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Challenges in Governing Contemporary Catholic Ministries

"Governance of contemporary Catholic agencies is a challenging and critically important ministry of service," writes Prof. Gabrielle McMullen AM.

"The Catholic Church has been challenged to review and enhance 'the governance and management structures of dioceses and parishes, including in relation to issues of transparency, accountability, consultation and the participation of lay men and women. This review should draw from the approaches to governance of Catholic health, community services and education agencies' as per recommendation 16.7 of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
"Governance-wise, the Church is doing better in some areas than others. Importantly, board directors of Catholic agencies need to be qualified to take responsibility for both the civic and canonical facets of their role and then, through induction and ongoing formation, to be accountable for mission as well as the ‘business’ side of their ministries."

The upcoming 2020 Catholic Social Services conference, Serving Communities with Courage and Compassion, from 26-28 February 2020 in East Melbourne, will feature a workshop conducted by John Warhurst AO, which will draw on his extensive governance experience and explore “best practices and dangerous practices” in the governance of Catholic and other organisations. He will be joined by representatives of Catholic Church Insurance who will provide insights into governance risks and their mitigation. 

Specifically, the workshop will demonstrate the scope and significance of governance, and discuss the main principles on which good governance should be based and some of the risks and dangers in practice. In particular, it will address governance in the complex Catholic setting which may include stewardship of a variety of disparate entities and where lines of responsibility can be complicated.

Warhurst, Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the Australian National University in Canberra, will bring to the workshop both his expertise in Australian government, politics and policy and his practical experience of serving on many Church boards and councils over the past 25 years. The latter include the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, Catholic Social Services Australia, Marist 180 and Caritas Australia. He is currently a member of the Governance Review Project Team attached to the Catholic Church’s post-Royal Commission Implementation Advisory Group as well as Chair of Concerned Catholics Canberra Goulburn

The upcoming Catholic Social Services conference will be held at the Catholic Leadership Centre, 576 Victoria Parade, East Melbourne from 26-28 February 2020. The conference will also include sessions on Catholic social services ‘journeying’ effectively with our First Peoples, the homeless, children and vulnerable people, regional Australians and those impacted by domestic violence, disability and/or the justice system. Other areas of focus will be serving at the margins, eco-justice, formation for ministry, the Plenary Council, and fostering emerging leaders. During the conference dinner, Ursula Stephens, CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia, will deliver the 2020 Mary MacKillop Oration. The conference will conclude with a masterclass on engaging media to advance mission.

For further information and bookings, see https://www.css.org.au/Serving-Communities 

Prof. Gabrielle McMullen AM is on the steering committee of Serving Communities with Courage and Compassion.

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