Unit overview and content

This unit examines the practice of stewardship as it occurs through the bishops’ participation in the threefold munera of sanctifying, teaching and governing.

The biblical foundation of stewardship arises out of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church – Lumen Gentium. The unit opens with an examination of the relationship between the key elements of stewardship and the role of bishop, as prescribed by the Second Vatican Council. Students will consider ways in which ecclesial change in the post-conciliar Church resulted in a move towards a decentralised Church.

The impact on the bishop’s role of governance as vicar of Christ is considered, with particular reference to power and autonomy in decision-making.  This will involve study of The Directory on the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops. The depiction of bishop as shepherd will lead students to consider how the guiding principles of the Directory help shape the bishop’s role in administering the particular Church through acts of governance that are undertaken in direct response to stewardship.

Finally, the study of relevant aspects of Book V of the Code of Canon Law will assist students to understand the concept of ecclesiastical goods and how they are regulated in Church law. The principals of the effective stewardship of temporal goods are considered, with particular focus given to the canonical action of alienation of ecclesiastical property (canons 1290-1298). Students are given the opportunity to explore methods of best practice through a case study of a diocese or religious institute.

Learning Outcomes

At the completion of this unit of study, students will be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of the biblical notion of stewardship as incorporated into key relevant documents of the Second Vatican Council.
  • demonstrate an understanding of the ways in which decentralisation has impact on the bishop’s role of governance, and how this helps define the essential virtues and principles found in the exercise of stewardship. This includes discernment of ways in which care for the Particular Church is divested through the bishop, to local Church, in ways that encourage lay participation in the bishop’s work of stewardship.
  • explain the concept of ‘ecclesiastical goods’ and their regulation in canon law within the different structures of the Church, in dioceses and religious institutes, with a particular focus on canons 113-123, 634-640 and 1254-1310. This includes examination of statutory requirements of accountability, delegation and reserved powers in the governance of temporal goods of a public juridic person, with particular reference to canons 113-123, and c. 1303.
  • undertake the completion of a specific case study illustrating ways in which dioceses are structured through Vatican II and canon law to assist bishops to enable the exercise of stewardship in the local Church.

Unit content

    • Stewardship – what are we talking about? Stewardship and its relationship to Governance
    • Scriptural and Theological basis of Stewardship
    • Virtues and Principles of Pastoral Governance
    • Structures of Participation of the Lay Faithful
    • Juridic Persons and Juridic Acts
    • Pastoral Stewardship
    • Financial Stewardship
    • Other Temporal Goods Issues

Assumed Knowledge 

GOVC800 & GOVC801

Study hours    

11 hours per week for 11 week session, comprised of

  • At least 1 hour per week for online lectures
  • At least 4 hours per week of reading.
  • At least 6 hours per week of directed study, including optional and assessable online activities.


Rev Fr Matthew Muller

Teaching methods

Online lectures; online activities; guided reading; scaffolded assessments; feedback on assessments.

Indicative Assessment

At the Institute we use a range of assessment tasks, including essays, research papers, online posts, critical reflections, projects and praxis exercises. Within a unit of study each set of assessment tasks is designed as an integral part of your learning experience. These tasks vary across units and programs. All assessment tasks are aligned to the Australian Qualifications Framework level appropriate for graduate awards.