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. 

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:
CFR Logo7
Newsletter, 11 February 2021
“Synodality – the inclusive element”
A larger text .PDF version of this Newsletter is available HERE
1.Editorial: Synodality – the inclusive element
Know the Dioceses (3rd group of diocese profiles available)
Supportive Letter to Bishop Brady on Nuclear Prohibition Treaty
Victorian Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020
News and Opinion Updates
Getting Back On Mission
Synodality – the inclusive element
Inclusion Wikiversity
Inclusion, Wikiversity. Each person counts. Each forms part of the whole.
What’s to be expected of the forthcoming Plenary Council and a renewed Church?
In response to Pope Francis’ strong reaffirmation of the Vatican II synodal Church and with high hopes for renewal by many Catholics the first session of Australia’s 5th Plenary Council commences on 3 October.
The Full Editorial considers a key element of synodal culture – inclusiveness – and may be accessed HERE
A brief and complementary ‘Video Summary’ of the Editorial (4’15”) has also been produced for reader convenience and may be viewed HERE.
Beyond the editorial, history interestingly records that the Open Letter to Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Bishops of Australia, sponsored by Catholics for Renewal in 2011 for the Australian Bishops’ ad limina visit to Rome and signed by more than 8,000 Catholics contains the recommendation ‘that each diocesan bishop convene at an early date a synod in his diocese, under the provisions of Canon Law (C.460-468), to discuss how the local Church might be a more authentic witness to Christ in the 21st century’.
1. Full Editorial HERE
2. Video summary of Editorial (4’15”) HERE

 PlenaryPost  edition 30 December 2020 

As 2020 draws towards its conclusion, it would have been hard to imagine 12 months ago how much our world — and our Plenary Council journey — would change in the subsequent year.
In a world without COVID-19, the first assembly would already have been held in Adelaide, and the important work in continuing the pilgrimage to the second assembly would have commenced. Instead, we saw the assemblies postponed by 12 months, and now the first assembly has moved to a new “multi-modal” format to ensure we can plan with confidence.
Despite the delays and the adjustments, the journey of the Plenary Council continues in a spirit of prayer, dialogue and discernment. This edition of PlenaryPost shares stories from near and far about the Council, including insights into the international significance of the Church in Australia treading this important and rare path.


Hope-filled preparation — for Christmas and for the Council

by Peter Gates
Greetings. It is a pleasure again to share a few moments of the journey of this Plenary Council with you. As I write I am aware of the progress of Advent and our anticipation of the Christmas event, the coming of Emmanuel, God with us.
It is a time of preparation and, I must admit, for me a time of hope-filled preparation. In some ways, it is not too dissimilar to the hope-filled preparation we are experiencing in this journey of the Plenary Council — though it is true that Advent is much, much shorter!
While we are approaching the end of Advent, this Plenary Council prayer resource has been shared throughout the country and might be a source of focus for your prayer in the coming days.
Pope Francis, in the recent encyclical Fratelli Tutti, “invites everyone to renewed hope, for hope ‘speaks to us of something deeply rooted in every human heart … Hope speaks to us of a thirst, an aspiration, a longing for a life of fulfilment, a desire to achieve great things, things that fill our heart and lift our spirit to lofty realities like truth, goodness and beauty, justice and love … Hope is bold … and can open us up to grand ideals that make life more beautiful and worthwhile’. Let us continue, then, to advance along the path of hope.”
This seems a beautiful expression of the hope we share for all people as we prepare for Christmas, and as we pray in the Plenary Council prayer for “a hope-filled future, that we may live the joy of the Gospel”.
Some of the preparations taking place at the moment include finalising the working document for the Plenary Council, known as the instrumentum laboris, and the statutes and regulatory norms that will help guide the proceedings of the assemblies.
By now you would have heard the significant news of the decision that the first assembly of the Plenary Council will not take place in Adelaide but rather will be a combination of online and face-to-face participation due to the ongoing uncertainty over restrictions on travel and gatherings. So the October 2021 assembly will be “multi-modal”. You can read more on that below.
I can also share that there will be extra delegates called to participate in the Plenary Council assemblies, after our request to the Vatican for the option to welcome more members of our Catholic community was granted (in part).
As this most unusual of years nears its conclusion, it is timely to offer thanks to so many who have, in one way or another, contributed in varied, unique and special ways to the Plenary Council. Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit continues to guide us all and leads us into a hope-filled future and, as Pope Francis says, “Let us continue, then, to advance along the path of hope”.
Our great thanks and wishes of blessings and peace for you and all your loved ones this Christmas.


Synodality and Mission

The teaching of Scripture and Tradition show that synodality is an essential dimension of the Church. Through synodality, the Church reveals and configures herself as the pilgrim People of God and as the assembly convoked by the risen Lord…. Synodality is not simply a working procedure, but the particular form in which the Church lives and operates.
Synodality is lived out in the Church in the service of mission; she exists in order to evangelise. The whole People of God is an agent of the proclamation of the Gospel. Every baptised person is called to be a protagonist of mission since we are all missionary disciples. The Church is called, in synodal synergy, to activate the ministries and charisms present in her life and to listen to the voice of the Spirit, in order to discern the ways of evangelisation.
— From the International Theological Commission’s 2018 document Synodality in the Life and Mission of the Church.


First assembly moves to “multi-modal” delivery

Ongoing uncertainty over travel restrictions and limits on gatherings have prompted the decision to hold the first assembly of the Plenary Council in a mix of online and face-to-face formats.
The decision was based on feedback from a number of groups, including the steering committee for the Council assemblies, the Plenary Council’s facilitation team and risk assessors.
Plenary Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB said while COVID-19 travel restrictions might be lifted by the time of the first assembly, ongoing social distancing requirements and questions around flight schedules and costs were concerns.
“In announcing earlier this year the postponement of the first assembly for 12 months, we were confident that by October 2021 restrictions in relation to travel and public gatherings would have largely disappeared,” he said.
“This now appears much less certain. Among other concerns, the Adelaide venue we had selected was unlikely to be able to host the gathering of more than 300 people due to social distancing requirements.”
Archbishop Costelloe said the bishops, during their recent biannual meeting, wrestled with the decision before conceding that the move to a multi-modal gathering was the only realistic option.
With thanks to the Plenary Council and the ACBC.

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.