The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia released on 21st August 2020 an “important and substantial” document on the review of diocesan and parish governance and management in Australia.
The review was recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The Church’s Implementation Advisory Group (IAG) oversaw the development of the report, The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia. The IAG engaged the Governance Review Project Team (GRPT) to research and study Church governance and to prepare the report, which runs to 208 pages and includes 86 recommendations.
Archbishop Mark Coleridge, President of the Aus Catholic Bishops’ Conference, says:
“The Light from the Southern Cross makes an important and substantial contribution to the life and mission of the Church in Australia.”
Elissa Roper, your parish theologian, says:
“This document is a significant and ground-breaking report into the governance of the Australian Catholic Church. It makes some important recommendations in response to the Royal Commission that Catholics will be pleased to see. Hopefully the Plenary Council will use its legislative powers to pass many of these recommendations into “general decrees” (or “particular law”) for the Church in Australia.
Bishops and theologians from all around the world are watching the Church in Australia as an example for themselves when it comes to tackling abuse and implementing renewal. We in Australia have an opportunity to move forward in renewal through engaging with, and acting upon, the significant resources of:
- Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
- Plenary Council 2021 & 2022
- The Light from the Southern Cross Report
Please take some time to look at the Southern Cross Report, particularly the recommendations in part 2.7. For example:
- Rec. 3: “That the ecclesial governance principles of collegiality, synodality, subsidiarity, stewardship, dialogue, discernment, participation and good leadership be reflected in the governance structures and decision-making processes of dioceses, parishes and church agencies.”
- Rec. 4: “That integrity, accountability and transparency be reflected in the administrative and governance practices of all church bodies.”
- Rec. 8&9 on the selection and appointment of diocesan bishops and the involvement of more lay people in this discernment process
- Rec. 14-21 that lay people are involved in governance, decision-making, leadership training, discernment and formation.
- … and much more on being inclusive; strong standards of protection of children and vulnerable adults; building a transparent and accountable culture at all levels, and particularly in governance and financial matters; selection and formation of candidates for the priesthood; bishops and governance; and building in structures of collaboration, including diocesan pastoral councils (we don’t have one in Melbourne), diocesan synods, and parish pastoral councils.
When possible, it would be good to run some information sessions in the parish on what is happening in the Church in Australia. If you have any questions or ideas please contact Elissa.