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To live life to the full

Opinion

As time permits I have been attempting to visit as many Mass centres in the Archdiocese as possible. I’m told there are around 143 different places where Mass is celebrated so this will take some time.

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During these visits I have found people to be most welcoming. Discussion often proceeds to people’s deeper concerns. One consistent concern is the effects of COVID on their own life and that of the parish to which they belong. For some this is expressed in the pressure they see that the virus is exerting on people’s mental health.

When a survey was conducted of our young people in preparation for the 2018 Synod on Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment, the number one issue of concern to them was mental health.

So, it is timely that this year’s Social Justice Statement seeks to address this issue. Mental Health in Australia Today is the subtitle of this year’s Social Justice Statement (2020-21) from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC), To Live Life to the Full. This document outlines how the Church in Australia views the challenge of mental ill-heath today, and encourages us all to “make mental heath a real priority, so that all people may know the fullness of life which Jesus offers (John 10:10)” in the words of Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of the ACBC.

This statement is an invitation for our parishes and schools, families and community groups to become more actively involved in assisting those living with mental health challenges. It is also an acknowledgement from the hierarchy of the Church that “as leaders of the Catholic Church in Australia, (we) are painfully aware of the failings of so many Church people and entities to protect and care for children and vulnerable adults in institutions… All of us who inherit these situations share in the responsibility to address them.”

As part of our desire to continue to make our parishes and all Church entities ‘safe environments’, this document can provide a necessary reflection on what this might look like and how it might be achieved. I encourage as many people and groups ‘to download and discuss’ the statement. It is a helpful tool for all groups in parishes and schools especially to help inform their thinking and action.

The statement can be found at www.socialjustice.catholic.org.au

Social Justice Sunday is celebrated on August 30 this year on the 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time.

Governance Report

Much has been said about Church Governance in recent years and what it ought to look like. A new document entitled The Light from the Southern Cross has been written to assist dioceses and parishes in seeing what this looks like. The 200-page document, subtitled Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia, includes 86 recommendations for the good governance of dioceses and parishes.

 

It is based on a very sound what we call ‘ecclesiology’, ie a theology of the Church. It looks, as the Church has most times sought to do, to identify in our time the principles and culture of good governance that exist in our society and see what we might be able to learn and incorporate into the way we govern the Church. In the light of these two elements and having a regard to such elements as Canon Law, it then brings together in one place and imagines what Good Governance practices and culture of dioceses and parishes actually looks like.

You might be pleased to know that a reading guide has been prepared to accompany the report which will assist in opening it up and understanding it.

As do all documents such as this, the main aim of this report is to allow us to do better what we do best. In that sense the task will never be complete. This report will give us guidance as a diocese as to how best to achieve this. This is not to say that we have to start from scratch as if we have not being doing any of the things that are recommended, we have. It allows us to use this report as a further instrument of Communion in building up the Body of Christ and the Kingdom of God in the local Church of Adelaide.

Between now and November the text will be up for comment. I commend it to each parish, Religious community, school and agency in the Archdiocese. This is a hopeful and helpful document that I would wish as many people as possible to be aware of and comment upon. The document is available at www.catholic.org.au/governance.

God is good, good indeed.

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