Australian Church leaders travelled to Rome last week to meet with Vatican authorities to discuss current issues facing the Church in Australia, CNA reports.
According to an communique from the Vatican on Saturday, the leadership of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) met with officials of the Vatican's Secretariat of State and other relevant offices of the Holy See “for a wide-ranging discussion concerning the situation of the Church in Australia at this time”.
Topics covered in the discussions included the ongoing investigations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which recently suggested that the Church be legally bound to break the seal of Confession when sexual abuse has been disclosed within the Sacrament.
The statement came the day after Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy, attending a hearing over allegations of past sexual abuse in Australia.
Cardinal Pell has maintained his innocence over all allegations against him.
According to the communique, other topics covered during the meeting included the relationship between the Church and society as a whole, the re-establishment of trust following the abuse crisis and a call for greater participation of laypersons in decision-making roles in the Church in Australia.
Members of the Australian delegation were Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart, president of the ACBC; Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge, vice president of the ACBC; and Justice Neville Owen of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council.
The main discussion took place on Thursday, while a conference on “Child Dignity in the Digital World” was taking place simultaneously at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University.
Key participants from the Vatican were the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin; the secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher; the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, PSS; and the secretary for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Giacomo Morandi.
The meeting fell just two months after the Royal Commission, established in 2013, released 85 proposed changes to the country's criminal justice system.
Aust delegation in Rome amid sex scandal (News.com.au)
Court sets committal hearing date in Cardinal Pell matter (The Catholic Weekly)