By Vatican News
For the first time in their history Australian Bishops will not be together in person during their plenary gathering, which runs from the 7 to 14 May.
Instead they will be joining their fellow Australians and millions of people around the world who have been continuing their work from home with the aid of video conferencing
Like all Australians, said Conference President, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, “we are having to adapt to the current realities.”
Covid-19 under the spotlight
The Covid-19 pandemic is set to be high on the Bishops’ agenda.
The Archbishop noted that “there is a great desire in all parts of the Church to resume public worship, and we will consider how and when that might happen.”
Over the course of the meeting the Bishops will be looking at how the Church can support families, individuals and communities that have been seriously affected by the pandemic.
Archbishop Coleridge pointed out that work has already commenced to help people through the Church’s educational, social service and pastoral care networks. But he acknowledged “the recovery will be long.”
Safeguarding in the Church
Another key theme of the plenary meeting will be to discuss a more collaborative approach to safeguarding and the handling of sexual abuse complaints and other misconduct.
“We’ve made good progress in devising even more robust structures and practices to respond to allegations and to create and maintain Church environments that are safe for children and vulnerable adults,” the Archbishop said.
“This is a whole-of-Church approach, and it’s one that has been developed with input from a wide range of people, including survivors and their supporters.”
Over the course of the week-long meeting, the bishops will also consider the final report of a national review of the governance of dioceses and parishes.
Archbishop Coleridge said that while social distancing and the “vagaries” of technology will be something of a challenge, the bond of faith and mission that unites the bishops will remain strong.
“The rhythm of daily Mass and prayer several times each day – albeit in our own locations – will continue, and that will keep the focus on the Risen Jesus in our midst,” he said.