Australian Reforming Catholics

About us

A few words about us

Since the Second Vatican Council, enormous energy has been expended by Catholic people in renewing the Church – initially by priests and bishops and increasingly by the ordinary people of God.  Much was achieved, but in recent decades reactionary forces within the traditional male structures of the Church have inhibited true reform. In response to this, Catholics from the United States, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and elsewhere have set up grassroots reform groups now affiliated as IMWAC, the International Movement We Are Church

In Australia, representatives of interested organisations met at Mt.Eliza in Victoria in May 1997 and produced a Charter (see below)that reflected the passionate resolve of many for reform in the Church.  Later that year Australian Catholics For Reform [ACFR] was launched but dissolved in February 2000 because it was not a workable structure for a truly national organisation.

A Sydney woman, Barbara Campbell, was unwilling to see the forces of reform dissipate and sent a proposal dated 17 March 2000 to a few interested people. After many consultations via mail and email working on a possible Manifesto and, a face-to-face meeting was held in Canberra on 12 November 2000 and decisions were taken which reflected the collective wisdom of all those who had made contributions.

This broad Australian Catholic community will think through together moral and logical principles and practices in their Church, drawing deeply on the Gospel and in the light of contemporary knowledge, while at the same time applying steady pressure for change in the Church.  These interests and intentions have been incorporated in the November 2000 Declaration (See below).

We urge interested Catholics to speak to one another and pray together, never doubting that the Spirit dwells in each one of us and will assist us in our endeavours.

A golden thread of holiness and faithfulness has run unbroken through the Church for two millenia in spite of iniquities, failures and the temptations of power.  Australian Reforming Catholics wish to be part of this golden thread and contribute to it.

The following is the draft charter drawn up at Mt Eliza in May 1997.

“Enlightened by our experience of Australian Catholic life and by the movement of the Spirit in today’s Church, we commit ourselves to working towards a Church which faithfully reflects the Gospel and which responds to the needs of the Australian people.

“We envisage a Church which is a eucharistic community of radical inclusivity, in which the baptismal charisms of all have full expression, a Church of collegiality and co-responsibility, a Church of justice and service to those within and without the community.

“We envisage a Church with a new vision of ministry and leadership, a Church which nurtures and sponsors accountable and prophetic leadership, and in which all positions of leadership and ministry are open to all.

“We envisage a Church of justice in which all are free from fear, which is committed to the primacy of conscience, to freedom of enquiry and scholarship and is dedicated to the eradication of violence within the community and between communities.”



“The voice of honest indignation is the voice of God” [William Blake] . Have you ever been angry at the Church?

In your experience, has the clergy treated you as a mature personality, especially in relation to your faith?

What do you think is the essence of the Church?

What is the meaning of Eucharist in your life?

What should we, as Church, do to prevent the destruction of the environment and to promote the welfare of animals and plants?

What is a human being?

Are you satisfied that God is almost always male-named in the Church? (This occurs on the average every two minutes at Sunday Mass)

Do you see a need for liturgical rites of passage into adolescence and adulthood?

What model do you favour – the Spirit mediated through a clerical structure or the Spirit informing all the faithful?

What are your views on the Sacrament of Reconciliation [Confession]? Would you like the Third Rite of Penance returned to common practice?

Can one disagree with Church Authorities and remain a part of the Church Community?

“The Church is not a democracy.” Analyse and discuss.

What do you know of the exercise of ministry in the very early Church?

Are you alarmed that the average age of the Australian priest is over 60? What can you do about it?