“Together, we are on a journey of listening to God by listening to one another. We invite all Australians to engage in an open and inclusive process of listening, dialogue and discernment about the future of the Catholic Church in Australia. Your voice is needed – join in! Speak boldly and with passion, listen with an open and humble heart. With faith and guided by God’s Holy Spirit, we journey together, toward the future.” - from the official website of the Australia Catholic Church Plenary Council 2020. (http://plenarycouncil.catholic.org.au)
Delegates from the 34 local churches (=dioceses) of Australia will gather across two sessions in 2020 and 2021 to enable deeper discernment, further learning, and dialogue. The process begins at Pentecost 2018 and will help form the agenda for the Council.
In approving the Plenary Council, Pope Francis also endorsed the bishops’ nomination of Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB as the president of the Plenary Council. Archbishop Costelloe said: “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 hearts.”
In a statement by the Australian Bishops Conference, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, chair of the Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council, said 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?’”