Australian Bishops Backpedal

News: Video Reports
by David Nussman  •  •  June 22, 2020   

Lay leadership document not the final word

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The Australian Church is downplaying a push for lay female leadership.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, president of the Australian bishops' conference, stated last week that a leaked report on Church governance is a set of proposals made by a committee — not the Church's official statement.

The document, titled "The Light from the Southern Cross," was leaked to the media earlier this month. It blames "clericalism" for problems in the Church; claims the all-male priesthood fosters inequality; and encourages sweeping reforms to increase lay leadership.

But Abp. Coleridge says the document still needs to be revised, clarified and amended based on input from Australia's bishops.

This comes as part of the Australian Plenary Council, an ongoing process of discussing Church reforms.

Coleridge: "[We need] to see what the Spirit is saying to us about the future, about structures and strategies, some of which we might have to let go, some new structures and strategies that we might have to take on board."

Faithful Catholics down under are troubled by the Plenary Council, saying it has become a platform for opposing Church teaching.

"Because the question that we are considering is the future of the Catholic Church in Australia," said a spokesperson in a Plenary Council video.

To prepare for the Council, organizers received comments and feedback from more than 200,000 laypersons. Many comments displayed on the Plenary Council website promote theological dissent and liturgical abuse — saying the Church should "support same-sex marriage," "allow priests to be married" and "modernize Church teachings," among other things.

Australian Church leaders claim the Plenary Council is the work of the Holy Spirit. But some Catholics fear it is being swayed by the spirit of the age.

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