In 2017, the Bishops of Australia took the extraordinary move to propose that the Australian Church hold a ‘plenary council’—a gathering of bishops and other representatives of the Church. The last Australian one was held in 1937, marking more than 80 years since the last one was held.

With Pope Francis’ blessing and encouragement, the Bishops embarked on inviting the entire People of God in Australia to prepare for this historic gathering. All Catholics were invited to participate and have a voice.

Catholics across Australia were encouraged to gather in groups to enter into a first stage of discernment involving prayer, listening and dialogue and respond to the question: What is God asking of us in Australia at this time?

From the more than 17,000 submissions made, six themes for discernment were developed:

How is God calling us to be a Christ-centred Church that is:

  • missionary and evangelising;
  • inclusive, participatory and synodal;
  • prayerful and Eucharistic;
  • humble, healing and merciful;
  • a joyful, hope-filled servant community;
  • open to conversion, renewal and reform?

Writing groups then came together to further develop the themes with discernment papers produced and 267 delegates were invited to participate in the Plenary Council. A list of the delegates, including those from Melbourne can be found here.

The two sessions of the Plenary Council will now take place in October 2021 and July 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.