The establishment of the Association of Ministerial PJPs Ltd (a Company Limited by Guarantee) on 5 May 2016 marked an historic development for the Australian Church in relation to lay ecclesial leadership. The Association is the peak body for the new Australian ministerial public juridic persons (PJPs).
In recent years religious institutes have instigated the creation of ministerial PJPs as a new model of sponsorship and lay leadership for their ministries, to ensure their continuation as works of the Catholic Church. To distinguish the new entities relating to Church ministries from traditional PJPs, such as parishes, dioceses and religious institutes that have a more organisational focus, they are often given the tag ‘ministerial’ public juridic persons.
The establishing authority for the new entities has varied – some PJPs have been established by the Holy See through the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and are known as PJPs of pontifical right. Others have been authorised by Diocesan or Provincial Bishops.
While the model varies, such religious-lay partnerships have in common the continuation of Church ministries and are authorised for this apostolate through their establishment as new entities under the Code of Canon Law. These ministerial PJPs provide for long-term stable governance of the ministries and continuance of their Catholic identity with the responsible trustees or directors (canonical stewards) of the PJP generally having both canonical and civil responsibility for the ministries entrusted to them.
For three years the Australian ministerial PJPs worked together to put in place an ‘umbrella’ body to support their canonical stewards in the ministry of governance (comparable to Catholic Religious Australia for the religious institutes). Such a development was also important as a means for the PJPs to interact formally with one another and, in a corporate sense, with the Bishops and Church agencies.