Conor Bradley

Conor Bradley is a member of St Matthew's Parish, Page



I commend Archbishop Prowse for arranging the recent listening sessions.   At the one in Yarralumla, I suggested the following steps to change the administration and culture of the local Church. Importantly, they would also signal to wider society that, after the Royal Commission, the Church is serious about reform.

  • That the Archbishop propose to the Bishops’ Conference that it accept Pope Francis's invitation to bring forward proposals for married priests.  Francis has given many signals that he is open to the possibility of ordaining married men.
  • That a Diocesan Council be set up representing priests, laity, and religious to advise the Archbishop on the management of the Archdiocese. (I noted in a recent Catholic Voice that a similar Council was established after the Vatican Council, but apparently did not continue).
  • That Archbishop’s House be sold and more humble but functional accommodation be found as a residence and office. Such a prophetic gesture would signal to the wider community that it not just "business as usual" in the Catholic Church.
  • That the ban on Letters to the Editor in the Catholic Voice imposed by Archbishop Coleridge be lifted to provide a forum for Catholics in the Archdiocese. The present ban treats the laity as children, not adults capable of respectful dialogue.

Over the years, we ignored Bishop Power when he urged reform. His words should be revisited.

Moira Coombs

Moira Coombs is a member of Catholics Speak Out, an organisation working for renewal of the Australian Catholic Church in the spirit of Vatican Council II and following the lead of Pope Francis. She is particularly concerned about the role of women in the Church.


Since 2010 and the emerging extent and nature of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and its associated cover-up, I reacted as many have with such anger, and a sense of betrayal and disgust that such evil was allowed to permeate the Church. Personally a bond was broken then. Since that time, I have agonised over whether to leave a Church which appeared to me to not care about the lives damaged by the actions of Church personnel but appeared concerned merely with reputation or standing in the community at large.

I was torn because being a Catholic is part of who I am and is what has formed me as an individual, and consequently not easily disposed of. I have thought long and hard about what is needed to ‘put things right.’ Can things be put right? Change is certainly necessary in order that the Church return to that which Christ founded. The issues that have brought us all to this crisis require close examination. The place of women in the Church is of paramount concern and importance, but I viewed with dismay the recent demise of the Diocesan Women’s Commission. A sad reflection of how women are perceived by the Church’s hierarchy and an indicator of what kind of direction the Church will take from here.

Fr Peter Day

Peter Day serves the communities of St Mary’s in Bungendore and St Bede’s in Braidwood. He lives at HOME in Queanbeyan which provides supported accommodation for 19 men and women with chronic mental illness.


Wanted: Shepherds willing to lay down their lives. It’s not as though we need degrees in theology, or the Church to discern what our founder had in mind for his leaders.

Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped. But he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave.
— (Philippians 2:5-7)


Jesus was poor and powerless.

The world is watching… is waiting to see if our current crop of leaders might be willing to empty themselves as well – and pour water into a basin and begin to wash feet.

Simply, the ordained hierarchy of the Catholic Church needs to divest itself of power – that insidious drug that has taken it to the precipice – and share it more substantially with the body of the Church in governance, strategic decision making, financial supervisions, selection of office holders. The fact is we are trapped in an administrative and cultural prison preventing us from doing our core ‘business’: bringing Good News to the poor in deed and word.

 It’s time:

  • time for the adults in the pews to end the parent to child monologue that prevails;
  • time to end the exclusion of women;
  • time to take back our Church from the hired hands who have allowed the wolves to scatter the sheep.

Susan Page

Susan is a coordinator of the Australian Christian Meditation Community in the ACT, is part of Australian Reforming Catholics, and is a retired health counsellor and nurse.

Now, is the time for the laity to step up and demand reform of THEIR Church, a Church in crisis. Those damaged by the Church’s denial and inertia have brought a wake-up call to us all.

Maybe we need to ‘go in’ before we ‘go out’ – that is, contemplation followed by action towards renewal. There is opportunity through this crisis for us, the laity, to pray, listen and support our Archbishop to bring about meaningful change – together – in the Canberra Goulburn Archdiocese.

Most of my friends and family have left the Church.  Some ask: why do I stay in the Church? Many of us are struggling within ourselves over such questions, groping for answers.  Crimes have been exposed, innocent lives ruined, while loyal honest clergy, even leaders like Bishop Bill Morris, have been condemned for being open and realistic.

My vision is for a more contemplative church in which listening goes BOTH ways, for a church that is a lighthouse (inclusive) rather than a male-dominated clubhouse (exclusive). Would sexual abuse have been covered up if women were in roles of influence in the Church?

Together in the silence of our hearts, we pray that Christopher, our Archbishop, will be guided by the Spirit to listen, to ask hard questions, both of us and of his fellow bishops and…. That he will think and act with the heart and mind of Jesus that we believe he ACTUALLY HAS, rather than the ‘corporate’ mindset that he is SUPPOSED TO have.

Margaret Ryan

Margaret has worked as an educator (in high school/college and with adults) in Australia and the UK and is passionate about social justice, and her Church.


We have a Presence. Dare we review, rethink, re-imagine and help to reform our Church? Imagine a Church where:

  • both clergy and laity call forth and affirm each other’s gifts;
  • diverse points of view are respected (and even encouraged before decision-making);
  • women in the Church are visible in liturgical and ecclesial language, in advisory bodies, and (in partnership with the clergy and lay men) have appropriate leadership in a range of ministries and appointments;
  • greater consultation and a team approach occur at all Church levels; and
  • the current male celibate culture is broadened to include (at least) married men and married priests and seminary formation includes focuses on communication and process skills.

We certainly need a contemporary Church that is honest, transparent, accountable to its members and the wider community, deeply compassionate and joyfully missionary-oriented. We have a loving and amazing Presence with us in the Holy Spirit, who gifts us with inspiration, courage, fortitude, perseverance, generosity and kindness for this journey.

There is no longer ... slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus
— (Galatians 3: 28)

Kevin Vassarotti

Kevin is a former Executive Secretary of the National Catholic Education Commission.  His professional career includes 12 years as a policy adviser in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and 22 years public service policy experience.  He is committed to working collaboratively for overdue reform of the Catholic Church.


A new culture is essential for accountability and participative governance. Saying sorry is not enough – it is only the first step in the way forward. After such a downhill slide in our leadership to the promised land it is obvious to our people and the wider community that we need to take a long hard look at our governance structures.

We truly need to change our Church's heart of stone back into a heart of love and compassion, not just for the victims of child abuse, but for all our people who suffer injustice throughout the daily life of the institutional Church.

Clergy and laity alike need authentic, loving, inspired and competent leadership.  Our loyal and hard-working parish ministers are suffering under a dysfunctional system, while there is malaise in the pews, and beyond. New culture is needed to oil all the moving parts of the clogged and unresponsive Church. A commitment to claiming our Church in Australia is long over-due.

The days of princes of the Church and tokenism to the views of the people are passing, just like in the times of the divine right of kings (and queens).  A Magna Carta type framework for the Church is worth exploring.

The Magna Carta placed the king under (not above) the law.  Clearly, just as the elected government had to intervene to force accountability in regard to child abuse, the Church has much to ponder in bringing about accountability and fairly based inclusive participation in its governance.  Meaningful reform is urgently required.

People are experiencing the widening credibility gap. Where is the nourishment from the institutional Church for this and future generations?