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Australia: Bishops’ Conference released guidelines “Faithful Stewards of God’s Grace” in preparation for 2020 Plenary Council

“Faithful Stewards of God’s Grace” – this is the title of the Document on Lay Pastoral Ministry in the Church in Australia that was launched at the National Conference on New Evangelization, Proclaim2018, sponsored by the Bishops’ National Centre for Evangelisation (Brisbane 12-14 July 2018). The text “outlines the ministries and the mission of the Church”, Bishop Michael McCarthy, chair of the Bishops’ Commission for Church Ministry, wrote in the foreword. It is a “working e-document” which provides “a solid theological and pastoral underpinning for lay pastoral ministry” ahead of the Plenary Council of the Australian Church in 2020. In 2012, the Bishops established the “Australian Catholic Council for Lay Pastoral Ministry” to foster dialogue among dioceses and facilitate a “national approach”. After a survey on the local situation, the Council has now issued these national guidelines to promote “attitudes and practices of collegiality” in Australia, a country where Catholics first arrived in 1788. Starting from that date, the five-chapter document seeks to: “identify the complexities involved in lay pastoral ministry”; “understand the place of lay pastoral ministry within the common vocation of discipleship, and how it relates to other forms of ministry”; offer “a practical description of lay pastoral ministry”; and propose recommendations for a “shared vision to be fulfilled in practice”.

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