A message from Bishop McKenna - The Fifth Australian Plenary Council
A message to God’s People of the Diocese of Bathurst
Dear Friends in Christ,
Pope Francis has approved the calling of a Plenary Council of the Catholic Churches in Australia. I enclose 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.
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
I extend cordial greetings and prayerful good wishes as the Catholic community in Australia joins in prayer this Pentecost Sunday to launch the immediate preparations for the forthcoming 2020 Plenary Council. Upon all taking part in the preparation process, I invoke the Holy Spirit's gifts of wisdom, harmony and openness to the Lord's will for the future of his pilgrim Church in the country. It is my hope that through patient dialogue and faith-filled discernment, the conciliar journey will confirm the Catholics in Australia in a spirit of fraternal unity and missionary discipleship, thus enabling them to be a leaven of holiness, justice and reconciliation in today's rapidly changing society. As a pledge of the sustaining grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing.