Theological Principles

The Synod, acting on behalf of the diocesan community, resolved that the following principles be used as the basis of our life together and of our parish and diocesan pastoral planning activities:

 

Seek First the Kingdom of God (Mt 6:33)

Our mission is to evangelise - to proclaim Christ, the Good News of God's love for all. All our pastoral activities must, therefore, both flow from our personal response to Christ and be carried out in the spirit of the Gospel.

 

The Kingdom of God is like a treasure hidden in a field (Mt13), like a net that gathers fish of ever kind (Mt 20:1) ... The blind see, the deaf hear, the sick are healed, the hungry are fed, the lowly are exalted, the mourners are comforted, prisoners are set free ... The Kingdom of God is within you (Lk 17:21).

 

The Equality of All Believers

All members of the church through baptism have the same right and duty to participate in the life and mission of the Church and should be actively encouraged to participate in that mission.

 

All baptised in Christ, you have all clothed yourselves in Christ, and there are no more distinctions between Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female, but all of you are one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:27,28).

 

Faith Development is a Life-Long Process

To grow to Christian maturity and participate fully in Christ's mission, all of us - clergy and religious as well as lay men and women, youth and children - must continually deepen our understanding of the faith through formation that is faithful to the Scriptures and Sacred Tradition.

 

Formation is not the privilege of a few but the right and duty of all ... Possibilities of formation should be proposed to all, especially the poor who can be a source of formation for all (Pope John Paul II, CL63).

 

The Dignity of the Human Person

The Church is called to heal, liberate and promote the growth of persons into maturity in Christ. Structures and programmes exist in order to serve persons, not persons to serve structures or programmes. All our pastoral activity should be marked by a concern for persons affected by it.

 

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (Jn 10:10).

 

Diversity of Gifts

Each community must seek out, recognise and utilise the diversity of gifts, experience, knowledge and competence amongst its members. It is better that many people be involved, using their particular talents and abilities, than that a few try to do everything.

 

Allotting his gifts to everyone according as he wills (1 Cor 12:11). God distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank. By these gifts he makes them fit and ready to undertake the various tasks or offices advantageous to the upbuilding of the Church ... These gifts are to be received with thanksgiving (LG12).

 

Diversity of Ministries, Unity of Purpose

We must respect and support the diversity of roles and functions in the community, those of the laity as well as those of the ordained ministers. The unity of purpose of all ministers is expressed in their union with the Bishop who as principal minister of the Eucharist - the Sacrament of unity - is the Chief Pastor of the diocese.

 

For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them ... (Rom 12:4-6).

 

Servant Leadership

Leadership at all levels within the Church is a ministry of service to God's People.

 

The rulers of the gentiles lord it over them ... It must not be so among you for whoever would be great among you must be your servant and whoever would be first among you must be your slave even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mt 20:25-28).

 

Decision-Making by Discernment

In keeping with what it means to be and to build Church, we seek to arrive at decisions which all can accept gracefully and support wholeheartedly (even if some wish the decision had been different) because they know the group honestly searched together for the Spirit of God in and for the life of the community.

 

Discernment of the Spirit ... listens to others so as to learn, is sensitive to all approaches, encourages collaboration rather than competition and aims not at majority vote but consensus. It recognises that each participant has a part of the truth and a share of the wisdom by reason of each one's unique experience of God in life, union with Christ and gifts of the Spirit. The process also recognises the right of each person to contribute his or her part without which the whole picture will not be presented and the whole wisdom of the spirit will not be available (Archbishop F Carroll, Canberra-Goulburn Synod, 1989).

 

Read the Signs of the Times

To fulfil our mission in today's world and become a credible sign of God's love for all people, we must discover the signs of God's presence and purpose in our culture and in our world. Reading the signs of God for our time means being open to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church through the hearts and minds of his people.

 

The joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of people of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ (GS 1).

 

Concern for Ecumenism

In keeping with the Lord's own prayer that all his followers be one, we acknowledge the need to deepen our bonds with all our brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

The concern for restoring unity involves the whole Church, faithful and clergy alike (UR5).