The announcement (see page 3) that an Australian campus of the John Paul II Institute is to open in Melbourne in twelve months time with Fr Anthony Fisher OP as its Director is another welcome development to add to what has occurred in recent years at the seminaries in Perth, Wagga Wagga and Melbourne.
If the Catholic Church's crisis of faith in Australia is to be addressed - along the lines set out in the Statement of Conclusions - then fundamental reforms in the formation of priests, teachers and Church professionals must be undertaken. The size of the task ahead was highlighted in the statistics for student teachers' beliefs and practices at Australian Catholic University (see May AD2000, p. 3).
This crisis of belief among student teachers reflects a deep-seated malaise in the Catholic education system regarding the teaching of the Faith - particularly at the secondary school level.
The encouraging upsurge in seminary numbers in Perth, Wagga Wagga and Melbourne - as has occurred in similarly orthodox seminaries overseas - highlights the fact that only through this approach will the Church be able to provide for its future needs.
The far larger problem concerns Australian Catholic University and its lack of a clear Catholic identity - in practical application as well as in principle. One hopes that over time the presence of the John Paul II Institute as another - and strongly orthodox - centre of higher education will have a leavening effect on ACU's Catholic character.
Orthodox Catholics will be encouraged by a further sign of progress, while having no illusions as to the magnitude of the task that lies ahead, if substantial reforms are to be achieved.
Michael Gilchrist: Editor (E-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org)