Being Catholic in Australia today

As we head towards the end of the calendar year, there have been a number of events in the past 12 months that will make many of us pause and reflect on what it means to be a Catholic in Australia today.


This was the very title of a recent convention Being Catholic in Australia today - after the Royal Commission and before the Plenary Council.

Fr Greg Barker, one of 17 delegates from the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, spoke to Aurora about the National Convention of Priests which was held in Canberra in September.

“First of all, I am delighted that our Diocese had the largest presentation of all attendees at the convention.

“Second, all the delegates were seriously impressed by the quality of speakers.

“Third, there were some standout conclusions from the convention,” says Greg Barker.

The list of speakers included:

  • Bishop Vincent Long of Parramatta
  • Dr Geraldine Taylor Robinson who was the Clinical Director of Encompass Australia and is a clinical psychologist and consultant
  • Lana Turvey-Collins is currently the face for many parishes of the Plenary Council 2020
  • Robert Fitzgerald who was a commissioner on the Royal Commission in Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse and
  • Fr Frank Brennan sj CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia

Little wonder that Greg says what impressed delegates was the credibility and experience of the speakers but also the courage of the speakers in naming issues and seeking to offer solutions.

“I was also hugely impressed by the willingness of participants to hear, to listen and to speak out on the issues,” he says.

Greg says that delegates were left with the thought that the call to remember the foundations of a good Christian church are founded in Christ not human endeavors.

“Delegates were also left with the view that it is very important to have a commitment to speak out in the face of abuse or victimization. It can never be business as usual because if nothing changes, nothing will change.”

Delegates were also left well aware of the corrosive nature of clericalism.

“Interestingly enough, clericalism was the subject of an article in National Catholic Reporter way back in April 2013,” says Greg pointing out that the article highlighted that:

“Clericalism is contagious, breeding a kind of mentality that revels in ecclesiastical ambition, status and power. For some, especially those attracted to the episcopacy, it often leads to indifference toward the experiences and needs of ordinary Catholics. It encourages the creation (or repetition) of teachings and regulations worked out in ivory-tower isolation from the real world.”

For Aurora readers who would like to see the article, entitled New Pope’s real target – clericalism, it can be found at:


Photo: Deacon John Lovell, Fr Greg Barker, Fr Anthony Nguyen, Deacon Graham Fullick, Fr James Odoh, Fr Thomas Chirackal, Fr Paul O’Neill, Fr Camillus Nwahia, Fr Peter Street, Deacon Anthony Coloma, Fr Kevin Kiem, Fr Joseph Figurado and Fr Geoff Mulhearn at the National Convention of Priests

Follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

John Kingsley-Jones Image
John Kingsley-Jones

John Kingsley-Jones was the Head of Diocesan Communications from September 2017 to July 2019. 

Other Aurora Issues