Australian Catholic University is responsible for training a large proportion of the teachers who staff Catholic primary and secondary schools around the country, and therefore the theology courses provided to its students inevitably will be of general concern to the Catholic community.
This is also a universal issue, evidenced in the declaration Ex Corde Ecclesiae (1990), by Pope John Paul II. In it, he instructed bishops' conferences to ensure that teachers and theologians in Catholic universities and other higher education institutes were faithful to Church teachings, as defined by the Magisterium.
As nothing had been done up to the time of the Australian bishops' ad limina visits late in 1998, coinciding with the Synod of Oceania, the agreed statement of the heads of various Vatican congregations and Australian bishops' representatives affirmed that this issue would be addressed. This Statement of Conclusions was later endorsed by the Bishops Conference in the first half of 1999.
Two years later, the need for action is more pressing than ever, judging from the crisis of faith afflicting at least some of ACU's theology courses (see page 8) and a substantial proportion of its graduating students (see AD2000, May 2000, p. 3).
Time is fast running out, as the percentage of Catholic school leavers practising the Faith diminishes, along with the practice rate among Catholic parents and teachers. If this cycle is allowed to continue indefinitely, the Church in Australia will become an empty shell spiritually in the not-too-distant future.
Peter Westmore, Publisher (E-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org)