Welcome to PlenaryPost

It wasn’t necessarily planned this way, but as the PlenaryPost publishes our 50th edition, we also bring down the curtain on this particular project for the Plenary Council.

Over the past four years, almost 10,000 different people have received this newsletter, which has been one vehicle among many for the sharing of the work of the Plenary Council. Thank you for your prayers and support through these years and for participating in the life of the Council in your local contexts. Just as the Council began at the local level, its ongoing legacy will be lived out largely at the local level, invigorating the lives of individuals and communities.

Read on for some updates on the life of synodality in the Church, details on upcoming events that will draw on the Plenary Council and for advice on other newsletters that might be useful sources of information like what has been published in PlenaryPost.


We have made ‘a true pilgrimage of faith’ over these four years

by Marion Gambin rsj


We have arrived at the 50th and final edition of the PlenaryPost!

As the Facilitation Team ends its role in this four-year journey of the Plenary Council, we are so mindful that we have made this journey supported by the prayer and interest of each of you through this monthly newsletter and we are so grateful.

While the PlenaryPost will not be sent out each month, the Plenary Council website will continue to be a wonderful source of communication, with all the resources accumulated over the past four years still available and a vehicle also to communicate news of the implementation phase. This week you will find on the website more reflections from the Members of the Plenary Council, as they share their personal experience of the second assembly.

This week Archbishop Timothy Costelloe has written a letter to all those who were Members of the Plenary Council. He says that this journey has been a “true pilgrimage of faith”. It seems to me that this is a message for all of us in whatever way we have been involved.

As the implementation phase takes shape over the next few months, I invite you to reflect on how you will continue to make this pilgrimage of faith in your local community, your parish, your diocese, your place of work and ministry.
Some ways that may enable you to do this are recommended through several events happening this year as well as the Mission: One Heart, Many Voices Conference in 2023. These are advertised below.

Thank you again for your contribution to the journey of the Plenary Council.
Wishing you an abundance of blessings of peace and hope for all the future holds for you.

Marion – for the Facilitation Team


We will address a new question in each e-newsletter. To catch up on previous editions, you can check out the Plenary Council FAQ page. If you have a question, email it to us and we will include it in future editions of PlenaryPost.

The question for this edition is…

Where can I find the final Council decrees?

During the second general assembly, more than 35 motions were put to a consultative and a deliberative vote. Those motions that received a qualified majority in the deliberative vote – two-thirds of voters eligible and present – were passed by the Plenary Council. They were confirmed as the decrees of the Plenary Council.

After the November 2022 meeting of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, the decrees will be sent to the Apostolic See. In accordance with canon 446 of the Code of Canon Law, decrees are not to be promulgated until they have been reviewed by the Apostolic See. They will be promulgated in the Australasian Catholic Record and the website of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference in accordance with its usual practice. The decrees will oblige six months after promulgation.

The decrees and other material can be found on the home page of the Plenary Council website.


Archbishop Costelloe: Work of discernment must continue

Matthew’s Gospel tells us that, when those first disciples encountered Jesus on the mountain, “they fell down before him, though some hesitated”. For some that hesitation might well have been born of their continuing struggle to grasp the overwhelming mystery of the resurrection. For others it might have been the still raw pain of their own desertion of Jesus in the last hours of his life. Whatever the explanation, Matthew offers no hint that the commission to go out and make disciples was withheld from those whose faith was weak or faltering. Indeed, how could it have been otherwise?

Across the Gospel tradition it was only the beloved disciple who remained faithful as the horror of the passion and death of Jesus unfolded. The other disciples all deserted the Lord. What Saint Paul once said of himself seems to be the Lord’s preferred way of acting: “God chooses what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chooses what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor 1:27). At times this week we, like the first disciples, have experienced what it means to struggle with the reality and the call of the Gospel. As we gather together this morning we recognise that the struggle must continue, that we must continue on the path of discernment, and that there is still more to discover about where the Holy Spirit seeks to lead us.

We, the holy people of God, may well be foolish or seem so to others, but if we are genuinely committed to following the way of the Lord we will be living and effective signs of the wisdom of God, revealed in the suffering and dying Christ. We, the holy people of God, may well be weak or seem so to others, but if we are genuinely trying, even if not always successfully, to live the values of the Gospel and to have in ourselves the same mind that was in Christ Jesus, we will be witnesses to the strength that comes not from ourselves but from the Christ who, we believe, lives in us.

In the end this is what the Plenary Council has been about. We know that we are called and sent as witnesses to the love and mercy of God. We know that we are called to recognise the signs of the times and to interpret them in the light of the Gospel. We know that we are chosen and empowered by God’s Spirit to be, in Christ, a living and effective sign of communion with God and of unity among all people.

The Plenary Council has been an important step along the way and we have discerned together some particular pathways along which we are called to walk at this time. We have tried, and at times struggled, and perhaps occasionally failed, to listen carefully to each other. The Lord never promised that discipleship would be without its challenges. What he did promise is that he would be with us always — and the gift of his Spirit is the enduring fulfilment of that promise. As we now prepare to return home the question remains: what was and what is the Spirit saying to us as we have lived and worked with each other, spoken and listened to each other, grappled with each other, and glimpsed each other’s giftedness and frailty?

This is the work of discernment and it must continue. We have made some decisions, opened up some possibilities, and experienced the depth and complexity of some of the challenges we face. All of this is the gift of the Holy Spirit. We have much still to do if we are to be in practice what we understand ourselves to be by vocation. As we now entrust the work we have done together to the discernment of the Bishop of Rome, so that he might strengthen us in our faith (Lk 22:32), the invitation is there for us to re-commit ourselves to this task of communion and unity so that the world might believe that it was God who sent Jesus among us (cf. John 17:23), and that we are witnesses to that.

il 1:6).

An excerpt from Archbishop Timothy Costelloe’s homily at the closing Mass of the Plenary Council. Click here to read the full homily.


National Synod of Bishops synthesis published

Catholics in Australia have expressed a strong need for a Church that is missionary and a Eucharistic community that is inclusive, the national synthesis for the global Synod on Synodality reveals.

The Australian synthesis, which emerged from a nine-month process that began in October 2021, draws from the diocesan consultation phase for the Synod of Bishops.

Earlier this year, Australian dioceses published a report on the findings of their local consultation – a process that every diocese around the world undertook. The National Centre for Pastoral Research prepared the national synthesis based on those diocesan reports.

Trudy Dantis, the Centre’s director, said there was much to draw upon from the diocesan reports, which themselves were the result of hundreds of submissions from groups and individuals.

“We also recognised that the Church in Australia captured very rich information through the Plenary Council, much of which was relevant to the experience of synodality,” she said.

“Through the Synod of Bishops and the Plenary Council, we have been able to capture and listen more deeply to the voices of people within and beyond the Catholic population.”

Click here to read the full story.

Click here to access the synthesis and read more on the Synod of Bishops.

Plenary Council can inspire Church decision-making

Bishops Conference president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has challenged leaders from Catholic health and aged care services to use the example of the Plenary Council as a “Christ-centred” way to operate in the future.

Decision-making at the Plenary Council was based on “synodality”, which is often defined as “journeying together as the People of God”.

“… [W]e should be making our decisions not just as a corporate body, or something like that, but also as a group of disciples,” Archbishop Costelloe told delegates at the Catholic Health Australia national conference this week.

Catholic Health Australia’s network makes up about 10 percent of hospital-based healthcare in Australia, 12 percent of aged care facilities and 20 per cent of home care and support for the elderly.

Archbishop Costelloe said it was fundamental that decisions be made that are “Christ-centred”, conceding this was “not the normal way of making decisions that most of us experience in many other settings”.

He said the Plenary Council’s second assembly had demonstrated “the complexity, the challenge and the treasure of synodality”.

Click here to read the full story.

Social Justice Sunday to be marked this weekend

Australia’s bishops have used their annual social justice statement to condemn the scourge of domestic and family violence, saying relationships must be “marked by respect and freedom rather than coercion and control”.

The Church in Australia has published social justice statements each year since the 1940s on a wide range of topics. This year’s statement is titled Respect: Confronting Violence and Abuse.

The document draws on data around family and domestic violence, and gathers the insights of people – especially women – on that data. It also reflects on the words and example of Jesus.

“The teaching of Christ urges us to promote relationships marked by respect and freedom rather than coercion and control,” Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB writes in the foreword.

“The message of the Gospel is not a message of domination of one person over another but a message of mutual esteem and kindness.”

The Church in Australia marks Social Justice Sunday on the final Sunday in August — August 28 this year.

Click here to read the full story.

Click here to access the Social Justice Statement and related resources.

Council themes, outcomes to shape upcoming events

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC), the Catholic leadership body of Australia’s First Peoples, is convening its Assembly in Townsville next month.

The Assembly provides an opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholics (and those working alongside communities) to come together to celebrate faith and culture.

As we continue to move forward in a world that has changed dramatically during the COVID pandemic, it has never been more important for Australia’s First Peoples to once again meet face to face. The strength and fulfillment that meeting in person provides is a cornerstone to maintaining and strengthening networks within the world’s oldest continuing culture.

Further details of the Assembly can be found at this website.

The Bishops Commission for Evangelisation, Laity and Ministry will host Evangelise, a national online conference on evangelisation, from October 20-22. 

The conference will promote understanding and explore practices of evangelisation in Australia through encounters with Christ, formation in discipleship and mission in the world. It seeks to empower Catholics to carry forward the Church’s evangelising mission after the second assembly of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia.

Further details of the Assembly can be found at this website

The Mission: One Heart, Many Voices conference, set for May 2023, is for those who are inspired to strive creatively for justice, peace, reconciliation, mercy and God’s mission for all. 

It is a unique opportunity to listen, converse and experience the many and diverse voices that are an expression of the one heart of mission and with the hope to empower participants with a vision of mission that is scriptural and theological, enabling, encouraging and inspiring us all to take up the challenges the Gospel and Pope Francis lay before us. All those passionate about mission, in leadership roles in parishes, communities, organisations and agencies, are invited to come together and join a conversation that may enable us all to live the joy of the Gospel and lead and act for mission now.

Further details of the Assembly can be found at www.mohmv.com.au

Stay in touch with news about the Church

While today marks the final edition of the PlenaryPost after more than four years, lots of news relevant to subscribers to this newsletter will still be published and shared through various online platforms. Here are some recommended newsletters that you may wish to subscribe to if you don’t already.

CATHNEWS is a news aggregation newsletter service published Monday to Friday. It has been published since 1996, and has since 2017 been a ministry of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. The newsletter is available free of charge by email.

Click here to subscribe.

THE BRIDGE is one of the primary resources of the National Centre for Evangelisation, an agency of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. It seeks to serve those who are striving to share their Catholic faith. Published electronically every two months, it provides stories of inspiration and faith formation. It will keep you up-to-date with Catholic events and resources.

Click here to learn more and subscribe.

PASTORAL RESEARCH ONLINE is the newsletter of the National Centre for Pastoral Research, an agency of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. The newsletter is published quarterly and includes news about research and developments within the Church.

Click here to access previous issues and to subscribe.

Copyright © 2022 Plenary Council 2020, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you opted in via our website.

Our mailing address is:

Plenary Council 2020

PO Box 747

North Sydney, NSW2059


Add us to your address book

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.