LISTENING AND DISCERNMENT

More than 222,000 people participated in listening and dialogue encounters and contributed 17,457 submissions during the first stage of preparation for the Australian Plenary Council.

The voices of the faithful help all of us to understand something of the historical experience and the current reality of the Catholic Church in Australia. This gathered data also reveals some deeper hopes and questions, and the diverse yearnings, that we are now challenged to consider together.

The voices in the Listening and Dialogue submissions inspired The National Themes for Discernment, which have served as guides as we went through Phase II: Listening and Discernment. Catholics all over Australia participated in Writing and Discernment sessions, discerning on the submissions with prayerful hearts and minds. These responses made their way to our Writing and Discernment Groups via our website portal, who drafted thematic papers towards making the agenda for Assembly 1.

Discernment will go on indefinitely. We invite you to continue getting together with your community for sessions and sending us your responses via the website.

Listening and Discernment

Introduction to Discernment

Before commencing your Small Group Discernment sessions, we invite you to become more familiar with the process of Discernment through the following resources.

Let's Listen and Discern

Checklist of resources you need to run a Listening and Discernment Session, steps and submission forms.

Responses to Discernment

A collation of small groups submissions from the Listening and Discernment sessions

Thematic Discernment Papers

Before commencing your Small Group Discernment sessions, we invite you to become more familiar with the process of Discernment through the following resources.

The Plenary Council Journey

Audio versions of the papers are being made available, courtesy of the Diocese of Bathurst.


Listen to the Introduction to the Papers HERE.

Access Easy English Versions of the Papers on the TOOLS PAGE

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thematic papers cover 1

HOW IS GOD CALLING US TO BE A CHRIST-CENTRED CHURCH IN AUSTRALIA THAT IS Missionary & Evangelising?

‘Mission’ is God's initiative and proceeds from the Trinity, whose love overflows in creation and redemption. The Word and Spirit are present and active in the unfolding of the universe and in all human history, as evidenced in the goodness and truth found in all cultures and societies. The incarnate Son of God through his life, ministry, death and resurrection revealed God to us and redeemed us in a unique and unsurpassable way through his paschal sacrifice. His evangelising activity gave birth to the Church which is the visible manifestation of the Gospel command to "Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations” (Mt 28:19).

Read the Discernment Paper
Download the Print Version / Alternate version
Visit the Theme's Page

Audio version

thematic papers cover 2

HOW IS GOD CALLING US TO BE A CHRIST-CENTRED CHURCH IN AUSTRALIA THAT IS Inclusive, Participatory & Synodal?

The Church, founded by Jesus Christ, is a forum of welcome to “the great multitude from every tribe, tongue and nation”. This biblical image invites us to imagine anew the ways in which the diversity of unique gifts can contribute to an organic and authentic common building of the Church. This is especially crucial in Australia, where the Church is manifest in the great multitude of ecclesial expressions from East and West. The words that St John Paul II spoke particularly to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples may be applied to all Catholics in Australia: “the Church herself in Australia will not be fully the Church that Jesus wants her to be until you have made your contribution to her life and until that contribution has been joyfully received by others.”

Read the Discernment Paper
Download the Print Version / Alternate version
Visit the Theme's Page

Audio version

thematic papers cover 3

HOW IS GOD CALLING US TO BE A CHRIST-CENTRED CHURCH IN AUSTRALIA THAT IS Prayerful & Eucharistic?

The Listening and Dialogue responses revealed the deep faith, integrity and sincerity of all the people who gave of themselves in their offerings. The responses included divergent opinions on various topics. At the same time, they showed a common faith in Christ and a common desire to follow his teaching in love of God and love of neighbour. They demonstrated a commitment to living the gospel of Christ and sharing the gospel with others, even in the midst of a largely secular culture. They expressed a love for the community of the Church, despite the well-documented failings of members of the community. They showed a desire to be a Christ-centred Church that is prayerful and Eucharistic.

Read the Discernment Paper
Download the Print Version / Alternate version
Visit the Theme's Page

Audio version

thematic papers - 4

HOW IS GOD CALLING US TO BE A CHRIST-CENTRED CHURCH IN AUSTRALIA THAT IS Humble, Healing and Merciful?

On Holy Thursday 2018, Pope Francis celebrated the Mass of the Last Supper in the Regina Coeli Prison in Rome. During the Mass, the Holy Father washed the feet of 12 prison inmates from different cultural and faith backgrounds. Pope Francis was not concerned with their crimes, their religion, their race or their sexual orientation. After kneeling before each one, washing and kissing their feet, Pope Francis said to them, “I am a sinner like you. But I represent Jesus today…This is service. This is Jesus. Before giving us himself in his body and blood, Jesus risked himself for each one of us – risked himself in service – because he loves us so much.”

Read the Discernment Paper
Download the Print Version / Alternate version
Visit the Theme's Page

Audio version

thematic papers cover 5 (edited)

HOW IS GOD CALLING US TO BE A CHRIST-CENTRED CHURCH IN AUSTRALIA THAT IS A Joyful, Hope-Filled & Servant Community?

Australia has been blessed with great natural beauty, an abundance of resources, democracy, peace and prosperity. It is a land that prizes freedom, equality and egalitarianism, a ‘fair go’ and mateship. However, mental illness, sickness, loneliness, family or financial pressures afflict many Australians. Many lack the hope and joy that are features of a good life. Fear of the future and a distrust of institutional authority are part of the social reality for significant numbers. Climate change is making extreme the Australian cycles of drought, fire and flood, threatening lives, homes and livelihoods.

Read the Discernment Paper
Download the Print Version / Alternate version
Visit the Theme's Page

Audio version

thematic papers cover 6

HOW IS GOD CALLING US TO BE A CHRIST-CENTRED CHURCH IN AUSTRALIA THAT IS Open to Conversion, Renewal and Reform?

The “call to conversion” is “the indispensable condition of Christian love.” (TMA 50) Christians respond to this call when they openly acknowledge personal and communal failings and experience the joy of reconciliation shaped by renewed relationship with the Trinitarian God. Ongoing conversion is the source of renewal and of authentic reform. Catholics in Australia experience the riches of the Church’s traditions, through liturgy, parish life and the Church’s contributions to welfare, education and healthcare. At the same time, they acknowledge hindrances to personal and institutional conversion toward Christ. The Report repeatedly refers to the Church’s rites of reconciliation (particularly the Third Rite), indicating that the Church in Australia needs to respond to this desire for formation in, and access to, sacramental reconciliation.

Read the Discernment Paper
Download the Print Version / Alternate version
Visit the Theme's Page

Audio version

Note: Submissions have been de-identified and individual responses have been recorded, but are removed from public viewing.

The Plenary Council team would like to remind everyone to read the guidelines for Communal Discernment well and to note its difference from the Listening and Dialogue phase before making a group response. 

 

Before commencing your Small Group Discernment sessions, we invite you to become more familiar with the process of Discernment through the following resources. For resources on Synodality, click-through to the READ page. The Value of Discernment (Br Ian Cribb SJ | Brisbane Assembly 2019) What is Discernment? What are the origins of Discernment? The difference…

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Role Description: Discernment and Writing Group Chair

This document outlines the role, areas of responsibility and accountability for the Discernment and Writing Group Chair. It follows on the experience gained from previous documents and is approved by Chairman of the Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council.

Role Description: Discernment and Writing Group Member

This document outlines the role, areas of responsibility and accountability for the Discernment and Writing Group Member. It follows on the experience gained from previous documents and is approved by the Chairman of the Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council

Position Vacant – Plenary Council Discernment and Writing Group Chairs and Members

The Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council is seeking people who are willing to be key partners and leaders in the process of discernment as the Church in Australia continues preparing for the Plenary Council in October 2020.

In October 2021, the Catholic Church in Australia gathered for the first Plenary Council to be held since the Second Vatican Council. In 2018, the entire People of God in Australia began preparing for this historic moment by listening to God, by listening to one another’s stories of faith.

How did we get here?

More than 222,000 people participated in listening and dialogue encounters and contributed 17,457 submissions during the first stage of preparation for the Australian Plenary Council.

The voices of the faithful help all of us to understand something of the historical experience and the current reality of the Catholic Church in Australia. This gathered data also reveals some deeper hopes and questions, and the diverse yearnings, that we are now challenged to consider together.

What people talked about

Disclaimer: Colour and size of text were randomly generated for aesthetic purposes and must not be taken as data visualization

What happened next?

The six National Themes for Discernment were inspired by the data and called us toward the future. As we moved into this second stage of preparation for the Plenary Council, we continued to seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

Drawing on the six National Themes for Discernment, this discernment process involved establishing Writing and Discernment Groups for each National Theme for Discernment while people in faith communities across Australia were called to participate locally in their own communal Listening and Discernment encounters and to send through their submissions to the Groups. The fruits of what is discerned during this time shaped the agenda of the first session of the Plenary Council.

The Plenary Council Journey So Far

Resources for Listening and Discernment

Checklist of resources you need to run a Listening and Discernment Session:

One of the six themes

Listening and Discernment resource (available in different languages)

Scripture for your theme

Snapshot Report for your theme

The Reflection Guide for Responding to the Thematic Discernment Papers

It may also be helpful in focusing and guiding your session to see how these themes relate to numerous subthemes and the National picture. See how the wordclouds in the Snapshot Reports relate to LISTEN TO WHAT THE SPIRIT IS SAYING – FINAL REPORT PHASE I: LISTENING AND DIALOGUE (File size: 67 mb)

After downloading the different resources and conducting your sessions, you can send the Writing and Discernment Group Leaders your responses through a form (limited to 1000 characters) at the bottom of this page. These responses will inform and guide the discussion of the Writing and Discernment groups, who will meet and discern on the themes, responses and other materials from September 2019 to early next year.

Let’s gather and pray together

Access Acknowledgement of Country and the provided prayer by downloading the Discernment guide.

Download the Plenary Council prayer HERE.

Let’s reflect

Choose your scripture readings relevant to your theme. For at least 20 minutes, take time to reflect individually in silence, pray with the scripture passage you have heard, and reflect on the information about the National Theme for Discernment your group is focused on.

To find the complete breakdown and guide questions for this step, download the Discernment Guide

Let’s share & listen

After your time of individual silent reflection, regather together as a group, sitting in a circle. There will be three rounds of sharing, listening and reflection. This practice of Spiritual Conversations is taken from the Ignatian tradition. It is a part of the Communal discernment process and provides a way for groups of people to listen to God, by listening to one another.

To find the complete breakdown and guide questions for this step, download the Discernment Guide

Let’s think nationally

The whole group reflects in silence for 5 minutes. During this time, think about the concrete, practical steps which could be taken to move forward in the thematic area you have been focused on today. Each person in the circle takes 2-3 minutes to share their ideas with the group. Once everyone has shared their ideas for action, your group’s task is to identify 2 or 3 emerging actions that can form the group’s submission to the theme’s Discernment and Writing Group.

To find the complete breakdown and guide questions for this step, download the Discernment Guide

Let’s think locally

The group to discuss any ideas which might be acted upon locally, in your own lives, in parishes, communities or schools or in other parts of your local neighbourhood.

To find the complete breakdown and guide questions for this step, download the Discernment Guide

Let’s give thanks

You may like to say together the prayed provided in the Discernment Guide, or pray the Plenary Council prayer, or just speak to God from your heart.

The four-year journey of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia will reach the second – and final – assembly in July 2022. At the assembly, the 277 Council Members will consider the motions that have emerged from that national journey, with the goal of renewing the life and mission of the Church in Australia.

Framework for Motions

The key document that will guide the work of the second assembly is the Framework for Motions, which was published in early June. It contains about 30 motions that all Council Members will discern and vote on. The outcome of the votes will be announced during the assembly.

Follow the Second Assembly

There will be daily content produced during the second assembly that can be found on the Plenary Council’s news page and on our Facebook page.

All Masses during the second assembly will be livestreamed. The opening session each day from July 4 to July 8 will also be livestreamed.

Click here to view the livestream schedule.

The livestream will be accessible on the Plenary Council website’s home page and the Plenary Council YouTube channel

Share your prayers and hopes

The Plenary Council continues to be a journey for the whole Church in Australia. A message wall is being placed at the entry to the assembly venue, allowing Members to read what people around the country are saying to them – their prayers, their hopes, their words of support.

If you wish to send a message, please click on the button below and complete the form. New messages will be added to the wall each day.

In addition to watching the livestreamed Masses, parishes and other Catholic communities around the country can celebrate Masses and other liturgies using the same prayers, readings and hymns as those being used at the Plenary Council.

Click here to access the Mass booklets for use in your local community.

The timeline below describes key moments during the lead-up to the second assembly. We invite you to walk this journey with us.

News

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Key Documents

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Visit our channel

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Pray with us

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#ListenToTheSpirit

4 days ago

Plenary Council

A number of Church leaders and the head of the National Council of Churches in Australia are among those who will serve as observers at the Plenary Council. This follows a tradition across many years for major Church events mediablog.catholic.org.au/catholic-christian-leaders-among-plenary-council-observers/ See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Plenary Council

Do you live in or near Sydney? Are you in town on holiday in July? You are invited to attend the closing Mass of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia at 10.30am at St Mary’s Cathedral on July 9. Read more at: mediablog.catholic.org.au/community-invited-to-plenary-councils-closing-mass/ See MoreSee Less

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3 weeks ago

Plenary Council

Fr Brendan Byrne SJ FAHA a Professor Emeritus of New Testament at the University of Divinity in Melbourne shares his expert thoughts.

This is the second in the series, with an emphasis on Scripture, which is published to our "Food for the Journey" playlist in Youtube. Find them here, and keep an eye out for more videos.


The Periti, or Expert Advisers, to the Plenary Council are sharing videos from their areas of expertise.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvytIItn7_4

#PlenaryCouncil #CatholicAU
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