A report has called for Australia’s bishops to give laypeople a greater say in the running of the Church, open up Church finances to the public and put more women in positions of power.
The 200-page report was presented to the country’s Bishops’ Conference on 4 May for consideration ahead of their plenary meeting in November. It is based on a 15-month review of church governance, conducted by a seven-member panel.
Vatican News says that the report contains 86 recommendations, although did not go into details about each one. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, however, the proposals include giving professional laity for a say in the running of dioceses. This could involve setting up pastoral councils, ideally consisting of an equal number of men and women, to advise bishops and priests.
Church organisations will also be required to meet similar standards of governance to other groups, with publicly available financial reports and clearer rules of accountability.
The report was commissioned after the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse said a “culture of deferential obedience” in the Church had led to the protection of paedophile priests.
Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, president of the Bishops’ Conference, said the proposals would have “far-reaching implications for the Church’s life and mission”.
“To do it justice, the bishops will now take advice, consider the report in depth, conduct discussions at a provincial level, and otherwise prepare for a full discussion at their November plenary,” the archbishop said.
“This will allow them to then publish the report and respond to it.”
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