Plenary Council 2020

The Catholic Church in Australia has officially launched the Plenary Council 2020. Pope Francis has given his support and blessing which has enabled the commencement of a three-year conversation about the future shape of the Church and its mission.

Launched on the feast of Pentecost, 20th May, the plenary council will culminate in gatherings in 2020 and 2021 to consider the Church’s governance, laws and practice.

The Plenary Council 2020 begins now with a year of listening and dialogue.

The council organisers will take submissions from church organisations and agencies, parishes and individuals to help form an agenda.

“This is not a process for the ‘inner circle’; this is a bottom-up process that will allow us all to consider how we can draw people closer to the message and teachings of Jesus in contemporary Australian society,” plenary council president Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe said.

During 2019 there will be a period of discernment and re-listening.

Contributions will be collated by the plenary council organisers and used to develop some discussion documents for the plenary council gatherings.

Two historic national gatherings will follow; one to be held in Adelaide in October 2020, and a second, decision-making session, in Sydney in the first half of 2021.

Decisions will be submitted to Rome, to ensure they are “in harmony” with church doctrine.

Plenary council facilitator Lana Turvey-Collins visited with Bishop Michael McKenna and the Convenors of the Diocesan Pastoral Council in May. Lana spoke about the discernment and listening process and said the new website would help all people participate in conversations with friends and family, large groups and small, to consider the plenary council’s central question: “What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?”

“The plenary council will, like no other event in the Church’s history in Australia, allow all Catholics to shape a discussion about the future of our Church,” Ms Turvey-Collins said.

“The website now has material to support the important discussions that will take place across the country and I encourage people to consider how they will participate in this historic moment.”

Visit the plenary council website at   


A message to God's people of the Diocese of Bathurst about Plenary 2020

Dear Friends in Christ,

Pope Francis has approved the calling of a Plenary Council of the Catholic Churches in Australia. Below is a copy of his message, which was released on Pentecost Sunday.

At Pentecost, we see the Holy Spirit transform a timid and inward-looking group of believers into a brave Church capable of communicating the Gospel to everyone.

This will be the fifth Australian Plenary Council: the first of the new century; the first since the Second Vatican Council and the new Code of Canon Law that resulted from it.

Canon 445 of that Code states that such a Council “is to ensure that the pastoral needs of the People of God in its territory are provided for. While it must always respect the universal law of the Church, it has power of governance, especially legislative power. It can, therefore, determine whatever seems opportune for an increase of faith, for the ordering of common pastoral action, for the direction of morality and for the preservation, introduction and defence of a common ecclesiastical discipline.”

All bishops currently holding office in Australia must participate in the Council and have a deliberative vote. A similar number of clergy, religious and lay faithful are to be invited and have a consultative vote. (There is a more detailed account of these rules in Canon 443).

The formal sessions of the Plenary Council will take place in Adelaide in late 2020; and in Sydney the following year. However, the Bishops’ Conference, which is convoking the Council, wants the two years of preparation to involve as many of the faithful as possible. I urge every Catholic in our Diocese to take part in the opportunities that will be provided, so that the voice of God may be heard, through the variety of instruments that we are, as a glorious symphony.

The little group of believers, even before they received the power of the Spirit, were praying. This Plenary process will yield good fruit only if it is carried along and guided by sincere and constant prayer. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will work powerfully among us; and that we will say yes every day to the Lord and Giver of Life.

+Michael McKenna
Bishop of Bathurst
Memoria of Mary, Mother of the Church 2018


A message from the Holy Father on the occasion of the inauguration
of the 2020 Plenary Council

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The video links below give some useful information about what the Plenary Council is all about.

What is a Plenary Council? 

Why are we having a Plenary Council?

The Plenary Council 2020 - Listening to God by listening to each other

Plenary Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe calls on all people to get involved






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