Bigger role for lay leaders
By Marilyn Rodrigues
Lay Catholics leadership will become increasingly important in Sydney parishes over the next decade, says the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr George Pell.
“At least for the next 10 or 15 years there is going to be something of a shortage of priests in the Sydney Archdiocese,” he said.
“There are some signs that we're getting a goodly number of seminarians now, but I think that work in the parishes will have to be supplemented by part time lay leadership.”
Dr Pell (pictured) was addressing representatives from Catholic lay organisations at a gathering organised by the Croydon branch of the Knights of the Southern Cross.
Groups represented included Catholic Charismatic Renewal, the Catholic Women's League, St Vincent de Paul Society, the Knights of the Southern Cross, the Legion of Mary, the Young Carmelite Group, Sydney's Catholic Youth Services, the Youth Mission Team, the Thomas More Society and the Lumen Verum Apolegetics group.
The archbishop said: “Most of the areas of growth in the Catholic Church in the last 50 to 60 years have not come from the initiative of the hierarchy but from charismatic individuals and lay people.
“Certainly as a bishop I feel it's my task, provided a proposal is half sensible, to at least give people room to move, or to encourage their initiatives.”
Dr Pell commended lay initiatives such as the charismatic movements, the Neocatechumenal Way, Focolare, the Emmanuel community and Opus Dei, because they offered clear Christian teaching, support for the Pope and the priesthood and are centred on Christ.
“They also offer community support for one another and a clear sense of direction and support,” he said.
“We need to encourage lay movements that sponsor vocations and give support to people.
“I think if there are going to be genuine movements of the Spirit, of renewal, they should be both Marian and Petrine; in favour of Our Lady and supportive of the papacy.
“I would say without exception the movements which are going ahead throughout the world meet those two criteria, but more importantly they are Christocentric; centred on Christ, whereas sometimes what really provokes people's energy and enthusiasm is somewhere else.
“It might be nationalism, it might be social justice, it could be the right to life, ecology or feminism.
“There are a whole variety of things which can come under the general aegis of Christianity and just sometimes quite explicitly, more often silently and unobtrusively, push Christ to one side.”
John Malone, of the Croydon branch of the Knights of the Southern Cross, said the gathering was a success because it enabled people from different circles to meet each other for the first time.