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Catholics and Catholicism in Contemporary Australia: Challenges and Achievements
David Lovell Publishing Pty Ltd
Publication Date :
1 Jan 2011
Over the last 60 years, the Catholic community in Australia has undergone dramatic changes. The outcome of these changes in society and the Church is that today's Catholic community looks very different from that of the 1950s. Mass attendance rates have fallen; the number of priests, sisters and brothers is declining and their average age is increasing. The relationship between clergy and people has changed. Old forms of devotion like the Rosary have nearly disappeared but there has been a growth of interest in alternative forms of prayer borrowed from a variety of cultures and traditions. An array of leadership roles has been filled by lay people, and lay people (by no means all Catholics) comprise virtually the entire staff at Catholic schools and the majority of students at Catholic theological colleges. Researcher Robert Dixon comments: 'Some Catholics see these changes as a tragedy, but most regard them as welcome evidence of a Church prepared to adapt to meet changing circumstances. Yet the changes that have taken place have primarily been changes in rules and practices. The Church's teachings have been re-interpreted in the light of modern understandings of history, sociology, the sciences and other fields of human endeavour, and then re-expressed in language more suitable for the times.' This project brings together scholarly perspectives from around the country and across disciplines whereby the authors explore how a stream of spiritualities and identities express themselves. The authors here show ways in which they, the Church and others are engaged in efforts to restructure institutions, beliefs and practices to effect social change. This is a book for all who are interested in the present status and the possible future direction of the Catholic church in Australia.