A petition addressed to Australia's bishops has called for an acknowledgment that the Church is facing a "major crisis in ministry" and urges bishops to move on the ordination of married men, the reintegration of former priests and discussion of women's ordination.
The Age reports that a group of nuns, priests and prominent Catholic activists has revived the thorny issue of married and women priests through the petition.
The petition, which aims to gather grassroots support to put pressure on the Catholic hierarchy, said there was "a major crisis of ministry and leadership" in Australian Catholicism limiting the church's capacity to provide Mass and the sacraments for the country's 5 million Catholics.
The lead petitioners included high-profile Catholics and the move was without precedent in the history of the church in Australia, said Bryan Coyne, editor of the online magazine Catholica.
According to Catholica, the original petitioners last month sent their letter individually to each of the approximately 50 Australian Catholic Bishops and have so far received 11 replies.
The petitioners claim one response was negative, two of them were non-committal and that eight were sympathetic.
Catholica says that the high proportion of sympathetic responses gave the petitioners the confidence to make their petition public and to call on Australian Catholics to join them in the call for discussion of measures to address the "crisis in Ministry" facing the Church.
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