Leaders of national bodies discuss Church’s mission

The leaders of three major bodies have met to discuss how dioceses, religious institutes and ministerial public juridic persons can collaborate to advance the mission of the Church in Australia.

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, Catholic Religious Australia president Br Peter Carroll FMS and Eva Skira, the chair of the Association of Ministerial PJPs, met last week in Brisbane.

Br Peter, whose body represents more than 100 religious institutes of priests, brothers and sisters, said the meeting demonstrates the three organisations’ “commitment to continuing collaboration, cooperation and communication, which is an expression of synodality”.

The Association of Ministerial PJPs represents 12 groups that are canonical stewards of Church ministries, including in education, health, aged care, disability and social and community services.

Ms Skira said the meeting with Archbishop Costelloe and Br Peter was, for her, “a chance to together pray, share, listen, question, challenge, disagree and affirm, all in the name of our shared quest to seek God and carry out his mission”.

“As the Chair of AMPJP, it was a positive opportunity to walk synodally and to feel supported by other parts of the Church,” she said.

“This collaboration assists us as ecclesial stewards of our Ministerial PJPs whose Church ministries are bringing Christ to millions of Australians.”

Archbishop Costelloe, who took over as president of the Bishops Conference in July, said last week’s meeting was “a positive and mutually supportive one in which it became clear that the commitment to continuing and deepening our collaboration offers rich possibilities for a mutual recognition of each other’s gifts”.

He said it also allowed for “a harnessing of those gifts at the service of the ‘missionary impulse’ which Pope Francis is calling us to cultivate in the Church today”.

The meeting, which also included the executive leaders of the three groups, considered how they can work together in ways that recognise the unique purposes of each organisation while being united in carrying out the Church’s mission.

Those present also discussed a number of decisions and decrees of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia that have been jointly entrusted to all three groups.

The organisations’ leaders will meet periodically to renew and enhance their collaborative efforts.