What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?
It is this question that has moved the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference to announce a Plenary Council of the Church in Australia to be held in the year 2020.
The Bishops Conference has received approval from Pope Francis for the celebration of this Council, the first such Council to be held in Australia for some 80 years.
What is a Plenary Council?
A Plenary Council is the highest formal gathering of all local churches in a country. Our Plenary Council 2020 is being held so that we can dialogue about the future of the Catholic Church in Australia. 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 2020 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.
Why are we having a Plenary Council in 2020?
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.”
It is being held in 2020 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 the relevance of the Catholic Church in Australia.
Plenary Council Prayer
Come, Holy Spirit of Pentecost.
Come, Holy Spirit of the great South Land.
O God, bless and unite all your people in Australia
and guide us on the pilgrim way of the Plenary Council.
Give us the grace to see your face in one another
and to recognise Jesus, our companion on the road.
Give us the courage to tell our stories
and to speak boldly of your truth.
Give us ears to listen humbly to each other
and a discerning heart to hear what you are saying.
Lead your Church into a hope-filled future,
that we may live the joy of the Gospel.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
bread for the journey from age to age.
Our Lady Help of Christians, pray for us.
St Mary MacKillop, pray for us.
Your voice is important. 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.
These documents are the steps for a Listening and Dialogue Encounter.
National website - www.plenarycouncil.catholic.org.au
For more information about the Plenary Council and how you can be involved, please contact the Townsville Diocesan Office on 07 4726 3200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org