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News 2014

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

Editorial Policy (Revised 11/2013)

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 Pope Francis and the Curia.
Extract from Michael Jelly SJ, Pearls and Irritations, John Menadue website, 26 December 2014

The tongues are certainly waging worldwide over the Christmas message of Pope Francis to staff at the Vatican – the priests, monsignors, bishops and cardinals gathered for an end of year assessment by the pope of the year that has passed. A few perfunctory words to round out a very busy year or a general expression for thanks for various contributions? Not at all! A full on, Gospel based account of the traps of bureaucracy, the hypocrisy that can beset professional Catholic administrators and an implied warning that more is to come when the anticipated plans to restructure the Vatican Curia are announced in the next couple of months. “Where did this one come from and why at Christmas?” is the understandable question on many minds, not least those whose tenure in their jobs depends on the one making the damning assessment. But there’s nothing new in what the pope said, observers of the Vatican and those who have worked closely with bishops and cardinals in Rome have told me (more).
 
 

Christmas in the Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe:    
We wish all parishioners, friends and visitors a very happy and a holy Christmas, as well as a safe and peaceful New Year. 

- Fr Thang, Leadership Teams & Parish Office Staff

The programme of Francis’ Papacy: changing the culture of the Roman Curia
Extract from Christopher Lamb, Blog, The Tablet, 22 December 2014

Three days before Christmas in 2005 Pope Benedict XVI addressed the Roman Curia in what was considered to be a key speech of his pontificate. In it he set out what he saw as the correct way to interpret the Second Vatican Council - the 1962-5 gathering that brought forward a series of reforms in the Church - criticising a “hermeneutic of discontinuity or rupture” that sees a split between the pre-conciliar and post-conciliar Church. While how to interpret Vatican II was a recurring theme under Benedict, the reform of the Roman Curia has been high on Francis’ agenda. And his speech today, where he sets out the 15 diseases that can infect those who work at the global church’s central administration, is also likely to be seen as an important document for his papacy. Reforming the curia – or to others “cleaning it up” – was, after all, one of the reasons Francis was elected Pope.....(More)

Thank you from Fr Thang Friday 19 December 2014                                                                                                                                            I would like to thank parishioners for their best wishes, cards and gifts received recently. Sincere thanks to all parishioners, families and schools in the parish community for their assistance and support during the year. 

 Congratulations! Friday 19 December 2014  
We congratulate Bernadette Milesi who celebrated her 90th birthday last weekend and wish her well on this momentous occasion. We take this opportunity to thank Bernadette sincerely for her commitment and generous contributions to the parish at a variety of levels as well as to Mother of God School community.

Giving a Voice to Families - 2015 Synod on the Family Questionnaire                                                                                        Life, Marriage and Family Office, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, Thursday 18 December 2015                                                                  Following the recent Extraordinary Synod on the family, Pope Francis and the Bishops’ Synod are again seeking input ahead of their October 2015 Synod. In response to feedback during the previous process, a simplified questionnaire has been developed for our local Church (here). The online survey can be found here.     A simple guide with the questions is available from the Life, Marriage and Family Office website here 

While not essential, people may also wish to read the Relatio Synodi - the final summary of the Extraordinary Synod in October 2014 - before responding. The final part of the Relatio also includes the full set of questions. The on-line survey will be open until midnight on Tuesday 10th February 2015. While using the on-line survey is preferred, hard copy responses can be submitted up to Friday 6th  February 2015.      To obtain a hard copy contact the Parish Office,  Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe.   Any questions about the process can be directed to the Life, Marriage & Family Office on 9287 5579.

Pope Francis appoints leading Wollongong welfare worker to Vatican child protection commission
Extract from Diocese of Broken Bay, 18 December 2014

Pope Francis has appointed Kathleen McCormack, the founding director of CatholicCare in the NSW city of Wollongong, to the Vatican's child protection body. Ms McCormack is among eight new members of the commission, led by American cardinal Sean O'Malley, to advise him on safeguarding children from sexual abuse. The appointments were announced overnight in Rome. The 17-member Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, was announced by the Pope in December 2013. It now consists of eight women and nine men, both clerical and lay, with new members coming from Australia, Britain, Colombia, New Zealand, Philippines, South Africa, United States and Zambia. It includes two survivors of child sexual abuse within the Church. Mr Francis Sullivan, CEO of the Catholic Church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council, said Kathleen McCormack will be a passionate and committed representative for people sexually abused in the Church in Australia and around the world. “This appointment is an important recognition of Kathleen’s life work spent in the service of children and other vulnerable people,” he said. “It also recognises the work being undertaken in Australia to address the crisis of child sexual abuse..........(Ms McCormac said) “This Commission is about best practice in the future, not just for the children in our Church, but for the children of our world. It’s about the Church wanting to lead in the safety of children,” Ms McCormack said. “We’ve been through a lot in Australia, and although we have many policies and procedures in place, we still need to do much better. I believe the wisdom we will gain from the Royal Commission in Australia will be invaluable to the Pope’s Commission (more).
  

Pope promoted US - Cuba deal
Extract from CathNews, 18 December 2014

A personal appeal by Pope Francis played a key role in finalising a deal to open relations between the United States and Cuba for the first time in 53 years, USA Today reports. The Pope wrote a personal letter to President Obama in the nothern autumn — something he'd never done before — and a separate letter to Cuban President Raúl Castro. The letter invited the leaders to "resolve humanitarian questions of common interest, including the situation of certain prisoners," according to a Vatican statement congratulating the two countries Wednesday. The Vatican said it received delegations from both countries in October and helped facilitate a dialogue. That resulted in a major U.S. policy shift toward Cuba, including a prisoner swap between the two countries that freed American Alan Gross on Wednesday (more).

A look back at 2014
Extracts from Archbishop Hart, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, Wednesday 17 December 2014

AS I take some time out to reflect on the year that was, I realise that 2014 was a year of highs and lows for the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC). Pope Francis asked us to be missionary disciples. In our work at the Bishops Conference we are called to take part in this new missionary ‘going forth’. Reflecting on the work carried out by the Conference and its staff over the past year, I think of the joy that Pope Francis refers to and which I have seen. Amid busy times with pressing obligations, the Conference and staff have worked with hearts full of faith. The Catholic Church in Australia hosted numerous informative and evangelising events this year including, the Pastoral Research Conference, Proclaim 2014 and the Youth Ministry Convention to highlight a few. On that note, great strides are being made in youth ministry across the country led by the newly established ACBC Office for Youth through the support of the Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life...............Our annual social justice statement focused on sport, an issue that appealed to many. The statement entitled ‘A Crown for Australia: Striving for the best in our sporting nation’ sparked discussion and debate across the country. It was a momentous year for the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council as the organisation published ‘Building Bridges’, a collection of social justice statements from 1988 to 2013. The tradition of annual social justice statements is one of which all Catholics in Australia can be proud. During 2014, the redevelopment of our website came to fruition................The Australian Catholic Bishops have continued to fully cooperate with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. We are working jointly with Catholic Religious Australia through the Truth, Justice and Healing Council to allow the Church to speak with one voice. We are mindful of words to “trust in the Holy Spirit” to guide us in our decision making and to serve our people wisely. We pray that the outcomes of the Royal Commission will be reached with openness, courage and humility. Finally, representing the Australian Catholic Bishops at the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops was both an interesting and challenging experience.The Australian Bishops will continue to pray for families everywhere, in particular reflecting on how we can bring people who are broken closer to Christ and the Church (more).

Church of England names its first woman bishop
Extract from Abigail Frymann Rouch, The Tablet, 17 December 2014

Libby LaneThe first woman bishop in the Church of England was named today.
The CofE announced this morning that Revd Libby Lane is to be installed as the suffragan bishop of Stockport.In 2013 Bishop-elect Lane was elected as a female representative for the north-west region to House of Bishops and since 2010 has been Dean of Women in Ministry for the Diocese. She is a bishop’s Selection Advisor, advising and supporting those considering a vocation to ministry in the Church of England. Bishop-elect Lane has been parish priest of St Peter’s Hale and St Elizabeth’s Ashley, in the Diocese of Chester, since 2007. She was one of the first women to enter the priesthood and was ordained a deacon in 1993 and a priest in 1994. She was ordained with her husband George, who is co-ordinating chaplain at Manchester Airport. In a brief video message on the Diocese of Chester website, she said her prayer was that she would be able to "use the authority vested in me to heal and not to hurt; to build up, not to break down". "I am committed to using this unique moment to build unity and to grow God's kingdom together," she said (more). 

Visitation report takes mostly positive tone toward US sisters
Extracts from  Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 16 December
2014
Vatican City. The final report of a controversial six-year Vatican investigation of tens of thousands of U.S. Catholic sisters takes a roundly positive, even laudatory, tone toward their life and work but also includes several couched but barbed criticisms of them. Using some form of the word "gratitude" eight times over its 12 pages, the report also acknowledges the suspicion many sisters had over the launching of the investigation and says the Vatican is seeking "respectful and fruitful dialogue" with those who refused to collaborate in the process............The Vatican investigation, known formally as an apostolic visitation, was launched by the religious congregation in 2008 with the approval of Pope Benedict XVI. Likely the largest such investigation in church history, it involved inquiry into some 341 female religious institutes in the U.S. that include some 50,000 women (more).

Married priest replaces cleric who fell in love with parishioner
Extract from
CathNews, 16 December 2014
An English priest who left active ministry after admitting a relationship with a woman is being replaced by a married priest, reports The Tablet. Parishioners at St Thomas More Catholic Church in Coventry were informed in October that their parish priest, Fr Philip Gay, had decided “after careful consideration and for personal reasons” to step down from his duties in order to consider his future. A fortnight ago
, his departure was confirmed in a statement from the Archdiocese of Birmingham that said: “It is with regret that we must now let you know of [Fr Gay’s] decision to leave the priesthood.” According to parishioners, Fr Gay – who celebrated the 25th anniversary of his ordination earlier this year – left after falling in love with a female parishioner. The archdiocese also announced that Fr Gay’s replacement would be Fr Stephen Day, a 53-year-old former Anglican priest who is set to arrive at the presbytery next week, from his current parish of St Anne’s in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, with his wife and three children aged 10, 13 and 16 (more). Photo: CathNews, St Thomas Moore Church, Coventry 

Pope's Morning Homily: No Gloomy, Rotting Hearts Allowed. Warns Against Hypocrisy, Being 'Weathervanes'
Extract fom De
borah Castellano Lubov, Zenit, 15 December 2014
Vatican...........According to Vatican Radio, during the Pope's daily Mass in Casa Santa Marta this morning, he said our hearts
must be fixed on Christ and open to love and forgiveness, never closed and judgmental. The Pontiff reflected on the day’s Gospel reading, which speaks of the chief priests asking Jesus by what authority he did his works........Reflecting on those with "hearts without consistency," the Pope said, "They negotiated everything," including their interior freedom, faith, country. The one thing they didn't negotiate, he said, was appearances. The most important thing for such people was getting the best and most out of every situation: "They were opportunists. They profited from the situations.” “And yet,” he continued, “some of you might ask me: ‘But Father, these people were observers of the law.'" Responding, Francis admitted, "they were a very observant people, very secure in their habits. Yes, it’s true – but only in appearance." He noted, "They were strong, but on the outside. The heart was very weak, they didn’t know what they believed." Jesus, on the other hand, teaches us that the Christian should have a strong and firm heart, one "built on the rock, that is Christ." With that foundation, such a heart is not negotiable (more).

New Synod questionnaire on family issues issued by Vatican
Extract from and link to Vatican 'Lineamenta' and Questions Aimed at a Response to and an In-Depth Examination of the Relatio Synodi of the III Extraordinary General Assembly, Association Of Catholic Priests, 13 December 2014

Preface. At the conclusion of the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, celebrated in 2014 to treat the topic, The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization, Pope Francis decided to make public the Relatio Synodi, the document which concluded the synod’s work. At the same time, the Holy Father indicated that this document would be the Lineamenta for the XIV Ordinary General Assembly to take place from 4 to 25 October 2015 to treat the topic, The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World.           The Relatio Synodi, which is sent as the Lineamenta, concludes in the following words: “These proposed reflections, the fruit of the synodal work that took place in great freedom and with a spirit of reciprocal listening, are intended to raise questions and indicate points of view that will later be developed and clarified through reflection in the local Churches in the intervening year leading to the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops” (Relatio Synodi, n. 62)               The Lineamenta has a series of questions aimed at knowing how the document is received and to generate an in-depth examination of the work initiated during the Extraordinary Assembly. It is a matter of re-thinking “with renewed freshness and enthusiasm, what revelation, transmitted in the Church’s faith, tells us about the beauty, the role and the dignity of the family” (Relatio Synodi, n. 4). From this vantage point, we have “one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas and to find concrete solutions to so many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families must confront” (Pope Francis, Concluding Discourse, 18 October 2014). The results of this consultation, together with the Relatio Synodi, will serve as the basis for the Instrumentum laboris of the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of 2015.           For this purpose, the episcopal conferences are asked to choose a suitable manner of involving all components of the particular churches and academic institutions, organizations, lay movements and other ecclesial associations (more).

Ivanhoe Playgroup                                                                                                                                                                            Friday 12 December 2014   
The Ivanhoe Playgroup run by Liz Shearer offers a welcoming and supportive environment where parents and children can play, learn and have fun. The playgroup suits children aged between 0- 4 years. The Venue is Mary Immaculate Church Hall, 4 Waverley Ave. Ivanhoe. Session Times are Wednesday 9 - 11am or Thursday 9 - 11am. Full details here

Young Catholic Singles of Melbourne                                                                                                                                           Friday 12 December 2014                                                                                                                                                                    Young Catholic Singles of Melbourne 21-35 is a brand new group designed to provide opportunities for young Catholic singles to meet in a friendly, relaxed environment. The group will hold monthly functions open to single Catholics between the ages of 21 and 35. Full details on our Events page here

Truth, Justice Healing Council Activity Report
Extract from CathNews, 12 December 2014

The Truth Justice and Healing Council today released a major report detailing its activities over the past two years, which documents the Council’s engagement with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse. The Council's CEO, Francis Sullivan, said the document "demonstrates how far the Church leadership has come over the past two years. "What has transpired over the past two years has shocked, certainly most Catholics, and gone beyond even the worst expectations of many," he said. “The public hearings have exposed the failings within the Church to understand the extent of the crisis and, certainly in the early years, to put in place a pathway for survivors of abuse to be heard and to access justice. “What we have seen, however, over the past two years, and what is recorded in this report, is the willingness of the Church leadership to tackle the emerging issues head-on, to understand the need for change and for a new approach to the survivors," Francis Sullivan added (more).   Ed: The report is available here. Photo: Francis Sullivan

Celibacy may be linked to sexual abuse, Catholic Church concedes
Extract from Julie Power, Sydney Morning Herald, 12 December 2014

Obligatory celibacy may have contributed to sexual abuse in some circumstances,  the Australian Catholic Church has conceded in a report recommending that priests be given "psychosexual training". It also says the abuse of priests' powers over others - called "clericalism" - may also have contributed to the way the church responded to claims of abuse, including its tendency to disbelieve or turn a blind eye to allegations of abuse. "Church institutions and their leaders, over many decades, seemed to turn a blind eye, either instinctively or deliberately, to the abuse happening within their diocese or religious order, protecting the institution rather than caring for the child," the report said. The progress report by the Truth, Justice and Healing Council of the Catholic Church is at direct odds with a report by the Catholic Church in the United States that denied any link between child abuse and celibacy. The report recommends that all priests undergo psycho-sexual development to learn how to better control their sexual needs and passions (more).

Pope to create new cardinals in February
Extract from CathNews, 12 December 2014

Pope Francis will create new cardinals on February 14, following a two-day meeting of the world's cardinals that will discuss reform of the Vatican bureaucracy, among other issues, reports the Catholic News Service. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, made the announcement yesterday. The names of the new cardinals are likely to be announced in mid-January, he said. If Pope Francis respects the limit of 120 cardinals under the age of 80 and, therefore, eligible to vote for a Pope, he will have 10 such openings in February. As of December 11, the College of Cardinals had 208 members, 112 of whom were under 80. On the same occasion, Pope Francis may also follow precedent by creating a number of cardinals over the age of 80, churchmen being honoured for their contributions to theology or other service to the Church (more). Photo: CathNews

Rome instructs world's bishops to 'rethink' pastoral approach to family and consult all the faithful
Extract from James Roberts, The Tablet, 10 December 2014

The Vatican has instructed all bishops’ conferences to initiate wide-ranging consultations and discussions on matters arising from October’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family, in preparation for the Ordinary Synod that will take place in October 2015. The Office for the Synod of Bishops that issued the instruction contains 46 questions that will guide an “in-depth examination” of the work begun at October's Extraordinary Synod. The questions are designed, the bishops are told, to help them avoid “a formulation of pastoral care based simply on an application of doctrine”, as this might not “respect the conclusions of the Extraordinary Synodal Assembly” and risked leading to a “reflection far from the path already indicated”. The task now, the instruction says, quoting from the final document of the October Synod, is to “re-think … what revelation, transmitted in the Church's faith, tells us about the beauty, the role and the dignity of the family”. “All levels” of the Church must be involved, the instruction stipulates, including “academic institutions, lay movements and other ecclesial associations”. "Every effort should be made not to begin anew, but to continue on the path undertaken in the Extraordinary Synod as a point of departure,” the instruction states. The pastoral approach already established in October must guide all future deliberations, it says, providing “concrete instances” arising from “specific situations”. The instruction quotes extensively from Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), mentioning specifically the exhortation’s emphasis on mercy and journeying to the peripheries of society. “How can people be helped to understand that no one is beyond the mercy of God and how can this truth be expressed in the Church’s pastoral activity towards families, especially those that are wounded and fragile?” is one of the questions asked, according to a translation reported by Joshua McElwee of the US-based National Catholic Reporter (more).
Painting. Christ and the Samaritan Woman, Carl Bloch (1834–90)

Where some see resistance, Francis sees dialogue
Pope says he's not afraid of different points of view
Extract from Staff, Global Pulse, 9 December 2014

Vatican City. In an interview with an Argentine newspaper, Pope Francis said he isn't worried by some of the resistance he's faced since being elected pope 21 months ago. "Resistance is now evident. And that is a good sign for me, getting the resistance out into the open, no stealthy mumbling when there is disagreement. It's healthy to get things out into the open, it's very healthy," he told La Nacion. The pope said a healthy dialogue on important issues was integral to the Church fulfilling its mission. He said he saw resistance as an offering of "different points of view, not something dirty." "It all seems normal to me, if there were no difference of opinions, that wouldn't be normal," he said. The 50-minute interview covered a wide range of topics, including the pope's plan to reform the Roman Curia, which he said will extend beyond next year's projected complete date. He also downplayed reports of divisions among the bishops during the Synod of the Family, held Oct. 5-19 in Rome. ...(more)

For Pope, "The joy of the Church is going out to look for lost sheep"
Extract from Asia News.it, 9 December 2014

Vatican. "The joy of the Church," the pontiff said, "is going out of itself to give life" and "look for lost sheep" because if it "turns inward, closes in on itself, it might be well organised, a perfect organisation, all right, all clean, but it lacks joy, merriment, and peace and so it becomes a discouraged, anxious, and sad Church, a Church that is more spinster than mother". (more)

Secretariat publishes 'Lineamenta' for next Synod on Family
Extract from Vatican Radio, 9 December 2014

(Vatican Radio) In preparation for the General Synod of Bishops on the family, set for October 4th to 25th 2015, the Synod Secretariat on Tuesday announced the publication of its preparatory document, known by its Latin name, the ‘Lineamenta’. Philippa Hitchen reports. While Pope Francis made clear, at the conclusion of last October’s Extraordinary Synod on the family, that the final report, or ‘Relatio’, from the two week encounter would serve as the preliminary document for next October’s Synod, the Secretariat said it has also drawn up a series of questions to accompany that ‘Relatio’. These two parts of the ‘Lineamenta’ have been sent, in the original Italian, to bishops conferences, the Synods of Eastern Catholic Churches, the Union of Religious Superiors and the dicasteries of the Roman Curia. Over the coming days they will be translated into other languages, in order that they can be shared as widely as possible for consultation with all those people and organisations concerned with the pastoral care of families. All the results of such consultation must be returned to the Synod Secretariat by April 15th so that the working guidelines, known as the ‘Instrumentum laboris’, can be published before next summer. The wide-ranging questions ask for reflections on all aspects of the promotion of authentic family values, the training of clergy in family ministry, the way the Church can be more present among those living far away from the Christian faith and the care of families that are wounded and fragile, including those who are divorced and remarried or seeking to care for homosexual members (more).

Holy See creates new judicial body for abuse cases
Extract from Vatican Radio, First published 11/11/2014. Reprinted 9 December 2014
(Vatican Radio) The Holy See announced the creation of a new judicial body within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Tuesday, for the specific purpose of dealing with the most serious crimes (delicta graviora), specifically: the sexual abuse of minors, and certain serious abuses associated with the Sacrament of Penance. The new body is to be a College composed of seven Cardinals or Bishops (who may be members of the Congregation, but are not required to be members thereof), chosen by the Holy Father. Paragraph 4 of the Rescript creating the new College offers a special provision for bishops accused of grave crimes: any bishop accused of grave crimes shall have his case examined by the whole body of members of the Congregation – the Ordinary Session – which may also examine other specific cases upon Papal request, and/or examine cases referred to it by the newly created College (more).

Australian abuse inquiry is no fishing expedition                                                                                                                  Public scrutiny of Church files will make the world safer for children
Extract from Kieran Tapsell, Gobal Pulse / Eureka Street. 8 December 2014

Jesuit Fr. Frank Brennan has criticized the U.N. Committee against Torture for making some gratuitous comments about Australia's response under the convention, and about the Holy See's response to the request for the production of documents from the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse.  Some of the committee's comments were gratuitous: its members initially did not seem to understand that the Australian government has no power to tell a royal commission what to do; nor did they seem to understand that the royal commission only makes recommendations, and does not prosecute anyone. However, the assertion by Fr. Brennan that the royal commission’s request for the production of documents involved a “fishing expedition” is, with respect, equally gratuitous. This is a term used in civil litigation where one party, in seeking discovery of documents, hopes that they will reveal relevant evidence to support its case without any ground for believing that such evidence exists. If that kind of restriction were placed on royal commissions, their powers to investigate would be significantly shackled. Even assuming that the civil litigation discovery rules apply to royal commissions (and they don't), if fish are reasonably suspected of being in the pond, the discovery exercise is not a “fishing expedition.” The “fish” in this case are relevant documents in the possession of the Holy See that were not retained in Australia. There is hard evidence, publicly available, of the Holy See's practice of requiring local copies of documents to be destroyed, and of bishops being advised to send “sensitive” documents to the papal nuncio who could then claim diplomatic immunity over them (more). Photo: Catholics For Renewal. Kieran Tapsell (left) speaking at "The role of Church law in the child abuse issue: help or hindrance" Discussion with Rev. Professor Ian Waters (right) and audience in Melbourne, 29 October 2014

Making the world safer for children.
Extracts from Frank Brennan SJ, Pearls and irritations. John Menadue website. 6 December 2014

The United Nations has developed an elaborate system of committees to oversee compliance by nation states with a broad range of international human rights instruments. These committee processes are sometimes used by nongovernmental organizations pushing their own particular causes. Of late, a group called SNAP — the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests — have been making submissions to U.N. committees expressing dissatisfaction with the Vatican’s response to child sexual abuse..................In preparation for the committee hearing, Australia had provided a comprehensive 52-page report on compliance issues on July 31, 2013. Australia takes seriously these U.N. procedures. John Quinn, Australia’s permanent representative to the U.N. in Geneva, was accompanied by a five-member high-level delegation of public servants from Canberra in addition to several colleagues from his own permanent mission at the committee hearing in November. Neither the 52-page report nor the eight-page opening statement of the Australians referred to child sexual abuse. That is not surprising. This is a U.N. committee with a very particular mandate. There are other U.N. committees that deal with children’s rights, women’s rights, the rights of those who suffer a disability, racial discrimination, civil and political rights etc. This committee as its name suggests deals principally with state authorized or state tolerated torture.................I have no expectation that a U.N. Committee against Torture peripherally concerned with the question whether Australian state officials have acquiesced in child sexual abuse committed by others would delve into all this detail of dealings between a royal commission and the Holy See. But I do have an expectation that such a committee would keep its nose out of the matter until the royal commission has run its course, until the Vatican has had the opportunity to honor its solemn commitments to assist the inquiry, and until the U.N. committee is in a position to see if its mandate is evenly remotely invoked. This sort of gratuitous reporting by U.N. committees at the urgings of NGOs like SNAP does absolutely nothing to make the world or the Catholic Church safer for children. It just gives the U.N. human rights machinery a bad name. You would think the Committee against Torture would have enough on its plate (more).
 
Parish Social Gathering 7th December: So, right now, mark Sunday,7th December, 5.00pm as a must and come to the  traditional parish social gathering in the court yard behind the parish office.  It’s BYO everything. No need to book. Just come.
 
Pastoral Leadership Meeting notes for 26 November 2014 Among agenda items were:  
  • The gathering of material for the Christmas edition of the parish newsletter.
  • The formulation of a mission statement in view of the recent survey.
  • The outcome of the recent annual review of the website - its ongoing content and operation affirmed.
  • A budget for the next year and the ongoing possibility of dealing with necessary maintenance issues.
  • First Eucharist for the 26 catechist children, bringing to an end the sacramental programme for 2104.  
  • The Mass of Thanksgiving for the children of our three schools celebrating the end of their year of ‘Daring to Dream’.
Francis sacks 'authoritarian' Swiss Guard commander
Extract from CathNews, 5 December 2019

Pope Francis is removing the commander of the Swiss Guards, with the Pontiff reportedly unhappy at the officer's strict authoritarian style, reports the BBC. The news that Daniel Anrig would not be continuing as commander was published in the Vatican's daily newspaper. He will leave the Vatican after Christmas at the end of an eight-year stint, and be replaced by his deputy. Since his election Pope Francis has made efforts to reform the Church and make it more open. The notice in the L'Osservatore Romano said: "The Holy Father has ordered that Colonel Daniel Rudolf Anrig end his term on 31 January, at the conclusion of the extension of his mandate." Col Anrig's approach has riled colleagues, with one Swiss Guard telling Italian media "this is the end of a dictatorship," on news of his departure. No official reason has been given for the dismissal by the Vatican. The 110-strong Swiss Guard are responsible for the personal security of the Pope. They have served the papacy for five centuries, first coming to Rome to protect Pope Julius II in 1506 (more).

Abbott government uni reforms would fund training of priests
Extract from CathNews, 5 December 2014
                                                                                                                                         Taxpayers would subsidise the training of priests and other religious workers at private colleges for the first time under the Abbott government's proposed higher education reforms, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. The government's proposed higher education package extends federal funding to students at private universities, TAFES and associate degree programs.  Religious teaching, training and vocational institutes would be eligible for a share of $820 million in new Commonwealth funding over three years. Labor and the Greens attacked the policy, saying it breaches the separation of Church and State. Earlier this year, the government controversially announced it would provide $244 million for a new school chaplaincy scheme but would remove the option for schools to hire secular welfare workers (more).

Unearthing the gender balance at the heart of our Catholic tradition
Extract from Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter, 4 December 2014

I love Advent. It's such a hopeful and consoling season for those who long to see God's values fully realized "on Earth as in heaven," as Jesus prayed. This is the season of the prophet Isaiah, whose proclamations permeate our liturgies and whose writings inspired both Jesus and St. Paul. We renew our belief in a God who brings "glad tidings to the poor, liberty to captives and makes justice and praise spring up before all the nations" (Isaiah 61). Above all, we bask in a very special brand of prophetic hope that stretches back over 2,500 years.Recently, I was delighted to discover that female prophets and scribes helped shape the Isaiah tradition so important to early Christianity. Episcopal priest Wilda Gafney's book Daughters of Miriam uncovers the all-but-unknown fact that in ancient Israel, prophetic schools and scribal guilds were composed of both women and men. These gender-balanced groups created the prophetic writings attributed to Isaiah and many other prophetic figures. Gafney's doctoral study of ancient prophecy and its technical vocabulary is credited with beginning a new chapter in gender and biblical studies.......It is good news for our contemporary church to recognize the gender balance at the very heart of our Catholic tradition. God's Holy Spirit, at work throughout history in both women and men, brings forth liberation, compassion and justice to a waiting world (more). Image: NCR

'Hundreds of millions of euros off the Vatican's balance sheet'
Extract from CathNews, The Catholic Herald. 4 December 2014

Vatican reformers have discovered hundreds of millions of euros that did not appear on the Holy See’s balance sheet, according to Cardinal George Pell, who is charged with sorting out the Curia’s financial affairs, reports The Catholic Herald. Writing exclusively in the first issue of the new Catholic Herald magazine, Cardinal Pell says the discovery means the Vatican’s finances are healthier than they first appeared. “It is important to point out that the Vatican is not broke. Apart from the pension fund, which needs to be strengthened for the demands on it in 15 or 20 years, the Holy See is paying its way, while possessing substantial assets and investments. “In fact, we have discovered that the situation is much healthier than it seemed, because some hundreds of millions of euros were tucked away in particular, sectional accounts, and did not appear on the balance sheet. It is another question, impossible to answer, whether the Vatican should have much larger reserves.” Cardinal Pell was appointed Prefect of the newly created Secretariat for the Economy in February, making him the most senior English-speaking official in the Vatican (more).  Photo: CathNews
 
Abbott's woes through Pope's human values lens
Extract from Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street, 3 December 2014

Pope Francis’ recent speech to the European parliament provides a useful lens for reflecting on the priorities and policies of the Australian Government, themselves currently the object of introspection and criticism. The recent dire opinion polls have focused attention on the Government’s performance and on how it may win back public approval. There has been less reflection on the threads that link its policies on welfare, economic management, the environment, asylum seekers and to government regulation. The Government has consistently seen the world from the perspective of competitive, self-reliant and economically productive individuals. They, and the businesses of which they are part, are to be rewarded; regulatory obstacles to their enrichment, whether these have to do with climate, mining or finance, are to be neutered.  Those who are not self-reliant and productive are to be disciplined into productive self-reliance. They are to be discouraged by co-payment from visiting doctors, have their benefits cut and required to find work that is not available or study for which they are not prepared. The Government has no responsibility to them as human beings. They are valued only on the basis of their economic contribution (more).
 
Curia to set up two new congregations, lay leadership discussed
Extract from CathNews, The Tablet, 4 December 2014

wo new congregations will be set up and lay people could be appointed to lead some of Rome’s dicasteries, according to the Cardinal responsible for overseeing reform of the Roman Curia, reports The Tablet. Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, co-ordinator of the so-called C9 (the Council of Cardinals set up to re-organise the Curia), told Vatican Insider that two bodies dedicated to the laity and to charity were in the process of being set up. These two congregations will be drawn from a merger of the existing Pontifical councils for the laity, the family, migrants, health-care workers, justice and peace, and the Church’s charitable arm, Cor Unum. Cardinal Rodriguez also said the Secretariat of State would probably undergo a “redistribution of internal tasks.” The Honduran Cardinal added that Rome’s congregations and Pontifical councils did not have to be led by clergy. “It is also not necessary for there to be a cardinal or a bishop heading every dicastery: There could be a married couple in charge of family affairs, for example and for migrants there could be a nun who has specific experience in this area, a member of the Scalabrinian missionaries for instance.” Asked if the Church’s judicial structures would be reformed as well, he said the issue was not due to be discussed until at least the next meeting of the C9, but added: “I think it would be a good idea to have one single ministry of Justice in the Church … with one single head” that would include the Apostolic Signatura and the Council for Legislative Texts." (more)

Sydney girl largely inspires world religion Leaders on slavery                                                                                               Edited Extract from CathNews, 3 December 2014                                                                                               
An extraordinary gathering of world religious leaders, including Pope Francis, a Zen Buddhist master, Sunni and Shia clerics, the Archbishop of Canterbury and a South American rabbi have signed a pledge to eradicate slavery by 2020. The most extraordinary aspect of this event was the fact that it was largely inspired by the determination of a Perth schoolgirl, Grace Forrest, now a confident young woman. The signing marks the beginning of a five-year push in churches, mosques, synagogues and temples across the world to send the message that slavery is forbidden by God – every God. But perhaps most extraordinary was the fact that this historic meeting, which overcame traditions of religious suspicion and enmity amid the manicured gardens and marble columns of Vatican City, was largely inspired by the determination of a Perth schoolgirl - now a confident young woman.Grace Forrest, 21, sat proudly in the front row at the 16th-century Casina Pio IV villa as the pledge was signed in front of her, after an hour of speeches in five languages. It is six years since the daughter of mining billionaire Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest first witnessed the evil of child slavery, she told Fairfax after the event. She was 15 when she arrived on a school trip to Nepal, having chosen to work in a refuge home for children that had been rescued from sex slavery (more). 
Photo: Cathnews
 
Religious leaders' letter to ABC over programming cuts
Extract from CathNews, 3 December 2014

Catholic clergy are among a group of prominent Australian religious leaders who have written a letter to the ABC protesting cuts to its religious programming and staffing. The Bishop of Wollongong, Peter Ingham, who is Chair of the Australian Catholic Media Council, and Rev Richard Leonard SJ, Director of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting, are among 28 signatories to the letter to ABC Managing Director Mark Scott and Chairman Jim Spigelman. The leaders say in the letter they believe “the faith and values we hold will always occupy a central part in the formation of our Australian national identity. (more)
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Chicago archbishop will give pro-choicers Communion
Extract from CathNews, The Huffington Post, 3 December 2014

Hailed as a "moderate voice” in American Catholicism who is seeking to tone down the culture wars, Chicago's new Archbishop Blase Cupich has weighed in on Communion rights, immigration reform and gay marriage. When asked by a CBS television presenter whether he would deny Communion to politicians who support abortion, Cupich emphasised dialogue and conversation instead of confrontation. "I would not use the Eucharist, or as they call it 'the communion rail,' as a place to have those discussions or a way in which people would be either excluded from the life of the Church," he said on Face The Nation. "The Eucharist is an opportunity of grace and conversion. It's also a time of forgiveness of sins, so my hope would be that grace would be instrumental in bringing people to the truth." (more).


Mass in Rome for the late Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes on December 2
Extract from  Fr Robert McCulloch, Media Release, Columban Fathers in Rome, 2 December 2014

Australia’s ambassador to the Holy See, John McCarthy, has arranged for Mass to be offered in the chapel of the Venerable English College, Rome, at 6pm [Rome Time] on Tuesday 2 December for Phillip Hughes and his family. The Vatican Cricket XI [St. Peter’s Cricket Club] will attend along with representatives from the Pontifical Council for Culture and supporters of the Vatican team. The Mass will be celebrated by Fr. Anthony Currer, an English priest working at the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity who is captain of the Vatican XI, together with Australian Columban Fr. Robert McCulloch, committee member, and Fr. Eamonn O’Higgins, team manager (Media Release).
 
Pope Francis answered questions on the synod on his journey home from Turkey
Extract from Staff Reporter, Catholic Herald UK, 1 December 2014

Pope Francis has said that the Synod on the Family is not a parliament but a “protected ecclesial space” where “the Holy Spirit may speak”. According to Catholic News Agency, the Pope told reporters on the plane home from Turkey, “The synod is a path, it is a journey, firstly. Secondly the synod is not a parliament. It’s a protected space in which the Holy Spirit may speak.” Pope Francis also stressed that the final report of the Synod was “lineamenta”, or a starting point, for next year’s synod and is currently being discussed by the episcopal conferences so it can be amended and another ‘instrumentum laboris’ (official Vatican document) drafted. Pope Francis said: “It’s a path. For this reason, you can’t take (the) opinion of one person or draft. The synod has to be seen in its totality (more).

 
Francis and Bartholomew issue resounding, historic calls for church reunification
Extract from Joshua J McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 30 November 2014

Istanbul. Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, leaders of the millennium-long separated Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, have issued resounding and historic calls for the reunification of their global communities. Speaking to one another after a solemn Orthodox divine liturgy in St. George, an historic Christian center, Sunday, both leaders pledged to intensify efforts for full unity of their churches, saying such unity already exists among Christians dying in conflicts in the Middle East. For his part, Francis made what appears to be the strongest and most encompassing call yet from a Catholic pontiff for unity. Seeking to assure Orthodox leaders that restoration of full communion between the churches would respect Eastern traditions, he said reunion would "not signify the submission of one to the other, or assimilation." "I want to assure each one of you here that, to reach the desired goal of full unity, the Catholic church does not intend to impose any conditions except that of the shared profession of faith," said the pope. Continuing, Francis said: "The one thing that the Catholic church desires, and that I seek as Bishop of Rome, 'the church which presides in charity,' is communion with the Orthodox churches." (more)
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Francis decries forced uniformity, receives blessing from Patriarch Bartholomew

Edited Extracts from Joshua J McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 29 November 2014

Istanbul. Visiting the ancient Christian community that is now but a small minority in overwhelmingly Muslim Turkey, Pope Francis on Saturday called on the church to leave its "comfort zone" and to "throw off defensiveness" to overcome misunderstanding and division. (Here are some extracts including quotes from Pope  "The temptation is always within us to resist the Holy Spirit, because he takes us out of our comfort zone and unsettles us; he makes us get up and drives the church forward," the pontiff said at the Latin Rite church. "In truth, the church shows her fidelity to the Holy Spirit in as much as she does not try to control or tame him," said Francis. "We Christians become true missionary disciples, able to challenge consciences, when we throw off our defensiveness and allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit. He is freshness, imagination and newness.".  "In our journey of faith and fraternal living, the more we allow ourselves to be humbly guided by the Spirit of the Lord, the more we will overcome misunderstandings, divisions, and disagreements and be a credible sign of unity and peace," he continued (more).

Benedict a touchstone for conservative discontent
Extract from Cath News, David Gibson Religion News Service, 28 November 2014

When Benedict XVI resigned it immediately raised concerns, quickly dismissed, that an ex-pope around could undermine the legitimacy of the new one. Those fears are emerging again, fuelled by the growing discontent of conservative Catholics with Francis. “Benedict is hanging back for now, but there’s no doubt that he could easily become a figurehead for traditionalists harkening back to the good old days,” Notre Dame New Testament professor Candida Moss and Joel Baden, Old Testament professor at Yale Divinity School, warned in a columnn in The Daily Beast earlier this month. Hubert Wolf, a Church historian at the University of Münster, echoed those thoughts in comments reported by a leading German newspaper last week, when he said there were worries that “around Francis and Benedict XVI, two competing power centres could come into being in the (Roman) Curia, with pope and anti-pope at the top of each.” (morePhoto: CathNews
 
Pope Francis Calls for Courage to Have 'Fearless Pastoral Ministry' Addresses International Pastoral Congress on the World's Big Cities
Extract from Junno Arocho Esteves, Zenit, 27 November 2014
Vatican City,  Addressing the International Pastoral Congress on the World’s Big Cities, Pope Francis called on bishops to give “concrete mercy and tenderness” in their pastoral ministry. The congress, which was held Nov. 24-26, was an idea developed by Pope Francis and Cardinal Lluis Martinez Sistach, the archbishop of Barcelona. The three-day conference examined various themes regarding evangelization in major cities, especially pastoral ministry to those living in the outskirts. The Pope began his address to the participants by saying that he wanted to share his personal experience as a pastor of a “populous and multicultural city like Buenos Aires." Together with the bishops of the 11 diocese of that ecclesiastical region, the Pope said they were able to confront some of the pastoral challenges experienced by many of the major cities around the world. He also said that he wished to allay certain fears that might come in facing those challenges. “This is an excellent opportunity to explore the challenges and possible horizons of an urban pastoral ministry,” he said. “Challenges, that is, the places where God is calling us to; horizons, meaning, aspects to which I think we should pay special attention.” (more)

Pope tells European Parliament human dignity is key to renewal
Extract from Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, Catholic News Agency, 26 November 2014

POPE Francis’ address to the European Parliament touched on a variety of issues, all of which, he said, ought to promote the 'centrality' of the human person so that a true cultural renewal can be attained. ‘Today the promotion of human rights is central to the commitment of the European Union to advance the dignity of the person, both within the Union and in its relations with other countries,’ the pontiff told members of the European Parliament during his Tuesday 25 November trip to Strasbourg, France (more).                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
 
Catholic Social Teaching too radical for politicians, says Labour policy review head
Extract from Elena Curti, The Tablet, 27 November 2014

The man in charge of Labour’s policy review, Jon Cruddas, said this week that the party’s leaders are nervous of taking up the new direction that would be required to implement Catholic Social Teaching (CST). Mr Cruddas, a Catholic and a critic of New Labour who sees CST as key to the future of politics, said some Labour figures regard its ideas as “too big”. He was speaking after the annual lecture at the Christian think tank, Theos, in London at which the political economist and journalist, Will Hutton, identified CST as providing the ideas that would give a moral dimension to economic policy and further the common good. He said what was needed was a twentyfirst century Companies Act that would require firms not to make shareholder dividend their highest priority but also take account of employees and society in general (more).


On the Church's Journey Towards Heaven
Extracts from Zenit, 26 November 2014 (translation of Pope Francis’ catechesis during today’s General Audience in St. Peter’s Square)

"The Second Vatican Council reminded us that the Church is not an end in herself, but that she is continually journeying through history to the kingdom of heaven, of which the Church on earth is the seed and beginning.".........In presenting the Church to the men of our time, Vatican Council II was very conscious of a fundamental truth, which must never be forgotten: the Church is not a static, still reality, an end in herself, but is continually journeying in history towards the ultimate and wonderful end which is the Kingdom of Heaven, of which the Church on earth is the seed and the beginning (cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 5). When we turn to this horizon, we notice that our imagination is arrested, revealing itself just capable of intuiting the splendor of the mystery that surpasses our senses. And some questions arise spontaneously in us: when will this final passage happen? What will the new dimension be like, which the Church will enter? What, then, will happen to humanity and to the creation that surrounds it? But these questions are not new; they were already asked by the disciples to Christ at that time: “But when will this happen? When will be the triumph of the Spirit over creation, over the created, over everything …” These are old, human questions. We also ask these questions (more).


True and false reform of the Roman Curia
Extract from Robert Mickens, National Catholic Reporter, 24 November 2014

The blueprint for a major reorganization of the Roman Curia is ready. And Pope Francis on Monday called together all the current heads of the Vatican's major offices (the nine congregations, three tribunals, 12 pontifical councils and several other bureaus) to explain the plan, get their reactions and hear their suggestions. But if reports on the reform scheme are correct, the pope has already decided that several of the councils established after the Second Vatican Council will be merged into major congregations. Specifically, these are the various offices dealing with the laity and others focusing on human development and social justice. According to the Spanish news site Religión Digital, the pope wants to simplify and reduce the number of Vatican offices and establish a "council of ministers." An article over the weekend said this council would be made up of the heads of 12 congregations: nine that already exist and three more that will be newly created (laity, justice and communications). But Francis does not want merely to streamline the Vatican's bureaucracy and make it more efficient; he also wants to instill a new mentality based on service, synodality, better collaboration and interoffice communication, and respect for local bishops. He's also hoping to drive a stake through the heart of careerism and eliminate what he's defined as the "cancer" of clericalism.....(more).   Photo: Cathnews
 
Francis appoints Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah to lead Vatican liturgical congregation
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter,24 November 2014

Vatican City. Pope Francis has appointed Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah as the new head for the Vatican congregation that oversees and determines liturgical practices for the global Catholic church. The appointment, made Sunday but announced by the Vatican on Monday, fills what had been an unusually long vacancy among the Vatican's highest offices and elevates Sarah to the most senior African in the church's governance. It also will likely be subject to much analysis and speculation, as the post in recent years has been the topic of much discussion among Catholics about how the church celebrates liturgy in the wake of the changes of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).....(more)
 
 From our Parish archive
Extract from Fr Len Egan. Mary Immaculate Parish Newsletter, July 7 1991, 
republished 26 November 2014                                           "Rest and Recreation
There will be no newsletter printed during the school holidays. A few old ones will be put-out, to be be made available for reading during the sermon. A second perusal will do no great harm."

A busy Saturday (and Sunday) in the life of Ivanhoe Parish
Saturday 22 &  Sunday 23 November 2014
                                                                              Apart from 6:30pm Mass as usual at St Bernadette's, Marriage Preparation Course at Mary Immaculate, and a 'full-on' Working Bee at MI (with all the usual volunteers - but no new volunteers), Mother Of God School enjoyed a very successful "Village Fair" today. Don't take our word for it, look at some photos taken there today, published on the Mass Details page. The following day, on Sunday 23 November, a group of young parish people outside our parish schools celebrated First Eucharist, as recorded in further photos. On that page there is also an extensive archive of parish photos (and others on the Photos/Multimedia page). These collectively serve to illustrate something of rich spiritual and community life in the Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe.

Bp Peter Comensoli appointed Bishop of Broken Bay
Extract from CathNews, 21 November 2014

Pope Francis has appointed the Most Reverend Peter Comensoli as the third Bishop of Broken Bay. During the past nine months, Bishop Comensoli has served as the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Sydney. The position of Archbishop was vacant from February until last week when Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP was installed. Currently, Bishop Comensoli is a member of the Bishops Commission for Church Ministry and Bishops Commission for Evangelisation. President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Denis Hart, welcomed the new Bishop of Broken Bay: “For the Australian bishops, I congratulate Bishop Peter Comensoli upon his appointment as Bishop of Broken Bay. "After distinguished service in Wollongong, and as Auxiliary Bishop and Administrator in the Archdiocese of Sydney, he brings his great abilities and personal gifts to serve and care for the priests and people of Broken Bay. He will receive a very warm welcome. Ad multos annos.” (more)
  Photo: Cathnews

Bishops call on community to reflect on violence against women
Extract from CathNews, Friday 21 November 2014

Australian Catholic Bishops have called on the community to focus on the message of Jesus Christ and his relationship with women, ahead of the  International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Referring to the Woman and Man: One in Christ Jesus Report (1999) on the Participation of Women in the Catholic Church in Australia, the Bishops quote Pope St John Paul II who wrote: “Transcending the established norms of this own culture, Jesus treated women with openness, respect, acceptance, and tenderness.” Violence against women has no place in our society, the Australian Catholic Bishops stressed. “Our belief in the sanctity of human life and the inherent dignity of the human person is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching.” (more)

Vatican sending bishops' conferences documents for 2015 synod
Extracts from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 20 November 2014

Rome, Just over a month since the conclusion of October's keenly watched meeting of Catholic bishops on issues of family life, the Vatican has announced it's already gearing up for the next meeting in 2015. Within weeks, the Vatican said in a statement Thursday, bishops' conferences around the world will be receiving preparatory documents for the 2015 meeting, known as a Synod of Bishops........................Thursday's statement was made following a Vatican meeting Tuesday and Wednesday of the council of prelates who lead the Vatican's office for the Synod of Bishops. The statement said the Vatican office will send a preparatory document for the 2015 synod to the world's bishops conferences "at the beginning of December" in hopes that an initial working document for the next synod can be ready by summer 2015. While the initial preparatory document for the 2014 synod, sent in October 2013, made headlines because it contained a wide-ranging questionnaire that the Vatican synod office said was to be distributed "as widely as possible," Thursday's statement does not indicate if the document for the 2015 synod will also have such a questionnaire. The statement does, however, say that the new preparatory document will "be constituted" of the final document from the 2014 synod along with "a series of points that help in its reception and its deepening." Thursday's announcement from the Vatican marks the beginning of what will likely be a flurry of intense activity for the synod office as it prepares to organize what it expected to be a month long meeting of prelates and lay experts in October 2015.          While the 2014 synod saw an estimated 190 prelates take part in the discussion, the 2015 edition is expected to see at least three times that number, as the 2015 synod is open not only to presidents of bishops' conferences but also several members of each conference, who are being elected to attend by their peers. Thursday's statement noted the pope was present at the Vatican synod office meetings, saying he had attended those meetings to "underline the importance that he attributes to the synod, as an expression of episcopal collegiality, and to the family, theme of the two assemblies." The statement also said those at the Vatican meeting "agreed that the period now opening between the two Assemblies, which is unprecedented in the history of the synodal institution, is very important." The year between the synods, the statement said, "should take the path already done as a starting point and take this special opportunity to study issues and promote discussion at the level of Episcopal Conferences, finding the means and the tools necessary to further involve also the different ecclesial bodies in the synodal reflection on the family."
(more)

Latin American Catholics shift to evangelical congregations
Extract fromn CathNews, 20 November 2014

Growing numbers of Catholics in Latin America are abandoning the Church in favour of evangelical congregations or non-religious life, according to a new survey, reports The Tablet.The survey by the Pew Research Centre, based in Washington DC,  of 30,000 residents of 18 countries and Puerto Rico showed 69 per cent of respondents confirming they were Catholic, even though 84 per cent of people said they had been raised in the Church.The Catholic population has slipped sharply over the past century, when their numbers topped 90 per cent. Evangelicals have attracted Mass-goers often by promoting what those converting would consider more attractive ways of worshipping the Lord, an emphasis on morality and solutions for their earthly afflictions – mostly poverty-related, said Andrew Chesnut, religious studies professor at Virginia Commonwealth University.........If the trend continues, "even Brazil, home to the largest Catholic population on earth, will no longer have a Catholic majority by 2030," said Dr Chesnut, author of a book on Evangelicals in Brazil (more).
Photo: Cathnews

Melbourne Archdiocese buys landmark building
Extract from CathNews, Wednesday 19 November 2014

The Archdiocese of Melbourne has paid $36 million for a building near St Patrick's Cathedral as a new home for its administration, reports The Age. The building, known as Industry House in East Melbourne, is a Corinthian-portico-fronted building, built in the 1860s and a city landmark. It has been the residence of the Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce & Industry for 12 years. Archbishop Hart will consolidate the Church's sprawling administration, currently spread amongst a number of private tenancies, into the one building, which is only a few hundred metres from St Patrick's."Of special appeal to the Archdiocese is the central location of the building so close to St Patrick's Cathedral and other nearby Catholic services," a Church spokesman said (more).
Photo: Cathnews, VECCI house1911

Pope calls alleged abuse victim in Granada, where group of 10 priests has been suspended
Edited Extract from Abigail Frymann Rouch, The Tablet, 19 November

...........“Good afternoon son, this is Fr Jorge,” the voice on the phone said. “Sorry, you must have made a mistake, I don’t know Fr Jorge,” the man answered. “Well, it’s Pope Francis.” The Pope reportedly continued: “I have read your letter a number of times. I couldn’t be more upset about it and feel huge pain on reading your story. I want to ask forgiveness in the name of all of the Church of Christ. Forgive this terrible sin and terrible crime that you have suffered.” He then told the man “there are already people working to resolve all of this.” The archbishop (Archbishop Francisco Javier Martínez Fernández of Granada in southern Spain) issued a statement on Monday saying he had followed the procedures outlined by the Vatican and investigated the allegations. He suspended the priests as a precautionary measure, passed the findings of his investigation to the Holy See and notified the civil authorities, who are now investigating the case (more).

Vatican lifts marriage ban on Eastern Catholic priests in diaspora
Extract from Independent Catholic News. Tuesday 18 November 2014

Pope Francis has approved a decree, signed by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, lifting the ban on the ordination of married men to the priesthood in Eastern Catholic churches outside their traditional territories, (mostly in the United States, Canada and Australia). The decree was signed on 14 June and published later online in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, the official periodical which documents Vatican rulings. Clergy in the Eastern Catholic churches have traditionally been allowed to marry, but in 1890, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples introduced a marriage ban on Ruthenian priests living in the USA,  in response to protests from Latin Rite Bishops at the time, Cardinal Sandri explained. In 1929, the Congregation extended the ban, 'Cum data fuerit' to South America and Australia. Cardinal Sandri's decree notes that soon after the law was promulgated, "an estimated 200,000 Ruthenian faithful became Orthodox." The document also notes that when Pope Benedict XVI issued Anglicanorum Coetibus, allowing for the reception of Anglican communities into the Catholic Church, he explicitly provided for the presence of married Catholic priests.....(more)
  Photo: ICN, Ruthenian Church of St Michael the Archangel, Pittston, Philadelphia

International Reform Network calls for more Synod Openness.  
Extract from Media Release, Catholic Church Reform International, 18 November 2014

Catholic Church Reform International (CCRI), a network of groups and individuals in 65 countries committed to the renewal of the Catholic Church, is calling for more openness from the Synod of Bishops in its discussions on marriage and the family.  CCRI has recently written to Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, asking that the Vatican not only permit local Episcopal Conferences to make public the summaries of responses they prepare on Synod questionnaires, but actually encourage them to be more open.  Last year, when Cardinal Baldisseri sent a specially prepared Synod questionnaire to bishops across the world urging them to circulate it widely and get grass-roots feedback on the issues it raised, he also instructed that their summaries of the responses be kept secret............As preparations get under way for the Ordinary General Assembly in October 2015, the Catholic faithful are again to be asked to reflect, this time on the contents of the 62-paragraph Relatio Synodi (Synod Report), and to provide feedback.  In a sign that Pope Francis understands the need for openness, he instructed that the voting results on each of the Relatio’s paragraph be appended to the document. But CCRI is asking for more.  When the grass-roots reflections on the Relatio have been gathered and summarized, CCRI wants every Episcopal Conference to be free, indeed encouraged, to make their summaries public and widely available.  Further, prior to the commencement of the new round of reflections, CCRI has also asked Cardinal Baldisseri to allow every Episcopal Conference to publish and disseminate the summaries of responses to the 2013 questionnaire. Those summaries could greatly assist the faithful in every local church to develop and clarify their reflections on the issues which the Synod is about to ask of them
.....(more)

Cardinal Burke lists issues Pope should not discuss at next Synod
Extract from Sarah Mac Donald, The Tablet, 18 November 2014

Next year’s follow-up Synod on the Family must take issues such as extra-marital cohabitation and Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics off the agenda, US Cardinal Raymond Burke said. Burke, who has criticised Pope Francis’ handling of last month’s Synod on the Family, told 300 people at a conference in Limerick last Saturday that those issues had been a distraction at the meetings. “Even within the Church there are those who would obscure the truth of the indissolubility of marriage in the name of mercy,” he said, and added: “We are engaged in a very great struggle and it strikes at the very heart of the Church.” Burke, the former Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, whom Pope Francis has recently moved to become Patron of the Order of Malta, criticised the confusion and error which he said became evident to the world during the synod (more).

Pope runs moral template over G20
Extracts from Bruce Duncan, Pearls and Irritations, John Menadue website, 17 November 2014

None of what Pope Francis is saying about the moral criteria for a more just economic system will come as a surprise to those who have been following his earlier criticism of abuses in capitalist and other economies. Indeed, the critique of capitalism by the popes has been consistent since Pope Leo XIII in his 1891 document, On the Condition of the Working Class, and more especially since John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council which finished in 1965.........What is new with Pope Francis is his ability to communicate refreshingly in a friendly and popular way, and articulate clearly a renewed moral perspective on our global economic plight. Even people who are not Catholic or Christian can hear his voice as a call to reason, humanity and sanity at this critical moment in the human story (more).

Francis Has His Hand On The Tiller — And He Will Not Change Doctrine
Extract from the journal of Robert Moynihan, published in The Truth Will Make You Free, 14 October 2014

......I attended a round-table the other evening, on November 11, at the Centro Ecumenica Russia on Borgo Pio, a few steps from the Sant'Anna Gate into Vatican City, at which Cardinal Walter Kasper spoke. Kasper, just back in Rome after a trip to the United States, was joined by Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, one of the leading canon lawyers in the Church, and now President of the Vatican's most important canon law office, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts (he was also, for many years, the private secretary of the late, and important, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini of Milan). The two discussed the October Synod on the Family for an hour and a half. About 25 people were present. One essential conclusion of the discussion was this: that the Church will not change her established moral doctrine. Both men said this: that next year, when the Synod reconvenes, there won't be any change in Church doctrine, only an effort to change the application of the doctrine in specific cases. Coccopalmerio put it this way: "We never wished to change doctrine, only to change the application of the doctrine to particular cases. The doctrine cannot change." Kasper concurred. This is important. There are many who are wondering, and whispering, about the chances of a "change in Church doctrine." Yet while they wonder, and whisper, the very protagonists of the alleged move to change Church doctrine, men like Kasper and Coccopalmerio, are saying quite openly that a change in doctrine is not in the cards. It is not going to happen. And this means that those who fear that the barque of Peter is sailing "rudderless," that there is no helmsman at the tiller, that Pope Francis is falling short in carrying out his mission to confirm his brothers in the faith and in assuring the unity of the Church, are wrong....(more)


On Retreat next week
Fr Thang, Friday 14 November 2014

I will be in attendance at the Priests’ Retreat next week during the period  of 16  – 21 November and sincerely thank all concerned who will lead and facilitate Communion Services at each of our churches then as part of their ministry to our parish and church communities.

Ireland accredits new envoy to Vatican, three years after Dublin closed its embassy following row over sex abuse probe
Edited Extract from Cath News. UCA News, Friday 14 November 2014

Ms Emma Madigan, who presented her credentials, invited the Pontiff to visit Ireland, adding that while such an invitation would come from Church authorities, the government would do everything "to make the visit a success," Irish foreign ministry spokeswoman Fionnuala Quinlan said. "Ambassador Madigan underlined that Ireland is a strong advocate for the freedom of religion or belief. The persecution of members of religious minorities, including Christians, in several parts of the world is a matter of serious concern to the Irish government," Quinlan added. The embassy shut in November 2011, ostensibly for economic reasons. But the move was interpreted in Vatican diplomatic circles as a snub by Ireland, which accused the Holy See of trying to cover up and interfere in a report on clerical pedophilia (more). Photo: CathNews

Vatican to build showers in St Peter's Square for the homeless
Extract from CathNews, Friday 14 November 2014

The archbishop who distributes charity on behalf of Pope Francis has announced that the public restrooms in St Peter's Square will include showers where the homeless can wash, reports the Catholic News Service. The service will require volunteers and donations of soap, towels and clean underwear, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner said yesterday. "We have to be evangelical, but intelligent, too," he added. Several people living on the streets of Rome or in tents say it is not difficult to find a parish or charity that will give them something to eat, but finding a place to wash is much more difficult. Barbara, a Polish woman who lives in a tent with her teenage son and a companion, said showers in the Vatican's public restrooms "would be good. We'd thank them if it works." (more)

Pope's G20 hospital pass to Abbott
Extracts from Andrew Hamilton, Eureka  Street, 13 November 2014

The news that Pope Francis has written a letter to Tony Abbott makes one pause. In the terms now used to describe the exchanges between leaders, was the letter a shirtfront, a head-butt, a big hug, or a yellow card? The letter, of course, was none of these things. It was written to Abbott as chair of the G20 Summit and was directed through him to the national representatives taking part. It is usual for Popes to write such letters: a recent example was one to the Secretary of the UN about the situation in Northern Iraq. They set out the views of the Vatican on significant issues. This letter begins by summarising uncontroversially the G20 Agenda. Any distinctive papal emphases may lie in the adjectives. The meeting aims not only at providing employment, but ‘dignified and stable employment for all’.  It demands a ‘fair and adequate’ system of taxation. The focus is not on narrowly economic goals but on the good of human beings. The letter then emphasises that ‘many lives are at stake behind these political and technical discussions’. People suffer from malnutrition, from rising unemployment, especially among the young, from increasing social exclusion leading to crime and terrorism, and from continued assaults on the natural environment. The Pope hopes that the meeting will lead to consensus, and that its results will be be measured, not only by global indices but also by ‘real improvement in the living conditions of poorer families and the reduction of all forms of unacceptable inequality’.........Many of the topics raised in the letter are subjects of controversy in Australia.  They include refugees, inequality, climate change, regulation of the financial sector and the need to focus on the needs of the poor. But Pope Francis does not prescribe policies to deal with them. So there is no implied rebuke for Mr Abbott or other members of the G20. But they are challenged to set their discussion within a broader framework that puts people first.  And their citizens are invited to judge their leaders and their policies by the extent to which they do put people first (more).

Sydney’s new archbishop vows to clean up Church’s record on abuse
Extract from by Abigail Frymann Rouch, Mark Brolly, The Tablet, 13 November 2014

Dominican bioethicist Anthony Fisher, who was installed as Archbishop of Sydney on Wednesday, vowed to improve the Church’s record on safeguarding and apologised for sexual abuse committed by clergy. Giving the homily during his installation Mass he told a packed St Mary’s Cathedral he spoke of survivors’ “harrowing” experiences, “the shameful deeds of some clergy and serious failures of some leaders to respond” (more).

In the last 50 years a pope has not been criticised so brazenly
Extract from Michael Phelan, The Tablet, 13 November 2014

Pope FrancisUS bloggers and “culture warriors” – even the now-former Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, Cardinal Burke – have publicly laid into Pope Francis in the media, criticising the calling and content of last month’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family. In language similar to that of Bernard Fellay’s, the head of traditionalist Society of St Pius X, who said the Synod had opened “the gates of hell”, Cardinal Burke went further and likened the Church under Pope Francis’s leadership to “a ship without a rudder”. Not surprisingly, rumours of Burke’s sideways move to a more ceremonial post have now materialised – thus allowing him to sail into the sunset. Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, said the concept of having a representative body of the Church voting on doctrinal applications and pastoral solutions “strikes me as being rather Protestant”. [not to be brow-beaten, we could add this and link to James’ story] And Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia was reported as saying that he was “very disturbed” by the reporting of the debate concerning church teachings on gays and remarried Catholics, saying that the media coverage sent a confusing message and that “confusion is of the devil” (more).

Newly installed Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher backs calls from Pope for church to take more inclusive approach.
Extract from Michael Kenny, SBS, 12 November 2014
The 54 year old one time corporate lawyer has been installed as Archbishop during a ceremony at Saint Mary's Cathedral in Sydney. He takes over from Cardinal George Pell who left the position in February to become the Vatican's finance chief in Rome. Archbishop Fisher said he wants to use the role to reach out to those who have felt alienated from the Catholic Church, including gay people and the divorced. "I think the Catholic Church is and should be a church for the whole of humanity," he said. "Our arms are wide open for everyone. So whatever the struggles in their life, whether that's with their sexuality or their marital history or any other issues, I want to say to them: 'Come to the Church. The Church loves you because God loves you’." Archbishop Fisher said he had been moved by recent calls from Pope Francis for the Catholic Church to adopt a greater openness towards gay people and divorced Catholics who have remarried. "I have a consciousness now of the struggles of people with same sex attraction", he said. "Our concern should be there to help them rather than to be adding to their problems and I fully back the view that we should be compassionate to people with a same sex attraction or with other struggles in their life." The new archbishop said he also wanted to use his new role to reach out to younger Catholics and to restore public trust tarnished in the wake of recent paedophile scandals involving Catholic priests. "We have to be very honest with ourselves and with everybody else about what has gone wrong", he said. "We need to own up to that and show that we are genuinely ashamed and contrite and determined that that will never happen again," he added (more). Photo: 20140919001032967615-original

US bishops try to capture some of Pope Francis' media mojo
Extract from David Gibson, Religion News Service, National Catholic Reporter, 12 November 2014

Baltimore. Much of the private discussions at the fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have focused on how the American hierarchy can shift its priorities to better track those of Pope Francis, especially on social justice issues such as poverty and immigration. But what they'd really like to do is channel the pontiff's media mojo. "With Pope Francis, we are tending to be identified by what we are for rather than what we are against," said Auxiliary Bishop Christopher Coyne of Indianapolis, who was elected Tuesday to oversee the bishops' communications strategy. In fact, since the moment he was elected pope last year, Francis changed the entire media narrative about the Vatican -- from a source of scandal and dysfunction under Pope Benedict XVI to the launchpad for Catholic reform and renewal based on a message of mercy (more). 

Cardinal Pell issues financial rule book for Vatican
Extract from CathNews, 10 November 2014

Cardinal George Pell has made the first significant move in Pope Francis’s drive to clean up the Vatican’s finances, issuing a financial management manual to Church officials, reports The Guardian. The rule book, which will be binding on all members of the Vatican bureaucracy from January 1, is part of Cardinal Pell’s work to bring the Church’s financial management into line with international accounting standards. The manual was sent to all Vatican departments this week by the Secretariat for the Economy, a special unit set up earlier this year, according to an internal cover letter seen by Reuters. The letter said the manual contained guidelines “that are an essential first step in the reforms of the economic and administrative practices of the Holy See, being requested by the Holy Father.” All departments will have to enact “sound and efficient financial management policies” and prepare financial information and reports in a “consistent and transparent manner” that adheres to international accounting standards.....(more)
Photo:CathNews
 
Australian Nuncio promoted to Vatican Number 3
Extract from CathNews, 10 November 2014

The Papal Nuncio to Australia, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, has been appointed as the Pope's foreign minister, the third highest position in the Vatican, following the removal of Cardinal Burke from head of the Vatican's Supreme Court. The English-born Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher succeeds the Moroccan-born Archbishop Dominque Mamberti, who has held this post since 15 September 2006, and whom the Pope has promoted to be Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Segnatura (a position equivalent to that of a Chief Justice). Mamberti, a civil and canon lawyer, succeeds the American Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, who has served in that role since 27 June 2008 but was not confirmed in the post after completing the statutory five-year term of office. Cardinal Burke has been re-assigned to be Patron of the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta. Cardinal Burke, known for his defence of traditional liturgy and as outspoken defender of doctrine on sexual morality, arose during the recent Synod for Bishops on the Family as a champion of the conservative camp. In recent days, he has given several interviews in which he expressed his concern over the Church’s future.....(more)   Photo:
CathNews. Archbishop Gallgher, centre, with Archbishop Mark Coleridge left, and the late Bishop Michael Putney
 
Appointment of Two New Auxiliary Bishops of Melbourne                                                                                         Edited Extracts from ACBC Media Release, 7 November 2014                                                                     The Holy Father Pope Francis has appointed as Auxiliary Bishops of Melbourne, the Reverend Monsignor Terence Curtin (Right) and the Reverend Father Mark Stuart Edwards OMI (Right). Mgr Curtin is currently Parish Priest of Greythorn and the Episcopal Vicar for the Eastern Region of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. Fr Edwards is presently Rector of Iona College in Brisbane. Congratulating both priests on their appointments, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Denis Hart said: “On behalf of the people of Melbourne, I welcome the Holy Father’s care for us in appointing bishops-elect Terence Curtin and Mark Edwards as auxiliary bishops.”........Born in Balikpapan, Indonesia on 14 June 1959, Fr Edwards was educated at Mazenod College, Mulgrave and Monash University, Melbourne. Entering the Noviciate of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Mulgrave in 1980, he made his final religious profession on 17 February 1984 and was ordained a priest on 16 August 1986. Fr Edwards has since worked as a teacher, novice master and lecturer in Melbourne. In 2010 he became rector of Iona College in Brisbane. Between 2001-2012, Fr Edwards served as Counsellor of the Australian Province of the Oblates of Mary Immacolate (more).  Photos: ACBC

Back from Leave                                                                                                                                                                                 7 November 2014                                                                                                                                                                             We warmly welcome Fr Thang back from leave this weekend and hope he is well rested. We also thank the three relieving priests who have celebrated Masses with us so well in his absence - Frs Thinh Nguyen, Ted Teal and Peter Carrucan.

Ford Street Proposal
Friday 7 November 2014

The Parish has received a proposal from Catholic Homes for the development of the Ford Street site within the policy established by the Archdiocese.   Consideration of the proposal and the options available to the Parish now need to be addressed.  A meeting of the Ford Street committee is to be held at 8.00pm on Tuesday, 11 November at the Parish Office. Contact: Pat Kelly 9499 1485

The "Dedication of the Lateran Basilica"
Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe, Friday 7 November 2014

This is an unusual theme for Mass that capitalises on the Readings for next weekend. In effect it celebrates the glory of this remarkable building, and more importantly what such buildings actually represent. The basilica of Saint John Lateran was built under Pope Melchiade (311-314). It’s the most ancient church in he world. Due to the fact that the pope is also the bishop of Rome, Saint John in Lateran – being seat of the bishop’s residence – is also Rome’s Cathedral.In effect next weekend's Massses highlight the glory of the Basilica, and at the same time that of our own local churches which effectively represent the body of God and should therefore be respected. Very much as part of this is that believers should be conscious of the rich sense in which they themselves are the Temple of the Lord.
Photo: St John Lateran Basilica. Lazio_Roma_SGiovanni2_tango7174

Pope named fourth most powerful figure in the world
Extract from CathNews, Friday 7 November 2014

Pope Francis has been named the fourth most powerful person in the world by Forbes magazine in its annual list of the world's most powerful figures, reports news.com.au.  Russian President Vladimir Putin has been named the world’s most powerful person for the second year in a row, beating US President Barack Obama for the top spot, with Chinese leader Xi Jinping coming in third place. Francis was fourth, ahead of German Chancellor Angela Merkel (more).

A call for victims of sexual abuse with experience of the Melbourne Response to come forward
Extract from Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, Thursday 6 November 2014

Retired Federal Court Judge, the Hon. Donnell Ryan QC, who is conducting an independent review of the Melbourne Response, the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne’s process for managing sexual abuse claims, has called on victims of sexual abuse who have experience of the Melbourne Response to come forward and share their views on the compensation awarded, and how the process could be improved. (The Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, announced in April that he would commission a Review of the process available under the Melbourne Response for compensating victims of sexual abuse by priests, lay persons and religious under the control of the Melbourne Archdiocese. He appointed Mr Ryan to conduct the review in August 2014). ‘The management of sexual abuse claims, particularly the impacts both positive and negative that the existing processes have on victims, is clearly a very important issue. Any recommendations which emerge from the Review will need to ensure that the Melbourne Response takes full account of what is required to recognise and, as far as possible, alleviate the suffering of victims. To that end, I am concerned to hear not only from victims but also from their relatives, counsellors, clinicians, legal advisers and others involved in the process.  This can be by written submissions or by private hearing or personal interview with me. Particular care will be taken not to create further trauma for anybody involved in the process, so the means by which submissions are received will be adapted as sensitively as possible to individual circumstances.(more)

New York to merge 112 parishes into 55
Extract from CathNews, Thursday 6 November 2014

In a long-awaited announcement, the Archdiocese of New York has indicated it will merge 112 of its 368 parishes into 55, effectively closing at least 31 churches by next August, reports the Catholic News Service. Twenty-four of the merged parishes will continue to celebrate scheduled Masses and sacraments at two sites. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York said the painful reorganisation, announced on November 2, is a necessary adjustment to historic parish infrastructure that will strengthen the Church in the Archdiocese. "The parish is the people and the people have to be cared for. What's most important is the faith continues, the Eucharist continues and the sacraments continue," he said......(more)  Photo 0611newyorkmergers_19654artthumb

Beware religious and secular 'totalitarianisms:' Bishop Fisher
Extract from CathNews, Thursday 6 November 2014

Australia has to be vigilant in protecting the separation of Church and State from both religious and secular “totalitarianisms,” Sydney’s Archbishop-designate, Anthony Fisher, told community leaders in western Sydney last week. Speaking at a farewell gathering with civic and religious leaders at Parramatta, he said both fundamentalisms were at odds with the “healthy pragmatic co-operation between Church and State” Australia had been used to.  Islamic State and other religious extremists had a “faith that has become deaf to the voice of reason; a faith that imposes rather than proposes its doctrines,” Archbishop-designate Fisher said.  Such a faith “lacks the moral imagination to co-exist peacefully and to even live as friends with people who are different to ourselves”.  An intolerant secularism likewise threatened to “banish all those with whom it does not agree” in some Western countries; “to limit or abolish freedom of religion; and to end collaboration between Church and State in education, healthcare, welfare.”....(more)

Pope Francis has conservatives talking about a schism
Extract from CathNews, Thursday 6 November 2014

Last month’s Synod, which saw Francis and his allies try to translate a more welcoming view of gays and remarried Catholics into Church policy, has prompted some conservative observers to raise the spectre of a schism, reports the RNS. Many conservative Catholics have long viewed Pope Francis with suspicion thanks to his effort to shift the Church’s focus away from a culture war agenda and toward a more welcoming approach and a greater emphasis on serving the poor. But last month’s controversial Vatican summit on the modern family, with the push by Francis and his allies to translate that inclusive view into concrete policies on gays and divorced and remarried Catholics, for example, seems to have marked a tipping point, with some on the right raising the spectre of a schism — a formal split that is viewed as the “nuclear option” for dissenters....(more) Photo: CathNews

Francis codifies pope's ability to effectively fire bishops
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 5 November 2014

Pope Francis has codified his ability to effectively fire Catholic bishops, saying that in some circumstances, he "can consider it necessary" to ask them to resign their offices.The move, which the Vatican announced Wednesday, seems to be an attempt by Francis to clear up any ambiguity about the pontiff's power to replace prelates around the world. While Francis and his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, have effectively removed bishops in the past, their power to do so was not previously so explicit in the church's laws (more).

Pope calls for 'streamlined' annulments
Extract from Christopher Lamb, The Tablet, 5 November 2014

Pope Francis told attendees a course at the Roman Rota – the Church’s appeal court – that marriage annulments should be streamlined so that people are not left waiting for “justice”. Speaking on Wednesday the Pope said matter had been mentioned at the bishops’ Synod on the Family last month and he had already established a commission to look at the question....(more)

Francis attacks vanity of ‘peacock-like’ bishops and calls them to unite around him in humility
Extract from Abigail Frymann Rouch, The Tablet, 5 November 2014

Pope Francis has criticised bishops who strut around “like peacocks” and live only for their “vanity”. In his General Audience catechesis today the Pope was speaking about the role of bishops and collegiality. He departed from his script to add: “The bishop is not an honorary role, it is a service.” “A worldly mentality speaks of a man who has an ‘ecclesiastical career and has become a bishop’. There should be no place for such a mentality in the Church. The bishop serves; it is not a position of honour, to boast about.” Of the episcopal ministry the Pope said “one does not ask for it, it cannot be bought, one accepts it in obedience, not in an attempt to climb higher but to lower oneself, just as Jesus "humbled himself and became obedient unto to death, even death on a cross" (Phil 2:8). He added: “It is sad when we see a man who seeks this office and does all he can to get it and when he gets it does not serve, instead goes around like a peacock and lives only for his vanity.”. Francis also said that bishops were called “to express one single college, gathered around the Pope, who is the guardian and guarantor of this profound communion that was so dear to Jesus and His apostles themselves”....(more)

"The Bishop is not an honorary role. It is a service!"          Full Text of Pope's General Audience Catechesis, Nov. 5th
Extracts from Zenit, Vatican City, 5 November 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning! We heard what the Apostle Paul says to the Bishop, Titus, how many virtues we bishops must have, we all heard, no? And it’s not easy, it’s not easy because we are sinners. But we entrust ourselves to your prayers so that we can at least hope to be closer to the things that the Apostle Paul advises for all Bishops.  Do you agree? Will you pray for us?............Therefore, we must understand that it is not about having a position of prestige, an honorific charge. The Bishop is not an honorary role. It is a service!  Jesus wanted it this way.  There must be no place in the Church for a worldly mentality. A worldly mentality speaks of a man who has an  ‘ecclesiastical career and has become a bishop’. There should be no place for such a mentality in the Church. The Episcopate is a service, it is not a position of honor, to boast about. To be Bishops means to have always before our eyes the example of Jesus who, as Good Shepherd, came not to be served but to serve (cf. Mt 20:28; Mk 10:45) and to give His life for his sheep (cf. Jn. 10:11). Holy Bishops – and there are so many in the history of the Church – show us that this ministry is not sought, it is not requested, it cannot be bought but it is received in obedience, not to elevate oneself, but to lower oneself, as Jesus “humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8). It is sad when we see a man who seeks this office and does so many things to get it and when he gets it does not serve, instead goes around like a peacock and lives only for his vanity......(more)

Pope: A Bishop who shows off, is no good
Extract from Rome Reports, 5 November 2014

In his weekly general audience, Pope Francis explained that the Church is based on a hierarchy because Jesus designed it that way. But just as important, he said, the Church also has a maternal side through its Bishops.  "A Church cannot be healthy if the faithful, deacons and priests are not united with their Bishop. A Church that's not united with its Bishop, is an ill Church. Jesus wanted this union between the faithful and the Bishop.” He added that Jesus wanted His apostles to be close to Him as one unit and one family. Following that same model, Bishops, he said should stand with the Pope.......(more)

All heads of Vatican departments will be made to retire at 75
Extract from Christopher Lamb, The Tablet, 5 November 2014

A document authorised by Pope Francis has decreed that non-Cardinal heads of Vatican departments and officials automatically lose office when they reach 75. A “rescriptum” on the resignation of bishops and those appointed to positions by the Pope came into effect on Wednesday and takes on board recommendations of the Council of Cardinals, the group advising Francis on the reform of the Roman Curia also known as the “C9”....(more)  

Do we have a right to assisted suicide?
Extracts from Frank Brennan, Eureka Street, 4 November 2014

Physician assisted s
uicide and euthanasia are back in the courts of Canada and the United Kingdom, and back in the parliaments of the United Kingdom and Australia. Last month, the Supreme Court of Canada finished hearing a case in which the applicants claim that a 1993 Supreme Court decision upholding the criminal ban on euthanasia should be overruled. On Friday, the House of Lords will resume debate on Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill............Lord Sumption stated the issues well in the UK Supreme Court:  There is no complete solution to the problem of protecting vulnerable people against an over-ready resort to suicide…The real question about all of these possibilities is how much risk to the vulnerable are we prepared to accept in this area in order to facilitate suicide for the invulnerable…There is an important element of social policy and moral value-judgment involved. The relative importance of the right to commit suicide and the right of the vulnerable to be protected from overt or covert pressure to kill themselves is inevitably sensitive to a state’s most fundamental collective moral and social values.". Keeping an eye on developments in Canada and the UK, we Australians need to be clear about the social, philosophical, legal and constitutional issues involved when contemplating our own amendments to the law and practice of assisted suicide.(more)    Photo: Eureka Street

Synod's genie may be out of the bottle ...... but it still remains in the ecclesiastical kitchen
Extract from Fr Frank Brennan, Global Pulse, United States, 31 October 2014

The Vatican has now released the official English translation of the relatio synodi, the concluding document from the Synod of Bishops convened by Pope Francis to consider “pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelization.”                  The earlier relatio post disceptationem was the punchy and slightly provocative discussion paper put together by Pope Francis's small hand-picked group, charged with putting the issues for discussion on the table.         That document indicated a novel acceptance of some "constructive elements" of couples living together without marriage, of the need to welcome homosexuals into the life of the Church, and of the possibility of admitting divorced and remarried people to the Eucharist. The Synod fathers agreed that they wanted to "offer a meaningful word of hope" to the Church. To do this, they needed to acknowledge that the genie is out of the bottle and that there is a need for a comprehensive rethink by the Catholic Church on its teaching about marriage, sexuality, and reception of the Eucharist.            The relatio synodi is much more than a discussion paper. It is a lengthy committee job cobbling together the many different strands of discussion over the week of the synod. Each of the 62 paragraphs was separately voted on by the 180 bishops in attendance who voted. It does not put the genie back in the bottle, but it does revert to much of the old style Vaticanese, trying to confine the genie to the episcopal kitchen. What’s refreshing is that unlike synod documents published during the last two papacies, this one actually reflects the divisions and differing perspectives. We are even given the voting figures on each paragraph.   (more)
    Photo: Frank Brennan SJ,  Global Pulse

Looking to the 2015 Synod
Extract from Gerard O'Connell, America - the National Catholic Review, 3 November 2014

The Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family, which closed on Oct. 19, approved a final report that, with the pope’s endorsement, will soon be sent to the 114 Catholic bishops’ conferences worldwide and to the patriarchates and major archbishops of the Eastern Catholic churches. The sending of that text from the secretariat of the synod to the local churches marks the opening of a most important phase in the new synodal process established by Pope Francis in 2013. The report, which will be accompanied by a questionnaire, is meant to serve as a working document for the discussion that is to take place in the local churches over the next year......(more)     Photo: America, the National Catholic Review


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