First Plenary Council for Australian Catholics in decades

Australia’s Catholic Church is making plans to hold the country’s first Plenary Council in over 80 years.

Pope Francis has approved the national ecclesiastical gathering.

The Plenary Council will meet twice – once in central Australia in late 2020 and again on the eastern seaboard in mid-2021.

The Council’s aim is to make plans to address challenges the Church faces in contemporary Australian society.

Council delegates will seek deeper discernment, further learning, and dialogue.

A series of listening and dialogue sessions for establishing the Council’s agenda begins on 20 May this year.

Pope Francis has endorsed Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe’s nomination as the Council president.

Costelloe says he is “committed to listening to the Spirit.

“I encourage all Catholics, whether devout or disillusioned, fervent or frustrated, to seize this opportunity to speak what is on their minds and in their minds.”

Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, who is the chair of the Bishops Commission for the Council, has asked people to “join in prayer as we embark on this journey together as God’s people in Australia.”

He says the gathering “will be a unique opportunity for people to come together and listen to God in all the ways God speaks to us, and in particular by listening to one another as together we discern what God is asking of us at this time – a time when the Church in Australia is facing significant challenges.

“We sincerely hope the preparation and celebration of the Plenary Council is a time when all parts of the Church listen to and dialogue with one another as we explore together how we might answer the question: ‘What do you think God is asking of us in Australia?’”

The bishops of Australia have launched a website for the Plenary Council to help people better understand how they can participate in the discussion process.

The website can be found at

Decisions made at the Plenary Council will become binding for the Catholic Church in Australia, subject to the Holy See’s approval.


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