Australasian catholic coalition for Church reform

ACCCR Contribution to the Synod on Synodality

(Numbers and letters in brackets refer to items in the Synod Synthesis Report)

ACCCR seeks to inspire Catholics directed by their consciences to pursue renewal in the Australasian Church as Jesus inspires his disciples to proclaim and live the Good News of love, justice, equality, self-giving and hope. The Spirit is calling us to be a synodal church in which we live and model Christ’s concern for the common good, human dignity, local decision-making and solidarity.

ACCCR has organised numerous events to promote engagement with the Synod, led and participated in many discussions and listened to the voices of the faithful in every continent but especially throughout Australasia.

The following quotes encapsulate the hopes and vision evoked by the announcement of the Synod on Synodality.

“The purpose of the Synod, and therefore of this consultation, is not to produce documents, but ‘to plant dreams, draw forth prophecies and visions, allow hope to flourish, inspire trust, bind up wounds, weave together relationships, awaken a dawn of hope, learn from one another and create a bright resourcefulness that will enlighten minds, warm hearts, give strength to our hands.’” (Cardinal Mario Grech to Presidents, Episcopal Conferences. 7 September 2021)

A Church “with a gentle yoke” (cf. Mt 11:30), which does not impose burdens and which repeats to everyone: “Come, you who are weary and oppressed, come, you who have lost your way or feel far away, come, you who have closed the doors to hope: the church is here for you! Tutti, tutti, tutti! (Everyone, everyone, everyone!)” (Pope Francis’ reflection at the opening of the Synod on Synodality, 4 October 2021)


Catholicism is at a crossroads. Most baptised Catholics have given up on the church organisation. They find the spirituality and theology on offer, often characterised as devotional and exclusionary, to be inadequate. The appalling behaviour towards the abused, sexually and spiritually, the lack of understanding of the damage done to them, their families and the wider church, and the total lack of openness to justice in these issues are unacceptable for many. Clericalism, the injustice of not welcoming LGBTQI+ and those in irregular relationships together with other rules, practices and exclusions are anomalies. The credibility of bishops and clergy is at an all-time low.

Australia’s Catholic population, just over five million (2021 census), is an aging community with 19.9% aged over 65 in 2021. The percentage of weekly Mass attendance, 12% in 2016, is now significantly lower. The church’s multicultural and linguistic profile is being transformed with Italian still the most popular non-English language (2021) but now closely followed by Filipino languages, Spanish, Arabic, Vietnamese, Chinese languages, Croatian, Malayalam, Portuguese and Assyrian/Chaldean. The situation in New Zealand is similar.


Evolving Catholicism and the Synod

ACCCR webinar 22 February 2024


Francis Sullivan AO 

Francis Sullivan, Chair of Concerned Catholics Canberra Goulburn, was previously CEO of the Truth Justice and Healing Council He is currently Chair of the Mater Group of hospitals, Catholic Social Services Australia and a Director of Mercy Health.

Where I sit with the Synod on Synodality

In the moments available to me this evening I would like to give a reflection on where I sit with the Synod on Synodality.I do so because many fine Catholic friends either have no interest in the Synod, have not even heard about it, or have little hope that it will amount to anything.I think we all appreciate that the interest and confidence in the Church is at an all-time low. The fact that a meeting in Rome, still heavily controlled by the Vatican, can somehow enliven the flagging fortunes of the Church is a bridge too far for the majority of my Catholic friends and the Catholic circles in which I move.Yet, I have hope. Even more than hope, I see some tentative green shoots of change.

Kevin Liston

Kevin Liston is Co-chair of ACCCR and Convener of SACEC (SA Catholics for an Evolving Church). He has conducted Advent and Lenten programs in Adelaide since 2021 and is active in the St Vincent de Paul Society in SA at local and State level.

Catholicism in a Change of Era

Catholicism is at a crossroads. Most baptised Catholics have given up on the church organisation. They find the spirituality and theology on offer to be inadequate. Rules, practices and exclusions do not make sense. The credibility of bishops and clergy is at an all-time low. Many of my family, friends and colleagues wonder what I find in it and why I continue to be involved. I am not alone in this.

Catholicism is evolving. At this time in the West or Global North, it is in decline, rapidly diminishing in credibility, influence and relevance. Yesterday, I heard Austen Ivereigh, the Pope’s biographer, describe the Synod as the most important event in the Catholic church since Vatican II. I have questions about that. I want to ask if this is so.

This webinar was recorded and is now available on YouTube. Click on the link to view the recording.


ACCCR Pledges Continued Support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart

While ACCCR accepts the reality of the failure of the ‘Yes’ Vote in the October 2023 Referendum related to Constitutional Recognition and a Voice to Parliament for Australia’s First Nations Peoples, we are committed to the Uluru Statement of the Heart (2017) in its fullness, including its expressed wish for the following specific national reforms:

We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.

We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.

While we hope for action by the Australian Government we support the actions taken by State and Territory Governments for Treaties and Voices to Parliament.



Final Session October 2024

Synod 2

Following extensive world-wide consultations, the first session of the Synod on Synodality was held in Rome in October 2023. The second (final) session will be held in October 2024. This Synod will be the establish the way of operating of the church for the foreseeable future. Groundwork in terms of the limited synodality applied in the first session needs to be consolidated and developed in the second. Building on the structure with much-needed reforms in areas such as access by women to all roles, recognition of gender diversity as natural, welcoming communion for everyone and many others will be critical for the success of the 2024 session and the future of the church.


The church is a church for all Catholics. Free, informed respected discussion is now required to let Synod members know how lay people think and feel about these matters. ACCCR is committed to doing all it can to progress this discussion.

The following documents provide useful background information.

Letter to the People of God 25 October 2023

From the First Assembly of the Synod

“To progress in its discernment, the Church needs to listen to everyone, starting with the poorest; those who have been denied the right to speak in society or who feel excluded, even by the Church; listening to people who are victims of racism or abuse committed by members of the ecclesial body; to the laity, women and men; those who want to be involved in lay ministries and to participate in discernment and decision-making structures.

Synthesis Report. A comprehensive report on the October 2023 session of the Synod. 28 October 2023

The Synod process has the potential to reshape the culture and way of working of the church but it is not yet firmly in place. Current achievements are precarious. History and experience tell us that transition to a new working style will not be full or complete until all those affected are included in the change process. We are still a long way from the necessary engagement of everyone. The first session of the Synod on Synodality was just a beginning.

On Promoting Theology. Instruction issued by Pope Francis on developing theology for our times. 1 November 2023

A theology that speaks to people as a living spiritual and intellectual inspiration and guide must be grounded in the human experience of a personal search for integrity, wholeness and a truly fulfilling life. Real relationships of love, whether intimate as in a family, shared as in a community or drawing us to transcendence as with God, are central to the theological enterprise. It is not abstract and ideological, but spiritual. By spiritual Francis clearly means the concrete reality of an integrated authentic person living in life-giving relationships with God and others. “It is impossible to know the truth without practising love, engaging and connecting with others.”

Towards October 2024. Guidelines for preparing for the second session, issued by the Synod Council. 12 December 2023

A guiding question is set: How can we be a synodal Church in mission? This is to be addressed on two levels.

  1. At the level of each local Church: How can we enhance the differentiated co-responsibility in the mission of all the members of the People of God?
  2. At the level of relations between Churches, between groupings of Churches at different levels and with the Bishop of Rome: How can these relations be creatively articulated in order to find “a dynamic balance between the dimension of the Church as a whole and its local roots”?