Catholic Religious open up to new groups

Responding to the growing number of new groups in the Church which are not religious institutes but have members living consecrated lives, Catholic Religious Australia will offer associate membership to those which have already achieved some form of canonical status.

The decision by the Catholic Religious Australia 2007 Assembly was taken in the light of a growing number of new groups which are not religious institutes but have members living consecrated lives, a Catholic Religious Australia statement says.

Some groups have achieved limited formal recognition within the Catholic Church structure; others have not, CRA says. Some have the intention of becoming religious institutes or other new forms of consecrated life, while others will remain associations of Christ's faithful.

Associate membership to those with some canonical status will open conversation with the groups, and offer support, encouragement and the "collective wisdom of the CRA membership", the statement says.

Concern for the Pacific region

Leaders of Religious Congregations also returned to their Australian homes much more aware of their Pacific and northern neighbours after the Assembly, the CRA says.

Four guest speakers – Sr Keiti Ann Kanongata'a from Tonga, Sr Mariska Kua, RSM from PNG, Fr Seluini 'Akau'ola SM from Tonga and Fr Neles Tebay from West Papua - gave detailed presentations throughout the assembly based on their country's present reality; how the Gospel sheds light on that reality and how Australia can be a good neighbour.

CRA President Fr Mark Raper SJ said there had been a "significant shift" in the awareness of many of the leaders to the Church and civil realities of these nations so close to Australia. The plea of the guests was for mutuality and reciprocity.

"Their request was not to be left alone," Fr Raper said. "Now they have reached a level of maturity and autonomy as Religious within their own countries and local Churches, nonetheless they do not want to be left to go it alone.

"While we, in Australia, might see the ageing of our members as a problem, our neighbours see it as a gift, a source of wisdom. They ask to be accompanied. They look for mentors who will journey with them."

Fr Raper said they also asked the Australian Church to extend a welcome through pastoral and human care to the Australian "face of the Pacific" – those people from their countries who are now living in our parishes, schools and communities.

CRA will form a taskforce to further this greater understanding gained through the assembly.

"As Religious we have an extraordinary wealth of networks," Fr Raper said.

"While our politicians relate in particular ways to the Pacific countries, we want to stress our relations as brothers and sisters," he concluded.

Among other issues, the CRA also pledged to work against human trafficking.

Giving voice to the religious of Australia (CRA Media Release, 4/7/2007)
Dots on a map become people (CRA Media Release, 4/7/2007)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
CRA pledges to work against trafficking in humans (CRA Media Release, 4/7/2007)

Catholic aged care launches HIV aid to PNG (CathNews, 26/6/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Religious Australia

5 Jul 2007