Catholics for Renewal Inc.
Catholics for Renewal remains firmly committed to ongoing reform of the
Church’s structure and culture, always committed to the Church’s mission,
inclusive in every sense, and responsive to the People of God. Catholics for
Renewal does not represent sectional interests or ideological bias.
Catholics for Renewal as formed in early 2011 in response to growing concerns among large numbers of Church members at failures in the Church, and that the relationship with their leaders was rapidly breaking down. Among other things, this became evident with the increasing number of people leaving active participation in local Church life. This has become more and more obvious with the separation of young people from the regular worshiping community. It became increasingly obvious that the foundations of faith, trust and confidence among Catholics were being seriously eroded and compromised by a remote and isolated hierarchy with a fundamental breakdown and collapse of sound governance, particularly in the areas of inclusion and accountability at every level of church hierarchy.
Catholics for Renewal Inc. seeks to exercise the rightful voice of all the faithful within the Church in ways which are clearly and unambiguously committed, transparent, constructive and responsible. Catholics for Renewal asserts this voice with renewed urgency. It sees that the very mission and credibility of the Catholic Church is at stake and that its claim to represent, embody and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being seriously compromised, tragically illustrated by scandalous cover-ups of clerical and religious child sexual abusers, protecting the abusers at the cost of the abused and the resultant further abuse of vulnerable children and adults. Church leadership is seen to have, and has been proven to have, placed reputational interests and protection of authority ahead of the teaching of Jesus Christ.
For these reasons, Catholics for Renewal has taken a number of key initiatives aimed at drawing the attention of Church leadership to the corruption of the Church’s mission. Among these initiatives a number are particularly significant:
Many people, including ourselves, are easily drawn to disillusionment over what has become an Institution in decline, for understandable reasons. But belief in a Church comprising all of the People of God working collectively in God’s name energises us to work synodally in shared faith with others towards Church reform necessary for serving God’s mission in today's world. The spirit arising out of Vatican II and reinforced by Pope Francis encourages us further and brings some hope.
Catholics for Renewal members comprise a diverse mix of people, however a key point to make is that what we write and advocate for is not simply what we think, although it includes that. It is very much more a reflection of what our continuing wide engagement with others and our research informs us that Catholics overwhelmingly believe is needed for urgent and faithful Church reform and renewal. Our goal is to represent the views and aspirations of those Catholic people as best we can. We are not lobbyists but we are advocates. Our Plenary Council submission, published as Getting Back on Mission: Reforming our Church Together, illustrates this very clearly.
Our interactions involve various other Catholic groups and individuals, in Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere in the world. It also includes those we occasionally survey or who respond to our regularly published papers via our Newsletter, website and elsewhere, and by those who endorse our open letters. For example our Initial Open Letter to Pope Benedict XVI and the Australian Catholic Church around ten years ago was endorsed by over 8,000 Catholics. Others simply share their thoughts with us in response to our newsletters, and write to us from time to time.
Our Newsletter subscribers are themselves a very diverse group of people ranging from those who are engaged in the church but wanting reform, others who have left the Church, on its fringe and disenchanted, and others who are in key positions in the institutional. Mostly however they are from people who like us refuse to simply watch our Church continue its current decline, or exist in ways that differ from the mission God called us to follow.
So in conjunction with many others a small group of around 16 voluntary
committee members (which varies from time to time) share faith and commitment
to essential reform and renewal. We come from diverse but complementary backgrounds
including people from different ministries and vocations such as pastoral
carers, church historians, researchers, theologians, teachers, academics,
policy analysts, psychologists, doctors, communication people, lawyers,
engineers, and others.
President: Dr. Peter Wilkinson
Vice-President: Dr. Gail Freyne
Secretary: Dr. Rose-Marie Prosser
Treasurer: David Timbs
(other Committee member names are recorded in AGM Minutes published on the Documents page)