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AUSTRALIA, July 31, 2018, (LifeSiteNews) – An Australian Catholic archdiocese has produced a working document about the “future of the Catholic Church in Australia” which calls for “women deacons and women chaplains,” “married priests,” and a “more inclusive church” that includes “LGBT people.”

The document was put out by the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, led by Archbishop Christopher Prowse. It is part of the preparation for a countrywide Plenary Council to be held in 2020. The last such council was held 81 years ago. 

The Plenary Council, what the bishops are calling the “highest form of gathering of local church and has legislative and governance authority,” is being held “so that we can dialogue about the future of the Catholic Church in Australia,” states the website about the event. The event is being promoted in the name of becoming a “synodal Church” called for by Pope Francis.  

Four “listening and dialogue” sessions were held by the Central Deanery of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn in June, and were attended by nearly 300 people.  Attendees were asked, “What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?”

The diocese summarised the responses in this way: “God is asking us to explore ways to reinvigorate in the Australian Church the sharing of the Gospel message.” Some of the responses included in the document, however, reveal a detachment from the magisterium of the Catholic Church. 

Among the sixteen different categories of responses were the following suggestions, quoted here verbatim:  

  • The ordination of married priests;
  • Women deacons and women chaplains should be considered;
  • Focus on developing a more inclusive church. God’s love is inclusive. The church has spent too much time excluding rather than including, eg, women, LGBT people, the divorced, people of other religions … Many people who have drifted away from the church feel intimidated to return by past traditions of the church;
  • A more active social justice stance from the church, more dialogue from the pulpit, more promotion of involvement by the laity in social justice matters. Church leaders should […] emphasis on the need to combat climate change as a fundamental social justice issue;
  • Leaders of other Christian churches should be invited to provide advice to the Plenary Council, especially on matters of church governance. 

The document makes no mention of Jesus Christ, the centrality of the Eucharist in the lives of the faithful, and seems to emphasize an attraction to things of this world rather than the Kingdom of God obtained through Christ and his cross. 

In the Frequently Asked Questions section on the website, one question states: “Does my voice, my experience, sharing my story really matter?”

The reply states: “Yes absolutely! Each of us is called as children of God to respond to Pope Francis’s invitation to become a 'synodal' Church – a Church of faith-filled people who speak boldly and with passion, and who listen deeply with an open and humble heart.”

Another answer to a question states that the agenda of the Plenary Council will be “formed in response to the dialogue and listening process” currently happening. “After an open and inclusive process of listening, dialogue, prayer and discernment, we will form the Council agenda in late 2019 and early 2020,” the website states. 

Delegates chosen to attend the Plenary Council, including clergy and lay people, will be able to vote on what resolutions the Council adopts. 

“These deliberative decisions are forwarded to Rome to ensure they are consistent with the universal teachings of the Catholic Church and then the legislation becomes binding for the Catholic Church in Australia,” states the website. 

Contact information: 

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
GPO Box 368
Canberra ACT 2601

Ph: (02) 6201 9845
Online contact form here.


Archbishop Christopher Prowse 
GPO Box 3089
Canberra ACT 2601

Phone: 02 6239 9811
Email: [email protected]