WelCom September 2022
The Church’s falling support in Australia is a ‘wake-up call’ for Catholics, says Archbishop Timothy Costelloe sdb, Archbishop of Perth and president of the Australian Bishops’ Conference.
Catholicism is battling to balance its convictions with the realities of an increasingly secular nation.
Forty per cent of the population identifies as having no religion and only 20 per cent identify as Catholic. That’s down from 22.6 per cent in 2016, according to Australia’s latest census results.
‘I think it’s a very clear indication to us of the direction our society is going,’ Archbishop Costelloe says. ‘It’s not surprising but it’s a bit of a wake-up call to remind us we can’t be complacent.
‘We know the way we understand the meaning of life and the way we look at life is not shared by everybody; we do not want to impose it on anybody, but we do want to offer it. It is a gift we can bring to our society but like any gift you can take it or leave it…we want to offer it as openly and as generously as we can.’
Archbishop Costelloe says the Church needs to be faithful to its core principles and believe in the ‘gifts’ Catholicism has to offer, including a way to make sense of the world and the call to live life with integrity.
He says the recent Plenary Council in Australia spent much time debating what approach to take to claw back its diminishing flock.
‘A lot of our discussions have been about this idea of the Church being a church that goes out to people, meets them where they are, offers them the gift we bring and leaving it up to them to decide if they want to take it up.’