Catholic Church Australia Fails
Title: FRANCIS SULLIVAN The Light From the Southern Cross. A Report on Catholic Church Governance
Author: John Menadue & Francis Sullivan
Publisher: John Menadue – Pearls & Irritations
The Church culture of the past is still the culture we have today. And that is fundamentally what the Implementation Advisory Group (IAG) had to confront. How to navigate the realpolitik of the Catholic Church. No mean task for a group set up without any institutional clout or effective prominence.
Try writing a report with both hands tied behind your back. That was the task before the Implementation Advisory Group as they set off to deliver a review of the diocesan governance structures called for by the Royal Commission.
Firstly, any review was inevitably going to be hamstrung by the Canon law that prescribes the discerning and determining in the Church procedures and administration.
It also entrenches the hierarchical division between clerics and the rest. Some things are regarded as ‘laity free zones’!
Then came the funding cuts.
And to top it off into the mix was the less than subtle passive aggression that comes from some hyper sensitive conservative prelates through their always eager emissaries.
Away from the public scrutiny of the Royal Commission the IAG toiled to be taken seriously by segments within the Bishops Conference more animated to ‘move on’ from the scandal than to actually getting down to address the Commission’s findings.
The bishops did set up a committee to assist with the implementation of the Royal Commission’s recommendations. But in reality it was born at a time where the Conference itself was divided in reaction to the Commission and its resolve to respond actively to the recommendations was half hearted at best. For the game plan had changed.
Now all the strategic and resource efforts were being directed to the Plenary Council, with its promise of repositioning the Church in everyday Australia. Harking back to the scandal was not only ‘old news’ it was also ‘too depressing’ for recently installed bishops and senior officials desperate for some ‘clean air’ in order for the Church to present a new agenda of ‘abuse free’ evangelisation. So the strategy was obvious – leave the sins of the past in the past.
There is only one problem with this tactic. The Church culture of the past is still the culture we have today. And that is fundamentally what the IAG had to confront. How to navigate the realpolitik of the Catholic Church. No mean task for a group set up without any institutional clout or effective prominence.
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