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Bishops welcome review into Church governance

National

The Australian Catholic bishops have welcomed a new report which looks into Catholic Church governance practices and possible reforms.

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Entitled The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia, the 200-page report includes 86 recommendations.

It was commissioned by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference following a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, and presented to the bishops before their plenary meeting last week.

ACBC president Archbishop Mark Coleridge congratulated members of the Governance Review Project Team – which includes SA representatives Pauline Connelly and Greg Crafter – on their “substantial piece of work” which he said would have “far reaching implications” for the Church’s life and mission.

“To do it justice, the bishops will now take advice, consider the report in depth, conduct discussions at a provincial level, and otherwise prepare for a full discussion at their November plenary. This will allow them to then publish the report and respond to it,” he said.

Archbishop Coleridge noted that as the report deals with so many aspects of Church governance it will necessarily become a significant contribution to the ongoing work of prayerful reflection and discussion leading up to the formal assemblies of the Plenary Council.

“The whole Church in Australia is presently engaged in a process of deep reflection and discernment on the life and mission of the Church in the immediate and longer-term future,” said Archbishop Coleridge.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to the Governance Review Project Team for their important and comprehensive contribution to this ongoing process of discernment. The report will undoubtedly contribute to the eventual formation of proposals to be considered during the Plenary Council.”

The report identifies key principles of good ecclesial governance, such as subsidiarity, stewardship, synodality, dialogue, discernment and leadership. It offers ideas on how the Church might enhance the leadership role of lay people and ensure appropriate co-responsibility at parish and diocesan levels.

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