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Plenary Council Second Assembly ends, with renewed hope for Church in Australia

Published by Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA) on 1 August 2022

The nine-month celebration phase of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia ended on Saturday, 9 July, with Council Members standing and applauding as President Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB formally declared the Council closed.

Eighteen of the 19 motions considered on Friday, 8 July, passed. All five motions in part four of the document, entitled “Witnessing to the Equal Dignity of Women and Men”, passed decisively.

Earlier in the week, two motions in that section received simple majorities, but not the necessary two-thirds to achieve a qualified majority. They therefore did not pass.

Plenary Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB addressed the assembly on Wednesday after the motions did not pass, acknowledging it was a challenging moment for the Council.

“We are journeying together trying to find the way forward that God is opening for us. We must be ready to allow for God’s time to unfold for us,” he said.

“There is a long way for the Church to go in the understanding of the proper role of women in the life of the Church.

“The way we move forward to properly understand God’s plan in relation to women is important. As the People of God, we should understand that this moment is one of the calls of God to us.

“It is clear from the Plenary Council journey that the Church, the People of God, is committed to understanding the proper role of women.”

After overwhelming support was given for the Council to reconsider Part 4, a four-person writing group began work on preparing a new draft. That draft was published on the evening of Thursday, 7 July, after all Members spent significant time discerning a path forward and providing feedback to the writing group.

The Council Members also passed a series of motions in Part 5, “Communion in Grace: Sacrament to the World”, and Part 6, “Formation and Leadership for Mission and Ministry”.

Among the motions in those parts of the document were ones related to the sacrament of penance, review of the ministry of preaching and the development of formation programs.

“It is clear from the Plenary Council journey that the Church, the People of God, is committed to understanding the proper role of women.”

Plenary Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB.

At the Closing Mass, Archbishop Costelloe reminded the community present that there will be no renewal of the Church if the people put themselves above Christ, or in some perverse way push Him to the margins.”

The Plenary Council was a new experience in many ways, Archbishop Costelloe said, lived in a “tentative and incomplete fashion” as they tried to “reimagine the Church in Australia through a missionary lens.”

“We have tried, and at times struggled, and perhaps occasionally failed, to listen carefully to each other,” he said.

“The Lord never promised that discipleship would be without its challenges.”

Nevertheless, “We have made some decisions, opened up some possibilities, and experienced the depth and complexity of some of the challenges we face.”

To view the final media brief, go to

Information on all the motions and voting outcomes can be found on the Motions and Voting page Link: of the Plenary Council website.

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