Australian bishops return from Rome crisis talks

The Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge, who is Vice President of the Australian Bishops’ Conference, says Australia is facing the biggest crisis in its history.

Coleridge has just returned from Rome where he and other bishops have been discussing how to address the fallout resulting from Australia’s clerical sexual abuse crisis. Of particular importance in these discussions was how the Church will adopt a new approach to prevent similar abuses occurring in the future.

One of the propositions they will consider is how to include women in positions of “governance”.

The fallout following the Royal Commission into clerical sexual abuse resurged after the Australian police charged Cardinal George Pell with historic sexual offences.

Pell is the former Archbishop of Sydney. He is on leave from his current role as the Vatican’s Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy while he seeks to clear his name.

Coleridge says the case was discussed with the Vatican officials but only to provide the Holy See with an insight “into the atmosphere in Australia around this case.”

He says the Church has been “shaken to the core” by the clerical abuse scandal and today was being called to a “greater authenticity”.

Coleridge says the current crisis is “both threat and opportunity” but the Church must adopt a new approach.

The bishops have therefore announced a plenary council to take place in 2020 which will undertake a wide-ranging review of its mission.

This will include looking at ways to give more responsibility to lay people.

One of the major criticisms of the Australian church has been clericalism, which has seen too much responsibility placed in the hands of priests and bishops.

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News category: World.

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