In the plenary council's first phase, known as "Listening and Dialogue," more than 222,000 people took part, making 17,457 submissions.
The first assembly will be held Oct. 3-10, followed by a second assembly in Sydney July 4-9, 2022. Nearly 300 delegates, called “members,” will attend the in-person meetings on behalf of their dioceses, eparchies, or religious orders.
While many Catholic parishes, schools, and hospitals are thriving across the country, the Church in Australia faces a number of serious challenges, Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney told The Catholic Weekly.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses of Child Sexual Abuse released a report in 2017 that found serious failings in the protection of children from abuse in the Catholic Church and other major institutions in the country. The Australian bishops' conference responded positively to nearly all the Royal Commission's recommendations.
The abuse crisis and the royal commission “brought with them much justified criticism and understandable disillusionment, continuing scrutiny and demands for reform, not only to ensure that all church situations are safe for children and vulnerable adults, but also to ensure transparency and accountability in all areas of ecclesial life,” Archbishop Fisher reflected.
A culture of secularism in Australian society, as well as a declining religious practice among Catholics, are among the priorities to be discussed at the meeting, Archbishop Fisher said. Currently only 1 in 10 Catholics in Australia regularly attends Mass, he said, and the Church in Australia is experiencing a vocations crisis, not only of the priesthood, but also of marriage and religious life.