Australian Catholic Bishops’ Secrecy
Title: TERRY FEWTRELL Catholic bishops need to give up secrecy and learn to trust
Author: P & I guest writer: Terry Fewtrell
Publisher: John Menadue – Pearls & Irritations
Australia’s Catholic bishops seem to have learned little from the sexual abuse scandal and associated cover-ups, writes Terry Fewtrell. Pushed by a Royal Commission (RC) report to implement reforms, they recently reverted to standard operating procedures of delay and secrecy in suppressing a major report on governance reform.
While hoping to delay and control discussion, the bishops were outmanoeuvred by the leaking of the highly significant report. It is now available to and can be discussed by all Catholics – as it should be. Titled “The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia”, the report deserves serious consideration but by refusing to release the report until at least November, the bishops displayed their usual disposition to not trust their people, to keep them in the dark and assign to themselves the sole right to consider and comment on the contents. The report is the outcome of an RC recommendation that called for a review of the governance, leadership and management structures of dioceses and parishes, including issues of transparency, accountability, consultation and the participation of lay men and women.
The report provides an important analysis of why current arrangements are not fit-for-purpose and outlines how the church can operate in ways that are faithful to its calling, respect the dignity of its members and are consistent with the reasonable expectations of modern society for inclusiveness, transparency and accountability. All Catholics and the wider Australian community have a legitimate interest here so that effective and appropriate mechanisms can be implemented and in which the community can have confidence.
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