Meeting a 'watershed' for laity

John Warhurst (Compass)

Parishioners could have a greater say in the future direction of the Church in Canberra, if reforms overwhelmingly supported at a meeting of concerned churchgoers were implemented, The Canberra Times reports.

More than 200 people attended a meeting on Thursday convened by the recently formed Concerned Catholics of Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese.

The group has called for more lay people, including women, to play a greater role in Church decision-making, after the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse pointed to power imbalances in the Church as a reason why abuse in many cases carried on with impunity.

The group is also pushing for a diocesan pastoral council to be established, with more members of the laity given a seat at the table.

Meeting chair John Warhurst described it as a watershed for Catholics in the Canberra region.

"It shows significant numbers want change and believe that without reforms our Church's decline in Australia will only continue," Professor Warhurst said.

Truth Justice and Healing Council chief executive Francis Sullivan told the meeting that for "everyday Catholics, the clerical sexual abuse scandal has been hypocrisy writ large".

Mr Sullivan said the "pernicious effects of clericalism and the wielding of power through a clerical caste" had been laid bare during the royal commission.

He said the lay people of the Church also had "much soul searching to do".

"Most Catholic lay people are very competent in their daily lives but somehow either expect less of themselves in their Church life or assume that their competencies and participation can only ever be utilised in limited and controlled ways. These days need to come to an end."

The standing-room only-meeting asked Archbishop Christopher Prowse to take the reforms to this week's meeting of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference.

"We are grateful that Archbishop Prowse attended so he could hear the strength of views from active Catholics who seek a stronger more inclusive church," Professor Warhurst said.


Canberra Catholics push for more power in church decision-making (The Canberra Times)


Information Sharing Submission (Truth, Justice and Healing Council)

Eyes on witch hunt against churches as kids suffer at home (The Australian)

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