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News 2019

A broad and diverse mix of Local, National and International faith-related News, Information and Opinions.
Views expressed are those of the Authors and may or may not always represent those of the Parish.

Towards the Plenary Council: On Reform of the Church

Walter Silvester Memorial lecture, Archbishop Peter Comensoli
Tuesday 29 October 2019, Australian Catholic University, Fitzroy, Details & Bookings HERE
Plenary Council
Phase 2- Discernment.  "Let's Listen & Discern"  HERE
"Listen to what the Spirit is Saying"

Phase 1: Listening & Dialogue
Published 28 July 2019
(this 314 page FINAL REPORT  is available HERE)
Website updates during the School holiday period
During this period of school holidays our volunteer website manager will be away. Website updates will be limited around this period.
You are all leaders, bishop tells year 12 students
Extract fromCathNews, 24 September 2019
Wollongong Bishop Brian Mascord discussed leadership, inclusivity and owning your choices when he met more than 2000 students to mark their final year at secondary school. Source: Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong.         Bishop Mascord met the year 12 students in a series of gatherings. At the start of each gathering, students were invited to come forward with their school candle and a symbol representing their cohort.      “As each of our schools have brought forward their symbols and expressed the values and charism of their school, you have all conveyed three significant characteristics: faith, hope and love,” Bishop Mascord said. “So what does that say about you? The reality is that all of you are leaders. You are called to express those values in the context of the Gospel. You are called to be people of Christ. We not only follow Jesus, we also witness and make the way of Jesus our own.”     The bishop encouraged students to be proud of their faith-filled education and to go out into the world and use it as the basis for their relationships and lives in their world post-school.      In his talks, Bishop Mascord emphasised the importance of daily and life-long choices. “We do the things we do in social justice, in environmental action, in liturgy … because we are in a relationship with the person of Jesus,” he said. “For many of you, you might not have that relationship, and that is fine. Our purpose is not to convert you; it is to open up the experience so you can choose for yourself.”       Bishop Mascord encouraged students to be careful of judging other’s choices....(more) Photo CathNews,  CEDOW
The Extraordinary Missionary Month - October 2019
Extract from Catholic Mission, 22 September 2019
In response to Pope Francis’ invitation, the Extraordinary Missionary Month is to be an opportunity for reflection, prayer and support for the missionary efforts of individuals, communities and whole Church. These resources are provided for individuals, small groups, parish communities, school communities, and the staffs of Catholic agencies and organisations to help celebrate mission in this unique moment.           Your participation and involvement is welcome and in solidarity with so many people around the world at this time will be a sign of doing something extraordinary for mission.         What is the Extraordinary Missionary Month?....(more).  Image: Catholic Mission
Canonisation:  Letters to Blessed John Henry Newman show his role as pastor, evangelist
Extracts from The Tablet, Catholic News Service, 20 September 2019
Thousands of documents relating to England's 19th-century convert-cardinal, Blessed John Henry Newman, are being released ahead of his 13 October canonisation, highlighting his role as a pastor and evangelist, said church experts.      Although 32 annotated volumes of the cardinal's letters and diaries have been published over the past five decades, the new material includes letters and correspondence to the future saint.       "Up to now, we've had only half his correspondence, with just fragments of letters he received, so this will greatly improve ... understanding of the complex issues he dealt with," said Paul Shrimpton, an Oxford-based expert on Newman's educational theories.      Father Ignatius Harrison, provost of Birmingham's Oratory of St. Philip Neri, said Cardinal Newman "wasn't just a lofty philosopher -- he was primarily a priest and prophet, who foresaw the difficulties facing Christianity in a secular world."         "He was loved in his lifetime not because everyone had read his academic masterpieces, but because of his pastoral kindness to the poor and sick, as these collections graphically illustrate," Father Harrison said......John Henry Newman was raised in the Church of England, graduated and taught at Oxford University and served as vicar of its St. Mary's Anglican Church, 1828-1843.        Having co-led the 1830s Oxford Movement, which sought to revive the Church of England's pre-Reformation beliefs and rituals, he joined the Catholic Church in 1845 and was named a cardinal by Pope Leo XIII in 1879.       Besides the oratory, Cardinal Newman helped found a Catholic university in Ireland -- University College Dublin -- and was influential in Catholicism's revival in England after three centuries' repression and restriction.      He wrote poetry, hymns and novels, while his major works on church history, ecclesiology, the rights of conscience and role of laypeople are widely believed to have anticipated the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council.....(more) Photo:The Tablet, CNS, courtesy of Catholic Church of England and Wales  John Henry Newman

Catholic religious to join climate rallies
Members of religious institutes will today join school students and other young people, their families and concerned members of communities in youth-led climate rallies across Australia.
Extract from CathNews, Catholic Religious Australia, 20 September 2019
These rallies will be echoing others around the world to demand action to prevent further global warming and climate change.      By joining the rallies, Catholic religious are expressing their alarm for the damage being caused to the earth, as well as their hope for a more sustainable, peaceful and healthy planet. Catholic religious encourage all forms of education on how people are impacting the planet.         The rallies serve to educate and raise awareness to support government and members of the community to take action to bring about a change in the way we care for the earth.      “We need to heed the pleas of Pacific Island leaders at their recent forum and acknowledge the catastrophes facing these countries, which leaves them with great fear for their futures,” said Br Peter Carroll FMS, president of CRA, referring to last month’s Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting.     The crises are not limited to the Pacific Islands. In Australia, unprecedented experiences of bushfires, drought, floods and the disintegration of the Murray Darling river system create impending and dangerous realities.     “Climate change is a defining issue of our time and requires unified, global action,” said Br Peter, “and students are meeting the environmental threats in the most effective way they believe is possible – by taking action when they perceive that governments are failing to do so.      “We applaud the youth demonstrating for climate justice and believe that by working together, as Pope Francis tells us in Laudato si, that ‘humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home’ and that we may prevent further damage to the planet,” said Br Peter.....(more). Photo: CathNews, Climate

Choirboy can be believed - and Pell freed, Cardinal's lawyers say
Extract from Chip Le Grand. The Age, 20 September 2019
For more than four years, the fate of Australia’s most powerful Catholic cleric rested on the word of a former choirboy. For police, for the courts and the church, it all came down to the truthfulness, credibility and believability of a single witness, alone and unsupported in what he alleged against George Pell.      In an application lodged this week for special leave to appeal his case to the High Court, Pell’s legal team shifted ground. It is both a vindication of the choirboy and a last bid by Pell, now serving a six-year prison sentence, to have his child sex convictions quashed.             George Pell’s next court date is likely to be on the second Friday of either November or December.      George Pell’s next court date is likely to be on the second Friday of either November or December.         The Cardinal’s lawyers no longer question the credibility of the man who first told police in 2015 that Pell raped him and sexually assaulted a friend in St Patrick’s Cathedral when they were 13 years old.             They no longer dismiss Pell’s accuser as a fantasist or argue that the County Court jury should have done the same.      Instead, they contend that both sides of this bitterly contested prosecution should co-exist; that Pell’s accuser can be believed and the Cardinal acquitted of all charges and released from jail.      "Can belief in a complainant be used as a basis for eliminating doubt otherwise raised and left by unchallenged exculpatory evidence?" Pell’s senior counsel Bret Walker says, before answering his own rhetorical question. "Believing a complainant ... does not equate to the elimination of reasonable doubt otherwise raised."    The president of the Victorian Bar Council, Matthew Collins, QC, says it is a nuanced argument which, if entertained by the High Court, will confront our assumptions about truth and lies, guilt and innocence.      "In any way you look at it, it’s a challenge to the criminal justice system," Dr Collins tells The Age....(more)
Whose nation? Which communities? The fault lines of the new Christian nationalism
Extract from David Albertson, Jason Blakely, America, The Jesuit Review, 19 September 2019
A new kind of Christian nationalism is gaining momentum in the United States. Around the country,evangelical Protestants are deepening their loyalty to President Donald Trump, who announced last October: “You know what I am? I’m a nationalist, O.K.? I’m a nationalist.... Use that word.”       Yet it is not evangelicals but Catholic intellectuals who are helping to lead efforts to capitalize on the opportunity presented by Mr. Trump’s nationalism. Catholic involvement is especially prominent in two recent initiatives.            The first was a manifesto published by First Things this March advocating a new style of conservatism that would, among other things, “embrace the new nationalism” and “jealously guard” the space opened up by the “Trump phenomenon.” Among the signatories were Patrick Deneen of the University of Notre Dame, C. C. Pecknold of the Catholic University of America and Sohrab Ahmari, an op-ed editor at The New York Post.         The second initiative was the National Conservatism conference, which took place in July and was organized in part by R. R. Reno, the editor in chief of First Things. Catholic thinkers such as Mr. Reno and Mr. Deneen shared the stage with other politically conservative speakers such as Tucker Carlson of Fox News, the University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax and Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, a vocal Trump supporter.          While theorizing about nationalism, the speakers celebrated the Trump insurgency and praised the president’s instincts on immigration.....(more)   Photo: America The Jesuit Review  US Flag and Church Cross
'Seduction' of children did little harm, said Catholic gatekeeper
Extract from Chris Vedelago, Farrah Tomazin and Debbie Cuthbertson, The Age, 18 September 2019
The psychologist who worked with the Catholic church for three decades to screen candidates for the priesthood once characterised child abuse as “seduction” that would do little lasting harm to its victims.           Ronald Conway, the Melbourne Archdiocese’s “consulting psychologist for religious vocations” tested applicants to the Corpus Christi seminary from 1969 to at least 2001, during which time 16 child abusers graduated as priests.       Mr Conway himself was later accused of historical sexual misconduct by former patients of his private practice, though never charged or convicted.       An investigation by The Age has exposed how some of the Catholic church’s worst paedophile priests shared victims, passed on details of vulnerable children, and worked together to conceal their crimes as part of informal networks of abuse. At the centre of a number of these clusters was Corpus Christi, where Mr Conway and psychiatrist Dr Eric Seal were the mental health gatekeepers.     Mr Conway was largely responsible for formulating screening practices that led to many unsuitable candidates entering Corpus Christi training college and eventually becoming priests. One candidate told the royal commission he was classified as ....(more
Launch of "Getting Back on Mission: Reforming our Church together"
John Costa, 20 September 2019
On  Tuesday at University of Melbourne Newman College Francis Sullivan former CEO of the Truth Justice and Healing Commission launched the book Getting Back on Mission; Reforming our Church together.     Published by Garratt Publishing the book is an updated version of the Catholics For Renewal Submission to the 2020 Plenary Council and has already been well reviewed by a number of Leading Catholics in Australia and around the world.             Amongst many comments Francis praised the book as a comprehensive and thorough work of committed lay Catholics driven by their strong faith and Church background to contribute to necessary Church reform via recommendations to the Plenary Council. By virtue of the book's user-friendliness it will also encourage far wider engagement in discussion on necessary Church reforms through this process. He highlighted the importance of synodality and the Church becoming a good listener.             Several attending the launch commented that through her chairing the launch Fiona Lynch highlighted the rarity of women leadership in the Church and through her comments conspicuously demonstrated the importance of balancing perspectives which the Church over the years has largely ignored.             Dr Peter Wilkinson, President of Catholics For renewal said that "Pope Francis has said that now is the time “to be bold and creative in the task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization”, and that any “proposal of goals without an adequate communal search for the means of achieving them will inevitably prove illusory”.       “The important thing”, he has said, “is to not walk alone, but to rely on each other as brothers and sisters, and especially under the leadership of the bishops, in a wise and realistic pastoral discernment.”.     The book will also be launched in Warsaw next week then later elsewhere in Australia.         Getting Back on Mission: Reforming Our Church Together is Catholics for Renewal’s contribution to that important task of walking together in a communal search.  Photo: Francis Sullivan launching Getting Back on Mission.
Social Services Sunday
Sunday 15 September is acknowledged as Social Services Sunday within the Archdiocese. On this day we are invited to acknowledge and pray for all the Catholic social services agencies across the archdiocese that offer professional and volunteer services and support to those most needy and marginalised in our society.
Pope tackles criticism head-on
Francis' comment about a 'schism' in the Church is courageous … but also unprecedented
Limied Extract from Guillaume Goubert, France,  Editorial, subscription journal La Croix International, 12 September 2019
The sentence will remain in the annals of the life of the Catholic Church. Asked on the plane back from Madagascar about the risk of a rupture between the Holy See and American Catholicism, Pope Francis replied very calmly: "I am not afraid of schisms."          These are unprecedented words from the mouth of a pope, at least publicly.        "Guarantor of the common faith," according to a beautiful expression by the late Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, the pope is supposed to do everything possible to maintain the unity of the Church. It is therefore assumed that this schism is an obsession for him.              However, this pope tells us that he is not afraid of it, as an echo of the famous phrase of John Paul II during the Mass for the inauguration of his pontificate in October 1978: "Non abbiate paura (Be not afraid)!"          Pope Francis' comments can therefore be interpreted as having two meanings, which are not exclusive of each other.       On the one hand, the probability of a short-term schism does not seem to him to be major; on the other hand, he does not want to be dictated by such a risk.         With that one sentence, Pope Francis is in fact trying to de-dramatize the oppositions that manifest themselves against him among part of American Catholicism but also, as he himself points out, "almost everywhere and also in the Curia."        It also implicitly points the way to overcoming these tensions by stating that criticism is legitimate when it is expressed frankly.       "Fair and open criticism is constructive" and "Better: It's loving the Church."        A pope who publicly invites us to have a critical debate with him? There is no precedent for this either.....(source).  Photo: La Croix International EPA/Alessandra Tarantino/POOL/MaxPPP
New laws aim to change culture, not jail priests: Andrews
Extract from CathNews, The Age, 12 September 2019
The Victorian Government says it hopes it does not have to jail priests who fail to report child abuse revealed during the sacrament of confession.        The state’s Parliament passed laws on Tuesday carrying sentences of up to three years for failing to report abuse, but Premier Daniel Andrews said yesterday that he did not know of any convictions under Victoria’s broader mandatory reporting laws, in place for 25 years.        Mr Andrews said the laws, and the new legislation passed on Tuesday, were intended to create a culture in which all abuse or mistreatment of children was reported, regardless of how it came to light.        He said the bill, which passed the upper house on Tuesday night with bipartisan support, was intended to send a message all the way to the top of the Church in Rome.       “The most important thing is to send a message that the law is to be taken seriously, if people don’t obey the law, then the penalties are very significant,” he said.         “The culture is one where people have taken the laws and their responsibilities in terms of mandatory reporting very seriously.”         The changes will bring religious leaders into line with police, teachers, doctors, nurses, school counsellors and youth justice workers who are required to report child abuse to authorities.      “The special treatment for churches has ended and child abuse must be reported,” Child Protection Minister Luke Donnellan said in the wake of Tuesday night’s Parliamentary vote....(more). Photo CathNews, ABC Radio
In US tour, Marie Collins exposes clerical culture behind abuse cover-up
Extract from Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter, 12 September 2019
Washington — The Catholic Church has reached a crossroads. Its leaders can either change, become open and accountable, or maintain the status quo: an institution lacking transparency, wrapped in secrecy and beholden to a clerical culture that is at the heart of the institution's problems.              That bleak assessment was made by Marie Collins, the Irish clerical sexual abuse survivor who was an original member of a papal commission dealing with the sex abuse crisis, and who said she is "hanging on by my fingernails."        The scandal, she said in remarks Sept. 8 opening a five-city U.S. tour, is both systemic and global, and clericalism remains at its core.         "The church is at a crossroads. It can either continue to behave as it has for centuries, protecting itself, or open up and become the church we all want it to be, the church that it should be."        Collins, in a separate interview with NCR following the news conference, expanded on her understanding of clericalism and how it played into her decision to resign, after serving for three years, from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.        During the past 20 years, she said, the church "has been reactive" and "has not changed one single thing unless forced to by survivors and those in the media. ... I don't believe the church has made any changes of its own volition." She made her remarks at the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill at the outset of her tour, titled, "A Crisis of Culture: Seeking Justice to Reclaim the Church."        Comparing the task facing the church to the Herculean labor of cleaning the Augean stables, Collins said she believes significant change can occur only with continuous pressure "by lay people who love the church."       Her time of service on the newly formed papal commission from 2014 to 2017 provided a rare look for a lay woman at the workings of the Roman Curia, the Vatican congregations and offices comprising the highest levels of governance in the church. She came away from that experience, she told NCR, convinced that "it's like a giant boys' boarding school."       She described her time on the commission as a series of frustrations and realizations that some in the Curia were intent on stifling the group's work from the outset.      She said the first meeting at the Vatican turned out to be a harbinger of what was to come. The room where it was held contained a bare table and chairs. "No pens, no pads, not even water," she said. When she asked who was going to take minutes of the meeting, she said the cleric secretary answered there was "no one in the Vatican available to take minutes."....(more)
Pope doesn't want schism – but is not afraid of it
Extract from CathNews, CNS, 11 September 2019
Pope Francis told reporters he hoped and prayed the Catholic Church would not experience a new schism, but human freedom means people always have had and will have the “schism option”.      “I pray that there not be schism, but I am not afraid,” Pope Francis told reporters flying from Africa to Rome with him yesterday.      Schisms have occurred throughout Church history, he said, and one thing they all have in common is having such a focus on an ideology that they begin reading Church doctrine through the lens of that fixation.      A schism is triggered when “an ideology, perhaps a correct one, infiltrates doctrine and it becomes ‘doctrine’ in quotation marks, at least for a time,” he said.      As an example of ideology, the Pope cited those who say, “The Pope is too communist” because of his criticism of unbridled capitalism and its negative impact on the poor. “The social things I say are the same things John Paul II said. The very same. I copy him.”      When ideology takes the place of doctrine, he said, there is the danger of a split in the Christian community.       Pope Francis said small groups of Catholics in the United States are not the only people who criticise him — there are even people in the Roman Curia who do — but he tries to learn from the criticism and to find a way to dialogue with critics who are open.     “Criticism always helps,” Pope Francis said. “When one is criticised, the first thing to do is to reflect, “Is this true, not true, to what extent” is it valid?....(more).  Photo: Pope Francis Mozambique CNS Paul Haring CathNews
Catholic Social Services team up to battle disadvantage.
Extract from Melbourne Catholic, Catholic Social services, 11 September 2019
More than 20 Catholic social service providers from across Australia have joined with researchers from the Australian National University to commission new research into entrenched disadvantage.      Today marks the commencement of research activity for the Identifying Locational Drivers of Entrenched Disadvantage project.      “This project is a significant coming together across the national Catholic social services network,” said Catholic Social Services Australia CEO Ursula Stephens, who launched the project earlier today.      The aim of the research is to identify what drives and entrenches disadvantage in every suburb of Australia. Among its innovations is factoring in population change and projecting trends over the next 10 years.      “A key feature of this research is that it was co-designed by academics and those working at the coalface, meaning it can be applied in practice,” Dr Stephens said.......Australian Catholic Bishop Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge delivered a video message supporting the project, which was played at today’s launch.   “Each day, the Church works with people living on or below the poverty line. We provide accommodation, meals and support when they have nowhere else to turn,” Archbishop Coleridge says in the video.        “Today, we welcome another contribution by our community to tackling the poverty challenge. I commend the 20 CSSA members who have chosen to become financial partners and take part in this research.”......In coming weeks, the project will embark on an extensive consultation process with expert researchers, sector peak bodies and advocates for groups that experience disadvantage.       The first public report of research outcomes is due before the end of this year....(more)
Laws forcing priests to report child abuse passed in Victorian parliament
Extracts from Noel Towell and Simone Fox Koob, The Age, 11 September 2019
The Victorian government says it hopes it does not have to jail priests who fail to report child abuse revealed in the confession box.
The state's Parliament passed laws on Tuesday carrying sentences of up to three years for failing to report abuse, but Premier Daniel Andrews said on Wednesday morning that he did not know of any convictions under Victoria's broader mandatory reporting laws, in place for 25 years.        The Premier said the laws, and the new legislation passed on Tuesday, were intended to create a culture in which all abuse or mistreatment of children was reported, regardless of how it came to light.         Mr Andrews said the bill, which passed the upper house on Tuesday night with bipartisan support, was intended to send a message all the way to the top of the Catholic Church in Rome.        "The most important thing is to send a message that the law is to be taken seriously, if people don’t obey the law, then the penalties are very significant," the Premier said.......The Catholic Church has insisted priests would be obliged to defy the laws, with Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli previously stating he was prepared to go to jail rather than break the confessional seal.     "For Catholics, confession is a religious encounter of a deeply personal nature. It deserves confidentiality," he said in August.....A spokesman said Archbishop Comensoli would not be responding publicly to the new legislation on Wednesday, and referred The Age to the Archbishop's August remarks......The introduction of the legislation follows a recommendation in the 2017 final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse that clergy and confession no longer be exempt from mandatory reporting....(more)

Two cardinals are challenging the working document for next month’s synod of bishops on the pan-Amazonian region.
Extract from CathNews NZ, CNA 9 September 2019
Cardinals Walter Brandmüller and Raymond Burke have both written to fellow members of the College of Cardinals raising concerns about the document.        Some points…seem not only in dissonance with respect to the authentic teaching of the Church, but even contrary to it,” Brandmüller, who is a German prelate wrote.         Parts of the working document are heretical, he says.        Noting what he calls the document’s “nebulous formulations” Brandmüller pointed to topics the synod will focus on.       These include a proposal to create new ecclesial ministries for women and another enabling the priestly ordination of the so-called viri probati – married men of good reputation, who could act as priests in places where there are none.         Brandmüller says these topics’ inclusion raises “strong suspicion that even priestly celibacy will be called into question,”         He also said Cardinal Claudio Hummes’s appointment as the president of the synod means he “will exercise a grave influence in a negative sense,” which presents “a well founded and realistic concern”.           He said Brazilian emeritus bishop Erwin Kräutel (who is a long-time proponent of married priests) and Franz-Josef Overbeck of Germany are of concern.....(more)Photo: CathNews NZ CNA

Ordination Mass, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli's Homily
Extract from Media and Communications Office, 8 September 2019
What makes for a successful Ordained Minister, many ask today? What does a priest or deacon need to succeed? Perhaps we would all hope that our Ordained Ministers come with a certain set of attributes and capacities: a skilled wordsmith of the Gospel; a man of faith, intellect and spiritual depth; someone accomplished in liturgical and pastoral knowhow; an experienced steward of God’s grace. All of these things would indeed be good to have, at least to an adequate extent, in all our bishops, priests and deacons.        The problem with this way of thinking – in terms of success or failure, of achievement or lack thereof – is that it is not the question Jesus asked of those he commissioned to be his ministers. On the night before his Passion, at the Last Supper, the Lord asked instead: have you gone out to bear fruit, fruit that will last? This is the ‘great commission’ given to priests and deacons by the Lord, as he prepared to lay down his life for his friends: to go out with their lives; to be fruitful in their mission; and to be a lasting gift that will continue to nourish.         To go out. For us who are ordained, our lives are not meant to be centred on ‘coming home’, as would appropriately be said of a family man. Ours is not an inward calling, but an outward one. We are commissioned by the Church to be on the move, and to be with others. It is why Jesus couched the commissioning of his first priests in the language of friendship, and not servanthood. You cannot be a gospel friend to others if you are only ever waiting for others to come to you for the sacramental or pastoral services you provide. ...(more). Photo:  Melbourne Catholic, CAM  

Sr. Jacquelyn Bender MSC

Friday 6 September 2019

Many people in the Parish will be saddened by the death of Sister Jacq who died peacefully last Sunday. Her Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Bernadette’s on Monday at 10.30am.

Our love and prayers go out to Sr. Francis, Sr. Carmel and all the MSC Sisters.

May Sr. Jacquelyn rejoice forever in the eternal love and life of the Sacred Heart of her Beloved Lord.


New Director of Mission Appointed for Archdiocese of Melbourne
Friday 6 September 2019
Extract from Media and Communications Office, Melbourne Catholic, 6 September 2019
After an extensive recruitment process, Most Rev Peter A Comensoli, Archbishop of Melbourne, has announced the appointment of Ms Teresa Rhynehart as Director of Mission for the Archdiocese of Melbourne.             Reaching out to over 1.1 million Catholics across broader Melbourne, this senior leadership role is a new position that will spearhead a renewed and coordinated missionary endeavour in the Archdiocese by engaging and growing apostolic life and leadership throughout the faithful of Melbourne.      With recent experience in leading and implementing mission integration through St John of God Healthcare (South East Sub Acute Hospitals), leadership with the St Vincent de Paul Society, and over eight years as both Director and Assistant Director of mission agencies within the Archdiocese, Ms Rhynehart brings both a deeply personal and highly professional commitment to the witness of the Christian life today.       Most Rev Peter A Comensoli said that he was delighted that Ms Rhynehart has accepted the position of Director of Mission. “Teresa is an outstanding candidate and has demonstrated a clear understanding and involvement in setting God’s People on a missionary footing.”         “Our missionary focus is extensive, and works to bring renewed life to our families, our youth, our parish communities and the marginalised amongst many other outreach and engagement areas...(more)
Catholic Church admits liability for paedophile Gerald Ridsdale's crimes
Extract from Melissa Cunningham and Andrew Thomson, The Age, 5:35pm 6 September 2019
The Catholic Church has accepted legal responsibility for the sexual abuse of a nine-year-old boy by notorious paedophile Gerald Ridsdale in a significant case which could open the floodgates for victims seeking compensation.            After denying any knowledge of Ridsdale's offending before the boy was raped in a confessional box at Mortlake in 1982, lawyers for the church on Friday accepted an amended statement of claim from the victim in the Supreme Court – in effect admitting legal liability for his crimes.      A 10-day civil trial scheduled to begin on January 29 next year will now focus primarily on the amount of damages the church will pay the victim. A mediation hearing will be held on October 15.            The victim, identified in court under the pseudonym JBC, is suing Ballarat Bishop Paul Bird for negligence on behalf of deceased former bishops James O’Collins and Ronald Mulkearns.                 In defence documents submitted to the court, Bishop Bird accepted that Bishop Mulkearns breached his duty of care to the victim because he knew about a complaint of Ridsdale sexually abusing a child at Inglewood in northern Victoria in 1975, seven years before JBC was raped.        "We are pleased that the Catholic Church has admitted liability for the sexual abuse of our client by Gerald Ridsdale," JBC's lawyers Judy Courtin Legal said on Friday.         "We believe this is the first time in Victoria that the Catholic Church has admitted that it failed to protect a victim of child sexual abuse and that it is therefore legally liable.........Ridsdale admitted to sexually assaulting 65 children – both boys and girls – throughout Victoria in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, but it is believed the true number of his victims could be in the hundreds.      He has been sentenced five times since 1993 and is in prison at the Hopkins Correctional Centre in Ararat.               JBC is one of several victims mounting legal cases against the Ballarat Archdiocese over Ridsdale's offending.        The total payouts to his victims alone are expected to run into millions of dollars....(more)  Photo: The Age
It's an honour that Americans attack me: Pope
Extracts from CathNews, Crux, 5 September 2019
Pope Francis said he is “honoured” by the fact that a group of conservative Catholics from the United States attack him.       The Pope was speaking aboard a papal flight to Mozambique, the first stop of a three-nation swing through Africa, when he was presented a new book on conservative opposition to the papacy written by a French reporter on the flight.       “For me, it’s an honour that Americans are attacking me,” Francis told La Croix‘s Nicolas Seneze, author of How America Wanted to Change the Pope.........After the Pope’s comments, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni told journalists on the flight that “in an informal context the Pope wanted to say that he always considers criticisms an honour, particularly when it comes from important thinkers and, in this case, of an important nation.”        A long-time Vatican reporter from the French Catholic daily, Seneze told the Pope that he wanted to explain the roots of American opposition to the Argentine, which has the support of several right-wing news outlets. In his book, Seneze names EWTN, founded by the late Mother Angelica, and Canada-based LifeSiteNews.       The criticism against Francis is based on his cautious opening to allowing the divorced and remarried to receive the Sacraments, his emphasis on the environment, his strong condemnation of the death penalty, and his criticism of the capitalist economic order championed by US conservatives.        In his book, Seneze explains the origin of the hostility against Francis in terms of two documents by the Pope: Evangelii Gaudium, his first apostolic exhortation and considered the Magna Carta of his pontificate, and Laudato Si', an encyclical letter on the environment originally intended to ensure adoption of the 2015 Paris Agreement pertaining to climate change.....(more).  Photo: CathNews, CNS Paul Haring
Student summit inspired by Pope’s message
Extract from CathNews, 6 September 2019
Students from Catholic secondary colleges in six dioceses took up Pope Francis’ call to treat God’s creation with respect during a Catholic Earthcare summit in Sydney last week.      The Catholic Earthcare Australia Student Sustainability Summit, held at Santa Sabina College in Strathfield, brought together almost 100 student leaders and changemakers from across the Archdiocese of Sydney and the Dioceses of Parramatta, Broken Bay, Maitland-Newcastle, Bathurst and Wollongong, as well as the independent schools community.     The summit – designed, led and delivered by students, for students – aims to model how individual dioceses can run their own event next year and complements the Catholic Earthcare approach of training the next generation of the Catholic faith....(more)
Out of Darkness,
Extract from Cathy Jenkins, Director of Archbishop's Office of Evangelisation, Melbourne Catholic, 5 September 2019
......... Some of us may feel as though we are living in a dark time in the church at the moment. The extent of the damage wrought upon individuals as a result of institutional abuse at the hands of clergy, religious and lay people working in and for the Catholic Church becomes more and more apparent.   Those of us who have been abused may be carrying the burden of the daily struggle this physical and psychological assault has placed upon us, our friends and our families.   Those who have not been abused may find the maelstrom of stories about abuse that emanate from both the local and the international church overwhelming.   And the stories all follow a shockingly similar narrative: abuse that went unchecked and was covered up by church leaders who had authority and should have known better. We are certainly a hurting church, experiencing the darkness of humiliation.               Those of us who have listened as part of the first phase of the Plenary Council would know how painfully distressing the people of God are finding this period in our history and how frequently the issue of abuse at the hands of clergy and religious emerged from the discussions.   The snapshot and now final report from the Listening and Dialogue phase of the Plenary Council also demonstrate that the people of God are responding to this ‘change of era’ in different ways and holding different views about how to move forward.   The wisdom of the earliest Jewish Christians provides some insights for us about what the work of the Spirit looks like. Those earliest communities were also trying to make sense of Jesus’ message in light of their context, and their thinking was also formed by a deepening understanding of the work of the Spirit........(more)      Photo: Pixabay
Broken Bay launches Safeguarding Month
Extract from CathNews, Broken Bay News,  5 September 2019
This is the fourth year Broken Bay Dicoese has held a Liturgy of Inclusion and Care in Safeguarding Month at Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral in the Sydney suburb of Waitara. The service is held to pray for all those that have been hurt in the Broken Bay community by members of the Church, and to further the Diocese’s commitment to safeguarding young and vulnerable persons.      The liturgy included an image of Jesus with ribbons woven across his face to demonstrate how the Broken Bay community is woven together, a unity in our loving God. Participants from across the Diocese removed the ribbons one by one to reveal Jesus’s face, symbolising that we are born in the likeness and image of Jesus.   Liturgy participants were asked to take a card containing a word and Scripture quote, and a painting from local artists with disabilities from the Boonah Creative Arts Centre. They were also invited to walk a labyrinth path in a nearby room outside the Cathedral to reflect and pray. Participants also received a card with a raised labyrinth they could trace with their finger.       Fr David Ranson, Broken Bay’s Diocesan Administrator, gave a reflection at the liturgy. He spoke of the Diocese’s commitment to safeguarding.          Our commitment … is not simply concerned with the delivery of effective remedy to social need; it is about the restoration of dignity,” Fr Ranson said.        “It is not simply concerned with bandaging broken bodies; it is as much about tending the wounds of the human spirit.....(more).  Photo: Broken Bay Diocese
Bishops launch major Communication statement on social media
Extract from Melbourne Catholic, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, 4 September 2019
Australia’s Catholic bishops will today launch a major statement on digital communications, calling on all levels of society to overcome the hatred, division and exploitation that occurs online.     This year’s Social Justice Statement, Making it Real: Genuine human encounter in our digital world, will be launched in Sydney by Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv, chairman of the Bishops Commission for Social Justice – Mission and Service.       The launch precedes Social Justice Sunday, which the Church in Australia celebrates on September 29.       In the statement, the bishops say governments, businesses and the broader community need to be more proactive in defending the dignity of people. They say everyone must work together to make the digital world a place of genuine human encounter.       The document invites people to reflect on how the internet has changed communication, work, education and business – and how people can contribute towards a more harmonious digital world.        Writing in the statement’s foreword, Bishop Delegate for Social Justice, Bishop Terence Brady, said that while the digital world enabled people to be more connected than ever before, it could also be a place of manipulation, exploitation and violence.      “This calls us to active citizenship because, at their heart, these problems are not technological, but rather moral,” Bishop Brady said.       "We can choose how we behave online, and we can collectively shape the online world, building a more just and loving online neighbourhood.     “It is becoming increasingly clear that digital platforms require wise governance and that international cooperation is required to achieve this. The common good requires intervention, rather than leaving digital platforms to govern themselves.”         The statement notes that Pope Francis has often spoken of the great potential for “genuine human encounter” in the digital space, but he has also warned of elements of the online world that are harmful: information overload, social isolation, marginalisation of the vulnerable, consumerism and “fake news”.....(More)
Lay community key to reforming Catholicism
Extract from Paul Collins, Eureka Street,4 September 2019
One of the most extraordinary recent examples of commitment is the loyalty shown by many post-Vatican II Catholics to the church. Despite their steadfast support for the emphases of that Council, these lay Catholics, supported by many priests, are often seen as a 'nuisance' by senior church leaders whose real focus has been protecting their own positions and clericalist ideology. Their commitment has been further tested by the sexual abuse scandals and the abject failure of many bishops in dealing with them.             Getting Back on Mission. Reforming Our Church Together (Garratt Publishing, 2019)The forthcoming Plenary Council (PC) of 2020/2021 will be a further test of the loyalty of these Catholics. How serious are the bishops when they call on Catholics to 'engage in an open and inclusive experience of listening, dialogue and discernment about the future' of Australian Catholicism? Will they really listen to those who have remained loyal to the teachings of Vatican II?           Catholics for Renewal is one of several groups of Vatican II Catholics. It prepared a detailed submission for the PC and has now published that submission as a book, Getting Back on Mission: Reforming Our Church Together (Garratt Publishing, 2019).           Robert Fitzgerald, one of the Royal Commissioners into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, talks in the book about the causes of abuse and says that 'poor governance, inadequate leadership and an unhealthy culture that preferences secrecy and the church's own interests', as well as 'the absence of females and their participation in leadership roles', all contributed to the bishops' abject failure in deal with sexual abuse. Fitzgerald speaks of the hierarchy's 'fear of the non-ordained, especially women', and an 'arrogant assertion ... of the unique privilege of an ordained class'. In other words, clericalism.         Fitzgerald emphasises especially the importance of 'good church governance'. This goes to the heart of Getting Back on Mission. As the title indicates, for too long the church has been 'off mission' in a self-engrossed, self-righteous, clericalist miasma that has led to massive disaffiliation of Catholics, a catastrophic fall in Mass attendance and sacramental practice. People feel alienated from bishops who, in turn, have retreated into their bunkers. To cap it all, faithful Catholics have had to witness the scandal of sexual abuse and the secretiveness of the bishops in dealing with this crisis.        As I know from personal experience, anyone in the past who called attention to these issues was accused at best of exaggeration and at worst of being a 'Judas'. Getting Back on Mission correctly points out that until the church accepts good governance characterised by accountability, transparency, inclusion and a recognition of the equality of women, it will continue its culture of clericalism and secrecy.        At the heart of the argument are the theological principles of the radical equality of all the baptised and the sensus fidelium, the intuitive sense that the faithful have to discern the belief of the church. That is why soon-to-be-saint John Henry Newman challenges the hierarchy to consult the lay faithful 'in matters of doctrine'.....(more). Photograph: Eureka Street, Garratt Publishing
What does a church open to L.G.B.T. Catholics look like?
Extract from James Martin, S.J. Alerica - The Jesuit Review, 30 August 2019
What would it mean for the institutional church to welcome L.G.B.T. Catholics? What would it mean for church leaders to help L.G.B.T. Catholics feel more at home in their own church? And how can this be accomplished in the context of Gospel values and church teaching? Three recent stories show how: one concerning a priest, one an archbishop and one a parish.        The priest’s story is perhaps the most surprising. The Rev. Bryan Massingale, a highly respected theologian who taught for many years at Marquette University and now serves as professor of theological and social ethics at Fordham University, began a recent lecture with these words: “I come to this conversation as a Black, gay priest and theologian.”        The lecture, entitled “The Challenge of Idolatry for LGBTI Ministry,” delivered at the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics in Chicago, encouraged his fellow L.G.B.T. Catholics to remember that they are “equally redeemed by Christ and radically loved by God.”         Father Massingale’s public statement about his sexuality may seem inconsequential to some in the West. But the number of Catholic priests who are open about their homosexuality (and faithful to their promises of celibacy, of course) in a public way, despite several articles in the last few years, is still infinitesimally small.      The Fordham theologian said that he was moved by being among so many L.G.B.T. Catholics at the conference who had suffered great persecution in their own countries. He told me in an email:          I spoke to them, not just from my head, but also with my heart and from my soul. I wanted to show them how our faith is not only relevant to their struggles for justice, but a strength for the difficult and often dangerous work that they are doing. To do that, I needed to share my faith story, and how I came to accept myself as being created in God’s image as a Black gay man. I said what I said because people are suffering horribly because of who they are and how they love. And I couldn’t ask them to continue being courageous if I wasn’t willing to be courageous, too.        Such openness makes the church more inviting, especially for L.G.B.T. people who wonder if there is a place for them. Examples like Father Massingale’s help them feel welcomed and loved. As he said, “I didn’t do this to ‘come out.’ But to let God’s love for us all to ‘come forth.’”        “I didn't do this to ‘come out.’ But to let God’s love for us all to ‘come forth.’”       A second gesture came in remarks by Wilton Gregory, the recently appointed archbishop of Washington, D.C. Archbishop Gregory is well known for his efforts to welcome L.G.B.T. people in his former archdiocese of Atlanta......(more)   Photo: America. The Jesuit Review CNS photos     
MP criticises Church over confessional seal
Edited Extract from CathNews, The Age, Friday 30 October 2019
A Victorian MP has opened up about the sexual abuse his father suffered at the hands of a Catholic clergyman while taking aim at the Church’s refusal to comply with new mandatory reporting laws.            Paul Edbrooke said he could not help but wonder how different his father’s life would have been if everyone who knew he had been raped by a clergyman as a teenager had been legally required to report the abuse.       “Could my family have avoided the suicide attempts, the trauma and the heartbreak?” the Labor member for Frankston asked in State Parliament yesterday.      Instead, the politician’s father Nick, now 64, received an apology letter from the Church one month ago. Mr Edbrooke read part of the letter during an emotional debate over new laws making it mandatory for priests to report abuse, including when it is revealed to them during confession.      "Every child deserves to be safe, to be loved and cared for. I am so sorry that this is not your experience,” the letter said. “We humbly ask for your forgiveness.”         “My Dad is a survivor, and he said that I could share this letter, if it assists Parliament to know that apologies are worth nothing, unless we follow them up with action,” he said.           Mr Edbrooke then attacked Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli for saying he was prepared to go to jail in defiance of the proposed laws, rather than breaking the seal of confession.      Archbishop Comensoli has previously said priests should be mandatory reporters, but have similar protections to the lawyer/client relationship.      Priests who refuse to report sexual abuse disclosed during confession will face up to three years in jail under the proposed laws introduced by the state government earlier this month.      The Church said it supports mandatory reporting and encourages victims to report abuse to police but will not break the seal of confession – regardless of the legislation.      Archbishop Comensoli has said the draft of the bill is “unworkable” and shows a lack of understanding about the act of confession, particularly the anonymity of penitents....(More)Photo: CathNews  Facebook Paul Edbrooke MP
U.S. Website Platform Fault
Friday 30 August 2019
A fault on our U.S. based website platform prevented us from uploading images today until late this evening. Accordingly the following set of News items for today were abbreviated and include no images.

 Porter releases draft religious discrimination bill
Extract from CathNews, ABC News, 30 August 2019
Attorney-General Christian Porter has released the Morrison Government’s draft religious discrimination legislation following an election pledge to protect religious freedom.            The issue has been thrust into the spotlight with the case of controversial rugby player Israel Folau and Rugby Australia. The organisation sacked the former Wallaby and devout Christian after he quoted a Bible passage on Instagram.        Speaking at Sydney’s Great Synagogue, Mr Porter said there would be parts of the legislation which dealt with conditions employers could put on their staff.        “Someone in Mr Folau’s position might say that the rule under which they were sacked was unreasonable, indirect discrimination,” Mr Porter said. “The employer would need to argue that the rule was reasonable.        “But to do that, they would have to show the commercial damage to their organisation that was suffered by the breach.”       Then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull commissioned former Liberal MP Philip Ruddock to review protections for religious freedoms following the legalising of same-sex marriage. The recommendations from that came out late last year, as Scott Morrison made his election commitment.....(more)
France: The parish is dead, long live the parish!
'If the structure is more important than the mission, we will never get anywhere,' says priest who works on parish renewal
Limited extract from Gauthier Vaillant, 8 April 2019, Global Pulse,  subscription joiurnal La Croix International, 29 August 2019
Comparing the current working of Catholic parishes with the sinking of the Titanic? It takes nerve to make that comparison.        But that's what Father James Mallon did on April 5 while speaking at an event hosted by a parish in the southern suburbs of Paris.      "The parish system as we know it is going to collapse," the priest warned. "The quicker we accept it, the sooner we will be able to develop something new."       With his Roman collar, rolled up sleeves and a biting sense of humor, Father Mallon, a Canadian priest who specializes in "pastoral transformation," did not spare the large audience of 800 people, including 150 priests, who gathered for a two day session with him.     The author of an internationally successful book, "Divine Renovation Guidebook: A step-by-step manual for transforming your parish," Mallon talks about these issues regularly in the English-speaking world.       But this was a first time for France. The event was organized by Alpha, an initiative founded in London to evangelize through a series of talks and discussions in churches, homes, prisons and other setting.       A healthy church is a missionary church.....(more)
US:The reform seminaries need
Two former seminary professors say the current system breeds an ambition for higher office known as "Scarlet Fever"
Limited extract from C. Colt Anderson and Christopher M. Bellitto, 4 April 2019, Commonweal, Subscription Journal La Croix International, Global Pulse, 29 August 2019.
As former seminary professors, we have looked upon the last several months of revelations about clergy sex abuse, cover-ups, and institutional infighting with the same disgust and sadness as our sisters and brothers—but we are not surprised.        Though we honor and support the many good people who work and study in seminaries, we know that seminaries have played a significant role in the church's current crisis.       It is essential to understand how priests and thus, ultimately, bishops are formed, especially the way they are enculturated into clericalism from their first days in seminary. It is the air they breathe there.       Clericalism in seminary formation is explicitly singled out as a problem in the Synod on Youth's final document, approved in late October 2018, and it affects everyone in the church—it is a systemic and widespread problem. While not new in church history, of course, it is a particularly pressing concern during this time of scandal.       Pope Francis has repeatedly targeted clericalism as the great enemy of ordained ministry today. You can easily see the career-climbers he warns about in seminaries.        If you want to learn how to work your way into the clerical caste, watch these men. They are learning Italian, wearing cufflinks and cassocks, and don't at all mind being called "Father," even though they are still in studies......(Source).
First Chinese bishop after China Vatican deal
Extract from Ruth Gledhill, The Tablet, 28 August 2019
The ceremony took place in a 'solemn, harmonious and orderly' atmosphere.
The North Church, a Catholic church that is one of the largest and oldest churches in Beijing.
The first bishop has been ordained in China since the “provisional agreement” with Beijing was signed on 22 September last year.      The agreement, which allows the Pope to nominate bishops who had already been vetted by Beijing, was designed to pave the way for a united Church in China, bring together the Vatican-recognised “underground Church”, whose members were loyal first to Rome, and the “Patriotic Church” that professed loyalty to the state as well as to Rome.       Antonio Yao Shun was consecrated Bishop of Jining/Wulanchab in Inner Mongolia in China on Monday this week, 26 August.       Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican Press Office, told journalists in Rome: “I can confirm that H.E. Mgr. Antonio Yao Shun, who has been consecrated Bishop of Jining/Wulanchabu, Inner Mongolia (China), received the Papal Mandate, as was also stated by the Ordaining Bishop during the ceremony yesterday, 26th August 2019."       Experts on Vatican relations with China urged caution however, saying not too much should be read into the ordination which was already scheduled before the new provisional agreement was signed.....(more)      
The Cardinal George Pell conundrum
Whatever we may think of Pell, we are at a disadvantage in assessing his guilt or innocence and would be best advised to maintain a discreet silence
Limited Extract from Michael Kelly SJ, Australia,  Subscriptioon journal La Croix International, 26 August 2019
The Aug. 21 judgment of the Victorian Court of Appeal on Cardinal George Pell's effort to have his criminal convictions reversed has caused an international storm, much of it grossly uninformed.       Pell's loyal apologists in Australia – few in number but very noisy – have either railed against the conviction or, like the Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli, just professed disbelief that their friend could be guilty of such crimes.      Internationally, the reaction has been anything from balanced in some quarters to sheer exaggeration, as in the case of John Allen from Rome who, on little or no evidence from Australia, points to a "sizable swathe of Catholic opinion, encompassing both historic friends of Pell and enemies, which regards the charges upon which he was convicted as deeply implausible."     Such views have a lot of reality to come to terms with. And what I find most dismaying is how much denial is evident after the announcement of the Appeal Court decision.      My own view is simple: the longer the delay in providing the decision, the surer I became that Pell's appeal would be dismissed.      If the Court of Appeal were to uphold the appeal and find him innocent — and the first thing the judges agree on after they have heard the appeal is to share who among them upholds and who will dismiss the Appeal — why would they keep him in jail for almost three months if they thought he should be released?.....(more)
How Pope Francis Can Revitalize a Church in Crisis
Extract from Chris Lowney, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadye website, 28 August 2019    
Pope Francis’s foremost priority should be top-to-bottom culture change in the Catholic Church, specifically: fostering a spirit of urgency, bringing new talent to all decision-making tables, and creating openness to radically new ideas.Without this thoroughgoing cultural transformation, a Church now enduring its worst crisis in five centuries will continue to deteriorate.     Pope Francis’s foremost priority should be top-to-bottom culture change in the Catholic Church, specifically: fostering a spirit of urgency, bringing new talent to all decision-making tables, and creating openness to radically new ideas.         Without this thoroughgoing cultural transformation, a Church now enduring its worst crisis in five centuries will continue to deteriorate.     Worst crisis in five centuries? That’s not hyperbole. The grotesque horrors of the sex abuse scandals, in Australia as throughout the Catholic world, are surely the most hurtful wounds that the Church has inflicted (and suffered) in recent decades. But other signs of existential crisis have abounded, in dozens of countries: thousands of ministries have shuttered, young people show little interest in the Church, sacramental participation has waned, and the clergy ranks are shrinking, to name just a few challenges.     None of these challenges and crises will be resolved by “more of the same.” Rather, the 21st century Church must forge an accountable, action-oriented culture, in at least three ways:.......(more)
Where to from here?
Extract from Paul Collins, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue website, 26 August 2019    
One persistent question that has been asked since the failure of Cardinal George Pell’s appeal last Wednesday has been: Why isn’t the Vatican acting to force him from the College of Cardinals and expel him from the priesthood? They moved with amazing speed in the case of Theodore McCarrick, Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, DC, after he was accused of sexual abuse of minors. Why isn’t the same speedy process happening with Pell?          The first reason is obvious: Pell has every right to approach the High Court of Australia. But, as legal experts have pointed out, the bar for getting a hearing is extremely high. The reality is that special leave to appeal is only granted in those cases where a question of law of public importance arises, or where the interests of the administration of justice require consideration by the High Court. The High Court is not another higher court of appeal.       Clearly the Vatican knows that Pell can approach the High Court, but I suspect it under-estimates just how high the bar is to get a hearing. Vatican decision-makers probably think it is just another higher appeal court. This is implied in the statement of Matteo Bruni from the Vatican Press Office when he says: “As the proceedings continue to develop, the Holy See recalls that the Cardinal has always maintained his innocence throughout the judicial process and that it is his right to appeal to the High Court.” So, understandably, the Vatican is unwilling to act until this final hurdle is cleared. In doing so they would be acting just like the Governor General when he said he’d wait to see if leave were granted before making a decision regarding Pell’s Order of Australia.      The Theodore McCarrick case is different to that of Pell. The McCarrick accusations didn’t begin in the civil courts, but in the ecclesiastical system.....(more).
Year of Jubilee  - Dear Prime Minister
Fr. Bill Edebohls PP (Migrant & Refugee Sunday 25 August 2019), Friday 23 August 2019
We write in solidarity with the National Council of Churches, Australian Catholic Bishops and Catholic Religious Australia, the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce and other Jewish, Muslim and Christian faith leaders who have issued recent statements asking for an act of clemency and a humanitarian solution.                 These statements called on the Federal Government to resolve the plight of the people held in Australia’s immigration camps in Manus Island and Nauru, some of whom are now in Port Moresby or in Australia for medical reasons.                    On behalf of the Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe, I support this call for a ‘Jubilee’ for them; a Biblical principle whereby people who have long been trapped in bleak circumstances are given a special dispensation for a new beginning. Evidence abounds that indefinite detention and ongoing uncertainty destroys people’s mental and physical health. Some of the people remaining in PNG and Nauru have been held there since July 2013. There is a loss of hope of ever being able to rebuild their lives and be reunited with their families. Many have partners and children who are also living in unsafe situations, which compounds their anguish.  This despair has led to an increase in acts of self-harm, as people have lost the strength to go on.                  Some people been brought here for medical treatment, but continue to be held indefinitely in onshore immigration detention facilities or other places of detention. They are also unable to move on with their lives, and they live with the constant fear of being returned to Manus Island, Nauru or back to persecution in their countries of origin.             We affirm our commitment to seeing a fair system for all people seeking asylum in Australia, which includes community-based processing, fair processes of appeal, access to a universal safety net and permanent protection. We ask that this jubilee is the beginning of a renewed approach underpinned by compassion and welcome.        On matters regarding refugees, we take guidance from the following Scriptures:                “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them.  The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born.  Love them as yourself, for you were once foreigners in Egypt.” (Leviticus 19: 33 -34)           “The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives….”  (Luke 4: 18 – 19)              People who exercised their legal right to seek safety in Australia from life-threatening persecution, but were instead sent to Manus Island and Nauru, have been mistreated by Australia and have suffered far too much.                We urgently call on all Members of Parliament and Senators to take a non-partisan approach to end the humanitarian crisis which has been created by indefinite offshore detention. We urge Members and Senators to immediately provide a Jubilee and resettle, in Australia, New Zealand or to a safe, comparable country, all of the people a part of the  “offshore processing” cohort....... Fr. Bill Edebohls PP (Migrant & Refugee Sunday 25 August 2019)
Bishops pay tribute to Tim Fischer
Extract from CathNews, ACBC, 23August 2019
Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge has paid tribute to former ambassador to the Holy See Tim Fischer, who died yesterday, saying he lived as a proud Catholic and a proud Australian.             Mr Fischer, who was educated by the Jesuits at Xavier College in Melbourne, had a long and distinguished career in the New South Wales and Australian parliaments.           At the federal level, he served as leader of the National Party of Australia during the 1990s and deputy prime minister and trade minister under John Howard between 1996 and 1999.          He had earlier served in the Australian Army during the Vietnam War.        Archbishop Coleridge, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, said Mr Fischer was a larger-than-life personality who throughout his career was genuinely dedicated to service.                     “Tim was a man of many interests and with many talents, but those of us who have known him will remember most his warmth, his humanity and his strong conviction to pursue what is right,” he said.         In 2008, the Labor government appointed Mr Fischer ambassador to the Holy See. During his tenure from 2009-12, Australia’s first saint, Mary of the Cross MacKillop, was canonised.       In 2012, he was made a Knight Grand Cross in the Order of Pius IX, one of the Church’s highest honours.          Tim was very proud to be our man at the Vatican at the time and was a remarkable host and ‘ambassador’ for Church and country,” Archbishop Coleridge said.....(more)  Photo:CathNews, CNS Emanuela De Meo  
Witness of truth wins justice in Pell appeal
Extract from Peter Wilkinson, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue website, 23 August 2019
On Wednesday, 21 August 2019, a majority of the appeal judges who reviewed all the evidence in the trial of Cardinal George Pell for historic child sexual abuse, and in which he was convicted on five charges, have concluded that the key witness, a former choir boy who alleged he was abused by Cardinal Pell, was a witness of truth. On that basis, Pell’s appeal to have his conviction overturned was dismissed.       In a 1931 speech, Mohandas Gandhi stated that “A nation’s greatness can be measured by how it treats its weakest members”. On Wednesday, in Melbourne, Australia, in the Supreme Court of the State of Victoria, those words found new meaning.     In a majority decision, two of the three judges of the Court of Appeal decided that the key witness in the criminal trial of Cardinal George Pell, where a jury had found him guilty of the sexual abuse of that witness in 1996 and 1997 when he was a 13-year old boy in the choir of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, had spoken the truth. On that basis, the appeal by Cardinal Pell to have his conviction overturned was dismissed.    In his appeal, Cardinal Pell had submitted that the key witness’s account of what had occurred in the cathedral 23 years ago was “a fabrication or a fantasy, that it was implausible” and, that when taken together with the evidence of other witnesses, “was either literally impossible, or so unlikely it’s of no realistic possibility”. The prosecution, on the other hand, maintained that the victim of the abuse was “a witness of truth”.     A witness of truth....(more)
I believe cardinal is innocent: Archbishop Comensoli
Extract from CathNews,  The Age, 23 August 2019
Melbourne Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli believes Cardinal George Pell is innocent and has suggested the cardinal's accuser may have been abused by someone else.       Archbishop Comensoli appeared on 3AW Radio yesterday to stand by Cardinal Pell, a day after Victoria's highest court sent the cardinal back to prison for abusing two 13-year-old boys in the 1990s.       "I believe in what [Pell] said to me on many occasions, that he's innocent, and I continue to be really quite shocked with how things have developed," Archbishop Comensoli said.       He said he believed the surviving victim, known as "J", had been abused by someone, but held doubts that it was by the cardinal.          "Then there's this question of who's actually been the abuser in this case."           On Wednesday, the Court of Appeal disagreed. Five child sexual abuse convictions against Cardinal Pell were upheld after a jury of 12 unanimously found him guilty last year. One of the three judges dissented in Wednesday's judgment.      Cardinal Pell, 78, has always maintained he is innocent and could try a last ditch challenge in the High Court of Australia.....(more)
NZ Royal Commission – small first steps in a marathon journey
Extract from CathNews NZ, 22 August 2019
The Royal Commission into historical abuse in state care and faith-based institutions on Tuesday met representatives of organisations responsible for the care of abused children.     Tuesday’s hearing was “procedural”.       It is the first step in a very long and complex process.     The inquiry has grown since its inception to become the largest in New Zealand’s history.   And it is the broadest of its sort in any comparable country.    It is primarily expected to examine cases of abuse from 1950 to 1999. Some 100,000 children were in care during that period.    But the Commission also has the discretion to investigate cases from before or after that time....(more)
After the appeal: The tragedy of Cardinal George Pell
Our trust in institutions, and in the dedication of highly respected judges, should not be overwhelmed by emotion, conspiracy theories or visceral tribal loyalties
Extract from Patrick Parkinson, ABC Religion and Ethics, Posted Wed 21 Aug 2019,Updated Fri 23 Aug 2019, 10:40am
Posted Wed 21 Aug 2019, 4:58pm, Updated Fri 23 Aug 2019, 10:40am
The decision of a majority of the Victorian Court of Appeal will no doubt be shattering for very many people – not least Cardinal George Pell himself. There are those who believe, quite passionately, that Cardinal Pell should not only have been given the benefit of a reasonable doubt, but that he is entirely innocent of the charges against him. People are likely to experience grief, anger and a sense of helplessness.       Many have become emotionally invested in the outcome of the case – not merely out of respect for a towering figure in the recent history of the Catholic Church in Australia, but because of a fear that in some way the prosecution, conviction and dismissal of the appeal represent an attack on their faith and the Church they love.       Those feelings are understandable. We live in an age when there is a great deal of hostility in some quarters towards the Catholic Church. Former High Court judge Dyson Heydon quoted a German politician in a speech a couple of years ago to the effect that “anti-Catholicism is the anti-semitism of the intellectuals.” We also live in a country with an unprecedented level of scepticism about institutions, and that distrust may extend to the verdicts of judges and juries.       The rigour of the appeal court’s consideration      It is important, therefore, to recognise the care with which the Court of Appeal analysed the evidence. The summary of the judgment records:....(more)
Statement from Archbishop Mark Coleridge, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
Catholic Voice, Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, Wednesday 21 August 2019
The Victorian Court of Appeal has today announced that, in a 2-1 decision, Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his convictions for child sexual abuse offences has been dismissed.
The Catholic Bishops of Australia believe all Australians must be equal under the law and accept today’s judgement accordingly.
Cardinal Pell’s legal team has said it will examine the judgement in order to determine a special leave application to the High Court.
The Bishops realise that this has been and remains a most difficult time for survivors of child sexual abuse and those who support them. We acknowledge the pain that those abused by clergy have experienced through the long process of the trials and appeal of Cardinal Pell. We also acknowledge that this judgement will be distressing to many people.
We remain committed to doing everything we can to bring healing to those who have suffered greatly and to ensuring that Catholic settings are the safest possible places for all people, but especially for children and vulnerable adults....(source)
Archbishop Peter A Comensoli’s Media Statement on Cardinal George Pell
Extract from Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli, Melbourne Catholic, Wednesday 21 August 2019
Today the Victorian Court of Appeal, in a 2:1 majority decision, dismissed Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his conviction for assaulting two choir boys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in late 1996 and early 1997.        I respectfully receive the Court’s decision, and I encourage everyone to do the same.  That there have been two trials, and now today’s decision in the Court of Appeal, the complexity of the search for the truth in this matter has tested many, and may very well continue to do so.      My thoughts and prayers are with the man who brought this matter before the courts.  I humbly acknowledge it has been a challenging time for him, and I stand ready to offer pastoral and spiritual help, should he seek it.       In Christian charity, I will ensure that Cardinal Pell is provided pastoral and spiritual support while he serves the remainder of his sentence, according to the teaching and example of Jesus to visit those in prison.        I also want to acknowledge with gratitude the people who have been involved in this case.  For many, this has been a demanding and distressing experience.       To the faithful of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, I want to acknowledge the deep impact today’s decision will have for you. My prayer is that all of us might reach out to each other in faith, hope and love, as I do for you at this moment....(more)

Fairtrade Fortnight
Edited Extract from CathNews, 7 August, republished 16 August 2019
Many people would be alarmed to learn that with every sip of tea or coffee, or mouthful of chocolate that is not fair trade, there’s a good chance slave children were involved in its production somewhere in its supply line.        Fairtrade Australia runs the Fairtrade Fortnight campaign every August to highlight these ethical issues in the supply chains of many industries - including tea, coffee and chocolate - to show that modern slavery not only persists but thrives in the 21st century.       And to combat modern slavery, it’s the responsibility of companies and consumers alike to ensure a slavery-free supply chain by making sure products bear a Fairtrade certification.          The Archdiocese Office for Justice and Peace (OJP) together with ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious against Trafficking of Humans) held a Fairtrade morning tea as part of Fairtrade Fortnight to raise awareness of the scourge of modern-day slavery. The staff of the Archdiocese, together with the Archbishop, gathered together to enjoy a cup of Fairtrade tea or coffee - all easily accessible -  from most supermarkets – but you may have to hunt for it or ask.        ‘Fairtrade’ is a trademark which guarantees that the product hasn't used modern slavery, as are products bearing the UTZ certification and Rainforest Alliance logos, which similarly ensure a slavery-free supply chain.            Throughout the Archdiocese schools, hospitals, charitable organisations and parishes are joining the Fairtrade campaign trying to eliminate the scourge of modern slavery. If it means paying an extra dollar to make sure that kids are in school, or kids are not being forced into becoming child soldiers, let's do it! Buy only Fairtrade tea, coffee and chocolate.          People in the developing world don't want charity - they want justice. They don't want us sending money. They simply want us to pay a fair price for the goods they produce. As Pope Francis reminds us “every person ought to have the awareness that purchasing a product is always a moral – and not simply an economic – act.”.....(more)      Photo:

Parish Climate Action Group
Friday 16 August 2019
Responding to Pope Francis’ call for immediate action to mitigate global warming and avoid committing “a brutal act of injustice on the poor and future generations”.          If you missed Sir David Attenborough’s ‘Climate Change: The Facts’ on ABC1 last Sunday, it’s worth watching it on ABC iview. It’s an excellent summary of climate change and what we need to be doing to counter it, for the good of humanity. It helps us to understand why Pope Francis and many other leaders have spoken up about the need for us to act.       ARRCC’s (Australian Religious Response to Climate Change) ‘Living the Change’ program  encourages all of us to live more sustainable lifestyles – to reduce our carbon emissions. One of the many ‘tips’ in the program is to eat less meat and increase your intake of plant-based foods. David Attenborough also mentioned the need for us to eat less meat, especially beef and lamb.          ARRCC is holding a ‘Living the Change’ event on September 8, 2.00 - 5.30pm in the city which aims to support people in their attempts to lead more sustainable lifestyles . Its free but RSVP is needed.      Further details on ARRCC’s website HERE. Also remember September 20, global climate action day run by the School Strike for Climate Movement.  ARRCC will be there and will be holding the multi-faith service beforehand.
Cardinal Pell to learn his fate next week
Extract from CathNews, The Age, 16 August 2019
Cardinal George Pell will learn his fate next Wednesday when the Court of Appeal hands down its decision on whether to overturn his child sexual abuse convictions.           Cardinal Pell was last year found guilty of sexually abusing two choirboys in the 1990s when he was Archbishop of Melbourne. His appeal was heard over two days in June.      The Court of Appeal will hand down its judgment on Wednesday from 9.30am. It will be live-streamed from the Supreme Court website.  Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Ferguson, Justice Chris Maxwell, the president of the Court of Appeal, and Justice Mark Weinberg could overturn the convictions, uphold them, or order a retrial....(more)
No issue matters as much as climate change
Extract from Bruce Duncan, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue website, 15 August 2019    
What will it take before the Morrison government recognises the great peril from climate change? Is the overwhelming consensus of scientists not enough, as they track the record-breaking heat waves globally? And why are religious leaders not echoing Pope Francis more vigorously about a looming ‘catastrophe’ from global warming?         While the Morrison government dithers, climate specialists are alarmed that the chances to limit global warming are slipping away, with the likely result that we will be left facing truly catastrophic changes to the weather.       The former Liberal leader, John Hewson, in the Fairfax media on 1 August, castigated the Morrison government for ignoring the overwhelming advice from, among many others, experts, fossil fuel miners, the Reserve Bank of Australia, and finance and insurance sectors. ‘I despair at just how long our Australian government can continue to deny the undeniable.’ Yet Australia is the largest exporter of fossil fuels, so damaging to the environment. Britain and Germany are planning to abandon coal in the ‘climate emergency’, while our government simply ignores the ‘urgency of the climate challenge’.        According to official figures, Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions have been rising for the last three years, and we are not on track to meet commitments at the Paris climate conference by 2030 to reduce emissions from 2005 levels to between 26% and 28%. Yet Australia is again experiencing severe drought, and extreme weather is damaging our coastline, facilities, and fisheries. For the month of July, the years 2017, 2018, and 2019 were the hottest on record.          Warnings from defence forces & the mining industry.....(more).
Melbourne Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli has said he would rather go to jail than report admissions of child sexual abuse made in the confessional.
A bill which would make it mandatory for priests to report suspected child abuse to authorities, including abuse revealed in the confessional, was introduced to Victoria’s Parliament yesterday.
Extract from CathNews, ABC News, 15 August 2019
The Church last year formally rejected the notion that clergy should be legally forced to report abuse revealed during confessions.       Interviewed on ABC Radio Melbourne yesterday, Archbishop Comensoli said he did not see the principles of mandatory reporting and the seal of confession as being “mutually exclusive”.      He said he would encourage someone who admitted to abuse to tell police, and tell him again outside the confessional where he could then report it without breaking the seal of confession.      But if the person confessing refused to do that, he said he would not break the Catholic tradition: “Personally, I’ll keep the seal,” he said.      Archbishop Comensoli said most confessions were made anonymously and admissions of abuse were “deeply rare”.     He said the “vastly more important” recommendations from the royal commission such as accreditation, supervision and ongoing training were not talked about.     He said the Archdiocese of Melbourne had “very extensive” policies around child protection and underwent ongoing training and audits.     “So all of those sorts of things, I think, are much more about the protection of children and are better at it on a practical level than this one particular thing. Yet this one particular thing has become nearly the all, and I think that’s a shame.”     Meanwhile, Melbourne priest Fr Kevin Dillon said the Church “needs to recognise the enormous damage that’s been done” to abuse survivors.    Fr Dillion, who has been an outspoken advocate for victims of Church abuse, suggested the laws were an opportunity to revisit the canon surrounding the confessional seal.    But he did not say whether he himself would report abuse if it was confessed to him, instead saying: “I would have to follow my conscience at the time to do what I believe was the right thing to do.”     Priests who break the seal of confession currently face excommunication from the Church.....(more).. Photo: CathNews,ABC News Comensoli P Abb,  ABC News CathNews 20190815
Archbishop says prison preferable to complying with child abuse confession law
Priests would have to break the seal of the confessional and report any admissions of child abuse under proposed news laws
Extract from Lisa Martin Australian Associated Pres. The Guardian. 14 August 2019
Melbourne’s Catholic archbishop insists three years jail is preferable to breaking the seal of confession and reporting child sexual abuse to authorities.       Priests will risk prison if they don’t report child abuse revealed to them during the sacrament of confession, under new laws introduced in Victoria on Wednesday.       The bill, introduced into state parliament would make religious ministers mandatory reporters of abuse suspicions alongside police, teachers, medical practitioners and early childhood workers.     “I don’t think in contemporary and mainstream times, knowing what we know now, that we can do anything other than say the rights of children trump anyone’s religious views,” the attorney general, Jill Hennessy, told reporters.       “Ultimately this is about making sure that we start to right the wrongs of systemic abuse.”        Archbishop Peter Comensoli said he’d ask someone who admitted abuse to tell him outside the box but if they refused he would “keep the seal”.           “I hold the principle of mandatory reporting … and I also hold onto the principle of the seal of confession. My own position is that I don’t see that as mutually exclusive,” he told ABC Radio on Wednesday.          The archbishop’s office later released a statement saying the church welcomed the proposed expansion of mandatory reporting to include religious ministers, but denied the seal of confession was an obstacle to mandatory reporting.        “Confession doesn’t place people above the law. Priests should be mandatory reporters, but in a similar way to protections to the lawyer/client relationship and protection for journalists’ sources.”           Catholic archbishops in the ACT and South Australia have also vowed to defy similar laws.....(more)  Photo: The Guardian, Thomas Cockrem Alamy Stock
Priests will maintain confession secrecy
Edited Extract from CathNews, The Age, 14 August 2019
The Church is set to defy new laws in Victoria that would punish priests with jail time if they refuse to report sexual abuse revealed during confession.         The Victorian Government will today introduce legislation aimed at forcing priests to break the seal of confession to report child abuse.          The Church says that it supports mandatory reporting and encourages victims to report abuse to police, but will not break the seal of confession – regardless of the legislation.           “I uphold the seal of confession but I uphold mandatory reporting as well,” Melbourne Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli said in August last year, when the government first flagged this legal change.      “The principle of the seal of confession is a different question. It has a different reality to it. The practicalities of winding back the seal of confession I think is something that can’t be easily done.”       “There’s been no change in our position,” a spokesman for the Melbourne Archdiocese said yesterday, adding that it would wait to see the legislation before commenting further.         In March this year Pope Francis said no laws could break the seal of confession, in which all priests must keep secret from everyone what they hear in the confessional.      “The sacramental seal is indispensable and no human power has, nor may it claim, jurisdiction over it,” he said.          Priests who refuse to report sexual abuse disclosed during confession will face up to three years in jail under the new laws. The laws will apply to religious and spiritual leaders of all denominations and religions, but will not be retrospective.        Victoria’s move comes a fortnight after Tasmania passed similar legislation. The ACT also recently passed a similar bill, set to take effect from September 1. Under an South Australian law that took effect in October 2018, clergy are legally obliged to report confessions of child sex abuse or face a $10,000 fine.....(more) Photo: confessional CathNews CNS 20190814
The Fascinating Christian Story.
Extract from Opinion Piece, Eric Hodgens, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue blog, 13 August 2019    
We all have our personal story. And it is just one part of the bigger story of our family, our tribe, our nation – the things that have shaped us. Institutions, too, have a life of their own – and their own story. Where did they come from? What made them as they are? Religions are such. We need storytellers with long memories. And, if we get really serious about understanding all this, we need good historians. Christianity has the story and the historians who, over the last couple of centuries, have become better at their game.                Christianity did not start out as a religion. It began firstly a movement within Judaism. There was the pre-existing story of Israel. Israel’s story had two strands – one establishment, with temple and priesthood; the other prophetic. The prophets were the critics of society. As the establishment got set in its ways, the prophets wanted constant review to keep true to their original purpose. They troubled the establishment.                Jesus was such a prophet. His focus was on the best way to live to keep in tune with God – to make God’s Reign a reality. As he gathered followers, both of himself and his way, the establishment got his movement in its sights and we know how that ended up.           But that was only the beginning of a new story. The movement grew and Jesus became the focus of its story. Then, following the tradition of Israel, they started to write. Paul was the first writer – letters of advice to cells he had set up. Then Mark created a new form of literature – the gospel. His purpose was to bolster his community which was struggling against opposition from outside and disintegration within. Then Matthew and Luke copied that style and wrote their own version of Mark’s story, focussing on the needs of their particular communities. Finally, John wrote his version for his community whose preoccupations you can glean if you read the text closely – if do a critique of the text.              The first thing you need to do in critiquing the text is to discern why the writer composed it. Each writer has his own reason for writing. This, in turn, affects the way he writes. The gospels, for example, are anything but re-plays of what was said and done. Discerning the writers background, biases and purpose clarifies your understanding of the text.....(more).  Photo:  Eric Hodgens. Eric Hodgens is a retired Melbourne priest who “writes a bit”.
Plenary Council rocket science a matter of trust
Extract from Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street, 5 August, Extracted here (plus 25 comments) 10 August 2019
Politicians vying for office and churches planning plenary councils sing from the same handbooks. As with rocket launches, where the early stage rockets fall away leaving the manned capsule to go into orbit, political parties put great time and energy into the preparation of policies, running focus groups, and attracting good candidates. When the election campaign begins they drop these activities. Candidates cross the nation offering goodies, shooting down rivals and trying to get the party across the line. The election won, the trimmed ship of state sails on unencumbered.        Rocket paper-cut shape on old wood plank with rustic texture background.   This is commonly true also of church synods and councils. In the case of the 2020 Catholic Plenary Council, a facilitation team was empowered to seek submissions, design processes of reflection, encourage individuals and congregations to take part, and analyse the results. At the next stage it has invited interested people to help prepare working papers on the key themes. These papers will inform the agenda of the council and its deliberations.         In both political and church processes, as with launching rockets, the focus of the process is placed on the final goal of winning power or making wise decisions. The preliminary processes are seen and evaluated through this lens. What is valuable at each stage is gathered into the next and the initial processes are then dropped. From the point of view of the executive committees this tightness of focus is both logical and necessary.         From the perspective of rocket riders, lay Catholics or citizens, however, the effectiveness of the process depends on the trust in which government, bishops or management are held. In rocketry, if trust is lacking in the competence or understanding of people working at any level of the project, no one will sign off on or sit in the final stage rocket without revisiting the earlier stages. Similarly, if people do not trust the wisdom, honesty or courage of political leaders or bishops, they will not trust the processes or people managing them unless they are completely transparent.          In current Australian and Catholic public life at the moment that kind of trust appears to be lacking. Disengagement from politics and cynicism about politicians' honesty attend the political environment in many nations. In the Catholic Church, too, the crimes of sexual abuse and its cover up have weakened trust in the governance at a time when it faces challenges from diminished numbers, ageing and institutional arthritis......(more). Image: Eureka Street, whyframesstudio Getty      
Cardinal Pell: ‘Amazon or no Amazon, the Church cannot allow any confusion’
Extract from Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency, 9 August 2019
Cardinal George Pell has written a letter thanking supporters for their prayers and saying he is “disturbed” by the preparations for the forthcoming synod on the Amazon.        The text of the two-page, handwritten letter - images of which were shared with CNA and confirmed by sources close to Pell - has been circulated amongst a group of Pell’s closest supporters in Australia.         In the letter, dated from Melbourne Assessment Prison on August 1, the cardinal also says that he has been sustained in his incarceration by his faith and by the prayers of the faithful, and that he is offering his suffering in prison for the good of the Church.       “The knowledge that my small suffering can be used for good purposes through being joined to Jesus’ suffering gives me purpose and direction,” Pell writes in the letter. “Challenges and problems in Church life should be confronted in a similar spirit of faith.”       Pell goes on to say that “we have reason to be disturbed by the Instrumentum Laboris of the Amazonian Synod,” which was published in June ahead of the October meeting.      That document, which has been the source of considerable discussion and commentary, included discussion on the subject of ordaining so-called viri probati, or “proven men” who are married, to answer a shortage of priestly vocations.      The working document, which calls for “a Church with an indigenous face,” further recommends that the synod identify “an official ministry that can be conferred upon women, taking into account the central role they play in the Amazonian church.”       “This is not the first low-quality document the Synod secretariat has produced,” Pell writes.         The cardinal, apparently in reference to the considerable debate and criticism sparked by the synod’s proposed agenda - which has also included some calls for changes to the matter used to celebrate the Mass - also notes that “Cardinal G. Müller, formerly of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has written an excellent critique.”     “I am no expert on the region,” Pell says, though noting he has travelled to parts of the region, but cautions that “as in the Amazon, a lot of water has yet to run before the Synod.”     “One point is fundamental, the Apostolic Tradition, the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles, taken from the New Testament and taught by Popes and Councils, by the Magisterium, is the only criterion doctrinally for all teaching on doctrine and practice.”       “Amazon or no Amazon, in every land, the Church cannot allow any confusion, much less any contrary teaching, to damage the Apostolic Tradition,” he said....(more)  Photo: CNA, Michel Dodge Getty Images. 
Church remembers atomic bomb attacks
Extract from Melbourne Catholic, Vatican News, 9 August 2019
The Church in Japan is this week commemorating the 74th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with prayers and appeals for a future of peace and nuclear disarmament.           “Together with the faithful of my diocese, I am deeply grateful to those who offer their prayers and activities for peace in the world, on August 6 and 9, on the 74th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” Bishop Alexis Mitsuru Shirahama of Hiroshima told AsiaNews.     “I feel that this is an important moment to pray and work together for peace and denuclearisation, in evoking these memories,” he said, as the Church in Japan is marking its annual “Ten Days for Peace”, August 6-15, in commemoration of the tragedy and its victims.     The US attack on Hiroshima killed an estimated 140,000 people. Another bomb on Nagasaki, three days later, claimed an estimated 70,000 lives before Japan’s surrender ended World War II.    The Ten Days for Peace was the response of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan to Pope John Paul’s appeal at Hiroshima on 25 February, 1981.    On Tuesday, Mayor Kazumi Matsui delivered a peace address, raising concerns about the rise of self-centred politics in the world and urging leaders to steadily work toward achieving a world without atomic weapons.    “Around the world today, we see self-centred nationalism in ascendance, tensions heightened by international exclusivity and rivalry, with nuclear disarmament at a standstill,” Mr Matsui said in his peace address at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.     With some 50,000 people and representatives from about 90 countries in attendance, Hiroshima’s mayor urged the younger generations never to dismiss the atomic bombings and the war as mere events of history but think of them as their own, while calling on the world leaders to come and visit the nuclear bombed cities to learn what happened.....(more) Photo:CathNews CNS Paul Haring
New survey reveals which religions New Zealanders trust most – and least – after Christchurch shootings
Extract from Simon Chapelle, The Conversation, 8 August 2019
In a survey of 1000 New Zealanders, taken a month after the Christchurch mosque shootings of 15 March 2019, we asked respondents how much they trusted people from different religious groups living in New Zealand. We posed the question with reference to Catholics, Protestants, Evangelical Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists or agnostics, and Jews. We emphasised “living in New Zealand” as we were not interested in identifying New Zealanders’ trust in, for example, worldwide Catholicism or Islam.        We are not aware of any previous consideration of trust in different religious groups within New Zealand.       We used a five-point scale for responses – complete trust, lots of trust, some trust, little trust and no trust at all. We converted ordinal data (e.g. first, second, etc) into cardinal data (one, two, etc) by assuming equal intervals between categories to give a mean trust score.       We found that the most trusted religious group in New Zealand is a small non-Christian group: Buddhists. In the most recent 2013 Census 58,000 Buddhists are recorded, out of about 3.9 million people who replied to the religious question. More people feel positively about Buddhists than not - 35% of New Zealanders have complete or lots of trust in Buddhists, while 15% have little or no trust.       The least trusted religious group in New Zealand is a minority Christian group: Evangelicals (15,000 people in the 2013 Census). Fewer people trust Evangelicals than do not - 21% have complete or lots of trust, while 38% have little or no trust.....(more)
A warm welcome helps arriving priests, parishes
Extract from Mark Bowling, The Catholic Leader, 6 August 2019
A major Church conference on missionary clergy and religious in Australia has heard of the demographic shifting of the Catholic Church and the need to welcome and nurture international priests.      “The Church is rich, the Church is vibrant because of its diversity,” Fr Aniedi Okure, a Dominican priest and executive director of the Africa, Faith and Justice Network in Washington, told the sixth national conference on missionary clergy and religious in Australia, being held in Brisbane.     Fr Okure spoke on Tuesday of the experience and challenges for clergy born outside the United States, and trying to fit in to that country’s pastoral life.     He is an instructor at Loyola Marymount University’s Cultural Orientation Program for International Ministers and described the process of “give and take” needed to help an “incoming” priest adjust to a new pastoral community in which he is going to serve.    “Orientation is crucial and should be undertaken as soon as the person arrives. It is to prepare the missionary priest to enter appropriately to the new context,” he said.    “Orientation diminishes cultural misunderstandings for both the missionary and the ecclesial communities. In fact, cultural differences can make or break the missionary, it can make or break the community.”    Fr Okure said careful orientation ensured that new priests “were not shy and enclosing themselves”, but rather are able to use their experiences and gifts and talents to contribute to enriching and enhancing their ecclesial community.    His orientation approach was now used by US bishops to generate guidelines and conduct pastoral planning.     While accepting that Australia is not identical to the United States, Fr Okure said there are many lessons to learn from the US about welcoming international priests.....(more)    Photo: Okure Fr Aniedi Okure The Catholic Leader photo 20190706
Break open the word’ on Plenary Council, bishops urged
Extract from Concerned Catholics, Canberra Goulburn, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue blog,  6 August 2019    
The credibility and success of the most important event in the Australian Catholic Church in many decades, the 2020 Plenary Council, depends on an open and frank airing of the grave issues crippling the Church.           The chairman of Concerned Catholics, Emeritus Professor John Warhurst, said the lack of debate about and exposure of the submissions to the Plenary was unfortunate given the profound questions facing the Church, the steady decline in church attendances and continuing reports of clerical crimes around the world.      He said that while it was welcome that a comprehensive report on all the voices of the participants in last year’s plenary “listening and dialogue” process was released on July 28, it was vital for the transparency and credibility of the Plenary that all submissions were put up on Plenary website.     “An open and transparent airing of what people are seeking would be appropriate in the wake of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the compelling road map for reform recommended by the Commission,” Professor Warhurst said.     “The Church through its bishops needs to lay bare what its people are saying they want and hope for their Church so we can have a vigorous and informed debate.     “The Catholic National Centre for Pastoral Research has produced it final report on the submissions, including details of the number of submissions by country of birth, gender, age of individual submitters and the totals from each diocese. Canberra -Goulburn archdiocese, for instance, produced a total of 360 submissions, 269 of those from individuals and 91 from groups.              “This report, while welcome, should only be the beginning, and should be accompanied by the public release of all submissions, except where privacy has been requested. There were 17,457 submissions involving more than 222,000 participants. These numbers alone should prompt the church leadership to ensure there is a process of open and transparent revelation of all the issues.....(more)
Pope Francis writes new letter encouraging priests during the fallout caused by the abuse crisis
Extract from Gerard O’Connell, America - The Jesuit Review, 4 August 2019
Pope Francis has written a letter to the more than 400,000 Catholic priests worldwide encouraging them during the tribulations from the sexual abuse crisis. The letter is meant to give priests, many of whom feel disheartened because of the horrendous crimes of abuse committed by a small percentage of their fellow priests, hope in these times of tribulation when they are so often blamed or treated with suspicion, distrust, contempt or ridicule.           The letter comes as a surprise. Last year, on Aug. 20, in the wake of the Pennsylvania grand jury report and the former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick scandal, on the eve of his visit to Ireland, he wrote “A Letter to the People of God” in which he condemned outrightly the sexual and other abuses of minors by clergy as well as the failure of church leadership to take action and called for an effort by the entire church to deal with it. This year, he speaks directly to all priests because he is well aware and deeply concerned that in many countries, including the United States, Australia, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Germany and Chile, the morale of priests has suffered greatly because of the abuse scandal....(more)

Helen O’Brien
Friday 2 August 2019
Our onetime Bookkeeper and sister of Ivanhoe-Cluster Priest (1999-2000) Fr. John Rogan, died peacefully at BlueCross last Wednesday. Helen generously assisted as a volunteer in the Parish Office from 1999 - 2017 sharing her bookkeeping skills during the period of the three Ivanhoe Parishes moving to a Cluster and finally a single Parish. Helen’s funeral will be celebrated at Mother of God Church on Tuesday - Rosary at 10.30am and Funeral Mass at 11.00am. Our sympathy to Helen's family and friends.  May she rest in God’s Peace.
Church goes digital with Social Justice Statement
“Making it Real: Genuine human encounter in our digital world” is the theme for the 2019-2020 Social Justice Statement, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge has announced.
Extract from CathNews, The eRecord, 2 August 2019
The Statement – written for Social Justice Sunday on Septembr 29 – will affirm the positive possibilities for encounter and solidarity offered by new digital media, while warning of those elements of our digital world that may be harmful.        Archbishop Coleridge said the Statement would consider the great changes of modern communications technology and its effects on human beings.         “Technology has revolutionised the way we communicate, work and learn, do business and socialise,” Archbishop Coleridge said in a letter posted on the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council website.           “Here in Australia for us as Church, there are so many new opportunities to share the Good News of Christ, to bring communities together and to reach out to people in need.”          For all these advances, however, Archbishop Coleridge noted that there are some serious challenges faced when dealing with modern communications technology....(more)
Key Plenary Council topics emerge from final report of the Listening and Dialogue phase
Extract from Mark Bowling, The Catholic Leader, Brisbane,  2 August, 2019    
Celibacy for priests, the role of women, and the inclusion of divorced and remarried Catholics were among “strongly discussed” topics contained in the Plenary Council 2020’s latest report.
The final report of the council’s Listening and Dialogue phase captures the voice of more than 222,000 Australians and provides insights into 17,457 group submissions.         Plenary council president Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe said the 314-page document was the result of the listening process that had produced “an extraordinary treasure of ideas and proposals which represents the heartfelt response of many people”.         “The great challenge ahead of us now is to ‘catch’ the voice of the Holy Spirit within the passionate, hopeful but sometimes contradictory voices of God’s people.”         Among the wide-ranging list of submissions were those calling for ways to improve the sacraments to increase Church attendance and “allow the fullness of a Catholic life to flourish”, and addressing the clerical child sex abuse scandal.            The structure of Church life “drew a great deal of attention” around leadership and governance, the need for greater listening between leadership and the laity, and the need to “modernise Church teachings to bring them in line with Australian society in the 21st century”.          Brisbane leads Plenary submissions           Brisbane archdiocese produced the highest number of individual submissions (1890), and about 44 per cent of individual submissions (5663) were received from those aged more than 50.            Many respondents discussed the need for greater outreach and evangelisation, particularly to young people.        Identified as “critical” was a significant desire for the Church to humble itself in the light of the sexual abuse crisis, and for more to be done to offer healing and restoration to those affected....(more).   Photo: Catholic Leader, Brisbane listening discernment session Cathedral Precinct.

Folau's cousin exits job over Catholicism comments
Extract from CathNews, Sydney Morning Herald, 2 August 2019
Israel Folau’s cousin, Josiah, has been let go from his casual teaching job at a Catholic school in Sydney’s southwest after he described the Church as “the synagogue of Satan”.     Mr Folau worked as a tutor and boarding house supervisor at St Gregory’s College at Campbelltown. He was also an alumnus of the school, who finished eighth in the state in religious studies in the 2016 Higher School Certificate.          A staff member confirmed the decision on Thursday. The school’s decision came after the Herald revealed on July 20 Josiah’s involvement in the 30-member Jesus Christ Church founded by his uncle, Israel Folau’s father, Pastor Eni, in Kenthurst.       The church preaches that any Christian who is not “born again” will go to hell.     Josiah Folau also wrote to a parent who attended one of the church’s services that “any devout Catholic person is not a saved Christian whatsoever”.     “Look at Catholic doctrine, almost 100 per cent of it is false and is filled with lies,” Josiah wrote. “The blasphemous Catholic Mass is a paganistic ritual rooted in heresy, evil and devil worship.     “Roman Catholicism is masked devil worship,” he also said.        The 30-strong congregation of the Truth of Jesus Christ Church, established by Folau’s father Eni in 2013, believes the “everlasting torture and doom” of hell awaits most Christians.....(more) Photo CathNews, 7News, Josiah Folau

First audit report of Church entity against new National Standards published
Extract from  media Release Catholic Professional Standards Limited, 2 AUGUST 2019
Catholic Professional Standards Limited (CPSL) has today published its first audit report of a Church entity that is subject to the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards (NCSS).        The NCSS, based on recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and aligned with the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, provide the framework for Catholic Church entities to build child-safe cultures and to advance the safety and dignity of children across the Catholic Church in Australia.     The Presentation Sisters of Wagga Wagga (PSWW) is the first church entity to be audited under the NCSS. Comprising 38 sisters in the Wagga and Sydney region and 17 Papua New Guinean National sisters in the Aitape region, the Sisters involved in active and public ministry work with other organisations as skilled counsellors, prison chaplains, advocates, school breakfast program and support volunteers.  As the number of Sisters in active ministry has declined, the congregation has established partnerships with universities, not for profit organisations and schools to continue their mission.  PSWW no longer has governance of any ministries providing services directly to children.          CPSL has made 12 recommendations to PSWW to strengthen its safeguarding practices as a result of the audit fieldwork which was conducted in April 2019.  Recommendations are classified according to priority and urgency for remediation – there are no priority one (critical/urgent) recommendations arising from the audit of PSWW.        Mediainal compliance assessment (completed at the end of June 2019) concluded that PSWW had fully implemented or was well progressed in the implementation of 61 (98%) of 62 indicators relevant to their ministries and operations.          “The PSWW leadership team has been open, transparent and fully engaged throughout this audit,” said CPSL CEO, Sheree Limbrick....(more).
Diaspora and the globalization of the Catholic Church
Massimo Faggioli explains how an essay by Karl Rahner some 65 years ago predicted the state of today's Church and offers a path forward
Limited extract from Massimo Faggioli, subscription Journal La Croix International, 30 July 20-19
The number of Catholics continues to drop in Germany. More than 216,000 of them decided to "leave the Church" last year alone by ceasing to pay the government-mandated church tax.       This is just the latest example of what has become a slow, but steady pattern of defections from the Catholic Church in the Western world. Baptized members already began leaving in the first half of the twentieth century, but they have done so in even greater numbers over the past 60 years.           This does not mean Christianity is disappearing. But, almost everywhere, it shows that the Church is losing its tight control over the faith....(source)
Boys school to go co-ed to help Presentation students
Extract from CathNews, Herald Sun,  1 August 2019
Melbourne Catholic boys school Christian Brothers College St Kilda will become coeducational, throwing a lifeline to Presentation College Windsor students reeling from the announcement their school will close at the end of 2020. Edmund Rice Education Australia confirmed the school will go co-ed for at least two years.       “CBC is privileged to be able to immediately offer girls in senior years a pathway to complete their VCE and VCAL studies after the closure of their College,” a statement said.     “This means that girls currently at PCW in years 10 and 11 2019, will have the opportunity complete their secondary education in a shared venture at CBC.      “CBC St Kilda and Presentation College Windsor have enjoyed many years of strong friendship and partnership in the provision of Catholic education.”          It comes after Presentation College Windsor’s shock announcement on Monday that its doors would be closed by the end of 2020.     The schools already share VCE classes together, along with productions and dance events.      Edmund Rice Education Australia said it was committed to working in partnership with the St Kilda East Parish, to continue to provide high-quality Catholic education for boys and girls.     “Exploration of how this new and exciting partnership might unfold will begin immediately,” the statement read....(more) Photo: CBC  Principal and Students CathNews.  [Ed: None of the boys look too distressed at this news!]
Tasmania’s confession laws ‘impinge on religious freedoms’
Extract from Cathnews, 1 August 2019
Laws compelling priests in Tasmania to report child sexual abuse by breaking the seal of confession impinge on religious freedoms, says Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous. Source:     Reform to make religious ministers, plus members of the Tasmanian Parliament, mandatory reporters of child abuse or neglect became a step closer this week after passing the state’s lower house yesterday.     Lifting the seal of confession was one of more than 400 recommendations made in 2018 by the child abuse royal commission.      “Under this reform, members of religious ministry will not be able to rely on the confessional privilege to refuse to disclose information,” Attorney-General Elise Archer said.     The legislation has the backing of survivor groups, but Archbishop Porteous believes it impinges on long-held Church teachings and the freedom of religion.    “The law as currently drafted requires priests to violate the most solemn and sacred act between the penitent and God,” he said in a statement yesterday.    “With the federal Government undertaking a review into religious freedom, now is not the time to introduce additional Tasmanian legislation....(more)
Archbishop Comensoli 'did not revoke' US sister’s invitation
Extracts from CathNews, The Age, 29 July 2019
Melbourne Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli says he neither invited nor revoked any invitation to US Benedictine Sr Joan Chittister to speak at a national education conference next year.      Tensions emerged last month when it was revealed that Sr Joan – an author, feminist and advocate of Church reform – had been asked to take part in the 2020 National Catholic Education Conference in Melbourne, only to have her invitation rescinded a few weeks later.     “I am very saddened to say that while our organising committee strongly supported the inclusion of Sr Joan as a speaker at the conference, the Archbishop of Melbourne has failed to endorse her inclusion,” John Meneely, the Ballarat Catholic Education Office deputy director, wrote in a June 1 email seen by The Sunday Age. “I am presently seeking [an] explanation for his reasoning.”......The Archdiocese issued a statement on Friday night acknowledging that Archbishop Comensoli was advised in May of “a proposal for Sr Joan Chittister to speak at the National Catholic Education Commission Conference”.    “When the conference was raised with him, Archbishop Comensoli requested that more names aligned to the themes of a national Catholic education conference be considered,” the spokesman said.         “The conference is a national conference with an organising committee drawn from leaders in Catholic education that is engaged in dialogue as part of the planning with a range of stakeholders including Catholic education leaders, Church representatives and bishops....(more)

Melbourne Archbishop in censorship row involving US feminist nun
Extract from Farrah Tomazin, The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 July 2019
Catholic leader Peter Comensoli has been accused of censorship on the eve of his first anniversary as Melbourne Archbishop, after an outspoken nun was disendorsed from speaking at a conference soon after he learnt of plans to include her.       Facing a backlash from rank-and-file Catholics, the Archbishop was this week forced to explain his role in a damaging snub involving Sister Joan Chittister, a US author, feminist and advocate of church reform....(more)

FINAL REPORT for the 2020/2021 Plenary Council Phase 1: Listening & Dialogue

Sunday 28 July 2019

is available HERE

Plenary Council progress - local video
Text below from our parish and the Plenary Council website, 26 July 2019.    UPDATED 28 July 2019
At each of our Parish Masses this weekend there will be a short parish-produced video to update us on the Plenary Council 2020 process of listening and discernment and what lies ahead.   In October 2020, the Catholic Church in Australia will gather for the first Plenary Council to be held since the second Vatican Council. In 2018, the entire People of God in Australia began preparing for this historic moment by listening to God, by listening to one another’s stories of faith.        More than 222,000 people participated in listening and dialogue encounters and contributed 17,457 submissions during the first stage of preparation for the Australian Plenary Council.      The voices of the faithful help all of us to understand something of the historical experience and the current reality of the Catholic Church in Australia. This gathered data also reveals some deeper hopes and questions, and the diverse yearnings, that we are now challenged to consider together. UPDATE: the FINAL REPORT for the Plenary Council Phase 1: Listening & Dialogue is available  HERE
Unconventional Mass brings joy to a unique congregation
Extract from CathNews, SDB, The eRecord, Jamie O'Brien, 26 July 2019
Joy” was the word used by both priests and laypeople when describing a Mass held for the Archdiocese of Perth’s Personal Advocacy Service for people with intellectual disability, their volunteers and families.     The Mass was held to celebrate the service’s 30thanniversary and used an adapted liturgy that facilitated inclusion and engagement within the setting of the Mass.     Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB was the main celebrant, with Morley parish priest Fr Greg Burke OCD, Fr Vincent Glynn and Fr Nino Vinciguerra concelebrating.     “This is a wonderful initiative in the life of our Church,” Archbishop Costelloe said. “My words of thanks and congratulations to everybody who has been part of the journey of Personal Advocacy over the past 30 years and who continue to do so.     “It’s wonderful to be here and to be able to celebrate this Mass for the whole community, the parish community on this special anniversary: the 30th anniversary of the Personal Advocacy Service, a wonderful organisation in our Catholic Church, here in Perth and in WA.”         According to Fr Burke, the purpose of the adapted liturgy, with its interactive nature, is to make the Mass more accessible to people with intellectual disabilities by using gestures and movements to interpret the readings, psalms and Gospel for those who process language a bit differently to others.      “We use a focus object or a picture in our parish Special Religious Education Development groups to evoke stories and feelings of life experiences: it engages with them far more meaningfully rather than just speaking – hence the unconventional nature of the Mass, but one that is designed to communicate the message of the Gospel in a far more effective manner,” Fr Burke said....(more)   Photo: The eRecord, Jamie O'Brien
Church leader calls for amnesty for detainees
Extract from CathNews, Eternity News,  26 July 2019
Darwin Diocese has made a bold call for an amnesty for the roughly 800 detainees on Nauru and Manus Island in a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and all federal parliamentarians.        “As regards the detainees still on Nauru and Manus Island, why not consider the feasibility of a carefully planned, once and for all amnesty, with cross-party support, for as many of them as possible?” writes Fr Malcolm Fyfe MSC, Vicar General of Darwin Diocese, in the 200-plus letters posted to electoral offices last Friday.       Fr Fyfe wrote the letters to mark the sixth anniversary of the “Stop the Boats” campaign, when then-prime minister Kevin Rudd vowed that no person seeking asylum by boat would ever be resettled in Australia.        He wrote that Australia’s offshore processing regime – designed to deter boat arrivals – is “immoral in the most basic of ways: an evil act is engaged in for the purpose of achieving some good outcome”.       “How far can one go inflicting suffering on one group of people to prevent unrelated others from acting in a certain way?” Fr Fyfe said.       “Why stop at indefinite detention, which is already just a slightly civilised form of torture? Indeed, in my opinion, it has similarities with the use of ‘human shields’ in warfare.”        In his strongly worded letter, Fr Fyfe criticises government ministers for having “blatantly repudiated and debunked the raft of concerns raised by United Nations personnel, the Human Rights Commission, Church leaders, medical and legal experts, children’s welfare organisations and other highly principled members of the public. Our elected leaders simply take cover behind a Jericho Wall of total secrecy regarding Operation Sovereign Borders, the treatment of persons intercepted at sea and those in immigration detention centres generally.”       “Earlier legislation should not be so set in concrete as to justify a stubbornly maintained policy of keeping hundreds of fellow human beings locked away in our Offshore Detention Centres, with scant hope of reprieve in sight.”      Parramatta Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv. also called on the government and political leaders to find a humane solution to the plight of the remaining detainees on Nauru and Manus Island....(more)
US Catholics speak out against death penalty reinstatement
Extract from CathNews, National Catholic Reporter, 26 July 2019
The United States Justice Department announcement that it is reinstating the federal death penalty for the first time in 16 years was unwelcome news for Catholic leaders who have advocated against capital punishment.           “The United States’ death penalty system is tragically flawed. Resuming federal executions – especially by an administration that identifies itself as ‘pro-life’ – is wrongheaded and unconscionable,” said Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, executive director of Catholic Mobilising Network, a group that champions restorative justice and an end to the death penalty.     The execution of five inmates on federal death row will take place from December to January next year.          Attorney General William Barr said in a statement yesterday: “The Justice Department upholds the rule of law – and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”    The last federal execution was in 2003.     In 2014, President Barack Obama directed the Bureau of Prisons to conduct a review of federal capital punishment cases and issues surrounding the use of lethal injection drugs. According to the July 25 announcement, that review is complete and the executions can proceed.      There are 62 inmates – 61 men and one woman – on federal death row, according to the Death Penalty Information Centre.    Most of the federal death-row prisoners are at the US Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.    They include Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Charleston, South Carolina, church shooter Dylann Roof....(more)
Lay leadership in the Church: Ozanam Conversation
Extract from Sue-Anne Hess, Melbourne Catholic, ACBC, 25 July 2019
The annual St Vincent De Paul Ozanam Conversation was held last night, welcoming guest speakers Francis Sullivan, former CEO of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council and coordinator of the Catholic Church response to the Royal Commission, and Geraldine Doogue (OA), best known for her extensive journalism and broadcasting career.       With a packed-out event of over 300 attendees, both Francis and Geraldine were invited to share their thoughts around ‘Standing Up: Reclaiming lay leadership in the Catholic sector’. In a conversation that was both challenging and hopeful, Geraldine and Francis spoke about the critical need for authenticity and courage within the lay community. In the face of current struggles and crises, attendees were encouraged to consider some potentially confronting questions of greater purpose, motivation and faith within the wider Church.        In reflecting on his own experiences, Francis reminded listeners that Catholics today cannot shrink away from the Church’s trials, nor can they defer decision-making and responsibility to the institutional Church. Rather, we have the opportunity to embrace the current challenges and to own our inaction of the past. He asked ‘What is it about our culture that we keep on outsourcing our responsibility to grow and to be adult in our faith?’       Similarly, Geraldine invited listeners to ask themselves, ‘Where do I see myself in the spectrum of God’s creation?’ She went on to speak of values such as honor, humility, kindness and generosity. Are we willing, she asks, to find these qualities in unexpected places?       While both speakers shared openly about critique and conflict, the evening was refreshingly optimistic. Many topics were touched upon (such as imbalances of power, the role of women in the church, and the increasing need for relevance), yet there was no hint of blame. Rather, there was a sense of openness to new conversations, and new ways of articulating....(more).   Photo: Sullivan and Doogue Ozanam Melb Catholic 25 July 2019
Defend inclusiveness at Catholic Plenary Council
Extract from John Warhurst, Eureka street,  24 July 2019
Everyone interested in the Australian Catholic Church's Plenary Council 2020 (PC), the first session of which is scheduled for next October in Adelaide, should now take a serious interest in Ignatian discernment. That follows the announcement that the promised Working Groups have been renamed Discernment and Writing Groups. This is more than a mere rebranding exercise but a clear and deliberate indication that prayer and discernment are 'key for the groups, and for the whole process'.          St Peter's Cathedral in North Adelaide. Questioning Catholics should embrace this development, but resist any aspect of the new process which tends to dilute or exclude their voices. As explained by PC Facilitation Team leader, Lana Turvey-Collins, in the latest issue of Plenary Post, discernment in the spirit of Pope Francis in relation to the Plenary Council was a focus of the recent Bishops Retreat led by Jesuit Br Ian Cribb SJ.             Discernment has a general meaning associated with the ability to exercise judgement with skill and wisdom in complex circumstances. It is often used in religious circles, together with consultation, to enable prayerful reflection and discussion in a spirit of collegiality to produce the best outcome.           Spiritual discernment involves calling on the Holy Spirit to give directions on the will of God. It is a gift from God and more than a skill. It asks the Plenary Council question: 'What is God asking of us? In the words of Pope Francis it transcends but does not exclude 'existential, psychological, sociological or moral insights drawn from the human sciences'. The approach includes elements of good process and skill, which can be gained by experience and/or taught through training.     This PC Discernment period follows a Listening period, which generated about 17,500 submissions drawn from more than 220,000 participants from across the Australian church. These submissions led to the choice by the leadership of the six themes on which the Discernment and Writing Groups are to be based. Applications for volunteer chairs and members of these groups have just closed. The chairs of these groups will receive an intensive induction in discernment before taking up these demanding roles.               It is an unwelcome surprise that the submissions themselves will not be made public despite an expectation that they would be. In this electronic age that should have been possible, unless otherwise requested by participants, as is the case with equivalent government consultations....(more)  Photo: Eureka Street,  Moisseyev via Getty
Priest, professor Fr Shane Mackinlay named Bishop of Sandhurst
Extract from ACBC Media Blog, 23 July 2019
Pope Francis has this evening appointed Fr Shane Mackinlay, currently Master of Catholic Theological College Melbourne and a parish priest in Ballarat, the next Bishop of Sandhurst.       Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge recalls teaching Fr Mackinlay and said the qualities he observed then have developed in the years since.“Bishop-elect Mackinlay combines high intelligence with good strategic ability, deep faith with a capacity to engage the culture,” Archbishop Coleridge said.      All of this will make him a fine Bishop of Sandhurst and a real gain for the Bishops Conference at this important and complex time. I congratulate Fr Shane and look forward to working closely with him in the years ahead.”       Fr Mackinlay was born in Melbourne in 1965, his family moving to Ballarat 10 years later. He attended St Francis Xavier Primary School and St Patrick’s College, where he was dux.       In addition to his study for the priesthood at Corpus Christi College and at Catholic Theological College, he completed a physics degree at Monash University. He was ordained a priest of Ballarat Diocese in 1991 and, after parish ministry, undertook graduate studies in philosophy, completing a master’s and doctorate at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium.      Fr Mackinlay taught philosophy at the Australian Catholic University campus in Ballarat before moving to Catholic Theological College, where he has been Master since 2011. He has held a range of leadership and advisory roles within Ballarat Diocese.        He also served as spokesperson for the Catholic Church during the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Organisations.     Fr Mackinlay said while his role at Catholic Theological College was a demanding one and typically saw the Master relinquish parish ministry, he had been keen to continue that work alongside his teaching and administrative duties.....(More).  Photo: ACBC
I’m a Catholic woman who was allowed to preach at Mass—until it was banned
Extract from Jean Molesky-Poz, America The Jesuit Review, 22 July 2019
“Mary,” Jesus said to her. When she heard him call her name, she responded, “Rabbouni!” Teacher.
“Go to my brothers,” he said, delivering a direct commission to announce the “good news.”
“I have seen the Lord,” she told the disciples.
In our parish in Northern California, lay women began to preach the good news during the Sunday liturgy in 1996. The practice emerged from within the faith community. Several women had approached our pastor and spoke of the devastating lack of women’s spiritual wisdom and leadership in the church for 2,000 years. We asked: Couldn’t women, who feel called and are prepared, give a homily—a teaching that expands on the message of the Scripture readings and invites listeners to a change of mind and heart?           “I wondered if anyone would ever ask,” he said.            Like Mary of Magdala, women who gave homilies had experienced a deep call and felt commissioned to share the good news. We had discerned both with our spiritual directors and pastor. All of us who were lay preachers had studied theology at the university level—some had earned a masters of divinity degree. Some were or had been members of a religious order or had special knowledge of a particular pastoral issue within our parish community. We had demonstrated an expertise or experience of the lay faithful, as required by Canon Law (No. 766).               Members of the congregation told us they were eager to hear our words. One parishioner said to me: “Hearing a Catholic woman reflect on the Word during Sunday’s liturgy is a breakthrough experience for women and for men. It strengthens us as the body of Christ.” We felt that the church, local and universal, recognized in us the gifts bestowed on us by the Spirit—the fresh perspectives we contributed to the community—just as the early Christian church had recognized women’s leadership.....(more)Photo:  Bible iStock, America The Jesuit Review,  20190722

Plenary Working Groups Nominations Reminder
Friday 19 July 2019
Applications by Catholics for 'Plenary Council Discernment and Writing Groups' Chairs and Members close on Monday 22 July.     As previously advised The Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council is seeking people who are willing to be key partners and leaders in the process of discernment as the Church in Australia continues to prepare for the Plenary Council in October 2020.        The roles advertised are for Chairs and Members of groups who will each reflect on one of the National Themes of Discernment announced at and since Pentecost 2019.        Details and selection criteria available via the Parish website Plenary page HERE.

First meeting of newly elected Parish Pastoral Council
Friday 19 July 2019
A brief report on the first meeting of the newly elected Parish Pastoral Council is published on the website 'Leadership Team' page HERE (People/Leadership Team page), together with photos of newly elected members.
Cardinal hits back at Pan-Amazon Synod critics
Extract from CathNews, The Tablet, 19 July 2019
A cardinal serving in the Amazon has hit back at critics of the forthcoming Synod on the region, emphasising it will help the Church stand with exploited indigenous communities and become an effective evangelising presence.         Cardinal Pedro Barreto, a Jesuit whose archdiocese of Huncayo covers the western Amazonian region of Peru, has challenged the assumption that the territory is a “backward space”, urging “non-Amazonian societies” to learn from local cultures and their ability to protect the environment.        His intervention, contained in an article for La Civilta Cattolica magazine, comes amid intense criticism from Rome-based cardinals, Cardinal Gerhard Müller and Cardinal Raymond Burke, and traditionalist groups of the Amazon Synod’s working document, published last month.         The Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian region has been called by Pope Francis and will take place from October 6-27 in the Vatican. It is the first Church gathering of its kind to focus on the needs of a vast area covering Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela and the overseas territory French Guyana.         Synod organisers say the aim is to build a prophetic, mission-centred Church in the Amazon, deeply rooted in the indigenous communities, and ecologically sensitive. Its working document includes whether to ordain married elders as priests given the scarcity of clergy, along with liturgies that take into account local customs, and rituals.    Cardinal Barreto said the working document is an “expression of the voice of the people of God”.....(more) Photo: Amazon,
Chittister, Censorship and an Adult Church.
Extract from Patty Fawkner SGS, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue Website, 19 July 2019
It was decades ago, but I remember the day and the conversation well. It was a Monday morning and I was returning to work at a Catholic adult education organisation after a short break. I was confronted with the news that, during my absence, our newly appointed director had removed copies of Paul Collins’ book, Papal Power, from the organisation’s bookstore.        Nominally, I was the deputy director and when I asked “Why?” was told “Because it only tells one side of the story”. To which I quickly retorted, “Well, wouldn’t the adult thing be to supply other books that told a different side?”       Till then, “Towards an Adult Church” was the mantra of all that we did within that organisation. The phrase encapsulated our vision and guided both content and process of our programs. The words certainly had been the “hook” for my joining the organisation.     Fast forward 23 years and I immediately recalled this event when news broke that an invitation to Sister Joan Chittister OSB to be a keynote speaker at the 2020 National Catholic Education Conference in Melbourne had subsequently been withdrawn. ‘While there’s some contention over whether a formal invitation was made, Joan believes that she was invited and has received no reason for the snub. This is in spite of Recommendation 16.7 of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which calls for Church authorities to conduct a review of Church structures in relation to issues of transparency.      It is reminiscent of the 2018 ban imposed by the Hobart Archbishop on Father Frank Brennan SJ, precluding him from speaking at a conference on marriage equality.      It occurs to me that these three actions are anything but “adult” and, not only say something about the views some Church leaders’ hold about some Catholic religious and clergy, they say something more about their views of us, “the faithful”.      When we are denied information and when perspectives are censored, we are treated like children. Is it that we are neither intelligent enough nor mature enough to weigh different opinions and test these against our own conscience, experience and faith?      On a recent visit to Rome I was privileged to engage in an audience with Pope Francis as part of the Assembly of UISG, the international union of leaders of Catholic women’s religious congregations. “Let’s have a conversation,” the Pope said as he discarded his prepared talk.       Among other things, Pope Francis encouraged the 850 leaders not to be afraid of dialogue either within or beyond the Church. He practised what he preached. He invited spontaneous questions from the audience and no topic was deemed to be ‘out of bounds’. My heart warmed as I observed Francis listen intently and ask clarifying questions to ensure he understood the intent of the question. He responded with deep respect, openness, warmth and a refreshing blend of seriousness and humour.      Am I naïve in believing that Pope Francis would be open to dialogue with Joan Chittister?....(more)
New guidelines will inform Church’s response to abuse
Extract from Melbourne Catholic, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, 18 July 2019
The Catholic Church is developing new national policy guidelines to strengthen and standardise Church authorities’ responses to historical and contemporary concerns and allegations of abuse of children and vulnerable adults.       Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, said the development of the guidelines is a critical step forward in the Church’s ongoing response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.     ‘The bishops are following through on our commitments made last year, and having a consistent approach to the management of allegations of abuse of children and vulnerable people is central to our reforms,’ he explained.     The Implementation Advisory Group, set up in May 2018 to monitor and advise Catholic leaders on the Church’s response to the Royal Commission’s recommendations, is overseeing the development of the policy guidelines.     The guidelines will serve as a public commitment to integrity and accountability in responding to allegations of abuse. They will make clear the obligations of all Church authorities to respond with processes that are fair and effective, and which comply with all Australian laws....(more).
Missing the Catholic Bus.
Extract from Eric Hodgens, Pearls & irritations, John Menadue Blog, 18 April 2019
The Catholic Church is now in freefall. Vatican II called for adaptation to the modern world. Most of the opportunities for adaptation have been missed. How do we catch the last bus?        Since WW II the western Catholic Church has been visibly in decline. This is part of a huge cultural change which is world-wide. Christendom was the prevailing social and political structure of Europe from the 4th century to the 17th. A high point was Louis XIV, hand in hand with the French hierarchy. But at the same time the Enlightenment was raging, undermining its very core structure. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic in America a new, democratic social order was being established, based on Enlightenment principles. Democracy won the day and the Church was left a disempowered widow.        The full effect of enlightenment ideas, like power from the people and individual human rights, came to the fore in the reconstruction of Europe after the devastation of WWII. The Church still looked the same, but was no longer the political force it had been.       Vatican II was called to work out how to handle this new world order. It changed the preferred image of the Catholic Church from that of a hierarchical organization set up by God, to the People of God on a common journey. The egalitarian and interactive qualities of the new world order replaced the hierarchical and static qualities of the pre-Enlightenment order. The Church was adapting to the modern world – on paper.       Many who formerly had submitted to the old order had sniffed the breeze and abandoned the church. That flow of departures – small enough to start – was to grow into a torrent. Vatican II had alerted us to equality of membership and the need to adapt to fast social changes, but it was up to the membership to be nimble footed in adapting if it was to stem the collapse.....(more)
Catholic traditions are not all sacrosanct, says cardinal
Joao Braz de Aviz says our relationships with the Church and each other need constant re-evaluation
Limited extract from Anne-Bénédicte Hoffner, subscription journal La Croix International, 17 July 2019
"You have to look at what is fundamental and what is not. Many things of tradition, which are more of an ancient culture, are no longer useful," Brazilian Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz told Paraguayan newspaper Ultima Hora on July 14.       Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life since 2011, the cardinal was sent by Pope Francis to participate in a gathering of 90 religious congregations in Paraguay, which was celebrating the 60th anniversary of the South American country's Conference of Religions....(source).   Photo: La Croix International, Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz
Ballarat's Bishop Paul Bird meets Pope Francis
Extracts from Alex Ford, The Courier, 14 July 2019
Pope Francis expressed his "personal sadness and sorrow" for those sexually abused by priests in a rare roundtable meeting with Australian bishops last month.       The Catholic Bishop of Ballarat, Paul Bird, was at the table, and asked Pope Francis to pray for the diocese.       "He really did express a very deep sadness at any abuse of a child, and I suppose he was trying to express his compassion for those who suffered and I asked him to pray with us, basically, for those who suffered both directly and indirectly - the families or the whole community, as we're very conscious of in Ballarat," he said.           "He was very much in tune with that, I think, expressing his personal sadness and sorrow."      Bishop Bird was in the Vatican for the Ad Limina Apostolorum pilgrimage, which all bishops must regularly complete - this is the first time Australian bishops have visited since 2011.     The 38 bishops also visited several Vatican departments and dicastries, including the Council for the Protection of Minors.     "We met the Pope on the Monday morning, then later that afternoon we met that Council for the Protection of Minors, and it was there we talked about the steps that had been taken in Australia," Bishop Bird explained.    "In Victoria, for example, we had that Victorian inquiry, then there are standards set by the Victoiran government which we as a church had adopted and put into policies and procedures for that.     "And then, they were really expanded when the Royal Commission had their national inquiry.        "We've adopted those, and currently we're having an audit, that's coming up towards the final meetings in a few weeks time - we're having an audit of how that is being implemented in the diocese, both in the parishes and in the schools and social services."        He noted there would likely be an Australian contribution to the Council's major project promoting "best practice" in protecting children.     "I think the Australian experience will be helpful for that - they will draw on that, and the idea is that if you can share good examples, so people around the world, as in every field, can help everybody and they don't have to reinvent the wheel," he said....(more) Photo: Ballarat Courier ACBC  
Brisbane archdiocese preparing to host massive discernment event for Plenary Council 2020
Brisbane Assembly, an archdiocesan Plenary Council 2020 event, is expected to unite more than 600 Catholics across two days of communal discernment on October 4 and 5
Extract from Joe Higgins, The Catholic Leader, July 12, 2019
Brisbane archdiocesan Plenary Council co-ordinator Eric Robinson said the Brisbane Assembly would be a great chance for people to hear directly from the national facilitation team – “where we’ve come from, where we’re at and where we’re heading”.      “It will be a really high-quality experience of listening and discernment from these spiritual conversations,” he said.       This experience of communal discernment was a great tool in itself, Mr Robinson said.      He said it was a tool that event participants could take back to their own parishes and communities.     He also said Brisbane Assembly would be a chance for the diverse parishes of Brisbane archdiocese to discern together and leave ready to implement local action in their communities.    “My hope is that people walk away from the assembly with hope and feeling empowered about this plenary journey and their role in it,” Mr Robinson said.     But it was also a great chance to network.     Mr Robinson said particularly in the informal parts of the event, like lunch or breaks, it was a great chance to meet like-minded people and discover new connections.    In an online invitation video, Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge said the location, St Laurence’s Edmund Rice Performing Arts Centre, was a magnificent facility used for events like the Proclaim conference.     “We’ll be back there and we will be entering into an experience of communal discernment, trying to discern what the (Holy) Spirit is saying,” Archbishop Coleridge said.      “We will have excellent facilitators, top-class presenters, and even if you can’t be there, Shalom TV will in fact be live-streaming many of the sessions.”      Mr Robinson said people should register for Brisbane Assembly as soon as possible because there were limited tickets.     He also had some advice in the lead-up to Brisbane Assembly.....(More)Photo: The Catholic Leader, Mark Bowling
Parish Renewal expert addresses youth and leadership in Perth
The role of young people and their place in the development of the future Catholic Church was the focus of a talk last week by Daniel Ang, the Director of Parish 2020, a process of parish renewal and revitalisation in the Archdiocese of Sydney.
Extract from Eric Martin,The Record, Archdiocese of Perth, 12 Jul 2019
Mr Ang addressed a Perth audience at Newman Siena Centre on 4 July, in a speaker event organised by the Centre for Faith Enrichment.      “Our culture is changing, our Church is changing and the role of young people in our Church is perhaps a prophetic sign of how we can live the mission of Jesus in possibly new ways that have not been imagined before,” Mr Ang said.     “I think that often parishes especially want young people for their life and their vitality and the hope that young people bring to our parish communities.    “And yet, there’s a drop off in Years 11 and 12 in high school, a disinterest from Year 10 onwards – we sense also that we’re losing a lot of people after school during university and when other things come into play.     “We lose a lot of people between 25 and 35, so we don’t see many people in their late 20s and early 30s – they quietly leave and we don’t see them again.”      Previously serving as Director of the Office for Evangelisation in the Diocese of Broken Bay, encompassing the youth ministry, adult education, CCD, and life, marriage and family apostolates of the Diocese – Mr Ang also holds a Bachelor of Arts & Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Sydney, and a Master of Divinity from the Sydney College of Divinity, undertaken at the Catholic Institute of Sydney.       As such, he is an acknowledged expert in the area of Youth Ministry, which served as an important source of information and encouragement to Perth’s parish youth leaders.        “If youth ministry is there to prepare young people for adult discipleship, how well are we preparing young people for that broader life?” Mr Ang asked the Perth audience.     “Youth ministry is not simply to hold people in the Church when they’re young but it’s there to actually animate and inspire and equip young people to leave youth ministry and become adult disciples.      Mr Ang explained that his research shows that young people aren’t necessarily attracted to parishes and communities that don’t show any life in themselves: making youth ministry not just for young people, but one that actually engages the whole Church and asks bigger questions around “what kind of Catholic culture do we foster to enable young people to be missionaries?”.....(More).
Church welcomes push towards Indigenous recognition
Extract from CathNews, ACBC Media Blog, 12 July 2019
A Morrison Government proposal to recognise Australia’s First Peoples in the Constitution has been broadly welcomed by key Church organisations.         In a National Press Club address on Wednesday, Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt pledged to “bring forward a consensus option” during the current term of Parliament.       Mr Wyatt said the government was committed to Indigenous constitutional change and would design the model with First Australians, having allocated $7 million towards the process.       John Lochowiak, chair of the peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander body in the Catholic Church, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC), said: “It is heartening to see a bipartisan approach to discussion on this issue. We, as Australians, need to work together on this. It is the only way forward.       “Whatever the outcome that is decided, the result has to be meaningful change in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”          Craig Arthur, national administrator for NATSICC, said the Council supported any initiative to strengthen the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.       “NATSICC believes it is important that a strong focus is placed on emp[owering all people within all communities," he said. However, representatives would like to see more details on what is proposed.....(more)  Photo: Cathnews, Bigstock.
Natural and Unnatural
Extract from J.A. Dick, Another Voice, Reflections about Contemporary Christian Belief and Practice, 12 July 2019
On Monday, July 8, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the creation of an advisory commission: the “Commission on Unalienable Rights.” He hopes it “will provide the intellectual grist of what I hope will be one of the most profound re-examinations of inalienable rights in the world since the 1948 Universal Declaration.”      The Commission on Unalienable Rights will be headed by Mary Ann Glendon, the Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and a former United States Ambassador to the Holy See. When he was a law student at Harvard, Pompeo was Glendon’s research assistant. Glendon, when thanking Pompeo for the appointment, stressed that this is a time when “basic human rights are being misunderstood by many, manipulated by many and ignored by the world’s worst human rights violators.” One can agree with her, perhaps, but then one needs to make some important distinctions.      Mary Ann Glendon’s statement, underlines my current concerns about the basis for human rights today and what has been called the “natural law.” Indeed, when setting up the commission at the State Department, the Secretary of State said its purpose would be to redefine human rights based on “natural law and natural rights.”             What is natural is a perennial question. Viewed over several centuries, “natural law” has often had a wax nose, which has bern twisted to accommodate the morality of those in power, in church and state.      Arguments based on natural law have been used to justify slavery, condone torture, denigrate women, condemn gays, and of course (in the Catholic Church) to condemn contraception.     Nevertheless, my observations today are not about politics, Pompeo, or Glendon. The more important issue is clarifying, first of all, what we mean by “natural law” and, secondly, how one can promote an international ethic, still struggling to be born under the rubric of human rights.....(more). Photo: Another Voice
Judge questions church priorities after it moved guilty priest around
Extract from Amber Wilson, The Age, 12 July 2019
A judge who will soon sentence a repeat offender paedophile priest has condemned the Catholic Church for prioritising "the sinner" over his young victims.   Robert Claffey, 76, is already serving more than a decade in prison for sexually abusing 12 children as young as five, between 1969 and 1992.     The church became aware of his behaviour in the 1980s, but moved him from "parish to parish" throughout western Victoria, at one point even installing him as a replacement for notorious paedophile Gerald Ridsdale.        In 2016, Claffey was jailed for a minimum of 13 years and four months.   But on Monday, Claffey admitted he abused another two boys in Ballarat during the 1980s, following fresh allegations.     One of the victims was aged between 12 and 15 at the time, while the other was aged six to seven.....While noting the Catholic Church was "not in the dock", Judge Higham added the church did not report Claffey to police, but simply moved him around.   "Their priority was to bring the sinner back to the church rather than protect the children," he said.    "The church did not report him to the police and he did not report himself to the police. Where is the evidence that he had this matter hanging over him ... over the decades?....(more)
General secretaries share perspectives on Church life
Extract from CathNews, ACBC Media Blog, 11 July 2019
The general secretaries of the bishops conferences of England and Wales, Germany and France have completed a three-day visit to Canberra that examined key issues facing the Church in Australia and globally.             Fr Stephen Hackett MSC, general secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, said he was “delighted” to host the “very beneficial” gathering, which moves from country to country each year.         “I find it very reassuring that every time we meet, in different ways we’re facing many of the same issues,” Fr Hackett said, while acknowledging that some of those issues have arisen at different times in the various countries.        It’s good to get the different perspectives on how we respond to the issues that concern us at this time.”       Among the key topics for discussion were the Plenary Council 2020 and the Church’s response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.      Fr Christopher Thomas, general secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said while the Church in those countries can be “a bit parochial”, learning about the various “joys and difficulties” in other contexts around the world is important.      “The Plenary Council is a bold step because it’s most definitely not a top-down approach. It’s a listening and discerning exercise which I think the Church, under the leadership of Pope Francis, is certainly being encouraged to take,” he said.            Fr Thomas said another of the fruitful discussions that took place during the meeting of general secretaries was on the royal commission and the Church’s response to the commission and its recommendations. Germany’s Fr Hans Langendorfer SJ, who has attended a number of meetings of general secretaries, said the gatherings are filled with energy and provide insights into the Church and its mission in various countries.     He said the Church in Germany had suffered a loss in credibility and in its reputation, but a process similar to the Plenary Council could help the Church there respond to those challenges. He and other Church leaders in Germany will closely watch how the council unfolds in Australia, Fr Langendorfer said......(more). Photo CathNews ACBC Media Blog    
Can laypeople lead a parish? Look to Louisville for a thriving example
Extracts from by Joseph Martos, National Catholic Reporter, 11 July 2019
....For almost 30 years, the St. William Catholic Community in Louisville, Kentucky, has had a lay parochial administrator but, even before that, all-important decisions were made by the people of the parish.        Founded in 1901 to serve Irish immigrants who worked in the nearby railroad yards, membership was down to 85 by the early 1960s as railroad workers were displaced by computers to disassemble and reassemble freight trains passing through Louisville.      The crashing together of boxcars and flatbeds can still be heard in summer when the church windows are open. We had decided sometime back not to install air conditioning in an effort to save energy and do our bit to preserve the environment.     No one knows why the parish was named St. William, or which St. William the bishop had in mind, but some point out that the bishop at the time was named William and hint at a personal motive. Around 1995, the parish adopted St. William of Donjeon as its patron, a medieval monk who objected to being chosen bishop and who was known for ministering to the poor, the sick and the imprisoned. Clearly our type of guy.    Faced with the option to close the dwindling parish in 1969, Archbishop Thomas McDonough decided to put it in the hands of a young priest named Ben O'Connor, suggesting that he try implementing the liturgical changes approved by the Second Vatican Council. Out went the Gothic altar; in came a plain wooden table. Out went the pews; in came chairs that could be rearranged as wanted. Out went Gregorian chant; in came guitar Masses.        Within a few years, St. William became one of the most popular churches in the city, drawing people from around the archdiocese and even from Indiana, across the Ohio River......Archbishop Thomas Kelly adapted to the priest shortage by appointing an active church member to be parochial administrator for the parish. With no priest in charge, community members became even more involved in sustaining the parish and creating new ministries....(more)      Photo: NCR St William Catholic Community.
Reality trumps reality TV in Br Harry's reno blitz
Edited Extract from CathNews, The Age,  11 July 2019
Meet the non-celebrity but crack team of builders, plumbers and gardeners whose renovations have given 14 disadvantaged people a place to stay.      Taking their cue from reality TV, the no-nonsense citizens of Heidelberg West, and supporters, have staged their own renovation rescue of four houses earmarked for demolition.       The ringmaster is Marist Brother Harry Prout, a community worker for 18 years who has built such goodwill that the reply to his calls for help most often was: ‘‘No worries, I’ll be there’’.      On Friday, single mother Micaela*, 24, and her daughter Harper*, 20 months, will move into a two-bedroom house, with central heating and backyard, after spending Harper’s life in a women’s refuge and then at a friend's house.     Two other houses are going to single mothers with children, and the fourth will house five asylum-seeker and homeless adults.      More than 60 volunteers worked on the houses, or donated goods.     The project started a year ago following a state government plan to demolish a housing estate of more than 80 flats to build four, 10-storey public housing blocks.        Owners of four houses adjoining the blocks who didn’t want to live near the huge development sold them to Banyule council.      The council planned to bulldoze the four and sell them to private developers.        But no one took up the construction tender on the 10-storey public housing, and some tenants of the old estate are yet to be re-housed.      Br Harry realised the latter project could take years, and he enthusiastically supported Banyule councillor Craig Langdon’s idea to postpone razing the four houses, to turn them into temporary accommodation.     He said the houses might be available for only a few years, but would be a boon to people in urgent need.      Fourteen people ‘‘now have a secure and safe place to be, and just seeing the joy and relief on their faces, is great’’, he said.....(more)    Photo: CathNews, 
Service expands to meet 'unprecedented growth'
Extract from CathNews, 11 July 2019
More vulnerable West Australians will receive low cost or free mental health treatment with St John of God Social Outreach’s community mental health service expanding its services in the state’s south metropolitan and regional areas.     Over the past year Social Outreach has opened two new locations in Cockburn and Pinjarra in addition to existing community mental health services in Fremantle and Mandurah.     The service provides individually tailored counselling and group therapy for people experiencing mental health issues. The diverse therapy options are provided by a team of experienced psychologists, mental health social workers and mental health occupational therapists.     Director of St John of God Social Outreach’s community mental health services, Anna-Marie Thompson, said the expansion is needed given the unprecedented growth and need in the Peel region for mental health services.    “Over the past two years we’ve helped more than 1,600 people and by taking our services into Pinjarra and Cockburn we’ll be able to support more families and communities in need closer to home,” she said.    “We are also looking to broaden our footprint in WA’s South by opening a service in Waroona later this year.”....(more)
Vatican hailed for lifting apostolic nuncio's immunity
Victims applaud the Vatican for its 'historic decision' to allow the pope's representative in France to be tried for alleged abuse
Linited extract from Nicolas Senèze, Rome, subscription joural La Croix International, 10 July 2019
The Vatican has officially waived the diplomatic immunity of the Apostolic Nuncio in France, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, allowing him to appear before a civil court where six complainants have accused him of sexual assault.       This decision, unprecedented in the history of modern Vatican diplomacy, was communicated last week to the French authorities by the Secretariat of State of the Vatican.      Even before that, according to our information, two victims met a key figure in Rome: Father Hans Zollner, President of the Centre for the Protection of Minors of the Pontifical Gregorian University, a specialist in cases of sexual abuse in the Church....(source)
The radical theological vision of Pope Francis
In an overlooked address the Jesuit pope offers a renewed theology for our turbulent times
Limited extract from Robert Mickens, Rome, subscription journal La Croix International, 5 July 2019
Since the early days of his pontificate Francis has shown himself to be non-ideological and surprisingly non-partisan. Despite the ranting of some of his detractors, even within the most intransigent sectors of the Church's hierarchy, this pope is very definitely Catholic. But even more than that he is a Christian.         Similar to his papal namesake, Francis of Assisi, the pope's faith and leadership are profoundly grounded in a radical reading of and adherence to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.....(source)
Putin keeps Francis waiting – again
Extract from CathNews, CNA,  5 July 2019
Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Pope Francis at the Vatican yesterday for a 55-minute private discussion.       “Thank you for the time you have devoted to me,” Mr Putin said after his audience with the Pope in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.      It was Mr Putin’s third meeting with Pope Francis and fifth visit to the Vatican. The Russian leader arrived nearly an hour late for the meeting, as he did for both of his prior meetings with Francis.     The day before Mr Putin’s visit Pope Francis expressed his condolences and closeness to the families of the 14 Russian sailors who died when a deep-sea submarine caught fire in an Arctic port on Tuesday. Russian officials confirmed that the top-secret submarine was nuclear-powered less than one hour before the papal audience was scheduled.     “The Holy Father was informed of the Russian submarine tragedy. He expresses its condolences and its closeness to the victims' families and those affected by this disaster,” Holy See press office interim director Alessandro Gisotti said on Wednesday.    The Russian ambassador to the Holy See, Aleksandr Avdeev, said ahead of the meeting that he expected Mr Putin and the Pope to discuss “the instability of international relations, the crisis in the Middle East, the fate of Syria, the problem of nuclear disarmament, the situation in Iran.”     “The time has come when Catholics can no longer solve many problems and open challenges, without taking into account the political logic of Russia and the experience of our Orthodoxy,” Mr Avdeev said in an interview with Ogonek, a Russian magazine....(more).  Photo: Pope Francis Putin CNS Paul Haring 2019
VincentCare spends $47m on house for the homeless
Edited extract from CathNews, Pro Bono, 2 July 2019
VincentCare’s revamped Ozanam House will transform the response to homelessness in Australia, says chief executive Quinn Pawson. “This new approach will allow us to assist more people than ever before,” Mr Pawson said of the opening of a 10-storey, $47m accommodation centre in North Melbourne last Friday.  VincentCare is the leading provider of support services in Victoria for people experiencing homelessness, family violence, alcohol and drug issues.        “We will support people to make lasting and sustainable changes to their lives, whether that be accessing training and education, reconnecting with family and community, improving their health or finding secure housing.”         VincentCare’s revamped Ozanam House is Australia’s largest accommodation centre for rough sleepers, offering 134 rooms and apartments specially designed to support people’s recovery from homelessness.        The North Melbourne facility will cater for up to 250 people a day, offering health services – including Victoria’s only homelessness-specific dentist – a tech hub with free Wi-Fi and computers, a gym, café, library and amenities such as showers and a laundry.         Case management support and personal and financial counselling will also be provided.     Mr Pawson said VincentCare had spent three years consulting with experts and examining other major homelessness centres around the world before developing its homelessness recovery model and updating its North Melbourne site.    He said an understanding of trauma as both a cause and effect of homelessness underpinned everything VincentCare did....(more).  Photo: VincentCare
Australia’s bishops are presently visiting the Pope.  What are they telling him and will
Australia’s ordinary Catholics ever find out?   
Extracted from Daviid Timbs,  Pearls and Irritations, John Menadue blog, 1 July 2019
Australia’s bishops are currently in Rome for their regular ‘ad limina’ visit to the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul .      Their last visit was in 2011. While there they will meet Pope Francis, have meetings with many of the Vatican dicasteries (government departments), be briefed on Vatican policy, and in turn will background the Vatican bureaucrats on how they see the state of the Church in Australia. But what will they be telling the Pope and the bureaucrats? Will it accord with what Australia’s lay Catholics have been saying and thinking?....(HERE)
News January 2019 - June 2019 HERE