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News 2017

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)  

Building a healthier Church: where to from here?
An evening of conversation with Bishop Vincent Long, Maria Kirkwood and Francis Sullivan.
Yarra Theological Union, University of Divinity, 12 October 2017
An evening of conversation with Bishop Vincent Long. Maria Kirkwood and Francis Sullivan.
Francis Sullivan - What are the challenges that are coming from the Royal Commission?
Maria Kirkwood - Sharing leadership in a collaborative Church
Bishop Vincent - What sort of Church should we be?    

How are you going to approach these issues in your Diocese?   View or download flyer HERE  
12 October 2017, 7.30pm - 9.30pm, YTU Study Centre
. 34 Bedford Street Box Hill
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Cardinal: Francis considers mandating consultation of laity in bishop selection
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 16 Jun 2017
Vatican City — One of the members of the Council of Cardinals said the group is considering whether to advise Pope Francis to make it mandatory for Vatican ambassadors to consult with laypeople before making recommendations for possible new bishops in the Catholic Church.     Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias suggested the nine-member group might recommend that ambassadors be instructed to consult with members of a diocese's pastoral or finance councils before passing on names of who to consider for bishop.     "This is a central matter for the church," Gracias said in a June 15 NCR interview. "The bishop is a central figure and the choice of a good bishop is very important for every church. If you choose the wrong person, things can be set back by years in the pastoral life of the church."     The pending recommendation from the Council of Cardinals could mark a significant shift for the church and for the role of Vatican ambassadors, known as apostolic nuncios.    While nuncios are currently allowed to consult laypeople when considering bishop candidates, they are not obligated to do so, and frequently put the focus of their consultations on current clergy members.....(more). Photo: NCR, CNS Paul Haring
 Francis tells new bishops to be humble and open
Extract from CathNews, 15 September 2017
Pope Francis met with new bishops, including four Australians, at the end of their training course at the Vatican, reminding them to be both humble and open to better ways of evangelising other than just “the way it's always been,” CNA reports.    Pope Francis yesterday spoke in an audience with participants in the annual training course for new bishops held in Rome and organised by the Congregation of Bishops and the Congregation of Eastern Churches. The course was attended by Australian bishops ordained this year: Geraldton Bishop Michael Morrissey, Townsville Bishop Tim Harris Lismore Bishop Greg Homeming OCD and Brisbane Auxiliary Bishop Ken Howell.      “Discernment is a remedy for the immobility of 'it has always been so' or 'we take time,'” the Pope told the bishops.   “It's a creative process that is not limited to the application of methods. It is an antidote against rigidity, because the same solutions are not good everywhere. Do not be imprisoned by the nostalgia of having only one answer to apply in all cases.”    He continued, warning that to have an easy, one-size-fits-all answer might soothe our performance anxiety, but it threatens to make our lives “dried up.”   He reminded the bishops how important it is that they have humility, especially for the work of the Holy Spirit.....(more) Photo: Cathnews, 
Church working to protect children but long way to go: Coleridge
Extract from CathNews, 15 September 2017
Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge says the Church in Australia is acting to protect children from sexual abuse although he concedes it has a long way to go, News.com.au reports.
Archbishop Coleridge says a lot has been and is being done around Australia to safeguard children.    "But it's very much a work in progress; we still have a long way to go," he said yesterday. "Because it's not just a matter of changing procedures and protocols but of building a culture, and that takes time."    An RMIT University report on child sexual abuse in the Church worldwide found Australia is significantly behind other comparable countries in developing policies and protocols to safeguard children.    Archbishop Coleridge said the report does not appear to be up to speed with the state of play in Australia, where some of the Church's work is under the radar.   He said other Church actions are very much on the radar, such as its new professional standards body that will set nationally consistent standards and audit compliance with them.....(more)  Photo: Cathnews, ACBC

Wuerl: Pope sees ’journeying together’ as essential to life of church
Extract from Mark Zimmermann, Melbourne Catholic,  Catholic News Service, 15 September 2017
The process of ‘journeying together’ during the Catholic Church's synods of bishops examining contemporary challenges on marriage and family life offers a map for the church's outreach, Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl said on 12 September.     This process reflects not only the pontiff's pastoral approach, but also offers a template for how priests and laypeople can accompany others to help them understand and live the faith, he said.      Cardinal Wuerl made the remarks at Georgetown University in an address on ‘Pope Francis: Fresh Perspectives on Synodality’ as part of the university's Dahlgren Chapel Sacred Lecture series.    Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl speaks during a 12 September lecture at Georgetown University's Dahlgren Chapel. The cardinal spoke on the topic ‘Pope Francis: Fresh Perspectives on Synodality’ as part of the university's Dahlgren Chapel Sacred Lecture series.    He explained that ‘synodality’ refers to coming together or journeying together, which he said is how those gatherings of the world's bishops tackled issues facing married couples and families.   The cardinal noted that Pope Francis emphasised the importance of dialogue as those discussions unfolded. ‘We can recall his advices to the bishops ... to speak with openness and clarity, to listen with humility and be open to the Holy Spirit.’  Cardinal Wuerl said that the pope's understanding of synodality, that journeying together, involved not only dialogue with bishops who teach and transmit the faith, but also drew upon insights from married couples and families in dioceses around the world.   The proceedings formed the basis for Pope Francis' 2016 apostolic exhortation ‘Amoris Laetitia’ (‘The Joy of Love’)....(more)

Pastoral letter on the same-sex marriage postal survey
Extract from Pastoral Letter by Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv Bishop of Parramatta, 13 September 2017
Dear sisters and brothers,       As I write to you, the national debate on same-sex civil marriage is in full swing. It is an issue that many feel passionate about and hence, it has potential to polarise the community. I appeal to all Catholics in the Diocese of Parramatta to conduct this dialogue with a deep sense of respect for all concerned, and for the opinion and decision that each person is free to make.      It is important to remember from the very outset that the postal survey is about whether or not Australians want the legal definition of civil marriage changed to include same-sex couples. It is not a referendum on sacramental marriage as understood by the Catholic Church.     Many years ago, divorce was legalised in Australia; but this change did not alter the law of the Church. Therefore, whatever the outcome of the survey or the eventual legislation by the government, the Church will continue to hold that marriage is a natural institution established by God to be a permanent union between one man and one woman, directed both to mutual companionship and to the formation of a family in which children are born and nurtured.      For many Catholics, the issue of same-sex marriage is not simply theoretical but deeply personal. These may be same-sex attracted people themselves or that may be the case with their relatives and friends. In such cases, they are torn between their love for the Church and their love for their same-sex attracted child, grandchild, sibling, cousin, friend or neighbour.....(more)   
Australian Catholic Church Falls Short on Safeguards for Children, Study Finds
Extract from Jacqueline Williams, New York Times, 12 September 2017
MELBOURNE, Australia — A study that examines child sexual abuse worldwide in the Roman Catholic Church has found that the Australian church has done less to safeguard children in its care than its counterparts in similar countries have.      The report, released on Wednesday by the Center for Global Research at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, also found that the church’s requirement that priests be celibate was a major risk factor for abuse. And it said that the possibility of abuse in Catholic residential institutions, like orphanages, should be getting more attention, especially in developing countries.     Experts said the report could put pressure on Pope Francis, and particularly the church in Australia, to do more to prevent abuse. The Australian church was rocked in June when Cardinal George Pell, an Australian who is one of the pope’s top advisers, became the highest-ranking Roman Catholic prelate to be formally charged with sexual offenses.      Desmond Cahill, the report’s lead author, said its findings pointed to an urgent need to rethink the priesthood in the 21st century. A professor of intercultural studies at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, he said the church should reconsider the celibacy requirement for priests.     “The Catholic Church is in a state of crisis, and pressure has to be put on the Holy See to take the necessary steps to change,” Professor Cahill said.        In nearly 400 pages, the report traces the history of child sexual abuse in the global church and tries to identify factors that have contributed to it, with a particular focus on Australia.         Professor Cahill and the report’s co-author, Dr. Peter Wilkinson, a researcher in Catholic culture, are both ordained priests who resigned from church ministry in the 1970s but remain practicing Catholics. Professor Cahill said that while in the ministry, he worked alongside some of Australia’s most abusive priests, but did not realize it until decades later.     “Our backgrounds have allowed us not only to understand in depth the workings of the church in Australia, but also the Holy See in Rome, where we both studied at postgraduate level in pontifical universities,” he said....(more). Photo: NYT, Byron Kaye/Reuters

How on Saturday, Pope Francis gave us his bottom line on Vatican II
Extracts from John L. Allen Jr., Crux Now, Melbourne Catholic, 13 September 2017
While Pope Francis was in Colombia on Saturday, the Vatican issued a new legal document in his name that transfers the lion's share of the control over translation of texts for use in Catholic worship to local bishops' conferences and away from the Vatican. In effect, it was the clearest signal to date of where Francis stands in debates about what went wrong after Vatican II, especially on the issue of collegiality...........for anyone familiar with the history of Catholicism since the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), something momentous happened on Saturday, and its significance will reverberate long after Francis returns to the Eternal City. (Where, as it turns out, things aren’t quite as ‘eternal’ as they sometimes seem.)      While the pontiff was on the road, the Vatican released a new motu proprio from him, meaning a legal document issued under his personal authority, amending canon 838 of the Code of Canon Law.        Bypassing the legal fine points, in essence what the changes mean is that from here on out, more control of the process of translating texts for use in Catholic worship into vernacular languages around the world will be vested in local conferences of bishops as opposed to the Vatican, and, specifically, as opposed to the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.     In particular, the edict limits the Vatican’s role at the end of the process, when a bishops’ conference submits a proposed translation for approval. No longer will the Congregation for Divine Worship submit an extensive list of required amendments to the text at that stage; instead, it will simply say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’...(more)

Peter Johnstone: The Catholic Church is ‘Circling the Wagons’
In this paper Peter Johnstone responds to an article by Greg Craven "Besieged Catholic Church is wounded, but will not fall" published in The Australian, 19 August 2017    Extract, Tuesday 12 August 2017
.....When I read the title of Greg Craven’s piece, I expected to read a considered assessment of the lessons learnt by the Church following the devastating revelations of clerical child sexual abuse and its cover-up and protection of paedophiles by bishops throughout the world. As a Catholic observer who has been involved in submissions to the Royal Commission and given public evidence to the Commission, I expected that the conscientious and dedicated work of the Commissioners and their staff would at least have been respectfully acknowledged.....(paper HERE)
Non-secret Parish men's business revealed
John Costa, Friday 8 September
As this exclusive first photo partly reveals a growing goup of parish men enjoyed the informal 'men's group' gathering last Friday in what is now a successful monthly gathering and supper on the first Friday of each month commencing at 7:30. There's no formal programme but snacks and refreshments make it easy to meet and discuss wide-ranging issues of the parish and wider world in a relaxing atmosphere. Not seen in the photo are some visitors including past priest-in-residence Fr Len Thomas. There's a $5 cover charge for  which the light refreshments are provided. Further details from Eugene, 0407 869 582. Separately the Outreach group independently and successfully arranges various other regular social opportunities including card and film days to help strengthen our spirit of parish community. All are very welcome.
Reminder to keep our children safe
Extract from CathNews, Friday 8 September 2017
The Church in Australia will dedicate this Sunday as Child Protection Sunday, a day to raise awareness and highlight the importance of keeping children safe, says the National Committee for Professional Standards.    National Child Protection Week is one of the most significant events on Australia’s child protection calendar. Now in its 27th year, the week supports and encourages safety and wellbeing of all Australian children and families. The Church recognises the importance of this week through dedicating the final day as Child Protection Sunday.    The National Committee for Professional Standards (NCPS), a committee of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia, has put forward the theme for 2017 “See Me, Hear Me” to raise awareness for the voice of the Child, highlighting the importance of safety in our communities of faith.    “We all have a part to play in protecting our children and most vulnerable,” says Sr Annette Cunliffe rsc, Executive Officer, NCPS.     “Actively listening, and pro-actively responding to the voices of children is essential if our Church and our communities are to be safe places for children and young people to flourish.”     This year, along with resources for parishes and schools, the NCPS has commissioned a video and brochure through the Australian Catholic University Institute of Child Protection Studies reflecting on research around what young children think about their safety.    The Institute was commissioned by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and surveyed more than 1400 young Australians as part of Kids Safety Studies to gain insights into their views, perceptions and experiences of safety. The most important message expressed was for adults to “pay attention” when they raised a concern.    “Our children believe that the whole community needs to take safety seriously, especially for those who find it hard to protect themselves. Supporting the most vulnerable will always be the face of a strong community.” ....(MORE)   All resources for Child Protection Sunday can be found here ........(MORE) Photo CathNews
Bishops urge leaders to tackle inequality
Extract from CathNews, The Australian, 7 September 2017
The Church has urged government and business to address “the growing inequality” in Australia by not allowing unfettered market forces to dictate wages, housing costs and power prices, The Australian reports.      The Social Justice Council of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has identified an ethical failure in banking, huge increases in gas and electricity prices, negative gearing, foreign investment, tax breaks for the wealthy and losses of work protections as fuelling inequality in Australia despite 25 years of economic growth.     “We are a far richer nation than we were 25 years ago. Yet there are still too many among us for whom this wealth remains a dream,” the Church’s social justice statement, to be released today, will say.     The statement, “Everyone’s Business: Developing an inclusive and sustainable economy" is released ahead of the Social Justice Sunday, to be celebrated on September 24.     “Hundreds of thousands of people find themselves in poverty even though they have a job. Meanwhile, for those who depend on welfare payments, life has been made far harder.    “For many Australians, the spectre of homelessness is becoming too real. In major cities and towns the prospect of buying or even renting a home is moving out of reach, even for those with decent jobs. Emerging groups such as older Australians, particularly women, are at risk of becoming homeless.....(more)

Chinese Communist Party expected to tighten its grip on religion after October Congress Meeting expected to hand President Xi Jinping power until 2022 while clergy predict this will also intensify crackdowns on religions.
Extract from ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong China La Croix International, ucanews.com reporter, 7 September, 2017
China watchers say one of the outcomes of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party is that the regime will become even more controlling of religious followers.          Catholic experts have unanimously predicted that the Chinese government will further tighten restrictions on religions in the name of “rule by law” after the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China held from 18 October.      In the past summer, communist authorities have continued to tighten their grip on practicing Christians with at least four regional governments across China issuing notices that restrict children from going to Christian churches or attending religious activities.     Chinese clergymen are not optimistic about the development of religious affairs following the congress as the government's religious policy is consistent and new officials appointed will be keen to display their skills in keeping religions hewing to the Party line....(more) Photo La Croix International.

Britain's economic model is 'broken', warns Archbishop of Canterbury
Extract from Lorna Donlon, The Tablet, 6 September 2017
'Our economy is no longer working for everyone. And for some groups of people..it doesn’t seem to be working at all'.        Britain's economic model is 'broken', warns Archbishop of Canterbury.   Britain’s economic model is “broken” and widespread inequality in the UK is growing, the Archbishop of Canterbury has warned in a report backed by business leaders.       This is a watershed moment where there needs to be a “fundamental reform” of the economy, Justin Welby said. “We are failing those who will grow up into a world where the gap between the richest and poorest parts of the country is significant and destabilising.”       His comments came in a report by a commission set up by the centre-left Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) that includes senior business, trades union and other public figures alongside the archbishop. The ‘Commission on Economic Justice’ says the “economy is unfit to face the challenges of the 2020s, adding that “for too many people and parts of the country, the ‘economic promise’ of rising living standards has been broken.”      A new approach is necessary, the IPPR argues, which is on the scale of the “Attlee reforms of the 1940s and the Thatcher revolution of the 1980s.” For the majority of the population now, the reality is that their earnings are no longer rising, while young people today are set to be poorer than their parents, according to the report.    “I am convinced that most people in Britain want the same things from the economy: a system in the service of human flourishing and the common good, where all are valued and all have a stake, regardless of their perceived economic worth and ability,” Archbishop Welby wrote in the Financial Times.    The deeper question this raises, is whose economy is it? he added. “Our econo  my is no longer working for everyone, if indeed it ever has. And for some groups of people and some parts of the country, it doesn’t seem to be working at all.”....(more) Photo, The Tablet 

Pastoral leaders conference: Keynote speakers implore the Church to listen
Extracts from Melbourne Catholic, Media and Communications Office, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, Wednesday 6 September 2017
An enthused and engaged audience at the ongoing National Pastoral Leaders and Planners Conference in Carlton heard from Australian social researcher, Hugh MacKay, and American theologian, Richard Gaillardetz.....Mackay referenced the nation’s most recent census, highlighting the increase in Australians identifying as having ‘no religion’. Yet, he pointed to a rise in enrolments at Christian schools as an example of the contrast between the continual faith of families and individuals, compared to the institutional disenchantment affecting the census’ statistics.......Broadly addressing the responsibility of Christian churches, Mackay said, ‘If the Church thinks it has a role for people currently not in it … it must become a listening institution.’....Referencing clerical child sexual abuse, Gaillardetz suggested that the institutional distrust of the ‘scandal-riddled’ church had been accentuated by destructive language. ‘The temptation was to say that this was a matter of a few bad apples and there was almost a kneejerk instinct to defend the integrity of the institution and its structures. That has proved to be tremendously damaging,’ he said.    ‘Only absolutely transparent exercises of repentance (will be sufficient). Not the oblique and passive “I’m sorry if you were hurt” (apologies). That kind of language will not work right now.       ‘Nothing short of “I failed you” will suffice. I believe people respond when they hear someone say “I failed you. My priorities were wrong.”    ‘But I do have hope that leaders willing to say those words and avoid the passive can reinvigorate the integrity of the church over time. People have an immense capacity to forgive when they see genuine contrition,’ added Gaillardetz.     In a detailed analysis of dogmatic teachings, Gaillardetz outlined how suspicions of doctrine had contributed to the Catholic Church’s decline in followers, remarking that some people could not align themselves with the beliefs.    However, Gaillardetz stressed that it was fundamental for Catholic’s to ‘recover the authentic role of doctrine’ and underlined that it would be wrong to leave it behind, suggesting it needed rehabilitation as opposed to disregarding.....(more)
As the refugee crisis of ethnic Muslim Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh rapidly escalates.  Church officials say the crisis will be part of the top items on the agenda when Pope Francis visits Myanmar and Bangladesh later this year.
Extract from Rock Ronald Rozario, Dhaka (Bangladesh) and John Zaw, Mandalay, Myanmar, 6 September 2017
Church officials believe it is unlikely to overshadow the trip, despite global media strongly connecting the visit with the crisis of the Muslim minority group of some 1.3 million, close to half of whom may have fled from their homeland in Myanmar’s Rakhine State to neighboring Bangladesh.     Latest reports say some 123,000 people fled in just 12 days.    Officials spoke with ucanews.com about the pope’s upcoming trip as Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi chose to ignore the Rohingya and focus on terrorist violence.....(more) 
Photo: La Croix International, ucanews.com  

‘Christian America’ dwindling, including white evangelicals, study shows
Extract from Kimberly Winston, Religion News Service, Crux, 6 September 2017
A new study, “America’s Changing Religious Identity,” shows Americans are also continuing to move away from organized religion altogether, as atheists, agnostics and those who say they do not identify with any particular religion — the group known as the “nones”  — hold steady at about one-quarter (24 percent) of the population.    The future of religion in America is young, non-Christian and technicolor.     Almost every Christian denomination in the U.S. shows signs of growing diversity as white Christians, once the majority in most mainline Protestant and Catholic denominations, give way to younger members, who tend to be of different races, according to a study released Wednesday (Sept. 6) by the Public Religion Research Institute. And American evangelicals - once seemingly immune to the decline experienced by their Catholic and mainline Protestant neighbors -  are losing numbers and losing them quickly....(more)

Seeking a Path from Pell to a Plenary Council
Extract from Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal magazine, 5 September 2017
Arriving in Sydney, Australia, this summer for a round of conferences sponsored by the Broken Bay Institute of the Australian Institute of Theological Education, I found a church confronting events likely to have a profound impact on its future: the Royal Commission’s completion of its work on an “institutional response to child sexual abuse”; the return of Cardinal George Pell from Rome to face charges on sexual abuse cases alleged to have taken place decades ago in the diocese of Ballarat; and the announcement of a Plenary Council for Australia set for 2020—the first since 1937.    The three issues are interwoven. The Pell case frightens the institutional church for the ripple effects the trial might have on other investigations into clergy sexual abuse. It complicates the creative response of the Australian episcopate to the scandal: the creation of the Truth, Justice, and Healing Council launched shortly after the establishment of the Royal Commission and headed by Francis Sullivan, a lay Catholic who for fourteen years was chief executive of Catholic Health Australia. After the expected publication of the Royal Commission’s report at the end of this year, the Truth, Justice, and Healing Council will publish its own report. It will be interesting to see how the episcopate receives it. Created by the bishops, the council has nonetheless maintained an independent attitude; for example, it has refused the request of some bishops to cross-examine witnesses heard by the Royal Commission.....(more)
Non-secret Parish men's business
John Costa, Friday 1 September
Community is, or should be, a key foundation of parish life. As just one of the many parts of Ivanhoe parish community life another informal 'Men's Social Evenings' will be held tonight from 7:30 pm at MI Hall. Those who have attended so far have reported greatly enjoying this relaxed gathering. There's a $5 cover charge and Light refreshments are provided. Further details from Eugene, 0407 869 582. The Outreach group independently and successfully arranges various other parish social opportunities. Perhaps what we also need to offer, again, is a youth group. If only we could locate some youth!
Remembering our retired priests
Friday 1 September 2017
On Father’s Day this weekend we also think of our retired priests, many of whom are are either frail and unwell, or becoming so. The cost of supporting retired priests who have pastorally supported others throughout their priestly lives is high. Melbourne’s Archbishop Hart has declared this Father’s Day as a special day to remember our retired priests, with the annual Father’s Day appeal for the Priests’ Retirement Foundation. A special collection will be taken up at Masses this weekend for our retired priests.
Particular Councils: a resource rarely used in Australia
Abstract and link to paper by Peter Wilkinson, originally published in The Swag, Spring 2017 (Vol. 25 No.3. pp 9-11). Republished here with kind permission from The Swag and the author, 1 September 2017
This is the first of a series of articles looking at particular councils or synods. It is a general examination of their origins, characteristics and capacity. Others will examine the seven particular councils, provincial and plenary, which have been held in Australia since 1844, as well as the preparations for the 2020 Australian Plenary Council, and what that council might have on its agenda:  Towards a synodal church.....(paper)
Preparing for the 2020 Australian Plenary Council
Abstract and link to paper by Peter Wilkinson, originally published in The Swag, Spring 2017 (Vol. 25 No.3. pp 9-11). Republished here with kind permission from The Swag and the author, 1 September 2017
This second article in the series looking at particular councils, examines the initial preparations for the 2020 Australian Plenary Council. Further articles will examine in some detail the seven particular councils  – provincial and plenary – which have been held in Australia since 1844, and a final one will attempt to imagine what the 2020 Plenary Council might hope to achieve.....(paper)
Long condemns government over asylum-seeker cuts
Edited Extract from CathNews, 1 September 2017
Parramatta Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv. yesterday condemned the Turnbull government's withdrawal of support for asylum-seekers who have come to Australia for medical reasons, the ACBC Media Blog reports.     In a statement released yesterday Bishop Long, the Bishops Delegate for Migrants and Refugees, said the decision left vulnerable asylum-seekers as risk of further harm. He urged the government to reconsider the decision.    An extract from the full statement follows:        It is of great concern that we have heard of the Australian Government’s plans to withdraw support to refugees who have come to Australia for medical treatment. These men, women, and children were brought to Australia from offshore detention centres, to remove support for them leaves them vulnerable to exploitation, and risks leaving them destitute.     As refugees, these men, women, and children, are under the care of the Australian Government. To deny them appropriate support is to leave them at a risk of further harm.     These people, some with history of mental health largely due to prolonged detention by the Australian Government policy, have been searching for safety and a better life; they deserve more than this treatment.   I urge the Australian Government to continue to provide support services for these men, women, and children, who are awaiting a resolution to their current situation. As a well-resourced nation with a long tradition of caring for migrants and refugees, we can do better than to throw a small number of refugees out onto the streets. It is a bridge too far. It is cruel and simply un-Australian....(more) Photo: CathNews,
Archbishop Philip Wilson will face a two-week hearing in November on a conceal crime charge
Extract from Joanne McCarthy, Newvcastle Herald, 30 June 2017
Archbishop Philip Wilson – the most senior Catholic cleric in the world to be charged with concealing the child sex offences of another priest – will face a two-week hearing in November.      Newcastle Local Court magistrate Ian Cheetham confirmed the November 27 special fixture hearing at Newcastle during a brief mention on Friday.    The matter is expected to be heard by a Hunter magistrate brought in for the hearing.      Confirmation of the date followed three unsuccessful appeals by Archbishop Wilson to have the charge against him quashed or permanently stayed.     He was charged in March, 2015 with failing to report information he knew or believed about Hunter priest James Fletcher to police between April 2004, when Fletcher was charged with child sex offences, and 2006 when Fletcher died in jail after his conviction.     Adelaide Archbishop Wilson, a former president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, has denied the allegation.    The Hunter-born priest is one of only a handful of Catholic clergymen in the world to be charged with concealing the child sex offences of another priest, and only the third in Australia after former school principal and fellow Maitland-Newcastle priest, the late Tom Brennan, became the first to face such a charge in 2012.    The hearing will consider evidence from a man who alleged that as a 10-year-old in 1971 he told the then Father Wilson that he had been indecently assaulted by Fletcher.....(more)

A credibly Christian church would respect gay employees
Extract from Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street, 29 August 2017
Debates about social issues tend to bring out blanket statements, sweeping claims, dire threats and feverish reporting. They usually carry historical baggage that needs to be unpacked and the contents tested against contemporary reality. This is true also of the coming plebiscite on gay marriage.        A threat reportedly made, and later denied, by some church leaders was to dismiss from employment in Catholic organisations people who contract same-sex marriages. Regardless of what was said the threat will be featured in the coming debates. It may be helpful to set it in its broader context.     The argument for taking such action is that Catholic organisations must uphold the teaching of the church, and that this implies living in a way consistent with it. Where the public relationships of people working in Catholic organisations are inconsistent with Catholic teaching they call into question the teaching itself.....(more) Image: Eureka Street

Chinese authorities ban children going to churches
Restrictions on religion in China continue to mount under the increasingly repressive regime of Xi Jinping.
Extract from La Croix International,  ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong, China,  29 August 2017
Communist authorities are continuing to tighten their grip on practicing Christians with at least four regional governments across China issuing notices that restrict children from joining Christian groups and attending religious activities.         The ban includes turning children away from churches even if they attend with their parents and teachers. Additionally, the ban includes promises that officials will launch investigations into both government approved churches and underground congregations who operate outside the tightly controlled official Beijing-run Catholic and Protestant churches.     The latest move comes as part of a concerted crackdown on religion that began with a three-year cross removal campaign in the Christian stronghold province of Zhejiang.....(source). Photo: La Croix International
Transfer of Mother of God Students to Mary Immaculate and St. Bernadette’s
Fr Bill Edebohls, Friday 25 August 2018
Dear Parents and Parishioners,
In my last letter you were advised that our students at MOG would be welcomed at Mary Immaculate and St. Bernadette’s and their internal transfer to another of our parish schools would be facilitated by school staff at the request of parents.       Some have interpreted this to mean that all MOG students could be guaranteed places at just one of those schools, namely St.  Bernadette’s. I apologise if the words I used in my last letter have led to that interpretation. It was not my intention to be in any way misleading. The logical reality is that between our two schools (Mary Immaculate and St. Bernadette’s) we have a capacity to place those MOG students desiring a place within our parish school system but those placements must be shared across both schools as their individual capacity allows......Read full letter HERE                                                (see previous letter, 18 August below)
Changing Times: Office Hours & Reconciliation
Office Hours

From next Monday (28 August) our   Parish Office hours will change to allow for a formal lunch break for staff. The office will close each day between 1.00pm and 2.00pm.
Sacrament of reconciliation
Every Saturday 5.00pm - 5.20pm at Mary Immaculate; 5.30pm - 5.50pm at St. Bernadette’s or on weekdays at Mother of God by appointment with the Parish Priest

Big business and government unite against slavery
Extract from CathNews, SMH, 25 August 2017
Mining magnate Andrew Forrest has declared “the beginning of the end of modern slavery” following a landmark meeting between big business and the federal government, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.       Mr Forrest said other companies from the Indo-Pacific region, including Walmart, Adidas, Thai Union and JD.com now shared his company's commitment to scrutinise their supply chains to eliminate slavery. Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop addressed the business leaders at the meeting in Perth yesterday.     "This is really ground breaking," Mr Forrest said. "This is the beginning of the end of modern slavery.   "Business and government working together are the only combined powers which can effectively end modern slavery and it has finally come together in a landmark forum."    Mr Forrest, the Australian business co-chairman of the forum, said companies who had attended the inaugural Bali Process Government and Business Forum would meet again next year to review work plans and mark progress.   The federal government last week said it would introduce legislation requiring big Australian companies to examine their supply chains and report annually on measures they are taking to combat slavery, including human trafficking, debt bondage and forced labour.    Companies with an annual turnover of at least $100 million will be asked to publish "Modern Slavery Statements" and will be held to account on a publicly accessible central repository.   Mr Forrest said two-thirds of the estimated 46 million people trapped in slavery were in the Indo-Pacific region. It is estimated almost 4500 people are trapped in some form of slavery in Australia – and millions more are victims around the world....(more).

Archbishop Hart releases pastoral letter on same-sex marriage
Extract from Media and Communications Office, Melbourne Catholic, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, 24 August 2017
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We Catholics in Australia love our nation.    Indeed, so much of what is cherished as good in our society is, in fact, the fruit of Christian culture.       So, we want our ‘story’ to continue to be heard in all the great debates about the foundations of our society. Our voice is not the only voice but it is an important one.     One such debate currently concerning us all is the issue of same-sex marriage.    We have always sought to contribute to our society as good citizens. We strive to act and speak out for the common good especially for the poorest and suffering among us.    We seek to cherish the dignity of the human person and support all in need: especially families, our indigenous brothers and sisters, migrants, refugees and all who need the compassion and mercy of Christ.     We pledge ourselves to continue to do everything we can to contribute to the common good of all Australians. As Catholics, we want to build up and strengthen our great diverse multicultural community here in Australia.    Our point in relation to the current debate about same-sex marriage is simple. We make it in good faith according to the demands of our consciences.      The Catholic Church, along with other faith traditions, teaches that marriage is a natural institution established by God to be a permanent union between one man and one woman, intended towards the formation of a family in which children are born and nurtured.    Any legislation that changes this definition of marriage recognised by all the major cultures of the world demands careful consideration by all Australians.    It is vital that we Catholics vote, so that our viewpoint can be heard on this vital public issue.    Its outcome will affect our society and families profoundly in the future.     We understand that ours is not the only viewpoint in our diverse society. Many do not agree with it. Many people see this as an issue about ensuring equality for every and all relationships.    Yes, human rights are important. But so are human responsibilities. We are responsible for the impact of our decisions on future generations.    Therefore, we ask all to consider the profound implications of possible legislation that will embed this desire for equality of relationships in our laws.    This debate on same-sex marriage raises profound questions about who we are. Fundamental issues are at stake.    Why do humans exist as male and female? Is that distinction simply marginal? Is it simply a social construct?      Do our children also have rights? We are all children of a male and a female. Should not this be a central consideration in our decisions about the way children should be ideally nurtured and educated in our society.   We understand that these are complex issues. But certainly, no legislation should be enacted without a deep public conversation in which we all engage about such issues that goes beyond slogans and soundbites.....(more)  (photo: CAM)
Anglican Ordinariate heads to meet in Australia
Extract from CathNews, Cathilic Leader, 24 August 2017
The leaders of the three communities established for former Anglicans who sought communion with the Catholic Church, will meet in Australia next week, The Catholic Leader reports.     Monsignor Keith Newton, of the Ordinariate in the United Kingdom, Bishop Steven Lopes, of the Ordinariate in the United States, and Australia’s Ordinary Monsignor Harry Entwistle will meet in Brisbane for their first gathering in Australia.    A representative from the Holy See will also attend the meeting, which coincides with the fifth anniversary of the Australian community, the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, which was formed on June 15, 2012.     In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI responded to a request from Anglicans asking to be united with the Holy See by promulgating the apostolic constitution titled Anglicanorum Coetibus, which allowed for the creation of the ordinariates.    Ordinariates, which function similarly to dioceses, are allowed to maintain traditions of the Anglican Communion, including liturgy, and spiritual and pastoral traditions, and use their own form of the Roman Rite approved by the Holy See called “Divine Worship”, which draws from Anglican sources....(more)
Will Pope Francis' reforms last?
Francis’ Church is the complete opposite of a clerical Church. It is a Church at the service of the Gospel, not a Church preoccupied solely with its institutional survival. "La Croix" examines some crucial issues of his papacy.
Extract from Isabelle de Gaulmyn, subscription journal, La Croix International, 24 August 2017
Hope is like a sail,” Pope Francis said at his Wednesday General Audience this week, referring to the feast of Pentecost. “It gathers the wind of the Spirit and transforms it into a driving force that either pushes the boat out to sea or back to the shore.”     Could this kind of hope enable Pope Francis’ reforms to lead the Church back out to sea? This is the kind of question that keeps recurring in conversation with people in Rome.    The reason is that, while Pope Francis’ reforms are clearly visible, people are wondering how much longer they will last. Or even more directly, they are asking whether the reforms will survive the death of a pope who is already eighty and who has not spared himself physically.    The opposite of a “creative minority”    One person close to the pope uses the image of a ship. The Church is like a bark that is stuck in the sand and cannot move forward, he says. It seems doomed to remain an immovable structure, ensconced in a centuries long tradition...(source)

Pope invokes ‘magisterial authority’ to declare liturgy changes ‘irreversible’
Extract from Inés San Martín, Vatican Respondent, Crux, 24 August 2017
Although acknowledging that more than fifty years after the Second Vatican Council there are still tensions and unfinished business in terms of implementing its vision for the liturgy, Pope Francis in a session with Italian liturgists on Thursday nevertheless invoked his "magisterial authority" to declare, "The liturgical reform is irreversible."      Addressing a group of liturgical experts on Thursday, Pope Francis said that after the teaching of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and a long path of experience, “We can affirm with certainty and magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible.”      The declaration came in a speech on Thursday to Italy’s “Center of Liturgical Action,” which sponsors an annual National Liturgical Week.     By “liturgical reform,” Pope Francis meant the changes in Catholic rituals and modes of worship which followed from Vatican II, the most immediately visible elements of which included Mass facing the congregation, the use of vernacular languages, and a stronger emphasis on the “full, conscious and active” participation of the people....(more)

Papal abuse commission considers restructuring, survivors may lose direct role
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 23 August 2017
Vatican: Pope Francis' commission on clergy sexual abuse is considering whether to restructure itself so that it no longer includes the direct participation of abuse survivors. It is evaluating the possibility of creating instead a separate advisory panel of individuals who have been abused by clergy.    A member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors revealed the group's consideration of the idea in an NCR interview Aug. 14, saying that one of the commission's work groups has been tasked with weighing the pros and cons of such a change.   The commission appears likely to discuss the possible restructuring at its next plenary meeting in Rome in mid-September, when the original three-year terms of its members are set to expire.   "I think that may be a more productive [way] of ensuring the voice of survivors in the work of the commission," Krysten Winter-Green, the commission member, said of the potential change. "I do not know that it's critical that a survivor needs to be actually on the commission."    "No decision has been made about this," she stressed, adding: "I think the voice of survivors needs to be heard by this commission. They need to have input into every facet of the operation. How that is accomplished remains to be seen, but it will be accomplished."    Consideration of a change in structure for the papal commission comes as the group has in recent months faced public questioning of its effectiveness in stopping future abuse of children and vulnerable people in the Catholic Church. The group now appears to be in the midst of a significant phase of transition....(more) Photo: NCR, CNS/Paul Haring  

A Guide to the Marriage Equality Plebiscite
Extract from Edmund Rice Centre, 23 August 2017
....One of the underpinning foundational principles of Australian society and democracy is the separation of Church and State. This is the fundamental point that must not be forgotten in the current debate. Faith-based teachings about marriage and people’s rights to hold beliefs based on these teachings should be respected. However, when it comes to civil laws, we believe there is no place for discrimination. Discrimination against LGBTQI people can only serve to cause them and their families’ pain and suffering.     There is nothing wrong with a mature, respectful and informed discussion about this issue. However, we are disappointed that a vocal group of political and community leaders are using false, straw man and in many instances, offensive arguments to campaign against change.....(more)
Russia’s Putin says he values ‘trusting and constructive dialogue’ with Vatican
Extract from Inés San Martín, Vatican Correspondent, Crux, 23 August 2017
ROME - During the third day of his visit to Russia, Pope Francis’s right hand man, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, met with President Vladimir Putin, who said his country values “the trusting and constructive dialogue” that has developed with the Vatican.             On the agenda were several topics in which the two countries have a shared interest, from the situation of Christians in the Middle East to cultural exchanges.      “I pass on the warmest greetings from His Holiness Pope Francis, who recalls his meetings with you very well,” Parolin told Putin at the beginning of the meeting, held in Bocharov Ruchei, the summer residence of the Russian president, in Sochi.     According to the transcript provided by the Kremlin, the two leaders recalled not only Putin’s visits to the Vatican, in 2013 and 2015, where he was welcomed by Francis, but also the historic encounter between the head of the Catholic Church and that of the Russian Orthodox Church.      The meeting between Francis and Patriarch Kirill, which took place in Feb. 2016 in Cuba, as the pope was on his way to Mexico, was the first time the leaders of the two churches had met each other since the Great Schism, over a millennial ago.    “I am very pleased to see that the dialogue continues between our churches,” Putin said, before acknowledging the meeting Parolin had had with Kirill the day before. “We welcome this dialogue that has begun directly between the Holy See and the Russian Orthodox Church.”...(more)  Photo: Crux,  Alexei Nikolsky/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
We Christians need to learn how to laugh
Extract from Fr Noel Connolly SSC, St Columbans Mission Society Newsletter, 22 August 2017
Pope Francis has introduced us to a number of “new” words: “mercy”, “tenderness”, “warmth”, “conversation”, “dialogue”, “pilgrim”, “discernment”, “synodal”, “joy” and “beauty”. On the 9th August, he introduced another word, “noisy”. During his General Audience, he told two groups of sisters, “Be always joyful, and even . . . noisy!” and he encouraged them to “witness everywhere the beauty of your consecration to God and to the Gospel.”        This has been a constant theme for Francis. In the Joy of the Gospel  he tells us that you cannot argue someone into believing because “only the beauty of God can attract” [EG #15]. He questions what kind of  missionary disciples we will be if we are Christians who look like “Lent without Easter” #6, or people “who have just come back from a funeral” #10? We must live the Gospel in a free and happy way for it to be credible. Frederick Nietzsche once wrote that for him to believe in Christ as the Redeemer, “his disciples would need to look more redeemed”. If our faces and lives are not suggestive of joy, beauty, tenderness and freedom then we can hardly blame our secular brothers and sisters for thinking there is nothing in Christianity, certainly nothing attractive and joyful.....(more)
The 100th anniversary of  Óscar Romero's birthday
18 August 2017
August 15 2017 marks the centenary of Blesed Oscar Romero’s birth and this year is the 37th anniversary of his 1980 assassination by hired gunmen at the height of El Salvadors civil war. An outspoken champion for the people who were suffering during El Salvador's brutal civil war, Romero, the then archbishop of San Salvador, was murdered on March 24, 1980.  The August 16 edition of The jesuit Revoew America is devoted to Romero and comprises a number of significant paper covering his formative years, Work, Martyrdom, Opposition to his canonization, and the pledge El Salvador’s new cardinal to protect the legacy of Óscar Romero as work progresses towards his canonization.  Source HERE

Mother of God School Closure
Extract of Letter from Fr Bill, 18 August 2017
Dear Parents, Staff and Parishioners,
I have some sad news for the Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe and our local community today.      Mother of God School will close at the end of this year and its students will be warmly welcomed by Mary Immaculate and St Bernadette’s Schools.       As you are aware a Working Party established by Catholic Education Melbourne has been investigating the provision of education within the Parish of Ivanhoe. At the heart of all discussions and final recommendations was the imperative of ensuring that the provision of Catholic education in the Parish is both financially viable into the future and the very best education we could provide for our children.     Catholic education has been particularly well-catered for in the Ivanhoe Parish, with three schools, however, changing demographics in the area have led to changes in demand. Enrolments at Mother of God have declined since 2010 and we have also seen a drop in enrolments at Mary Immaculate.        The demographic trends suggest there will be limited enrolment growth in the Parish over time and all three schools have an excess capacity of places and facilities well above any actual or expected demand generated from within the Parish.... (full letter published in Parish Newsletter or separately available HERE)

Church cannot support same-sex marriage: Costelloe
Extract from CathNews, 18 August 2017
Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB says the Church cannot support changes to the legal definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, The eRecord reports.    In a pastoral letter to be distributed to all Perth parishes this weekend, Archbishop Costelloe has clarified the reasons for the Church’s teaching and encouraged all to reflect deeply on the issue.   The letter follows the federal government's decision to hold a non-compulsory postal plebiscite on the redefinition of marriage.       Having previously written about the issue in 2015, Archbishop Costelloe said that in affirming this long-standing position, it was important to remember that it was based on the Church’s convictions about the beauty and dignity of marriage understood as the union of a man and a woman for life, and as the best way to provide for the upbringing of children.      “Furthermore, it is a position based on the principle that in making decisions about such an important matter, both the desires and needs of the individuals concerned, and the stability and well-being of our society as a whole, must be given careful consideration,” he said.     The Archbishop highlighted that the religious foundations of the Catholic community’s convictions should not disqualify it from engagement in the public discussion on these important matters.    “The Catholic community, no less than any other in our society, has a right to propose its views about what will best serve the interests of our society as a whole,” he said....(more)
Cardinal's plan for laypeople to lead parishes
Parish clustering is no answer to priest shortage, says German Cardinal Reinard Marx, a top aide and advisor to Pope Francis.
Extract from Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, subscription journal La CroixInternational, 17 August 2017
Cardinal Reinhard Marx has announced plans to allow laypeople in his Archdiocese of Munich to lead parishes where there are no priests.      In doing so he has strongly rejected the increasingly common option of coping with the dwindling number of ordained ministers by combining or “clustering” parishes.     The 63-year-old cardinal is a top aide and advisor to Pope Francis.     He recently told the 180 members of Munich’s diocesan council – it’s most important lay body – that it was important to preserve individual parishes as a way of guaranteeing the Church’s presence locally.    Speaking at the council’s plenary assembly on March 18th, the cardinal said the Archdiocese of Munich would introduce a pilot project in the fall with new models of parish leadership. Specifically, he said full-time and voluntary lay personnel would take over parishes....(source)  Photo: La Croix International, Wolfgang Roueka, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 

Church reform groups support call for Year of the Laity
Extract from Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter, 17 August 2017
U.S. Emboldened by Pope Francis, church reformers are endorsing a call by the Brazilian bishops for a Year of the Laity, expanded to include conferences and observances around the world from November of this year until November 2018.    The meetings will focus on why "the people of God need to be treated equally in the church" and "the people taking the Gospel out into the world," Rene Reid, director of Catholic Church Reform International, told NCR.     Groups lining up in support of the Year of the Laity include Catholic Church Reform International as well as Call to Action, she said. Participants from those groups will be urging an increased role for the laity in the church. They will promote lay participation in the selection of bishops, an end to mandatory celibacy for clergy and openness to allowing the Eucharist for divorced and remarried Catholics as well as the LGBTQ community.  Reid said the impetus for the movement comes from Pope Francis. "He wants the people of God to step up and take a leadership role, and we are," she said....(more)

Confession above the law: Archbishop Hart
Extract from CathNews, The Guardian, 16 August 2017
Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart said he would risk going to jail rather than report allegations of child sexual abuse raised during confession, The Guardian reports.   The Archbishop said the sacredness of communication with God during confession should be above the law.   He was responding to a report from the child sex abuse royal commission calling for reforms that, if adopted by governments, would see failure to report child sex abuse in institutions become a criminal offence, extending to information given in religious confessions.     Speaking to ABC Radio 774 in Melbourne, Archbishop Hart said he stood by comments he made in 2011 that priests would rather be jailed than violate the sacramental seal.        I believe [confession] is an absolute sacrosanct communication of a higher order that priests by nature respect,” he said yesterday.    “We are admitting a communication with God is of a higher order,” he said. “It is a sacred trust. It’s something those who are not Catholics find hard to understand but we believe it is most, most sacred and it’s very much part of us.”    He said much of the abuse that occurred was historical and awareness of abuse was greater now, and he believed it was unlikely “anything would ever happen” today.    But if someone were to confess they had been sexually abused or they knew of someone who had been, Archbishop Hart said it would be adequate to encourage them to tell someone else outside of confession. For example, he would encourage a child to tell a teacher, who are already mandated under law to report....(more)  Photo: CathNews, 0816hart_29976artthumb
Frank Brennan: why I will break the law rather than the seal of confession
Extracts from Sydney Morning Herald, 15 August 2017,
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has published a 2000-page three volume Criminal Justice Report. One of its recommendations is that the states and territories "create a criminal offence of failure to report targeted at child sexual abuse in an institutional context".    If such an offence were created, those of us who work in an institution which cares for children would be required to report to police if we knew, suspected or should have suspected that another adult working in the institution was sexually abusing or had sexually abused a child.    Failure to report could result in a criminal conviction. The commission notes: "We acknowledge that if this recommendation is implemented then clergy hearing confession may have to decide between complying with the civil law obligation to report and complying with a duty in their role as a confessor."    Being a priest and a lawyer, I welcome the recommendation of this new criminal offence in most instances, but I will continue to comply with my duty as a confessor. The public, and not just my fellow Catholics, are entitled to know why.......Those who advocate the abolition of the seal of the confessional have a mistaken understanding of how confession is actually practised in the Catholic Church. If the law is changed, abolishing the seal of the confessional, I will conscientiously refuse to comply with the law because in good faith I will be able to claim that it is a bad law which does nothing to protect children and which may take away the one possibility that a sex offender will repent and turn himself in, making the world that little bit safer for vulnerable children. I will console myself with the thought that if police learn of my "wrongdoing", it will be because the confessing abuser has voluntarily turned himself in.....(more). Photo: SMH.   Father Frank Brennan SJ is chief executive of Catholic Social Services Australia.
Renewing our Church in challenging times, and the '2020 Plenary'
John Costa, Friday 11 August 2017
During yesterday's 13th interactive national eConference "Gospel Leadership in Times of Chaos: The Hope of Pope Francis" streamed live to our parish and other sites in Australia and around the world an outstanding panel of highly qualified Australian and overseas speakers set the scene well for a healthy, informed and open discussion.    The world and Church are heavily challenged, and those who care about both and the future of young people valued the opportunity to engage on this issue.     Broken Bay Institute  eConferences supported by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference  are well informed, refreshingly honest, and constructive. When the emperor has no clothes people say so, for this is the only way forward for a Church that truly follows the teachings and example of Christ.  eConference speakers and challenging topics were well publicised in advance. For the very many from our parish who couldn't or didn't attend but might be interested in the future of our church-in-decline a DVD of the eConference will be available later.          In a sense this eConference was an early prelude to the planned '2020 Plenary' of the Australian Catholic Church, and the opportunities it will provide all Catholics before then to actively contribute to renewing and improving our Church.  A Church Plenary can discuss critical issues of the times and legislate on a wide range of them, including matters of faith, morals and discipline. It is especially appropriate at this time of profound cultural change, both in the wider community and Church.         The last Australian Plenary was in 1937. In the past these were exclusively male gatherings with only bishops, theologians and superiors of male religious orders attending.  The processes for this Plenary are now being determined but in response to Pope Francis's unprecedented endeavour to involve all Catholics in determining the future of our Church, that need and opportunity will exist in anticipation of the 2020 Plenary. The Church, if it is to be healed, needs all its baptised people to be part of this renewal.  Thanks to the Outreach Group for excellent hospitality and catering at MI Hall, and to the Liturgy Group for hosting this parish eConference gathering.
Pope providing 'inspirational leadership'
Extract from CathNews,. BBI-TAITE, 11 August 2017
Communities across Australia and as far away as Peru, Mexico and Japan yesterday engaged in an interactive discussion about the unique leadership style of Pope Francis, according to host BBI-The Australian Institute of Theological Education.     Held in partnership with the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, BBI's 13th National eConference brought together prominent international and national speakers including the former NSW premier and foreign minister Bob Carr, the Editor at Large at The Australian, Paul Kelly and the Chairman of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Elizabeth Proust, to reflect on the theme, 'Gospel leadership in times of chaos: the hope of Pope Francis'.   Vatican II expert Massimo Faggioli from the US, President of Catholic Religious Australia, Sr Ruth Durick OSU and the Congregational Leader of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, Sr Clare Condon SGS were also on the speakers list.    Professor Faggioli was the first speaker, reflecting upon the transformative effect Pope Francis’ leadership has had on the Church over recent years.   “As the first non-European Pope, Pope Francis has promoted a more inclusive Church for the modern world and one which is far less Eurocentric”, he said.        “He has also helped to re-contextualise the Church, so that it reads the signs of the times and stands firmly with the marginalised, including refugees”, he added....(more).
Pope saddened by 'perfect' Catholics who scorn others
Extract from CathNews, CNS, 10 August 2017
God did not choose perfect people to form his Church, but rather sinners who have experienced his love and forgiveness, Pope Francis said, CNS reports.   The Gospel of Luke's account of Jesus forgiving the sinful woman shows how his actions went against the general mentality of his time, a way of thinking that saw a "clear separation" between the pure and impure, the Pope said yesterday during his weekly general audience.    "There were some scribes, those who believed they were perfect," Pope Francis said. "And I think about so many Catholics who think they are perfect and scorn others. This is sad."     Continuing his series of audience talks about Christian hope, the Pontiff reflected on Jesus' "scandalous gesture" of forgiving the sinful woman.       The woman, he said, was one of many poor women who were visited secretly even by those who denounced them as sinful.       Although Jesus' love toward the sick and the marginalised "baffles his contemporaries," it reveals God's heart as the place where suffering men and women can find love, compassion and healing, Francis said.      "How many people continue today in a wayward life because they find no one willing to look at them in a different way, with the eyes -- or better yet -- with the heart of God, meaning with hope," he said. But "Jesus sees the possibility of a resurrection even in those who have made so many wrong choices."....(more)
Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council Announces Appointment of Plenary Council Facilitator and Facilitation Team
Extract from Media blog,  Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, 5:30pm Friday 4 August 2017
The Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council today announced the appointment of Ms Lana Turvey-Collins as the Plenary Council Facilitator.  She will work in partnership with members of the Formation Team of Catholic Mission, forming a Plenary Council Facilitation Team which will comprise Fr Noel Connolly SSC and Mr Peter Gates, Deputy National Director of Catholic Mission.     Ms Turvey-Collins and the Facilitation Team are humbled by the opportunity.  “We look forward to collaborating with leaders and their teams across the diverse ministries and works of the Catholic Church and all people in Catholic communities across Australia.  Over the coming years, we hope to support local Churches to lead and facilitate authentic and open dialogue about how we are, and how we can be, a community of missionary disciples in Australia.  Pope Francis’ writings, teaching and witness are inspiration for us, as he reminds us what Jesus in today’s society looks like.”     Plenary Council 2020 and the process of consultation and dialogue is an unprecedented opportunity for the Church in Australia.  It’s an opportunity to engage with all Catholics in Australia – those who lead, those who work in Catholic organisations, those who may feel they don’t have a voice, those who feel they are outside the Church and those who show up every Sunday for Mass – a process inclusive of all.  It’s about becoming the kind of Australian Catholic community which Pope Francis is calling us to be: “a community of communities…” (EG§28)....(more).
"In Times of Chaos: The Hope of Pope Francis" eConference Reservation by 7 August HERE
Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe, Friday 4 July
The 13th Annual National 'eConference' will be streamed live to the Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe and other selected venues in Australia and around the world on Thursday 10 August from 10:30am - 2:45pm (AEST). All are invited and encouraged to participate in this significant yet very accessible event, at Mary Immaculate Hall.  A light lunch will be provided with donations invited to help cover costs. Part-time attendance also OK. As always there are outstanding speakers at this event Sponsored by The Australian Institute of Theological Education (formerly Broken Bay Institute) and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conferencel For  catering reasons Bookings are essential - via members of the Liturgy Group, Outreach Group, the Parish Office, or online HERE. Details and Flyer on the EVENTS page.
Catholic Missions Special Collection 5-6 August 
There will be a special collection after all Masses this weekend to support the Catholic Missions Annual Appeal (Propagation of the Faith). Bringing life into the world is often fraught with   danger in Bujuni, a remote parish deep in the heart of  Uganda. With your contributions and support through Catholic  Missions, Sister Mary Goretti and her small staff hope to expand St Luke’s Bujuni Health Centre and provide essential services for women and children. Freecall: 1800 257 296  Website
Abuse redress scheme heads to parliament
Extract from CathNews, AAP/SBS News, 4 August 2017
Laws to provide money, counselling and personal responses to survivors of institutional child sexual abuse will go to federal parliament in the spring sittings, AAP/SBS News reports.     A national scheme with states, territories and non-government institutions able to join on a "'responsible entity pays" basis was a key recommendation of the royal commission.    Redress under the scheme will have three parts: a payment of up to $150,000, psychological counselling and a direct personal response and acknowledgement from the responsible institution.    The 2017/18 budget committed $33.4 million to set up the scheme and confirmed funding for support services.    A dedicated telephone helpline and website is expected to be operating in early 2018 to provide information to survivors and their families about the scheme. The services will also connect survivors with legal and community support services.    From July 2018, applications for redress are expected to be open to survivors of abuse in Commonwealth institutions....(more) Photo: CathNews   

NSW Tent city to be dismantled - again
Extract from CathNews, 4 August 2017
The NSW state government is planning to dismantle a homeless camp at Martin Place for a second time, and police threaten to throw anyone who resists "in the back of a truck", the Sydney Morning Herald reports.    The long-standing camp of 44 tents, which house about 50 people in front of the Reserve Bank, was first dismantled by the City of Sydney council in June but many of its residents have returned.    Yesterday, as some of the residents were zipped into their tents to escape the cold, others gathered around a marquee, where volunteers cooked hot food and offered tea and coffee as part of a 24-hour kitchen.    It was hours after Social Housing Minister Pru Goward said about the camp: "We will move these people on. I don't care what it takes."   NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller told radio station 2GB the "problem" could be fixed "easily" if council workers were sent to confiscate equipment from the camp....(more)

Women now pastoral directors in ten German dioceses
The German Bishops Conference has welcomed the fact that its target of 40% of women in posts as directors of pastoral work has been achieved.
Extract from Anne-Bénédicte Hoffner,  subscription journal La Croix International, 3 August 2017
The German Bishops Conference has welcomed the fact that its target of 40% of women in posts as directors of pastoral work has been achieved.
Fifteen years ago, Daniela Engelhard became the first woman to take overall responsibility for pastoral work in the Diocese of Osnabrück in north-west Germany. Today there are ten women holding similar positions in different German dioceses.      The German Bishops Conference (DBK) welcomed the fact that its target of 40% of women in posts as directors of pastoral work has been achieved, it said in a statement published on July 31.       At the moment the 27 German dioceses now have a woman as the head of their pastoral work departments. The women are responsible for “multiple fields of pastoral work".....(source)  Photo: La Croix International, /Klaus Nowottnick/picture-alliance/dpa/AP     
Australia must help end slavery: Griffiths
Extract from CathNews, 3 August 2017
Australians must help end modern slavery in its own backyard, actress Rachel Griffiths has told a parliamentary inquiry, 9news.com.au reports.     The public hearing for the inquiry into Establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia was held yesterday.        The inquiry follows from the UK's 2015 Modern Slavery Act, and the findings of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade's report into modern human trafficking.     Ms Griffiths told the hearing that Australians needed to stamp out "slavery-like practices" undertaken by businesses and organisations in Australia.   "It's astounding that so many still believe that slavery is a horror of the past," she said.   "It's the second biggest illicit trade, behind drugs, on our planet (and) it's happening mostly in our region."....(more)
The Pope faces his adversaries
Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Grand Master of the Order of Malta with whom he had been in conflict for more than a month. This marks a new chapter in the opposition to the Argentine pontiff.
Extract from Nicolas Senèze, Rome, subscription journal La Croix International, 3 August 2017
By obtaining the resignation on Wednesday of the Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Pope Francis has made an important point to those who call into question the deep reforms he is undertaking in the Vatican and the Church.      Not that Brother Matthew Festing is a personal enemy of the pope, but the conflict between Francis and the Knights of Malta represents the sum of all the opposition he is encountering in his will to reform.    The chronology of events is perplexing. In early December, the Grand Master of the Order demanded the resignation of Grand Chancellor Albrecht von Boeselager, who is accused of being "a liberal Catholic, unfaithful to the teachings of the Church".....(source) 
Bishop Vincent meets refugees who fled from ISIS
Edited Extracts from Catholic Outlook, 2 August 2017
Parramatta bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, recently held a deeply moving meeting with refugees from Iraq and Syria who fled ISIS.    The Syrian and Iraqi refugees fled the persecution of Islamic State (also known as daesh) and now receive support at the Fairfield Centre of STARTTS (NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors).   The group of 45 senior refugees recited traditional ululations to welcome Bishop Vincent. The enthusiastic sounds of “klililililililili” surprised and heartened visitors....Bishop Vincent explained the historical background of the Vietnam War. This included the conflict between Communism and the West, and some facts about Catholicism in Vietnam. The Bishop also spoke about Vietnamese refugees as the first group of non-European migration since the White Australia Policy.     “Australia had a policy called the ‘White Australia’ policy,” he said.    “It was a real test for Australia and the Australian people to accept and live with a such a large number of Asian refugees in their midst. But Australia rose to the challenge, as it has always done in its history. I was a boat person…I left Vietnam on a boat and I came to Australia via a refugee camp in Malaysia. Why did I take such a risk, in leaving my country of birth and taking such a big risk by leaving on a boat, crossing the Pacific ocean and coming to Australia?”         “I think you know the answer already, because it’s the same reason you left your home countries in coming to Australia. So I am just a living testament to an Australia that is generous, that is open, that is bold in its outreach to refugees and to migrants. It is my hope that this same Australia: open, generous, hospitable to refugees, migrants, that’s the same Australia that you’ll find yourselves....(more) Photo: Catholic Outlook, Commons
A smaller Church of outsiders?
Massimo Faggioli discusses the debate on the future of Catholicism.
Extract from Massimo Faggioli, United States, subscription journal La Croix International, 1 August 2017
One of the debates running through western Catholicism today concerns the role and position of the Church.     The Catholic Church has always been the ultimate insider of the social, political and cultural system of the Western hemisphere. But today some Catholics are tempted to solve the Church’s internal diversities and its struggle with secularization by leaving behind this “insider” status. These people want a smaller Church, an outsider postured against the political, social and cultural dispensation of the western world.    This is particularly visible in the United States where the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump and the intellectual and political crisis of the religious right is a subset of the crisis of the clerical and intellectual leadership of the institutional Catholic Church.....(source) Photo: La Croix International, St Mary's Church, Lead / Andrew Whale / Wikipedia

Preparing to be a synodal church in Australia
Extract from Fr Noel Connoly, St Columbans eNews. 18 July 2017. Published originally as an article in The Francis Effect III: Mission of Love and Mercy.   Reprinted with permission from the author, the publisher, Catholic Mission & Catholic Religious Australia, and St Columbans eNews. 31  July 2017
The Australian church is about to enter an exciting, challenging and hopefully rewarding three-year process of consultation.     Last August Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane announced that the Australian Bishops will convoke a Plenary Council at which “everything is potentially on the radar screen”, and at which a wide representation of the church, lay and clerical, female and male will be present. From now till the Plenary Council there will be a wide consultation of the entire Australian Church so that all voices can be heard.      This is going to be a massive and possibly messy task but if we do it well it could change the nature of the church in Australia. To some degree the process of consulting and talking with one another will be more important than the decisions the Plenary Council may make. As Pope Francis is always keen to point out, “time is more important than space” or it is the process, the change of attitudes, the new style of consultation, the different type of church that this generates is as important as the results. What Pope Francis wants is a new synodal church not just an occasional “Synod”....(more)  Author photo: St Columbans eNews   Note:  The Francis Effect III: Mission of Love and Mercy together with Parts II and I are available for purchase online from the publisher HERE


Ordinary Catholics must help with reform
Extract from Kevin Liston*, Eureka Street, 30 July 2017
There are many reform movements active in the Catholic Church. Most seem to focus on changing the structures and systems of the church, on reshaping doctrinal positions and updating teachings. Organisational reform is necessary and long overdue but there is also need for a complementary movement among ordinary Catholics.       In recent decades, the sense of ownership that people have over their own lives has undergone a significant shift. Personal authenticity and autonomy are the order of the day. More people feel they each have unique ways of being themselves and seek forms of expression that frequently do not fit traditional moulds.        There is a historically unique process of individuation going on. Finding one’s identity and understanding one’s personal experience are core concerns. More often now we understand we have a role in and responsibility for what we are to be. The structures of communities are quite different and more varied and complex.     The relevance of community has not disappeared but it has taken a different shape. In modern Australia, community is often taken for granted and accepted as background, evidenced for instance in social media.      Parishes are important local realisations of the church but there are many Catholics who do not feel comfortable or at home with present structures and ways of operating. I regard myself as a faithful Catholic, steeped in the tradition, theologically and spiritually literate, seeking a relevant, supportive community of like-minded people. However, I do not find the weekend liturgies in our parish churches to be reflective or expressive of my understanding of Christianity; they just do not speak to my world....(more)  Image: Eureka Street   3765    Kevin Liston recently completed a Master of Theological Studies at ACU after a long career working with refugees and migrants.

German Jesuit urges the public to pressure bishops on abuse investigations
“The idea that the Church, the Christian faith, and even the Bible message would be harmed if one openly discusses the problems and calls a spade a spade has become too deeply rooted in Catholic circles,” Fr Wolfgang Beck said.
Extract from Christa Pongratz-Lippitt,subsxription al journal La Croix International, 29 July 2017
A young Jesuit theologian has called on the wider public to force Germany’s bishops into investigating Church structures that foment clerical power and lack of transparency, elements he said are directly linked to abuse of minors.   “Please help to keep up the pressure,” Fr Wolfgang Beck said on July 23rd while making one of his frequent appearances on the widely viewed “Word for Sunday” program on German state television’s flagship channel.    The 43-year-old pastoral theologian spoke about the shame he felt after the reading the recently published Regensburg Domspatzen report, which revealed that more than 500 choir boys had been physically and sexually abused.....(source)
The Roman Catholic Church continues to implode
In some ways, Francis seems to be deliberately hastening its inevitable collapse by implementing the principles and methods outlined in "Evangelii gaudium" (EG), his vision and blueprint for Church renewal and reform.
Extract from Robert Mickens, Rome, subscription journal La Croix International, 28 July 2017
Some five years ago I was invited to speak at the City Club of Cleveland, Ohio.    “Since 1912, the City Club has served as one of the (United States’) oldest, non-partisan and continuously operating free speech forums,” says the organization’s website.    The topic of my talk was the Vatican implosion and, as a result, the long and gradual collapse of the Catholic Church’s monarchical structure of governance and ministry....(source)
Tackling post-abortion grief and distress
Extract from CathNews, The eRecord, Archdiocese of Perth,28 July 2017
A new post-abortion grief counselling service has commenced in the Archdiocese of Perth, The eRecord reports.   Initiated by Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, the service aims to provide support and healing without judgement to those who have experienced an abortion, including men.    Archdiocesan Research and Project Development Manager Tony Giglia, said the new service will be provided by the Fullness of Life Centre, Pregnancy Assistance, Centrecare Inc and Abortion Grief Australia, who have all signed a memorandum of understanding with the Archdiocese.   “The services provided will be free of charge and those seeking the counselling service can be assured they are getting confidential quality support,” said Mr Giglia.    “It is about following in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd, so that we can further provide a Christ-centred Church that understands the experiences of the people and where they are at in their life today,” he said....(more) 
Nun celebrates Catholic wedding in Canada
The Vatican authorized Sr Pierrette Thiffault of the Sisters of Providence to officiate at a wedding in a rural diocese in western Quebec. And in spite of her initial apprehensions, the ceremony went well.      Extract from Mélinée Le Priol, Canada, subscription journal La Croix International, 27 July 2017
Cindy and David had their religious wedding on Saturday, July 22, celebrated by… a woman.     The exceptional ceremony took place in a Catholic church at Lorrainville, 650 km west of Montreal in Canada.    In the rural diocese of Rouyn-Norand in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, the lack of priests is such that the bishop called on the assistance of Sr Pierrette Thiffault of the Sisters of Providence....(source) 
Photo: La Croix International,   Lelik83/stock.adobe.com

Theologians studying development of Humanae Vitae given access to Vatican Secret Archives
Extract from Cindy Wooden, Catholic Herald UK, 27 July 2017
Four theologians specialising in marriage and family life are studying Vatican archival material with a view of telling the whole story of how and why Blessed Paul VI wrote his encyclical Humanae Vitae on married love.   Mgr Gilfredo Marengo, leader of the group and a professor of theological anthropology at Rome’s Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, spoke to Vatican Radio about the study on July 25, the 49th anniversary of the encyclical’s publication.    Some bloggers, writing in the spring about the study group, described it as an initiative of Pope Francis to change the encyclical’s teaching against the use of artificial contraception.    Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, chancellor of the John Paul II Institute, categorically denied the bloggers’ reports.   In reply to an email, Mgr Marengo told Catholic News Service that the study “is a work of historical-critical investigation without any aim other than reconstructing as well as possible the whole process of composing the encyclical”.   “Anyone who imagined any other aim should have simply done their work and verified their sources,” he said....(more)  Photo: Blessed Pope Paul VI (Photo: Getty)
Cardinal Pell to plead not guilty to historic sexual abuse charges
Extract from Mark Brolly, The Tablet, 26 July 2017
Magistrate Duncan Reynolds has refused the media's request for access to the court file, including charge sheets.   Cardinal Pell to plead not guilty to historic sexual abuse charges.    Cardinal George Pell has made his first appearance in a Melbourne court today (26 July) to face multiple charges of sexual abuse laid by Victoria Police last month. But the six-minute hearing ended without the precise charges being revealed.     The 76-year-old Cardinal, who last month was granted leave by Pope Francis from his post as Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, was escorted into the Melbourne Magistrates' Court by police amid a large media pack for what was described as a filing hearing. Some journalists and camera crews had arrived at the court more than four hours before Cardinal Pell's arrival at 9am on Wednesday (Melbourne time).      He said nothing during the hearing or outside of the court.    Leading Melbourne barrister Mr Robert Richter QC told the court: "For the avoidance of doubt and because of the interest, might I indicate that Cardinal Pell pleads not guilty to all charges and will maintain his presumed innocence that he has."    Prosecutor Andrew Tinney, SC (Senior Counsel), warned the media that all reports should be limited to "fair and accurate reports of the proceedings"....(more) 
Regensburg choir abuse report 'shatters' bishop
Extract from Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet, 26 July 2017
'This is not a matter of individual cases of abuse as Cardinal Müller always insisted when he was Bishop of Regensburg'     The Bishop of Regensburg, Rudolf Voderholzer, has asked the hundreds of victims in the Domspatzen choir scandal for forgiveness saying that he is “absolutely shattered” by the findings of the report released last week.    Published on 17 July, the report, commissioned by the diocese of Regensburg and compiled by the lawyer Ulrich Weber, stated that 547 boys were abused at the prestigious choir school in Regensburg, Bavaria, between the years 1945 and 1992.    Bishop Voderholzer’s response contrasted with that of former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Muller, who was bishop of Regensburg form 2002 to 2012, who admitted that he “experienced shame for what has happened in the Church” but emphasised “everything that was possible and necessary was done” and refused to apologise....(more)
Why are German Catholics leaving the Church?
The Diocese of Essen has launched a major study into the reasons that Catholics are abandoning the Church. “Distancing” and “a lack of attachment” were found to be two primary reasons.   Extract from Delphine Nerbollier, Germany, subscription journal La Croix International, 25 July 2017
Altogether 162,000 Germans stopped paying their church taxes in 2016 and thus “left” the ranks of the Catholic Church.   Just over 4,000 people did this in the diocese of Essen (West Germany), which has launched a large scale study in an effort to understand the reasons for the departure of these former churchgoers.    What does the study consist of?...(source)  Photo: Frauenkirch in Munich, Germany, as viewed from the tower of Peter's Church. / David Iliff / Wikipedia / CC BY 2.5  

Statement of Archbishop Hart Ministerial Advisory Panel Report on Voluntary Assisted Dying
Extract from Media Release from Director of Media, Communications and Philanthropy, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, 21 July 2017
The Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart has expressed dismay following the release today of the Ministerial Advisory Panel Report into the legalising of Physician Assisted Suicide in Victoria.    Archbishop Hart said “I urge all Victorians to look closely at what is being proposed. I am proud to be a Victorian but this report makes me very concerned for the future of our elderly and most vulnerable citizens. We need to see this report and its recommendations for what they are and so I am taking this opportunity to bring this vital matter to the public’s immediate attention.”      Archbishop Hart said “I commend efforts to strengthen and better resource Palliative Care but that is a minimum necessity.  While the report recommends what it calls safeguards, the truth is that these safeguards are never going to be enough and that there are no flawless medical procedures.  All procedures and interventions can have complications.  I have watched supporters of this proposal and they are going out of their way to convince us that assisted suicide is acceptable, seeking to lessen our human, moral and natural distress because of suicide.    It seems that on the one hand we are seeking to lessen suicide in our society – an admirable aim – but here we have this report looking to normalise it.  When viewed from the perspective of the whole Victorian community these two objectives cannot be reconciled.".....(MORE).         Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide information and resources HERE

Archbishop’s Golden Jubilee
Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe, 21 July 2017
A special Mass of Thanksgiving at St Patrick's Cathedral on 22 July will celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Archbishop Denis Hart’s ordination to the priesthood (details on EVENTS page).       We give thanks for his 50 years of service as a priest and bishop, in Australia and Rome, and wish him well.           Shane Healy Director of Media, Communications and Philanthropy in the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne interviews Archbishop Hart about his early life,  50 years as a priest and bishop, experience with various popes, challenges, future, and the source of his spirituality. Watch the video interview HERE    (37 Minutes)

Kakadu dig rewrites Australia's history
Extract from CathNews, The Guardian, 21 July 2017
An archaeological discovery in the Northern Territory has extended the known length of time Aboriginal people have inhabited the continent to at least 65,000 years, The Guardian reports.   The findings on about 11,000 artefacts from Kakadu National Park, published today in the journal Nature, prove Indigenous people have been in Australia for longer than the much-contested estimates of between 47,000 and 60,000 years, the researchers said. Some of the artefacts were potentially as old as 80,000 years.     The new research upends decades old estimates about the human colonisation of the continent, their interaction with megafauna, and the dispersal of modern humans from Africa and across south Asia.    “People got here much earlier than we thought, which means of course they must also have left Africa much earlier to have travelled on their long journey through Asia and Southeast Asia to Australia,” said the lead author, Chris Clarkson, from the University of Queensland.   “It also means the time of overlap with the megafauna, for instance, is much longer than originally thought – maybe as much as 20,000 or 25,000 years. It puts to rest the idea that Aboriginal people wiped out the megafauna very quickly,” Associate Professor Clarkson said.    He said the Madjedbebe rock shelter where the artefacts were found – which has been excavated four times since the 1970s – had been controversial in the past but the processes used to date the artefacts meant the team could say “precisely” that the area was occupied 65,000 years ago and “hopefully put the controversy to rest”....(more) Photo: Cathnews, Chris Clarkson/Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation 

Vulnerable New Zealand children ‘failed by Church and state’
Extract from CathNews, Otago Daily News, 21 July 2017
New Zealand's most vulnerable children were failed by Church and state, says the head of the NZ National Office for Professional Standards, Otago Daily Times reports.    This week, the newspaper has run a series of stories on abuse within state and Church institutions, including within the Australian-based Brothers Hospitallers of St John of God.   Bill Kilgallon, of the National Office for Professional Standards, told the newspaper that the Church's New Zealand office, created in 2004 to investigate historic abuse claims, had fielded about 22 complaints a year since 2013.   About 20 a year related to "non-recent behaviour against children", either within a church setting or involving clergy within the state care system, he said.   "A number of the complaints we're dealing with would be children who were in state care but placed in an establishment run by the Church - Marylands, for example," he said.   The complaints of abuse, cruelty and very poor conditions showed the level of care by the state or Church was "very often very poor", he said.   And the Church, in particular, "should have achieved better than the state", he believed....(more)
'morally unacceptable' government
The Bishops Conference of Venezuela announced its decision to withdraw from the ongoing dialogue between the Maduro government and its opponents. And the Society of Jesus has condemned the “blind and systematic repression of the civil population”.
Extracts from Claire Lesegretain, sunscriptipn jpournal La Croix Internationa, 20 July 2017
The Venezuelan Church has announced that it will no longer participate in the “national dialogue” between the pro-Chavez government of Nicolas Maduro and the opposition.   “There are obvious issues that were brought to the table from the beginning of the discussions in October 2016 but these issues have never been addressed,” explained Cardinal Baltazar Enrique Porras of Mérida in the northwest of Venezuela.    Until now, the Church has tried to maintain a dialogue at all costs in order to prevent the country from tipping over into violence.   Meanwhile, a serious economic, social and institutional crisis is threatening to cause the country to implode.    “Instead of looking for solutions to the problems affecting Venezuelans, confrontations only exacerbate the tensions,” Cardinal Porras continued.   The bishops’ decision came on the eve of a large protest in Caracas on Wednesday, April 19 organized by the opposition against the Chavista government.   It called for respect of their constitutional right to protest and freedom of expression.   Altogether six demonstrators have been shot dead in protest marches organized by the opposition since the beginning of April. Another 538 were detained, including 32 who have still not been
freed....(more)
Müller admits shame but denies responsibility following German Catholic school abuse revelations
Exttract from Daniele Palmer, The Tablet, 20 July 2017
He 'experienced shame for what has happened in the Church' but emphasises 'everything that was possible and necessary was done'
Müller admits shame but denies responsibility following German Catholic school abuse revelations.   After being accused of bearing “clear responsibility” for the mishandling of over 500 abuse cases in a Bavarian choir school, Cardinal Müller admits that he feels “shame” but emphasises that he did all that was possible.   Published on Monday (17 July), a report states that 547 boys were abused at a prestigious choir school in Regensburg, Bavaria, between the years 1945 and 1992.  In the report, commissioned by the diocese of Regensburg and compiled by the lawyer Ulrich Weber, Cardinal Müller is accused of having mishandled the cases of abuse, despite them being well known.    In an interview with the Italian daily Il Corriere della Sera, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, bishop of Regensburg form 2002 to 2012 and ex-prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, admits that he “experienced shame for what has happened in the Church” but emphasises “everything that was possible and necessary was done.”....(more)

Report confirms over 500 boys abused at top German Catholic school
Extract from Daniele Palmer, The Tablet, 19 July 2017
A report confirms the physical and sexual abuse of over 500 children at a prestigious choir school in Bavaria, Germany.    Commissioned by the diocese of Regensburg, a report has been published that states 547 children at the all-male boarding school in the Bavarian town were abused, either physically or sexually, between the years 1945 and 1992.   The report also states that all those involved must take responsibility, explicitly mentioning Georg Ratzinger, brother of the Pope emeritus and choir master at the school, and Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, who was bishop of Regensburg before becoming prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in the Vatican in 2007.   Ulrich Weber, the lawyer commissioned by the diocese in 2015, said in a press conference yesterday that for many of the students at the choir school, the period they were there represented “the worst time of their lives, marked by fear, violence and helplessness."   The report makes explicit the practices that were in place at the choir school....(more)

Metal detectors at Jerusalem shrine trigger new tensions
Extract from  Karin Laub, National Catholic Reportyer,  Religion News Service, 19 July 2017
Jerusalem. A dispute over metal detectors is escalating into a new showdown between Israel and the Muslim world over a Jerusalem shrine that has triggered major Israeli-Palestinian confrontations in the past.    Israel says installing the devices at the gates to the walled compound after Palestinians launched an attack there last week is a routine security measure. Palestinians claim Israel is trying to expand control over the Muslim-run site that is also revered by Jews.   Muslim worshippers have stepped up protests following an appeal from clerics to pray in the streets rather than submit to the new procedures. The confrontation could come to a head Friday, the highlight of the Muslim religious week, when tens of thousands typically converge on the holy site for prayers....(more)      Photo: NCR,  AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean, File,
The small but mighty 'Neighbouring Parish' -  Heidelberg West
Extract from Media and Communications Office, Melbourne Catholic, Monday 17 July 2017
Heidelberg parish, with its St Pius X church and school, sits on Waterdale Road in the midst of busy traffic. Fr Wayne Edwards joined the parish on 4 July 2007, and has since celebrated his tenth anniversary as parish priest.    Many are familiar with Heidelberg West as the site of the 1956 Summer Olympics athletes' village.    The parish is surrounded by boom and change—adjoining suburbs are creeping their way towards sale prices of more than $800,000 for a conventional home. The commission housing and other older homes are being demolished and replaced with newer homes and dual occupancy townhouses.    The demographics of Heidelberg West have been long resistant to change, however the suburb has been a little pocket of comparatively low housing prices, with its close proximity to the CBD, public transport, as well as nearby schools and shopping centres. Families are beginning to discover the housing value and move here—and with them, the suburb will adjust and transform.        St Pius X primary school is a diverse hub of activity—under 100 students gather here during the school year with one group each for Prep, Year One/Two, Year Three/Four, and Year Five/Six. The staff and parish team provide hands-on experiences with initiatives such as a vegetable garden—teaching the students the art of horticulture, and a very large chicken shed with plenty of chickens. ‘Those chooks are prize winning!’. Fr Wayne emphasised the children’s efforts and hard work....(more   [ED: St Pius X is part of the Yarra Deanery (a 'Neighbouring Parish') with us]  Photo:Melbourne Catholic.
Cardinal Schönborn: Moral theology needs both principles and prudence
Pope Francis has declared Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna to be the "authoritative interpreter" of 'Amoris Laetitia,' the papal document on marriage and family. Schönborn spent hours explaining it during a visit to Ireland this week.
Extracts from Austen Ivereigh, Contributing Editor, Crux, 15 July 2017
LIMERICK, Ireland - When Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna spent Thursday afternoon in the west of Ireland speaking about Amoris Laetitia in two talks and a Q&A - over four hours, in total - it was a fascinating immersion into the deep thinking behind the document, and a chance to be close to one of the key figures at the heart of the contemporary Church.       The Irish Church is about to start a year of preparation for the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) in August 2018 at which the pope has asked that families have a chance to reflect on and discuss Amoris.  Hence the invitation to the Archbishop of Vienna, the exhortation’s authoritative interpreter, who was tasked by Francis with presenting the document to the media when it was released in April 2016...... Schönborn revealed that when he met the Pope shortly after the presentation of Amoris, Francis thanked him, and asked him if the document was orthodox.         “I said, ‘Holy Father, it is fully orthodox’,” Schönborn told us he told the pope, adding that a few days later he received from Francis a little note that said: “Thank you for that word. That gave me comfort.”........The difficulty in Amoris being grasped, he said, was the tendency to cleave to rigorist or laxist positions that fled reality and clung to principles alone.              In a letter to one of the dissenting cardinals, Schönborn had explained that of course Amoris upheld the constant teaching of the Church that a valid marriage was indissoluble, but “giving this answer is not an answer to all the single situations and cases that in everyday life we have to deal with.    “Much more difficult is discernment,” he said, “because you have to look closely, yes, in the light of the principles, but also at reality, where people stand, what is the drama of how did they come to a separation, to a new union, and so on.”  Schönborn expanded on this point in his first talk. “Moral theology stands on two feet: Principles, and then the prudential steps to apply them to reality.”          It was what parents had to do when raising their children, or teachers teaching young people, or politicians in governing a country, he said.      It was the classical field of what Thomists like Schönborn - a Dominican friar - call the virtue of application of prudence and which Francis, as a good Jesuit, calls in Amoris “discernment.” For Francis, says Schönborn, “the question of discernment is the key question for the right handling of right relation between principles and concrete application.”                Pope Francis, he says, “never questions the principles, because these are the principles of the Gospel, of Jesus’ teaching, but he clearly says again and again, and argues, clearly, that in practical matters we have to exercise discernment.”           It is clear that Schönborn believes this traditional, meat-and-potatoes capacity for prudential application of moral norms has been in decline and needs reviving. In the academic seminar, he recalled how in the 1980s “there was a great fear that the link between teaching and conscience would be weakened.”      The problem, he said, was that conscience came often to be seen merely as “the transposition of the Church’s teaching into acts” but in fact “the work of conscience is to discover that God’s law is not a foreign law imposed on me but the discovery that God’s will for me is what is best for me. But this must be an interior discovery.”         He was “deeply moved” when he read the famous paragraph 37 of Amoris, which complains that too often the Church fails to make room for the consciences of the faithful, and that the task of the Church is to “form consciences, not replace them.”             That meant understanding that people operated within constraints. In Amoris, he said, Francis “often comes back to what he said in Evangelii Gaudium, that a little step towards the good done under difficult circumstances can be more valuable than a moral solid life under comfortable circumstances.”    He said the key to understand what is “moving” Francis in Amoris is in its paragraph 49, which reflects the pope’s pastoral experience among poor families in Buenos Aires.          Francis says there the Church must offer “understanding, comfort and acceptance” to people in difficult situations rather than “imposing straightaway a set of rules that only lead people to feel judged and abandoned by the very Mother called to show them God’s mercy.”     “The bonum possibile in moral theology is an important concept that has been so often neglected,” said Schönborn, adding: “What is the possible good that a person or a couple can achieve in difficult circumstances?”.....(more)      Photo: Crux, CNS photo/Liam Burke courtesy Press 22.
Fisher supports stand on housing crisis
Extract from CathNews, ABC News, 14 July 2017
About 600 people from across Sydney came together on Wednesday to make impassioned pleas for the housing affordability crisis to be tackled, ABC News reports.   The forum saw a diverse group converge on St Mary's Cathedral Hall and take a stand against the price of housing in Sydney.  Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP attended and mingled with other faith groups, single mums, business leaders, trade unionists and former homeless drug addicts....(more)
Pope's invitation for Parish Communities
Archbishop's Office for Evangelisation, Melbourne Catholic, Friday 14 July 2017
The Archbishop's Office for Evangelisation has produced a resource pack to support the Pope’s invitation for parish communities for one Sunday of the liturgical year to: ‘renew its efforts to make the Sacred Scriptures better known and more widely diffused. It would be a Sunday given over entirely to the word of God, so as to appreciate the inexhaustible riches contained in that constant dialogue between the Lord and his people.’.        In the Archdiocese of Melbourne the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Sunday 16 July) has been suggested for this purpose and a range of resources has been prepared to assist in this regard. They are available HERE
Pope to catechists: Be creative
Edited Extracts from Vatican Radio, 12 July 2017
Pope Francis has sent a message to an International Catechetical Symposium which is taking place this week at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina in Buenos Aires, and has as its theme “blessed are those who believe”.
.....He goes on to say that the catechist walks with Christ, therefore is not a person who starts from his own ideas and tastes. He or she  looks for the Lord and that searching makes their heart burn.   Pope Francis also notes in his message that the role of the catechist is a creative one because this person seeks different ways and means to announce the good news of Christ. The Pope adds that “this quest to make Jesus known as supreme beauty leads us to find new signs and forms for the transmission of the faith.”     The means may be different, the Holy Father underlines, “but the important thing is to keep in mind the style of Jesus, who adapted to the people around him in order to bring them the love of God.”     The Pope continues that, it is necessary to know how to "change" and adapt, in order to transmit God’s message even though the message itself is always the same....(more)
'No religion' in Australia overtakes number of Catholics
Extract from Mark Brolly, The Tablet, 13 July 2017
'The growing percentage of Australia’s population reporting no religion has been a trend for decades, and is accelerating'.      'No religion' in Australia overtakes number of Catholics.     Australians who declared in last year's Census that they had "no religion" have overtaken the number of Catholics for the first time, although Christianity is still the religion of more than half the population.              Figures released recently from the Census held last August showed that 30 per cent of Australians reported that they had no religion in 2016, with Catholics making up 22.6 per cent of all Australians - more than 5.2 million people - down from 25.3 per cent in the previous Census in 2011. Anglicans have dropped even more significantly - from 17/1 per cent in 2011 to 13.3 per cent five years later.           Christianity is still the most common religion (52 per cent), down from 88 per cent in 1966 and 74 per cent in 1991. Islam (2.6 per cent) and Buddhism (2.4 per cent) were the next most common faiths reported.            The religious affiliation question was the only non-compulsory question in the Census and for the first time, "No religion" was the first option offered.  the Australian Bureau of Statistics said in a statement accompanying the release of the figures: "Australia is increasingly a story of religious diversity, with Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam, and Buddhism all increasingly common religious beliefs. Hinduism had the most significant growth between 2006 and 2016, driven by immigration from South Asia.      "The growing percentage of Australia’s population reporting no religion has been a trend for decades, and is accelerating. Those reporting no religion increased noticeably from 19 per cent in 2006 to 30 per cent in 2016. The largest change was between 2011 (22 per cent) and 2016, when an additional 2.2 million people reported having no religion.....(more)  Photo: The Tablet

Police admit DNA error in cold case murder
Extract from CathNews, 13 July 2017
Police have admitted they used an incorrect DNA sample to rule out a pedophile priest in the brutal killing of Melbourne cold case murder victim Maria James, ABC News reports.   A bloodied pillow case, used to establish a DNA profile for the suspected killer of the Thornbury single mother, came from an unrelated crime scene.   Local priest Fr Anthony Bongiorno, as well as multiple other suspects in Maria James' 1980 murder, were cleared as a result of DNA testing against that incorrect sample.   James' two sons, Mark and Adam James, have now formally applied to the Victorian coroner to set aside the original finding and reopen the 37-year-old case. James was stabbed 68 times in her home behind her Thornbury bookshop....In 2013, it was revealed Fr Bongiorno sexually abused her 11-year-old son Adam, who has cerebral palsy and Tourette syndrome. Now 48, Adam said he told his mum of the abuse and believed she planned to confront the priest.    Mark James said he believed police should reinvestigate Fr Bongiorno, who died in 2002, as a key suspect. He also called for an investigation into Fr Thomas O'Keeffe, who once abused Adam James on the same day as Fr Bongiorno....(more) Photo: CathNews

Pope opens new path to sainthood
Extract from CathNews, 12 July 2017
Pope Francis has approved a fourth pathway to possible sainthood – giving one's life in a heroic act of loving service to others, CNS reports.    In a new apostolic letter, the Pope approved new norms allowing for candidates to be considered for sainthood because of the heroic way they freely risked their lives and died prematurely because of "an extreme act of charity".    The "moto proprio" document, went into effect yesterday, the same day it was published. The title, "Maiorem hac dilectionem", comes from the Gospel according to St John (15:13): "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends."...(more)

Responding to sexual abuse and its aftermath
Extract from Media and Communications Office, Melbourne Catholic, CAM, 12 July 2017
This morning Catholic Social Services Victoria (CSSV) hosted a forum about responding to sexual abuse of children and its aftermath. The forum was chaired by Jenny Glare of MacKillop Family Services, who leads the CSSV Working Group on responding to abuse.     The two main speakers were Francis Sullivan, CEO, Truth, Justice & Healing Council and Patricia Faulkner, Director, Catholic Professional Standards. Jenny Glare kicked off the morning, saying ‘It is vital at this point in time that we are very clear, as organisations of the Catholic Church, what our responsibilities are to ensure the protection of children.’ She reflected on the beginning of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, as well as the anticipated release of the final report on 15 December.     Francis Sullivan thanked CSSV for the opportunity to talk, as well as the ability to give an update, ‘as we are literally in an interim period’. Francis delved into how the final report will affect the Church—from the creation of Catholic Professional Standards, the culture and relevance of the Church, and financial implications such as the redress scheme.    Patricia Faulkner followed, and explained how Catholic Professional Standards is set up, its financial structure, and how it will audit organisations, parishes and dioceses. She highlighted that the main goal is to ensure the Catholic Church and its agencies have properly implemented professional standards....(more)
Governance and Culture: the Catholic Church in Australia - Anne O’Brien.
Originally published in the Winter 2017 Issue of the Nationbal Council of Priests of Australia "The Swag",   Republished by Catholics For Renewal and here with permission, 12 July 2017 
Anne O’Brien writes from a lay woman’s perspective and a wealth of experience including working as a facilitator in the Towards Healing process. She is now a member of Catholics Speak Out and Catholics for Renewal. She offers some powerful insights. HERE
Bishop gave 'fresh start' to abuser
Extract from CathNews, 12 July 2017
A bishop who later became archbishop of Perth knew a priest had abused boys but gave him "a fresh start" in his diocese, where the offending continued, documents before the child abuse royal commission reveal, reports AAP/News.com.au      Fr William Kevin Glover received two warnings under canon law for "immoral and criminal sexual behaviour with boys and adolescents" while in the Marist Fathers - Society of Mary before being sent to Western Australia's Bunbury diocese in 1960.    Fr Glover was removed from a Victorian parish and given his first warning in June 1958 over the systematic sexual abuse of adolescent boys, tendered documents released by the child abuse royal commission reveal.    "In September of that year a Marist priest working in the parish expressed the view that Fr Glover had been involved with as many as 30 boys over a three-year period," a 1994 Marist Fathers incident report to its insurer stated.    Fr Glover was posted to another parish but was removed in July 1959, given another canonical warning and sent to Sydney for treatment at Richmond's St John of God Hospital. He transferred to the Bunbury diocese on a trial basis following an appeal for priests by the bishop, the late Sir Launcelot John Goody, who was archbishop of Perth from 1968 to 1983....(more)  Photo: CathNews,
Treasure in clay jars
In past times the Church cultivated a high image of itself because it believed that that was the best way to preserve its credibility. If that image of the church has been shattered—painful as it has been for all who love the church to accept—that is no bad thing. What will continue to give the Church credibility is its quietly going along the way of service.
From Fr Brendan Byrne SJ, published in Australian Jesuits 2 July, Extract published here with permission, 12 July
....It is, however, a time of public humiliation for the Catholic Church community — a humiliation that has been building up ever since the scandals about child abuse by clergy and other church officials became public over twenty years ago. The image of a heroic Catholic church that sailed unwavering and unsoiled through the centuries, outlasting all that persecution and hostile forces could throw at it, has largely been shattered. The pride in the Church that was drummed into us older members of the faithful in our early years has in many respects given way to shame—and there are doubtless many who have left off practicing the faith as a result.        In past times the Church cultivated that high image of itself because it believed that that was the best way to preserve its credibility, the credibility that it saw as necessary to carry out the primary task which had been given to it by its Lord: to preach the Gospel. But an unfortunate by-product of that image of itself as a sinless institution was the tendency to keep any scandals, especially in the sexual area, closely under wraps, and to defend and uphold the reputation of the Church and its clergy at all costs. Hence offending clergy were moved from place to place rather than being dealt with as justice and the safety of children required—with the devastating results of which we are now so acutely aware.               If that image of the church has been shattered—painful as it has been for all who love the church to accept—that is no bad thing. It is actually a process that began fifty years ago at the Second Vatican Council when the Catholic church accepted, as Protestants had been saying since the Reformation, that the church always stands in need of reform.        Why does the church stand in need of continual reform? Because, while holy because of its union with Christ, our Lord, it is made up of human beings who are prone to weakness and failure as much as to heroism and the wonderful love and generosity shown not only in our canonized saints but in countless millions of the faithful who just ‘get on with it’, largely unrecognized and unknown.....(more)

Christianity isn’t the answer
Extracts from Fr. Michael Kelly, Pearls and Irritations, John Menadue blog 12 July 2017
....Narcissism is like any addiction: its victims remain unaware of its grip till it’s all but strangled them and then they feel it’s too late to do anything about it. The fatalism of the drunk who explains “I can’t beat it, it’s killing me, I may as well die of it” is the logic of this decline.     But there is another way. The path out of narcissism is not the appeal to a code (Christian values) or to extra effort of the will. It’s to be found in experience. It’s to be found in empathy.    But how do you learn empathy? Simple: we are given it by falling in love, by failing and accepting we’ve failed, by being grateful for completely unexpected blessings and opportunities, by being forgiven, by experiencing reversals that aren’t the end of the story but a prelude to new opportunities and grace. Sheer, unmerited grace......All the intellectual stuff – more information, codes of conduct and the like – pales into insignificance as ways out of those black holes. It’s experience and finding your heart and soul and living from that every day as you meet stricken humanity in all its need. It’s discovering that you’re loved.    And for Christianity’s future in Australia, a focus on that discovery for everyone that to me suggests the way forward....(more)

Church chooses plenary team behind closed doors while saying it can’t be business as usual
Extract from Mark Metherell, Pearls and irritations, John Menadue website, 10 July 2017
Amid the turmoil besetting the Catholic Church in Australia, the  announcement, after an in-house process, of a diverse team to advise the bishops on the 2020 Plenary Council has raised the hackles of reform advocates.            In a week of calamity for the Australian Catholic Church, there were mixed signals for those looking for reform from the hierarchy.   It is a time of existential challenges: the census revealed a sharp downturn in Catholic adherents and the Victoria Police finally dropped the long-speculated announcement of “historical” charges of sex abuse against Australia’s prince of the church, Cardinal George Pell, who has strenuously denied them.          But a separate development indicated how the church’s leadership is seeking to orchestrate change within its traditionally closed management structure.               That was the announcement of the names of 14 people who have accepted appointment to the executive committee to plan and prepare for the church’s most important national congress in decades, the 2020 Plenary Council.     Despite recent appeals from Catholic reform groups for more transparency and accountability in decision-making, the announcement came out of the blue, after an in-house process.          The announcement was made by the man emerging as the most senior figure in the Australian church, Mark Coleridge, Archbishop of Brisbane.              The encouraging aspect of the committee’s make-up was its diversity:  eight women and six men including 10 lay people, several of them ACU academics, and officials in church agencies.   Coleridge said “their appointment followed an extensive confidential process of consultation across the Australian Church to ensure diversity”.....(more) 

Müller hits out at Francis, says the way pope dismissed him was unacceptable
Extract from Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, subscription journal La Croix International, 8 July 2017
Cardinal Gerhard Müller has sharply criticized Pope Francis for the “unacceptable” way in which the pontiff recently dismissed him as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF).    “On the very last day of my mandate as CDF prefect, the pope informed me within one minute of his decision not to prolong me. He did not give a reason – just as he gave no reason for dismissing three highly competent members of the CDF a few months earlier,” the 69-year-old cardinal told the Bavarian daily.    “I cannot accept this way of doing things. As a bishop, one cannot treat people in this way,” he said in the interview, which was published on July 6th.      “I have said this before – the Church’s social teaching must also be applied to the way employees are treated here in the Vatican,” he added.     Pope Francis told Cardinal Müller in a private meeting at the Vatican on June 30th that his mandate as doctrinal chief would not be renewed. The five-year term officially came to an end on July 2nd......(source)    Photo: La Croix International, Dr. Meierhofer/Wikipedia/CCA BY SA 3.0       

Who's next to lose Vatican job?
Many heads could start to roll at the Vatican if Cardinal Ludwig Müller's statement is true that Pope Francis intends to replace curia chiefs at the completion of their five-year terms.
Extract from Robert Mickens, Rome, subscription journal La Croix International, 7 July, linked here 8 July 2017
Who’s the next president or prefect of a major Vatican department that Pope Francis will let go?   In fact, many heads could start to roll. That is if Cardinal Ludwig Müller is right and the pope really has decided to replace Roman Curia chieftains at the completion of their five-year terms.   Francis must have adopted this new policy at the very last minute. Because a mere six days before Müller reached the conclusion of his quinquennium on July 2nd, Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès OP already completed his first five years as Archivist and Librarian of the Holy Roman Church.   Benedict XVI had appointed Bruguès to the prestigious post on June 26, 2012. And by doing so, he all but guaranteed the Dominican would become a cardinal, considering that every one of his librarian predecessors dating back to 1550 eventually got the red hat.....So who’s next in line to lose his Vatican job?....(source)

'Summorum Pontificum': After a rocky ten years the Tridentine Mass has found its place
Extract from Marie Malzac and Malo Tresca, subscroption journal La Croix International, 7 July, linked here 8 July 2017
Benedict XVI reached out to Catholic traditionalists a decade ago by liberalizing the extraordinary form of the Mass with his motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum". As a result, previously rocky relations between the French Church and traditionalists have greatly improved. But some bishops remain cautious....(source)

When we are fully human
Very often children are more "human" than adults.
Extract from Father Shay Cullen, Manila, subscription journal La Croix International, 4 July, linked 8 July
What is it that makes us a human being? I often ask students who come to study college-level psychology, social work and other subjects at the Preda Foundation. I ask them to answer the basic question.      "Tell me in a few words the attributes of the human person that set us apart from other animals and make us uniquely human." I want them to focus on who and what we are. I am amazed as I am frequently met with embarrassed silence. What do you think makes us human?   The children at the Preda Home for Girls, with ages between six and 16 years, are pretty smart. They would raise their hands and speak up, and they have genuine answers. Their knowledge is what encourages and inspires them to be strong, resilient, brave and courageous in facing up and dealing with the most horrific things that happen to them - rape and other acts of sexual abuse.   Society has always unrated children, denied them their rights and dignity, and have used, enslaved, as well as physically and sexually abused them as if they were not human.   Many people do not see children as having rights - especially those not their own, the poor, skinny, malnourished, and sickly children of the streets, those in prison. That's why so many are left to go hungry, uneducated and die of diseases before they reach ten years old.   In the Philippines, the Secretary of Justice justified the killing of young people on mere suspicion of wrongdoing because they were "not humanity", he said. There could be no crime against humanity if they were summarily executed. I wonder if that argument would hold up in the International Criminal Court.  The amazing fact seems to be emerging from a Catholic country that has lost it Christianity. Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the bishops' conference of the Philippines, says many Filipino "Catholics" love the trappings and processions and outward devotions of Catholicism.    But he worries profoundly about what lies underneath the surface. They say they are Catholics but are they Christians?...(source)   [Ed: some Ivanhoe parishioners have heard Fr Shay speak at a social justice event at 'Neigbbouring Parish' Templestowe Parish (which financially supports the Preda Foundation)]  Photo: La Croix International. Phooto: La Croix International, Angie de Silva.

Fr. Bill on leave from Monday to Friday next week

Friday 7 July 2017

Fr Bill will be on leave from Monday to Friday next week (10-14 July). Weekday Masses will be replaced by Communion Services.
Despite census results we dismiss religion at our peril
Extracts from Christine Burke, published 20170629 on Eureka Street, Linked here 7 July 2017
The census results tell us that the number of people who indicate 'no religion' has grown to one third of the population. That is a solid fact about our Australian society. And facts are there to ground us in reality. In this most secular of societies it is not surprising that this number is rising.        Indeed, a growing refusal to tick a box marked Christian, Muslim or Buddhist simply because of family or cultural allegiance reveals an honesty about how we live and think. Some commentators greeted this news as a clear sign of progress, a mark of our growing maturity: people are learning to see through the claims and limits of religious belief. It's worth pausing a moment to consider the underlying assumptions.         Let's be frank. Religion has been, and still is in many cases, a trap. It can be used as a cover, a cloak, for political, economic, sexual or personal power over others, for economic gain, for violence. History provides numerous examples of colonisation where exploitation of peoples, land and resources went hand in hand with 'Christianising' the population .....So why not rejoice that Australians are seeing the light? Well, letting the worst of something blind us to its deeper possibilities is not wise in any sphere. One concern is the flat-lining of our society, the removal of any guide other than what I, and the small group I belong to, value.....(more)  Image: Eureka Street. 52664  Christine Burke is a Loreto sister, currently based in the Philippines. She has a background in theology and adult faith education, and did her doctoral studies on the interface between secular society and the Christian faith.

Why I am still a Catholic
Extract from John Menadue, Pearls and Irritations,  7 July 2017    
Cardinal John Henry Newman once said that there is nothing as ugly as the Catholic Church yet nothing as beautiful. It is hard to see that beauty at this moment. It is a time for sackcloth and ashes. But I will hang on. Below  is an edited and updated article  of mine that was first published by David Lovell Publishing in 2003.
G K Chesterton said, ‘I cannot explain why I am a Catholic, because now that I am a Catholic, I cannot imagine myself as anything else’. Personally, I now cannot imagine not being a Catholic either, yet I am more conscious and appreciative of my Methodist upbringing than ever before. As a Catholic, I reckon I am a pretty good Methodist, with a healthy skepticism about authority. And the more I see of the failure of Catholic Bishops the more skeptical  of ‘authority ‘I become.       Cardinal John Henry Newman described his feelings after joining the Catholic Church: ‘I was not conscious of firmer faith …  I had no more fervour, but it was like coming into port after a rough sea’ (Apologia).     I have found Newman very convincing and encouraging on many issues of concern to me. He also spoke of the pain he felt after ‘coming into port’ — mistrust and misunderstanding. He wasn’t one of the tribe. His critics suggested that if he could change once, he could change again and rejoin the Church of England. To some Catholic bishops he was much too independent and risky.   I have always felt an outsider in the Catholic Church. I am not tribal. But being an ‘outsider’ troubles me not at all.   Before I speak of the two main reasons why I am still a Catholic-the Eucharist and Authority -, I would like to give a few impressions as a relative newcomer to the Catholic Church. Newcomers have some disadvantages, but newcomers sometimes see things with clarity and freshness. The Polish have a proverb that the guest to the house sees in one hour what the host fails to see in a lifetime....(more)

Flawed Catholic Church a test for the true believers
Extract from Geraldine Doogue, 3 July 2017, Pearls and irritations, John Menadue website, 3 July 2017 linked here 8 July    
The other day a visiting Israeli man bluntly asked me during a small dinner: was I religious? Well, yes, I replied, though not quite in the way I once would have ­answered. But Cardinal ­George Pell is not to blame for that.    Twenty years ago, I probably would have replied more confidently, as a cradle Catholic approaching her middle years, trying to live a good life and hand on the heritage and traditions to children. Because they matter to me. ­Indeed, they are part of my fabric.    My much-loved and late husband was an atheist, a good man of strong values, not overtly antagonistic to faith like some, but steeped in an anthropological sense of religion being “sophisticated crowd control”, he’d quip.   So there was a layered ­approach to Catholic institutional life in our household. Yet simultaneously within me, oddly, a growing sense of gratitude for being rooted in a belief tradition rather than not having one, even if I rejected parts of it. I realised it had bequeathed me a precious identity security plus an ability to ask deeper questions about meaning, even though I concede that it took years to fully develop that....So how does one synthesise all this? With difficulty. It is a work in progress. I will of course incorporate details of the cardinal’s coming court case but will probably not be blindsided by whatever may emerge, on the upside and the downside. Because as a source of ongoing consolation and meaning, of searching alongside others not merely alone, the broader Catholic Church simply has no peer....(more)

Catholic Leaders meet with World Bible Societies
"Christ in His word holds the Church together."
Selected extracts relating to Church renewal, from a report in Broken Bay Diocese 'News & Events'. 7 July 2017
We need to be a more Biblical Church", says Archbishop Mark Coleridge.         "It is clearer than ever that as a Church we cannot just put up a sign saying 'business as usual', we have to set out into new territory and do things in new ways - all of that with a view to becoming a Church that is more missionary at a time when we might be tempted to turn within."       "To be a more missionary Church we must be a more synodal Church, as Pope Francis has made clear. And, to be a more synodal Church we have to be a more listening church - a more contemplative Church, which means a more Biblical Church, listening to the word of God in Scripture in new ways."      "I would like the collaboration in this country to move into a new phase, as we move to the Plenary Council and beyond. The practical question is how can we at this time, and on this journey, work together in new and more powerful ways?”......(source)
Listening should be primary focus of Plenary Council, Queensland committee members say
Extract from Emilie Ng, The Catholic Leader, 7 July 2017
Queensland Catholics appointed to advise the Plenary Council Bishops’ Commission say the Church needs to listen to the experiences of the faithful in order to plan for a viable future.    Former Emmanuel Community moderator Shayne Bennett, ACU campus minister Sally Hood and Townsville theologian Fr Orm Rush are among 14 Catholics appointed to the plenary council executive committee.    This committee will work with the special Bishops’ Commission for the Plenary Council to prepare and implement the historic meeting in 2020.    With 40 years’ experience in mission work including youth evangelisation, Mr Bennett said listening to the experiences of Catholics, both the good and the bad experiences, needed to be a central part of the plenary council.   “I think one of the challenges is to engage with the reality of people where they’re at today,” he said.    “No one is pretending that there’s not a lot of disillusionment around, but in spite of that there are many faithful people who are seeking to work positively towards a future.”   As well as a more listening Church, Mr Bennett said there needed to be a refocusing on equipping lay people to be missionary or face the reality that “the Gospel won’t be heard”.   “Because ultimately people aren’t running into churches to hear the Gospel, so it’s either they hear the Gospel through their peers, or the mission of the Church needs to be rethought in fact in the light of our current experience,” he said.    “Historically we’ve thought about people coming to the Church but I think things have been flipped on their head a little bit and we are now talking about the Church going out.”   The plenary council is just one of the ways the Church in Australia hopes find out how to reach out to Australians on the fringes of the faith, or at least find out their struggles and hopes....(more)  Image: abstract, Theresa Parden [Ed: Hopefully a lot of listening has already taken place and will continue, openly and extensively, well before 2020.  Some decisions should be possible before 2020, with bigger decisions then, including adoption of ongoing synodal processes.)
 'For every person baptized, the U.S. Church loses six Catholics'
About 3,000 American Catholic Church officials are participating in a unique convention in Orlando, Florida, from July 1 to 4. The gathering is seen as an opportunity for the church leaders to reflect on how to spread the gospel and reach out to a country that is becoming secular.
Extract from  Céline Hoyeau, Orlando, subscroption journal La Croix International, 3 July 2017.
He may be at the helm of one of the most dynamic Roman Catholic parishes in Florida, with the 3,000 families present each weekend at one of the seven masses at Saint Peter’s Church in Deland, but Father Thomas Connery is still worried.    “We have many retirees in Florida, so the churches are full but take them away and it’s a catastrophe,” says Father Connery.  “We’re not managing to reach the young generations.      "For every person baptized, the American church loses six Catholics," he laments. "We don’t dare talk about it among priests, doubtless because we do not know what to do, but it is past time to break this taboo.      "Imagine a company facing such a problem. It would immediately launch an emergency plan! What about us?”...(source)
Bullied kids fall behind in class
Extract from CathNews, Herald Sun, 7 July 2017
Children who are regularly bullied at school are more likely to suffer academically, and the effect is stronger for girls, the Herald Sun reports.    And regular physical bullying can affect all areas of class work, leaving victims six to nine months behind peers.   A Murdoch Childrens Research Institute study of almost 1000 Victorian grade 3 pupils, aged 8-9, found one in three boys and one in four girls were frequently victims of bullying. The study, comparing self-reports of bullying to NAPLAN results, found boys who were physically picked on did less well in maths and were academically behind their peers by more than six months, and boys who experienced physical and verbal victimisation scored lower in reading tasks.    Verbal bullying alone had no measurable effect.    Girls who were physically bullied were six to nine months behind classmates across all academic performance, while those who were verbally bullied were typically six months behind in writing skills.     Institute research fellow Lisa Mundy, the lead author, said the study didn’t prove that bullying caused poor academic performance.   But she said the results were important, because the mid-primary school years were crucial to long-term academic and mental health outcomes.    “This is a time when bullying starts to really peak, and it’s a time where children can start to disengage if they feel school isn’t for them,” Dr Mundy said....(more)  Photo: CathNews, Bigstock
Free grog offered to lift mass attendance
July 3, 20178:01pm Extract from Deutsche Presse Agentur, July 3, 2017
A priest in a rural village of central Italy has started offering free alcohol to adults and crisps to children in a bid to boost mass attendance, as part of a supermarket-style loyalty program.    In a tongue-in-cheek post on his Facebook profile, Father Gianfranco Formenton of the church of Saint Martin in Trignano, a hamlet of 1500 near the Umbrian town of Spoleto, announced that the rewards scheme would apply from July 2.    Father Formenton offered prosecco from his home region of Veneto and crisps mixed with communion wafers as snacks, but only to owners of a "Mass Attendance Card."   He also stressed that the church premises are air-conditioned and available for hire for birthdays and other events.    In an interview with Il Messaggero newspaper, Fr Formenton said the idea was "born as a game, thought up with the youth members of the parish and mainly targeted towards them."   "Every Sunday, at the end of mass, I put a stamp on the card, to certify [the owner's] attendance. It's just a game, but it helps to remind everybody that faith is a commitment and, as such, it does not go on holiday," Fr Formenton said.   The priest was not available for comment but on Facebook, following national publicity for his unconventional pastoral methods, he posted in the Veneto dialect: "All this fuss for a prosecco and a couple of crisps?"....(more) 
Pope Francis tells divorced women, ‘the Church embraces you’
Extract from Inés San Martín, Vatican Correspondent, Subscroption Journal La Croix International, 29 June 2017
ROME - Pope Francis on Monday met with a group of 35 separated and divorced women for over 95 minutes, in a private audience which wasn’t announced by the Vatican, with one participant saying afterwards the pontiff told them “the Church welcomes and embraces us.”      Isabel Díaz, who took part in the encounter, said Pope Francis told them that, with their experience, they can help others who are separated and divorced live through their suffering, and “above all, he underlined repeatedly that the Church welcomes and embraces us.        “It was a blessing, I left crying joy, and above all, I feel blessed,” Díaz said.   The meeting likely would have gone unnoticed, if it wasn’t for the fact that the diocese sponsoring the trip wrote about it on its website.     Last April, the Archbishop of the Spanish diocese of Toledo, Braulio Rodríguez, handed Francis a letter. The missive was written by women who participate in the “Santa Teresa” group, run by the Commission of Family and Life of the diocese. The scope of the pastoral initiative is to accompany separated and divorced women.   After reading the letter, Francis invited them to Rome.....(source)  Photo: La Croix International, http://www.architoledo.org

Fr. Bill on leave from Monday to Friday next week

Friday 30 June 2017

Fr Bill will be on leave from Monday to Friday next week (3-7 July). Weekday Masses will be replaced by Communion Services.
Supporting the work and Ministry of Pope Francis
There will be a special collection after all Masses this weekend (1-2 July) to support the work and ministry of Pope Francis.

Melbourne Catholic Magazine - July  
The July Issue of ‘Melbourne Catholic’ is available (Cost: $4.00).  Subscriptions can be made through Archdiocese Media and Communications Office:  9926 5758;  or email: [email protected]

 Young Australians don’t say ‘I do’
Extract from CathNews, The Australian, 30 June 2017
There are now scarcely more than half a million married young Australians, continuing a decades-long downward trend that has seen the institution go out of fashion, perhaps never to recover, The Australian reports.     Shortly after World War II, more than two-thirds of people aged 25 to 29 were married in that year’s census; this figure dropped to almost one-quarter in 2016.    Despite migration and population growth, even the raw numbers went backwards for this age group between 2011 and 2016, from 447,413 to 447,236.    Matrimony among those in their early 20s has also reversed in absolute and real terms, with the total number in wedlock falling from 93,186 to 83,497 over the same period, dropping as a share of the total age group from 6.37 per cent to 5.3 per cent.   In 1947, more than one-third of people aged 20 to 24 were married. Photo CathNews.

2016 Census results: Proportion of Catholics
Extract from The Age 20 June 2017
...results this week from the 2016 census showed the proportion of Australian residents identifying as Catholic has fallen from 25.3 per cent to 22.6 per cent since 2011....(source)

Pope calls on cardinals to 'look at reality' as their mission
Extracts from Nicolas Senèze, Rome,  La Croix International, 29 June 2017
At a service for the creation of five new cardinals on Wednesday, Pope Francis called on them “to confront the sins of the world and their consequences for humanity today". He has made an art of linking Gospel texts to current issues.....Thus, despite the pomp of yesterday’s ceremony at St Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis wanted to bring his cardinals back to reality.    Jesus, he warned them, “has not called you to become “princes” of the Church, to “sit at his right or at his left".     “He calls you to serve like him and with him. To serve the Father and your brothers and sisters,” the pope continued. “He calls you to face the sin of the world and its effects on today’s humanity, as he did himself.”    It was a message equally valid for the new cardinals as for the older ones, whom he had characterized a day earlier at a mass celebrating the 25th anniversary of his episcopal ordination as “grandfathers who transmit their dreams to the young people of today"....(more)   Photo: La Croix, Vincento Pinto/AFP

Bishops Announce Appointment of Plenary Council Executive Committee
Edited Extract from Media Blog, Australian Catholics Bishops Conference, 29 June 2017
The Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council today announced the names of those who have accepted appointment to the Plenary Council Executive Committee. Their appointment followed an extensive confidential process of consultation across the Australian Church to ensure diversity. Together they bring a variety of gifts, competencies and experience to the work of the Executive Committee.          Archbishop Coleridge said that the Plenary Council will play a crucial role in shaping the Church’s future in Australia. ‘This is no time for the Church to be putting up signs that say “business as usual”. If we needed any proof, then the Royal Commission has shown that. We need to face the facts, and in the light of the facts, which aren’t always friendly, we have to make big decisions about the future. The Plenary Council will place the Church on a sound footing to respond to what is not merely an era of change but a change of era.’    The Committee will work closely with the Bishops Commission to ensure the successful preparation, celebration and implementation of the Plenary Council 2020. The Executive Committee membership with their home diocese is as follows:....(more)Photo: Archbishop Mark Coleridge, ACBC
 Pell's absence threatens Vatican financial reform plan
Extract from Christopher Lamb, The Tablet, 29 June 2017
....While the Holy See said today that the work of Pell’s Secretariat for the Economy will continue, a big vacuum has been opened up. The cardinal’s departure also comes hot on the heels of last Tuesday’s news that Libero Milone, a London-trained accountant who had led Italy’s branch of the accountancy firm Deloitte, was resigning as the Holy See’s first “auditor-general”.     It means the question many are left asking after today is: who will continue the work to sort out the Vatican finances, part of the mandate on which the Pope was elected?      In his statement today, Pell stressed he plans to return to his work in Rome after he has cleared his name, but Australian legal sources say the criminal proceedings being brought against him could take months, even years, before they conclude.     The cardinal has said he won’t serve past 2019 - the end of a five year mandate - and if proceedings are still ongoing by that stage, its hard to see how Francis can continue to have an absent economy prefect.    It wasn’t supposed to work out like this. Back in February 2014 Cardinal Pell was entrusted by the reform-minded Pope to undertake a root and branch shake up of money management at the western world’s oldest institution.       During his period in office the cardinal has made a number of changes. New accounting standards are being introduced; budgets are regularly checked; most Vatican departments now submit proper accounts. The Holy See’s financial watchdog is clamping down on suspicious transactions. And the Vatican bank, long a source of scandal, now routinely submits independently audited accounts. “The cardinal has broken the ice of the reforms,” one well-placed Vatican source told me.    But Pell encountered serious opposition. Many responsible for financial controls are reluctant to release details of their income and expenditure. Pell wanted one of the big four accountancy firms to conduct an independent, comprehensive audit. He was blocked. Milone, who had been in post for only two years had been given wide-ranging powers to investigate the Holy See’s murky finances, and reported directly to the Pope. Informed sources say he quit in frustration after getting on the wrong side of powerful vested interests....(more)
Archbishop Hart response to charges against Cardinal George Pell
Extract Media and Communications Office, Melbourne Catholic, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, Thursday 29 June 2017
Archbishop Denis Hart is aware of the significance of the decision to charge Cardinal Pell.   Cardinal Pell has been a friend and brother priest of Archbishop Hart for more than 50 years. The Archbishop is conscious of the Cardinal’s many good works which have been acknowledged both nationally and internationally.    It is a matter of public record that Cardinal Pell addressed the evil of sexual abuse in the Church on becoming Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996.   It is important all in society recognise that the presumption of innocence applies and that Cardinal Pell like all Australians is entitled to a fair trial.   In the interests of fairness and due process Archbishop Hart will not be commenting further....(source)
George Pell, Catholic cardinal, charged with historical sexual assault offences
Edited Extract from ABC News, 29 June 2017
Cardinal George Pell says he is looking forward to his day in court after being charged with historical sexual assault offences.
Key points: Charges involve multiple complainants;  Pell has always maintained his innocence and strenuously denied any wrongdoing;    Victoria Police says charging process has involved "common and standard practice";    Australia's most senior Catholic cleric has been ordered to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court on July 18, after Victoria Police served charges on his legal representatives.      "Cardinal Pell will return to Australia, as soon as possible, to clear his name following advice and approval by his doctors, who will also advise on his travel arrangements," a statement released by the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney said.    "He has again strenuously denied all allegations."    He is expected to make a further statement in Rome at 4:30pm AEST.   Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton earlier told reporters the charges involved multiple complainants.     A magistrate will decide next week whether to the release the details and the nature of the charges. A hearing will take place on July 6.     Last July, police confirmed they were formally investigating complaints about offences alleged to have occurred in Ballarat in the 1970s.     Pell has always maintained his innocence and denied any wrongdoing.      Deputy Commissioner Patton said the "process and procedures" being followed had been the same as those applied "in a whole range of historical sex offences, whenever we investigate them".     "The fact that he has been charged on summons — we have used advice from the Office of Public Prosecutions and also we have engaged with his legal representatives, which is common and standard practice."     As head of the Vatican's finances, Pell is considered number three in the Catholic hierarchy behind the Pope.....(more)
At the heart of the resistance to Pope Francis on ethics
"These cardinals remain convinced that the Church can provide a 'one size fits all' moral and sacramental solution for all life’s mess and complexity."
Extract from Frank Brennan, subscription joirnal La Croix Intermational, 28 June 2017
Last November, four elderly Cardinals who were at the peak of their powers during the previous two papacies took the unprecedented step of publishing their concerns about Pope Francis’s teachings.     They quite rightly pointed out that some of the things being said by Francis are irreconcilable or at least inconsistent with previous clear statements by Pope John Paul II.    Cardinals Brandmuller (who previously chaired the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences), Burke (who previously headed the Church’s most supreme court), Caffarra, erstwhile archbishop of Bologna, and Meisner, erstwhile archbishop of Cologne think Francis is seriously in error when he teaches about mercy and justice, right and wrong, and the place of conscience.    The cardinals had written to the Pope on 19 September 2016 setting out five dubia in relation to Amoris Laetitia.    Not having received a response from the pope, they then published their letter two months later declaring that they had "interpreted his sovereign decision as an invitation to continue the reflection and the discussion, calmly and with respect".    They decided to inform "the entire people of God about our initiative, offering all of the documentation".    Here are two of the questions to the Pope published by the concerned cardinals:....(source)
Outcome so far of the Open Letter to the Bishops of Australia reported back to all signatories, Parish Priests and Parish Council members
John Costa, 26 June 2017
On 23 June a progress Report to signatories of an Open Letter to the Bishops of Australia was sent to signatories, Parish Priests and Parish Council members by Catholics For Renewal. The Open Letter has been signed by 3876 Catholics and was sent to all the bishops of Australia prior to their recent Plenary Council. The progress Report references a response from a representative of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. The Progress Report can be read HERE or on the Catholics For Renewal website.
Our Parish Schools - Vision for the Future
Friday 23 July 2017
Our Parish Schools Working Party representing Catholic Education Melbourne (CEM) and the    Parish have been meeting to develop a viable and sustainable vision for education within our Parish: A vision that will underpin our education policy for the future and serve the educational and spiritual needs of our coming generations of Parish children.  The mandate of the Working Party is to consider the ongoing viability of Catholic education within the Parish of Ivanhoe. This primarily relates to   ensuring educational structures and programs are viable into the future and result in the best  possible experiences and outcomes for children.  This includes all educational, social, pastoral and wellbeing perspectives for children both present and future.

As a part of the process CEM conducted a consultation with school parents last week to present the current facts relevant to future viability:
  • There are three small schools operating in the Parish of Ivanhoe
  • One school is below, and a second school is at an enrolment benchmark of 120 (this benchmark triggers investigation into ongoing viability)
  • Mother of God School is expected to decline further in 2018* There is minimal growth expected in the school aged population in the parish
  • When schools are  small
- Educational viability and students experiences and outcomes in respect of learning, social, pastoral and wellbeing, need to be the primary consideration
- Further decline exacerbates the ability of a school to offer appropriate, high quality class groupings, social interactions, specialist programs and extracurricular activities - They rely on being subsidised by the broader Catholic system of schools.  That is, they receive more funding from the Catholic education system than grants received from the government, which means they are subsidised by larger and often poorer parish school communities

In 2016 the government funded the Catholic system $4.2 million for our three schools but the Catholic system had to fund our schools with $5.3    million to maintain viability: A subsidy of $1.1 million which ultimately comes from other parish schools. Under the proposed changes to the Australian Education Act currently before the Senate future subsidization will be increasingly difficult.With three schools currently operating in a relatively small parish there is a view that the status quo is not educationally or financially viable.  Further options need to be considered to ensure all of the children in our parish schools receive the best possible education experiences and outcomes into the future.Please keep the Working Party in your prayers at it continues to plan for the future of education in our Parish; an educational vision that is underpinned by wise and just stewardship of our resources so that we can secure both the present and the future of Catholic Education in our Parish that can boast of its excellence, accessibility, stability and faithfulness to the  Gospel.
Asylum-seekers need our support
Extract from Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM, CathNews, ACBC Media Blog, 23 June 2017
Refugee Week 2017 is a time to celebrate Australia’s rich diversity and shed light on the success stories of migrants and refugees in our communities. It coincides with World Refugee Day on June 20.   During Refugee Week Australians come together and celebrate the contribution migrants and refugees have made to our country. Australia has a rich multicultural heritage, adding to is diverse heritage. Australia’s success as a nation is in part due to this rich diversity.    Refugee Week also provides a time to reflect on the ongoing difficulties many migrants and refugees face, particularly those on Manus Island and Nauru. It is evident that our nation still has a long way to go. We need to continue to work towards the just and humane treatment of migrants and refugees in our care.   Recently, the federal government made a $70 million conditional settlement deal with the 1905 Manus Island past and present detainees. Whilst a monetary payment will never heal the wounds of time spent in detention, this settlement is at least an acknowledgement of the hurt and damage these people have gone through in trying to find a better life.  This is an opportunity for discussion amongst the Australian people, of the realities and harshness of mandatory offshore detention. Domestic advocates and international agencies have been appalled by the conditions under which asylum-seekers live and the effects on their health, spirits and self-respect....(more).

CatholicCare farewells Father Joe Caddy
Extracts from Melbourne Catholic, 22 June 2017
Last night over 130 people gathered at the Catholic Leadership Centre in East Melbourne to mark the end of an era as CatholicCare hosted a celebration of Fr Joe Caddy’s contribution over 12 years as CEO. Guests included His Grace, Archbishop Denis Hart; Vicar General Monsignor Greg Bennet; Fathers Gerard Dowling, John McCarthy and Brendan Reed; Joe’s parents John and Pat Caddy; CCAM Board members, including former chairs Frank Swan and Philip Spry-Bailey, and current Chair John Sheldon; Archdiocesan colleagues and Diocese of Sale colleagues along with colleagues from other Dioceses; and CatholicCare staff, donors, volunteers, supporters, friends and community partners.    Former CatholicCare Chairman, Frank Swan spoke of recruiting Joe to the CEO role in 2004.   ‘Almost immediately after Joe came on board we sensed that the organisation had changed,’ said Frank (Swan, former Catholic Care Chairman) . ‘He had a positive attitude, an outgoing attitude, a questioning attitude - but an attitude that would include people in a journey going forward.’.     That journey over the next 12 years would include a strengthening of the relationship with the Archdiocese of Melbourne, forging of a new relationship with the Diocese of Sale, and the development of innovative programs that responded to the emerging needs of the community, among them the response to the Black Saturday bushfires, the launching of Refugee and Asylum Seeker Support Programs, and the development of the Alcohol and other Drug program.        ‘All this happened as a result of Joe’s drive and passion for the job and they were fundamental to many of the things that we achieved,’ continued Frank. ‘His knowledge of our clients and their needs - his advocacy ability - were fundamental to the growth of CatholicCare.’      John Sheldon, current Chair of CatholicCare, spoke of Joe’s legacy in leaving behind an organisation ‘which is incredibly strong, has an incredible social conscience and is focussed on helping the people who are the most disadvantaged members of our community.’....Joe responded by humbly deflecting praise for his contribution to ‘… the real work: the work of CatholicCare itself Joe said, ‘The work of CatholicCare is essentially the work of the Church, it’s about people, it’s about communities and about their thriving. It has been a marvellous privilege for me to work in that mission at CatholicCare over the past years.’     While Fr Joe will no longer be CEO of CatholicCare, he will continue to play a part and have close involvement in the ongoing journey of CatholicCare through his role as Episcopal Vicar for Social Services in the Archdiocese.    Fr Joe will step down as CEO on 30 June 2017. The CatholicCare Board have commenced the process to recruit a new Chief Executive Officer....(more)   Photo, Catholic Care, Kym Wallis

Gonski 2.0 ‘a risk’ to Catholic schools
Extract from CathNews, The Australian, 22 June 2017
Senator Simon Birmingham (Facebook/Simon Birmingham)

The Turnbull government has pledged more than $5 billion to win over Senate crossbenchers in a desperate move to secure support for what will now be a $23.5bn schools funding reform package, The Australian reports.

The Coalition last night stood on the brink of a significant parliamentary victory but the Gonski 2.0 deal failed to appease the Catholic education sector, which will run a nationwide campaign against the government through to the next election, due in 2019.

The government’s eleventh-hour move to win support from Senate independents led by Nick Xenophon continues to pit the Coalition against the Australian Education Union, which represents more than 185,000 teachers....(more)

Hart requests meeting with PM over school funding
Extract from CathNews, The Canberra Times, 21 June 2017
Archbishop Denis Hart has intervened in the war over school funding to seek an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull before the government's Gonski 2.0 changes come to a Senate vote, The Canberra Times reports.    Fairfax Media revealed that Archbishop Hart, Archbishop of Melbourne and President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, wrote to Mr Turnbull on Monday to seek a meeting to hammer out a peace deal.        Despite criticism from the Labor Party and unions, the government remains confident Gonski 2.0 will pass the Senate.    It came as the government agreed to delay introducing its new funding model for at least 12 months for Catholic schools in a bid to stop any of its senators from crossing the floor.    The concession – which has not been officially announced – will not win the support of the Catholic sector but is expected to be enough to placate Liberal senator Chris Back, who had threatened to vote against the government's changes.      The government was locked in intense negotiations with the Greens and Senate crossbench last night, ahead of the expected introduction of its bill into the Senate today.     In his letter Archbishop Hart expressed concern about the new funding model and the amount of money being made available to Catholic schools.    He asked for Mr Turnbull, Education Minister Simon Birmingham and other officials to meet with Catholics bishops to resolve the dispute over school funding.   Archbishop Hart's intervention is significant as it underscores the scale of the disquiet over the government's school funding proposal in the Catholic community...(more)  Photo: CathNews, The Canberra times, ACBC
‘If you don’t think Francis is the cure, you don’t grasp the disease,’ CL head says
Extract from subscriptional journal from John L. Allen Jr. and Ines San Martin, La Croix International, 21 June 2017
MILAN - Probably better than most, Father Julián Carrón, the successor of the legendary Italian Father Luigi Giussani as leader of the influential Communion and Liberation movement, whose natural base is among more conservative Catholics, understands that Pope Francis can be a shock to the system.       Yet he’s still an unabashed Francis fan, who insists that if you don’t think this pope is the cure, then you don’t understand the disease we’re facing in the post-modern world.       “Sometimes certain gestures of the pope may not be understood because we don’t understand the full implications of what he calls an ‘epochal change’,” Carrón told Crux on Monday.   “It’s like thinking a tumor is a simple case of the flu, so taking chemotherapy would seem too drastic,” he said. “But once you understand the nature of the disease, you realize you’re not going to be able to beat it with aspirin.”....(more)
Gary Diocese's first synod hopes to 'move the mission of the church'
Extracts from National Catholic Reporter, 20 June 2017
Mentioning the city of Gary, Indiana tends to evoke an image of dilapidated buildings, unemployment and crime. Following the steady decline of the steel industry in the late 20th century, Gary's population faced dramatic reductions. At its peak in 1960, Gary had almost 180,000 people. Now, U.S. Census estimates place the population at 76,424.     In 2013, it was estimated that 6,500 of the 7,000 properties the City of Gary owned were abandoned. The unemployment rate in Gary in Dec. 2016 was 8.2 percent, double that of the state.     Those numbers weighed on Gary Bishop Donald Hying's mind when initially proposing the synod.      "We have significant poverty here in our diocese. … That's something that's on everyone's hearts as well," Hying told NCR. "[The synod] will benefit not only the church but also the world as we live the mission of Christ."    Hying, who was appointed bishop by Pope Francis in November 2014, spent his first year visiting all 69 parishes within the diocese. On Feb. 25, 2016, after getting a feel for the needs of each parish, Hying released a pastoral letter "Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations." In the letter, he described his travels throughout the diocese and announced the diocese's first-ever synod.       "In my travels around the diocese, meeting thousands of people … I have served the Lord alongside you. I have prayed for and with you. I can honestly say that I have fallen in love with you and this diocese," Hying wrote in his pastoral letter.....The letter also outlined eight ecclesial mission areas that the diocese and synod would focus on moving forward: evangelization; sacraments, prayer and worship; discipleship/formation; social teaching; marriage and family; young Catholics; stewardship; and vocations and leadership formation.....(more)
 Dubia cardinals seek Papal audience
Extract from CathNews,  21 June 2017
The four cardinals who wrote to Pope Francis seeking clarification on disputed parts of his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia last year have again written to him to request an audience, reports the National Catholic Register.      In a letter hand-delivered to the Pope in May, Cardinals Carlo Caffarra, Walter Brandmüller, Raymond Burke and Joachim Meisner wrote asking for an audience, having received no response to the dubia they sent Francis in September last year. The Pope has yet to respond to this second request.     The cardinals’ dubia, which they made public in November are five questions, or “doubts,” seeking simple “yes” or “no” answers about Amoris Laetitia, the Pope’s summary document on the 2014 and 2015 Synods on the Family.    A long-established procedure aimed at clarifying doctrine, the cardinals used it to ascertain if controversial passages of the papal document are consistent with past papal teaching.    The most contentious dubium is whether some remarried divorcees without an annulment and living in an objective state of adultery are allowed to receive Holy Communion....(more)  Photo: CathNews,  (National Catholic Register/Edward Pentin)
In Germany, a new ‘feminist’ Islam is hoping to make a mark
Extract from Anthony Faiola, Stephanie Kirchner, The Washington Post, 18 June 2017
Inside the red-brick building that now houses the German capital’s newest and perhaps most unusual mosque, Seyran Ates is staging a feminist revolution of the Muslim faith.
“Allahu akbar,” chanted a female voice, uttering the Arabic expression “God is great,” as a woman with two-toned hair issued the Muslim call to prayer. In another major break with tradition, men and women — typically segregated during worship — heeded the call by sitting side by side on the carpeted floor.       Ates, a self-proclaimed Muslim feminist and founder of the new mosque, then stepped onto the cream-colored carpet and delivered a stirring sermon. Two imams — a woman and a man — later took turns leading the Friday prayers in Arabic. The service ended with the congregation joining two visiting rabbis in singing a Hebrew song of friendship.     And just like that, the inaugural Friday prayers at Berlin’s Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque came to a close — offering a different vision of Islam on a continent that is locked in a bitter culture war over how and whether to welcome the faith. Toxic ills like radicalization, Ates and her supporters argue, have a potentially easy fix: the introduction of a more progressive, even feminist brand of the faith. ...(more)  Photo: The Washington Post
Who will the Pope pick as new Archbishop of Milan?
Extracts from Robert Mickens, Rome, subscriptiopn journal  La Croix International, 16 June 16, 2017
Pope Francis is preparing to change the leadership of several important dioceses around the world. The moves, which he’s expected to begin rolling out in the coming days, are likely to give a huge boost to his unrelenting and long-term project to change the mentality and direction of the global Catholic Church.   It will give him a golden opportunity to replace men who have been less than exuberant about his attitude adjustment program and efforts at reform. .......The heads of several Vatican offices are also beyond the retirement age. They include Cardinals Beniamino Stella (Clergy), Angelo Amato (Causes of Saints), Francesco Coccopalmerio (Legislative Texts) and George Pell (Economy), as well Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri (Synod of Bishops). Saving any possible scandal, Francis does not seem in any hurry to replace them.     As far as the upcoming changes are concerned, first on the list appears to be the appointment of a new Archbishop of Milan. According to media reports, Francis has already decided on the man who will lead the Catholic community in Italy’s financial and fashion capital, which is also Europe’s largest diocese....(source)

Priest or what?
John Costa, Friday 16 June 2017
"When two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them". Matthew's well known Verse 20 text from Chapter 18 of the Bible was clearly evident late last Saturday afternoon when a group of people gathered informally to celebrate the 82nd birthday of Fr Len Thomas. Whilst it was not a parish event it was a spontaneous gathering in our parish of some of Len's friends from near and far. Before his 'retirement' Fr Len was priest-in-residence in our parish whilst also  Mental Health chaplain for the Catholic Archdioces of Melbourne.       Although this photo may beg the question it nicely summs up Len. He was and remains a priest very much in touch with the human realities of life, joys and frailities alike. A true pastor who acts as Christ called all to behave towards one other,  showing  loving care, without pretense or judgement, always with great encouragement and in a spirit of faith. An added bonus for a challenging world is a healthy sense of humour, and happy commitment to the Hawthorn football team!     In typical Len Thomas style it was an informal gathering of fellow humans united equally in friendship and spirit. People brought refreshments, cakes well worthy of 82 years, and much goodwill spontaneously expressed in brief honest words. Amongst others who brought food and goodwill, Vince and Eugene who cordinated this gathering with usual flair also provided an 'MKR'  BBQ. So congratulations and best 82nd year wishes to a far from retired retired-priest. [Ed: this non imprimatur photograph of a willing victim was mischievously fabricated by the author two years ago]

Vatican statistics track church health indicators
Extract from Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, Melbourne Catholic,  Friday 16 June 2017
The health of the Catholic Church can be measured in many ways, and the Vatican has a special office just for that purpose.     The Central Statistics Office, which operates under the Vatican Secretariat of State, conducts a variety of studies for the Roman Curia throughout the year. But one of the office's biggest projects is compiling the annual, 500-page Statistical Yearbook of the Church.    Of course, the yearbook tracks the Catholic population, both by a head count of the baptised in each country and as a percentage of the world's population. The latest report, based on numbers gathered on 31 December, 2015, tallied 1.28 billion Catholics, which is about 17.7 percent of the global population.    Ten years earlier, according to the statistics office, the Catholic community numbered just over 1.1 billion, which was 17.3 percent of the population at that time.     Worldwide Catholics operate close to 118,000 hospitals, clinics, and homes for the aged, orphanages, counselling centres and rehabilitation facilities. Ten years ago, the number of such facilities was less than 115,000....(more)

Pope and cardinals discuss loosening the strings
Extract from CathNews, CNS, 15 June 2017
Pope Francis and his Council of Cardinals have discussed the possibility of allowing local bishops rather than the Vatican decide on certain matters, including the marriage or priestly ordination of permanent deacons, CNS reports.      It is "what the Pope calls a 'healthy decentralisation'," said Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office.     Briefing journalists on the council's June 12-14 meeting, Mr Burke said the Cardinals and Francis looked specifically at the possibility of allowing bishops to determine whether a permanent deacon who is widowed can remarry or whether a permanent deacon who is unmarried or widowed can be ordained to the priesthood without having to "wait for a decision to be made in Rome" as is the current rule.      Such decisions regarding permanent deacons now are handled at the Vatican Congregation for Clergy, but could pass to the local bishops' conference, Mr Burke told journalists yesterday.       The Council of Cardinals advising the Pope on Church governance also discussed proposals to broaden the participation of lay people and members of religious orders in the selection of new bishops.    "It is something that already exists, but they want to do it in a more systematic, more extensive way," Mr Burke said.....(more).  Photo: CathNews,  CNS?Paul Haring.

Pope Francis has shown he’s not afraid of women with power
Extract from Inés San Martín, Vatican Correspondent, Crux, 15 June 2017
ROME- When Pope Francis and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet on Saturday, it’ll be the fourth time the two see each other in Rome. For a leader who’s often recommended putting more women in leadership positions inside his own house, the meeting cements the fact that when it comes to dealing with powerful women, it’s par for the course for this pontiff.    As is the case between the Vatican and most governments around the world, Francis and Merkel sometimes disagree on matters of policy, but when it comes to personality, he has a life-long experience of seeing women in charge.....(more)  Photo:Crux, AP.
Vatican releases online questionnaire for youth
Extracts from Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, Crux, 15 June 2017
ROME - To involve young people in preparations for the Synod of Bishops on youth in 2018, the Vatican has released an online questionnaire to better understand the lives, attitudes and concerns of 16- to 29-year-olds around the world.          The questionnaire - available in English, Spanish, French and Italian - can be found on the synod’s official site and is open to any young person, regardless of faith or religious belief.       The general secretariat of the synod launched the website June 14 to share information about the October 2018 synod on “Young people, faith and vocational discernment” and to link to an online, anonymous survey asking young people about their lives and expectations.    The answers to the questionnaire, along with contributions from bishops, bishops’ conferences and other church bodies, “will provide the basis for the drafting of the ‘instrumentum laboris,'” or working document for the assembly, synod officials said in January.       Young people from all backgrounds are encouraged to take part in the questionnaire because every young person has “the right to be accompanied without exclusion,” synod officials had said.    The list of 53 mostly multiple-choice questions is divided into seven sections: general personal information; attitudes and opinions about oneself and the world; influences and relationships; life choices; religion, faith and the church; internet use; and two final, open-ended questions.        The Vatican’s preparation for a synod generally includes developing a questionnaire and soliciting input from bishops’ conferences, dioceses and religious orders. This is the first time the Vatican’s synod organizing body put a questionnaire online and sought direct input from the pub              A synod’s preparatory phase seeks to consult of “the entire people of God” to better understand young people’s different situations as synod officials draft the working document. The synod on youth will be looking for ways the church can best and most effectively evangelize young people and help them make life choices corresponding to God’s plan and the good of the person....(more)  Photo: Crux, CNS photo/Bob Roller.      [Ed: An Australian Catholic Bishops Youth online Survey 2017 has also been prepared (HERE) to contribute towards the Australian bishops submission that will be considered by Pope Francis as part of the General Synod on Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment to be held in Rome in October 2018]

Controversial new appointments as Pontifical Academy for Life widens perspectives
Extracts from Daniele Palmer,The Tablet, 14 June 2017
By nominating members not strictly in line with traditional Church teachings, the Academy is creating a more heterogenous membership.          The Pontifical Academy for Life, the Vatican organisation devoted to the study of Catholic bioethics, has appointed new members in what seems both an act of continuation with the past, but also a widening of perspectives.        After a wait of more than six months, the Holy See published its list of the new nominations to the Pontifical Academy for Life. Apart from significantly reducing the number of members of the Academy - which acts as a Vatican think tank on life issues - from 132 to 45, plus five “honorary” members, it has renewed the membership of many previous members.   Amongst those who saw their membership renewed are Anthony Colin Fisher, Archbishop of Sydney and the Dutch Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk; Carl Albert Anderson, Supreme Knight of the influential Knights of Columbus - all known for holding more conservative positions........The nomination which has caused the most controversy, however, is that of the English philosopher and moral theologian, Nigel Biggar. An Anglican priest, Biggar is one of several non-Catholic members elected yesterday (13 June) to the Academy.        His views on abortion directly contradict the anti-abortion policies not only those of the Church, but also of the Academy’s past members. In 2011, Biggar stated that it is “not clear that a human foetus is the same kind of thing as an adult or a mature human being, and therefore deserves quite the same treatment.” To this effect, he has supported the legalisation of aborting foetuses up until the 18th week.     Some have argued that this points to a change in the Academy’s policy line. However, sources close to the Academy’s president, Archbishop Paglia, have said that the nomination of Biggar is indicative not of a substantive change, but of a widening of perspectives. By nominating Biggar, and other members who are not strictly in line with traditional Church teachings, Paglia is seeking to create a more heterogenous membership and set of views.    Another nomination that does not sit well with some conservatives is Maurizio Chiodi, lecturer of moral theology at Milan’s seminary. In the past, Chiodi has criticised important passages of “Humanae vitae”, “Donum vitae”, and “Evangelium vitae” - all documents that make up the fundamental pillars of modern Catholic bioethics.          The Milanese theologian has also called for more “discernment” on issues relating to contraception, in vitro fertilisation, the question of “gender”, and sexual orientation in the Catholic theology....(more)

Dutch bishop allows Gay Pride service in his cathedral
Extract from  Tom Heneghan, The Tablet, 14 June 2017
Permission does not imply 'an endorsement of gay culture', writes Bishop in open letter to parishioners
Bishop Gerard de Korte of ’s-Hertogenbosch will allow an ecumenical prayer service to take place in his cathedral as part of the Netherlands Gay Pride events in late June, provided nothing is said there that contradicted the teaching of the Catholic Church.     At the request of the organisers, he is due to attend the “Pink Saturday” service on 24 June and conclude it with a short address and a blessing. In an open letter to parishioners, he said this did not mean an endorsement of gay culture.     News of the service prompted a debate in the southern Dutch diocese, the most populous in the country, with opinions divided even in the diocesan priests council, which asked him to clarify his stand.      “Things will probably happen in the city on Pink Saturday that Catholics and other Christians, including believing homosexuals, strongly disapprove of,” Bishop De Korte wrote in the letter.     But he said that, as one of his priests observed, things happened in Carnival season before Lent that were “hard to reconcile with Catholic ethics” but that was no reason for the Church to abstain from Carnival celebrations.    He said the Church defended traditional marriage and considered homosexual acts disordered but also insists that gays be treated with respect. “I am confident that the service will remain serene,” he wrote.    The bishop said there was a deep divide between “what the Church says and the experience of many people both outside and inside of our Church”. But he added that “we are not called on to throw stones. If God counts sins, nobody is left standing”....(MORE)
Remembering, dismembering on World Refugee Day (Tuesday 20 June)
Extract from Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street, 13 June 2017
For Australians, World Refugee Day is a time of remembering. It is a time to remember the human stories of those who have fled from their own nations to seek protection. It is a time to remember and treasure the little things that give shape to our lives — the smells, sounds and sights of our childhood world and their continuity with our lives today, and to remember that for refugees these things have been stripped away. It is a time to remember what has been done to refugees when they came to Australia — to hold in our memory the smell and texture of life on Manus Island and on Nauru, the casual brutality, the mud, the barbed wire borders of their world, the erosion of time, the lies and sneers of politicians who held them there, the slogans that trumped human connection. It is a time for shame and for compassion for a people who have come to this. To remember is first of all not to forget, not to move on. It is the beginning of conversion.     World Refugee Day is also a time for re-membering: for putting back what has been torn apart, for greening boughs that have been stripped of leaves, for fleshing what has withered, for welcoming back what has been rejected. That means demanding the dismembering stop — that people are taken off prison islands, are listened to and heard with justice and respect, that they are reunited with families and allowed to get on with their lives. It also means connecting with people who are isolated, encouraging and paying respect to people who have shown such resilience.   The Australian body politic also calls out for re-membering. Over many years it has been stripped of respect of people for their simple humanity, of hospitality to strangers and of compassion for the vulnerable. To re-member is to make whole, to return to integrity....(more)  Image: Eureka Street.
We’re watching Pope Francis institutionalize his vision
Extract from John L. Allen Jr. Editor, Crux, 10 June 2017
ROME - Pope Francis is now over 80 and not long ago marked his fourth anniversary in office, and although he’s showing absolutely no signs of slowing down, it’s natural that people have begun to talk about what his long-term legacy is going to be.                  By now it’s clear Francis’s vision for the Church is complicated, but two core elements are a desire to foster social activism, especially direct and concrete forms of service, and to put the poor in a position to be heard in discussions about how to solve their problems. The question is, how will Francis ensure that those priorities remain in the mix even after he’s gone?      One piece of the answer fell into place on Friday, as the pontiff formally opened a Vatican office for Scholas Occurentes, an Argentine group designed to bring wealthy and impoverished schools together in a spirit of partnership that he backed in Buenos Aires when he was the city’s archbishop, and he’s essentially brought with him to Rome and made it into a global brand....(more)

Sacrament of Confirmation last Sunday - thanks

Friday 9 June 2017
Our three school communities of St. Bernadette’s, Mary Immaculate and Mother of God would like to thank all who have supported us in preparing our  students for Confirmation. We especially would like to thank Fr Bill for his support and leadership whilst working with staff and students.  The Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe Choir once again led the congregation beautifully in song and prayer during the Confirmation Mass at the Cathedral. We also appreciated the support from our 6 altar servers from across our three schools. To the CPI Parishioners thank you for your prayers, support and interest you show to our students in our schools.  We also thank our Parish Catechist, Ruth Villani, for her careful preparation of our children who do not attend our parish schools.

Making our parish mission possible: Melbourne clergy conference 2017
Extracts from Media and Communications Office, Melbourne Catholic, Thursday 8 June 2017
The parish is not an outdated institution,’ writes Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium, ‘precisely because it possesses great flexibility. It can assume quite different contours depending on the openness and missionary creativity of the pastor and community.’ The Melbourne Clergy Conference explored that flexibility with the theme: The Parish—Our Mission. Held at Peppers The Sands Resort in Torquay, the three-day conference started on Tuesday 6 June.    Every church and diocese struggles with its own issues. But the central problem clergy grappled with over the four days was this: How can we move parishes from a routine of maintenance towards embracing the mission of making disciples? And how do we effect that shift?     The week’s presenter was Daniel Ang, Director of the Office for Evangelisation in the Catholic Archdiocese of Broken Bay, NSW. What he learnt was the number of people receiving the sacraments in Mass each week shouldn’t be a primary concern. ‘The attendance of Mass doesn’t necessarily mean that someone has a personal relationship with Jesus’ Ang tells Melbourne Catholic. ‘Our call is to make disciples. Unfortunately today we tend to assume that receiving the sacraments will take care of that. But the church teaches that evangelisation, conversion and faith have to come first.’....Throughout the conference, Ang demonstrated an encyclopaedic knowledge of church history. And ultimately a message of hope was held up to the parish, the priests and the church at large. ‘The church has enormous capacity for renewal.’     Each day, clergy have celebrated the Eucharist, presided over by Archbishop Hart, Bishop Mark Edwards, and Bishop Terry Curtain respectively. The conference concludes today with a morning Eucharist, prayer, and a final session on practical steps to nurture renewal and growth in parishes. All to ensure that each—to quote Pope Francis—remained effectively a ‘community of communities, a sanctuary where there the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey....(more)  Photo: Melbourne Catholic.

The uncertain future of parish life
Extract from T. Howland Sanks*  America, The Jesuit Review, 2 June, U.S. 

Extracted here 8 June 2017
.....Rethinking Parish Structure: William J. Byron, S. J., reinforces the notion that parish leadership must be shared in his recent book Parish Leadership: Principles and Practices, but he adds that the leadership must integrate Catholic social teaching in the life of the parish for it to be effective. (He also provides an excellent, succinct summary of Catholic social teaching in his second chapter.) For Byron, parish leadership, especially the pastor, must be “servant leadership” rather than the top of a pyramid, as the latter is abnormal and corrupting.     A much more comprehensive study of Catholic parishes is Catholic Parishes of the 21st Century by the staff of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), led by Charles E. Zech. Synthesizing data from a number of recent surveys, the authors use the 1989 Notre Dame Study of Catholic Parish Life as a baseline of comparison. Trends that had begun at that time have continued and intensified, but the operative word in both studies is change. Following are the most significant changes in the last 30 years:  .....(more).   Photo, America the Jesuit Review, CNS photo/Jonathan Francis, Archdiocese of Detroit
*T. Howland Sanks, S.J., is the professor emeritus of theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University.

Court rules against Wilson appeal
Extract from CathNews, 8 June 2017
The NSW Court of Appeal has dismissed a bid by Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson to stop criminal proceedings against him over claims he did not report another priest’s sexual abuse of a young boy, AAP reports.    Lawyers for Archbishop Wilson, who has pleaded not guilty to the charge, had argued that his court attendance notice should be quashed or permanently stayed because the charge was not valid.    Court of Appeal justices Tom Bathurst, John Basten and Tony Meagher ruled the charge was valid because the offence, allegedly committed in 1971 by the now-dead pedophile priest James Fletcher, was a “serious indictable offence”.     Archbishop Wilson’s lawyer told the court: “The appellant is being prosecuted for failing to report information to the police (in essence an allegation) some 28 to 30 years after an alleged conversation that took place in 1976.”     Archbishop Wilson is accused of concealing information about Fletcher’s alleged sexual assault of a 10-year-old in the NSW Hunter region town of Maitland.    Prosecutors allege that between 2004 and 2006, he failed without reasonable excuse to bring material information to police relating to the alleged indecent assault.    A magistrate in February 2016 refused to quash or permanently stay the proceedings.    In October, in the NSW Supreme Court, judge Monika Schmidt dismissed the archbishop’s appeal against that decision.    On Tuesday, the NSW Court of Appeal dismissed his third attempt to have the proceedings quashed or permanently stayed.....(more)
Muslim university the first to host a church in Pakistan
Catholic employees and students will soon be able to worship on campus.
Extract from LaCroix International, ucanews.com reporter, Faisalabad, 8 June 2017
Pakistan. The state-run University of Agriculture Faisalabad in the Pakistani province of Punjab will now have a church on campus.    In a corner of the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF), a large banner at the entrance of a Christian area is emblazoned with the photos of a Catholic bishop and a picture of St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church. Additionally, the banner says "Let us make a house for the Lord."    While most Pakistani universities host mosques, UAF will be the first to allow a church on its campus. An area has been set aside near the quarters of 70 Christian university employees, most of them working as sanitary workers, gardeners and support staff.   For Farrukh Habib, UAF music teacher, this is a dream come true.    "This will be the first Muslim university to have a minority place of worship. Now our children can access catechism right on their doorstep. Christian students are happy too. We thank both the university administration and the diocese," Habib told ucanews.com.   "Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, the largest student union in the country usually oppose cultural activities in other universities but here they respect us," he said.   More than 400 Christians in UAF celebrated when Bishop Joseph Arshad of Faisalabad, together with the Muslim Vice Chancellor of UAF, laid the church foundation stone on May 16....(more) Photo: La Croix International, 1496910773
Finding others through Islam
Imran Mohamed, a 40-year-old Singaporean Muslim intellectual, is working for dialogue between religions after a tortuous past. For him, everything changed on September 11, 2001, the day of the al-Qaeda attacks in the USA.          Extract from Dorian Malovic, LaCroix International, 8 June 2017
Singapore..........Young Imran would go to book fairs where he met Muslim authors and was seduced by their conviction. This led to his involvement with a militant Muslim association that aimed to convert Christians.      “In the early nineties, there was a resurgence of Islam in Malaysia and Indonesia,” he recalls. “I participated in programs that aimed to provoke Christian missionaries, to prove them wrong and to show that they were lying when they said that Christianity was superior to my religion…”       He also took part in debates at meetings with Christians where he contradicted and opposed any Catholic or Protestant discourse.     “I wanted to convince them that Islam was superior to all other religions .       This message appealed to the middle-class Muslims of Indonesia and Malaysia,” he adds in an effort to place his action in context.    “I tried to make my own contribution, taking inspiration from the radical Muslims of Egypt and Pakistan.”      However, everything changed on September 11, 2001.    “From that moment onwards I followed another path altogether. I studied my own religion, of which I had known nothing," he continues.    “Prior to this, all I cared about was refuting others without really being interested in it myself. I discovered that I knew nothing so I started everything from zero. I stopped wanting to convince others and started to listen instead,” he explains.    This experience enabled him to discover new personal horizons and to open himself up to new religions.     “I started to walk alongside Christians, I came forward and got closer to them, and we started to get to know each other as real, human people instead of souls to save,” he says smiling as if nothing in his adolescent past predestined him for this new path.     Now, Imran teaches and exchanges and shares his reflections with other religious communities.   “I didn’t realize that experimenting with diversity could be such a deep experience,” Imran continues. “Dialogue must first occur within my own religion, that is, among Sunnis, Shiites, Sufis, and Salafis.”    Only then can it take place among other religions, including those “without religion", who represent 18.5% of the Singaporean population, he says.     In Imran's view, we cannot disregard them as they have “things to tell us, such as the gay rights movements that we need to listen to".     Given the increasing numbers of terrorist attacks in the Middle East, Europe and now in Asia and an increasingly violent international context, Imran is calling on his Christian and other friends to speak up loudly and clearly against extremism.      “I now know that the non-Muslims are our friends,” he says. “I cannot deny either that this violence has its roots in Islam itself and so we will need to educate again and again because Islam is complex.”      “It is hard for us Muslims to express ourselves and I would ask you to tell people that you have Muslim friends who are not terrorists. We need you to speak for us as your voice is listened to much more than ours,” Imran concludes....(more)  Photo. La Croix International.Dorian Malovic, 
Catholics have a friend in Trump: Pence
Extract from CathNews, 8 June 2017
US Vice President Mike Pence and other speakers addressed the subjects of religious liberty and the sanctity of human life both in the United States and worldwide at the 13th annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington on Tuesday, CNS reports.   Mr Pence spoke about President Donald Trump's commitment to the securing of all religious freedoms to more than 1200 attendees, following speeches by keynote speaker Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, head of the US Archdiocese for the Military Services, and special guest Mother Olga of the Sacred Heart.   Mr Pence expressed his sorrow over the recent terrorist attacks in Europe. He said Mr Trump was committed to ending attacks on religious liberty around the world, as well as in America....(more) Photo: Cathnews CNS
Scottish Episcopal Church permits gay marriage in historic vote
Extract from Rose Gamble, The Tablet, 8 June 2017
The Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) has voted to allow gay couples to marry in church making it in the first mainstream Christian church in the UK to allow same-sex marriages.  The vote to amend canon law on marriage, removing the stipulation that it is between a man and a woman, was carried by the Synod in Edinburgh on Thursday (8 June) afternoon.    The historic move means that gay Christians from any Anglican Church can now ask to be married in a Scottish Anglican Church.    Scottish Anglican ministers wishing to conduct same-sex weddings will have to 'opt-in.'   The church said this meant that those who disagreed with gay marriage would be protected and not have to act against their conscience....(more)

From Patrina and Sarina Patti: CureMND
We are going to be walking 5km. as part of the ‘Run Melbourne’ event on Sunday 30th July.  In doing so, we are also hoping to raise some much-needed funds and awareness for CureMND.  You can read more about the charity here: www.curemnd.org.au
If you would like to sponsor us, we would truly appreciate even the smallest of gestures.  You can make donations by following the link below.  If not,  your positive thoughts and well-wishes are much appreciated. Thank you for your support and taking the time to read this article. - parishioners Patrina and Sarina Patti. Link for donations to Pari and Sari Patti: HERE

Confirmation 2017

Friday 2 June
We congratulate parish Confirmation candidates who will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation on Pentecost Sunday 4th June at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.   Confirmation candidates come from our three parish schools and those who attend other schools. We wish them well on this special occasion as part of their ongoing journeys in faith and spirituality.   We thank all who have prepared the children at school and home, and those who have prepared for,  coordinated and participated in this liturgy.     Image: Diocese of Hawaii

Limbrick to lead Church’s professional standards company
The Board of Catholic Professional Standards Limited (CPS) today announced the appointment of Sheree Limbrick as the inaugural Chief Executive Officer of the Company.
Extract from Media Blog, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, 2 June 2017
Ms Limbrick is the first appointment to CPS, a new independent company established by the Church in November 2016 to develop, audit and report on compliance with professional standards across Catholic entities.      Ms Limbrick has a wealth of experience in stakeholder engagement and management, strategic planning and policy development, as well as more than 10 years' experience in executive leadership in social services.     Ms Limbrick has most recently worked with CatholicCare Melbourne as Deputy Chief Executive Officer and prior to that as Director of Operations. Previously managing Statewide Programs for Berry Street, a service provider for vulnerable children and families across Victoria, Ms Limbrick established support services for Forgotten Australians....(more)  Photo: ACBC 

Schools apologise for abuse
From CathNews, 2 June 2017
Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA) yesterday delivered an apology to former students who were victims of sexual abuse at its schools.
The national apology was delivered at the National Arboretum in Canberra during EREA’s National Principals’ Conference and was echoed by Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn, Christopher Prowse. EREA has responsibility for more than 50 Catholic schools and entities, some of which were previously governed by the Christian Brothers. “The National Apology has been made by EREA on behalf of all its schools to the survivors and victims of sexual abuse by members of the religious community and lay staff in those schools,” said EREA Executive Director Wayne Tinsey.   Dr Tinsey said EREA had consulted widely on the apology, particularly with survivors, who had contributed to its development, and that the apology had the full support of the Christian Brothers and Archbishop Prowse.    “By acknowledging the suffering of survivors in our schools, we hope this apology demonstrates that we have listened to survivors and acted on their views, thoughts, and feelings,” Dr Tinsey said.    “It is our hope that this apology will go some way to addressing and healing this long-standing omission and hurt.”    Dr Tinsey said EREA realised its apology was just one step in the journey towards healing and the national event also marked the beginning of a series of apologies around Australia with EREA schools and their communities planning their own local ceremonies.   Archbishop Prowse, who is overseas attending meetings, asked his Vicar-General, Fr Tony Percy, to read out a statement from him at the EREA Principals’ Conference.     “I am profoundly sorry, the Archdiocese is profoundly sorry for what has happened. We ask forgiveness from God, and forgiveness from the survivors,” he said....(more)
Australian Catholic Bishops 2017 Plenary: Summary Report
Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe, Thursday 1 June 2017
A summary report of outcomes from the Plenary meeting of the 2017 Australian Catholic Bishops Conference from May 4-11 has now been published.  Amongst others, issues summarised include: Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse; Providing Priests;  Marking the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation; Parish Revitalisation Project;  Synod on Young people; the Faith and Vocational Discernment; and Consultation and Discernment process regarding Plenary Council. The summary report is linked HERE
Romero assassination case re-opened in El Salvador
Extract from Linda Cooper James Hodge, National Catholic Reporter, 1 June 2017
At first glance, the reopening in El Salvador of the investigation into the 1980 assassination of Archbishop Óscar Romero seems hopelessly problematic, at least in terms of prosecutions. Roberto D'Aubuisson, the mastermind of the crime, is dead, and most of the other accomplices and witnesses have died or been killed.   The only one ever charged, Capt. Alvaro Saravia, D'Aubuisson's security chief, is a relatively minor player reportedly in hiding in another country....Even if the reopening of Romero's case fails to end in prosecutions, his legacy — his homilies which reported on atrocities, his radio transmissions and his creation of the legal aid office that documented war crimes — may bring about prosecutions in other cases....(more)
South Korean president seeks pope’s support in reconciliation efforts
Extract from Andrea Gagliarducci, Crux, Catholic News Agency, 1 June 2017
The president of the Korean Bishops' Conference spoke to the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and briefly with Pope Francis to propose that the Holy See play an active role in the reconciliation in the Korean peninsula by encouraging North Korea to open its doors to the West...(more)

The New Zealand Synod 2017
Catholics For Renewal, 31 May 2017
 The Catholic Church of New Zealand is closely in touch with the needs of its people, and as far back as 2007 the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference published its first responsive and caring response to Child Sexual Abuse "A Path to Healing - Te Houhanga Rongo".  In keeping with the open thinking of Pope Francis  the NZ Bishop's Conference has also arranged to hold a Synod "Go you are sent" in September this year.  Synod 2017 will be held in Wellington from 15-17 September. The Synod Participation Booklet and related resources are available HERE.        The following edited extract is taken from CathNews NZ  

Photo: St Gabriel's Catholic Church Whangaope Harbour NZ 2013, Jacek Drecki,   Panoramio Google Maps,

New Zealand Synod 2017: Go you are sent
Extract from CathNews NZ,    Extracted here 31 May 2017 
An invitation to a workshop for Synod 2017 saw over 300 parishioners from the Wellington Archdiocese’s North Island parishes working together on Sunday.       This was the second Synod workshop for the Archdiocese. South Island parishes met in Nelson last week.        After opening the workshop with prayer and reflection, Cardinal John Dew provided a context for the Synod process and the topic workshop participants would reflect on.     Diocesan Synod’s are “noble institutions in which priests and laity co-operate with the bishop for the good of the whole church – in this case the church in the Archdiocese of Wellington,” he explained.     “We all need to learn how to work together, and to draw others into the life of our communities.        “We need to be in communion with one another, recognising the light of the Trinity shining in the faces of each other, to share joys and sorrows, see what’s positive in others and see gifts as gifts from God.       “Everyone can be involved and use their gifts. We’re all responsible for finding new ways to travel together through prayer, reflection and revelations from the Holy Spirit”.          “Not everyone can take part in the Synod in September as we are limited to 350 participants, but everyone can take part in the participation process. This process will decide what the Synod will consider, so it is very important.”    He explained during the workshop participants would come together in small groups using a “discernment process”, which would offer everyone an opportunity for “journeying together”.     This involved everyone considering what a parish that fully embraced the Synod theme ‘Go you are sent’ would look like, asking themselves what the Holy Spirit was saying to them, sharing the outcome and listening to others.     It is important to listen “inwards” before speaking – and to realise that when group ideas converge the Holy Spirit is active and present.      This is the process parishioners are being asked to use in reflecting upon their input to the participation process and participants will use during the Synod.   Summaries of group discussions at the workshops have been collected, and will form part of the input to the participation process which will decide the Synod agenda. CathNews NZ  Image:patterni.net
'We're not trying to be provocative': Catholic schools to fight homophobia
Extract from Henrietta Cook, The Age, 31 May 2015
For the first time, a Catholic schools network is rolling out an alternative to Safe Schools which it believes will train teachers to stamp out homophobia and transphobia.    Edmund Rice Education Australia has distributed resources to its 52 schools and will soon run training to help teachers create a safer and more inclusive environment for gay and transgender students and LGBTI families....."Our core belief is that of inclusion – bullying, harassment and discrimination totally contravenes that and has no place in our schools."...(more)
Ramadan can make Lenten fasting seem tepid
Extract from Maureen Fiedler, National Catholic Reporter, 31 May 2017
Every year when the Muslim holy month of Ramadan rolls around, I stand in awe of my Muslim sisters and brothers. The fast that Muslims observe during Ramadan is so much more stringent than anything we Catholics do for Lent, or were ever required to do....For those who may not know, the observance of Ramadan requires that Muslims refrain not only from eating but even from drinking water during all the hours of daylight for the entire 30-day period. This observance, which began at the end of May this year, commemorates the period when the Quran was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad. Eating is permitted only during the hours of darkness.    Muslims also refrain from smoking and engaging in sexual relations during Ramadan, and are taught to refrain from sinful behavior such as insulting, backbiting, cursing, lying and fighting.....fasting for Catholics is not even remotely close to what fasting means for Muslims during Ramadan. Eating one full meal, meatless or not, is far different from not eating at all. And being able to consume liquids is far different from going thirsty as Muslims are required to do.     Compared with the Muslim approach, where nothing passes one's lips — solid or liquid — all day long, the Catholic approach is downright tepid.    Still, both practices exist as a reminder that there is something more important than the material in life — something, indeed, Someone more significant than food. Someone larger than life, and indeed, beyond human life.    And so, I wish a blessed Ramadan to our Muslim sisters and brothers....(more)     [Ed: Ramadan in Australia is from 26 May to 24 June]  Photo: NCR, CNS/EPA/Farooq Khan   
Will Pope Francis' reforms last?
Francis’ Church is the complete opposite of a clerical Church. It is a Church at the service of the Gospel, not a Church preoccupied solely with its institutional survival. "La Croix" examines some crucial issues of his papacy.
Extract from Isabelle de Gaulmyn, Subscription journal La Croix International, 30 May 2016
“Hope is like a sail,” Pope Francis said at his Wednesday General Audience this week, referring to the feast of Pentecost. “It gathers the wind of the Spirit and transforms it into a driving force that either pushes the boat out to sea or back to the shore.”    Could this kind of hope enable Pope Francis’ reforms to lead the Church back out to sea? This is the kind of question that keeps recurring in conversation with people in Rome.    The reason is that, while Pope Francis’ reforms are clearly visible, people are wondering how much longer they will last. Or even more directly, they are asking whether the reforms will survive the death of a pope who is already eighty and who has not spared himself physically....(source)

Vale Anthony Foster
Extract from Bishop Vincent Long, Catholic Outlook, 30 May 2017
It is with much sadness that we learned of the sudden death of Anthony Foster in Melbourne over the weekend.      Anthony and his wife Chrissie dedicated their lives to seeking justice for victims of child sex abuse.      In 2010, when I was still living in Rome, I read the book Hell on the Way to Heaven in which they told the harrowing story of the sexual abuse of their daughters by a Catholic priest. I was deeply moved by their suffering but also inspired by their determination, courage and resilience.    Back in Melbourne as an Auxiliary Bishop, I sought them out and eventually met them on a number of occasions. I was kindly received into their home a few times and offered hospitality – a privilege I treasure. Each time we met, the Fosters would share with me their pain and suffering. They would also challenge me to do all I could as a church leader to treat victims and their loved ones with the Christian justice we profess.    I was especially touched by Anthony’s empathy – perhaps a virtue he nurtured during his own experience of suffering. At the end of the Royal Commission hearing of the five Metropolitans, the Fosters met with Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP. After he had left the meeting, Anthony became very concerned how deeply affected Archbishop Fisher was. He contacted me and asked if I could check and make sure that the Archbishop was OK. I was only too happy to oblige.    I am privileged to have met Anthony and learned much from him. If the Church in Australia is to offer justice and healing for victims and a safer place for children, then it must respect the legacy of people like Anthony Foster.   May he rest in peace!  Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv.  Bishop of Parramatta  Image: Catholic Outlook 

The Catholic Church in post-Royal Commission Australia
Extracts from Bishop Vincent address delivered on 16 May at Mission 2017: one heart many voices, Sydney,  Catholic Outlook, 29 May 2017
...I begin this reflection with an Aboriginal story. It goes like this: “Once upon a time, there was an Aboriginal tribe that settled along a mighty river. It was teeming with all kinds of fresh water creatures that sustained the people and provided much security and well-being for them. They lived peacefully along its banks. Then, one day, a big flood came and submerged everything in its path. The people evacuated to dry land. When the flood subsided they returned and resettled where they used to. But then, things were not quite the same. The river flow became weaker and weaker. What was once a mighty river gradually was reduced to a billabong. The people sat daily around its edge and wondered what had become of their once mighty and life-giving river. It was all very sad and depressing until one of them decided to go upstream and explore. He returned later and told the rest of the tribe that their beloved river had not dried up at all. It had merely changed its course.”          In a way, I guess, we Catholics of today find ourselves in a place no longer familiar to ourselves. Like those Aboriginal people who returned to their beloved river and realised it was not the same any more after the big flood, we too are being confronted with a changing reality, a world that is increasingly alien to us.....The Church is being reborn in ways beyond the traditional structures. Like the river that has changed its course, we have a choice to make. It is not in yearning for or holding on the known and the familiar but in reimagining the future and venturing into the unknown chaos like the old exodus, that we shall find new life.           The paschal rhythm summons us to a discipleship of humility, weakness and vulnerability, of dying and rising in Christ. As the Church, we must die to the old ways of being Church which is steeped in a culture of clerical power, dominance and privilege. We must abandon the old paradigm of a fortress Church which is prone to exclusivity and elitism. We must learn to rise to Christlike way of humility, inclusivity, compassion and powerlessness.     In the end, though, I firmly believe that we’re on the threshold of renewal and transformation. The Second Vatican Council set in motion a new paradigm that cannot be thwarted by fear and paralysis. Once the genie is out of the bottle, it cannot be put back. That new paradigm is one that is based on mutuality not exclusion, love not fear, service not clericalism, engagement with the world not flight from or hostility against it, incarnate grace not dualism.            May the Holy Spirit accompany us as we move boldly in the direction of the Kingdom.....(more)     Image: Hattah-Kulkyne National Park Information Centre 
Anthony Foster: campaigner for child sexual abuse victims dies
Extract from The Guardian, Saturday 27 May 2017
The chair of Australia’s child sex abuse royal commission has said he is “deeply saddened” by the death of tireless victims advocate Anthony Foster.    Foster, who became a relentless advocate after his daughters were raped by a priest, was reported to have died on Friday evening from a major stroke.     Foster and his wife, Chrissie, shared their torment to the media and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.     Justice Peter McClellan extended his condolences to the Foster family and praised their dedication to achieving justice for survivors of child sexual abuse.   “They attended hundreds of days of public hearings and participated in many of our policy roundtables,” McClellan said.    “With a dignity and grace, Anthony and Chrissie generously supported countless survivors and their families whilst also managing their own grief.   “Commissioners and staff at the royal commission are deeply shocked and saddened by this news.”   Foster’s daughters, Emma and Katie, suffered sexual abuse at the hands of pedophile priest Kevin O’Donnell at their Melbourne school between 1988 and 1993.   Emma took an overdose of her medication and died in 2008, while Katie was hit by a car and is now brain damaged and in a wheelchair.   Tributes poured in for Foster on Saturday, with many describing the father as a voice for survivors who struggled to discuss their personal experiences.   “Anthony was the person that stood up and he spoke in quiet but powerful words, and in many ways you know, he roared like a lion on this issue,” friend Paul Kennedy said.    Kennedy co-authored a book, Hell on the Way to Heaven, with Foster in 2010.    “It is just so sad for everyone that Anthony Foster has died,” he said.    Fellow victims’ advocate Manny Waks said he was devastated to hear of the death of his friend and colleague.    “Anthony, together with his dear wife Chrissie, has been one of my inspirations,” he wrote on Facebook.   “Despite all they endured, they maintained determination and dignity in their ongoing campaign for justice and reform within the Catholic Church – for them and for others.”...(more)    Photo: The Guardian, Photograph: Riccardo De Luca/AP
Archdiocese of Melbourne in sorrow at the death of Anthony Foster
Extract from Media and Communications Office, Melbourne Catholic, Saturday 27 May 2017
We have been greatly saddened and shocked by the sudden and unexpected death of Anthony Foster.   Mr Foster has been a devoted and loyal husband to his wife Chrissie and his daughters.    As a father and family man he faced and responded to the abuse of his two daughters, the tragic death of Emma and the lifelong injuries to Katie.    He was a tireless and fearless advocate for the cause and rights of survivors of abuse within the Church and the introduction of systems to prevent its repetition. We would expect nothing less from a father who loves his children.   Mr Foster was a mentor to survivors and families affected by abuse, and supported and encouraged them through many days and hours of hearings of the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry and Royal Commission.    Mrs Foster and her daughters Katie and Aimee are very much in our thoughts and prayers at this time...(more)  Image:  Melbourne Catholic
Parish Strategic Review- Three Years On!
Friday 26 May 2017
As published in previous updates of our strategic review our Parish Redevelopment Project is based on the principle of one Parish Mass Centre on the Mary Immaculate site while achieving our objectives to:   Bring the Parish together;   Establish an additional income stream to support our Thanksgiving Program and hence our pastoral ministry and outreach, and;  Deliver on our Mission and Values.    Last year we invited architects to submit concept plans that would meet these objectives. On receiving these plans a Redevelopment Review Committee was formed to bring together representatives from each parish community (Sarah Healy, Vito Cassisi, Michelle Darragh, Katrina Rush, Rachel Dapiran).     Their brief was to consider all the available information on the proposed redevelopment of the site (including an overview of costing by Wennie van Lint) and make a recommendation to the PLT on whether to proceed with the redevelopment.      At its final meeting on 10 May 2017, the Review Committee’s recommendation to the PLT is that the Parish formally engage FPPV Architects and move to the next phase of the redevelopment of the Mary Immaculate site as our new Parish Centre.   Our architects will now be engaged to design development drawings that can be submitted to both the Parish and the Archdiocese for consideration and further discussion.
A reality check!
Merle Gilbo, Friday 26 May 2017
Last Saturday, a few people from our parish, attended ‘Spirit of Adventure’ at the Catholic Leadership Centre.   Two presentations by eminent English Dominican priest, Fr. Timothy Radcliffe  were very worthwhile and there were plenty of opportunities to learn about life in our archdiocese. I attended a session presented by St. James’ parish, Hopper’s Crossing North!  What I heard was amazing and confirmed the much publicized enormous development of the ‘West’. They have  a church, a secondary school, two primary schools and are  about to open a third primary school, with a fourth is on the drawing board.  This really was a reality check for me and, I think for all of us.

Living in a culture hostile to religious belief
Extract from Richard Leonard presentation, CathNews, The Record, 26 May 2017
Confronting a culture increasingly hostile to religious belief was the focus of a Perth workshop by Fr Richard Leonard SJ last week.    Confronting a culture increasingly hostile to religious belief was the focus of a Perth workshop by Fr Richard Leonard SJ last week, the eRecord reports.    Topics addressed included the role of Catholics in society today, the relationship between science and faith, the centrality of religious experience and the importance of our image of God.     Fr Leonard expressed that in regards to the faith, Catholics have to put up with so many people in society who "tell us we’re nuts to believe any of it".    However, he expressed that between all human persons, there is common ground and a want for the same things, such as kindness, truthfulness, care for the earth, justice, peace and love.    “It’s good to start with what unites us,” Fr Leonard said.   “Dialogue with atheists and non-believers can be very good for us in a number of ways. It improves our clarity in our thinking, rational argument for the faith, the case for religious influence in public policy and our practising of what we preach.”   He emphasised that people are not angry of belief in God but of the religious influence over public policy and legislation.   “Some atheists couldn’t care less that we believe in God and want to practice our faith. They’re cranky that we’ve had a major influence over public legislation, and that influences everyone. But when they say we should have no influence, then that’s anti-democratic,” he said.   Fr Leonard said that society doesn’t recognise the contributions to the community that the Church provides, recounting the number of institutions with affiliations to the Catholic Church and the people that come to seek assistance...(more)

Pope, President Trump speak of hopes for peace
Extract from Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, Melbourne Catholic, 25 May 2017
Pope Francis and US President Donald Trump spent 30 minutes speaking privately in the library of the Apostolic Palace 24 May, and as the president left, he told the pope, ‘I won't forget what you said.’      The atmosphere at the beginning was formal and a bit stiff. However, the mood lightened when Pope Francis met the first lady, Melania Trump, and asked if she fed her husband ‘potica,’ a traditional cake in Slovenia, her homeland. There were smiles all around.      Pope Francis gave Trump a split medallion held together by an olive tree, which his interpreter told Trump is ‘a symbol of peace.’      Speaking in Spanish, the pope told Trump, ‘I am giving you this because I hope you may be this olive tree to make peace.’      The president responded, ‘We can use peace.’     Pope Francis also gave the president a copy of his message for World Peace Day 2017 and told him, ‘I signed it personally for you.’ In addition, he gave Trump copies of three of his documents: ‘The Joy of the Gospel’; ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ on the family; and ‘Laudato Si,'‘ on the environment.    Knowing that Pope Francis frequently has quoted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Trump presented Pope Francis with a large gift box containing five of the slain civil rights leader's books, including a signed copy of ‘The Strength to Love.’    ‘I think you will enjoy them,’ Trump told the pope. ‘I hope you do.’    After meeting the pope, Trump went downstairs to meet Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican foreign minister. He was accompanied by Rex Tillerson, US secretary of state, and H.R. McMaster, his national security adviser. The meeting lasted 50 minutes....After leaving the Vatican, the president was driven across Rome for meetings with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.    Asked by reporters there how his meeting with the pope went, Trump responded, ‘Great.’   ‘He is something,’ Trump said. ‘We had a fantastic meeting.’....(more)  Photo: Crux,
Giving young people a voice
Edited extract from CathNews, 25 May 2017
Young people across Australia are being called to share their views about life, faith, and their experience of Church through an online survey, reports the ACBC Media Blog.
Published by the Australian bishops, the survey seeks to capture the opinions and perspectives of young people as part of a national consultation process that will inform an international conversation in Rome next year.    Australians aged between 16 and 29 are encouraged to complete the survey. The questions cover a range of topics including: the experience of being listened to, using social media and technology, friendships and influences in today’s world, opportunities for engagement with Church activities such as, outreach programs, youth masses, community leadership or parish events. [Ed: see details on the Youth Page HERE]          Image: Cathnews 
Tasmanian euthanasia bill defeated
Extracts from CathNews, The Advocate, 25 May 2017
Legislation to allow for euthanasia to take place in Tasmania has been voted down for the third time in less than a decade, The Advocate reports.     Tasmania’s lower house defeated the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill last night, with eight members voting in favour and 16 against.   Politicians were given a conscience vote for the debate and many took the opportunity to share personal stories and convey the tragic losses of countless others......Earlier in the day, a rally on Parliament House lawns attracted hundreds of people in support of the bill while a petition signed by more than 800 people, tabled by government minister Rene Hidding, expressed opposition......Premier Will Hodgman did not support the bill, saying he had “grave reservations” about the bill’s efforts to ensure vulnerable people would be protected.     Similar bills were defeated in the Tasmanian parliament in 2009 and 2013....(more)
‘My Dear Friends’ – Bishop Vincent’s Homily from 15 April, 2017
Homily for the Easter Vigil in the Holy Night in Year A 2017 at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta.      Extract from Catholic Outlook, published here 25 May 2017
My dear friends, It is a great privilege for me to celebrate this first Easter Vigil Mass with you as your bishop. I’d like to welcome you warmly to our Cathedral as you have welcomed me to this great diocese. I’d like to welcome the RCIA candidates who will shortly be initiated into the full communion with the Church. With all the bad publicity around, one wonders if it is a good time to remain a Catholic, let alone to become one. Yet, here you are a proof, not of the Church’s success, but of God’s power in human weakness.         I want to thank you for living out your faith in a challenging environment. We have faced many challenges before: persecution, hardship, division, unbelief, hostility etc. But perhaps never in the history of the Church in Australia and in the Western world generally, have we ever faced the challenge of epic proportions like the current crisis. It strikes at the heart of the Church. It exposes the deep-seated cultural malaise of the institution. Some would even say that the Church is sick to the core.       Like the parable in the Gospel, we leaders in the Church at times have given the battered children stone instead of bread, snake instead of fish. No wonder many are disillusioned and have walked away.           We have to admit that we have drifted from the kingdom vision of Jesus. Instead of demonstrating that fundamental ethos of care for the most vulnerable, the Church has been shown to care primarily for its own security, reputation and interests. Like the parable in the Gospel, we leaders in the Church at times have given the battered children stone instead of bread, snake instead of fish. No wonder many are disillusioned and have walked away.      The Gospel tonight speaks of the frustration and disillusionment of the disciples as they find an empty tomb instead of their Master. Perhaps, their experience is not unique. Many also search for Jesus in the Church and instead find it empty and void of life and love. It is incumbent on us especially as leaders and ministers to gain your trust and to make the Church again the place where people can meet and experience the risen Lord.      In order for us to be like the re-gathered community in which the Easter Christ was encountered, we need to embrace and live fully the paschal rhythm. It is the most fundamental call of the Gospel. We cannot live life to the full if we gloss over the inconvenient truths about ourselves. As the Church, we need to die to that which is not of Christ in order to rise again to all that Christ and his Gospel stand for. We need to die to being an experience of exclusion and condemnation and to rise to being an encounter of radical love, inclusiveness and solidarity. We need to die to worldly power in all its forms and rise to the Christ’s subversive way of simplicity, vulnerability and powerlessness....(more)  Photo::Catholic Outlook,  
A Complex Conversation: LGBT Catholics & the Francis Papacy
Francis has taken a dramatically different approach to speaking about gay and lesbian people than previous popes, who emphasized homosexuality as an “intrinsic moral evil".      Extract from John Gehring, subscription journal La Croix International, 25 May 2017
Over the past several weeks, I’ve been in Chicago and San Francisco talking to LGBT Catholics and hearing from theologians, Catholic school leaders, parents, and others about how the church can do a better job reaching out to and learning from gay Catholics.    One of the most hopeful messages I heard came from a Catholic bishop appointed by Pope Francis.    “In a church that has not always valued or welcomed your presence, we need to hear your voices and take seriously your experiences,” Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky, told several hundred participants at the New Ways Ministry gathering in Chicago last month, “LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis"...(more)
Vatican-approved bishop seized for a fourth time in China
Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou was summoned to the religious bureau and has not returned.
Extract from ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong, China, 25 May 2017
A Vatican-approved bishop has been detained by Chinese officials for the fourth time since he was confirmed Bishop of Wenzhou last September.    Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou in Zhejiang province was detained May 18, a month after he was briefly locked up during Holy Week.   Bishop Shao has been placed under detention or removed from the diocese four times since he automatically succeeded Bishop Vincent Zhu Weifang, his predecessor, who died in September 2016....(source)
Gonski in an age of budget repair: School funding is a very complex issue in Australia. It's now a poisonous political cocktail.
Extracts from Frank Brennan, Eureka Street, 23 May 2017
The National Catholic Education Commission, the Australian Catholic Primary Principals Association, and the Catholic Secondary Principals Association are upset with the proposed funding arrangements. This has prompted the Catholic Cabinet Minister Christopher Pyne to claim 'the Catholic education system really is running a very dishonest campaign'. The Catholic system educates 20 per cent  of Australia's school children in 1737 schools......On the government's own figures, they would deliver $6.3 billion less to schools in the next four years and $22.3 billion less in the next ten years than would Labor. The issue of school funding as a budget priority and as an item of 'budget repair' is now a key election issue.    The Catholic Bishops Commission for Catholic Education has stated, 'As bishops, we acknowledge the difficult financial situation currently faced by the government and the nation.' While the Coalition is in government, the question is whether the available pot of money (smaller though it be) is to be equitably distributed with a proper weighting for the poor and needy, and an appropriate loading for those non-government schools whose parents cannot afford the fees of the flasher independent schools.    The government says that it is time for the Commonwealth's direct contribution to school funding to be principled and transparent, 'sector-blind' and needs-based. Following Gonski's original recommendation to the Gillard government, the Turnbull government is adopting a school resourcing standard (SRS) which is based on the cost of delivering a good education to every child......There is clearly a need for the government to revise the application of the laudable Gonski principles ensuring that every Australian child has a fair go at accessing a good education, within the funding constraints of the government of the day committed to 'budget repair'. For its part, the Catholic sector should ensure its schools are more available to the poor, enacting Pope Francis' desire: 'I want a Church which is poor and for the poor.'.....(more)
Catholic Citizens needed within Church
Extract from John Warhurst, Pearls and Irritations, John Menadue website, 25 may 2017    
Catholics must stand up and become active citizens not loyal subjects within their own church community. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has pointed to weaknesses in culture and governance within the Catholic Church in Australia.        Within the church the normal tenets of liberal democracy, including inclusiveness, transparency, equality and responsiveness do not apply.      The church hierarchy has responded in various ways to the revelations of the Royal Commission, including apologies, liturgies of lament, reparations and promises of new child safety regulations. But the bishops show no inclination to tackle these structural and cultural issues, so it is up to the Catholic laity to do so. This is the strong message of Francis Sullivan, the lay head of the church’s Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Council.    Unfortunately, historically the Catholic Church is not a community in which its lay members are called on to play such a role. Instead as Bishop Vincent Long of Parramatta has pointed out on several occasions recently the church is a pyramid in which the ordained clergy are at the pinnacle and the laity at the bottom.    Catholics have been brought up to the constant refrain that the church is not a democracy. They are dissuaded from challenging its undemocratic structures and urged to accept church discipline from the top....(more)
The Catholic Church has at most 10 years to adapt’
Supporting values that the majority of people have rejected makes us irrelevant
Extract from Mark Patrick Hederman*, The Irish Times, 16 May 2017, republished here 25 May 2017
The Catholic Church, as well as everyone else, must understand that the world was hit by a cultural tsunami in the 20th century. We must humbly begin to pick up the pieces and put them back together again.   The 20th century was a crucible. The world which has emerged from this time-machine is changed, changed utterly. There is no going back; our only way is forward.   Discovery of the world of the unconscious; full acknowledgement and acceptance of the dimension of femininity, both inside and outside of ourselves, with all this implies in terms of gender balance and sexual diversity; recognition of the immensity of scientific discovery; and humble apprenticeship in a laboratory of ever-expanding technology; these are some of the characteristics required for access, capability and survival in the new world we have inherited.   It is as if our world were precariously poised, metaphorically speaking, on two tectonic plates as far as socio-political awareness is concerned. On the one hand you have the more advanced and sophisticated cultures, such as many of us in the so-called “first world” enjoy, where democracy has become the accepted idiom.   Then you have the Catholic Church, and many others who, in certain respects, have not yet moved out of the nineteenth century.   But, at this time, it is as if these two tectonic plates were on the move. The place where they could meet is called a plate boundary. Plate boundaries are commonly associated with geological events such as earthquakes. When previous tectonic plates separated, some millions of years ago, the cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland represented one half of the divide and Nova Scotia in Canada became the other, with the Atlantic Ocean in between.   We may have to experience an even greater divide if the two tectonic plates I have been describing collide before the Church realises that such danger is imminent.        Dr David Barker, responsible for the 2004 Report of the Church in America, refers to the “perceived wisdom that culture change takes 200 years in the church. This is no longer an acceptable point of view; it is an excuse for inaction,” he warns. The Catholic Church in Ireland has probably five or, at most, 10 years to take these realities on board before being reduced to a tiny irrelevant minority.     We have been slow to appreciate what the Pope’s core revolutionary strategy is. Francis is convinced that what is required for the third millennium is a “synodal church”, in which there is free and open debate and consultation. We don’t belong to a global organisation as such – we are part of an organism [wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am there with them]....(more)   Image: Amish, The Irish Times, Getty Omages.   *Mark Hederman is a monk of Glenstal Abbey in Limerick. His latest book is The Opal and the Pearl, Towards a Gyroscopic Ethics, Dublin, Columba Press, 2017
Abuse scandal leaves priests feeling ‘betrayed’
Extracts from CathNews, The Southern  Cross, 19 May 2017
Clergy care co-ordinators could help priests come to terms with the child sexual abuse scandal, says Fr Greg Bourke, national director of the Office for Clergy, Life and Ministry, reports The Southern Cross.    Fr Bourke, who addressed the Clergy Healthcare Network Conference in Adelaide last month, said clergy care co-ordinators have an important role to play in helping priests by listening to how they have been affected by the scandal.    He likened the effect of the scandal on priests to a failed marriage, in so far as one partner feels betrayed by the other and can’t believe they didn’t know that the person they were living with was having an affair.    “We often hear clergy say ‘but these men were my friends, we studied together, we holidayed together and I never knew’,” said Fr Bourke.    “All of those affective emotions that a married person would conceivably experience can be conditionally translated to how a clergy person might be affected.”      Fr Bourke said for many members of the clergy the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse had “rubbed our noses in it” and “we don’t like the affect it is having on us emotionally, mentally and spiritually”.    To prevent priests from moving too quickly to “defence mechanisms”, Fr Bourke said clergy care health workers could be positive agents......Fr Bourke said many priests were tempted to “shrink, draw down and lose their sense of worth”......Some reacted by refusing to visit schools or engage with children, even though child safeguards and policies provided them with a framework for appropriate interaction such as having contact with children when there were other adults around.   Fr Bourke said priests needed to understand that the norms and guidelines for working with children could help them to “flourish”.....(more)   photo: Cathnews   
Archbishop Hart's Pentecost Letter to Youth
Friday 19 May 2017
HERE
Russians fight ransomware virus with holy water
Extracts from Crux, Catholic News Agency, 18 May 2017
Following recent cyber attacks through a form of ransomware called “WannaCry” that have targeted more than 150 countries throughout the world, Russia is hitting back by blessing computers. Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church will bless computers and servers with holy water......Aside from prayer and holy water, tech experts recommend avoiding cyberattacks by keeping computer software up to date....(more)
Inspiring Jewish, Christian & Muslim Women Build Trust & Understanding
Extracts from Ginette Everest, JCMA Executive Officer and Sister Elizabeth Young, Sisters of Mercy Melbourne Catholic, 18 May 2017
Hearing from women different from ourselves was a gift and served to enrich our own faith and life journeys. Sometimes challenged by stereotypes and sensitivities we were able to speak with real honesty and reach out to others with genuine compassion. It was a time to share and reflect on things we don’t often have time to examine.    We also heard from keynote speakers about inspiring women of the Abrahamic faiths, women from each of our religious traditions and from women living out their faith today. We heard about Beruriah, the second century Jewish scholar followed by the highly spiritual Christian woman Hildegard of Bingen, and discovered that Aisha, the second wife of Prophet Mohammed, was a deeply spiritual women and ‘scholar of scholars’.    For a text based session on ‘Miriam and Mary’ Dr Helen Light, JCMA President, presented a Jewish insight into the life of Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, who was a prophet and first appears in the Book of Exodus. Professor Mary Coloe presented a Christian perspective of Mary and Sherene Hassan presented from a Muslim perspective how important Mary (Maryam) is in the Islamic faith inspiring and connecting us as women of faith....(more)  Photo: JCMA womens conference collage
Conference identifies Church's mission to change
Extracts from CathNews, 18 May 2017
The need for the Church to be inclusive, open and adaptable was canvassed on the final day of a three-day mission conference held in Sydney, Catholic Mission reports.     Catholic Social Service Australia's Fr Frank Brennan SJ gave the closing keynote of the Mission: One Heart Many Voices conference, sponsored by Catholic Mission and Catholic Religious Australia. Fr Brennan's address tied together many of the diverse themes and elements of the conference, including reconciliation, mercy, leadership for mission and indigenous advocacy.....Charged with the task of presenting a vision for the Church, Fr Brennan reiterated Pope Francis’ assertion that we will not in the future see the Church as a “perfect society”.    "We are all members of a Church that has failed its most vulnerable," he said. "We are all in need of forgiveness."   Fittingly, Fr Brennan’s way forward was a nod to those who had spoken before him: "For us to be a Church of mission in 2030, we must provide a place at the table for all ... for indigenous people, for women, for refugees and for the abused. We must be adaptable and open to change."...(more)
Pell restates innocence and need for due process
Extract from CathNews, The Age, 18 May 2017
Cardinal George Pell maintains he is innocent of historical child sexual assault allegations, The Age reports.      Speaking to reporters in Rome yesterday, Cardinal Pell reiterated his rebuttal of all the allegations of abuse made against him, saying he would "just like to restate my innocence".    "I stand by everything I have said at the royal commission [into institutional responses to child sexual abuse] and in other places," he said. "We have to respect due process, wait until it is concluded and obviously I will continue to co-operate fully."    Meanwhile, Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP has defended Cardinal Pell from "relentless character attacks" in relation to the allegations. In a strongly worded statement yesterday, Archbishop Fisher said Cardinal Pell was entitled to the presumption of innocence.    "It is unfortunate that in the very week this happens, media and authors publish and repeat allegations, some of which have already been thoroughly answered. This cannot assist the impartial pursuit of justice. What is clear, however, is that Cardinal Pell has co-operated in every way with multiple police, parliamentary and royal commission investigations," he said....(more)
Police to make call on Pell charges
Extract from CathNews, The Australian, 17 May 2017
The decision on whether to charge Cardinal George Pell with historical sexual abuse allegations now rests with Victoria Police after the Office of Public Prosecutions ­yesterday returned the brief of evidence, The Australian reports.      A police spokesman confirmed advice from Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions, John Champion SC, had been received.    “Detectives from Taskforce Sano will now take time to consider that advice,” police spokesman Charlie Morton said last night. “As with any ­investigation, it will be a decision for Victoria Police as to whether charges are laid.”    Cardinal Pell has strenuously denied all allegations. It is understood the latest ­development took lawyers for the Cardinal by surprise.        This was the second time a brief of allegations concerning Cardinal Pell had been sent to the OPP. A brief was referred last year but the OPP sent it back without recommendations.    Meanwhile, the head of the child sexual abuse royal commission has cautioned every major Australian church to better protect children or risk illegitimacy, reports ABC News.    In a speech to the National Council of Churches, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse chair, Justice Peter McClellan, urged religious leaders to act on his recommendations.     "What we can be certain of is that any institution which does not acknowledge past wrongs and the need for change will lose the confidence of Australians," he said via a recorded video....(more)  Photo: CathNews,
 China's new internet rules further curb religious content
There are already cases of religious affairs officers deleting retweeted news about local church issues.
Extract from La Croix International, ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong, China. 17 May 2017
Catholic webmasters are feeling claustrophobic a month before China's new internet regulations come into effect.
The Cyberspace Administration of China issued the Provision for the Administration of Internet News on May 2.      It requires online outlets using mobile apps, forums, blogs, instant messaging or webcasts as a medium to be licensed or face prosecution.    No one can produce, reproduce, publish or disseminate any prohibited information. News content providers and readers must register using their real names, according to the provision.     Though the regulation will come into effect on June 1 the tighter censorship has already been felt.    A church media source operating outside China uses WeChat to reach mainland readers but has failed repeatedly to avoid censorship when uploading audio-visual programs recently....(more)
Abuse survivor wants papal panel to push back on Vatican resistance
Extract from John Allen, Inés San Martín and Claire Giangravè, Crux, 16 May 2017   
O
n Saturday, Pope Francis called Marie Collins, an abuse survivor who recently quit his Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors citing Vatican resistance to reform, a "great woman" and said she's "right on some things." In a Crux interview, Collins expressed gratitude but also said that the Church still needs uniform global standards and a way to hold bishops accountable.       A survivor of clerical sexual abuse and a former member of a panel created by Pope Francis to lead the reform effort said Monday that while she’s grateful for positive things the pope said about her over the weekend, she also wants the commission to push back against perceived Vatican resistance to reform that she insists led her to resign.        Marie Collins, an Irish lay woman, told “The Crux of the Matter” on the Catholic Channel, carried by Sirius XM, “If resistance continues, then the commission itself should speak. It shouldn’t be up to one member having to resign to make it public.         “If there is resistance, it’s got to be overcome, because there’s no place for resistance to change when it comes to child protection,” Collins said.     During his return flight from a trip to Fatima on Saturday, Pope Francis was asked about Collins’s resignation from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, a body he created to advise him on reform efforts regarding clerical sexual abuse.     “Marie Collins explained things to me well,” he said. “I’ve spoken with her: She’s a great woman. She continues to work on the formation of priests on this point. She’s a great woman, who wants to work.   “She’s right on some things,” Francis acknowledged......(more)      Photo: Crux, CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters. 
Pope says he will be 'sincere' with Trump ahead of historic meeting
Extract from Christopher Lamb,The Tablet, 16 May 2017
The potential for clashes between Francis and the President are ripe given their diametrically opposed views on migrants and the environment.  The Pope says he will be 'sincere' with Trump ahead of historic meeting.  They are two of the most captivating figures in global politics with bold, populist and radically differing visions about how to deal with the crises facing the world.      On Wednesday 24 May, Pope Francis and President Donald Trump will meet for the first time in a hotly anticipated encounter with the potential for fireworks.    At 8.30am, inside the grand, frescoed halls of the Vatican’s apostolic palace, the President of the United States will be brought into the same room as the Latin American pontiff where the pair will have a private discussion.    The Holy See are anxious to ensure the papal audience runs smoothly - and without any dramas - while the White House hope the meeting will show a statesmanlike Trump as he makes his first foreign trip abroad. His meeting with the Pope comes as part of a tour where he will meet world leaders in Sicily and pay his respects world’s three major religions. Along with Rome he is going to Israel and Saudi Arabia.    But the potential for clashes between Francis and the President are ripe given their diametrically opposed views on migrants and the environment. When Trump was campaigning the Pope said he was “not Christian” for wanting to build a wall on the US-Mexico border with the then republican candidate hitting back describing Francis’ remarks as “disgraceful.”....(more)

Outback spirituality will be explored
Extract from CathNews, 12  May 2017
The Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes will hold its Lessons from the Long Paddock online event next month.    For many people, experience of Catholic faith and life is challenging. The situation of the Church in Australia today points to a great need to return to the experience of God, to the reality of Christ in the ordinariness of life.    Many Catholics and other Christians are aware that they have a spiritual tradition but are unaware of what it actually means for their faith. Most people know what it is they are taught to believe in terms of Catholic teaching and doctrine but few people know what the Church teaches about where the heart of the tradition finds its inspiration.   The Diocese of Wilcannia- Forbes is offering an online event called Lessons from the Long Paddock on Tuesday, June 6. This online experience opens the conversation for many people who are curious about what the experience of faith actually feels like in ordinary life.   Keynote speakers will be Wilcannia Forbes Bishop Columba Macbeth Green OSPPE and Fr Frank Brennan SJ, who will discuss Australian and Outback Spirituality.   Through the lens of the lived experiences of specific characters from the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes, participants will accompany others into a glimpse of some of the themes which lie at the heart of our spiritual tradition.   The workshops will be facilitated by Kate Englebrecht, Diocesan Director of Mission....(more)  Photo: Cathnews

Priests’ group accuses bishops of refusing to support pope’s openness to reform
The reformers recalled the so-called “Lobinger model” put forth some two decades ago by Bishop Fritz Lobinger of South Africa. He suggested that mature married men should only gradually be introduced into committed parishes.
Exract from Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, subscription journal La Croix International, 11May 2017
An internationally renown group of reform-minded priests in Austria has criticized the world’s bishops for not capitalizing on Pope Francis’ openness to make significant changes in Church ministry and pastoral practice.   The Austrian Priests’ Initiative (API) is urging the bishops to take up the leeway the pope has given them to look at such issues as the possibility of ordaining married men of proven virtue (viri probati) to the priesthood, women to the diaconate and allowing remarried divorcees to receive the Eucharist in certain cases.    At a press conference in Vienna on May 4th, the API, which was founded in 2006, said Francis had opened door after door for a new way of dealing with these urgent questions in our Church.....(more)
Bishops launch guidelines for permanent deacons
Extract from CathNews, 10 May 2017
The Australian Bishops officially launched new norms and guidelines for the permanent diaconate during their plenary meeting in Sydney on Monday, reports the ACBC Media Blog.        Columbans.    Deacon Tony Aspinall, National Co-ordinator of the Permanent Diaconate joined Bishop Peter Ingham, Outgoing Chairman of the Bishops Commission for Church Ministry, to launch the guidelines following a special Mass with deacons at Mary MacKillop Memorial Chapel in Sydney.    Deacons Tony Hoban and Roberto Corpuz joined the bishops at the launch along with Fr Greg Bourke, Executive Secretary of the Bishops Commission for Church Ministry.   The "Norms for the Formation of Permanent Deacons and Guidelines for the Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons" were developed by the Australian Bishops following the publication of a Vatican document providing clarity about the formation of deacons. Each bishops’ conference was encouraged to develop its own guidelines.   The guidelines can be downloaded from the Clergy, Life and Ministry website.....(more)   Image: Cathnews.
Anglican orders not 'invalid' says Cardinal, opening way for revision of current Catholic position
Extract from Christopher Lamb,The Tablet, 9 May 2017
Leo XIII’s remarks that Anglican orders are “absolutely null and utterly void” have been a major stumbling block to Catholic-Anglican unity.    Anglican orders not 'invalid' says Cardinal, opening way for revision of current Catholic position.    One of the Vatican’s top legal minds has opened the way for a revision of the Catholic position on Anglican orders by stressing they should not be written off as “invalid.”      In a recently published book, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, calls into question Pope Leo XIII’s 1896 papal bull that Anglican orders are “absolutely null and utterly void.”    “When someone is ordained in the Anglican Church and becomes a parish priest in a community, we cannot say that nothing has happened, that everything is ‘invalid’,” the cardinal says in volume of papers and discussions that took place in Rome as part of the “Malines Conversations,” an ecumenical forum.     “This about the life of a person and what he has given …these things are so very relevant!”     For decades Leo XIII’s remarks have proved to be one of the major stumbling blocks in Catholic-Anglican unity efforts, as it seemed to offer very little room for interpretation or revision.    But the cardinal, whose department is charged with interpreting and revising Church laws, argued the Church today has a  “a very rigid understanding of validity and invalidity” which could be revised on the Anglican ordination question....(more)
Frank Brennan on the Church, the Pope and the Federal Budget
Extracts from Melbourne Catholic, Media and Communications Office, Monday 8 May 2017
In Toowomba on the weekend, the CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia, Jesuit priest Frank Brennan, delivered the annual John Wallis Memorial Lecture.      Billed as a reflection on how Catholic social teaching and the leadership of Pope Francis can help us to find meaning in a chaotic and changing world, Fr Brennan addressed a number of issues facing the Church in Australia today. He also considered how the Federal Budget could be tailored to meet the needs of all Australians, including the poor and the marginalised.....Addressing the crisis of vocations in the Church today, in Toowoomba as in the broader Western church, Fr Brennan was optimistic that the Church is heading in new directions, ‘new pastoral ways of being Church.’    Referring to Martin Flanagan, who gave the John Wallis Lecture in 2012 and who confessed then to never having 'got' the Catholic Church, Fr Brennan said he is excited to find there are many people, especially young people, who do 'get it'. In particular, he referred to the passionate emphasis on social justice he sees in the community.     ‘It’s as if there’s a Catholic spirit in the world,’ he said, ‘that exists independently of the leadership of the Catholic Church. I think many more people are now ‘getting’ the Roman Catholic Church, even people who thought it was well beyond their interest or concern.’     Much credit for this, stated Fr Frank, goes to Pope Francis, a man he described as theologically orthodox, politically conservative, comfortable in his own skin, infectiously pastoral and truly committed to the poor.    Fr Brennan pointed to Pope Francis as a good example of how we find meaning in a chaotic and challenging world. 'Pope Francis has no time whatsoever for the notion of the Church as a perfect society,’ he said. Quoting the Pope, Fr Brennan said, ‘The thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds. The Church is not a tollhouse, it is the house of the Father where there is a place for everyone.’     He candidly admitted that many of us, himself included, are confronted by the sexual abuse scandal within the Church. ‘The Royal Commission hearings have left us with heavy hearts.’ It’s a paradox, observed Fr Frank, that we all dare to profess the highest ideals, while at the same time being lowly sinners.....(more)

The Australian Church in 2030, what the research predicts
Edited Extracts from Brian Coyne, Editor Catholica, 8 May 2017
Attracting much comment on Catholica over recent weeks has been Archbishop Mark Coleridge's bleak prediction that "mass, civic Christianity is finished" [HERE]. Today we bring you some of the bleak statistics in a high quality video presentation by the Catholic Church's official sociologist and demographer, Dr Bob Dixon, to back it up. Our lead commentary today consists of the presentation Dr Dixon gave to the St Thomas More Forum in Canberra last Wednesday evening, and a written report on his presentation. This is "must read" information for anyone wondering about what the future for Catholicism is in Australia, and for those who are interested in trying to alter these bleak predictions.
Dr Bob Dixon's address to the St Thomas More Forum, Campbell, ACT
Church demographer outlines a bleak future for the Catholic Church in Australia
Dr Robert (Bob) Dixon has been running the Pastoral Research Office (PRO) for the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference since it was established in 1996 until his recent retirement as Executive Director. He continues to work for the Research Office and the Australian Bishops as a consultant sociologist and demographer. In a ground-breaking address he delivered in Canberra last week to the St Thomas More Forum, he outlined the bleak future for the Church in Australia over the next decade and a bit.     He predicts the participation rate of Catholics regularly attending Mass will fall to around 5% of the total number of adult Catholics in the nation before 2030.      His research suggests Confession will be a thing of the past for most Catholics.     His research also suggests the remaining congregations of religious brothers will disappear completely and there will be few nuns still serving the Church by 2030.....More        Image: Dr Bob Dixon, Catholica

Australian bishops gather in the light of the royal commission
Extracts from Andrew Hamilton SJ, Eureka  Street, 8 May 2017 (1st published 4 May)
The government and the Catholic Church both face difficulties when commending values. The difficulties will dog events during the next week in which both institutions are on public display — the bringing down of the budget and the meeting of the Australian Catholics Bishops Conference.       In each case the difficulty has its roots in defects of governance: a lack of leadership, authority, transparency and inclusiveness. When the government appeals to values with respect to the Australian community or education, its appeal is commonly assumed to mask electoral self-interest and internal party conflict. That underlying its rhetoric is a lack of transparency, inclusiveness and authority is taken for granted.      When representatives of the Catholic Church appeal to values in public life, in sexuality and in education, their appeal is often thought to mask hypocrisy — the assertion of high values that it does not practice — and amnesia about its record of betrayal of the principles of good governance in its exercise of authority. The revelations of the royal commission into child abuse hangs over the bishops' meeting.      Both the government and the Catholic Church will be tempted to carry on business as usual, postponing any concerted attempt to deal with the issues of governance they face until the election and the handing down of the findings of the royal commission respectively.       I believe that to delay would be a mistake, especially in the case of the Catholic Church. Even before the royal commission's report is made public there is enough known about the extent, causes and right responses to sexual abuse in the church, and sufficient work done on protocols and safeguarding children to enable an initial response by the whole Australian church.      The question Australians, including many Catholics, ask is whether the bishops and other public representatives of the Catholic Church have the stomach for the changes in governance needed to address the factors that led to child abuse. Delaying action until swamped by the harsh criticism that can be expected from the royal commission will make that action appear too expedient, too little and too late.....(More)    Image: Eureka Street

Parish Easter Liturgy online survey says it all - almost
John Costa, Parish Communication, Friday 5 May 2017
Thoughtful People willing to assist the Parish by completing a Survey on Holy Week liturgies have been very helpful in sharing their thoughts in detail. This together with the thoughts of those actually involved in the many preparations for Easter Liturgies collectively considered these at yesterday's weekly Liturgy Group meeting, as always further enabling the Parish to work towards future liturgies that most effectively reflect the true significance of Easter, and our human and spiritual needs in responding.      The survey was announced only one week ago so from across our three Parish communities and three school communities there have been only 28 responses. So the survey is to be continued because we believe, and hope, that there are more than 28 people apart from those directly involved in Easter liturgies who are supportive. We say this with some confidence because Easter liturgies this year were very well attended, with higher attendances than last year. We also recognise that not everyone is familiar with online surveys. So for those others who are interested, and online, the survey remains open and may be completed here, but hurry as we need to wrap this up quickly and move on to many other things in our rapidly evolving faith community at Ivanhoe, and within our wider Church.

Young Parishioners
Confirmation Rite of Enrolment
Friday 5 May 2017
This weekend we welcome our children who are preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation and their families. In the Rite of Enrolment the children will request enrolment as candidates, parents will commit themselves to supporting their children and the children will be presented to the gathered Parish family for their prayerful support. We keep the children and their families in our prayers as they prepare to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation on Sunday 4 June at 2.30pm in the Cathedral.  Let us support them warmly this weekend!       Image: Catholic Parish of Hawaii

Chaplaincy Sunday Appeal - This Weekend

The support of parishes and parishioners of the Chaplaincy Sunday Appeal have assisted in providing services in the much needed areas of Chaplaincy.  The cost of providing these services increases with the ever increasing need for pastoral services so it is imperative that we conduct this annual Appeal.

Fast Facts:

Below are statistics showing the pastoral outreach of chaplaincy services and what your donation helps to provide:

Prisons – 2000 residents pastorally supported across 16 Prisons through face to face encounters and group based church services.

Youth Justice – 47 hours per week of face to face and group based pastoral support to young people in the Parkville, Malmsbury and Barwon Grevillia Youth Justice Correctional Facilities.

Healthcare – 126 hours per week of face to face pastoral support of patients across 6 large Public Hospital facilities. In addition financial support provided to many Parish Communities with major state run hospitals within their boundaries.

HIV/AIDS – 500 lunches and other pastoral encounters provided once a week over the year offering welcome and hospitality to some 150+ people living with HIV/AIDS.

$100m blow to Catholic schools
Extract from Cathnews, The Australian,  5 May 2017
Catholic schools fear a $100 million blow to their federal funding under the Turnbull government’s education reforms, raising the spectre of a “funding cliff” in four years, The Australian reports.     The Catholic Education Commission of Victoria (CECV) has sounded the alarm on a controversial formula at the heart of the changes that could slow the growth in funding to the sector to just 1.9 per cent after 2021, fuelling concerns that threaten to divide the Coalition backbench ahead of a partyroom “showdown” on Tuesday.   The government moved last night to counter the fears by citing Treasury forecasts that show real funding growth of 3.5 per cent every year on average over the decade to 2027, highlighting a stand-off over a fundamental part of the reform plan....(more)
 Bishop Tim's leap of faith
Extract fom Cathnews 4 May 2017
The new Bishop of Townsville said that he was making another "leap of faith" following his ordination yesterday, reports the ACBC Media Blog.    The episcopal ordination of the Most Reverend Timothy Harris as the sixth Bishop of Townsville took place at Ryan Catholic College, Townsville.   Speaking at the ceremony, Bishop Harris said he was now making another "leap of faith after nearly 25 years as a priest". He said, "these years have been packed full and today I pray that the grace that comes in the fullness of this priesthood as a bishop will bear fruit in this part of the world."   "I continue to say 'yes' to God, not for myself but for you the people of God," he added.   The 54-year-old bishop told the people of the diocese, "I can only teach what the Church teaches and I believe in that teaching, but if any of you fail to live up to that teaching, I won’t abandon you. I will do what I can to accompany you, something I would hope every single priest of this diocese is already doing in their ministry.   "Our Church needs to be known not for its pre-determined sanctions and judgements, but how it walks gently and compassionately with the sinner in order to heal the sin," he added....(more) Photo: Cathnews, ACBC,

Report to the Bishops of Australia on an Open Letter from Catholics of Australia

Extract from Catholics For Renewal, Thursday 4 May, 2017

Catholics For Renewal submitted a Report on the Open Letter to all the Australian bishops during the evening of Tuesday 2nd May with signatures up to that date to enable its consideration at the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. The Conference plenary session meets 4 - 11 May 2017. Catholics For Renewal also published the Report to bishops on its Website today where it is available for download (HERE). The report advises the bishops in its report that Open Letter signatures are still being received and that written signatures and online signatures and comments will remain open, and that they will be updated on these details later to further share with them thinking of Australian Catholic faithful. 
Forget millennials. How will churches reach Generation Z?
By Jonathan Merritt  2 May, 2017
For the last decade, church experts have been wrestling over the best ways to reach and retain “millennials,” which is a phrase the describes individuals born from the early 1980s through the mid-1990s. Data shows that many millennials leave the church during their college years, and some never return. The fastest growing religious identifier among this generation is “spiritual but not religious.”     But as millennials age, get married, and start families, they are no longer the only “young people” that churches must consider. A new cohort has risen: “Generation Z” or individuals born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s. Generation Z diverges from millennials in many ways and presents unique challenges and opportunities for churches who hope to capture their attention.    For this reason, I decided to speak with Pastor James Emery White about his new book, “Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World.” Here we discuss what sets these young people apart from their elders and what he believes it means for modern ministry, evangelism, and apologetics....(more) Photo: Religion News Service, Jens Johnsson