People of God are heard at Melbourne’s Voices of Hope and Challenge Conference

A full house of over 150 of the Catholic faithful gathered together) in Melbourne to explore a range of issues that face the Church in Australia ahead of the upcoming Plenary Council at the Voices of Hope and Challenge Conference 15 -17 November.

Together, these ‘Voices of Hope and Challenge’ heard from, and shared their thoughts and opinions, with an eclectic range of speakers that included Bishop Vincent Long, Dr. Noel Connolly ssc, Professor John Warhurst AO, Adelaide’s Dr. Pat Fox rsm, ACU’s Associate Professor Robyn Horner, noted journalist Paul Bongiorno, Dr. Andrew Hamilton sj, Alicia Deak, and YTU scholars Associate Professor Mary Coloe pbvm and Dr. Rosemarie Joyce csb.

Extensive time was provided to allow the people of God to discuss issues that were of particular concern to them.

Four notable issues that arose in the discussions and Open Forums were:

The full equality of women in the Church through their appointment to positions of Governance, and ordination to the diaconate and priesthood.

  • The Church, its leaders and people, must model the essence of Christianity within a secular and pluralist society. This will entail a seismic shift in traditional culture and governance, if we are to get back on the mission of Jesus.
  • The reform of priestly formation which will involve an inclusive committee of competent lay, religious and ordained people. This committee will examine current practice and investigate other models such as priestly formation within the community of the faithful, rather than a segregated seminary.
  • Clericalism must be eradicated, and leaders must listen to the People of God, with the aid of structures such as diocesan and parish pastoral councils, and regular assemblies and synods. All diocesan bishops, in preparing for the Plenary Council, should conduct diocesan assemblies urgently to hear the ‘sense of faith’ of their diocesan faithful.

A full report on the conference is to be published shortly, and sent to all Plenary Discernment and Writing Groups, and the ACBC.

Papers from the event are available at on

Click here to view the Voices of Hope and Challenge media release and images from the event.

David Hughan
CEO Garratt Publishing
Co-convenor of the Voices of Hope and Challenge Conference

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