3 – 10 May 2012
The Mass of the Holy Spirit was concelebrated on Friday 4 May 2012 in the chapel of Mary MacKillop Place, North Sydney at 7 am. The President of Conference, Archbishop Philip Wilson, was the principal celebrant and preached the homily. The President welcomed the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto who was warmly greeted. He concelebrated the opening Mass, met Bishops informally, addressed the Plenary Meeting and participated in a general discussion.
Archbishop Denis Hart was elected President and Archbishop Philip Wilson was elected Vice-President.
The following elections were made to Bishops Conference commissions.
1.Administration and Information
2.Canon Law +Brian Finnigan
+Vincent Long ofm conv
3. Catholic Education
+Greg O’Kelly sj
+Timothy Costelloe sdb
4. Church Ministry
+Vincent Long ofm conv
5. Doctrine and Morals
+Tim Costelloe sdb
+Anthony Fisher op
6. Ecumenism and Inter-religious
7. Health and Community Services
+Joseph Oudeman ofm cap
8. Justice, Ecology and Development
+Greg O’Kelly sj
10. Mission and Faith Formation
11. Pastoral Life
+Anthony Fisher op
+Peter Stasiuk CSsR
12. Relations with Aborigines and
+Joseph Oudeman ofm cap
The following special sessions were held during the Bishops’ plenary meeting.
-On Friday 4 May Monsignor Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications addressed the Bishops on the significance of social media and the Church’s
mission of evangelisation.
-On Wednesday 9 May 2012 Father Dennis McManus from Georgetown University and Fr Jeffrey Grob canon law expert from Chicago presented a seminar on the Rite of Exorcism.
-Diocesan delegates for the Year of Grace gathered at Mary MacKillop Place on Tuesday 8 May, and the Year of Grace was formally launched by Archbishop Mark Coleridge during
the Midday celebration of the Eucharist. More information is available on the Year of Grace website www.yearofgrace.catholic.org.au
-The Australian Catholic Council for Pastoral Research held its 50th meeting on 9 March 2012 and has continued to provide advice, most recently in the areas of the Census, the
National Church Life Survey, the National Mass Count, the Building Stronger Parishes Project and the Australian Catholic Mapping Online Project. The office reported that 390
Catholic Parishes took part in the 2011 National Church Life Survey. The Office has carried out field research visits to nine urban parishes as part of the Building Stronger Parishes Project, and has begun field research visits to rural parishes and plans to complete all fieldwork by the end of this year. Work is proceeding on the project website www.buildingstrongerparishes.catholic.org.au.
Bishops Commission for Catholic Education
The Gonski Report was released by the Prime Minister on 20 February 2012. The National Catholic Education Commission has set up a series of meetings and working parties to
analyse the implications for the Report for Catholic school funding.
Review of the National Catholic Education Commission
The Review Panel has begun its round of meetings with State and Territory Catholic Education Commissions and other key stakeholders. Detailed information about the review, including the terms of reference and some discussion questions, can be found at http://www.ncec.catholic.edu.au
Bishops Commission for Church Ministry
Australian Catholic Council for Lay Pastoral Ministry (ACCLPM) The ACCLPM had its first face-to-face meeting on 16 February in Sydney. Bishop
Comensoli led a general discussion about structure and workings of Conference and
terminology surrounding “lay pastoral ministry”.
The initial focus of ACCLPM is to be
parishes. The Mandate has been amended to include the Bishops’ recommendation of adding
three more members to better represent remote, indigenous, rural, young people, lower socio-economic
coal-face pastoral backgrounds.
Office for the Participation of Women (OPW)
Young Catholic Women’s Interfaith Fellowship was re-launched in March 2012 with a
flexible new structure, allowing young women to take up a program of theology, spiritual
development and interfaith, ecumenical and intra-church dialogue. This is a partnership
between the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Office for the Participation of Women,
The Broken Bay Institute (BBI), and the Sisters of the Good Samaritan. Upon completion of
the Fellowship, participants will be awarded the Graduate Certificate of Theology. The
academic program will be supplemented by four-day gatherings at the beginning of each
semester for periods of prayer, reflection and personal growth. This will be facilitated in
collaboration with the Sisters of the Good Samaritan at their Mount St Benedict Centre in
Dr Patricia Madigan op has submitted a Report on the Post-course Experience of the Young
Catholic Women’s Interfaith Fellowship past participants (2006-2009). This research has
important implications for women working in Church structures and the formation of lay
people for leadership in mission.
National Committee for Professional Standards (NCPS)
Symposium at the Gregorian University, 6-9 February 2012.
A four day symposium was held at the Gregorian University, Rome, in early February, titled
Towards Healing and Renewal. More than 100 Bishops and 30 religious superiors attended.
Archbishop Philip Wilson, President of the Conference attended. Legal, psychological and
theological aspects were covered.
Anglophone Conference, Domus Sanctae Marthae, 10-14 February 2012.
About 50 delegates attended the conference which was organised by the NCPS Secretariat in
Australia. The Australian delegation was: Archbishop Philip Wilson and Sr. Annette Cunliffe
RSC, Co-Chairs, Sr. Angela Ryan, CSB and Fr. Tim Brennan, MSC, Executive Officers, Mr
Peter Rush, CCI, and Bishop Brian V Finnigan, members of the NCPS National Committee.
Bishops Commission for Health and Community Services
Not for profit sector reforms
The pace of Government activity on the NFP reforms had increased since January 2012.
CSSA had been engaged in advocacy related to the Australian Charities and NFP
Commission Bill, the Unrelated Business Income Tax, the definition of charity and related
matters. The Church Tax Working Group is monitoring these proposed reforms and
engaging in discussions with Treasury Officials.
Public Policy environment
The Commission noted the harshness of the current public policy environment in relation to
the vulnerable, poor and marginalised. This made advocacy in support of these Australians
more difficult. For example, CSSA had found little response from government figures to its
concerns about the need for tailored support to assist the tens of thousands of long-term
unemployed people who experience multiple disadvantage.
The discussion also focussed on the sometimes parallel work of other Commissions of the
Conference, for example on asylum seeker and some bio-ethics issues. It was agreed that
close coordination between Commissions was important in these case.
Bishops Commission for Justice, Ecology and Development
10 Year Anniversary for Catholic Earthcare
Catholic Earthcare are celebrating 10 years this year. Their work includes the ASSISI
Initiative which is continuing the systemic engagement of Catholic organisations nationally.
The ASSISI Animator for Sustainability Program has been delivered 4 times over the last
year with the hope that this will become the model for the future. CEA’s intensive Immersion
‘Creation and Reconciliation Program’ at Mulgoa Winbourne with leaders from Catholic
organisations occurred in April 2012. Friends and supporters gathered with the bishops for
Mass on 9 May and after the Mass Archbishop Wilson launched Fr Denis Edwards’ book
Jesus and the Natural World.
-Caritas Australia is currently in the midst of its Strategic Planning process and at the time of
the May Plenary, Caritas will have just completed its Workshop titled ‘Propositions for the
-Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga, sdb, the President of Caritas Internationalis will be visiting
Australia as a guest of the Archdiocese of Melbourne and Caritas Australia from mid to late
-Project Compassion is hoping this year to achieve $9.9 million. Caritas is deeply thankful for
the leadership and encouragement of Bishops throughout the country in promoting this year’s
-Through April to September it is expected that there will be a significant food crisis and
possible famine to eventuate throughout the countries of Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal,
Burkina Faso. The Sahel region experienced significant food insecurity in 2010 and has not
recovered from that crisis. The learning from the 2011 East African food crisis to establish
better early warning systems is being applied. The Caritas Confederation has been responding
and will continue operations for a larger response.
Bishops Commission for Liturgy
Some initial feedback regarding the implementation and reception of the Revised Roman
Missal has been received at a National Liturgy Conference attended by the Bishops
Commission for Liturgy, National Liturgical Council and Liturgical Consultants from around
Australia in Hobart (28 Feb – 2 Mar 2012).. Appreciative comments were received in relation
to various supplementary resources, e.g., the Order of Mass Cards and Folder (Brisbane: The
Liturgical Commission), the Conference’s recommended Mass settings; ICEL’s Become One
Body One Spirit in Christ DVD and the Together at One Altar website (Fraynework).
Presently, the Bishops Commission for Liturgy is in the process of developing a brief that
will help build up the “relatio” or “case” for the recognition of St Mary of the Cross as a
Patroness of Australia.
National Liturgical Council
The Hobart Liturgy Conference in March 2012 bid appreciative farewell to outgoing BCL
Executive Secretary, Fr Peter Williams, and his administrative assistant Ms Virginia Knight
from Parramatta and welcomed Dr Paul Taylor as his successor, assisted by Mrs Janine
Hardwick and Mrs Nicky Kitson from Archbishop Denis Hart’s Office in Melbourne.
Bishops Commission for Mission and Faith Formation
Conference on the New Evangelisation
The message about PROCLAIM 2012 has started to become public. The first media release
was issued on Friday 24 February 2012 announcing that Archbishop Fisichella will be
attending PROCLAIM 2012. It was sent to Bishops, parishes and schools, groups and
movements as well as Catholic Media. A full program of Seminars has been prepared,
covering faith formation, evangelisation and mission, leadership, culture and creative
arts/technology. This is available on the website, www.proclaimconference.com.au.
Catholic Enquiry Centre
This year there has been a significant rise in the number of enquiries for information on the
Some factors in this include:
-Commencement of advertising on Facebook in September 2011
-Facebook advertising now accounts for 33.6%, responses then newspaper advertising with
19.9%)responses (and Google with 15.6% responses)
-Catholic Mission expanded school fundraising and school formation programs and adult
fundraising, while working towards the future expansion of adult mission formation. The
first involvement with the Eastern Eparchies came in 2011 with formation and fundraising
activities with the Ukrainian and Maronite Eparchies.
-Global Immersions in 2012 have had to be closed at a record 19 groups which will fill out to
about 180 participants. There are plans to massively increase the availability of immersions
with Aboriginal people as these are in huge demand.
-A current investigation of World Youth Day 2013 options may lead, as it did in 2008, to a
need for investment by Catholic Mission in staffing. This is because WYD in 2013 in Brazil
is themed on Mission and dioceses are seeking pilgrim mission immersions before or after
Brazil. Catholic Mission are talking with Harvest Pilgrimages regarding possible
opportunities including offering mission formation and debriefing for their pilgrims.
Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life
-Planning is underway for the 2nd Australian Catholic Youth Ministry Convention in
Campbelltown, October 2012 and for an Australian Catholic Youth Gathering in December
-A new parish kit was released in December 2011 comprised an updated I Have a Story and
We Have a Story, parish check list and other resources;
-A captioned YouTube clip, ‘One Body in Christ’ released for parish communities and
organisations for the International Day of People with Disability;
-A diocesan consultation on the services, guidelines and specific pastoral care for people with
disability and their families, to be reported to the Commission and Conference;
-A workshop for Homebush Seminary focused on families and disability, and their
participation in parish life;
-Networking disability groups and communities nationally through the national newsletter;
-Examination of support for the pastoral care of people who have a mental illness;
-Development of inclusive faith practices for Aboriginal persons who have a disability;
-Development of inclusive faith practices for the deaf and hard of hearing communities,
including the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Sub-Committee of the ACDC.
Migrants and Refugees
-Continued implementation and administration of the Labour Agreement;
-Advocacy on behalf of the pastoral care of migrants and refugees
-Continuing, with the ACU, the annual Memorial Lecture in honour of Bishop Joseph Grech;
-Developing, with the Scalabrinian International Migration Institute, a Graduate Diploma in
the Pastoral Care of Human Mobility.
-Manual for Priests on post-abortion resources, Reconciliation Card and Prayer Card, being
-Development of a diocesan network – still under consideration by the Australian Catholic
-Life Issues DVD Series being finalised, will be launched in August 2012.
-WWL National Training Workshop, planned for August 2013, to deepen the experience of
the Symposium Series at diocesan and parish levels.
Bishops Commission for Relations with Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders
The Commission has written a Statement for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday,
(first Sunday in July). This statement will be available on the Conference website and will be
sent by email to every diocese and parish.