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Australia: Outreach to Those Not Coming to Church

Interview with Auxiliary Bishop Mark Edwards of Melbourne

“One of the main and most urgent challenges we face in Australia, and it is an urgent mission, is to reach those who claim to be Catholic but do not come to Church,” said Auxiliary Bishop Mark Edwards of Melbourne in an interview published by Fides News Agency on December 15, 2018.

“According to the latest national census, 22 percent say they are Catholics,” Bishop Edwards said. “However nine times out of ten, we have no idea how to reach these people, and many of them are young. We are a nation of immigrants, in our Church here in Australia there are people of many different nationalities. But the question we ask ourselves daily: is how to reach the native Australians?”

The children and young people who attend parish activities are mainly children of immigrants: “Almost all of Filipino, Indonesian or Vietnamese origin. In Australia, we have an important heritage: a widespread network of Catholic schools. About 20 percent of the children in this country attend our Catholic schools and therefore we have the opportunity make known to them Christianity, the Pope, and the Church by means of our schools; but leading them to be active members of the Catholic community is quite a different story.”

In Australia the people of diverse national and ethnic origin generally consider themselves Christians for 58 percent, 30 percent affirm to be atheists and there are small minorities of Muslims, Jews, Hindu, Sikhs, and Buddhists. With them, we carry on interreligious dialogue”. However the most urgent challenge, the bishop says, is to reach, contact and involve in pastoral activities those who call themselves “Christians” but are in actual fact Christians only nominally; how to lead them to renew their encounter with Christ so that faith may have a significant place in personal life.

In Australia, the Catholic Church has 33 dioceses spread out in 5 provinces Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, and Brisbane.

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