An appeal to the Australian Catholic Bishops to ordain priests for our parishes

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We, the undersigned Australian Catholics, wish to express our support for our bishops who are preparing the Australian Catholic Church for new forms of ministry and leadership. We request the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference to place the following items on the agenda for their plenary meeting in November this year, 2007.

We ask that the Bishops:

1. Acknowledge that there is a major crisis in ministry within the Australian Catholic Church.

2. Acknowledge that there is no doctrinal or theological barrier to the ordination of married men. The Australian Church has already ordained married former Anglican priests.

3. Take practical steps toward ordaining suitably qualified married men.

4. Encourage a wide-ranging discussion of the role of women in ministry and in the authority structures of the Church, including the question of womens ordination.

5. Establish appropriate scriptural, theological and pastoral training programs (campus, distance and online) to prepare suitable women and men for ministry. These candidates should have the recommendation of their parishes and communities, and should participate in mentored pastoral work.

6. Invite priests who have left the ministry to return to active priesthood, subject to negotiation with the local bishop.

We do this because of our growing concern that three serious issues are putting the future of the Catholic Church in Australia at risk:

the increasingly acute shortage of suitable priests to maintain our Mass-centred, Eucharistic spirituality and the celebration of the other sacraments;
The increasing drift of young people from the Church because of the difficulties we face in our ministry to them;
the lack of full leadership roles for women.

(Anyone signing this petition who would be willing to seek written signatures from people without email, please contact the authors at [email protected])