A group of Canberra Catholics have stepped up lobbying efforts for structural change they say will address deepening disillusion and disaffection in the Church, The Canberra Times reports.
In a move welcomed by Canberra and Goulburn Archbishop Christopher Prowse, the Concerned Catholics group has presented a submission to senior clergy ahead of a proposed plenary council for the Church in Australia in 2020.
It calls for Church leaders to establish pastoral councils in the Canberra Archdiocese, designed to give parishioners and lay partners an opportunity to participate fully in the response to next month's final report from the landmark royal commission into responses to child sexual abuse.
The plan also calls for reforms of the Church's canon law and better promotion of the role of women in leadership positions.
The submission, provided to the chair of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference's Commission for the Plenary Council, Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge, says the Church should end a culture of everyday Catholics as "prayers, payers and those subject to outdated canon law" and says compulsory celibacy for priests should be addressed.
Chair of the group, emeritus professor John Warhurst, said Catholic leaders in Australia must begin work to give parishioners an effective role and voice in the direction of the Church and provide greater accountability and inclusive decision-making.
"Like in any large organisation or movement, a good number of people are going about their ordinary local business ... but I think a significant minority are disillusioned and in some cases angry about what's happened," he said.
"There's a large number spread around the archdiocese who really want to be part of a group who stirs the pot. The issues raised during the hearings and preliminary reports of the royal commission make it clear there will be plenty adverse comment about the culture and governance of the Catholic Church and many Catholics want to have their say."
Archbishop Prowse said he welcomed the "thoroughly documented" submission.
"I see it in the first instance as listening to each other, which is a great sign of respect and a sign of seeing where God is leading us. The Concerned Catholics group have been quick off the mark and I am delighted they do want to participate," he said.
Time to change Canberra's Catholic Church, faithful say (The Canberra Times)