Australia's Catholics will have been heartened by the outcome of the latest Bishops Conference and its concluding Letter endorsing the Statement of Conclusions with its analysis of the crisis of faith and recommendations for tackling it. As Bishop Manning pointed out (see page 3) to those who expressed doubts, the Statement was as much the creation of the Australian Bishops as of the Holy See.
While the ultimate destiny of the Catholic Church in Australia remains in God's hands - and hence the power of prayer and sacrifice should not be overlooked - God helps those who help themselves. In this regard, from a human standpoint, a vital ingredient in any substantial progress towards implementing the recommendations of the Statement of Conclusions is the selection of thoroughly orthodox, competent diocesan administrators and experts. It goes without saying, of course, that one assumes each bishop will be fully committed - in deed as well as in word - to the program set out in the Statement.
The fact of the matter, however, is that this assumption cannot be so readily made about all diocesan administrators and experts. Unless these people are prepared to implement the program, even the most dedicated of bishops will find the task of addressing the crisis of faith - especially in areas like religious education - well nigh impossible to achieve.
While some dioceses - notably Melbourne - have already anticipated such a need - it remains to be seen whether others will tackle this urgent challenge.
Michael Gilchrist: Editor (email - firstname.lastname@example.org)