A promising roadmap for ecclesial reform and conversion

Gaillardetz Confidential Australia Governance

Title: A promising roadmap for ecclesial reform and conversion

Author: Richard R. Gaillardetz

Publisher: Catholic Outlook

Reproduced with permission of La Croix.

Date: 06JUN2020

One of the world’s top ecclesiologists analyzes an unprecedented Church governance report.

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) and the Catholic Religious of Australia (CRA) instituted the Implementation Advisory Group to respond to the Royal Commission Report.

That group, in turn, created the Governance Review Project Team (GRPT). This team was tasked with crafting, “in light of Catholic ecclesiology,” a comprehensive response to the Royal Commission’s critique of church governance.

After a year of study and reflection, that team delivered to the ACBC a potentially ground-breaking document, “The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia.”

The Australian bishops have decided to delay the release of this document for six months while they engage its recommendations themselves.

However, La Croix International was able to obtain a copy. I have already provided a summary in a previous article, looking at the points that have a value for the wider Church beyond Australia.

Here, in this essay, is my analysis of “The Light from the Southern Cross”.

Admitting failure and daring to offer a way forward

It is perhaps surprising that we have given so much attention to what is ultimately nothing more than a committee report.

In different times, and in a healthier Church, such a report would have received little attention, largely because it would have been unnecessary to begin with. But today we have a Church wracked by scandal, yet led by a pope with a bold vision for ecclesial conversion.

In this time of ecclesial crisis, “The Light from the Southern Cross” report may offer a road map for key elements of what such a conversion would require.

This report holds considerable promise. It is grounded in sound ecclesiology. It offers a frank admission of the failings of Church governance at every level, and it dares to offer very specific recommendations for moving forward substantive ecclesial reform.

The drafting team included persons experienced in corporate and ecclesial governance – clergy, lay pastoral ministers, Church and school administrators, and leaders of Church reform groups. It also included several respected theologians and experts in canon law.

This breadth of perspective and range of expertise paid dividends in the overall quality of the text.

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