MPJP are, and will be, a key ingredient in the future of the Church in Australia.
This message was part of Professor Gabrielle McMullen’s response to Bishop Vincent Long’s address: ‘My hope for the Plenary Council’. Both were speaking at the 2021 Helder Camara Lecture in Melbourne on 30 June 2021.
Professor McMullen spoke of the ministerial PJPs as an example of “the ‘resourcefulness’ which, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, can shape the future of the Australian Church”. She also noted that “ministerial PJPs have opened up explicit formation of lay people for ministry on a scale not seen previously.”
Within her presentation, Professor McMullen also quoted Fr Charles Bouchard OP:
Granting canonical authority for a ministry of the church to a group of lay people has been a very significant development … unprecedented in the history of the church”. Further, the significance of this development is still virtually unknown to most Catholics. He continued: The emergence of these entities, he continued, “is a kind of church reform—not the kind of reform required and resulting from corruption or scandal, but the kind that comes from the need for adaptation to changing circumstances; in this case, the increased awareness of the baptismal dignity of all the faithful, and the diminished presence of the founding communities … In his 1950 book True and False Reform in the Church, the Dominican theologian Yves Congar maintained that authentic church reform usually begins on the margins and is gradually incorporated into the heart of the church”. This is certainly true for the new ministerial PJPs. “Rome did not decide to create a new structure to sponsor these institutions. Rather, the initiative came from the original religious sponsors of the hospitals that eventually became the Catholic Health Care Federation [in the United States]. They made innovative use of existing canon law; their idea was approved by the church and has been replicated many times since, effectively incorporating it into the life of the church”.
The full text of both speeches is available below: