The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference last week voted to divide the capacity of the Bishops’ Commission for Pastoral Life by establishing a new commission for family, youth and life during its plenary meeting.
“In order to reflect the growing importance of the Church’s care for youth, and support for marriage, as well as care for the lives of all, especially the very young and elderly, the Bishops’ Commission for Pastoral Life has been divided, so that the new commission will give greater attention where it is needed most,” said Archbishop Denis Hart, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
Gathered at Mary MacKillop Place from 7 to14 May, the bishops elected Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, as chairman of the new commission.
Bishop Edwards, Bishop Comensoli and Bishop Kennedy were also elected to the Bishops Commission for Family, Youth and Life.
Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney, Terry Brady, will chair the re-structured Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life. He will be joined by Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen ofm conv, Bishop Michael McCarthy and Bishop Bosco Puthur.
The Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life will be responsible for defending the rights of migrants and refugees, the pastoral care of prisoners, prison chaplains and people with disabilities.
“The Church has a great responsibility towards people who are often labelled minorities in society. We need to make everyone feel part of the Church and we have a great responsibility to be inclusive so that the most vulnerable are not left on the peripheries of our modern society,” Bishop Brady said.
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, chair of the new Bishops Commission for Family, Youth and Life, said some of the biggest challenges for the Church and wider community today are in the areas of marriage, family, life issues and engagement with young people, and the Bishops have decided that it is time to create a commission specifically devoted to these tasks.
“Pope Francis has given these matters particular attention, including organising two synods on the challenges for, and pastoral care of, marriages and families, teaching prophetically about how ‘throw away societies’ disadvantage the unborn, elderly, refugees and others, and committing himself and his Church to young people at the Rio World Youth Day,” Archbishop Fisher said.
The new commission will liaise with several councils and lay bodies working to defend human life at all stages, to support marriage and family life, and to engage with young people, especially through youth ministry.