Pope Francis approved the Australian Bishop’s decision to hold a Plenary Council in Australia in 2020 and 2021. It is a significant moment for the Church in Australia to make decisions about the future. Pope Francis states that, a synodal church is a church that listens, which realises that listening is more than simply hearing. It is a mutual listening in which everyone has something to learn. The faithful people, the college of bishops, the Bishop of Rome: all listening to each other, and all listening to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth.
To prepare the agenda for the Plenary Council, all of God’s people were invited to reflect on the question: “What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?”
The celebration phase of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia ended on Saturday, July 9, as Archbishop Timothy Costelloe formally closed the Council and celebrated the closing Mass.
More than 222,000 people participated in Listening and Dialogue, contributing 17,457 submissions. The voices of the faithful help all of us to understand something of the historical experience and the current reality of the Catholic Church in Australia. This gathered data also reveals some deeper hopes and questions, and the diverse yearnings, that we are now challenged to consider together.
The voices in the Listening and Dialogue submissions inspired The National Themes for Discernment:
How is God calling us to be a Christ-centred Church that is:
Writing and Discernment groups were established, and Thematic Papers have been written. Following further consultation, feedback and discernment the Instrumentum Laboris will be written.
Two gatherings will be held. The first in Adelaide in October 2021 and the second in July 2022 in Sydney.
This will take place after both sessions of the Plenary Council.