Newly-appointed Brisbane Archdiocese chancellor Pat Mullins says more lay people should step up to take on Church roles. Source: The Catholic Leader.
“It’s a good direction that the Church is going in, I think. It’s the way of the future,” he said.
Uniquely qualified for the role of chancellor, Mr Mullins is believed to be Australia’s only canon lawyer simultaneously practising as a common lawyer.
He becomes the first layman to hold the position in Brisbane, succeeding Fr Adrian Farrelly, chancellor for the past 10 years.
As the Catholic Church in Australia moves towards the Plenary Council 2020, Mr Mullins said it was clear that lay people had a growing part to play in the operation of the Church and its mission.
“Certainly the canon law provides that a lay person can have the office of chancellor,” he said.
“It really plays into the spirit of the Second Vatican Council – the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity – that lay people do have a part in the life of the Church and they certainly should do things that they are fit to do and qualified to do.
“The numbers within the clergy are limited. They have to fulfil their pastoral roles in the parishes and so there are other roles in the administration of the Church that lay people can do and should do because we have to save the priests for their specific role in pastoral work.”
Well into his fourth decade of legal practice, Mr Mullins has a rich Church association.
He regularly advises Church and religious organisations on the day-to-day operation of schools and charities; and helps manage issues around legislative compliance and risk.
As chancellor he will be the chief record-keeper within the Brisbane archdiocese, will witness the decrees of Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge under canon law, and will manage the maintenance of records in the curial offices.
Mr Mullins sees challenges ahead in implementing the recommendations of the royal commission into child sexual abuse, and believes in the importance of legally binding protection of religious freedoms.