Australia’s bishops consider radical change of governance report

Australia’s bishops and religious are considering recommendations for changing the governance of the Church.

If implemented, the wide-ranging recommendations would reshape the administrative and financial control of dioceses and parishes. These controls would be reallocated between the clergy and laypeople, with an increased role for women.

Last month Australia’s bishops considered the report, “The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia.”

The 86-recommendation report was the work of the Implementation Advisory Group’s Governance Review Project Team. It was initiated by the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ACBC) a year ago.

It responds to a key recommendation of Australia’s landmark Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The governance report was written by 14 people, handpicked lay and clergy and women — from Australia as well as international experts.

The report had originally been delivered to the Australian bishops in early May and kept confidential to allow the prelates time to digest its contents.

However, it was leaked to La Croix International on June 1.

A spokesman for the bishops said: “The version that has been published is not the final document.”

“One of the reasons for the delay of the report’s release was the need for some corrections and clarifications. That process has commenced and is likely to take several weeks.”

“There is also a need to discern how and when various recommendations might best be considered, not least in light of the upcoming assemblies of the Plenary Council.”

Two of the report’s authors say any changes would be minor tweaks.

The report recommends bishops would be required to have a ‘college of consultors’.

These consultors would include laymen as well as laywomen. They would be consulted on appointments and finances. In addition, bishops would be required to consult with independent subject matter experts when appropriate.

Dioceses and parishes would have to establish pastoral councils and introduce more transparency. This will include regularly auditing finances and child safeguards. Bishops’ conference would be required to make the process of selecting bishops transparent.

“The absence of public consultation, together with the opaqueness of the selection process, leaves all but the select few consulted in the dark and calls into question its efficacy,” the report says of the current process.


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , ,