Plenary Council

2022           Plenary Council Website


The last Plenary Council held was in 1937… 85 years ago.

The Plenary Council First Assembly has concluded

Why are we having a Plenary Council?

There are many reasons for having a Plenary Council for the Catholic Church in Australia: Pope Francis has invited the local Church to dialogue; the contemporary society of Australia has changed significantly; and the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse has been a significant and influential event that requires deep consideration and response.
When the Australian Catholic Bishops announced the decision to hold a Plenary Council, Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge said that “the Church is not the presence in our society it once was. We need to take a measure of that and make decisions accordingly. The culture in which we have to proclaim the Gospel is very different to what it was even 20 or 30 years ago.”
The journey is taking place over several years in order to give the Catholic community in Australia time to listen, dialogue and discern with one another and, guided by the Holy Spirit, about the future, the role and relevance of the Catholic Church in Australia.
Visit the Plenary website for more details. 
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.


Synod of Bishops 2021 – 2023

June 2022
Our local Church in Melbourne has brought together a Report in response to Pope Francis’ invitation for the universal Church to reflect upon: For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission; the theme of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which will take place on October 2023.
The Report will now take its part in a combined national report, which will be sent to the General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops to be considered alongside contributions from other parts of the Church around the world.
Please be encouraged to read the voices from our people, and the introductory message from Archbishop Peter. 

PlenaryPost edition 47 May 26th 2022

If counting down to milestones is your thing, we today find ourselves 38 days away from the Mass to open the second assembly of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia, with the Council’s formal program to begin the following day on July 4. More than 300 people — members, advisers, observers and support personnel — will be in Sydney to see the celebration stage of the Plenary Council reach its conclusion.
As happened during the first assembly, there will be portions of each day’s proceedings live-streamed, typically in the opening session, which starts at 8.30am AEST. All Masses during the assembly will be live-streamed. A full live-streaming schedule will be shared in the next edition of PlenaryPost.
The closing Mass of the Plenary Council, to be celebrated at 10.30am on Saturday, July 9 at St Mary’s Cathedral, is also open to the public.
The Walking in the Spirit prayer pilgrimage resources, launched on Easter Sunday, have been well received and are being used in various contexts across the country. We invite you to continue to accompany the Members and the wider Catholic community in prayer as we build up to the second general assembly.
As we move towards the second assembly, the Plenary Council website continues to be a useful place to stay up-to-date with what’s happening and where we are walking together.
Keep an eye out for editions of PlenaryPost on the last Thursday of each month through 2022. Send suggestions on local content that can be included to



Send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth

by Marion Gambin rsj

Dear Friends, 
As I write this Facilitator Focus for this 47th edition of PlenaryPost, I’m very mindful that we are now just over five weeks from when the Members and support personnel will gather in Sydney for the second assembly of the Plenary Council! Since the end of the first assembly, in October last year, the journey of prayer and discernment has continued, during the past eight months, as of course it will during the second assembly from July 3-9.
During the month of June, the Members will be meeting each Tuesday evening, online, to make their final preparations for the assembly. You are all encouraged to accompany the Members with prayer through making use of the prayer resources – Walking in the Spirit – provided by the Liturgy Working Group and available on the Plenary Council website. 
The first of these meetings will be an opportunity for the Members to engage in conversation using the Motions Framework Document. This is the document which will be used for discernment and decision-making during the second assembly and will be available to you via the Plenary Council website from next week. It is the document that has emerged from the process that you, the Catholic community, were invited into, involving listening, discernment and dialogue over the past four years, following the commencement of the Plenary Council in 2018. The Drafting Committee has worked tirelessly in the past months to incorporate the discerned responses from the Members of the Plenary Council to the “Fruits” document, which was the outcome of the first assembly. The Members will now have an opportunity to reflect on the Motions Framework Document, during the first two weeks of June, and provide any recommendations for amendments to the Drafting Committee. Listening, discernment and dialogue continue to be the essential ingredients to bring us to a place of being a more “Christ-centred, missionary Church in Australia”.
On June 6, we celebrate the wonderful feast of Pentecost. The response following the first reading of the liturgy for that day calls on God to send out the Spirit and renew the face of the earth. Let us all continue to pray for one another that the Spirit will renew and transform us, individually and as a faith community of missionary disciples.
In the words of our Plenary Council prayer…”Lead your Church into a hope-filled future, that we may live the joy of the Gospel”.
Blessings of peace,
Marion — for the Facilitation Team


A time for keep silence, a time to speak

There is “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak”. These words, as you well know, are not my own. They are taken from the book of Ecclesiastes 3:7. There is a time for silence and a time for words. The two go together: there is not one without the other. A time of silence without a time to speak, as well as a time to speak without a time for silence, lead to unpleasant consequences. Silence should lead to speech, and speech should lead to silence. Speech without silence easily becomes hollow words. Silence without speech can easily lead to a state of apathy and irresponsibility.
Unfortunately, the Church is not an exception. Often, it has spoken where it should have remained silent. And, often, it remained silent where it should have spoken. I’m not referring here to the Church’s engagement ad extra, with the external world, although what I am saying is also applicable to this realm. Often, the Church could have been more vociferous in its fight for justice, in its defence of the poor, but chose to keep its mouth shut. On the other hand, often the Church should have been more prudent, but chose to speak and speak too much. Sadly, this is all true. However, I wish to focus on the Church’s engagement ad intra, with itself and the different realities that constitute it. I wish to focus on the culture of silence in the Church, on those internal problems about which the Church should have spoken but chose, because it was convenient, to remain silent. There are problems, issues, within the Church about which we choose to remain silent rather than speaking. The clearest example which comes to everyone’s mind is the sexual abuse crisis that the Church went through and is still going through.
Unfortunately, this is not the only instance of a problem in the Church about which we choose to remain silent. What about the general silence concerning the deep divisions within the Catholic church? Between conservatives and liberals? Between those who exclusively want the ordinary form and those who want the extraordinary form? What about the political divisions in the Church? What about the divisions between the local Churches in the global west and the local Churches in the global south? What about the continuous struggle to make the priesthood of the baptised work hand in hand with sacramental priesthood? What about the role of women in the Church? How can one explain we have Catholics who want to exclude certain categories from our pews? These are all issues in the Church about which we rarely have a frank and open discussion. These are issues which we all acknowledge to be present but about which we prefer to remain silent. Or, even worse, choose to raise these issues within smaller groups made up of people having a common opinion. Rather than having an open, frank discussion, we end up in a Church made up of cliques. Rather than dialogue, we have a culture of us against them. The Church should speak about these issues, but often chooses to remain silent.
— An excerpt from a homily Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, gave at a conference on Synodality at Oxford in March. Click here to read the full homily.
With thanks to the Plenary Council and the ACBC.

Archbishop Costelloe to lead Bishops Conference

Plenary Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has been elected president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference at its biannual meeting.
Archbishop Costelloe, who was appointed president of the Plenary Council in 2018, will take on the Conference role in mid-July — after the Council’s second assembly.
“As we continue to contemplate how we live out the Gospel in this age, including through the Plenary Council, I look forward to working with my brother bishops and the People of God to carry forward Christ’s mission,” Archbishop Costelloe said.
Archbishop Costelloe paid tribute to Archbishop Mark Coleridge, who had served as Bishops Conference president for four years.
“Archbishop Coleridge has been a calm and considered leader locally and in the global Church and will be a trusted adviser for me in this new role,” he said.
Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP was re-elected vice-president of the Bishops Conference.

Evangelisation conference mixes online, face-to-face

The Australian Bishops Commission for Evangelisation, Laity and Ministry will host a national online conference on evangelisation from October 20-22.
The conference will promote understanding and explore practices of evangelisation in Australia through encounters with Christ, formation in discipleship and mission in the world. It seeks to encourage Catholics to carry forward the Church’s evangelising mission after the second assembly of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia.
Commission chair Archbishop Christopher Prowse said he was excited about the opportunities the conference would provide to explore the understanding, language and diversity of evangelisation in Australia, while supporting local dialogue and action.
“Evangelisation begins with an encounter with Jesus Christ, is nurtured through discipleship in our worshipping communities and calls us all to be missionary in the world,” he said. “This responsibility is not just for those in leadership, but for all.
“This conference for evangelisation will highlight the interconnection of the missionary call of each baptised person and dynamic faith communities in fulfilling the Church’s mission to evangelise. Local communities are encouraged to host gatherings to be a part of the conference dialogue.”
Online content will be streamed to provide stimulus and conversation-starters for local gatherings. The hybrid event will allow more people to participate than would have happened with an event held in-person only, the organisers explain.

Recently ordained bishops gather for seminar

Seven bishops ordained in the past couple of years gathered in Canberra this month for a seminar to assist them as they continue to develop in their ministry.
The seminar for new bishops was designed to complement the annual event the Congregation for Bishops hosts in Rome. The local offering includes input from experienced Australian bishops about various aspects of their ministry as well as sessions on key works of the Bishops Conference and how individual bishops collaborate with their brother bishops.
Sessions during the four-day gathering covered topics such as pastoral governance and supervision, professional standards and safeguarding, canon law, synodality and media engagement.
All active bishops are Members of the Plenary Council.

The intersection of the Synod and Plenary Council


As Bishop Shane Mackinlay explains in the video above, when Pope Francis decided to hold what is now known as the Synod on Synodality, the Church in Australia found itself with some groundwork having already been laid in preparing for the Plenary Council.

Bishop Mackinlay, the Plenary Council’s vice president, says in the video that the global Synod of Bishops process can draw on the Plenary Council’s lessons, and the Plenary Council will have the chance to learn from the local consultation phase for the Synod that is currently underway.

He explains some of the intersecting aspects of the two timelines for the Synod and the Plenary Council, and how people can continue to participate in both.

Click here to watch the full video or click on the video icon above.


Integral Ecclesiology

Fr Richard Lennan, Professor of Systematic Theology at Boston College, addressed the First Assembly of the Plenary Council as one of its expert advisors. He explained that we need an ‘integral ecclesiology’ to parallel Pope Francis’ ‘integral ecology’.
An integral ecclesiology, or theology of the Church, will mean taking into account how as many factors as possible fit in with our relationship with God, and with who we are as a people of faith. Fr Lennan urged Catholics to ‘sniff out the presence of God in the world and to celebrate that presence when we find it’.
By going to ‘the peripheries’ as Pope Francis constantly encourages us to do, and listening to people pushed to the edges, we can hear the cry of the poor. This cry must be paired with the cry of the earth in an integral ecology. Both integral ecology and integral ecclesiology must inform mission.

Watch the video presentation here 

Preview: Plenary Matters


Preview: Plenary Matters

Shaping the future of the Catholic Church in Australia

Join prominent Australian broadcaster and Catholic Geraldine Doogue for her new podcast, Plenary Matters. She’ll follow an important gathering of the Catholic Church in Australia – the Plenary Council. The last one was in 1937 … yes, it’s been a long time between drinks! And this one REALLY matters to the future of the Church….which is swamped with challenges. Geraldine has held on through this difficult period because she believes in the ability of the Church to ‘resurrect’ itself. Join Geraldine as she speaks to other Catholics who are interested in shaping a new, modern Church. 

The First Plenary Council Session may be over, however, you can still catch-up with the discussions held each night.

Plenary Tracker

A daily Zoom with exclusive news, insights, and panel discussions
hosted by respected former ABC presenter Genevieve Jacobs AM. 
Every night from Sunday October 3 to October 10 at 7.30 AEDT, Genevieve spoke with Plenary members and insiders summarising, highlighting, and discussing each day’s events.
Plenary Tracker was brought to you by the Australasian Catholic Coalition for Church Reform in partnership with Concerned Catholics Canberra Goulburn, and with the support of Garratt Publishing.
A number of guests joined Genevieve each night. Click here to view the guest list and their biographies.


Genevieve is the Group Editor for Region Media, Australia’s fastest growing digital news platform.
Genevieve chairs the ACT arts minister’s Creative Advisory Council and co-chairs the ACT Reconciliation Council.
She sits on the boards of the Cultural Facilities Corporation, the National Folk Festival and is deputy chair of the Canberra International Music Festival. She is also a director of the Conflict Resolution Service and the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture.
Integrating Indigenous Spirituality, a focus of the Plenary Council

During the first General Assembly of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia, where around 300 members from across the nation  gathered online between 3-10 October, a small group of members are focusing on the important agenda questions: 
How might the Church in Australia open in new ways to Indigenous ways of being Christian in spirituality, theology, liturgy, and missionary discipleship? And how might we learn from the First Nations peoples?
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:
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

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:
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

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.