The Second Vatican Council, in 'Christus Dominus', noted that it is almost impossible, nowadays especially, for bishops to exercise their office suitably and fruitfully unless they establish closer understanding and cooperation with other bishops; and that outstanding examples of a more fruitful apostolate had been produced in countries where Conferences were already established. In 1966, Pope Paul VI’s Apostolic Letter 'Ecclesiae Sanctae' gave directions for the implementation of several Vatican II documents, including this teaching on Conferences.
The 1983 Code of Canon Law, drawing on 'Christus Dominus', defines Conferences in this way: The Bishops Conference, a permanent institution, is the assembly of the bishops of a country or a particular territory, exercising together certain pastoral offices for Christ’s faithful of their territory. By forms and means of the apostolate suited to the circumstances of the time and place, it is to promote, in accordance with the law, that greater good which the Church offers to humankind (Can. 447; cf. Christus Dominus 38).
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference meets at least annually. The Statutes were first approved by the Holy See on 21 June 1966, and definitively on 10 March 1979, and revised on 28 June 2001. (Promulgated Australasian Catholic Record October 2001)
The Conference has a President and a Vice-President (each elected for two years), a Permanent Committee, various Bishops Commissions (each member is elected for three years) and a General Secretariat.
|President:||Most Rev Denis J Hart, Archbishop of Melbourne|
|Vice-President:||Most Rev Philip E Wilson, Archbishop of Adelaide|
|General Secretary:||Rev Dr Stephen P Hackett MSC|