through as a Church in Australia and I have seen the themes for discernment. Mary MacKillop brought to life these themes in her work,” said Antoinette Mangion, coordinator of the Blacktown Josephite Companions group and a member of the NSW leadership team.

“She was missionary and evangelising. She was inclusive. She was humble, and steadfast, in the work she did. She was prayerful and Eucharistic. She brought people together in thanksgiving. She called the ‘Will of God’ her ‘Book of Life’. And she lived that story as true as she could.

“Again, Mary lived hundreds of years ago, but her story and the Plenary Council themes for discernment speak to each other so much. I can see that the themes we have been offered through Plenary are not new, but like Mary did, brought them to life as she responded to the world in which she lived.”

Click here to read more on Mary MacKillop and the Plenary Council from Catholic Outlook.


The ongoing journey of discernment

December 2020

Prayer, discernment and reflection were central to a recent gathering of Plenary Council delegates from the Archdiocese of Perth as they continue to prepare for the Council assemblies.

The two-hour session was facilitated by St John of God Health Care mission leader Tara Peters, pictured above, who also sits on the Archdiocese of Perth Plenary Council Strategy and Engagement Reference Group. It began with delegates sharing their experiences of personal and group discernment, before reflecting on Scriptural passages.

“Recognising that this is a newly formed group, this is one of many upcoming opportunities to come together as representatives of the Archdiocese, and participate in a shared discernment process with purpose and intentionality,” Ms Peters said.

During the session, Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB spoke briefly about the need to listen in this process of discernment.


“A group discernment provides the wisdom of, in one sense, the whole Church … we need the wisdom of other people to listen to that openly,” Archbishop Costelloe said.“That is a key part of listening to the Holy Spirit.

“The wisdom of women, young people, men, old people, people of disability, anybody, we have restricted our listening too much in the past, and this is one thing that we discovered during the listening and dialogue session phase of the Plenary Council,” he added. 

Click hear to read more from The Record.

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….

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.
December 2020
This is a letter that was sent by the Sense of the Faithful Committee to the Plenary Council delegates.

Towards the Plenary Council Working Document: Some Reflections

October 2020
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
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
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:

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.

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:

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.