Implementing the Australian Bishops’ Governance Review Recommendations In the Archdiocese
In December 2017, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse presented its report to the Governor-General. As part of its response, in 2019, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) commissioned a review of governance in the Catholic Church in Australia. ‘The review was a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse after the Commission concluded that the governance and management of dioceses and parishes contributed to the child sexual abuse crisis.
The August 2020 governance report, titled The Light from the Southern Cross: Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia, was the outcome of that review. Following their Plenary Meeting in November 2020, the ACBC said that the review ‘will help shape the way the Catholic Church in Australia understands co-responsibility in its life and mission and puts it into practice’: (the full response is here: Bishops’ Response Light from the Southern Cross.pdf – Google Drive).
The Bishops’ response pointed out that many of the matters raised in the document may be better handled by a local bishop or province rather than at the national level. Consistent with that perspective, the Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese is implementing The Light from the Southern Cross while taking account of ACBC’s response. There are 86 recommendations or part-recommendations from The Light from the Southern Cross, most of which are relevant to the Archdiocese and Parish Priests. The remainder are relevant for the Vatican, Plenary Council, or for ACBC and Catholic Religious Australia. Some recommendations are already part of the work the Archdiocese has implemented, some will be implemented fairly quickly, while others will take time because of the complexity of issues that they raise.
The Archdiocese has formed a working committee to advance implementation, and it is chaired by the Vicar-General. Other members are Helen Delahunty, the Archdiocesan Financial Administrator, Andrew Phelan AM, formerly Chief Executive & Principal Registrar of the High Court, Jeff Smart, Chairman of the CDF Advisory Board, and Paul Nicoll formerly of the Australian National Audit Office.
The working committee will meet fortnightly. In keeping people informed of the implementation, we can receive feedback from the wider Catholic and civic community.