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No easy answers as Plenary papers released

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Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB released six discernment papers on Pentecost Sunday in a step towards the fifth Plenary Council of Australia.

The documents are the work of Discernment and Writing Groups which addressed each of the national themes for discernment arising from the Council’s Listening and Dialogue phase.
Each provides a reflection on the relevant issues faced by the Church in Australia, offers proposals and suggests questions to be discussed as a basis for the development of the working paper (Instrumentum Laboris) for the Council assemblies in October 2021 and April 2022.

“The aim of the discernment process was to draw upon the lived faith and experiences of more than 220,000 Australians, the living tradition of the Church, sacred Scripture, papal teachings and additional insights from outside the Church,” said Archbishop Costelloe.

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Dr Renee Kohler-Ryan, Dean of the School of Philosophy and Theology at Notre Dame.
Dr Renee Kohler-Ryan chaired the Conversion, Renewal and Reform group.

“While not the final word on the six thematic areas which emerged from the Listening and Dialogue process, I encourage everyone to receive them in the spirit of faith and discernment with which they have been written,” he said.

No easy answers to challenges

University of Notre Dame Australia’s Professor Renee Kohler-Ryan, who chaired the ‘Conversion, Renewal and Reform’ group, said its members agreed on which issues were important, but not necessarily on how the Church could address them.

“The paper reflects this tension,” Professor Kohler-Ryan said. “Inevitably, readers will wish that we gave some easy answers. “That wasn’t really our job, though.

“Instead, we wanted to point out areas and questions for the delegates to the Plenary Council to pray, discuss and respond.

“Our paper is really a prayerful request for delegates to listen to each other and to respond to Christ’s call for ongoing personal and communal conversion, renewal and reform.”

The six papers reflect on the questions: How is God calling us to a Christ-centred church in Australia that is missionary and evangelising; inclusive, participatory and synodal; prayerful and Eucharistic; humble, healing and merciful; and a joyful, hope-filled and servant community?

Read the Discernment Papers at

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