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News 2020

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.
** See important  Parish Letter  from Fr Bill on the HOME page  concerning COVID-19 **

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Friday 25 September 2020


Last Thursday Bernie and Elaine Jowett celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. Married on grand final day at St. Anthony’s Alphington. As a Parish Family we rejoice with them and give thanks for the gift of the vocation of marriage.


May their witness to the gift of married love inspire all whose lives they touch.


May the God of love bless you both.


Putting lower value on older lives  unethical
Extract from CathNews, 25 September 2020
Commentary on the pandemic that suggests some lives are worth more than others is troubling, write St Vincent’s Health Australia’s Toby Hall and Dr Daniel Fleming. Source: Sydney Morning Herald.              At the weekend The Age published an article by the University of Melbourne’s vice-chancellor, Professor Duncan Maskell, asking Victorians to wrestle with uncomfortable questions about our future. He called on us to be ready to make tough calls, and to accept the unavoidable reality of mortality.        No problems there. Any community with a grain of wisdom goes through that process. But at the centre of his approach, Maskell suggests a way of thinking that we should all find troubling.       He asks: “What is the value of a 90-year-old’s life versus the value of the continuing livelihood and happiness of a 25-year-old?”       His view appears to be that in a future pandemic, authorities should apply a “quality-adjusted life year” model to help them chart a way forward.       This approach would say the 25-year-old's life is of much higher value than that of the 90-year-old. This is because a life nearer its end is allocated less QALYs than a healthy life closer to its beginning.       Such a model would provide a justification for accepting risk – even mortality – for the 90-year-old and prioritising the 25-year-old because the latter's life is valued more...(more) Photo: COVID different value in different people CNS Benoit Tessier Reuters CathNews 20200925
The first virtual Nuns on the Bus tour begins, highlighting voting rights, poverty and pro-life policies
Extract from Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter Project, 24 September 2020
Saying they could not stay silent, the Nuns on the Bus began their virtual tour of the country Sept. 23 with a range of speakers talking about the need for a government that serves everyone.            The online event by Catholic social justice lobby Network featured House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Cory Booker as well as several activists and clergy from various religious denominations.           Social Service Sr. Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, began the event by noting it was being held in the shadow of more than 200,000 deaths caused by COVID-19 and the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.            She added that the kickoff also began as President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr were honored at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast.         "Our politicians are once again attempting to wrangle Catholics with the all-too-flawed, narrow and politically opportunistic view of our faith," Campbell said. "We need to be multi-issue voters in our complex reality."....(more) Photo: Nancy Pelosi virtual 2020 Nuns on Bus kickoff Netwok Screenshot Globa Sisters Report 20200923
People leaving Church in 'droves' warns McAleese
by Ruth Gledhill , Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet, 24 September 2020
Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland, has warned that people are leaving the Catholic Church “in droves”, tired of “little old men” who continue to “beat the drum of obedience”.        Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour today, former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, whose book Here's the Story: A Memoir is published today, said: “I am a person of faith but I am also a person with a thinking brain.”         Describing the hierarchy of the Church as a small, self-serving hermetically-sealed group of men, she reminded listeners that she was actually banned from speaking at a conference on women at the Vatican, an exclusion that occurred during the papacy of Pope Francis. Both his predecessors had welcomed her to the Vatican.        McAleese, a licensed canon lawyer as well as a civil lawyer, who has spoken out frequently against misogyny in the Church, admitted that nothing she had ever said had changed anything.       “I am ignored completely by the Church's hierarchy. Utterly, absolutely ignored. But that's ok because they're only a tiny proportion of the Church. They're desperately powerful, yes, and they make the rules, yes, but the Church is 1.2 billion people which is why I stay.”       She said the Church is the biggest NGO in the world, hugely influential and a permanent representative at the UN. “No other faith system has that power and influence in the world.”       She said she remained in the Church in the hope that one day, her “tiny little voice” will permeate upwards, along with that of many others who are speaking out.....(more).  Photo:Mary McAleese, Ruth GledhillThe Tablet 20200924
There will be no return to a pre-COVID world; it has changed forever
Extract from Peter Comensoli, Opinion Piece, The Age, 23 September 2020
Victorians have been in exile from the homeland of our humanity for six months now. Throughout this exile, hope has been hard to come by as fear, fatigue and frustration have taken hold. Now, a way out of captivity has been set before us.          Every Victorian has an interest in the government’s road map towards a "COVID-normal" destination. But what do we actually want that destination to look like, and how might it shape the road ahead?       People of faith have deep resources to share here. While the voice of religious communities has gone largely unheeded in recent years, at this time of great fear it turns out religious people are motivated by something positive and inspirational. In the middle of lockdown, and cut off from all kinds of human sources of inspiration, people of faith draw on something that does not depend entirely on other people.     It might be unfashionable to say, but God has been helpful to lots of Victorians in 2020.       All God’s people – whether believers or not – are my friends and fellow pilgrims on the journey ahead. From my Christian faith, this is a road that offers a horizon of hope and wellness. Some friends on this road have been lonely and isolated this year.         Some of them have had a hard time stuck in high-rise public housing. Some have faced death and sickness apart from loved ones, and cried at a funeral without the tender presence of their nearest and dearest. Talking with our friends on the phone and via Zoom has been helpful. But all of them tell me that it’s God who has made all the difference.....(more).  Photo: COVID Keep Calm Mask The Age 20200923 Getty
Suspended Irish priest Tony Flannery calls Vatican inquiry ‘unjust’
Extract from Gerard O’Connell. America The Jesuit Review, 22 September 2020
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has formally requested that the Rev. Tony Flannery, a well-known Irish Redemptorist suspended in May 2012, sign a statement affirming his acceptance of church teaching, as formulated by the C.D.F., on homosexuality, civil unions between persons of the same sex, the admission of women to the priesthood and “gender theory.” His signature on the C.D.F. document would allow him to return to public ministry.       He declined to sign the document and made the C.D.F. letter public on Sept. 16. He described the process that brought him to this point as “unjust,” saying he had “no chance to defend myself, no appeal system, no direct communication, judgment passed and sentence decided before I even knew what was happening.”        “Maybe I am deceiving myself,” he said to America by email, “but I believe I can do more for the church by exposing in every way I can the unjust process, rather than trying to get Francis to wave a wand and return me to the ministry.”.....(more).   Photo: The Jesuit Review
Iran sentenced three teenagers to have four fingers amputated
Extract from CathNews NZ Pacific, UK Dailt Mail, Monday, September 21st, 2020
Iran has sentenced three teenagers to have four fingers amputated each as a punishment for stealing.       Hadi Rostami, Mehdi Sharafian and Mehdi Shahivand, whose exact ages are not known, were handed the punishment on Thursday after a failed attempt to appeal.        They were originally tried on November 2 last year on four counts of robbery at a court in the city of Urmia, in northern Iran close to the border with Turkey....(more)   Photo Iran finger amputation  Is na  dailymail uk Cathnews NZ 20200923
Gay children are 'children of God', Pope tells parents
Extract from Christopher Lamb, The Tablet, 18 September 2020
Pope Francis has told the parents of gay children that God loves them “as they are” because they are “the children of God”.      His remarks came following the Wednesday General Audience where he had a brief meeting with members of an Italian group Tenda di Gionata (Jonathan’s Tent), which supports the parents of LGBT children.       According to reports of the encounter, Francis said "God loves your children as they are." He also said: "The Pope loves your children as they are, because they are children of God."       Mara Grassi, the vice-president of the support group, relayed details of what the Pope said following the audience, and that she had presented Francis with a book Genitori Fortunati (Blessed Parents). A copy of the book will soon be available in English.       Speaking to Avvenire, the newspaper owned by the Italian Bishops’ Conference, she said: “I explained [to the Pope] that we consider ourselves lucky because we have been forced to change the way we have always looked at our children.
She added: “What we now have is a new gaze that has allowed us to see the beauty and love of God in them. We want to create a bridge with the Church... so that the Church too can change its gaze towards our children, no longer excluding them but welcoming them fully.”       Francis’ remarks are consistent with what he said in 2018 to Juan Carlos Cruz, a survivor of clerical sexual abuse and who at that time had spent several days with the Pope.      “He told me, ‘Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like this and loves you like this and I don’t care. The Pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are’,” Cruz recalled.....(more) 
Bishop condemns human rights abuses in Philippines
Extract from CathNews, Catholic Oiutlook, 18 September 2020
Parramatta Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv. has expressed his solidarity with people in the Philippines in their struggle for human rights. Source: Catholic Outlook.             Bishop Long, chair of Bishops Commission for Social Justice – Mission and Service, took part in the “Church People's Prophetic Voices against State Terrorism in the Philippines” online forum on Wednesday. The forum aimed to highlight the response of Christians in the Philippines to the escalating attacks on human rights defenders and activists.          Bishop Long said he joined other Christian leaders in “condemning acts of violence and terror that have escalated in intensity and frequency”.        “These acts are even more deplorable when committed by the government institutions such as the police and the military, which are supposed to protect and defend the people.”         Bishop Long said under the Duterte Government’s war against drugs “a spate of extrajudicial killings has continued unabated, causing a reign of terror in many communities”.       “It is alarming that the poor are most vulnerable to the loss of life, as well as the destruction, violation and suppression of their rights. The government’s claim of ensuring and protecting those who have less in life appears to be merely a lip service when the state itself violates and disregards the rights of the poor. It seems like this is not so much a war against drugs but rather a war against the workers, farmers and the marginalised in society.”        Bishop Long also spoke of the ongoing persecution of people defending human rights in the Philippines, particularly noting Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, Bishop Teodoro Bacani Jr and Bishop Honesto Ongtioco who face sedition charges....(more)  Photo: Parramatta Diocese CathNews 20200918
Edmund Rice supports push for Pacific synod
Extract from CathNews, 18 September 2020
Catholic human rights organisation the Edmund Rice Centre has applauded statements made by Australia’s new Ambassador to the Vatican supporting the push for a synod for the Pacific region.       Ambassador Chiara Porro met Pope Francis last month to present her credentials as Australia’s representative to the Holy See. In an interview with Vatican TV news agency Rome Reports, Ms Porro supported the call from Catholic leaders in Oceania for a synod in the region.       “One idea that I’ve been discussing with a few people is potentially pushing for a synod on the Pacific down the track – something along those lines because of the climate change issue, the anniversary of Laudato Si’ and also the fact it is one of the frontier regions that Pope Francis is so focused on,” Ms Porro said.       Corinne Fagueret, coordinator of the Pacific Calling Partnership (PCP), an initiative of the Edmund Rice Centre for Justice & Community Education, said it was encouraging Australia’s representative to the Holy See was "raising the calls and concerns of Pacific leaders outside of our region”....(more) Photo: Chiara Porro Rome Reports CathNews 20200918
Melbournians suffering from 'deprivation in sacramental life’
Extract from CathNews, Melbourne Catholic,  17 September 2020
Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli has written to clergy and faithful in the Melbourne Archdiocese, acknowledging the many challenges facing the Catholic community during Victoria’s extended COVID-19 lockdown.               The pastoral letter follows last week’s overturning of restrictions on spiritual ministry to the sick and the dying.         “Throughout the pandemic, I have been advocating directly with the Government, reminding authorities continually of our respectful compliance with each stage of restrictions, and seeking a fair consideration in what is permitted,” Archbishop Comensoli said.         He said it was essential that the Government "does not treat faith communities as an afterthought to the opening up of other sectors. Our churches are locations for communities of care and essential service, and must be treated fairly and reasonably”.           In the letter, Archbishop Comensoli acknowledged the “profound loss” the Melbourne faithful are suffering from the “deprivation in sacramental life” since churches were first closed in March.       He said the “sense of estrangement from the Eucharist has been a particular struggle for Catholics. He gave particular acknowledgement to “countless Catholic families” who are “awaiting Baptism, Reconciliation, Holy Communion and Confirmation for their children. Adults, too, have longed to be received into the life of the Church”.   “We shall be exploring possibilities such as outdoor liturgies in parish and school settings to facilitate these crucial events of grace and welcome,” Archbishop Comensoli said.....(more)    Photo: Melbourne Catholic, CathNews 202009017
US study a snapshot of teenage faith
Teen’s commitment roughly half of their parents’
Extract from Catholic Weekly' 17 September 2020
A Pew Research Center study released in September shows that teens’ religious practice is the United States is less than that of their parents. The lessened observance cuts across all denominational lines.             And religious practice by adults, the study noted, has itself declined in recent decades.     One key finding of the report is that 43 per cent of parents said religion is “very important in their lives,” and that, of teens ages 13-17, only 24 per cent feel the same.      Surveys were taken of 1,811 adults who had given Pew permission for one of their teen children to later take the same survey. The surveys were conducted in April-June 2019, long before the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.          “it’s hard to process what the statistics are saying with what we’re witnessing”.               But Christina Lamas, executive director of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, told Catholic News Service that she finds it hard to square the figures in the Pew report with what she sees at her organisation’s biennial conventions in Indianapolis.      “When you’re able to witness the fire and engagement of 20,000 young people … who are sharing on social media about their relationship with God, it’s hard to process what the statistics are saying with what we’re witnessing,” Ms Lamas said.        She took some comfort in one finding from Pew than 47 per cent of Hispanic teens identify as Catholic.            Faith is very much embedded into the culture of the community,” Ms Lamas said. “In Hispanic families, God and religious practices are lived out daily. It’s part of who the individual is, not separate. I can see why the specifics are higher among Hispanic families, absolutely.”     Still, she is cognisant of societal forces that can erode strength in Catholic belief and practice. NFCYM has had in its toolbox for the past 15 years an initiative called Strong Catholic Families, designed to combat secularising influences.     Lamas said NFCYM collaborated with the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership, the National Catholic Educational Association and the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers in revisions to the program a few years ago.....(more)   
Maitland-Newcastle Diocesan Synod calls for reforms
Extract from CathNews, MN news, 17 September 2020
The call for reform of diocesan and parish governance at the first session of the Maitland-Newcastle Diocesan Synod will strongly influence planning for future sessions.
A Governance Focus Group is evaluating diocesan governance structures and processes and will prepare documents and recommendations for the next Synod session in 2021.          It is one of several working groups preparing documents for the Diocesan Synod’s 2021 sessions and is made up of clergy, senior diocesan staff and lay members.          Lawrie Hallinan, chair of the Synod’s Governance Focus Group said the group had embraced the recently released national report on diocesan and parish governance, The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia.         This report was recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.       “The concerns and hopes expressed at our Diocesan Synod are echoed in many of the themes and recommendations of The Light from the Southern Cross report,” Mr Hallinan said.        “Some of the report’s recommendations are already established practice in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese, such as a functioning diocesan pastoral council (locally known as the Council for Mission) and a publicly available annual report (including financial report).”         Mr Hallinan said the focus group was grateful for the report’s theological explanations of governance, which emphasise all the baptised fulfilling their right and responsibility as missionary disciples.       The Maitland-Newcastle Diocesan Synod will take place over three sessions. The first session was in November 2019, with further sessions planned for May and November 2021...(more)    Photo: MNnewsToday
Synodality at the crossroads
Pope Francis's powerful gestures are urgently in need of a theological language
Extract from Massimo Faggioli, La Croix International, 16 September 2020
United States. Rarely does a journal article offer an X-ray of a particular moment in a pontificate, providing such depth and detail that it remains essential to understanding how a pope perceives his ministry in the life of the Church.       But that's exactly what happened in September 2013 when Antonio Spadaro, editor of La Civiltà Cattolica, published his blockbuster interview with Pope Francis.           It happened again earlier this month when the Italian Jesuit published another article in the venerable journal explaining his confrere's style of papal governance.        The most recent piece is especially important because of what the Jesuit pope says in his own words.         The pope says the driving force of his pontificate is not institutional reform.         The pontificate is far from over, but this is a delicate moment of passage to understand what type of reform Francis can realistically expect to achieve within a timeframe that can be measured historically, rather than in geological eras.         The Civiltà Cattolica article responds to a number of essays published in the last few months – one of them my own here – that analyzed the repercussions of the pope's interpretation of the 2019 Synod in the exhortation Querida Amazonia.        They pointed out the gap between the proposals for institutional reform approved by the Synod (viri probati, ministries for women) and the non-reception of these proposals by Francis in his post-synodal exhortation.....(More)
'Church setback over confession in WA'
Extract from Marilyn Rodrigues, Catholic weekly, 16 September 2020
Both major parties to support law affecting sacrament.     A push to force priests to report information on child sexual abuse gained during confession looks likely to continue in Western Australia despite a parliamentary committee’s recommendation that it would be an ineffective measure against abuse.      The recommendation was made in a report by the Standing Committee on Legislation on the Children and Community Services Amendment Bill 2019, which passed the state’s Legislative Assembly in May and will be considered by the upper house.       In its current form, the bill is in line with WA’s Premier Mark McGowan and Minister for Child Protection Simone McGurk’s commitment to require priests to break the sacrament’s absolute confidentiality in known or suspected cases of child sexual abuse.      The five-member WA committee recommended last week that “ministers of religion be excused from criminal responsibility [of mandatory reporting] only when the grounds of their belief is based solely on information disclosed during religious confession.”       But Liberal Opposition Leader Liza Harvey said on 15 September that her party had decided against supporting the recommendation.....(more)
Appointment of bishops: the Vatican and China to renew their agreement
ANALYSIS: China and the Vatican have agreed to extend the historic agreement reached in 2018 for another two years
Limited Extract from Loup Besmond de Senneville, subscription journal La Croix International 16 September 2020
Two years ago, it was hailed as a historic agreement. And it was.  After almost 70 years without diplomatic relations, the two-year agreement China and the Holy See, signed on September 22, 2018, on the appointment of bishops was widely welcomed.    But the content of this text has always been kept secret and is due to expire in a few days. Until now, it was not clear whether it would be renewed.            But La Croix has learned from a source close to the negotiators, who insisted on total anonymity, that the agreement will be extended for another two years under the same terms as the one signed in 2018.              The very renewal of the Sino-Vatican is itself an event.      While the question of the appointment of bishops may seem technical, what is at stake in the eyes of Rome is nothing less than the unity of Chinese Catholics and the avoidance of a possible schism.      This is in a country where the Communist authorities have been appointing the bishops they wish for decades and without Rome's approval, while "clandestine" bishops loyal to the pope were being ordained at the same time.      On two different occasions -- in 2016 and 2018 -- the authorities challenged the Holy See by appointing about 40 bishops independently.       These were massive appointments that would have anchored the Chinese Church's separation from Rome, and would have made it difficult for them to be recognized later.        What is known about the terms of the current agreement is that the pope has the last word on episcopal appointments -- that is, a kind of right of veto -- while Rome commits to no longer appointing clandestine bishops without Beijing's agreement....(source). 
COMECE president all praise for German Catholic Church's Synodal Path
Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich mentioned the role of women in the Church as the most important question in the reform debate
Linuted extract from subscription journal La Croix International staff, 14 September 2020
COMECE president all praise for German Catholic Church's Synodal Path.        The EU bishops' president said he very appreciative of the German Catholic Church's Synodal Path and that this process could be an inspiration for the Church in Europe.       The Synodal Path reform project in Germany is viewed "with great respect because one is daring to ask very big questions," Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, president of the European Union Bishops' Commission COMECE, told Germany's Catholic News Agency (KNA).      The process was launched on Dec. 1 and over the next two years some 230 bishops and lay delegates will engage in dialogue around four main themes — power in the Church, priestly celibacy, the place of women and sexuality.     Cardinal Hollerich particularly mentioned the role of women in the Church as the most important question in the reform debate.       "I am not saying that they have to become priests; I simply don't know that. But I am open towards that. It is clear however that the current situation does not suffice. One must see and realize that women have a say in the Church", he said.      He praised the Synodal Path for being a path "of which you don't always know where it leads. One takes steps and together seeks out the next one."       He said the local churches in Europe "often think too nationally, focused on the situation in their respective countries. We need to engage more with each other."        The Catholic Church in Germany has begun its Synodal Path in an atmosphere of free and respectful dialogue. It held its first plenary assembly from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2 in Frankfurt.       German Catholics who are delegates for the Synodal Path have held their latest plenary assembly in several different cities across the country.....(source)
New poll: 36 percent of young Catholics say they will attend Mass less often after pandemic
Extract from Mark M. Gray, America. The Jesuit Review, 14 September 2020
Not many young adult Catholics are tuning into Masses on television or online, according to a survey conducted in July and August by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. A more troubling finding is that 36 percent said they plan to attend Mass less frequently when stay-at-home orders related to the Covid-19 pandemic end and churches fully reopen.           Only 25 percent said they participated in Mass online or on television during the pandemic “somewhat” or “very” often.       Another 51 percent say they will return to their normal pattern of attendance after the pandemic, and 14 percent said they plan to go to Mass more often.        More than one-third of young Catholics said they would attend Mass less frequently even after the pandemic.        We surveyed 2,214 self-identified Catholics between the ages of 18 and 35; only 25 percent said they participated in Mass online or on television during the pandemic “somewhat” or “very” often. (The CARA poll has a margin of error of 3.6 points.) Another 22 percent said they watched Mass “a little,” and 54 percent said they had not watched at all.         This breakdown looks somewhat like actual Mass attendance before the pandemic, when 13 percent of Catholics said they attended Mass weekly, another 20 percent attended at least once a month, and 67 percent attended no more than a few times a year. Sixty-three percent of young adult Catholics who used to attend Mass weekly said they now watch Mass on television or online “somewhat” or “very often,” as did 36 percent of those who attended Mass at least once a month before the pandemic. Of those who used to attend no more than a few times a year, 13 percent said they watch Mass on television or online “somewhat” or “very” often.          Most young Catholics said they have not watched Mass online or on television during the pandemic.         The respondents saying that they plan to attend Mass less often in the future cut across all categories of prior attendance. Of the weekly attenders, 31 percent said they will be attending Mass less often when things return to normal, compared with 42 percent of monthly attenders and 35 percent of those who used to attend a few times a year or less often.....(More).  Photo: America, Jes Rev 20200914

Mary Immaculate Church Closes!

Fr Bill, Friday 11 September 2020

I hope that headline got your attention. In preparing for the renovation of the church and the construction of our new Parish Centre, Yarra Valley Water has decommissioned the sewer easement that crosses our property. Consequently the site cannot be occupied until the project is complete. We hope the project will go to tender early October with work commencing late November. Estimated completion is December 2021 but that will depend upon many things - not the least being the Covid-19 restrictions.     While the site is closed the Parish Office will operate out of Mother of God Church where a temporary office has been established. Many thanks to Vince Marino who has painted out the office and Eugene Ballao who has assisted in moving office furniture.       When we are able to resume Masses there will be a new schedule of Mass times at Mother of God and St. Bernadette’s which will remain in effect until our new Parish Centre at Mary Immaculate reopens. Photo: John Costa

Celebrating mission work of ‘people with a thousand faces’
Extract from CathNews, 11 September 2020
Inspired by Pope Francis, Catholic Mission has launched a global awareness campaign for World Mission Month in October, highlighting missionaries as “people with a thousand faces”.       Earlier this year, Pope Francis highlighted his passion for the Pontifical Mission Societies, known in Australia as Catholic Mission, saying the mission is at the heart and identity of the Church. He said the worldwide network reflects the rich variety of the “people with a thousand faces”.        “Catholic Mission is part of that global network. We are with all the communities, in every corner of the world,” said Catholic Mission national director Fr Brian Lucas.       “World Mission Month is a time when Catholics all over the world join to support and celebrate global missionary work.”      World Mission Month this year focuses on the essential work of priests, religious and lay missionaries in Cambodia, supporting people with disability and their families......(more)  Photo: We are still here Cathnews 20200911
Priests defy ban on last rites
Extract from CathNews, The Australian, 11 September 2020
Melbourne’s Catholic priests are taking a quiet stand, giving dying parishioners the last rites in defiance of the Andrews Government’s stage 4 restrictions.       The Government has banned faith leaders from visiting patients at home, in a hospital or a care facility “for last rites or to perform other religious ceremonies in person”. The rules also state “last rites … can be provided using video or livestreaming”.        That is impossible, said Msgr Charles Portelli, parish priest of St Mary of the Assumption Parish, Keilor Downs – a COVID-19 hotspot.       Msgr Portelli said providing the sacraments to the dying was one of a priest’s most serious obligations and it can only be done in person.      Fr Frank Brennan SJ – rector of Newman College at the University of Melbourne and a part-time chaplain to St Vincent’s Hospital – was unaware of the restriction. Fr Brennan has been giving the last rites in full PPE gear.     Msgr Portelli said the Andrews Government’s restriction on administering the last rites, especially during a pandemic in which almost 700 Victorians had died, was an attack on “the free practice of religion”.       Melbourne Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli knew nothing about the ban on the last rites when contacted by The Australian. After checking the DHSS rules he has sought “urgent clarification” from the Government....(more)
Catholics push for more asylum-seeker support
Extract from CathNews, 10 September 2020
Catholic organisations have joined a campaign calling on the Morrison Government to extend support to asylum-seeker families adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Source: Jesuit Refugee Service Australia.       The Refugee Council of Australia’s Nobody Left Behind campaign this year has the theme No Child Left Behind. Jesuit Refugee Service Australia, together with Catholic partners including the Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum, Vinnies NSW, the House of Welcome, the Sydney Archdiocese Justice and Peace Office, Parramatta Diocese and Catholic schools around the country will this week acknowledge, pray for and act in solidarity with families seeking asylum and their children.        There are approximately 16,000 children and young people seeking asylum in Australia.         The impacts of COVID-19 have been particularly tough for people seeking asylum. Many have experienced job losses but have not had access to any form of ongoing government financial support.      “Today, many hundreds of children seeking asylum are wholly reliant on JRS Australia’s food bank to eat healthy, nutritious meals. A significant number also depend on emergency relief payments to pay rent or buy life-saving medications,” JRS Australia said in a website statement on the campaign.     “Children need love, care, safety, and education, not the stress of wondering where their next meal will come from or whether they will be homeless.     “Join us in calling on the federal Government to extend ongoing financial support to the thousands of children seeking asylum who cannot leave Australia and need security.” .....(more) Image: children and young people seeking asylum in Australia JRS Australia CathNews 20200910
Factions and ginger groups within the church
Extract from John Warhurst, Eureka Street, 10 September 2020       
Knowing full well of the conservative-moderate split within the party and of the fractious relationship within the party between Turnbull and Tony Abbott, the Liberal Party delegates fell about laughing.       The laughter was derisory. Facts can’t be papered over by sweet talk.       The same is true of the church in Australia today. This fact of life must be spoken about openly in the lead up to the Plenary Council assemblies. What is happening at the moment is that certain bishops are condemning members of the church renewal movement as pressure groups pushing an agenda, while ignoring the well-known fact that groups with other agendas are widespread within the church.        Condemnation of the renewal movement is a clear attempt to shut down legitimate engagement and debate from some quarters while allowing jockeying, factional politics and agenda-pushing by other conservative groups, including certain bishops, certain Catholic media and other groups embedded in the hierarchical structure of the church.        My impression is that bishops prefer to deal with individuals. Catholics who organise themselves independently of official church structures to advance church renewal are frequently treated with suspicion by the hierarchy.      Trying to shut down the renewal movement is not the work of the Holy Spirit. If it continues it will make for a very lop-sided Plenary Council. No amount of prayer and discernment will overcome a stacked assembly.        The renewal movement is large and growing numerically and in regional diversity. It has engaged with the Plenary Council through submissions and public discussions from the very beginning. It has also tried, collectively and individually, to engage with bishops and other church leaders.....(more) Photo: St Patricks Cathedra Parramatta Leela kajonkij Getty Eureka Street 202009010
Queensland passes law to jail priests for not reporting confessions of child sexual abuse
Extrtact from Mark Bowling, Catholic Leader, 8 September 2020
Priests in Queensland will be forced to break the seal of confession to report child sex abuse to police.        New laws passed through Queensland Parliament on Tuesday, September 8 mean religious institutions and their members are no longer able to use the sanctity of the confessional as a defence or excuse in child sex abuse matters.       The laws passed with support from both major parties, and despite strong opposition from the Catholic Church.        The new laws arose as a result of recommendations from the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse, and failure to comply will carry a three year jail sentence.       Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge has maintained the Church commitment to the protection of children, however breaking the confessional seal would “not make a difference to the safety of young people”.       In a formal submission to a parliamentary inquiry, Archbishop Coleridge  explained that stripping Catholics of the seal made priests “less a servant of God than an agent of the state”.      He said the proposed legislation raised “major questions about religious freedom” and was based on a “poor knowledge of how the sacrament actually works in practice”.      Archbishop Coleridge said the seal “enables the penitent to speak openly before God, to stand open and honest before God, to hide nothing from the God who sees all and forgives all.”         However, Police Minister Mark Ryan maintains the laws will ensure better protection for vulnerable children.      “The requirement and quite frankly the moral obligation to report concerning behaviours towards everyone applies to everyone in this community,” he said.       “No one group or occupation is being singled out.      “Child protection is everyone’s responsibility.”....(more)
Time to start telling – and doing – the truth in the liturgy
Pastors need to internalize the challenge: we cannot simply resume, we must renew
Limited extract from Thomas O'Loughlin, subscription journal La Croix International, 8 September 2020
United Kingdom. As parishes re-open to varying extents – and with a range of anti-viral measures from face-shields to people scattered by tape in near empty benches, many clergy note that the numbers have not returned to the pre-COVID-19 level.        The preferred explanation seems to be that now is still not 'normality' and that many are fearful about a church gathering as a potential source of infection.          I have no reason to doubt that this is a plausible explanation for some, but perhaps these clergy should be more circumspect in their optimism that parochial 'normality' will return.       There are some worrying counter-indications.       First, in the same localities the numbers who have returned to shopping is far closer to pre-pandemic levels, and people are going on holidays in one way or another trusting that masks, hand sanitizers and care will keep the enemy at bay.     Second, there is a sizable group of Catholics – but I doubt if it can yet be quantified – who are asking if 'going back to Mass' will make all that much difference to them.      For this group there is a real crisis in relation to the utility of liturgy within their lives.      This is a new challenge to those whose task is to act as pastors within the Church.....(more).   Image: Stained glass Last Supper La Croix Int 20200908
Pope reveals why he said 'no' to married priests
Extract from Christopher Lamb, The Tablet, 4 September 2020
Pope Francis decided against giving the green light to married priests after the Amazon synod because he was concerned the debate militated against true discernment.     The pope felt that the discernment became impossible because debate became a parliamentary-style battle between different sides.      He has revealed his thoughts in a note in which the 83-year-old Jesuit Pope also emphasises that the “synod is not over”, calling on the Church to “continue walking together”. These and other comments suggest the door is not closed on future reforms.      In a personal note shared with the Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica, Francis says that during last year's synod there was “a rich discussion…a well-founded discussion, but no discernment”.      The Pope continues: “We must understand that the synod is more than a parliament, and in this specific case, it could not escape this dynamic. On this subject it was a rich, productive and even necessary parliament; but no more than that. For me, this was decisive in the final discernment.”      A majority of bishops attending the October 2019 synod gathering voted in favour of ordaining married men as priests for remote parts of the Amazon rainforest, where communities are unable to celebrate the sacraments regularly. But sources inside the synod say the proposal was strongly resisted by senior prelates in the Roman Curia who succeeded in blocking any immediate change....(more)
Holy See offers observations on inquiry’s recommendations
Extract from CathNews, 4 September 2020
The royal commission proposed that the Bishops Conference engage with the Holy See on those recommendations because they relate to universal Church law or practice. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin confirmed that the recommendations, and the entire final report of the royal commission, were studied closely by several Vatican dicasteries.         The Holy See reiterated its commitment to child protection, and its desire to “spare no effort … in collaborating with civil authorities to pursue every avenue to end the scourge of sexual abuse”.         “The Pope has sought to promote reform and vigilance at all levels within the Church and to encourage the efforts of local Churches in the same direction,” the response said.          “That commitment has led to the adoption, both by the Holy See and by Dioceses, Episcopal Conferences and Religious Institutes, of a wide range of measures, designed to ensure a proper response to such cases, including at the canonical level, as well as encouraging cooperation with civil authorities, both domestic and international.”        Many of the royal commission’s recommendations have already been addressed by the Holy See, including some of the matters related to priestly formation and the appointment of bishops. Others, such as having local tribunals to manage disciplinary cases, are still under consideration because they are part of a broader revision of Church laws that will be applicable worldwide.       Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge said the commitment to child safety that underpins the Holy See’s observations is one the Church in Australia shares......(more)   Photo: CathNews 20200904
Forget millennials. How will churches reach Generation Z?
Extract from CathNews NZ, 3 September 2020
For the last decade, church experts have been wrestling over the best ways to reach and retain “millennials,” which is a phrase the describes individuals born from the early 1980s through the mid-1990s.          Data shows that many millennials leave the church during their college years, and some never return.        The fastest-growing religious identifier among this generation is “spiritual but not religious.”                  But as millennials age, get married, and start families, they are no longer the only “young people” that churches must consider.         A new cohort has risen: “Generation Z” or individuals born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s.       Generation Z diverges from millennials in many ways and presents unique challenges and opportunities for churches who hope to capture their attention.                  For this reason, I decided to speak with Pastor James Emery White about his new book, “Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World.”         Here we discuss what sets these young people apart from their elders and what he believes it means for modern ministry, evangelism, and apologetics.        What do you mean when you say that the church is at the beginning of a ‘seventh age?’       White: During my studies at Oxford, I was introduced to the writings of a Catholic historian named Christopher Dawson.       He had an intriguing thesis he introduced just after WWII that I have come to appreciate: that the history of the Christian church can be divided into segments of 300-400 years, and that each of these “ages” began — and then ended — in crisis.        The nature of each crisis was the same: intense attack by new challenges, if not enemies, from within and from without the church. .......(More)       Photo:   CathNews NZ 20200903
Demolition work starts on Christchurch Catholic cathedral
Extract from CathNews NZ, 3 Sept 2020
Demolition of the earthquake-damaged Catholic cathedral in Christchurch has begun, but heritage campaigners still hope to save it.       The $1.8 million demolition project is expected to take a year and started this week with three workers salvaging two stone angels from the front of the historic building.       Catholic Bishop Paul Martin said he was sad to demolish the cathedral.      He said in a statement on Tuesday the building was still unstable.       “Even though much work has occurred over many years to remove badly damaged sections of the cathedral as part of the stabilisation process, the site remains very hazardous and dangerous.”        Some artefacts will be preserved.      Martin said the cathedral’s angels and some stone columns would be salvaged as part of the demolition.
“But any other salvage activities will be opportunistic in nature, and subject to being able to safely access areas of the building.       This also includes the recovery of other items such as stained glass windows and plaques.       Ornate stone elements may be retained for future projects where opportunities are identified.      While it would be desirable to incorporate some of the recovered artefacts into the new cathedral, successfully merging two architectural styles from different eras into a modern building can be extremely difficult to achieve.”....(more)  Photo 20200903 CathNews NZ
Pope Francis: We need to get serious about climate change and unfair economic systems
Extract from Bruce Duncan, Pearls & Irritations, John Mendaue website, 2 September 2020
Here in Australia, we need to make a bigger contribution to the fight, given our abundant resources and expertise.       Pope Francis has repeatedly challenged us to “make some noise” about the issues of climate change, poverty and extreme inequality. He summarised his concerns in his social encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home’, which he signed on Pentecost Sunday, March 24, 2015.             This is not just any other document from the Pope. It is his signature document about how faith should be mobilising our hearts and energies to tackle these imminent threats to the wellbeing of hundreds of millions of people and even endangering the very life-support systems that sustain humankind and all God’s creatures.          Francis is in no doubt about the “catastrophic” threats from climate change, and he reflects the overwhelming views of climate scientists. Laudato Si’ was launched in Rome on June 18, 2015, by one of the world’s most eminent climate scientists, Professor Schellnhuber, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.              In writing this document, Francis drew from his personal involvement tackling issues of poverty and injustice in Argentina. In it he showed he is listening intently to leading scientists and economists about what needs to be done to ensure a better life for all people.       Hence he released Laudato Si’ to bolster international support for the UN Paris Climate Conference held in December 2015, and to encourage all nations to endorse the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Soon after he spoke to the UN General Assembly on September 25, 2015 in New York, 193 member states voted to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.      Keep the action going from Laudato Si’....(more)
Read something spiritually nourishing: Message from Archbishop Comensoli
Extract from Communications Office CAM Wednesday 2 September 2020
In his latest video message, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli welcomes the new season of spring as recognition of 'the hope that the Lord has for each one of us.' He also invites everyone to take up the chance to read something new: 'Make it something spiritually nourishing ... something that can bring the Gospel alive in your life.'....(HERE)   Image: 20200902 CAM
Putting Children First: Child Protection Week 2020
Extract from Communications Office CAM Wednesday 2 September 2020
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Child Protection Week (6-12 September). The theme for 2020, 'Putting Children First', was chosen by the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) and underscores the need to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of children in all aspects of our community and family life.      The occasion is of great significance for the Catholic Church in Australia as it emphasises the need for a continuous commitment to effectively safeguard children, young people, and vulnerable adults.       Partnered with the commitment to safeguard those most at risk, the Church also acknowledges the devastating harm caused by the sexual abuse of children by priests, religious and lay people within Catholic settings.      ‘Although the Pandemic has changed the way we are all living and working, it doesn’t change what is most important,’ said Archbishop Peter A Comensoli.     ‘For Christians, the Lord Jesus shows us that at all times, the most vulnerable among us are those requiring our greatest care. Our priority is to ensure the safety and the protection of children at all times.    I am sad and angered that the Church has not always been a place that has put children first. We continue to address the horror of abuse, and I will continue to meet with survivors of abuse, hearing and trusting them, and helping our Church be continually converted.’     In the lead up to and during Child Protection Week, the Professional Standards Unit of the Archdiocese will be offering some resources to ensure all of our local parishes and ministries can become places that support children and young people, and their right to be safe and feel safe.....(more)
New Plenary Council Timeline
From Plenary Post 27, Thursday 27 August 2020
With all the date changes that have taken place with the rescheduling of the Plenary assemblies, a new timeline has been developed to help people understand the next couple of years of the Council journey.......Timeline   HERE

Mental health in Australia: Bishops release 2020-21 social justice statement

Extract from Mellbourne Catholic, Catholic Archdioceseof Melbourne, 27 August 2020

‘Our society tends to push away or draw away from those who confront us with our frailties and limitations. This is not the way of Jesus,’ writes Bishop Terry Brady, the Bishop Delegate for Social Justice on the release of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Social Justice Statement for 2020-21, To Live Life to the Full: Mental health in Australia. It was released ahead of Social Justice Sunday, celebrated on 30 August. Given the challenges our country and world are facing due to COVID-19, the issue of mental health is very much front and centre for many people. ‘The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting many members of our parishes, schools and communities,’ Bishop Brady says. ‘Understanding mental health will help us to be aware of those who most need our support.’

Read full Statement HERE

German bishops say talks with Rome on parish document must include laity
Extract from Crux, Catholic News Service, 25 August 2020
Germany — The German bishops plan to seek talks with the Vatican about its instruction on parish reforms in the Catholic Church.      The German Catholic news agency KNA reported the bishops said they want lay Catholics to be involved in the discussion. The bishops’ conference made the announcement after a meeting of its 27-member Permanent Council.      The announcement said the president of the bishops’ conference, Bishop Georg Batzing, would accept an offer for talks recently conveyed by Cardinal Beniamino Stella, head of the Vatican Congregation for Clergy.     Batzing will suggest to the congregation that the discussion be held with the leaders of the synodal path reform project because the Vatican instruction addressed bishops, priests, deacons and laypeople alike, the bishops said.                The synodal path is an effort by the bishops’ conference and Central Committee of German Catholics to restore trust following a September 2018 church-commissioned report that detailed thousands of cases of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy over six decades....(more)
Australia appoints new ambassador to the Holy See
Extract from CathNews, ACBC Media Blog,  25 August 2020
Australia’s bishops have welcomed the appointment of Chiara Porro as the new residential ambassador to the Holy See.            Ms Porro has worked within the Department of Foreign Affairs for most of the past dozen years, including in overseas postings in India and New Caledonia. She has also served in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.       Ms Porro becomes the fourth Rome-based Australian ambassador to the Holy See, following former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer, prominent Sydney barrister John McCarthy QC and career diplomat Melissa Hitchman.       “The Government’s decision to appoint another residential ambassador is welcome and will help consolidate the Australian presence in the offices of the Holy See and in Rome more generally,” said Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.       “Ambassador Porro will bring to the role substantial experience as a career diplomat and also an intimate knowledge of Italian culture and language, which will serve her well.      “The Australian bishops look forward to meeting the new ambassador and working closely with her on matters of mutual concern.”      Ms Porro, in a message on the website of the Australian Embassy to the Holy See, noted several milestones that will take place during her time in Rome.       “During my mandate, we will be celebrating 50 years of Australia-Holy See diplomatic relations – an important milestone, built on the very strong and robust people to people links we share,” she wrote.       “This year we will also celebrate the 10th anniversary of the canonisation of Mary MacKillop, Australia’s first canonised saint and a remarkable woman who encapsulates the true spirit of Australia.”        Ms Porro will present her credentials to Pope Francis on Thursday....(more)    Photo:  Chiara Porro (LinkedIn)
Looking to future governance of our Church
Extract from Frank Brennan, Jesuit priest and human rights lawyer, on the webinar,
Subscription journal, La Croix International, 24 August 2020
During the week, I participated in a Webinar entitled 'The Light from The Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia'. Zoom conferences and webinars are now a common place for those of us enduring pandemic lockdowns.           This Webinar was run out of the offices of a large law firm in Sydney.          The proceedings were chaired by the distinguished Australian broadcaster, Geraldine Doogue. More than 150 committed Catholics tuned in. There was quite a buzz to the proceedings. And most of the time, the technology worked well.         Geraldine introduced the keynote presenter, Francois Kunc, who is a judge of the New South Wales Supreme Court.          He had the unenviable task of providing a 15-minute overview of the 208-page report containing 86 recommendations for improved governance of the Catholic Church in Australia. I was one of nine responders.          The other responders included three of the key authors who were part of the seven-member Governance Review Project Team commissioned to provide this report to the Church's Implementation Advisory Group which had been set up by our bishops after the royal commission.         Another responder was one of the theological advisers to the review team.         The discussion was lively, informed, and respectful. Men and women were at the table in equal numbers. Appropriately, the laity heavily outnumbered the clergy.        But something wasn't quite right.        There was no bishop on the panel. We were told that invitations had been extended, but to no avail. Like most things in the Church, there's probably a back story.        But I was left thinking that a discussion about co-responsible governance in the Catholic Church could well do with a couple of bishops at the table.        Most of us who spoke would have been in our 60s. When looking to future governance of our church, it's probably best to start as we'd want to finish. If co-responsibility is to work, bishops and young people will need to be at the table......(more)
Pope Francis has questions: Most popes have answers
Extract from Bishop Peter Cullinane, Bishop Emeritus, Diocese of Palmerston North, CathNews NZ, 24 August 2020
.........Some of Pope Francis’ critics like to contrast him with Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. But they conveniently overlook that Pope Francis is building on what Pope St John Paul II had already taught.          It was John Paul who said “the Church’s teaching authority is at the service of conscience”; in other words, it upholds the sovereignty of conscience, it doesn’t render conscience superfluous.               It was also Pope John Paul II who taught what he called “the law of gradualness”; this means recognizing that people’s ability to fully comply with the moral law develops gradually; for some faster, for some more slowly.         This is why Pope Francis often speaks of taking people where they “are at” – not starting from where they should be, but from where they are – and accompanying them on the journey to where they should be.      And while on the journey, they are not sinning if they doing the best they can for now, and praying for better.       So when Pope Francis asks whether Eucharist is for people not yet fully complying with the moral law – who would if they could – he is not questioning the Church’s teaching, but simply taking account of gradualness in their ability to comply fully, and asking whether Eucharist is only for those who already comply fully, or also for those who are trying to get there.       It is rather Pope Francis’ critics who question, and even reject, Church teachings – especially people who are protecting their own business or ideological interests.       Some of them even say: ‘the Church’s job is to save souls; people’s social and economic lives are none of the Church’s business’.        Here too, Pope Francis’ teaching is in line with the teaching of his predecessors.       His critics are also very selective in what they accept from the social encyclicals of Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI.  Perhaps it is the gospel itself that they need to look at more closely.      When it comes to the tone of their criticisms, sadly, the bitterness, divisiveness, deceptiveness and scapegoating are all tell-tale signs that their agenda are not from the Holy Spirit.       There is another spirit at work. The same gospel we heard says the gates of the underworld will not prevail.  But they will try!      Take this as a sure guide:  wherever evil is at work, sooner or later it over-reaches, can’t hide its ugly face, and discredits itself.        That’s why Pope Francis doesn’t always bother to respond to his critics.  But he prays for them.         Many are good people, sometimes troubled people, but people in need of compassion. ...(more)
They're nice to have, but we don't need churches
The coronavirus pandemic has forced limits upon Christians' ability to gather in churches to pray and celebrate liturgy
Extract from Fr William Grimm, CathNews NZ, UCA News, 24 August 2020
Just as Christians in the 21st century are heirs of the apostles and martyrs of the early Church, Christians in Japan are heirs of the martyrs and hidden Christians of that country from the early 17th century to the late 19th century.         That is true whether we modern believers are Japanese or not, Catholic Christians or not. The Church within which we live and worship endured persecution so recent that I know a woman whose grandfather died a martyr.        The rest of her family — parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews — was wiped out on Aug. 9, 1945, when the atomic bomb exploded over the Catholic neighbourhood of Nagasaki. She was the only member of the family out of town that day.       During the centuries of persecution, Christians in Japan had no church buildings, no clergy, no religious, no Masses, no religious institutions, no diocesan structures, and no contact with the rest of the Church in the country or outside.        What they did have was each other and a commitment to maintain as well as they could the faith that was passed on to them and to pass it on to the next generations even at the risk of their lives.      They were poor, oppressed and lived in perpetual danger, but they prayed and shared their ability to help one another in need. In many ways, it was the Golden Age of Christianity in Japan.        Those Japanese Christians knew that church is not someplace to go, but something to be, something to do.        The coronavirus pandemic is an opportunity to learn or relearn that today....... But God is still with us whether we are in a cross-decorated building or not. The real issue is, are we with God?......(more)
Image: Twenty Six Martyrs of Japan  crucified 1597 in Nagasaki UCA News 20200824
Church Governance
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Media Release, Saturday 22 August 2020

One of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was that the Catholic Church in Australia conduct a review of diocesan and parish governance and management. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia accepted that recommendation and the Implementation Advisory Group was tasked with conducting and presenting that review.

The Implementation Advisory Group established the Governance Review Project Team to lead the review. The GRPT presented a version of the report to the Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia in May 2020. That version, which was not the final version, was leaked and published.

That version was subsequently amended, making a number of corrections and clarifications. The final version of the report, entitled The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia, was presented to the Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia in mid-August 2020. The report was published online on August 21, 2020, along with an accompanying Reading Guide.

Click here to access a Reading Guide, which people are encouraged to read before the report.

Click here to access The Light from the Southern Cross.

Click here to read a joint media release from the Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia.

ACT ‘shows the way’ on child detention
Extract from CathNews, Jesuit Social Services, 21 August 2020
Jesuit Social Services says the ACT has paved the way for other jurisdictions to provide age-appropriate responses to children in trouble, with the Legislative Assembly voting yesterday to raise the age of legal responsibility from 10 to 14.         It is the first state or territory to commit to changing its laws to ensure primary school-aged children are not incarcerated, after the Council of Attorneys-General decided last month to defer recommendations about the issue.        Jesuit Social Services chief executive Julie Edwards said the decision will improve outcomes for children, their families and the broader community.          “By locking up children as young as 10, Australian states and territories have long been out of touch with international standards and acted against recommendations by the United Nations,” Ms Edwards said.        “This is despite a wealth of evidence from Australia and abroad showing that children under 14 years do not possess the neurological maturity to form criminal intent.                “We also know that many children who have contact with the justice system are victims of trauma, abuse and mental illness. Instead of incarcerating them, we need to be supporting them in the community, connecting them with family and school, and helping them get their lives back on track.”          Ms Edwards said the ACT’s decision must be the impetus for other states and territories to take similar action.       “Primary school-aged children belong in the classroom, not in prison. Other states and territories must look at the leadership shown by the ACT today and commit to helping, not harming, vulnerable children,” she said......(more)   Photo: age of criminal responsibility Bigstock CathNews 20200821
Scripture and papal leadership inspire retreat for creation
Extract from Media Blog, ACBC, 21 August 2020
Catholics in Australia are being encouraged to participate in a first-of-its-kind week-long retreat in preparation for the ecumenical celebration of the World Day of Prayer for Creation on September 1.            The “7 Days of Creation Reflection-Retreat” has been prepared by Columban priest Fr Charles Rue, whose ministry has for many years had a focus on the Catholic understanding of care for the environment.           Fr Rue said the retreat is inspired by the leadership of recent popes, who have proclaimed the message of caring for God’s creation.       “Pope John Paul II in 1990 named environmental care as integral to Catholic faith and named St Francis of Assisi as the patron of ecological conversion,” he noted.        “Pope Benedict XVI reinforced this Catholic vocation. Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ detailed the call to See, Judge, Act on care for our common home. Hear the twin cry of the poor and the cry of the earth.       “For the Church in Australia, the establishment of Catholic Earthcare back in 2003 was an important initiative and one that has helped foster a broader understanding of this issue across the country.”       Fr Rue said the retreat was designed to lead people up to the World Day of Prayer for Creation, so they are encouraged to start it on Tuesday, August 25. However, it could be prayed at any time during the September “Season of Creation”, which runs from September 1 until St Francis’ feast day on October 4.....(more)
Pope Francis has promised to pray for a nun and the transgender women the nun is helping.
Extract from CathNews NZ, 20 August 2020
Discalced Carmelite nun Mónica Astorga Cremona wrote to Pope Francis telling him about the inauguration of a new housing complex she has established to help transgender women living in poverty.           The new 12-studio apartment complex in Neuquén, Argentina, is part of a permanent housing solution for about twelve people between the ages of 40-70.          The pope, who is an old friend of Cremona, replied to her letter saying “God who did not go to the seminary or study theology will repay you abundantly” for the work you have done.          He told her he is praying for her and the transgender women she is assisting, adding, “Don’t forget to pray for me. May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin guide you.”....(more) CathNews NZ 20200820
The Polding House Push and The Catholic Weekly Bugle.
Extract from David Timbs, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue website, 20 August 2020
Over the past year in particular, Australian Catholics have become convinced that their bishops, with some exceptions, are playing games with them in the lead up to the national Plenary Council which is now scheduled to start in October 2021. Some believe, not unreasonably, that important stages in the process have been closely micro managed and that the outcomes of the Plenary may have been determined already.        Australian Catholics have also expressed concern that their measured, but serious and theologically sound calls for systemic reform and renewal in the Church have been dumbed down, trivialized and even ignored. As time passes, they are becoming convinced that their bishops have not really listened to them, that they are being given the run around, and that they are not being taken seriously.         So far, few bishops have spoken publicly, clearly, and in detail about what kind of substantive reform and renewal they want the Plenary Council to achieve. One obvious reason is because they are hopelessly divided. They show no united leadership, and little by way of common vision, except to maintain ‘business as usual’. Collectively, Australia’s bishops, like the institution they have been appointed to lead, are drifting, with little real sense of mission. You could even say they have lost their way. Furthermore, according to the Bishops Conference president Mark Coleridge, their credibility has been ‘shot to pieces’....(more) 
Ireland, More new bishops than priests to be ordained this year amid vocations crisis
Extract from Sarah McDonald,  Independent, Ireland, 18 August 2020
Statement of the Pastors’ Initiative Austria on the “Instruction on the Pastoral Conversion of Parishes at the Service of missionary mission of the Church”.          Association of Catholic Priests, Ireland, 13 August 2020            The Instruction offers only a rudimentary analysis of the changed social and church situation, in order then to demand canonical regulations, which already at the time of their adoption 40 years ago were no longer up to date and in part have lagged behind Vatican II. With missionary zeal it is underlined that parish councils only have an advisory function, that all unordained persons are forbidden to preach during the celebration of Mass and a collegial leadership of priests and laypersons is forbidden.        If we were to lead our parishes with this exhorted monarchical clericalism we would be losing those Christians who are jointly responsible and who are the salt and the light of a parish that is turned towards the people. The Instruction conjures up a situation in which bishops and priests, out of pastoral need, are driven to “insubordination”. So the letter is based on not taking the situation seriously and dividing the bishops, priests and parishes.      The great illusion of the Instruction is to think that the Church can speak of a missionary approach today, without, as church leadership themselves accepting the fundamental values of modern society and of the Gospel, such as participation and the equal dignity of every person to realise themselves. (cf. Letter to the Galatians 3:26: For all of you through faith are sons and daughters of God in Christ Jesus). We also see that through the exaltation of the priesthood that God, Jesus Christ and the work of the Spirit are pushed out of the centre of church life......(more)
New Zealand women support Anne Soupa's petition to become Archbishop of Lyon
Their mission is to promote the inclusion of women in leadership of the Catholic Church
Extract from La Croix International staff  (with CathNews New Zealand)  New Zealand. 14 August 2020
Several New Zealand women have signed a 17,000+ person petition joining Anne Soupa's campaign to become the next Archbishop of Lyon.     Calling themselves 'Be the Change', the group of men and women say their mission is to promote the inclusion of women in leadership of the Catholic Church.        "As a sign of our support for Soupa, we are delighted to put our names to a global petition supporting Soupa's campaign," Jo Ayers of 'Be the Change' told CathNews.       As well as signing the petition, the group also wrote to Soupa.       "We are delighted to learn that you have applied for the position of Archbishop of Lyon. We think you would be an Archbishop with a fresh approach," 'Be the Change' wrote.      "If canon law does not allow a woman Archbishop, we support changes to canon law."       "We feel you have the knowledge and experience to become Archbishop of Lyon," they wrote.       'Be the Change' was delighted to receive a prompt response from Soupa.       "I have not embarked on this enterprise in a spirit of provocation, but to offer my hand to a Church which is imprisoned in a false sense of loyalty to the past.       "I wish candidates would stand all over the place, to show that women are there, ready and able, with a faith in their hearts that would move mountains," wrote Soupa.       The 73-year-old journalist and biblical scholar, one of France's best known activists for a greater role for women in the Catholic Church, sent a letter to the papal nuncio in Paris on May 25 stating her desire to head the ancient diocese.       She included a detailed cover letter and her curriculum vitae......(more) Photo: Anne Soupa  Corinne Simon CIRIC La Croix Int 20200814
German-speaking bishops criticise Vatican parish instruction
Posted by Enda on Catholica from Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, from The Tablet, 15 Auust 2020
The Vatican instruction, The pastoral conversion of the parish community in the service of the evangelising mission of the Church, of 20 July continues to be hotly debated in the German-speaking countries.         In Switzerland, it has been sharply criticised by the Bishop of Basel, Felix Gmür: “That the Vatican sees the parish solely concentrated on the parish priest does not reflect our reality. It is, moreover, a theologically deficient and too constricted a view,” Gmür wrote in a letter to church employees in his diocese. The Vatican Instruction left the “stale impression” that in the final instance the Vatican was only interested in the “predominance of the clergy”.    Parishes would continue to be led by leadership teams in his diocese and lay leaders would continue to be addressed as such, Gmür underlined. Parish communities had to be organised democratically in Switzerland, moreover, he recalled, otherwise they were not publicly recognised by the state.              As bishop I will not allow myself to be paralysed or blocked by these restrictive orders as much of the instruction is pretty far removed from reality,” Bishop Gerhard Feige of Magdeburg in former eastern Germany emphasised. “This is particularly so in our extreme diaspora situation, a situation which Rome obviously has not the vaguest idea about, as there are no positive solutions whatsoever for the drastic shortage of priests in the instruction,” Feige wrote in his letter to the faithful....(Catholica source)
Vatican finances must run with integrity, says new council member
Extract from Christopher Lamb, The Tablet, 14 August 2020
Pope Francis recently broke a Vatican glass ceiling by appointing six women to serve on the board overseeing the Holy See’s finances.       Reforming the chaotic, and sometimes opaque, money management practices of the Vatican has been a priority for the Francis pontificate, but one that has been hampered by infighting, resistance to change and suspect transactions.       Among those chosen to sit on the Holy See’s Council for the Economy is Leslie Ferrar, a business leader with formidable experience and someone who, crucially, shares the Pope’s desire to ensure the Holy See’s finances are handled with honesty and transparency.        In an interview with The Tablet, Ms Ferrar says the route to credibility will be found through integrity, transparency, and a clear set of values that everyone can operate under. She offers a simple test.       “If you were talking to a judge in court would you be able to explain what you had done and not be embarrassed?” she tells me.       The same rule can be adapted to a Church setting.        “Is what you are doing a sin? If it’s a sin then you shouldn’t be doing it. I think helping people understand what a sin is, rather than it just being okay…is what we need to do,” the new council member explains.        Ms Ferrar spent almost 30 years as a partner at KPMG, one of the “big four” accounting firms, before becoming treasurer to the Prince of Wales. She holds a series of non-executive posts including as a member of the audit and risk committee at HMRC, the UK tax authority.....(more)  Photo: Pope apppoints 6 women to Vatican Council for Economy Vatican Media CPP IPA Niklestome Media PA Inages The Tablet 20200814
New Zealand women support Anne Soupa's petition to become Archbishop of Lyon
Their mission is to promote the inclusion of women in leadership of the Catholic Church
Extract from La Croix International staff and (with CathNews New Zealand)  New Zealand. 14 August 14, 2020
Several New Zealand women have signed a 17,000+ person petition joining Anne Soupa's campaign to become the next Archbishop of Lyon.     Calling themselves 'Be the Change', the group of men and women say their mission is to promote the inclusion of women in leadership of the Catholic Church.        "As a sign of our support for Soupa, we are delighted to put our names to a global petition supporting Soupa's campaign," Jo Ayers of 'Be the Change' told CathNews.       As well as signing the petition, the group also wrote to Soupa.       "We are delighted to learn that you have applied for the position of Archbishop of Lyon. We think you would be an Archbishop with a fresh approach," 'Be the Change' wrote.      "If canon law does not allow a woman Archbishop, we support changes to canon law."       "We feel you have the knowledge and experience to become Archbishop of Lyon," they wrote.       'Be the Change' was delighted to receive a prompt response from Soupa.       "I have not embarked on this enterprise in a spirit of provocation, but to offer my hand to a Church which is imprisoned in a false sense of loyalty to the past.       "I wish candidates would stand all over the place, to show that women are there, ready and able, with a faith in their hearts that would move mountains," wrote Soupa.       The 73-year-old journalist and biblical scholar, one of France's best known activists for a greater role for women in the Catholic Church, sent a letter to the papal nuncio in Paris on May 25 stating her desire to head the ancient diocese.       She included a detailed cover letter and her curriculum vitae......(more) Photo: Anne Soupa  Corinne Simon CIRIC La Croix Int 20200814
Bishops worry about looming mental health crisis
Edited Extract from Mark Bowling, The Tablet,  CathNews NZ, 13 August 2020
Australia’s Catholic bishops have identified a looming mental health crisis as their priority social justice focus this year.        During the past year Australian’s resilience has been tested with the country coping with droughts and deadly bushfires followed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the uncertainty that goes with it.          “People experiencing mental ill-health are not some ‘other’ people, they are ‘us’,” Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president and Brisbane Archbishop, Mark Coleridge says.        In the foreword to the bishops’ 2020-21 social justice statement, To Live Life to the Full: Mental Health in Australia Today, Coleridge writes: “People in our families, faith communities, workplaces and society are suffering mental ill-health – and they can be of any age or socioeconomic background.”     “It is surely time for us to make mental health a real priority, so that all people may know the fullness of life which Jesus offers (John 10:10).”    Australia’s recent bushfires were implicated in over 400 deaths. They displaced entire small towns, and destroyed homes and businesses.      Their impact that has caused “environmental-related anxieties,” and “led to resignation and loss of hope”,,the bishops’ statement says, noting:    Suicide rates in rural and remote communities are 66 per cent higher than in major cities.      The greater frequency and intensity of weather-related disasters amplify the impact climate change is having on mental health.        The Covid-19 pandemic makes us recognise our vulnerability and we realise that we are not in control;  Our daily routines have been disrupted;  Over a million people have lost their jobs or been stood down;   Our workplaces and churches have been closed;    We have been forced to isolate ourselves from others;    Many people will be distressed or relive previous trauma through the impact the virus is having in their lives...(more)   Photo: ACSJC Social Justice statement 2020 CathNews NZ 20200813
Sr. Elise García is a bridge for sisters, younger and older, as she assumes LCWR presidency
Extract from by Soli Salgado, Global Sosters Report, 13 August 2020
Before she surprised everyone, including herself, by becoming a sister at age 50, Elise García lived a life that, in one sense, closely resembled that of a sister: She was engaged in social justice issues, advocacy and nonprofits and had a keen lifelong concern for the fate of the planet.        But organized religion had been peripheral in her life, as her spirituality in adulthood was more grounded in nature and the cosmos. It wasn't until she met Adrian Dominican sisters in her social justice circles in the 1990s that she began to follow a mysterious call to Catholicism and religious life.        Now, García, 70, is the president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the national organization that represents 80% of women religious in the United States. In the triumvirate presidency, she is joined by past-president Sr. Jayne Helmlinger, a Sister of St. Joseph of Orange, California, and new president-elect Sr. Jane Herb of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Monroe, Michigan, who was elected June 29, ahead of LCWR's annual assembly, held virtually Aug. 12-14.         Today, LCWR leadership overlooks an increasingly multicultural religious landscape. Younger sisters, though fewer in number, are more diverse, equipped and enthusiastic about the potential of their global sisterhood.....(more) Sr Elise García global sisters report 20200813
Online Mass brings Maree back to church
Extract from CathNews, 13 August 2020
Maree Hyde was used to life without Sunday Mass until a comment she read on Facebook four months ago turned her into an almost daily virtual Massgoer. Source: The Catholic Leader.        Ms Hyde’s mum, a member of the Caloundra parish, had left a comment on the community’s live-streamed Mass, which the parish has offered on its Facebook page since March 19.          “Mum had commented on their church online Mass, and I thought it’d be interesting for me to watch it,” Miss Hyde said. “I started watching it almost every day.”          The 40-year-old said she had been to the Caloundra parish once before with her parents, but had not been to regular Sunday Mass for nearly eight years. She said she did not have transport to get to Mass.           “I went to church until I was in my teens and stopped going … not that I think I stopped believing in God, it’s just that I wasn’t going to church.”        Ms Hyde said the daily readings and homilies from the parish’s four priests helped her rediscover her faith.         “With the online Masses I started to form a stronger spiritual connection,” she said.           “Even though I’m not really there and we do spiritual communion, it still feels like I’m attending. “So I said to my dad, ‘I couldn’t go to church but church found me through online Mass’.”....(more)
Bolivia’s bishops offer to mediate destabilizing political crisis as pandemic worsens
Extract from Inés San Martín, Rome bureay Chief, Crux, 12 August 2020
Bolivia’s bishops offer to mediate destabilizing political crisis as pandemic worsens.       
ROSARIO, Argentina — Bolivia’s Catholic bishops have once again offered themselves as mediators in the country’s ongoing clash between the government and sectors of society who still support former president Evo Morales.       Protestors have blocked several main roads in the South American country, heavily affecting transport.       In a statement released on Monday, the bishops of Bolivia say that, “seeing the grave social conflicts and health crisis” the country is going through, they offer themselves to once again “facilitate dialogue where it’s needed.”       "The life of human beings has an absolute value, that must never be used to achieve any other objective,” write the bishops, who said the use of the ongoing crisis due to the global pandemic of COVID-19 coronavirus to “destabilize the institutions of the country” is “irrational” and “immoral.”....(more)    Photo: Bolivia Demonstration coronavirus pandemic David Mercado Reuters via CNS Crux 20200812
Keeping VMCH (Villa Maria Catholic Homes) disability group home residents connected
Extract from Melbourne Catholic, Wednesday 12 August 2020
Life in isolation is difficult for all of us. Being physically separated from the people we love is heartbreaking. We hear a lot about older people in aged care and how they’re coping, but how are people in other support services faring?        VMCH provides 14 Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) homes across Melbourne for adults with disabilities who can live independently, with some support.             SDA, or group home, residents are used to getting out and about in the community doing activities they love, enjoying visits from friends and family, and working at their various places of employment. But with much of that now on hold, VMCH support teams are thinking outside the square and making an extra effort to keep residents feeling safe, comfortable and connected.         The use of PPE including face masks and shields is vital but it can be confronting, particularly for people with intellectual disabilities. Staff have created video clips explaining why masks are being used to allay any fears, educating residents in fun ways about hand hygiene and social distancing, and making an effort to turn off the news when the doom and gloom of COVID-19 causes stress.      One of the biggest efforts has been keeping life fun in lockdown. Birthday celebrations and other milestones have become even bigger affairs with festive treats, decorations and families invited to join via Skype. In-house discos, restaurants and bowls sessions have kept everyone entertained, and Netflix has been installed to give residents more viewing options. Staff and volunteers from other VMCH sites have also made craft packs for residents to get creative.      When Cheltenham SDA team leader Heidi noticed residents were becoming anxious about rising COVID-19 cases, she decided to arrange a dance-off to ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’ on video sharing app TikTok – which lifted everyone’s spirits......(More)
Autistic representation and Love on the Spectrum
Extract from Alex Creece, Eureka Street,  11 August 2020
Since ABC’s Love on the Spectrum first aired last year, it’s been personally recommended to me six times. Eventually, I watched it. Or at least, I watched as much as it took to realise that this program isn’t for me. It’s for gawking at people like me.       It’s now hosted on Netflix, I’ve completed a full binge-watch for good measure, and the point still stands.      With all its good intentions and charming participants, Love on the Spectrum is for the neurotypical eye. Just like The Undateables, a similar show from the UK, it takes the inner machinations of disabled lives and creates entertainment for non-disabled viewers. Autistic representation on television is rare, which makes it all the more alienating when these few depictions exist purely for everyone else’s warm-n-fuzzies.      This is an inherent problem with disability dating shows. Most other dating shows are advertised as sexy and salacious. By contrast, our attempts at love are ‘adorable‘.        When autistic people are only seen as something cutesy, something to foster laughs through our wins and losses, it relegates us to this role. Viewers absorb the idea that they are entitled to satisfy their curiosity about our personal lives, even if the reality is far from cute. It’s the same human zoo quality that leads to unsolicited comments such as, ‘what’s your special interest?’, ‘I bet you’re great with computers’, ‘what textures do you like?’, and ‘school must’ve been rough, huh?’ when I’m visiting the doctor… for an ear infection.           Despite the autistic community’s push for self-advocacy, Love on the Spectrum plays into the typical power dynamic wherein non-autistic people frame our narratives, produce our interactions, and act as our mentors.....(more)   Photo:  Thomas Barwick Getty Images Eureka Street 11 August 2020)
Women priests are possible, says new Vatican finance council member
Extract from Katholische Nachrichten-Agentur, National Catholic Reporter, 10 Aug 2020
BONN, Germany — Law professor Charlotte Kreuter-Kirchhof, recently appointed by Pope Francis as a member of the high-level group that oversees the Vatican's finances, said Aug. 10 that she regards it possible that women could serve as priests in the Catholic Church and in top roles within the Vatican bureaucracy.        "In my view very much is possible in this area," she told catholic website in an interview. "But there are heated debates going on in the church about this at the moment."       A Duesseldorf-based professor, Kreuter-Kirchhof is one of six women that Francis named as members of the Vatican's Council for the Economy on Aug. 6. Francis created the group in 2014 to supervise the financial activities of both the Vatican city-state and the offices of the Holy See.           The council had previously included solely men.       Kreuter-Kirchhof, who is also chairwoman of the Hildegardis Association, which supports women in academic education and job training, said in the interview she saw encouraging signs of women's leadership in the German church.      "In many dioceses women are taking on central leadership tasks and making a substantial contribution to the future viability of our church," she said.       Kreuter-Kirchhof described the new appointment to the Council for the Economy as a "clear sign of the desired cooperation between bishops, priests and laypeople and of the cooperation between men and women." The council membership reflects a togetherness that is preparing the church for the future, she said.........(more)
Hiroshima atomic bomb memories still fresh for Japanese war bride of WWII digger
Extract from ABC News, 7 August 2020
Takako Watts remembers washing her newborn sister's nappies in Kure hospital when suddenly the windows smashed.        The then-12-year-old came to learn it was caused by the shockwave from the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, 20 kilometres away.         Although it happened 75 years ago, Ms Watts, who is now known as Cherry and lives in Murwillumbah in northern NSW, remembers as if it was yesterday.           "I started seeing all these people with burns coming into the hospital. I thought it was the end of the world," she said.        She remembers leaving the hospital with her mother and sister and seeing the devastation from the bomb.         "All the buildings were smashed to the ground with dead bodies underneath and a massive fire was burning throughout the city.           "We could smell the burning of flesh for days. It was horrible."       Before World War II, Ms Watts had lived a happy childhood; her parents were wealthy and had provided a stable environment for their children.       But that came to an abrupt end.      Kure, Japan's largest naval base and arsenal at the time, was constantly attacked by American bombers, with the family taking refuge in the side of a mountain where caves had been built.         "It was scary being in the cave at night because it was so dark. I would constantly pray to God to stop the war," Ms Watts said......(more) Photo: Takako (Cherry) married Bill Watts before settling in NSW  (Supplied) ABC News 20200807
Pope sends special message to the people of Japan
Extract from CathNews, Vatican News, 7 August 2020
Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the people of Japan yesterday to mark the 75th anniversary yesterday of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima.          In a message sent to the Governor of the Hiroshima Prefecture, Hidehiko Yusaki, the Pope offered his “cordial greetings to the organisers and participants in the seventy-fifth solemn anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, and in a special way to the hibakusha survivors of the original tragedy”.          The Pope also recalled that he was able to reflect on “the destruction of human life and property” at the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima and at Hypocentre Park in Nagasaki during his Apostolic Visit to the two cities in November 2019.        Recalling his message at Hiroshima, Pope Francis said that “the use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral”.           In Australia, a coalition of religious organisations and faith groups have signed an open letter in support of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, according to the Missionary Sisters of Service website.       The open letter was organised by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons to mark the 75th anniversary of the bombings.        Among the many Catholic signatories to the letter were Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Stancea Vichie of the Missionary Sisters of Service, Sr Monica Cavanagh of the Sisters of Saint Joseph and Br Peter Carroll of Catholic Religious Australia......(more)    Photo: Pope Francis at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial in 2019 (CNS/Paul Haring)
Catholics for Renewal endorses Columban Call for Abolition of Nuclear Weapons
Media Release, Catholics for Renewal,  6 August 2020
Thursday 6th August and Sunday 9 August 2020 mark the 75th anniversary of the bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic weapons. The destruction of human life and dwellings was horrific. Pope Francis, on his visit to both cities in 2019, pleaded for the world to understand that “the possession of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction is not the answer to the longings of the human heart for security, peace and stability”.               In its submission to the Plenary Council, Catholics for Renewal identified the ‘nuclear threat’ as one of the most significant signs of the times. The Catholic Church in Australia has not made a clear, forceful and principled statement on the elimination of nuclear weapons since 1985.             On 3 August the Society of St Columban, whose missionary members have been working in Japan since 1948, just three years after the atomic attack, published a powerful and prophetic Message of Peace and Nonviolence calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons, their production, possession, testing and use. Catholics for Renewal unequivocally endorses this message which we re-publish below.               We also pray that the hierarchy and forthcoming Plenary Council of the Catholic Church in Australia will speak to our nation and its leaders with clarity and wisdom urging a total ban on the development, possession and use of nuclear weapons here and throughout the world.           "Columban Message of Peace and Nonviolence -  On the 75th anniversary of the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki"    HERE                    Photo: J Costa, Hiroshima 2015 
Pope Francis appoints 6 women (and a U.S. cardinal) to Vatican economic council
Extract from Gerard O’Connell America - The Jesuit Review, 6 August 2020
Pope Francis has appointed seven highly qualified lay persons—six of them women—and six cardinals, including Joseph Tobin of Newark, N.J., to the board of the Vatican’s Council for the Economy.        The pope first established the Council for the Economy together with the Secretariat for the Economy on Feb. 24, 2014, when he issued the decree, “Fidelis dispensator et Prudens” (“Faithful and prudent administrator”), which created a new coordinating agency for the economic and administrative affairs of the Holy See and the Vatican City State.        He then tasked the council with “oversight for the administrative and financial structures and activities of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, the institutions linked to the Holy See, and the Vatican City State.” The council was to be composed of 15 members, eight chosen from among the cardinals and bishops to reflect the universality of the church and seven “lay experts of various nationalities with recognized professional financial competence.” He appointed Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Germany as coordinator of the council, and he retains that position.         Pope Francis has appointed six cardinals, including Joseph Tobin of Newark, N.J., and seven highly qualified lay persons—six of them women—to the board of the Vatican’s Council for the Economy.          Today the pope renewed the membership of the council by appointing six cardinals for the full five-year term: Péter Erdő (Hungary), Odilo Pedro Scherer (Brazil), Gérald Cyprien Lacroix (Canada), Joseph William Tobin (Newark), Anders Arborelius (Sweden) and Giuseppe Petrocchi (Italy). He has retained Cardinal Wilfrid Napier Fox (now 79), who was a member of the council during the past five-year term, for one more year. (Cardinals have to retire from all offices on reaching the age of 80.)        It is significant, however, that Pope Francis has appointed six lay women to the council and only one lay man. It is a further indication of his determination to give more responsibility to women in the Vatican in positions that do not require ordination. There was no woman on the council during the past five-year term.   All of the women are Europeans: two each from Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom. They all have first-class credentials and distinguished careers, as evidenced by the brief biographical notes provided by the Vatican when it announced the new membership of the council on Aug. 6. .....(more)
Pope Francis appoints new Bishop of Port Pirie
Extract from  Media Release, Gavin Abraham, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, 1 August 2020
Pope Francis has this evening appointed Fr Karol Kulczycki SDS, the former head of the Salvatorians in Australia, as the new bishop of the Diocese of Port Pirie in regional South Australia.         Fr Kulczycki was born in Poland in 1966, ordained to the priesthood in Trzebinia in 1994 and is currently based in Poland. He spent 21 years serving the Church in Western Australia, including in parish ministry, as vocations director and as a college chaplain. In February 2018, while still serving in Australia, Fr Kulczycki was elected vice-provincial of the Polish province of the Society of the Divine Saviour – widely known as the Salvatorians.           Two-and-a-half years on, Pope Francis has appointed him Bishop of Port Pirie. “Just a few weeks ago I had an interview for our Salvatorian newsletter and was asked how and where I see myself in 10 or 20 years. I replied that I would be where God sent me. I did not expect that God would act so quickly in my life,” Fr Kulczycki said. “God is working in mysterious ways in my life. Firstly, calling me unexpectedly to religious and priestly life; secondly, directing my heart to serve him in Australia and now serving him and his people in Port Pirie Diocese.”                Fr Kulczycki will become the 12th Bishop of Port Pirie – including the bishops who led what was from 1887 until 1951 the Diocese of Port Augusta. He succeeds Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ, who has been Bishop of Port Pirie since 2009. Bishop O’Kelly also served as apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Adelaide for almost two years.......(more)
Reflections on sixty years as a priest .
Layout-edited extract from Eric Hodgens, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue Website, 31 July 2020
The more reflective component of the Church is crying out for imaginative leadership on the ministry crisis and institutional re-organisation. But episcopal conferences seem paralysed.      Ordained in 1960 my major anniversaries synced with the decades. I published a Golden Anniversary Reflection in 2010.               It characterised the decades as: *The awakening 60s;  *The exciting 70s;  *The suspicious 80s;    *The depressing 90s and    *The imploding noughties.      Now at my diamond anniversary I have added      *the Counter-intuitive Teens.         This decade has been notable for unexpected disruptions and reversals both good and bad but all remarkable.           First there was the election of Pope Francis. This brought a reversal of the 45 years of Restorationist policy under JPII and Benedict. Francis brought a pastoral mind and style of conversation which broke the formal kabuki-style image of the papacy.   People heard the Jesus message in story and image as Jesus told it. Francis wanted to replace a self-referential church with one that looked outward and dealt with reality as it is. His vision was to replace a juridical institution with a pastoral community of service. His way to get there was synodal – with everyone equally walking the Way together.          This disrupted the whole Roman administration and the episcopacy around the world. They were the pope’s pretorian guard – but now, the pope wanted them to change tack. Some were delighted. More were alarmed. The culture wars had been going on for decades, but now the leaders of the right swung into action with passive and overt resistance. Francis, though less familiar with Vatican politics, was the experienced veteran of South American intrigue. He skilfully made progress against opposing winds and gradually built up his own team. The opposition continues but Francis, following his own mantras, is still ahead.         After years in pastoral leadership and administration, he had developed four rules of thumb:  *Unity is more important than conflict.   *The whole is more important than the part.   * Time is more important than space – gently, gently.        *Reality is more important than the idea.        He is not an ideologue. Pastoral experience has softened rigidity and dogmatism. He has no time for the hard right, nor for the hard left. Reality is more important than the idea. Restorationism is over.....(MORE)
Working Document Next Step on Plenary Council Journey
Extract from Gavin Abraham, Media release, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, 30 July 2020
The working document – or instrumentum laboris – for the Plenary Council will provide a constant reminder of the need for deep and ongoing discernment of God’s will for the Church, the Council’s president has said.     Work recently began on the development of the instrumentum laboris, with the document drawing heavily on the first two preparatory phases of the Council journey: Listening and Dialogue and Listening and Discernment.      The voices of more than 220,000 people across the country, as well as discernment and writing papers on each of the six National Themes for Discernment, are being considered alongside Church teaching, Scripture, papal documents and a range of other sources – within and beyond the Church –  in preparing the instrumentum laboris.     Plenary Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB pointed to a national review of parish and diocesan governance, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the COVID-19 pandemic as some of those sources.......(MORE)
New Closing the Gap deal ‘to move country in new direction’
Extract from CathNews, ABC News, 30 July 2020
Australia will commit to reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rates, suicides and child removals under a historic Closing the Gap agreement to be unveiled by the Prime Minister today.           All state and territory governments have signed up to 16 targets as part of the national agreement, which Indigenous groups say will “move the country in a new direction” to substantially improve life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.       The deal follows years of failure to meet most of the previous Closing the Gap targets, set in 2008. But Indigenous organisations say their direct involvement in negotiating and implementing the new agreement should prove a key difference this time around.     The ABC understands the new agreement will also aim to move hundreds of Indigenous adults and children out of prison within a decade.....(more)  CathNews 20200730 Bigstock
Nuns, priests, bishops protest Duterte government
State of the Nation address provides opportunity for visibility of dissent
Extract from Ma. Ceres P. Doyo, Global Sisters Report, 28 Jul 2020
Manila, Philippines — Nuns, priests and bishops in the Philippines issued protest calls in the run up to and during President Rodrigo Duterte's fifth State of the Nation address, delivered July 27 at the House of Representatives in Quezon City, Metro Manila.       Despite warnings about the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, nuns wearing face masks and face shields joined morning protest activities on University Avenue at the main campus of the University of the Philippines in Quezon City. The stretch branches off from the 18-lane Commonwealth Avenue that leads to the House of Representatives building, which was off-limits to the public. The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported a crowd of about 2,000.       To make their presence known, nuns wearing face masks and face shields carried the streamer of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP). Elsewhere in Metro Manila, other groups of nuns staged their own protests. The Missionary Benedictine Sisters who run St. Scholastica's College in the City of Manila went out to the streets to stage a short program......(MORE)
AOC the future of the Catholic Church
Extract from Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter, 27 July 2020
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's stunning speech on the House floor last week has been called "a comeback for the ages," "the most important feminist speech in a generation" and "a lesson in sexism and decency."     I just call it "truth."       Responding to an incident on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in which Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida verbally assaulted her — including calling her a "f---ing bitch" — Ocasio-Cortez noted that "this is not new, and that is the problem."       "This issue is not about one incident," she said. "It is cultural. It is a culture of lack of impunity, of accepting of violence and violent language against women, and an entire structure of power that supports that."        As I listened to her 10-minute address on the House floor, I was struck by how often it referenced Catholic values.        Ocasio-Cortez repeatedly railed against the "dehumanizing" of others and instead called for treating people with dignity and respect. These are themes often repeated by Pope Francis, who has  specifically cautioned about gossip and urged the use of respectful language, saying "it is possible to kill someone with the tongue."       The Democratic congresswoman who represents New York's 14th District also universalized the need to treat all people with dignity and respect, noting that Yoho's behavior gave "permission to other men to do that to his daughters."       "I'm here to say that is not acceptable," she said.......(More)
Poland to quit treaty on violence against women, minister says
Extract from Reuters, The Age, 26 July 2020
Warsaw: Poland will take steps next week to withdraw from a European treaty on violence against women, which the right-wing cabinet says violates parents' rights by requiring schools to teach children about gender, the justice minister said on Saturday....(more)
A Church That Is Poor?
Money, Sectarianism, & Catholic Tradition
Extract from Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal, 24 July 2020
What to make of the fact that the Catholic Church received $1.4 billion from the U.S. government’s Paycheck Protection Program?   The remarks from Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, seem to suffice. As he put it in a statement, the “Catholic Church” in this case encompasses the hundreds of individual Catholic dioceses, parishes, schools, social-service agencies, and other organizations that collectively employ thousands of people, and so is not prohibited from receiving taxpayer-backed federal aid.       “The Paycheck Protection Program was designed to protect the jobs of Americans from all walks of life, regardless of whether they work for for-profit or non-profit employers, faith-based or secular,” his statement read in part. A range of Catholic media outlets have made the same observation, and it seems clear there is less to this “story” than meets the eye.         Yet at the same time, we should remain mindful about the constitutional and political issues concerning the relationship between Church and state, and the continued need for financial accountability and transparency in light of the links between the sexual-abuse crisis and financial mismanagement in Catholic institutions.   It seems that some of the objection to PPP funding for the Church arises from the belief that the money could be used to pay settlements and legal costs associated with sex-abuse cases and other scandals. And this unfortunately speaks to the level of regard many people have for the Catholic Church today.....(more)    Photo:Commomweal 20200724 CNS Alessandro Garofalo Reuters
Vinnies calls for release of refugees from hotel detention
Extract from CathNews, The Catholic Leader,  24 July 2020
The St Vincent de Paul Society has called for the release of refugees detained in hotels in Brisbane and Melbourne. The society’s national president Claire Victory, in a statement coinciding with the seventh anniversary of the start of Australia’s regime of off-shore immigration detention on July 19, reiterated the charity’s call for the immediate release of the refugees into safer accommodation.         The statement noted that in July 2013, then prime minister Kevin Rudd launched the policy that ensured no people who arrived in Australia by boat would ever gain permanent settlement in Australia but would instead be sent to Papua New Guinea and Nauru.        Vinnies took the anniversary as an opportunity to highlight “the deteriorating situation for the nearly 400 people still in PNG and Nauru, and the hundreds still in closed detention in Australia”.       About 200 refugees transferred to Australia for medical treatment under the repealed medevac legislation are being detained in hotels in Melbourne and Brisbane.        Ms Victory said some of the detainees in Brisbane and Melbourne had family members in the community, and others had offers of support and housing with friends.       “A safe and permanent resettlement must be found for all as a matter of urgency, whether they are in detention in Australia or elsewhere,” she said.        Meanwhile, the executive officer of Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, Peter Arndt, joined a candlelight vigil last Sunday outside the Kangaroo Point Central Hotel supporting calls for the freedom of refugees detained there.......(more Photo: ACBC, Greek Archdiocese of Melb. CathNews 20200724
Changing status of 'Hagia Sophia' could sow division
Extract from Melbourne Catholic, ACBC Media Blog, 24 July 2020
The president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and the head of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia say Hagia Sophia’s revised status as a mosque risks sowing division in a world seeking common ground.       In a statement signed by Archbishop Mark Coleridge and Archbishop Makarios released today, the two leaders “join our voices to the many around the world who have expressed deep regret at the recent decision in Turkey to change the status of Hagia Sophia/Aya Sofya”.        Hagia Sophia, which was a Christian cathedral for more than 900 years before becoming a mosque in the 15th century, became a secular museum in 1935. After a decision earlier this month, it has again become a mosque, with Friday prayers set to resume there today.       The archbishops said the grand building has, for the past 85 years, been “a monument of world cultural heritage and a symbol of inclusivity”.        “Our fear is that this could aggravate tension between Christians and Muslims at a time when we need to pursue the path of dialogue and seek common ground,” the statement says.      “The path of nationalist ideology and the political decisions it prompts can lead only to division, which is never the fruit of the holy wisdom all religions seek.”....(More)    Photo CathNews 20200724 ACBC. Greek Archdiocese of Melbourne 20200724
Pope Francis makes bishops accountable for cover-ups
Edited Extract from Kieran Tapsell, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue website, 24 July 2020
On 16 July 2020, the Vatican published a manual for dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse against Church personnel. It marks a significant change in culture expressed in canon law for the last 100 years where the Church was more concerned about providing immunity for clergy child sex perpetrators than it was for the welfare of their victims.      In 2014, two United Nations Committees, for the Rights of the Child, and against Torture, criticized the Vatican for the pontifical secret imposed over allegations of child sexual abuse and for not changing canon law to require Church authorities to report such allegations to the police. The Vatican’s response was that the Church would obey civil reporting laws, but it was otherwise not its responsibility to report – it was up to the victims, even if they were children or those intellectually incapable of reporting.       The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse had found in its 2017 Final Report that the pontifical secret still applied where there were no applicable civil reporting laws, and recommended its abolition. Within Australia at the time, only New South Wales and Victoria had comprehensive reporting laws. Once the other States and Territories adopted the Royal Commission’s recommendation that they pass similar laws, canon law required bishops in those places to report abuse to the civil authorities.        In February 2019, Pope Francis held a summit meeting on child sexual abuse at the Vatican with the heads of national Catholic Bishops’ Conferences. Three prominent speakers, Cardinal Marx, Professor Linda Gishoni and Archbishop Scicluna criticized the pontifical secret. It was widely expected that Pope Francis would abolish it, and would impose mandatory reporting to the civil authorities under canon law, as demanded by the two United Nations Committees.....(more)
Learn who you are in the eyes of God: Bishop Mark Edwards farewells Melbourne
Extract from Communications Office, Melbourne Catholic, 21 July 2020
This Wednesday, Bishop Mark Edwards OMI will be installed as the sixth bishop of the Diocese of Wagga Wagga, NSW. Before leaving Melbourne, Melbourne Catholic caught up with Bishop Mark for a conversation and walk through the Fitzroy Gardens, where he reflected on what he’ll miss most about “home”, his thoughts on the Plenary Council and how passing on the faith is all about telling stories...(more including video farewells by Bishop Mark and Abp Peter Comensoli   HERE)
Bishop McElroy's hopeful vision for a church transformed
Extract from Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter, 20 July 2020
.......It was McElroy's discussion of this "moment of societal crisis," however, that makes his homily especially worthy of widespread consideration. A kind of "state of the local church" reflection, it has wide applicability for the rest of the country.         First, he notes that "the pandemic has transformed the landscape of our ecclesial life in ways that will permanently change the nature of pastoral action and evangelization. Patterns of parish life that have sustained community and the proclamation of the Gospel for decades have been ruptured by the isolation of these months and the atomization of all social life that we have witnessed. There is a great danger that that pandemic is creating a culture of increased disengagement within the life of the Church that will persist long after a vaccination is found."           For the church, the words "sustained community" are especially important. Communities do not self-sustain on autopilot. They need to be tended and nurtured, and the methods the church in the U.S. has adopted have wilted in the heat caused by this virus.          McElroy then looks at the national focus on racial issues, "The issues of race and nationality, the rights of immigrants and the imperative for authentic solidarity in society and our Church that have surfaced in these past months are also a turning point, not an episode," he said. "We are in the midst of a profound social renewal in which the meaning of equality in our nation is in these days being irrevocably changed for the better."      I want to share the bishop's confidence that we are in a moment of "profound social renewal" and that things are changing "for the better." I worry that the righteous anger at the persistence of racial injustice has spent itself on symbols and semiotics. The murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor demand more than statements and empty pedestals.       "Finally, and most profoundly, the pandemic has destroyed our individual and collective feelings of security on every level — personal health, financial security, safety, and relationships," McElroy continued. "We have come face to face with the existential reality that we are not in control and that the security we had treasured and presumed is an illusion."         McElroy said that these three ruptures — "the disruption of ecclesial life, the overpowering recognition that we do not live in a society of authentic solidarity, and the devastating assault that the pandemic has visited upon our false sense and sources of security" — force the recognition that our ecclesial structures will not be recovered so much as they will be transformed, of necessity......(more)
French women challenge Catholic hierarchy to open up male-only ministries
Seven women apply publicly for various Church positions -- including bishop, nuncio, parish priest, deacon, preacher...
Limited extract from Héloïse de Neuville and Xavier Le Normand, subscription journal La Croix International, 23 July 2020.
France. The date was not chosen by accident.    On July 22 -- the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, "Apostle of the Apostles" -- seven Catholic women in France decided to run for Church offices linked to ordination (bishop, parish priest, deacon, nuncio...).     The initiative comes after lay theologian Anne Soupa publicly put her name forward on May 25 as a candidate to be the next Archbishop of Lyon.           But this latest move goes even further than the 73-year-old Soupa's manifesto, which did not call for access to the ordained ministry for women.      "Noting that two popes had declared the issue of women's access to....(source).   Photo: La Croix Int 20200723 Corinne Simon Ciiric
The pastoral conversion of the Parish community in the service of the evangelising mission of the Church
Extract from Instruction. Holy See Press Office, 20 July 2020
1. The ecclesiological reflection of the Second Vatican Council, together with the considerable social and cultural changes of recent decades, has resulted in various Particular Churches having to reorganise the manner in which the pastoral care of Parish communities are assigned.       This has made it possible to initiate new experiences, enhancing the dimension of communion and implementing, under the guidance of pastors, a harmonious synthesis of charisms and vocations at the service of the proclamation of the Gospel, which better corresponds to the demands of evangelisation today.                Pope Francis, at the beginning of his Petrine ministry, recalled the importance of “creativity”, meaning thereby “seeking new ways”, that is “seeking how best to proclaim the Gospel”; in respect of this, the Holy Father concluded by saying, “the Church, and also the Code of Canon Law, gives us innumerable possibilities, much freedom to seek these things”.
2. The situations outlined in the following Instruction, represent a valuable opportunity for pastoral conversion that is essentially missionary. Parish communities will find herein a call to go out of themselves, offering instruments for reform, even structural, in a spirit of communion and collaboration, of encounter and closeness, of mercy and solicitude for the proclamation of the Gospel......(more)

Exciting Joint Venture With The Good Samaritan Inn

17 July 2020

It’s very easy to think that during the shutdown brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic nothing much is happening - but nothing could be further from the truth.              Not only is our Parish Centre Redevelopment Project steaming ahead, with preparations being made for the tendering process and the temporary move from the Mary Immaculate site to Mother of God church while the site is being redeveloped, we have also been busy developing a partnership with the Good Samaritan Inn who currently provide emergency accommodation at their Sacred Heart Preston premises for women and children who are victims of domestic violence.              The Good Samaritan Inn, in partnership with our Parish, will repurpose and redevelop the former St. Bernadette’s Convent into an accommodation facility for women and children who have experienced family violence and consequently have been made homeless.              This proposal has been endorsed by our Parish Pastoral Council and the Archbishop and is now in the final approval stage. It is hoped that works will begin on the former convent before the end of the year so that this sadly growing need within our community can benefit from this new initiative of outreach and mission on behalf of the Parish and in partnership with the Good Samaritans.

Improving care for terminally ill prisoners
Extract from CathNews, Persuiot, 16 July 2020
New research by the University of Melbourne and St Vincent’s Hospital has identified opportunities to improve palliative care for people in prison with terminal illnesses.          With an increasing and ageing prisoner population, there are now more people who are likely to face their end of life in prison. Of those prisoners who die in Victoria, approximately 38 per cent will spend their final weeks or months of life in a secure, guarded public hospital ward.                 The research uncovered the opportunities perceived by health professionals to improve the models of care for prisoners dying with progressive and life-limiting illnesses.         Recently published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, the researchers explored the perspectives of public hospital-employed doctors, nurses and allied health staff from a range of disciplines about their experiences of providing care for dying prisoners in the public hospital setting.            Health professionals described obstacles faced by people in prison across a range of areas of care, and for themselves, as they strove to provide optimal end-of-life care for prisoners.      
They described the challenges in providing access to the best pain relief and facilitating death in a desired site of care. They also described a system which at times requires prisoners to forgo their minimum-security incarceration and be transferred to a maximum-security facility in order to access specialist hospital care.... (more).  Photo: Prison death CathNews 20200716 Bigstock
Knockers or Rockers of the Barque of Peter?
Extract from Trish Hindmarsh, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue Website, 15 July 2020
Let’s not entirely knock the six Theme Papers from the Plenary Council Writing Groups.        Short-comings? Of course.     Are they a faithful representation of the sensus fidelium expressed through the 220,000 participants in the Plenary lead up? Yes, and no. Could other, more competent people had been working on them? No doubt.    Are humans capable of reaching genuine consensus when confronted with a variety of worldviews, back ground experience and formation? Hopefully, but only with difficulty, patience, prayer, study and dollops of respectful listening.   I came to some sharp realization of all this as a member of the Writing Group for the theme, ‘Conversion, Renewal and Reform’.       It was challenging for me to work at a deep level with Catholics from totally different faith experiences … converts too young to be steeped in Vatican 2, knowing nothing from lived experience of those hope-filled years after the Council when the Adelaide Diocese set up its Diocesan Pastoral Council;      the Australian Justice and Peace Commission was founded; the laity hungered for formation; the liturgy took on renewed life and immediacy; prophetic voices were being heard from the basic Christian communities in Latin America;      the religious orders were refounding themselves in response to the call to go out to the peripheries with Good News to the poor; ecumenism and inter-faith dialogue were flourishing.       We older, Vatican 2 Catholics in the group were among ‘newer’, youthful and fresh-faced Catholics for whom the Theology of the Body, loyalty to the tradition and its authority and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament are compelling fundamentals of Catholic culture. We did share common ground… a desire to listen to the Spirit; the power of prayer and the grace of the sacraments; a love for Christ; hope for a faith-filled future for our children … During the months of work and reflection, we also came to consensus regarding how critical to God’s mission are ecological conversion; openness to our First Peoples and their wisdom; reformed governance structures for a renewed, ‘synodal’ church; and recognition of how antithetical to the conversion, renewal and reform of the church are the structural ‘sins’ of clericalism and the exclusion of women.      The alternative to patient, respectful dialogue, to negotiated pathways through discernment, is factionalism, isolated self-righteousness, echo-chambers where the ‘friend of my friend is my friend and the enemy of my friend is my enemy’.    If we insist only on reinforcing our own position, without a willingness to sit together in our parishes, dioceses, homes and local cafes, engaged in fellowship and dialogue, face-to-face or online, difficult, tedious and utterly frustrating as that can be, we are left with division and dead ends.     Ultimately a failure to engage in respectful, skilled processes of dialogue and negotiation leads to the sort of sabre rattling that we are seeing, terrifyingly, right now in our nation and across our planet.      The world needs the church to model a better way to go about the human business of peaceful coexistence, seeking alternatives to conflict and war.....(more)
German bishops split over plans to cut number of seminaries
Steady decline in number of priesthood candidates has bishops re-thinking current structure
Limited extract from Gwénaëlle Deboutte, subscription journal La Croix International, 14 July 2020
Berlin. In Germany, a working group of the German Bishops' Conference has proposed to concentrate formation in a smaller number of dioceses.        "The number of candidates for the Catholic priesthood has gone from 594 in 2011 to 211 at present," said Heinrich Timmerevers, Bishop of Dresden-Meissen.        Because of this steady decline, the Germany's Catholic bishops over the past several years have been considering how they might streamline the formation of future priests.       Three seminaries and nine teaching locations.  Timmerevers, 67, co-chairs the German Bishops' Conference (DBK) working group on the issue. And on June 23 that body presented a proposal....(source).  Photo:  Photo:  La Croix Int 20200714 Sven Hoppe  DPA MAXPPP
A reformed Roman Curia and a new batch of cardinals
Strange as it sounds, there's word the new constitution is signed and the rings have been ordered
Limited extract from Robert Mickens, subscription journal La Croix International, 10 July 2020
Vatican City.   It is perhaps the most ambitious project of the current pontificate: attempting to truly reform the mentality and structures of the Catholic Church's central – and, up until Francis arrived, centralizing– bureaucracy known as the Roman Curia.         Exactly one month after his election in March 2013, the Argentine pope established the "Council of Cardinals".        Originally made up of eight and then nine senior churchman from different parts of the world, the members of this C-9 were given the task of helping Francis in his governance of the Universal Church.      They were also given the very specific project of drawing up a plan to reform the curia by revising the apostolic constitution Pastor Bonus, which currently regulates this Vatican structure.      A draft of the new constitution was completed over a year ago, but the pope wanted to give national episcopal conferences, select heads of religious orders and certain theologians the opportunity to offer more suggestions.       Early in the year there was talk that the final document would be released on the Feast of the Chair of St Peter in February or, at latest, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul at the end of June.       Praedicate Evangelium has already been signed.        But then the pandemic hit and the remnant of the C-9, now reduced to just six cardinal-members, cancelled its last three meetings.       So is the project on hold? Not according to a source at the Vatican who claimed the new constitution, Praedicate Evangelium, is done and Pope Francis has already signed it.      It appears the text is currently being carefully translated into the major languages. And once that is done, it will be officially published.       Naturally, this would be extremely out of the ordinary. The middle of Roman summer is not usually the time for launching major Vatican documents or important events. But this is not an ordinary pontificate.         No matter....(source)  Photo: La Croix International 20200711
Formation must also focus on human aspects of priestly life
Extract from CathNews, Australian Catholics,  10 July 2020
Catholic Professional Standards Limited held the first session of its online Seminary Formation and Safeguarding Seminar last Friday in Melbourne, which included a keynote address from Fr Zollner for seminarians and others involved in forming people for religious life.       The Head of the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Fr Zollner spoke of a recent study on priestly formation by Sr Anna Mary Thumma, which highlighted how both those in formation, and those doing formation, believe there is inadequate focus on the human aspects of priestly life.      “My own experience tells me that we really focus much in formation on questions of faith and theology – and this is certainly one key area – but we focus much less on relational, emotional and other issues that also need to be addressed,” he said.      He asked formators to consider how many priests leave the priesthood because of crises of faith or theology-related issues, as compared to those who leave because of issues around human relationships and sexuality.       “I’m a university professor, so I have nothing against intellectual formation. But when we look into the real needs and the real challenges that priests live up to, my question is whether pastoral, spiritual and the human formation needs much more attention given to them,” he said.      One of the issues is that priests in formation may not trust formators enough to come forward to them about their anxieties and problems in these areas because they’re worried about being sent away.     “They try to go underwater from the day of their entrance in seminary and they dive through for five or eight or whatever years, trying to be as calm and trying to not to show any signs of disturbance or trouble or questions,” Fr Zollner said. “The fear is that they will be thrown out of the seminary, so they become what I would call “submarines”.      Similarly, bishops and formators might themselves be hesitant to initiate these conversations for fear of losing people from the priesthood, he said....(more).  

Parish Office Shutdown

Friday 10 July 2020

Who would have thought that last Sunday's strictly limited attendances and physically distanced Masses (shown at MI Church) would be the last before reintroduction of Phase 3 restrictions for 6 weeks from Midnight on Wednesday 8 July.      Because of the unexpected return to stage 3 Shutdown Restrictions our Parish Office has closed and our Parish Secretary, Ruth Villani, will immediately transition into retirement and begin her annual leave and long service leave. We thank Ruth for her 16 years of service to the Parish and for delaying her retirement to assist over the past week.             Our new Office Administrator, Teana McIntosh, will not be able to commence work in the office until restrictions are lifted but will gradually transition to working from home once I can arrange her connection to our Parish on Line network.        In the meantime all phone calls to the office will be automatically forwarded to Fr. Bill’s mobile phone.

Paul Harris Fellowship Award

Friday 10 July 2020

Congratulations to Vince Marino and Eugene Ballao who have been honoured by Bundoora Rotary Club with the Paul Harris Fellowship Award for their extraordinary community work over the past four years.



Do You Need Assistance During The Shutdown?

Friday 10 July 2020

If you need support during the shutdown, for example, shopping, transport to doctors, a regular phone call, a meal, pastoral care etc., please contact Fr. Bill 0427 879 733. Don’t be bashful - we have people ready to help and support you.

Australian Catholics’ sensus fidei: Priority Issues for the Plenary Council.
Peter Wilkinson, June 2020. Republished July 2020
This report is based on detailed analysis of of the 28 Diocesan Reports which analysed both the respondents in each territorial diocese and the content of their submissions in response to the ACBC May 2018 question "What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?"  Its aim was “to listen to the voice of God speaking through the voices of the people and to gain a sense of their faith (sensus fidei)”........(See report HERE)
Celebrating Sea Sunday (12 July) Wednesday 8 July 202 Apostleship of the Sea Australia 
Extract from Melbourne Catholic, Wednesday 8 July 2020
This Sunday (12 July) is Sea Sunday, an opportunity to recognise the important work being done by seafarers across the world. The theme for this year is “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11: 28)           We only have to look around us, in our homes and in our work, to recognise the many commodities that are brought to our shores by cargo ships. In fact, over 95% of global trade is carried by ships. As an island nation, we in Australia are heavily reliant on ships and the commodities they bring to us for our survival.          The Stella Maris (Apostleship of the Sea) ministry has recognised this reality and concerns itself totally with the welfare and pastoral care of seafarers who crew these ships. In almost every country bound by sea, there exists a community of people who care for seafarers, fishers and their families. The Stella Maris Apostolate has, for the past 100 years, responded to seafarers’ needs and has advocated on their behalf regardless of their colour or creed.        By anyone’s standards, seafarers are burdened more than most other workers. They are in need, especially at this time of the pandemic, of the rest that Jesus promises in this year's Gospel theme. They are burdened by isolation, loneliness, exploitation, wage theft, climatic hardship, abuse (physical, sexual and verbal), fear of piracy and insecure employment......(More)
 Australian priest wins top book award
Extract from CathNews, 8 July 2020
Townsville priest and theologian, Fr Ormond Rush, has won a North American Catholic media award for his book on the Second Vatican Council.         Associate Professor Rush is a Reader in Theology at Australian Catholic University. His book The Vision of Vatican II: Its Fundamental Principles, was awarded first place in the category of Theological and Philosophical Studies in the Catholic Press Association awards announced on July 3.          The book analyses the key principles behind Vatican II and calls on today’s Church to continue the work it started. Professor Rush said he hopes the success of the book will prompt those in Church leadership to further the work of Vatican II, which ran from 1962 to 1965.       He hopes Australia’s upcoming Plenary Council will reflect on the vision of Vatican II.         “I want people to take away the excitement I feel for the vision of the Council but also a healthy anticipation and, indeed, an impatience for the fuller realisation of its principles,” he said.            In particular, he hopes to see more progress on challenges to clericalism and recognition of the importance of lay people to the mission of the Church -- themes which were essential to the Council’s conclusions but have met some resistance since.        “One of the great challenges of the Council was to move away from a very legalistic and triumphalist vision of the Church. Two words that were leitmotifs at the Council were ‘participation’ and ‘dialogue’,” Professor Rush said.      He said in the wake of the child abuse scandals which have rocked the Church, there was a new awareness of resting too much power in the Church hierarchy.       “I think in the wake of all the horrors that have been done, it’s emboldened lay people to say, ‘We need to have a say’. People are seeing this as an opportunity for change,” he said.....(more)  Photo: Associate Professor Fr Ormond Rush ACU, CathNews 20200708
Parish Secretary - Changeover or NOT!
Fr Bill, Friday 3 July 2020
Just as we were to wish Ruth a blessed retirement and welcome Teana as our new Office Administrator our plans were dismantled by Covid-19. Teana lives in one of the suburbs now in lockdown and it seems prudent that Teana’s commencement in the office should be delayed until the lockdown is lifted by the State Government. Ruth has kindly agreed to continue on in the office part time until this resolves itself. I am grateful to both Ruth and Teana for their understanding and co-operation in these circumstances.
Another Resignation
FR Bill, Friday 3 July 2020
After over thirty years of faithful service and ministry as our Sacristan at Mother of God, Bernadette Milesi is hanging up her chalices, brasso and altar linen. Over forty years of priesthood I have been blessed with wonderful sacristans and Bernadette has been that and more in her long ministry with the priests serving Mother of God. Good sacristans are hard to find as they have to tolerate all the mad idiosyncrasies of the priests that come and go. And for that I am sure they have a special place in God’s kingdom. On behalf of the Parish, and all the priests you have assisted over the years - a huge thank you, and a plenary indulgence, as your penance is done, in the care and support you have given to priests and the Parish

Parish Redevelopment Project – Mary Immaculate Site Early Works

Pat Kelly. 1 July 2020

Advice has been received from the managing architects that the sewer through Mary Immaculate site is to be decommissioned as soon as is practical.  Yarra Valley Water has agreed to the removal and the design has commenced. YVW conditions state that the site cannot be occupied once the works commence.            We have requested that works be delayed until the redevelopment contract is in place.  However, YVW sets its own timings. As soon as the date for the sewer removal is known we will advise all parishioners.             The Mary Immaculate site will be closed from that date until completion of the Redevelopment Project. While Sunday and weekday Masses will be at Mother of God Church, Mass times may have to be rescheduled to comply with Covid-19      

Zooming in on Church reform across two countries
Extract from CathNews, The Southern Cross, 2 July 2020
Catholics from reform groups across Australia and New Zealand met via Zoom last month to discuss the Plenary Council and Church governance.     Participants representing 17 reform groups and other invitees joined the forum of the Australian Coalition for Catholic Church Reform (ACCCR) to discuss the way ahead for Church decision making, especially in the lead up to the Plenary Council, which is now scheduled for October 2021.      Presentations included overviews of the Plenary Council process to date, reviews of the six official discernment papers meant to shape the Plenary Council agenda, and the Implementation Advisory Group’s recent governance report, "The Light from the Southern Cross".      Speaking shortly after the forum, ACCCR Convener, Peter Johnstone, said that the coalition was increasingly harnessing the energy for renewal Australia-wide.     “Catholics want a Church that lives and models the teachings of Jesus,” he said. “We believe that this is the most representative meeting of Catholic reform groups ever held in Australia.    “We were pleased to also have New Zealand Catholics share their views"..............(more)
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP reappointed to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Extract from Benjamin Conolly, The Catholic Weekly, 2 July 2020
Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP to a second five-year term on the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The CDF is the top Vatican body for promulgating and defending Catholic doctrine.  Appointment to the CDF, which the Archbishop has held since 2015, is an acknowledgement of an individual’s deep proficiency and expertise in the Catholic faith.       The position also recognises Archbishop Fisher’s expertise in fields such as bioethics where, even as a priest, he was widely regarded as one of Australia’s top experts.      In 2019 the Archbishop was also appointed to the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and serves as a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.....(more)

Amazon churches create transnational body to implement synod proposals
Extracts from Gerard O’Connell, Anerica, The Jesuit Review, 30 June 2020
The first significant implementation of last October’s Synod on the Amazon took place on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, with the founding of the Ecclesial Conference of the Amazon, a new transnational church structure that is intended to implement many of the synod’s proposals.         The decision to create the conference was made in a virtual assembly held on June 26 and June 29 by the Assembly for the Project of Constitution of the Ecclesial Conference of the Amazon. Cardinal Michael Czerny, S.J., who participated in the virtual assembly, described the decision as “historic” in a telephone interview with America.          He recalled that Pope Francis, in his post-synodal apostolic exhortation, “Beloved Amazonia” (“Querida Amazonia”), had called on the synod’s participants to start implementing its proposals. He said they have begun to do so less than eight months later by creating this new transnational church structure covering the nine countries of the region: Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Surinam, Venezuela and the territory of French Guiana.            Cardinal Czerny highlighted the fact that “the energy and the effort for this came from the region itself.”         The Ecclesial Conference of the Amazo n aims to be “an effective channel for taking up, from within the territory, many of the proposals that emerged” at the Pan-Amazonian synod............The assembly announced the creation of the new conference in a statement issued on June 29 and signed by Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos, O.F.M., president of the Latin American Episcopal Council, known by its Spanish acronym, CELAM; and Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, O.F.M., president of REPAM, the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network: “In these difficult and exceptional times for humanity, when the coronavirus pandemic is strongly impacting the Pan-Amazon region and the realities of violence, exclusion and death affecting the biome and its inhabitants clamor for an urgent and imminent integral conversion, the Ecclesial Conference of the Amazon seeks to be good news and a timely response to the cries of the poor and of our sister Mother Earth.”        According to the assembly’s statement, the E.C.A. aims to be “an effective channel for taking up, from within the territory, many of the proposals that emerged” at the Pan-Amazonian synod and to serve “as a nexus for encouraging other church and socio-environmental networks and initiatives at the continental and international levels.”.....(more)     Photo:Kukama boys Amazon's Maranon River Peru's Loreto region CNS photo Barbara Fraser America Jes Rev 20200630

Pope Francis appoints Msgr Greg Bennet Bishop of Sale
Extract from Media Release, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, 27 June 2020
Pope Francis has this evening appointed Msgr Greg Bennet, a priest of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, the 10th Bishop of Sale. Msgr Bennet was born and raised in Melbourne, completing his secondary education at Braemar College in Woodend, northwest of Melbourne. After working in banking for several years, he entered Corpus Christi College in 1986 and was ordained priest in 1992.        Following a number of parish appointments, Msgr Bennet undertook postgraduate study, gaining a master of science in pastoral counselling from Loyola College in Baltimore and a licentiate in sacred theology from the Angelicum University in Rome.            On his return, Msgr Bennet held several leadership positions within the Archdiocese of Melbourne, including as director of Ministry to Priests and later as inaugural director of the Office for Evangelisation. After additional parish ministry, he served as vicar general from 2012 to 2019. Having returned to parish ministry just four months ago as parish priest in West Brunswick, he will now oversee a diocese that stretches from Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs, through Gippsland and to the New South Wales border.       Msgr Bennet said he recognises the “enormous responsibility and privilege to be asked to undertake this appointment”.“It is a responsibility which cannot be exercised in isolation, but in close cooperation with the clergy, the faithful and those in diocesan leadership,” he said......(Media Release HERE)

Thanks for your generosity

Friday, 26 June 2020

Parishioners and families from our two schools have responded with great generosity to last week’s plea for groceries so that Vinnies could continue their care for those in our community most in need. Di Dixon and Michael Rocco are pictured surrounded by what they could fit on the tables - there’s more stacked around the St. Bernadette’s Community Centre. As well as groceries cash and supermarket vouchers have been donated. For those wishing to help we still need tea, coffee, sugar, dishwashing detergent and hand liquid soap – donations can be left in the boxes at the MOG Presbytery, the Parish Office, or brought to church if you are coming to Mass.  

Parish Secretary

Friday 26 June 2020

After 16 years of service our Parish Secretary, Ruth Villani, retires on Friday. There will be a tribute to Ruth after she completes her long service leave in November. Our new Parish Secretary, Teana McIntosh, joins us on 1st July. Please make her welcome and keep Ruth and Teana in your prayers as they both make this transition. 

Diocese creates company to oversee 57 Catholic schools
Extract from CathNews, By Chris Pedler Bendigo Advertiser  26 June 2020
A new business will take over the governance of the Sandhurst Diocese's Catholic schools, removing responsibility from local parishes.          The new model comes as a result of recommendations from the Royal Commissions into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and is a Victorian Government directive.        Bishop of Sandhurst Shane Mackinlay said the new governance model would affect 57 schools in the Sandhurst Diocese. Parishes are now responsible for the running of Catholic schools.        Bishop Mackinlay said Catholic Education Sandhurst would incorporated “to strengthen responsibilities for the diocesan governance and operation of Catholic schools”.        The plan to establish the new school governance model has been six months in the making and will be operational by January 1, 2021.       Bishop Mackinlay said the rest of the year will be used to fine tune the setup of the company, to be known as Catholic Education Sandhurst Ltd, which will include a board of directors.      The bishop said he believes the new governance model “will sustain and enrich the integral role of our Catholic education system in the life and ministry of our parishes for many years to come”.....(more).  Photo: CathNews, 20200626 Bigstock

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Plenary Meeting
Extract from Summary Minutes of the ACBC Plenary, May 7-14, 2020,   24 June 2020
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Catholic bishops of Australia conducted their biannual plenary meeting using videoconferencing technology.  The eight Commissions of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference held meetings on the first day of the gathering, followed by the plenary meeting over the seven subsequent days– except Sunday, 10 May. Meetings were held with the full membership of the Conference, as well as in smaller groups..........Link to Summary  Minutes HERE
In an interview with EWTN, Trump hails ‘tremendous letter of support from the Catholic Church’
Extract from Michael J. O’Loughlin, America, The Jesuit Review, 23 June, 2020
President Trump declared himself “totally in favor of the death penalty for heinous crimes” in one breath and described himself as “pro-life” in the next during an interview that aired on the Catholic television station EWTN on Monday night. The interview comes as the president’s re-election campaign courts Catholic and other Christian voters ahead of the November election and in the wake of a recent poll that suggested a drop in support for the president among white Catholics, a demographic he won in 2016.       The president was asked about claims that his likely opponent in November’s election, former Vice President Joe Biden, is more “pro-life” than Mr. Trump, given Mr. Biden’s opposition to the death penalty and embrace of efforts to confront climate change.      Mr. Trump responded by talking about appointments to federal courts.         “The Democrats? Look, who’s he putting on the court? They want to put people on the court. You have no chance. So, I’m pro-life. The Democrats aren’t. Nobody can say that Biden is. Look at his stance over the years,” Mr. Trump said, without clarifying which court or which people he was referring to.        The roughly 10-minute interview was conducted by Raymond Arroyo, host of a weekly news show on EWTN and a regular contributor to Fox News. Few questions dealt directly with Catholicism, but Mr. Arroyo did ask the president about a letter written by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former papal ambassador to the United States.        The EWTN interview comes as the president’s re-election campaign courts Catholic and other Christian voters ahead of the November election and in the wake of a recent poll that suggested a drop in support for the president among white Catholics.       In that letter, which Mr. Trump shared on his Twitter account, the archbishop expressed his belief in a number of conspiracy theories, including the existence of a “deep state” opposing Mr. Trump from within the U.S. federal government and a “deep church” comprised of “children of darkness”; a belief that the Covid-19 pandemic response represents “a colossal operation of social engineering”; and the notion that recent anti-racism protests in the United States evoke “the Masonic ideals of those who want to dominate the world by driving God out of the courts, out of schools, out of families, and perhaps even out of churches.”             The president was asked how he reacted to the letter and if he agreed with the archbishop’s views. Mr. Trump called Archbishop Viganò “a great gentleman” and praised the letter without directly addressing any of its claims.....(more)
US Catholic leaders mark Pride Month via video conference
Extract from Sarah Salvadore, National Catholic Reporter, 23 June 2020
Prominent Catholic leaders sent messages of video support to the LGBTQ community for Pride Month after Outreach 2020, a Catholic LGBTQ conference hosted by Fordham University, was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.      The June 18 video began with Jesuit Fr. James Martin reminding all LGBTQ Catholics that God created them, and that they are as much a part of the Catholic Church as the pope, bishops or local pastors.      In their messages, speakers offered words of hope and encouragement, and called on the church and members to be more inclusive.       Dominican Sr. Luisa Derouen, who has been a minister to the transgender community since 1999, said she missed meeting all transgender participants. "It was an honor and privilege of my life to walk with you on your sacred journey," she said.     Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico, showed his support to those who minister to the LGBTQ community. He called their work "valuable" and "appreciated." Wester said that ministers played the part of the "good shepherd" by bringing LGBTQ members closer to God. "Your ministry serves all of us as you proclaim God's unconditional love and mercy in a world torn apart by prejudice and exclusion," he said.     Jesuit Fr. John Cecero, superior of the Jesuits USA Northeast Province, called LGBTQ members to "share in the reconciling mission of Jesus." He said it was an invitation to dialogue, in an open, respectful way, not just in the church but in society and culture as well. He encouraged LGBTQ members to face hatred and homophobia in the church and country by being "beacons of light." ....(more)
Bishop-designate Daisuke Narui to head Niigata Diocese
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, Jun 22, 2020
Rome — Social justice promoters for the world's religious orders are praising Pope Francis' unusual appointment of one within their ranks as a diocesan bishop, saying the choice emphasizes the importance of their work and ministry.         Divine Word Missionary Fr. Paul Daisuke Narui, who has been serving in Rome since 2015 as his order's coordinator for peace and justice issues, will return to Japan later this month as the new head of the diocese of Niigata, about 200 miles northwest of Tokyo.        Narui — 46 years old and previously the coordinator of the Japanese church's relief efforts after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster —is one of dozens of such coordinators for the diverse range of congregations in Rome.       His colleagues describe a priest who is dedicated to social justice issues, a good collaborator and especially attentive to raising women's voices.       "Pope Francis is looking for people that will support his agenda, his mission, his message. You would find that for sure in Daisuke," said Sr. Sheila Kinsey, the executive co-secretary of the joint Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation commission of the two Rome-based umbrella groups of the world's men and women religious.              Kinsey, a member of the Franciscan Sisters, Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary who has worked closely with Narui for about five years, said the new bishop "is steadfast and committed to the same things that Pope Francis is."         "They are very, very fortunate to have him," Kinsey said about Narui's new diocese.       Mercedarian Sr. Filo Hirota, who worked with Narui on justice issues while serving as the head of her order in Rome from 2012 to 2018, said he is someone who is "always available, ready to help and serve, simple, smiling and at ease."       "He listens and learns from women," said Hirota, who now lives in Tokyo. "It is great to have a bishop who knows and lives what equal discipleship of Jesus is."....(more)    Photo: Fr Daisuke Narui, Theresa Sacher NCR 20200622
Let's get physical
The Vatican holds first "real" press conference in nearly four months as it struggles to start up again after pandemic shutdown
Limited Extract from Robert Mickens, subscription journal La Croix International, 19 June 2020
Vatican City.   Throughout the long coronavirus lockdown, there were very few signs of institutional life at the Vatican.     Pope Francis kept up his two fixed weekly appointments – the Wednesday general audience and the Sunday Angelus. But they were live-streamed from the seclusion of the Apostolic Palace and without the physical presence of anyone from the public.     The only people in the room with him were several aides – all of them men dressed in cassocks or religious habits. Mind you, neither of these events requires the unique services of an ordained minister. And, yet, priests were the only ones present. Not a woman anywhere to be seen.       Not great optics.        The weekday Masses that were broadcast each morning from the chapel at the pope's Santa Marta Residence during the first several weeks of lockdown usually featured a religious sister proclaiming one of the scripture readings. But even at those streamed liturgies, most in the small congregation – once again – were men.            Return to St. Peter's Square :   When Italy opened up the entire.....(source)
Retirement of our of Parish Secretary
Friday 19 June, 2020
After almost 16 years as our Parish Secretary, Ruth Villani, will retire on July 3rd when she will begin her long deserved accrued annual leave and long service leave. At the end of her leave (late November) we will have the opportunity for a presentation of thanks to Ruth for her long and faithful service to the Parish and its priests. Hopefully by November we will be able to gather a little more freely for the event which we would be unable to do now under the current restrictions on gatherings. Please keep Ruth in your prayers as she embarks on this journey and transition into retirement.
Appointment of New Parish Secretary
Friday 19 June, 2020
Teana McIntosh has been appointed as our new Parish Office Administrator. Katryna is a parishioner of St. Mary’s  Ascot Vale where she has previously worked as the Parish Secretary. She commences with us on 1st July. I know that you will all make Katryna welcome once she joins our Parish team.
The two assemblies for the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia will be held in Adelaide from October 3-10, 2021, and in Sydney from July 4-9, 2022.
ACBC Media Blog, 19 June 2020

The new dates mean that the celebration of the Plenary Council has effectively moved 12 months from the original plan of a first assembly in October 2020 and a second assembly in June/July 2021.

Plenary Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB said the confirmation of the specific dates will help in the formulation of a revised program of preparation for Council delegates, who were announced in March, and for the whole Catholic community.              Archbishop Costelloe said the bishops’ preference to hold the second assembly in April 2022, announced last month, had to be revisited.             “The confluence of a number of events in April 2022, including the New South Wales school holidays, Easter in the Latin Rite and Easter in the Eastern Rite, meant that the plan to hold the second assembly then was unworkable,” he said.                “The one-year change to our initial timeline affords each of us the opportunity for a more extended period of individual and collective discernment leading into the first assembly than we would otherwise have had.”            Plenary Council facilitator Lana Turvey-Collins said that this time will be utilised for all people to re-engage with the journey of discernment toward the Council assemblies after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.         “A renewed engagement will take place in a societal context that’s been altered by the pandemic,” she said.              “The recently-published discernment papers were finalised in the midst of the pandemic. They are a key step in the process of discernment and preparation for all of us. The time and space between now and the first assembly, now in October 2021, enables deeper reflection, dialogue and consideration of how we’ve all been affected by recent global events.”           Archbishop Costelloe said prayer, dialogue and discernment have been foundational pillars of the Plenary Council journey and will continue to be so.        “I encourage everyone to read the discernment papers and to take some time in prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to continue to guide our path toward the assemblies and beyond,” he said...Source

Archbishop Peter joins Vinnies CEO Sleepout
Extract from Communications Office , Melbourne Catholic, Thursday 18 June 2020
The Vinnies CEO Sleepout is a one-night event over one of the longest and coldest nights of the year (Thursday 18 June). Hundreds of CEOs, business owners as well as community and government leaders sleep outdoors to raise funds and support the many Australians who are experiencing homelessness and people at risk of homelessness.    By the numbers: 27% of homeless people in Australia are under 18 years of age;    1 in 200 people are homeless on any given night in Australia;     Almost half of all homeless people are women;     Over 17,000 kids under the age have no home;      14% of Australians live below the poverty line;     30% of people experiencing homelessness are living in severely crowded homes   (Source:            Last year, the Vinnies CEO Sleepout raised $7.9 million for people experiencing homelessness and people at risk of homelessness. Now in its 15th year, the restrictions caused by COVID-19 have meant the event has had to move to a more interactive, online format. Participants have been asked to nominate an alternate sleeping option (their couch, backyard or car) and will share the experience through an interactive live stream program, logging in with others all around the country.        Participating in his first Vinnies CEO Sleepout, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli is sleeping out in his car to help raise awareness and funds for the important cause. "It's a little bit of discomfort for a good bit of awareness," he said.....Donations to the Vinnies CEO Sleepout directly assists people experiencing homelessness and people at risk of homelessness, by:     funding new initiatives;  ensuring existing homeless services, like food vans and emergency support, continue  expanding the reach of existing Vinnies programs to ensure every Australian can access accommodation, meals, and emergency a ......(more)    Photo: ACBC
WA dumps ‘Indigenous-biased’ fines law
Extract from Victoria Laurie,  CathNews, The Australian, 18 June 2020
The West Australian Government has rid itself of fines-enforcement laws that imprisoned Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with “systemic bias”. Source: The Australian Attorney-General John Quigley says he is proud to have reformed an unfair law that disproportionately targeted the state’s indigenous citizens who were unable to pay fines and went to jail instead.            The Fines, Penalties and Infringement Notices Enforcement Amendment Bill passed both houses on Tuesday night, eight years after successive state governments vowed to significantly change the way fines were enforced and recovered.       Until the late-night passage of the bill, Western Australia was the only jurisdiction that permitted fine defaulters to spend time in prison to “cut out” fines at a rate of $250 a day for offences dealt with in a criminal court.       Mr Quigley said he was proud to have reformed an unjust law that had a “systemic bias”.      “It disproportionately affected Indigenous West Australians who through no fault of their own can’t pay the fines. This reform was long overdue — we jail Aboriginal people at 70 per cent higher than the national average, and that’s a national scandal,” he said.       “People who are vulnerable or have mental health issues don’t get around to paying their fine and it’s costing the taxpayer a fortune. To put someone in jail to cut out a $2500 fine is 10 days in prison at a cost of $6000. That is economic madness.     “We are the last jurisdiction to make this step out of the dark ages, and I’m very proud to have brought this before parliament.”          He said 1300 outstanding warrants would be cancelled, which is likely to lift the threat of imprisonment from 238 individuals.       One of the key changes will see imprisonment relegated to a sanction of last resort......(More) 
Refugee advocates condemn move to ban mobile phones
Extract from CathNews, 18 June 2020
A move to introduce legislation allowing the seizure of mobile phones from people held in immigration detention centres is unnecessary and cruel, according to refugee advocates. Source: The Good Oil.
   Last month, Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge announced legislation that would give Border Force officials search and seizure powers and allow the minister to ban certain items from the detention facilities, including mobile phones.       Mr Tudge denied it would be a blanket ban, saying it would only apply to those suspected of being involved in illegal activity.       “It’s a policy of cruelty,” said Good Samaritan Sister Clare Condon, who is part of Canberra’s Faith-Based Working Group of the Refugee Action Campaign (RAC).      “Some of these guys have been in detention for seven years and their phone is their only lifeline...(more)  
At five-year mark for ‘Laudato Si,’ Vatican offers a ‘users guide’
Extract from Elise Ann Allen, Crux, 18 Jun2020
ROME – To mark the five-year anniversary of Pope Francis’s eco-encyclical, Laudato Si, the Vatican Thursday published a “users guide” for both parishes and public officials on how to implement the document, including such concrete measures as a balanced diet, carpooling to reduce energy consumption, recycling, and “drip-by-drip” irrigation to curb water waste.         The document also calls on legislators and governments to adopt eco-friendly policies, such as enshrining water as a “universal human right” and promoting international efforts to protect vulnerable ecosystems such as the Amazon and the Congo River Basin.               In keeping with Pope Francis’s view of “integral ecology,” the document also advocates for poverty relief, family-friendly policies to combat a “demographic winter,” prison and healthcare reform, and the protection of human life from conception to natural death.          The text also touts several steps within the Vatican City State to become more “green,” including discontinuing the use of toxic pesticides and recycling the water from the famed Vatican fountains.         Presented June 18 and titled, “On the Path to Caring for the Common Home: Five Years after Laudato Si,” the lengthy 220-page document – longer than Laudato Si itself – is an initiative of the Vatican’s department for Integral Human Development and is the product of an inter-departmental “Table” on integral ecology established after Laudato Si’s publication in  June 2015.....(more).    [Ed:  the Laudato Si 'User Guide' is longer than the Laudato Si !] 
Final version of governance report to be published by mid-August
Extract from Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Media Blog, 15 June 2020
The final version of a report into diocesan and parish governance will be published after a series of amendments and clarifications have been made, likely by mid-August, it has been announced.                Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge on June 12 announced a timeline for the report’s release after a draft version was leaked to international Catholic media earlier this month.             The report, The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia, was prepared by the Governance Review Project Team, a group of experts assembled by the Implementation Advisory Group.            The terms of reference for the project stated that: “The final report should be addressed to the bishops; it should be finalised in consultation with the Conference; and any matters pertaining to the Holy See, Plenary Council or other parties should be conveyed to them prior to publication. Upon completion of the final report, the Conference reserves the right to first consider the findings and recommendations, before deciding upon the timing of publication.”        The report was provided to the bishops just days before the start of their May plenary meeting, which prompted a decision to postpone the publication of the report and the bishops’ response to it until they had had sufficient time to consider the more than 200 pages and 86 recommendations.          Despite the bishops’ announced intentions, the report was subsequently leaked.          Entailed in our decision to delay publication of the final report was a commitment to engage the bishops in proper consultation and to refer matters pertaining to the Holy See, the Plenary Council and others for consultation before the report was finalised,” Archbishop Coleridge said in the June 12 statement.            What has been leaked to various media outlets is, therefore, an interim version rather than the final report.”           As the bishops had decided at the plenary meeting, a period of consultation will allow for corrections and clarifications to be suggested. That task is due to be completed by mid-July, after which those amendments can be incorporated and the report finalised.          The amended version will then be published in late July or early August, accompanied by a reading guide. This version will be widely available, and people are encouraged to read the full report (and not just the recommendations) and to provide feedback to their local bishop to help him in shaping his response,” Archbishop Coleridge said.          Archbishop Coleridge said the statement about the timeline for finalising and publishing the report was made “in the interests of transparency and in the hope that the whole Church in Australia will be led through this process to a deeper experience and understanding of what it means to be a synodal Church, able to respond creatively to the extraordinary circumstances in which we find ourselves and build a future according to the mind of Christ”.....(more)

Fred Tosolini RIP

Fr Bill, pm 12 June 2020

On Friday we celebrated the Funeral Mass of our beloved brother in Christ, Fred Tosolini, who died suddenly on Friday 5th June after suffering a sudden heart attack.


Fred was the first person to book in for the first Mass at Mary Immaculate after the shutdown and he read the scriptures for us at Mass. He was in great spirits and so thankful to be back at Mass. The last words of scripture Fred read for us at what was to be his last Mass and Communion were from the Gospel Acclamation: “I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord; whoever believes in me will not die for ever.” We can but respond alleluia to that promise and an alleluia to a Christian life well lived. May Fred share in that promise - the destiny of all who believe.


Please remember Fred in your prayers and pray too for his family during this time of great sadness and grief.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord:   And let perpetual light shine upon him.  May he rest in peace. Amen.


Parish Redevelopment: Project Milestone

Fr. Bill,  12 June 2020

I am pleased to report that at their June 2020 meeting, the Archdiocesan Building and Property Committee approved the Mary Mother of the Church Parish Redevelopment Project.  The approval formally moves the project into the final design, tendering and contract stages.              The managing architects have been instructed to proceed with the works and provide an overall project schedule. Bridging finance during construction is being progressed with the Catholic Development Fund.                Separately, Yarra Valley Water have advised that the planned relocation of the sewer is not required and the sewer branch can be abandoned, saving us some costs. The approval is a significant milestone for the Parish leading to renewal of our assets and consolidation of our community.

Website changes
John Costa, 12 June 2020
As you may notice some changes have been made to the Mass Times page. There are further changes to be made. This regularly updated website established early in 2008 was introduced to improve communication across the parish with timely information related to our changing Parish and wider Church, and to strengthen the connection between the then more disparate three communities comprising our Parish. It replaced a small earlier website which was only updated occasionally, by a university student paid a nominal fee.  The current website structure has progressively evolved with our circumstances, which continue to change. The COVID-19 emergency has necessarily also altered this website structure, which again needs to adapt as we move further towards a 'new normal'. This website also stores much Church history, past and more recent, so some further rearrangements need to be made. For any issues with this website you are welcome to email [email protected]  or contact myself directly.
The Death of Fr Noel Connolly, and the legacy he leaves
John Costa, 10 June 2020
Fr Noel Connolly, most recently a forthright member of the Facilitation Team preparing for the Plenary Council, died peacefully on Saturday night 6th June after a long illness. He will be sorely missed by many people here and around the world.              At the outset of the Plenary Council process a contingent of our parishioners including Fr Bill participated in his event at St Francis Xavier parish in Montmorency on 30 August 2018  "Listening to the Holy Spirit by Listening to one another".       He highlighted that the forthcoming Plenary is not just an event for the Australian Catholic Church but for all of Australia as our faith calls us as missionaries of all ages to contribute to Australia by living and exemplifying a life reflecting Christian values, including love, compassion, justice, caring, joyfulness and forgiveness.         He also outlined an open Plenary Process. His many writings since then have largely focused on process, importance of sensus fidelium, and necessity for Church Reform.           All of this is consistent with Noel's rich earlier life following ordination in 1969 as a Columban Missionary.          
He served as a missionary in Korea, 1970-74. He was the founding Chaplain to the Korean Catholic Community, Sydney, 1977-81. He was a lecturer in Moral Theology, St. Columban’s and Union Theological Institute 1976-84. He was Rector of St. Columban’s College and the Pacific Mission Institute from 1979-84.       He was Dean of the Union Theological Institute [Sydney], 1979-80, 1984 and President of Union Theological Institute, 1981-83. As such he was a founding member of the Council of the Sydney College of Divinity.                From 1985-88 he was the Central Coordinator for Justice & Peace for the Missionary Society of St. Columban and later Vicar-General of the Missionary Society of St. Columban throughout the world, 1988-2000. Both of these appointments were based in Ireland.          After returning to Australia he was Director of the Columban Mission Institute, Sydney, 2002–05 and then Director of the Columban Region of Australia and New Zealand 2005-11.       He lectured in Mission Theology at the Catholic Institute of Sydney and the Broken Bay Institute 2003 – and was Head of Mission Studies at the Columban Mission Institute, the Catholic Institute of Sydney and the Broken Bay Institute.           He was a founding member of the Australian Association for Mission Studies.  He was also: Member of the Council of the Broken Bay Institute 2003-2013; Chair of the Australian Mission Network 2012–2015; Member of the Council of Catholic Religious Australia 2008-2010.            He has also been a consultant and lecturer in Multiculturalism to various Australian Dioceses and religious congregations.        His prolific and clear writings show strong consistency and now form a legacy of inspiration for reform. His recent Plenary Council article on the final report on the Listening and Dialogue stage of the Plenary Council HERE  illustrates this well.             Noel selflessly delayed his very well earned retirement in order to support the Plenary Council Facilitation Team in its important reform task ahead. He has done so exceptionally well. May his work now continue to inspire and guide the delayed Plenary Council.     May he now Rest In Peace.
Plenary Council may be delayed but the thematic papers show the fruits of communal discernment
Extract from Mark Bowling, Catholic Leader, 5 June 2020
The Church’s Plenary Council 2020 assemblies may have been delayed due to COVID-19, but six writing and discernment groups have been busy, using their diverse expertise and backgrounds to write thematic papers.        Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe says six papers – each tackling a national theme for discernment that emerged from the Council’s Listening and Dialogue phase – signify the latest milestone as the Church considers its present circumstances and discerns its future.       “The papers are the fruits of communal discernment,” Archbishop Costelloe, the Plenary Council president, said.       “The aim of the discernment process was to draw upon the lived faith and experiences of more than 220,000 Australians, the living tradition of the Church, sacred Scripture, papal teachings and additional insights from outside the Church.”        Archbishop Costelloe said the papers were an important contribution to the Church in Australia’s ongoing discernment towards the Plenary Council.       “While not the final word on the six thematic areas which emerged from the Listening and Dialogue process, I encourage everyone to receive them in the spirit of faith and discernment with which they have been written,” he said.            They both invite and challenge us to continue to ‘listen to what the Spirit is saying’.”        Each paper provides a reflection on some elements of the relevant pastoral reality, articulates a theological vision, outlines a number of challenges to be overcome, suggests prioritised questions to be answered and develops some proposals for change.        They will be foundational to the next stage of discernment toward the Plenary Council – the development of the working paper, or Instrumentum Laboris – and ultimately the agenda for the Council assemblies.....(more).
Detroit Archdiocese to shift to ‘family of parishes’ over next two years
Extract from Michael Stechschulte, Crux, 3 June 2020
DETROIT - Over the next two years, the Archdiocese of Detroit will transition to a new pastoral and governance model for its 218 parishes called “families of parishes,” Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron announced May 31, the feast of Pentecost.     Calling it a “very important step in the life and mission of our local church,” he said the move will allow parishes to more robustly serve their mission while proactively responding to historic challenges that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.         “Even before the pandemic, we knew God wanted to renew our parishes. The structures we inherited served our mission well in the past, but they need to be renewed and aligned for mission,” Vigneron said. “And so, in prayer and in consultation with others, I’ve discerned that this is the time to respond in faith to our new reality and to better equip our parish communities for mission.”        While the health and economic crises have contributed to a reduction in material resources, the archdiocese also faces a looming priest shortage, the archbishop noted, with almost two-thirds of priests in southeast Michigan older than 60.      Many of these priests care for one or multiple parish communities as they approach - or even exceed - retirement age, a burden that if left unchecked would quickly become unsustainable, the archbishop said.       In the new “family of parishes” model, multiple priests and deacons would be assigned to care for a group of three to six parishes, alleviating some administrative burdens and allowing parishes to more closely share human and material resources and talents.....(more)  Photo: Governance model Families of Parishes, Detroit Catholic via CNS Crux 20200604)
Responses to the 6 Plenary Council Discernment themes available
Monday 1 June 2020
A 'user-friendly' webpage for downloading responses to the 6 Plenary Council Discernment themes has been published on the Plenary Council website HERE.  Note that Submissions have been de-identified and individual responses have been recorded, but are removed from public viewing.    The Plenary Council team would like to remind everyone to read the guidelines for Communal Discernment well and to note its difference from the Listening and Dialogue phase before making a group response. The 6 Papers prepared by the Writing and Discernment Groups are available HERE
Discernment Papers help sharpen Focus for Plenary Council,
Extract from Media Release, Gavin Abraham, Australian Catholic Bishop Conference, 31 May 2020
Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB says the six discernment papers for the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia signify the latest milestone as the Church considers its present circumstances and discerns its future.Six Discernment and Writing Groups, one each for the six national themes for discernment that emerged from the Council’s Listening and Dialogue phase, were tasked with writing papers to bring some major themes and issues into focus.“The papers are the fruits of communal discernment. The aim of the discernment process was to draw upon the lived faith and experiences of more than 220,000 Australians, the livingtradition of the Church, sacred Scripture, papal teachings and additional insights from outside the Church,” said Archbishop Costelloe, the Plenary Council president.Archbishop Costelloe said the papers   are an important contribution to the Church in Australia’s ongoing discernment towards the Plenary Council.“While not the final word on the six thematic areas which emerged from the Listening and Dialogue process, I encourage everyone to receive them in the spirit of faith and discernment with which they have been written,” he said.“They both invite and challenge us to continue to ‘listen to what the Spirit is saying’.”....(More)

Report on Parish Redevelopment Project

Pat Kelly, Friday 29 May 2020

The Parish Redevelopment Project has achieved a significant milestone in May 2020.       The formal application for project approval has been completed and submitted to the Archdiocesan Building and Property Committee. The submission will be considered at the June meeting with the outcome expected by the 12th of the month.            The submission includes the design drawings, the estimated project cost, the planning notice and the agreement between the Archdiocese and the architects.   The Archdiocese’s representative is aware of the details of our project and supportive of our application.              Approval by the Archdiocesan Building and Property Committee moves the project into the tendering and contract phase.  The estimated cost of the project will remain confidential until a contract is awarded.              The plans will be on display when our churches reopen for Mass on the 2nd of June.            The first proposed construction on the site is the relocation of a sewer in the area of our redevelopment.  The contractor should be on site within the next few weeks.   However, the time for the works will be determined by Yarra Valley Water. In the overall plan the works are minor but significant as the first construction supporting our redevelopment.                    

Rescheduled dates for the '2020' Plenary Council
John Costa, Friday 29 May 2020
At the recent Australian Catholics Bishops Conference 2020 Plenary Meeting bishops reportedly asssented to reschuled dates for the Australian Catholic Plenary Council of October 2021 and April 2022 respectively but haven't yet confirmed dates.
Religious discrimination bill on the backburner
Extract from CathNews, Greg Brown, The Australian, 28 May 2020
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has flagged delays in key elements of his pre-coronavirus agenda, saying Cabinet has shelved discussion on religious freedom legislation. Mr Morrison also declared the timetable for a referendum on the constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians would depend on whether “consensus is able to be achieved for it to be successful”.        As he set out a new plans for industrial relations and skills reforms to help steer the economy out of the coronavirus crisis, Mr Morrison said his Government was yet to reconsider religious freedom changes, and the proposed federal anti-corruption body....(more)
NSW Churches want same rules as pubs and cafes
Extract from CathNews, Sydney Archdiocese,  28 May 2020
Catholics in New South Wales have been asked to sign a petition calling on Premier Gladys Berejiklian to grant places of worship equal treatment to other public spaces under eased COVID-19 restrictions.           Under the new rules to be introduced on June 1, up to 50 people will be allowed to gather at a club, restaurant or pub at the one time, but the rules have not been extended to churches where only a maximum of 10 people are currently allowed.        The petition asks the Premier why 50 people can dine in a restaurant, but only 10 people are allowed to attend Mass, even though churches are often much larger in size.      It also asks why people who attend a place of worship for a service or even private prayer are required to provide contact details, when this requirement is not placed upon those dining in cafes or attending shopping centres, or undertaking any other activity.     “Contrary to what has been said throughout this pandemic, we do not consider church attendance to be non-essential; indeed, nothing is more essential than the practice of our faith,” states the petition.     It is a sentiment strongly backed by Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP who said he believed a “double standard was being applied to people of faith”....(more)    St Mary’s Cathedral Wikipedia Adam JWC Cathnews 20200528
Archbishop Patrick O’Regan installed as ninth Archbishop of Adelaide
Extract from Communications Office CAM, 27 May 2020
On the Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, Archbishop Patrick O'Regan was installed as the ninth Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide.        The installation took place in St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral, with only a few people able to be present given the restrictions due to COVID-19. Apostolic Administrator Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ conducted the installation ceremony with 30 people participating in the Mass.       The installation would normally attract over 2000 people from around Australia. The service was, however, live-streamed to over 6000 people and watched by thousands more on-demand and on community television.        In his first homily as Archbishop of Adelaide, Archbishop O’Regan referred to the COVID-19 pandemic, comparing it to the chaos of the first Easter.        He gave warm thanks to his family and all those who had supported him. “To all those who have been praying for me, I know there have been many of you, I have really felt that today…it is by the gift of prayer and communion today that we celebrate the gift of life and grace.”        To celebrate the former Bishop of Sale and priest of Bathurst committing himself to his new flock, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli recorded a short message of welcome and congratulations for the people of God in the Archdiocese of Adelaide......(more) Photo: Archbishop Patrick O'Regan. The Advertiser
Bishop Mark Edwards appointed to Wagga Wagga
Extract from CathNews,  Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, 27 May 2020
Pope Francis last night appointed Melbourne Auxiliary Bishop Mark Edwards OMI the sixth Bishop of Wagga Wagga.    Bishop Edwards, who will turn 61 next month, was born in Indonesia and grew up in Adelaide, Darwin and Melbourne’s southeast, attending St Leonard’s Primary School and Mazenod College. Mazenod was founded by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the order he would eventually join.     He was ordained to the priesthood in 1986 and has held leadership positions within the Australian Province of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne on November 7, 2014, and ordained bishop the following month.        Bishop Edwards’ priestly ministry has largely centred on secondary school and seminary education, including serving as rector of Iona College in Brisbane and as aspirants’ master and novice master at St Mary’s Seminary in Mulgrave.       In addition to his priestly formation and theological training, Bishop Edwards completed a science degree at Monash University, where he also obtained a doctorate in philosophy.         In a letter to the faithful of Wagga Wagga, Bishop Edwards described his appointment “as a call from God to be with you and journey with you as disciple, brother and bishop”.   “Together, as a community of missionary disciples, we will worship, love and evangelise,” he said.....(more). Photo: CathNews
'Vos Estis' at one year: Some question pope's process for investigating bishops
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Repoter, May 27, 2020
It is a bit early to assess the effect of Pope Francis' new global system for how the Catholic Church evaluates reports of clergy sexual abuse or cover-up by individual bishops, say canon lawyers who spoke to NCR.      They also raised questions about the new process, first established in May 2019, which involves the empowering of archbishops to conduct investigations of prelates accused in their local regions.       Among their main concerns with the procedure, outlined in Francis' motu proprio Vos Estis Lux Mundi ("You Are The Light Of The World"): the possible bias that can arise in asking one prelate to investigate another, and whether there has been an appropriate level of transparency about bishops who are being investigated.      Nicholas Cafardi, a civil and canon lawyer who was a member of the U.S. bishops' original National Review Board, highlighted the latter point.      Mentioning that the procedure does not mandate that Catholics necessarily be told when a bishop is being investigated, Cafardi said: "It seems to me that the faithful have a right to know if somebody is a possible danger."....(more) 
National Reconciliation Week: In this together
Mission Team, Belbourne Catholic, CAM, Wednesday 27 May 2020
Each year, National Reconciliation Week marks two important dates in our nation’s history: the 1967 Referendum where more than 90 per cent of Australians voted to count Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the national census and give the Government power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and the High Court Mabo decision which recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have rights to the land.        Celebrated from 27 May – 3 June each year, Reconciliation Week is an important occasion for all Australians; a time when we can all reflect on how we can positively contribute to reconciliation in our own communities and how we can build relationships that value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their unique gifts and stories.        The theme of this year’s National Reconciliation Week is: In this together. Over recent weeks and months, it has been heartening to see a newfound appreciation of how our community can work together to achieve the common good.        Our Catholic understanding of reconciliation – being reconciled to God and to each other – gifts us with a unique appreciation of the need for healing in this area. We know that only when true reconciliation has been achieved, can we truly flourish.        As Pope John Paul II said in his address to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 1986, “You are part of Australia and Australia is part of you. And the Church herself in Australia will not be fully the Church that Jesus wants her to be until you have made your contribution to her life and until that contribution has been joyfully received by others”.         The task may seem vast – and indeed it is – but there are many ways we can each meaningfully contribute towards reconciliation being achieved.      Here are some ways you can celebrate National Reconciliation Week in your parish, home and family:........(more)
How Vatican II can help us navigate the politics of a pandemic
Extract from Blase J. Cupich, America, The Jesuit Review, May 26, 2020
Our nation and our church stand at a pivotal moment as we ponder the crucial issue of how religious communities can contribute to the common good in a time of pandemic and bitter partisan political division.    For the Catholic community, the penetrating vision of the Second Vatican Council on religion, the state and the political order provides an unparalleled orientation, identifying a clear pathway of public engagement, conscience formation and authentic witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.                   A new vision of church-state relations:               From the start, “Gaudium et Spes” (“The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World”) offers a new approach toward the church’s activity in the public square. Referring to the “church in the modern world” rather than “and the modern world,” the title of the document signals that the church exists on its own terms, not because any agency gives permission or grants a right. As Vatican II’s decree on the church’s missionary activity puts it,   “The pilgrim church is by its very nature missionary” (“Ad Gentes,” No. 2). In other words, the church’s autonomy and freedom derive from the fact that it has been sent, that its very nature is missionary.                  Moreover, while the church enjoys its autonomy to act in the world, it does not stand in competition with the world. Rather, being in the world means that the church journeys in solidarity with all of humanity.  If the church is to preserve its identity as “a sacramental sign and an instrument of intimate union with God, and of the unity of the whole human race” (“GS,” No.42), there must be a proper balance between its autonomy and its solidarity with humanity......(more).   Photo: Martin Sanchez Unsplash America
Most prominent issues for the Plenary Council agenda
Extract from Peter Wilkinson, The Swag, Vol. 28, No. 2, Winter 2020, republished here with permission from The Swag, 27 May 2020
New research into the written submissions to the Plenary Council shows that among the issues raised, some are more prominent than others.
Listening and Dialogue:          Preparations for the Plenary Council began in May 2018 with a ‘Listening and Dialogue’ phase aimed at “listening to the voice of God speaking through the voices of the people” and “gaining a sense of their faith” (sensus fidei).  Australian Catholics, and others, were invited to reflect on and respond to the question: What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time? By 13 March 2019 over 220,000 persons, mostly Catholics, had responded in 12,758 individual and 4,699 group submissions.             The National Centre for Pastoral Research (NCPR) subsequently published several reports on both their content and authors. It found individual respondents were: more female (49%) than male (29%); slightly more numerous in the older age groups (23% - 15-29 yrs; 22% -  30-59 yrs; 32% - 60-80+ yrs); predominantly Australian-born (65%) but with very few indigenous (143); more from non-English-speaking countries (11%) than from other English-speaking countries (6%); predominantly Catholic (72%); other Christians (3%) and non-Christians (1%); significantly regular Mass attenders (76%); and most numerous from Brisbane (1890), Melbourne (1649), Wollongong (1244), Sydney (1103), and Perth (1082).......research paper on most prominent issues HERE
Historic Church Governance Report locked down by Australian Bishops
Extracts from Peter Wilkinson and Gail Freyne, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue Website, 26 May 2020
On 4 May 2020 the Project Team commissioned by the Australian bishops and religious superiors to review the Catholic Church’s governance and management structures, presented its 200-page final report. Its 86 recommendations include the need for greater transparency and co-responsibility. The decision of the bishops to withhold the report from public view for at least 6 months has shocked many Catholics.                 The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse spent years trying to understand why Catholic bishops and religious superiors across the nation had covered up the abuse happening under their noses, why they had protected the paedophile priests and religious who had abused innocent boys and girls in their care, and why they had treated the victims with such meanness and disdain.      The Commission finally grasped that ‘clericalism’ – a belief by priests and bishops that they are superior to the lay faithful – and systemic dysfunctional governance on a massive scale were at the root of the problem.         It therefore recommended in its 2017 Final Report that “the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) conduct a national review of the governance and management structures of dioceses and parishes, including in relation to issues of transparency, accountability, consultation and the participation of lay men and women” (Rec. 16.7).      It took 8 months for the ACBC and Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) to accept the recommendation, and another 7 months to get advice from an Implementation Advisory Group (IAG) on how the review should be undertaken. The IAG recommended a Governance Review Project Plan and a 7-member Review Project Team of predominantly lay experts chaired by former WA Supreme Court justice and current member of the Pontifical Council for the Protection of Minors, Neville Owen.       The IAG identified the essential elements of good governance as integrity, transparency, accountability, risk management, culture and ethics, consultation, inclusiveness, and the participation and genuine responsibility of men and women.           In March 2019 the ACBC and CRA approved the Plan and Project Team, as well as terms of reference, review methodology, and a final report deadline of 31 March 2020, in time for consideration at the ACBC’s May plenary meeting.......It was a profound shock, therefore, when the ACBC, presumably with CRA (its president is an observer at ACBC meetings) support, decided at its May meeting that it would lock down this historic report and withhold it from public view until some unspecified time after its next meeting in November....(more)
Plenary Council assemblies set for 2021 and 2022
The two assemblies for the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia will now take place in October 2021 and April 2022, following the disruption of the original schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic
Extract from CathNews, ACBC Media Blog,  21 May 2020
The two assemblies for the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia will now take place in October 2021 and April 2022, following the disruption of the original schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic.              The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference last week decided to postpone the opening assembly by 12 months, with it now to be held in October 2021. Adelaide remains the venue for the first assembly. The second assembly will be in Sydney in April 2022.         “Mindful of the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, it was felt that delaying the first assembly by a full year would provide some certainty that travel and social distancing guidelines will have been lifted for the assembly,” said Plenary Council President Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB.       “Just as importantly, we believe that period of time will allow for an adequate period of preparation for the delegates and the Catholic community.       “The postponement was an unfortunate speed bump on the Church’s path to the Plenary Council assemblies, but we are committed to using this extra time wisely.”         Plenary Council facilitator Lana Turvey-Collins said the continuing preparation for the Council will take on some new characteristics, shaped by the experience of the pandemic.         “A program of webinars, podcasts and other multimedia projects will be rolled out in the latter half of 2020 to help the People of God explore and share about how they respond to the Spirit and live out their own call to mission – as individuals and collectively,” she said.        “The material will be both formative and dialogical to help parishes, families, workplaces and other Catholic communities and organisations consider the unique contribution they make to the life and mission of the Church.”     The next step on that journey will come next week at Pentecost, when the papers prepared by the Discernment and Writing Groups will be released...(more).
Photo: ACBC 20200521
The Plenary Council: Where to after Coronavirus?
Extracts from Gerry McKernan and Peter Sheehan, John Menadue website, 20 May 2020
The pandemic is forcing communities everywhere to adopt new approaches, unthinkable only a few months ago. This must apply to the Catholic Church too, and provides an opportunity to revive its Plenary Council process.          The world will never be the same after the coronavirus pandemic.        The failure to contain COVID-19 global tragedy, born of a massive failure of leadership and solidarity, both internationally and in major countries. With a likely death toll over 500,000 and the deepest recession since the 1930s, communities everywhere are demanding new ways of doing things, greater transparency and action not evasion.        The power of nature unleashed shows the urgency of working together to protect those most at risk and dramatises the risk from global climate change. The future of the young is most at risk, and they will drive the push for real change.          There are close parallels with the situation of the Catholic Church in Australia. Over several decades, there has been a failure of leadership, a weakening of community and an unwillingness to protect those most in need, especially children. The number of priests has fallen sharply and is now at crisis levels. The young have left Church in droves, while often still active in serving the community elsewhere.        Except for Pope Francis, the faithful have tuned out from their leaders.       The vehicle that the Australian Church has set up to address this challenge is the Plenary Council 2020 (PC). The pandemic has delayed the first assembly until 2021, but will have a more profound effect on it than that. The demand for new ways of doing things, greater transparency, and action not evasion will also apply to the Council. The Council must respond not only to the crisis in the Church but also to the desperate ...............The catch phrase on launching the PC was that ‘it cannot be business as usual’.         Post-coronavirus that is more true than ever, but we have no consensus about the new direction.           An urgent, open debate is needed now, before the opportunity for real change at the PC slips away. This debate must be horizontal, between parishes and individuals, and not just vertical, to and from the authorities, in the traditional way of the Church.     A number of parishes in Melbourne have set up a website ( to assist that discussion. We invite contributions to it......(more)
New Australian report may help church find its way out of abuse crisis
Extracts from Massimo Maggioli. National Catholic Reporter, 19 May 2020
There are signs that the Catholic Church's response to the sexual abuse crisis is now getting at deeper, institutional questions. In particular, how local churches — parishes and dioceses — are governed.
     In the last few years, a unique example that could bring encouraging news has come from the Australian church.           Since 2017-18, the abuse crisis has taken on a new dimension, thanks to the unveiling of cases (such as disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick) and of extensive cover-ups identified and published in the reports of nationwide and regional investigations (such as in Australia, Chile and Pennsylvania).           The new phase of the crisis has focused on the direct involvement of bishops, cardinals and the Vatican. It has also identified that the crisis is not restricted to children and also involves women religious and other vulnerable persons — and has become a global crisis with huge repercussions on the relations between church and state in various countries.           The new phase in the abuse crisis has also shown much complexity: It is not just a legal and ethical crisis, but also a theological one and a crisis of models of church governance.               Pope Francis has reframed the scandal as something that must move the church to conversion. We must consider all the different levels that this conversion must reach: It is a pastoral and theological conversion as well as a conversion of ecclesial structures.        Australia's role      The Australian church plays a particular and unique role in this conversion, for several reasons.       The Australian government's Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (2013-17) undertook an in-depth, wide-ranging investigation into many organizations. This investigative process produced a damning exposé of abuse, not just in Catholic institutions, but across Australian society.          The findings of the commission regarding the Catholic Church highlighted major failures of ecclesial governance and leadership. In their August 2018 response to the commission's final report, the Australian bishops and the country's religious orders accepted the commission's recommendation that there be a review of the governance and management of the nation's dioceses and parishes..........As the matter is still under consideration, the recommendations we made cannot be discussed in detail here. But our report will be studied for many years to come by theologians, church historians, canon lawyers, and all those with an interest in connecting spiritual and institutional reform in the Catholic Church.        This report could become an example of how a local church can go about reforming its governance structure. No local church is exempt from this task.....(more).   Photo:St Patrick's Cathedral Ballarat CNS Reuters Jonathan Barrett NCR 20200519
Historic review of Church governance presented to leaders
Media Release, Gavin Abraham, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, May 18 2020
The Australian Catholic bishops have welcomed a report into Catholic Church governance practices and possible reforms, which was presented to them shortly before last week’s plenary meeting.       The report, entitled The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia,was commissioned by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference following a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.       The report is 200 pages long and includes 86 recommendations.“The members of the Governance Review Project Team are to be congratulated on producing such a substantial piece of work, with far-reaching implications for the Church’s life and mission,” said Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.        “To do it justice, the bishops will now take advice, consider the report in depth, conduct discussions at a provincial level, and otherwise prepare for a full discussion at their November plenary.       This will allow them to then publish the report and respond to it.”        Archbishop Coleridge noted that the report, dealing as it does with so many aspects of Church governance, will necessarily become a significant contribution to the ongoing work of prayerful reflection and discussion leading up to the formal assemblies of the Plenary Council.       “The whole Church in Australia is presently engaged in a process of deep reflection and discernment on the life and mission of the Church in the immediate and longer-term future,” said Archbishop Coleridge.     “We owe a debt of gratitude to the Governance Review Project Team for their important and comprehensive contribution to this ongoing process of discernment.      The report will undoubtedly contribute to the eventual formation of proposals to be considered during the Plenary Council.”        The report identifies key principles of good ecclesial governance, such as subsidiarity, stewardship, synodality, dialogue, discernment and leadership.     It offers important ideas on how the Church might enhance the leadership role of lay people and ensure appropriate co-responsibility at parish and diocesan levels.“     The bishops look forward to considering the report in depth and to its eventual public release,” Archbishop Coleridge said....(source)

Changes to Restrictions on Churches

Fr Bill, Friday 15 May 2020

As of midnight last Tuesday the government lifted some restrictions on access to our churches. It is still very uncertain how these changes could be implemented in any meaningful way and the best way forward may be to wait until the next stage of lifting restrictions before we contemplate any change. 

The main change to the regulations is that we can now celebrate Mass and open our churches for prayer – but no more than 10 people can be present, ushers must guard the doors to ensure that number is not exceeded and there are a set of requirements around recording personal details of everyone present, sanitising the church after every use, etc.

I am not suggesting that these rules are not still necessary and I firmly believe that the protection of life and the wellbeing of the most vulnerable must be our priority. My concern is that the regulations will not work pastorally, liturgically or practically and it is preferable to wait until a further relaxing of restrictions allow us to return to something closer to normality.   

Planning to celebrate Masses with only 10 people will inevitably segregate people’s access to the sacraments unfairly and further undermine the liturgical role of the participating assembly. 

Among the suggestions offered for implementing this first phase are: limiting access to the Mass via either a first-come, first-served system, a rotational or roster system, or asking people to book online and the first 10 to book get to attend. 

How do you tell a parish that only 10 people can come to a Mass? Practically and pastorally, it seems untenable. The church is not like a supermarket, where you can let in 10 people and as they leave let in 10 more. The regulations also require a 60-minute gap before the next 10 can enter so that those coming and going don’t meet at the doorway and so that the church can be cleaned in between Masses - and God help the poor ushers who have to bar entry to the church building after 10 people have entered for Mass!

I have no magic answer to this dilemma. I will discuss it with the Parish Pastoral Council when we meet later this week. If anyone wants to offer comment or suggestions please email me at [email protected]        

Message of Pope Francis for the 54th World Communications Day
Extract from Melbourne Catholic, Communications Office, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne Friday 15 May 2020
For Communications Day this year, Pope Francis speaks about storytelling and the importance of the stories we tell others and ourselves.  Across Melbourne Catholic social media, we recently put up personal stories from staff about the people in our lives that influenced our spiritual journeys. Intended as tributes to loved ones, these stories provided a close look at the passing on of faith between generations; that these parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts were the ones to pass on the seed of faith by first living it themselves. In that way, the story of stories is written on the hearts of the next generation and all those to come.    Pope Francis encourages us all to reflect on our own story and how it intertwines with others "as part of a living and interconnected tapestry."     “That you may tell your children and grandchildren” (Ex 10:2) - Life becomes history....(more)
Churches open in New South Wales
Churches will open across New South Wales from today for private prayer, confession and small-scale Masses as part of the first stage of the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions.
Extract from CathNews, Anna Patty, SMH, 15 May 2020.
St Mary’s Cathedral will open at 6.30am before the first of four Masses for the day is celebrated at 7am.          Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said many Catholics would welcome returning to Mass after two-months since churches closed on March 23.       “The celebration of Mass is the highest form of Catholic worship and to not be able to physically gather these past two months has been very difficult for Catholics,” Archbishop Fisher said.       “Whilst livestreaming of Mass has helped people to continue to pray along at home it is no substitution for being able to be physically present and receiving the Eucharist. While it will take some time to return to larger celebrations, this first step will offer comfort to many Catholics who have been deeply missing attending Mass.      Catholics can register their attendance at church on a national website ( to allow churches to notify parishioners if a member of the congregation tests positive for COVID-19.....(more)   Photo St Marys Cathedral Sydney Wikipedia Adam JWC Cathnews 20200515
 UK Bishops criticise decision to keep English churches closed
Extract from CathNews, Simon Caldwell CNS, 15 May 2020
Churches in England and Wales must wait until July before they may reopen, under a coronavirus recovery strategy published by the British Government.Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s 50-page blueprint to ease the eight-week national lockdown says places of worship cannot open until July 4 at the earliest, meaning that churches will be closed even to private prayer for at least another seven weeks......(More)
Opening churches for private prayer ‘a gentle first step’
Victorian bishops say the Andrews Government’s decision to allow churches to open for private prayer for up to 10 people is a “gentle first step” as the state cautiously begins to lift COVID-19 restrictions.
Extract from CathNews, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, 14 May 2020
The bishops said they were delighted that churches could reopen “in certain circumstances”.       “This opportunity for small gatherings and for some quiet moments of prayer in the sacramental presence of Our Lord is a gentle first step in the right direction, and rightly a moment of rejoicing for God’s people,” the letter states.           “We are pleased to work constructively with our communities to make appropriate adjustments. Strict restrictions still govern our actions due to the risks of COVID-19 and we are all being asked to show patience and fortitude.”          The bishops said each diocese would community directly with parishes about how various ministries, including sacraments, would be conducted in the first stage of the easing of social restrictions.         “We wish to be fully compliant with the directives that apply across Victoria, so that we ensure the protection of elderly and vulnerable people, and work together for the common good of our communities,” the letter states.        “The conditions under which a church can be open include a collection of contact details (for the purposes of contact-tracing if it becomes necessary), strict monitoring of numbers, ongoing hygiene requirements, publicising the scheduled times for private worship, and public worship limited to ten people at a time.”         The bishops asked for “patience and understanding” while arrangements for liturgies and church access to meet social distancing and hygiene guidelines are made.....(more)  Photo: Pew prayer Bigstock Cathnews 20200514
Loungeroom concert rocks for Caritas
Extract from CathNews, 14 May 2020
Hundreds of Australians logged on for an hour of musical entertainment on Saturday, raising emergency funds for Caritas Australia’s Project Compassion COVID-19 appeal.
ARIA Award-winning artist and musical mentor Gary Pinto led the "Walk With Me – Loungeroom Sessions" event, which featured Guy Sebastian, Mark Lizotte (Diesel), Prinnie Stephens, Fr Rob Galea and other musicians who generously gifted a song for the cause. The livestream brought a welcome respite for the energised congregation of homebound fans, invigorated by the eclectic musical performances.           Pinto recently penned the song Walk with Me for Project Compassion.         “Caritas Australia works quietly behind the scenes, delivering long-term programs and essential humanitarian and emergency services, globally. Thanks to the generous support of the Australian public, they carry on working for a peaceful, equitable and just society with profound respect for human dignity,” Pinto said.                  “I am incredibly proud to be a part of the Caritas family and through the magic of music gifting my talents to support this extraordinary work.”         The effect of COVID-19 pandemic is amplified for those living in communities already vulnerable to poverty, malnutrition and without access to adequate sanitation.        According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), in 2017, two billion people lacked access to basic sanitation facilities and only 45 per cent used a safely managed sanitation service.       Caritas Australia CEO Kirsty Robertson says funds raised during the Loungeroom Sessions will support Caritas Australia’s work, including their response to the COVID-19 pandemic in vulnerable communities at risk of infection.        “We are currently responding to the hardest-hit countries, including the Pacific Islands, Bangladesh and Cambodia, which have limited access to proper sanitary living conditions and medical support, even before the spread of COVID-19,” Ms Robertson said. “The people in these communities are facing a dual crisis at this time and your donation will truly save lives.“ .....(more)        To donate to Caritas Australia visit HERE or telephone 1800 024 413.    Photo: Gary Pinto top left with his band CDB online concert Caritas Australia
Catholic Bishops must embrace transparency and accountability
Senior Catholic bishops must exercise leadership and firmly grasp the fresh opportunities now provided to them for increased transparency and accountability within the church. They must grab the moment.
Extract from  John Warhurst, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue blog, 13 May 2020
The power dynamics within the church, involving a hierarchy within the hierarchy, means that the senior bishops, including Anthony Fisher, the Archbishop of Sydney, who was recently involved in controversy with former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (Quentin Dempster, “Catholic Church duplicitous and unaccountable in needs-based school funding says Malcolm Turnbull”, Pearls and Irritations), must exercise responsibility.     The others include Mark Coleridge, the Archbishop of Brisbane, who is the President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC), Tim Costelloe, the Archbishop of Perth, who is the Chair of the Plenary Council 2020 (PC2020), and Peter Comensoli, the Archbishop of Melbourne. If Fisher, Coleridge, Costelloe and Comensoli do not exercise such leadership, these precious opportunities for reform may be lost despite whatever efforts the rest of the Catholic community make.           The May ACBC meeting began last Thursday. They had before them several documents making the undeniable case for increased transparency and accountability in church governance.          They considered the report of the Governance Review which was set up by the ACBC and Catholic Religious Australia in the light of the recommendation by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to review the church’s governance and culture.          The bishops were due to consider the reports by the six Writing and Discernment groups chosen to investigate the major themes identified by the 17,500 submissions by Catholics to the PC2020 Listening process. Governance reform, including greater transparency, inclusivity, lay participation in leadership and accountability, was a major focus of these submissions, a summary of which has been published.          They had also received earlier in the week an Open Communique from the 15- member national network of church reform groups, known as the Australian Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (ACCCR). This communique embraced co-responsibility in church governance and condemned autocratic and unaccountable leadership.     Among the specific matters ACCCR stressed as being of fundamental importance were:   Good governance with accountability, inclusion in decision making and appointments, equality and transparency, with synodality and subsidiarity, with the very best models of leadership, and with ongoing and open dialogue with all Christ’s faithful.          This is a great moment of opportunity for the Church in Australia to embark on internal reform and to prove that it is part of an era of change in which business as usual is not good enough. Between them these documents, and the research, conversations and discernment upon which they are based, provide the basis for serious governance reform. They provide the church leadership, not just the bishops but also other religious leaders, with the basis for such action....(more)
Down the barrel of $158 million gun, Vatican reform is coming … but what kind?
Extract from John L. Allen Jr. Editor, Crux, 13 May 2020
ROME - According to an internal Vatican analysis recently presented to Pope Francis for a meeting with his department heads, declines in revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic will cause the Vatican’s annual deficit to balloon somewhere between 30 and 175 percent, depending on which of three scenarios, ranging from best to worst case, is realized.       Under the worst-case scenario, which assumes shortfalls between 50 and 80 percent and only limited success at containing costs, the 2020 deficit would be 146 million Euro, or $158 million. For a sense of scale, the total projected income for the year is $160 million, which means the Vatican would be spending twice as much as it brings in.       As a footnote, something many observers have said for a long time is worth repeating: In the grand scheme of things, $158 million just isn’t that much money, especially when you put it in the context of other major Catholic entities. The University of Notre Dame in the States, for example, has an annual budget of $1.3 billion. The fact that such a comparatively modest sum could trigger an existential crisis is one measure of how much the Vatican’s financial operation needs aggiornamento, meaning “updating.”...(more)     Photo:   Pope Francis overlooking St Peter's Square coronavirus Andrew Medichini AP Crux 20200513

Archbishop Coleridge re-elected president of Bishops Conference
Extract from Catholic Outlook, 8 May 2020
The Catholic bishops of Australia have today elected Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane to a second two-year term as president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.       Archbishop Coleridge was ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne in 2002 and later became Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn. Since 2012, he has served as Archbishop of Brisbane.         He was elected president of the Conference at its plenary meeting in May 2018 after previously serving as its vice-president for two years.         Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP was re-elected Conference vice-president, a role he also took on in May 2018.        “Archbishop Fisher and I have worked very closely over the past two years and I’m grateful that the bishops have backed our ongoing partnership,” Archbishop Coleridge said.              “As a Conference, we have faced a number of big challenges over the past two years, including preparing for the Plenary Council and considering how the People of God in Australia can walk together into the future, especially now in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.       “The Church’s implementation of policies and protocols that prioritise child safety and offer a just and compassionate response to victims and survivors of abuse has also been a crucial focus.      “Much has been done and the bishops will consider further steps during our plenary meeting over the next few days.”       Archbishop Fisher also cited the benefit of continuity at a pivotal time in the Church’s history, saying “when we have medium- and long-term initiatives to carry out, it’s good to have settled leaders supported by a group of bishops with shared aspirations”.       Four members of the Permanent Committee of the Bishops Conference were also elected today: Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB; Toowoomba Bishop Robert McGuckin; Adelaide Archbishop-Designate Patrick O’Regan; and Maronite Bishop of Australia Antoine-Charbel Tarabay.       Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli of Melbourne and Port Pirie Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ, elected in May 2019, are continuing members of the Permanent Committee.      The almost 40 members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference today opened their biannual plenary meeting using videoconferencing technology....(more).   Photo: ABp Mark Coleridge President ACBC Catholic Outlook 20200508 ACBC

Some Coronavirus reflections:  Above: humour,   Below: The Great Realisation
(with thanks to St Kevin's Parish, Templestowe)
Bishops adapt to life under COVID-19
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference will enter uncharted territory this week as it holds its biannual plenary meeting, using video technology to allow its work to continue during the COVID-19 crisis
Extract from CathNews, 6 May 2020
Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge said the bishops are having to adapt to the current realities just like all Australians.            “This is the first time one of our twice-yearly gatherings hasn’t happened in person since the Conference was formed in 1966, but we are living in an era of ‘firsts’,” Archbishop Coleridge said.          “The Conference has important matters to consider, as always, so we have found ways to adjust our practices and protocols to do what needs to be done over the coming days.”        The meeting begins tomorrow and will run to May 14, with the bishops free on Sunday.             Archbishop Coleridge said the COVID-19 pandemic will be high on the bishops’ agenda.       “There is a great desire in all parts of the Church to resume public worship, and we will consider how and when that might happen – always with due consideration of the health implications,” he said.         “But COVID-19 has crippled many individuals, families and communities not only economically, but in other ways as well. How can the Church best support those people through our educational, social service and pastoral care networks? Much of that work has commenced, but the recovery will be long.”        Archbishop Coleridge said the bishops have begun discussions with leaders of religious institutes and other Catholic ministries about a more collaborative approach to safeguarding and the handling of complaints of sexual abuse and other misconduct.            “We’ve made good progress in devising even more robust structures and practices to respond to allegations and to create and maintain Church environments that are safe for children and vulnerable adults,” he said.             “This is a whole-of-Church approach, and it’s one that has been developed with input from a wide range of people, including survivors and their supporters.”            The bishops will also consider the final report of a national review of the governance of dioceses and parishes.             Archbishop Coleridge said that while the tyranny of distance and the vagaries of technology will be a challenge, the bond of faith and mission that unites the bishops will remain strong, especially through the Church’s liturgical life.       A summary of the meeting will be posted online as soon as possible after its completion.....(more).   Photo: Catholic Voice. CathNews 20200506
When will Catholics be able to gather for Mass again?
Limited extract from Isabelle de Gaulmyn, subscription journal La Croix International, 2 May 2020
France:  When will Catholics be able to gather for Mass again?            The opening up process will undoubtedly be slow, gradual and different from place to place. In France the bishops are trying to present the government with a reasonable exit plan.            Some are worried about the fact that they will not be able to resume Mass on May 11 when many other activities and businesses are allowed to open. A hundred priests have already protested with a petition in the Paris-based daily Le Figaro.          Social networking, No gatherings, no sacraments, no Eucharist. In fact, Catholics are living through an astonishing period. But it has led to great creativity on social networks, with Masses on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Zoom.          Some priests have gone overboard in trying to fill the void that the coronavirus lockdown has created, even at the risk of sending a very clerical and male-dominated image of Catholicism.          It is like a trick of history, happening at the very moment when Pope Francis has undertaken a reflection on the ills of clericalism......(source).  Image: Eucharist Lockdown early La Croix Int 20200502
Bishop Long calls for ‘solidarity in time of distancing’
The chairman of the Bishops Commission for Social Justice, Mission and Service has used the annual message for the feast of St Joseph the Worker to call for “social solidarity in a time of social distancing”.
Extract from Melbourne Catholic, ACBC Media Blog, 30 April 2020
Bishop Vincent Long van Nguyen OFM Conv. said the May 1 feast day has taken on additional meaning as millions of Australians face job insecurity and financial stress.        “Like you, I have found it deeply distressing to see so many thousands of people queuing to apply for government assistance,” Bishop Long writes in the pastoral message.         “Our hearts go out to everyone who is out of work; to those whose businesses have been forced to close; and to those whose regular income has plummeted while their bills remain.”               In acknowledging that experiences like approaching Centrelink for assistance have been new for tens or hundreds of thousands of people, Bishop Long said some common financial realities have remained.        “In any crisis, it is usually the poorest, the most vulnerable and the least powerful who suffer the worst,” he wrote.         “Casual employees, many contract employees and gig workers are not entitled to sick leave or carer’s leave. They are often unable to save from their earnings in order to cover periods of illness or inability to work.       “Surviving on the JobSeeker payment, or any other form of government assistance, is difficult. However, there are also many people who are unable to access this support and are at risk of falling through the cracks.”       Bishop Long highlighted the precarious situation facing asylum-seekers, international students and those on temporary protection visas, saying excluding them from government assistance is “inhumane and unworthy of a decent society”.      He made special mention of those who are working on “the front line” and cannot self-isolate because of their responsibilities.       “All of this prompts us to think about what are really the most important things in life,” Bishop Long wrote.....(more)  Image:St Joseph the Worker feast celebrated 1 May ACBC CathNews 20200430
China resumes cross removals as virus subsides
Under less pressure from Covid-19, officials are eliminating religious symbols from public places
Extract from UCA News reporter, 28 April 2020
The cross of Lingkun St. Michael Church of Yongqiang Parish in Wenzhou is taken off its steeple in October 2018 on the orders of communist authorities. (Photo supplied)
The communist administration in China has started another wave of cross removals as the coronavirus pandemic reportedly subsides on the mainland.     In the past two weeks, authorities have removed crosses from the top of two church buildings, sources told UCA News on April 27. They fear more such actions.      The removals began as the administration reported the discharge of the last Covid-19 patient in Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the coronavirus was first reported last December.      China's National Health Commission said the entire country reported only three cases of Covid-19 on April 26. Two were Chinese people returning from abroad, while one contracted it through local transmission.       The cross removals began as government officials became relatively free from the pressure of fighting the pandemic, Christian leaders said....(more)      Photo: China resumes cross removals as virus subsides UCA News 28 April 2020
Porter seeks 'final advice' on release of commission's Pell findings
Extract from Chip Le Grand, The Age, 27 April 2020
Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter has sought "final advice" about releasing unpublished royal commission findings into the conduct of Australia's most senior Catholic, Cardinal George Pell.      Mr Porter said he sought the advice after being told by his Victorian counterpart, Jill Hennessy, that there were no legal barriers to making public the previously redacted findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse....(MORE)
What will happen when the shutdown ends?
The post-pandemic parish will be the "report card" of the pre-pandemic parish
Limited Extracts from Father Bill Grimm MM, Tokyo, Suvscription journl La Croix International, 23 April 2020
Efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 have included halting liturgical gatherings in many parts of the world. What will happen when Catholics once again can gather to share the Eucharist and do all the other things that mark them as Christians? I do not have a crystal ball that enables me to see the future, but I have been speculating upon what our communities may look like after months of being closed.                  In 1995, Professor Jonathan Mann of the Harvard University School of Public Health in the United States predicted, "The history of our time will be marked by recurrent eruptions of newly discovered diseases."          A quarter-century ago, Mann was speaking in the midst of the new AIDS epidemic, and since then the world has seen several other epidemics, with the coronavirus pandemic we are living through now as the latest and possibly most extensive (though not yet the most deadly) so far.           Are we in the early stages of this pandemic, or is it coming under control? Will a cure or a preventive vaccine be developed soon, or will it take a year or more? What will the mortality ultimately be? In the meantime, will the virus evolve beyond the power of our medical interventions? What effect will it have on the world economy? How long will it last? Will it touch me or those I love? We do not, and cannot, know the answer to any of those questions.           Mann was obviously correct, and this pandemic shall not be the last we must face and deal with. The economic, social, and religious upheaval we are experiencing today may be part of an ongoing pattern of new viral and bacterial epidemics girdling the globe, especially as climate change causes varying degrees of ecological, social, agricultural, demographic, political, and epidemiological chaos. What we are facing now may become a new normal.      An immediate impact of the coronavirus on Catholics has been the cancellation of Masses with a congregation. A measure intended for a few weeks has now been in place for months............What might we expect when after a quarter of the year or longer we are once again able to gather in our churches?      The first thing will be...............(source) Photo: church lockdown Murcia Spain EPA Marcial Guillen MaxPPP La Croix Int 20200423
Seminaries must hire, involve more women, Cardinal Ouellet says
Extract from Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, National Catholic Reporter, 24 April 2020
Vatican City — For some priests and seminarians, "women represent danger, but in reality, the true danger are those men who do not have a balanced relationship with women," said Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.           The cardinal was interviewed about the role of women in seminaries and seminary formation for the May issue of the women's supplement to the Vatican newspaper; the interview was published April 24 by Vatican News.         Asked if a lack of women involved in priestly formation programs is to blame for the discomfort women and priests can experience in each other's company, the cardinal said, "the problem is probably deeper" than that and begins with how women are treated in one's family.        "There is awkwardness because there is fear — more on the part of the man toward the woman than the woman toward the man," he said.         "We must radically change" how priests interact with women, the cardinal said, which is why "during formation it is important that there is contact, discussion, exchanges" with women.          Having women on seminary formation teams as professors and counselors, he said, also "would help a candidate interact with women in a natural way, including in facing the challenge represented by the presence of women, attraction to a woman."         Isolating future priests from women is never a good idea, he said, and is no preparation for them entering ministry.          Asked whether he agreed with the notion that if women had been involved in seminary formation long ago, it could have helped prevent the sexual abuse scandal, the cardinal said, "there certainly is some truth in that because man is an affective being. If interaction between the sexes is missing, there is a risk of developing compensations," which can "express themselves the exercise of power or in closed relationships, a closure that becomes manipulation and control ... and which can give rise to the abuse of conscience and sexual abuse."          "I think that for a priest, learning to relate to women in the environment of formation is a humanizing factor that promotes equilibrium in the man's personality and affectivity," the cardinal said....(more).   Photo:Cardinal Marc Ouellet prefect of the Congregation for Bishops Vatican News NS Presence Philippe Vaillancourt NCR 20200424
Easter @Home - Parish Survey responses: many thanks to respondents
94% say parish Easter @Home arrangements  "Exceptional or Very Acceptable"
98% say Information provided  "Exceptional or Very Adequate"
John Costa, Thursday 23 April 2020

Having no idea how long the COVID-19 situation will remain or for how long our churches will be closed, our Parish, like many others, has made comprehensive special arrangements, particularly for the Holy Week and Easter period. Special arrangements and information flow are continuing, via personal emails, streaming video, and this website.                  In order to both assess and review special arrangements provided so far, and what arrangements we might make ahead, we conducted an online survey to seek parishioner feedback on these to assist us in reviewing and developing how we pray and gather together in very different ways.   While we continue to analyse and respond to Survey responses they are already especially interesting, most helpful, and highly encouraging!                The survey was responded to by 51 parish households. Each year after Easter we invite feedback via the Newsletter on the Holy Week Easter liturgies. This year's feedback via online survey greatly exceeds the level of feedback in previous years, and provides particularly interesting insights.    Despite appropriately enforced lock-down and disruption the results this year have been highly consistent, positive and encouraging.     The survey closed on 23 April and results are now summarised on a new website page (under the 'People' menu button) HERE.
Trump's assault on the environment tramples years of progress
Extract from Editorial Staff, National Catholic Reporter, 23 April 2020
While the world struggles against a microbial and deadly menace, nature itself is under assault from threats coming in the other direction — the deliberate and steady overthrow by the Trump administration of environmental regulations, some in place for decades.              President Donald Trump's relentless attack on sane and enlightened environmental policy tramples years of intense work among environmental groups, U.S. industry and politicians of every stripe to achieve broad consensus on pressing issues. The attack also shreds the plea of Pope Francis' "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home," the encyclical that gathers into one document Catholic thinking, accumulated over years, about the faith community's relationship to creation.             NCR staff writer Brian Roewe's exhaustive report on Catholic observation of the first Earth Day, on the 50th anniversary of that celebration, shows that concern for the environment has long been a constituent part of the Catholic understanding of right to life. All other life issues become meaningless if, in pursuit of economic convenience and dominance, Earth is destroyed.....(more)   Photo: Smoke from coal fired Duke Energy's Marshall Steam Station 2018 NCR CNS Reuters Chris Keane
How social distancing may change the way we do church
Extract from Opinion Piece, Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, National Catholic Reporter, 22 April 2020
When you think about the mechanics of Sunday Eucharist, it's difficult to imagine a system better designed to spread contagion. Parishioners of all ages are crowded into a confined space, they hug or shake hands, they receive bread on the tongue or in the hand from a minister whose hands are not gloved, they share a cup of wine and they crowd together at the church entrance before and after Mass.         But just as everyone wants to get America back to work, pastors want to reopen churches to their congregations as soon as possible. But public health experts tell us that the country is not ready.       Before people can safely congregate in churches, movie theaters, bars, sports events and other crowded places, Americans will need to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Even the most optimistic guesses put a vaccine 12 to 18 months away.       Some believe that the country could be gradually reopened if it had a rigorous program of testing, contact tracing followed by isolating those who are sick and quarantining those who have been in contact with the sick.     Again, we are nowhere near having that in place. Even if we were, meeting in large crowds would still be discouraged until a vaccine is available.      Opening churches before a vaccine is available will be very risky, especially for the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.           Risky, but possible? Could churches reopen while practicing social distancing during the time prior to a vaccine? It is possible, but it would be a logistical nightmare with rules that would have to be enforced with absolute rigor.....(more)    Photo: St Peters Church empty  Pope Francis AP Andreas Solaro Pool Photo NCR 20200423
Clericalism and the Pandemic
Extract frim  Fr. Jim Sabak, OFM, Pray Tell (U.S.), 18 April 2020 
As any diocesan director of worship knows, there has been much to navigate during this distorting period in human history. At the center of concerns lay the issue of how to deal with the celebration and administration of the sacraments.          Yet, in my experience, the greatest difficulties lay not in the necessity of adapting to new norms and restrictions, but rather in the unanticipated reactions from clergy to the suggested adaptations. Little did I realize what sort of maelstrom would erupt as we put into place ideas and recommendations precipitated by the need for social distancing and stay-at-home orders.       The three sacramental areas most in need of attention were, of course, the celebration of the Eucharist, and the sacraments of Penance and Anointing of the Sick. If the virus had not materialized during Lent, Penance might have been less a point of controversy. So with the approval of the bishop, I prepared a memo offering some guidance on how to approach these sacraments given the seriousness of this world-wide pandemic..........(more)
"Inaccurate And Unfair Media Commentary On The High Court Decision On The Pell Case.
Extract of Statement from  News & Media, Judicial Conference of Australia, 16 April 2020
The President of the Australian association of judges and magistrates, Justice Judith Kelly, has responded to, what she called, “the flood of emotion and tsunami of articles following the High Court decision in the Pell case”. Justice Kelly said that “Some of the commentary directed at the Victorian Court of Appeal has been inaccurate and grossly unfair”.                Justice Kelly, the President of the Judicial Conference of Australia, has issued the following statement, which was published in the online edition of The Australian.               “There will be those who want to take comfort from the fact that the cathedral allegations passed through three courts.          But the manner in which they were excoriated by the High Court suggests that this was a function of a triumph of luck – and maybe even prejudice – rather than necessarily evidence of any weight of facts.”         Wrong on all counts.                         The High Court did not excoriate anyone: neither the jury who found Pell guilty, nor the judges on the Victorian Court of Appeal who dismissed his appeal against that conviction. The High Court analysed the evidence and the applicable legal principles, found that on the whole of the evidence a jury, acting rationally, ought to have entertained a reasonable doubt as to Cardinal Pell’s guilt and, with appropriate courtesy, allowed the appeal.             The remark “and maybe even prejudice” is grossly unfair, especially in the context in which it appears. There is nothing, anywhere, in the High Court’s decision which could ground an apprehension that the Court of Appeal acted out of prejudice or did anything other than conscientiously apply the law to the facts in accordance with their oath of office. The High Court found that analysis to be mistaken. It did not hint, even obliquely, that the majority judges on the court may have been motivated by prejudice or any other improper motive or cast any doubt whatsoever on the honesty or integrity of the Appeal Court judges.....(full statement HERE)
Coronavirus Holy Week in Ivanhoe - How was it?
Edited Extract from Fr Bills Easter Monday Update, 16 April 2020

We have no idea how long the COVID-19 situation will remain or for how long our churches will be closed.     So that we can both assess and review what we have provided so far, and what arrangements we might make for the weeks ahead, you are urged again to complete the short survey that has been designed to assist us in reviewing and developing how we pray and gather together in very different ways.           Helpful Survey responses are starting to come in, and while the COVID-19 circumstances have been forced upon everyone, there have been some encouraging signs about adapting, with some perhaps surprising positive personal experiences.    While we routinely seek feedback after annual Easter Liturgies, this year in particular we urge everyone to share their experiences, good or otherwise, via the survey - either privately or for sharing - so that the Parish community working together can continue to do our utmost under the circumstances to support each other, as the Risen Christ calls us all to do - together.         To complete the quick survey please click HERE

With US collection plates drying up, parishes race to loans to avert layoffs
Extract from Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter. 15 April 2020