Australian bishops’ report advocates major changes to church governance

Confidential Report Church Governance

Title: Australian bishops’ report advocates major changes to church governance

Author: Joshua J. McElwee

Publisher: NCR Online

Date: 03JUN2020

A new report commissioned by Australia’s bishops and religious orders recommends a series of radical changes to the way the Catholic Church operates across the country, tackling issues as far-ranging as women’s inclusion in decision-making roles and the Vatican’s opaque process for making episcopal appointments.

The overarching theme for the report — written as part of the local church’s response to a five-year government inquiry into institutional child sexual abuse — is how governance in the church can be more “co-responsible,” or better shared among bishops, clergy and laypeople.

Revelations of clergy abuse and cover-up, the authors state, showed “the widespread failure of the Church’s authorities to respond with justice and compassion” and “give a particular focus to the need for reform in practices of governance within the Catholic Church.”

The report, which encompasses seven chapters, four indices and a bibliography over its 208 pages, had originally been delivered to the Australian bishops in early May and kept confidential to allow the prelates time to digest its contents.

La Croix International published the full text overnight June 2. NCR subsequently verified the authenticity of the document with one of its authors, who were 14 eminent Australian and global lay Catholics and four clergy members.

The report, titled “The Light From the Southern Cross,” makes 86 recommendations for change in the governance of the Australian Catholic Church. Among the major suggestions:

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