Mandate of the Bishops Commission for Church Ministry

Preamble

“The ecclesiology of communion requires the bishop to involve all Christians in the one mission of the Church. In fact all Christians, individually and collectively, have the right and duty to cooperate in the mission which Christ entrusted to his Church, each according to his own or her own particular vocation and gifts received from the Holy Spirit.” (Directory on the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops (2004) n 59).

In fulfilling this responsibility, the bishops are assisted primarily by priests and deacons. The ministry of the ordained is inseparable from building up the community of the Church in its faith in Jesus Christ so that each member of the Church might become more committed to living as a disciple.

The priest and deacon exercise their ministry only in union with the bishop. This relationship grounds the ordained in the communion of the Church symbolised in the local bishop.

Just as Ordination enables a priest and deacon to fulfil their particular vocation, so too does baptism enable all Christians to fulfil their vocation to make the Kingdom present in the world.

The development of ministries for the non-ordained is a source of joy since it enables the Church to grow as a community of co-responsible members in which the contribution of all is encouraged and valued.

1. Membership and Meetings

1.1 The Commission shall comprise six (6) bishops as determined by the Conference by-laws.
1.2 The Commission shall meet at least three (3) times each year at a time and place that the members determine. Use will be made of video or teleconference facilities when the agenda or circumstances warrants.

2. Areas of Responsibility

The Commission promotes the life and mission of the Catholic Church in Australia by being informed and offering advice in the following areas:

2.1 Issues relating to clergy life and ministry.
2.2 Oversight of the National Ratio Fundamentalis for seminaries.
2.3 Issues relating to relationships with Religious Institutes.
2.4 Issues relating to collaborative ministry and the involvement of people in the lay apostolate.
2.5 The participation of women in the life of the Church.
2.6 Maintaining formal relations with the Catholic Religious Australia (CRA), and generally promoting the collaboration between diocesan clergy, clerical religious, religious men and women, and laity.
2.7 Overseeing the Bishops’ participation in the National Committee for Professional Standards (in conjunction with Catholic Religious Australia).

3. Particular Functions

In particular, the Commission performs the following functions:

3.1 The Commission keeps itself informed about the activity of the Church and its agencies in the following areas:

3.1.1 The life and ministry of the clergy including those called to the Permanent Diaconate.
3.1.2 Issues relating to relationships with Religious Institutes.
3.1.3 The participation of women in the life and mission of the Church in collaboration with the Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life.
3.1.4 The collaboration of laity in the life and mission of the Church.

3.2 The Commission, as approved or requested by the Conference, develops national policies in specific areas of its responsibility.

3.3 The Commission, in accordance with Conference policy, undertakes public and private advocacy in support of:

3.3.1 The legitimate rights of clergy, religious and laity arising out of their engagement in church ministry.

3.4 The Commission undertakes such specific projects as the Conference may from time to time approve or request.

4. Advisory Role

The Commission advises the Bishops and the Conference on issues that arise in the areas of its responsibility and, where appropriate, makes recommendations for action that might be undertaken at a national level.

5. Advisory Bodies

The Commission, in accordance with the mandates in Schedule 1, seeks advice from the following bodies to assist it in its responsibilities:

5.1 Australian Catholic Council for Clergy Life and Ministry
5.2 Council for Australian Catholic Women
5.3 Australian Catholic Council for Lay Ministry

6. Relations

6.1 The Commission maintains formal relations with:

6.1.1 National Council of Priests
6.1.2 Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy
6.1.3 Catholic Religious Australia
6.1.4 National Association of Deacons
6.1.5 National Committee for Professional Standards

6.2 The Commission maintains informal relations with:

6.2.1 Various lay organisations that are engaged in works of the apostolate
6.2.2 Catholic Vocations Ministry Australia

7. Offices

The Commission oversees the work of the following offices in accordance with the mandates detailed in Schedule 2.

7.1 Office for Clergy Life and Ministry
7.2 Office for the Participation of Women

8. Secretariat

The Secretariat for Church Ministry assists the Commission in fulfilling its tasks.


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