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Perth Archbishop the Most Rev Timothy Costelloe SDB sits down to speak with Pope Francis, Thursday 6 October 2022, in the library of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican. Archbishop Costelloe was in Rome for a meeting to draft the Document for the Continental Stage of the 2021-2023 Synodal Process. Photo: CNS/Vatican Media.

By Christopher Wells, Vatican News

Vatican News has this week reported that Archbishop Timothy Costelloe of Perth a newly-appointed member of the preparatory committee for the General Assembly of the Synod, says Pope Francis is calling us to become “more fully a synodal Church.”

Pope Francis’ call for the Church to be more synodal is a call to all of us “to recognise and accept that we are all engaged in the mission of the Church,” Archbishop Costelloe said.

The adventure of synodality

“It’s all about recognising that we all have a part to play,” Archbishop Costelloe said, explaining that Pope Francis, throughout his pontificate, has been striving “to shift the Church’s culture to one of active engagement in this task of being the visible sign that Christ is with us.”

“This is an adventure to give yourself to,” he continued. “I’d hope to be able to encourage people to see it that way.”

Preparatory Commission for General Assembly of Bishops established


Pope Francis meets with members of the preparatory commission for the general assembly of the Synod of Bishops in the library of the Apostolic Palace, 16 March, 2023, the day after the synod office announced their appointments. The seven members include: Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas; Archbishop Timothy Costelloe of Perth, president of the Australian bishops' conference; and Mercedarian Sister Shizue "Filo" Hirota from Tokyo. Photo: CNS/Vatican Media.

Role of the preparatory commission

Archbishop Costelloe explained that the role of the preparatory is “to look at the mechanics of the Synod and how it will operate and some of the various elements of the process.”

He continued, “It’s very much a planning body, and a body that’s kind of trying to foresee how we might best structure things to make the Synod as successful as it can be.”

Responding to a question about the composition of the commission, Archbishop Costelloe noted that the members are representative of the various continental gatherings.

“I think those members of the commission are meant to just be a reassurance to everybody that a voice from each continental gathering is part of this preparatory commission,” he said.

Discerning the voice of the Spirit

He also spoke about the need for discernment as the Synod goes forward.

“I think the work of the commission might focus on the kinds of discernment processes that we might engage in during the course of the Synod Assembly.”

According to Archbishop Costelloe, “the challenge for us will be to find a way of hearing for thought the multiplicity of voices.”

“And there is a multiplicity of voices obviously coming through the whole consultation, part of the Synod hearing or catching the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking through all of this,” he said.

That, he said, is “the great challenge of discernment. I think it's something that we are learning as we go along. And we can't constrain the Holy Spirit.”