Response to Governance Review Project

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) commissioned a review of diocesan and parish governance and management in Australia, the report of which was published in August 2020 as The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia. Amongst the review report’s 86 recommendations were a number relating to Diocesan and Parish Pastoral Councils. The National Centre for Pastoral Research (NCPR) was commissioned by ACBC to inform the Conference’s response to these recommendations.

The Centre undertook several key initiatives to address the ACBC request:

  • a review of Parish and Diocesan Pastoral Council models found in Australia and overseas
  • an analysis of existing NCPR data, to gather findings on Parish and Diocesan Pastoral Councils particularly from the National Church Life Survey, Plenary Council and Building Stronger Parishes projects
  • commissioning a significant study of Diocesan Pastoral Councils from Dr Damien Gleeson, 2022 Australian Religious History Fellow, State Library of New South Wales.

The Centre reported on these initiatives to the November 2021 ACBC Plenary Meeting and the December 2021 ACBC Australian Catholic Council for Pastoral Research (Council) meeting; the latter body provides strategic oversight of the Centre’s research.

The Council meeting noted, and commended, the breadth and depth of Dr Gleeson’s study and, in light of the current Australian Plenary Council, highlighted the report’s timeliness as the Australian Church explores renewal. The Council recommended that Dr Gleeson’s report entitled Diocesan Pastoral Councils: An Australian Historical Study be made available to a wider audience along with other related NCPR research.

The report can be viewed and is available for download at this link: Diocesan Pastoral Councils: An Australian Historical Study

Report details: September 2021. Damian John Gleeson, Diocesan Pastoral Councils: An Australian historical study.
Copyright Note: This Report, which was in part self-funded, is subject to Australian and International Copyright laws. It may not be copied, reproduced or transmitted. Permission to cite or copy from this document may be directed to the author, who may be contacted through the National Centre for Pastoral Research at the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

The Centre thanks Dr Gleeson and the many people who contributed to the report, and still others who are assisting with the broader project.