While the controversy over general absolution continues, there is a real danger that the challenges facing the Church in Australia, outlined in the joint Statement of Conclusions issued last December, will be ignored.
The statement reiterated that there are a number of challenges facing the Church in Australia, including a crisis of faith, manifested in the growth of the number of people with no religion and the decline in church practice; the rise in extreme individualism, which "elevates the individual conscience to the level of an absolute"; a rejection of the hierarchical Church, and a denial of legitimate authority.
Among other things, it
- highlighted the important role of bishops in upholding orthodoxy;
- called for continuing formation of priests to develop their spiritual life;
- strongly encouraged the active promotion of vocations to the priesthood and religious life;
- demanded that associations of priests and religious superiors accept the Church's magisterium;
- called for an end to abuses, especially at Mass and in the Sacrament of Penance; and
- called for the strengthening of the Catholic content of Catholic education.
All these issues are equally deserving of attention.
In the meantime, urgent prayer - particularly before the forthcoming Bishops' Conference - is needed for a satisfactory resolution of the current impasse over the Third Rite of Reconciliation.
Peter Westmore: Publisher (email - firstname.lastname@example.org)