Peter Dowling

Date of Submission



While there is much talk of an emerging interest in spirituality in Australia, there is evidence of a declining affiliation with the established Churches. The impact of mainstream Christianity in these circumstances would appear to be waning. The continued attention given to the Church in the wake of these realities and that of the Church's dealing with situations of sexual abuse has often focussed around the way in which the Church has used its power and influence. While undoubtedly there is much evidence of the Church's service and care for its members and those most in need, more questions are being asked about the accountability of those who minister within the boundaries of Catholic Church structures, and the healthiness of those very structures for helping the Church to live out its mission with integrity. Further questioning has often been around the perceived intent of Church authorities, as seen by many, to return the Church to times prior to the Second Vatican Council when clerical authority was unquestioned. There are divergent viewpoints as to whether the call of the Council for wider involvement of lay people in Church decision-making and structures is in the process of being reversed. The researcher, coming from his experience as a member of a Catholic Religious Congregation of Men, is interested in looking broadly at the issue of how power is used in the Catholic Church, with a particular focus on a case study of one Group of Male Religious in the Archdiocese of Melbourne. The aim of the study is to provide further insight into use of power in the Catholic Church, and to offer some recommendations for future use of that power in a healthy and constructive way for the benefit of the Church and, ultimately, all of society.

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


181 pages

Degree Name

Master of Social Science (MSocSc)


Faculty of Arts and Sciences