Communities across Australia and as far away as Peru, Mexico and Japan yesterday engaged in an interactive discussion about the unique leadership style of Pope Francis, according to host BBI-The Australian Institute of Theological Education.
Held in partnership with the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, BBI's 13th National eConference brought together prominent international and national speakers including the former NSW premier and foreign minister Bob Carr, the Editor at Large at The Australian, Paul Kelly and the Chairman of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Elizabeth Proust, to reflect on the theme, 'Gospel leadership in times of chaos: the hope of Pope Francis'.
Vatican II expert Massimo Faggioli from the US, President of Catholic Religious Australia, Sr Ruth Durick OSU and the Congregational Leader of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, Sr Clare Condon SGS were also on the speakers list.
Professor Faggioli was the first speaker, reflecting upon the transformative effect Pope Francis’ leadership has had on the Church over recent years.
“As the first non-European Pope, Pope Francis has promoted a more inclusive Church for the modern world and one which is far less Eurocentric”, he said.
“He has also helped to re-contextualise the Church, so that it reads the signs of the times and stands firmly with the marginalised, including refugees”, he added.
Mr Carr spoke about the long term significance of the Responsibility to Protect- a global commitment endorsed by the United Nations in 2005 which followed humanitarian crises in Rwanda and Cambodia in previous decades.
“And when we reflect upon the current bloodshed in Syria, it’s clear that we still have so much to learn about the Responsibility to Protect when we still see the Syrian government mistreating its own people , including sadly its children”, he said.
Kelly reflected upon the inspirational leadership role Francis is playing in the modern Church. “Pope Francis is the ideal candidate to lead the Church through these challenging times as he seeks to rebuild that trust through his style of humble, servant leadership”, he added.