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)  
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
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   
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
 Parish responds to Pope's call
Extract from CathNews, 2 May 2017
Inspired by Pope Francis's call for parishes across the world to take in asylum-seekers, one group is celebrating a year in operation, Melbourne Catholic reports.    Encouraged by parish priest Fr Dennis Rochford, St Bridgid's Greythorn parishioner Robert Stewart approached his fellow churchgoers 18 months ago, asking how they could best respond to the Pope's request.    Thirty people put their names down to be involved in what would emerge as St Bridget’s Refugee Action Group, now a partnership between St Bridget’s and St Dominic’s in Camberwell, to provide secure accommodation and support to an asylum seeker family.         The group is now celebrating one year in operation.        Sr Brigid Arthur from the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project educated the group on refugee and asylum-seeker issues and various categories of need, which refocused the group’s efforts on asylum-seekers. Sally-Anne Petrie from CatholicCare’s Asylum Seeker Support Program offered training and input to develop the group’s guiding principles.    Xavier College in Kew offered its hall for a fundraising event in which over $16,000 was raised. The funds allowed St Bridget’s to partner with St Dominic’s in sharing the cost of a rental property in Box Hill, which has been home to an asylum-seeker family for nearly 12 months....(more) Photo: Cathnews, Bigstock photo

Letter from Rome
Don't say 'we have always done things this way'
Extract from Robert Mickens, Commonweal, 1 May 2017
Pope Francis, the pontifex maximus, went to Cairo on the latest and perhaps most important mission of his four years as Bishop of Rome to try to “build bridges of peace, dialogue, fraternity, justice, and humanity.”    Those were the very words he used in a video message to the people of Egypt just days before his brief, Friday-Saturday visit to the nation’s capital.......“The ‘always done this way’ phrase has done so much damage in the Church, and it continues to do so much damage to the Church,” he added.      “We must always be changing because time changes. The only thing that does not change is what’s essential. What doesn’t change is the announcement of Jesus Christ, missionary attitude, prayer, the need to pray, the need to be formed, and the need to sacrifice. That does not change. You have to find the way, how to do it, but it does not change,” said Pope Francis.          Connected to this, he said, was a fixation some Catholics have who want to “regulate things and not allow freedom.”  He pointed to the twenty-third chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus calls the “fixated” religious leaders of his time hypocrites....(more)
[Ed: sound familiar? See Evangelii Gaudium, para 33.]:
“33. Pastoral ministry in a missionary key seeks to abandon the complacent attitude that says: “We have always done it this way”. I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities. A proposal of goals without an adequate communal search for the means of achieving them will inevitably prove illusory. I encourage everyone to apply the guidelines found in this document generously and courageously, without inhibitions or fear. The important thing is to not walk alone, but to rely on each other as brothers and sisters, and especially under the leadership of the bishops, in a wise and realistic pastoral discernment.”

Canberra Catholics call for reform at watershed meeting of Laity
Extract from Mark Metherell, Media release, Concerned Catholics of the Camberra-Goulburn Archdiocese, 28 April 2017
More than 200 Catholics meeting in Canberra last night strongly supported reforms to give the laity more power in the running of their church.    The standing room only event called on Archbishop Christopher Prowse, who attended but did not address the gathering, to take the reform message to next week's meeting of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference.    The gathering was convened by the recently formed Concerned Catholics of Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese group to press for changes that propose a big boost to lay representation, including women, in church decision-making, and the establishment of a diocesan pastoral council with significant lay membership.    The chair of the meeting, Professor John Warhurst, said today the large attendance at the meeting and the enthusiasm for change displayed by the overwhelming majority was an emphatic signal for reform.   Professor Warhurst put to the meeting a motion which asked if those attending supported the general goals of greater accountability, inclusiveness, transparency, women's participation in decision-making, lay leadership and collaborative working towards a reform agenda in the Archdiocese and more broadly.   This was passed with an overwhelming majority show of hands.....(more)
A Vision for Education in the Parish of Ivanhoe
Extract from source document, Fr Bill,  Friday 28 April 2017
In conjunction with Catholic Education Melbourne (CEM) we have established a Working Party to develop a 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 generation of parish children.     The development of our parish vision will be a consultative process giving close consideration to our pastoral mission and faith development, changing demographics of the parish, current school sites and facilities, educational programs, finances and good stewardship of our resources.        The membership of the Working Party includes our three school principals, three active and supportive parishioners who are also school parents, representatives of Catholic Education Melbourne and the Chair of the Parish Pastoral Council. The members are......... (HERE)   The Working Party will meet regularly between the last week of April and the second week of June. Please remember them and their important work in your prayers.     Image: batesvisioneducation.org
ONLINE SURVEY: Our Parish Easter Liturgies - How were they?
John Costa, Friday 28 April 2017
Easter is a very important part of the Church year. To help ensure that future Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe Holy Week liturgies are as valuable to participants as reasonably possible we invite, encourage and indeed URGE all those who shared in our various Holy Week liturgies this year to let us know what you think of them? We have created a very short Online Survey to find out.     The survey is anonymous, unless you wish to optionally identify yourself.  It is also quick and easy for you to complete (in just a few minutes), and accessible via the Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe website 'Liturgy' page (HERE).           The Liturgy and Communication groups would greatly value your feedback on each of the Holy Week liturgies you attended. Your responses via the parish website before Thursday 4 May would be appreciated.   The Liturgy and Communication groups would greatly value your feedback on each of the Holy Week liturgies you attended. Your responses via the parish website before Thursday 4 May would be appreciated.

Pope begins risky trip to Egypt
Extract from CathNews, Crux, 28 April 2017
Although Pope Francis's trip to Egypt today will be brief, it will be among the riskiest outings of his papacy, writes John Allen Jr in Crux.    From security concerns to the labyrinthian politics awaiting him, Francis will face hard choices in Cairo from the moment he lands today until he leaves 27 hours later to return to Rome........The overt purpose for Francis’s trip to Egypt is a Friday visit to Cairo’s Al-Azhar mosque and university, considered the most important centre of learning in the Sunni Muslim world and sometimes dubbed the “Islamic Vatican”. While there, the Pope will address an international conference on peace being sponsored by Al-Azhar.   In recent years, the Vatican and Al-Azhar have seen themselves as partners in the struggle against religious violence and extremism. Yet some observers question the sincerity of Al-Azhar’s clerical leadership in genuinely promoting religious tolerance.    Francis thus will have to try to strike an appropriate balance between gratitude for the steps his Muslim hosts in Egypt have taken in the direction of tolerance and understanding, without inadvertently sending the signal that no work is left to be done....(more) 

A Sacred work of Art: The Timeless Dance
Edited extract from Jina Mulligan, The Melbourne Catholic, April Issue ($4), Friday 28 April 2017
Michael Galovic is a Yugoslavia born artist who has made his home in Australia for the past 27 years. He is renowned for creating works of sacred art that are artistically and spiritually challenging. He was recently commissioned by St Columba’s Girls College in Essendon to create The timeless dance, a work that celebrates women and invites us to encounter the divine. Amongst the small collection of sacred fine art for which the Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe is known, works  have been commissioned from Michael Galovic.
Francis pays rent on private beach for disabled
Extract from Cathnews, CNN, 28 April 2017
Pope Francis is paying a year's rent for a private beach near Rome so a charity can help people with disabilities enjoy the sea and sun, CNN reports.      The Work of Love charity has rented a portion of the Little Madonna beach since 2012 and outfitted it with boardwalks, ramps and water vehicles to provide access to people in wheelchairs and those with other issues that make a day at the beach difficult.   Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, told CNN that Francis gave the charity an undisclosed sum to "support the project that helps disabled youth and in particular to cover the cost of the annual rent for the beach known as the Little Madonna." Work of Love said in a statement on its website it received the news of the donation with "enthusiasm and astonishment".    The program is run by volunteers, including medical personnel and helpers from the Italian Paralympic Swimming Federation, who make sure participants are safe in the water.....(more)

TED talk, pope urges people to make real connections
[Ed: Highly recommended TED video of Pope Francis HERE directly (17 minutes)] 
Extracts from  Keanine Griggs, Catholic News Service, NCR, 26 April 2017
...Many people in the world move along paths "riddled with suffering" with no one to care for them, the pope said. Far too many people who consider themselves "respectable" simply pass by, leaving thousands on "the side of the road."    "The more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people," he said, the greater the responsibility one has to act and to do so with humility. "If you don't, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other."    "There is a saying in Argentina," he told his audience: "'Power is like drinking gin on an empty stomach.' You feel dizzy, you get drunk, you lose your balance, and you will end up hurting yourself and those around you, if you don't connect your power with humility and tenderness."    "The future of humankind isn't exclusively in the hands of politicians, of great leaders, of big companies," he said, even though they all have power and responsibility. "The future is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other as a 'you' and themselves as part of an 'us.'" ..... "Tenderness is the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous men and women," he insisted. "Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude. It is the path of solidarity, the path of humility."    Francis also urged the crowd to hold on to hope, a feeling that does not mean acting "optimistically naive" or ignoring the tragedies facing humanity. Instead, he said, hope is the "virtue of a heart that doesn't lock itself into darkness."   "A single individual is enough for hope to exist." he added. "And that individual can be you. And then there will be another 'you,' and another 'you, and it turns into an 'us.'"......More - and it's preferable to watch the 17 minute of Pope Francis directly (HERE)   Photo: TED

Why be afraid when God is always showing the way, asks Pope
Extracts from Catholic Herald UK, 26 April 2017
Christians always have hope, no matter how bleak, bad or uncertain the journey, because they know God is always by their side, Pope Francis has said......In fact, the decisive moment between skepticism and faith is “the discovery of being loved and accompanied by our Father,” the Pope said.    Life is a pilgrimage, a journey in which “the seduction of the horizon” is always calling the human “wandering soul,” pushing people to go and explore the unknown, he said.     "You do not become mature men and women if you cannot perceive the allure of the horizon – that boundary between heaven and earth that asks to be reached” by those who are on the move, he said.   Christians never feel alone “because Jesus assures us he not only waits for us at the end of our long journey, but accompanies us every day,” even through dark and troubled times, he said.....(more).    Photo: Catholic Herald, CNS    

Royal commission's truths demand that we Catholics must change our church
Extract from Mark Metherell,The Canberra  Times, 24 April 2017
Among the 150,000 or so people in the Canberra region who say they are Catholics, many are pondering the future of their church. The fallout of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has shaken many practising Catholics who had already witnessed the steady departure of younger people from the pews.    There are, however, Catholics in Canberra who seek to reinvigorate their church by pressing for changes to its management and staying true to the example of Jesus Christ. The group, Concerned Catholics of Canberra Goulburn, says the royal commission provided the grounds for profound reform of the church's administration, and of its male-dominated, clerical culture.    The group seeks a strong role for the laity in church affairs to transform the often passive role of the parishioner to that of active citizens of the church.    Concerned Catholics wants to encourage discussion among the laity about strengthening their voice in the church. It is holding a public meeting in Canberra on Thursday (April 27) and proposes recommendations that it hopes will be considered by Archbishop Christopher Prowse and put to the plenary meeting of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference early next month.   Throughout the commission hearings, the lack of transparency and accountability, the absence of lay participation and a culture of secrecy and non-disclosure was shown to characterise the church's administration and governance.     It should be acknowledged that the church hierarchy in Canberra has demonstrated a willingness to change when it comes to child-sex abuse. Prowse submitted a 138-paragraph witness statement to the royal commission. The statement was a response to a battery of questions from the commission ranging from what reforms he had undertaken since the commission started, what policies and procedures he applied in relation to complaints of child abuse, and about the management of personnel subject to sex-abuse claims.....Concerned Catholics advocates a more inclusive church that engages laymen and laywomen in leadership and advisory roles, to bring Christ into their everyday lives by giving them a more active and involved role in their faith.     An Australia-wide movement is unfolding, with groups like Catholics for Renewal circulating a national petition urging bishops to make significant changes to cultural and governance structures in the church.....Mark Metherell is a member of Concerned Catholics of Canberra Goulburn. The group will meet on Thursday, April 27, at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture in Barton. Speakers will include Truth, Justice and Healing Council chief executive Francis Sullivan, former NSW premier Kristina Keneally and Australian Catholic Coalition for Church Renewal convenor Marilyn Hatton...
Pope Francis' frantic schedule for the next few months
He is clearly a man on a mission to revitalize and unite global Christianity while sowing seeds of peace, dialogue, and friendship around the world. Even a meeting with US President Donald Trump in Rome is possible.
Extract from Robert Mickens, Rome, Subscription Journal La Croix International, 21 April 2017
Pope Francis is going to be busier than ever the next couple of months and his activities are likely to have an important impact on the continued renewal of the Church and - if we’re lucky - they will stimulate brighter prospects for world peace.      At least that’s what he and his Vatican aides are hoping and praying for. And, of course, hope springs eternal in the human heart and prayer is at the very heart of being a believer.    Francis, now well into his 81st year, is showing no signs of slowing down. If anything, he’s moving with a greater sense of determination and urgency. He is clearly a man on a mission to revitalize and unite global Christianity while sowing seeds of peace, dialogue, and friendship around the world....(source)
Many thanks
Friday 21 April 2017
Many Thanks to all who assisted with our Holy Week and  Easter Liturgies: Our Liturgy Team, Sacristans, Altar Servers, Readers, Special Ministers, Organists & Choir, the Multi-Media team, our Parish Secretary, and all who assisted in preparing our churches and grounds. You all helped make our ceremonies wonderful celebrations of the Crucified and Risen Christ!
R.I.P Ken Edebohls
Fr Bill, Friday 21 April 2017
R.I.P. Please remember in your prayers my brother Ken who died on Easter Wednesday from the asbestos related disease mesothelioma. We were able to offer Mass for him a couple of hours after he died at the 9.15am Mass at Mary Immaculate and it was a great comfort to have members of the parish family gathered at the altar in support. Thank you to those who have offered their condolences and prayer for Ken and his family at this time. [Ed: All fellow members of the Ivanhoe parish family offer our thoughts and prayers for Fr Bill, his wife Robyn and all members of the Edebohls family]
Fr Paul Newton recovering from accident
Friday 21 April 2017
Fr Paul was hospitalised after a recent bicycle accident but is now out of hospital and recovering. We wish him a full and speedy recovery, helped along by his characteristic high energy and fitness level.
Euthanasia: The bishops of Victoria speak out in a pastoral letter
Extract from Media and Communications Office, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, 21 April 2017
The Bishops of Victoria have issued a Pastoral Letter today, directed to the Catholics of Victoria, on the subject of euthanasia and physician assisted suicide.  Noting that there is a renewed push in Victoria for the legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide, the four bishops, headed by the Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, have called on the Catholic community to continue to commit to care for the frail, elderly, sick and dying at every stage of their life journey, and to ensure that they have ‘appropriate care, support and pain management’ at all times.  The letter continues by urging all Victorians not to abandon their loved ones but to continue to love and care for them....(more)
Closed hearts unable to be surprised by the Resurrection, pope says
Extracts from Junno Arocho Esteves, Melbourne Catholic, Catholic News Service, 20 April 2017
Christian faith is a grace and can be perceived only in the hearts of those willing to be surprised by the joy of the Resurrection, Pope Francis said.      ‘A closed heart, a rationalistic heart’ is incapable of understanding the Christian message which has God's love — manifested in Christ's victory over death — at its center, the pope said at his weekly general audience on 19 April.       ‘How beautiful it is to think that Christianity is essentially this: It is not so much our search for God — a search that is, truthfully, somewhat shaky — but rather God's search for us,’ the pope said.......St Paul's summary of those who witnessed the risen Christ, he noted, ends by describing himself as the ‘least worthy of all’ given his dramatic history as a one-time adversary of the early Christians.     St Paul ‘wasn't a 'choirboy.' He was a persecutor of the church, proud of his own convictions,’ the pope said, departing from his prepared remarks. But ‘one day something completely unpredictable happens: the encounter with the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus.’        It is the surprise of this encounter, the pope continued, that all Christians are called to experience ‘even if we are sinners.’        Like the first disciples who saw the stone overturned at Jesus' tomb, all men and women can find ‘happiness, joy and life where everyone thought there was only sadness, defeat and darkness,’ the pope said.....‘If we are asked the reason for our smile and our patient sharing, we can respond that Jesus is still here, he continues to be alive in our midst,’ the pope said. ‘Jesus is here, in this square with us, alive and risen.’
Bishop bonds with fellow refugees
Extract from CathNews, 20 April 2017
Parramatta Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv. has met with a Syrian family who escaped their war-ravaged homeland and resettled in western Sydney, Catholic Outlook reports.....As Bishop Vincent listened, the family shared their story. They are Syrian Catholics, one of the many thousands of families who have fled Syria, a country torn apart by a deadly civil war. Having escaped war-torn Vietnam as a teenager, Bishop Vincent can relate.     Whilst some may consider them fortunate, they still live with concern and worry of relatives and friends left behind. There are five million Syrians registered as refugees, more than the population of Melbourne. The numbers seeking refuge continues to rise as fighting intensifies in the country.     With just the clothes on their back, the family escaped Syria’s capital, Damascus, and found refuge in neighbouring Lebanon. With a reference and sponsor in Australia, they were granted refugee status under the federal government’s additional humanitarian intake specifically for Syrian and Iraqi refugees.    Though their English is broken, they are managing to navigate through the complexities of bureaucracy with the assistance of the Diocese of Parramatta Social Justice Office, Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta and Mary, Queen of the Family Parish, Blacktown and other support agencies.....(more)  Photo: Cathnews 
Trump/Francis meeting more likely as White House 'reaches out' to the Vatican
Extract from Christopher Lamb, The Tablet, 20 April 2017
US spokesman said Trump camp would be 'honoured to have a meeting with His Holiness
Trump/Francis meeting more likely as White House 'reaches out' to the Vatican.  The White House says it will be seeking a meeting between Donald Trump and Pope Francis after senior Republican figures lobbied for a papal audience to take place when the US President is in Italy next month.   "We will be reaching out to the Vatican to see if an audience with the pope can be accommodated," White House press secretary Sean Spicer said during a press briefing. "We would be honoured to have an audience with his holiness.”   A Holy See spokesman said that the Pope would welcome a meeting with the President and they would work to accommodate it, adding that he did not anticipate any timetable clashes. "As of the end of last week we had not had an official request for an audience but for sure we would welcome it,” Greg Burke told AFP news agency....(more)  Photo: The Tablet
Are the bishops up to the pope’s challenge to build a synodal Church?
"Catholicism today still flirts with the dangerous tendency to rely on one man only - the pope. A year-and-a-half after Francis’ speech, how many bishops and bishops’ conferences have embraced his invitation for a synodal Church?"
Extract from Massimo Faggioli,  subscription journal La Croix International, 18 April 2017
There has been attention on Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’ 2016 apostolic exhortation that elaborates on discussions regarding marriage and the family, which took places in 2014 and 2015 within the Synod of Bishops.      But something has largely been neglected. It is the reception of the pope’s focus on synodality and its importance for the Church in the world today.    The day after Easter marked one-and-a-half years since Francis gave one of his most important speeches to explain the need for a synodal Catholic Church.....(source)
Open Letter to the Bishops of Australia
18 April 2017
The reform group ‘Catholics for Renewal’ has prepared an Open Letter to the Bishops of Australia to encourage and support them in their response to the scandal of child sexual abuse and the urgent need for the Church to address issues brought to light by the Royal Commission. Copies of the letter (with the opportunity to support it if you agree with it) are available in each church foyer until the end of this month. If you wish you can support the open letter by signing the letter, or online at:  www.catholicsforrenewal.org.au/open-letter  
'A new era of transparency' foreshadowed
Extract from Francis Sullivan, CathNews, 12 April 2017
The official leading the Church response to child sex abuse has told a gathering of priests that “we created the abuse” and it's time for parish priests to listen to their communities, The Catholic Leader reports.         “We created the abuse. That is the harsh reality,” chief executive of the Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council (TJHC), Francis Sullivan said, addressing about 180 priests from the Archdiocese of Brisbane attending an annual convocation.       “Our culture grew the abusers and our culture protected the abusers and our culture for so long denied the victims. We didn’t listen. We didn’t believe.”         In February, the commission revealed that a total of 1880 priests, religious brothers and sisters, and lay people had been identified as alleged perpetrators in abuse claims made to the Australian Catholic Church by 4444 victims.      “There can be the tendency to compartmentalise that and simply say it was history. But it’s not history. We are living history.     “What matters is that we have to take to heart what it is saying about ourselves. It’s terribly difficult.”          Mr Sullivan said “the game has changed”, and priests must now engage in “the current realities”, including speaking directly with parishioners, some who may be abuse victims themselves, or feel angered and hurt by the Church.     Mr Sullivan foreshadowed a new era of transparency and accountability for priests, overseen by the newly created company Catholic Professional Standards Australia.       Mr Sullivan said new standards would apply “across the board in Church life”, and would include the formation of priests in seminaries, and ongoing support and training of priests during their careers.             Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge described Mr Sullivan’s presentation to priests as “very challenging, but very encouraging”.     “He spoke about the reality of the royal commission and all that has emerged there … where do we go in the future, a change of culture, and what does it mean in practical terms,” he said.     “What we are really talking about here is the future of the Church in Australia, not just the priesthood.”....(more)

Good Friday despair is Easter Sunday's hope
Extract from CathNews, 13 April 2017
Catholic leaders from across Australia have shared their Easter messages with the faithful. The messages explore themes of the darkness of Christ's tomb and the light of the Resurrection.   The despair felt over recent world tragedies and events are canvassed, counterbalanced with the overall hope that belief in God and the Resurrection brings.    Many bishops have chosen to record video messages, along with a traditional written message.....(more)    Painting: Bahuet, France

Cardinal voices openness to re-introducing women deacons
In a wide-ranging interview, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna also says Pope Francis is "full of energy" and in “no way thinking of retiring".
Extract from Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, LaCroix International, 13 April 2017
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn OP has voiced cautious openness towards re-introducing the female diaconate in the Western Church, saying it was once a centuries-long tradition and continued to be practiced in the East.   In a wide-ranging interview with the Austrian daily Wiener Zeitung on April 8th in the run-up to Easter, the cardinal said the fact that women were ordained deacons in the West up to the Middle Ages should give the Latin-rite Church food for thought.      “The big theological question is, of course, what sort of ordination this was and what consequences one can draw from this today,” said the cardinal, a noted theologian and member of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans).       He noted that while the Eastern Church had always been “much more open” to the difference between what is a sacrament and what is only a sacramental sign, Latin-rite teaching on ordination had since been far more precisely defined.        The 72-year-old cardinal said he had no doubts that more women should have leading positions in the Church, adding that not nearly all the options had been explored for that to happen. But regarding women deacons, he voiced a more cautious note.               “First let us wait and see what the Vatican commission concludes,” he said....(more) ImageL LaCroix International, Wikipaedia, GuentherZ

Church faces challenge to connect with young people
Extracts from Gauthier Vaillant, La Croix International, 13 April 2017
'La Croix" talks to Fr Joao Chagas, director of the Youth Section of the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life about the issues for the Synod on Young People and Vocations in October 2018.
What is the aim of the Synod?  Fr Joao Chagas: In the current world, which is changing rapidly, where many social transformations have taken place, it is not easy for the Church to remain in contact with the realities that young people are experiencing.     However, the Church feels the need to listen to young people, to be close to them. It recognizes their immense potential but it also needs to successfully enter into dialogue with them, to encourage them to give the best of themselves.     So I think that the Synod is a call from God to all the bishops through the pope to achieve these goals.     What linkages do you see between this synod and the two recent synods on the family?    JC: Young people spend their youths with their families and youth is also the time for developing a direction in life. Moreover, this period of development is often disrupted today. In our “liquid” societies there is a risk that young people will stop developing dreams for their future.    When this happens, it is a serious failure. Currently, we see that many young people are affected by depression and drugs… They fail to find meaning in their lives.     However, the importance for young people of emotional life is very clear and this translates particularly into the fact that nearly all of them aspire to one day found a family.     Ultimately, everything revolves around the family. Even the vocation to the priesthood has the objective of service to the laity, who make up the families themselves..........What message does the Church wish to address to young people with this Synod?    JC: It needs to show that Christian life is much more than needing to “do” things and that it consists above all of welcoming grace. Young people need to learn to admit that they are loved by God and the Church. And to feel called to be protagonists of the life of the Church.   I believe that young people have had enough of hearing “you are the future". When we say that we are saying that they will only be interesting later!    One of the issues for this synod will be to finally say to young people that they are not just the future but the present. The question is this: “What is it that I, as a young person, can do and be to live and serve the present?”    “I believe that the basis of everything is recognizing oneself as a gift and asking what I can do for others. Based on this idea of a gift, young people are called to ask themselves how to orient their lives in service of humanity and the Kingdom of God.....(more)

Pope wants episcopal conferences to decide on married priests, says cardinal
Extract from Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, subscription journal La Croix International, 12 April 2017
Cardinal Walter Kasper has told German media he believes Pope Francis favors ordaining married men of proven virtue (known by the Latin term, viri probati), but is also sure the pope wants to leave the decision up to individual bishops’ conferences.   “The (vocation) situation differs so widely in different parts of the world that a uniform worldwide solution is not possible,” the cardinal said on April 6th in a long interview with the German Church’s Internet portal katholisch.de.    The occasion was the 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood....(source)

Chrism Mass: Archbishop Coleridge says God “will not fail” to raise men for the priesthood despite Royal Commission sorrow
Extracts from Emilie Ng , The Catholic Leader, 11 April 2017
Priestly vocations might be fewer in number and “chastened” by the Royal Commission’s hearings into abuse in the Catholic Church but “the gift of priesthood will remain”, Archbishop Mark Coleridge said.     The Archbishop reiterated the anointed call of men to the priesthood during the Chrism Mass at St Stephen’s Cathedral on April 6, where priests of Brisbane archdiocese renewed their vows publicly and oils used throughout the liturgical year were blessed.     The Mass coincided with the final day of the annual Convocation of Priests, where recommendations following the Royal Commission’s final hearing into the Catholic Church response to sexual abuse were discussed, including clericalism as a primary cause of abuse.     Archbishop Coleridge used his homily to explain a concept questioned by the Royal Commission, notably the profound ontological change that occurred in men ordained to the priesthood.      “It’s worth asking tonight what the Church was trying to say in speaking of ontological change in those ordained,” he said.    “It was an attempt to speak of the priesthood in a radical way, as something beyond the merely functional.     “When a man is ordained he is radically configured to Christ, the High Priest and Good Shepherd. This in turn changes the pattern of his relationships with other people. Those relationships become radically different because he’s ordained.”    In this way, a man called to the priesthood was “set apart” from other ministries in the Church.    “Now it’s true that no one in the Church is superior to anyone else; in that sense we are all of us, the baptised, equal before God,” Archbishop Coleridge said.   “But equal doesn’t mean the same – the fact that some of us are bishops, priests or deacons doesn’t make us in any way superior, but nor does it make us the same. ....... “Unintentionally the Royal Commission echoed at Pope Francis who, speaking from a very different angle, has left no doubt that clericalism is a disease in the Church that needs to be treated and treated without delay,” the Archbishop said.   But when the Pope spoke of clericalism, he was referring to a priesthood that “is geared to power rather than service”....(more)  Photo: The Catholic Leader, Alan Edgecomb

Palm Sunday Masses
Friday 7 April 2017
You might like to come early to Palm Sunday Masses this weekend as (weather permitting - which looks likely) the Blessings of Palms will take place just before procession into the Church for Mass. You might also like to BYO palm for blessing.
Open Letter to the Bishops of Australia
Friday 7 April 2017:
The reform group ‘Catholics for Renewal’ has prepared an Open Letter to the Bishops of Australia to encourage and support them in their response to the scandal of child sexual abuse and the urgent need for the Church to address issues brought to light by the Royal Commission. Copies of the letter (together with a support petition) are available in each church foyer. If you wish you can support the open letter by signing the petition or online HERE (www.catholicsforrenewal.org/open-letter)

Francis to wash inmates' feet on Holy Thursday
Extract from CathNews, 7 April 2017
This Holy Thursday, Pope Francis will wash the feet of prison inmates and say Mass at their penitentiary, CNA reports.    The Pope will visit Paliano prison south of Rome the afternoon of April 13. He will make a private visit and say the Mass of the Last Supper, Vatican Radio reports.      For Holy Thursday in 2013, soon after becoming Pope, Francis visited the Casal del Marmo youth detention centre in Rome and celebrated Mass there. This occasion was notable for being the first time a pope included females and non-Christians among those whose feet he washed.      At the time, liturgical law permitted only men's feet to be washed in the Holy Thursday ceremony.      In January 2016, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments modified the Roman Missal to allow for women's feet to be washed at the Holy Thursday Mass.    In a letter to the congregation's prefect, Cardinal Robert Sarah, Pope Francis wrote: “For some time I have been reflecting on the rite of the washing of the feet, which forms part of the Liturgy of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, with the intention of improving the ways in which it is put into practice, so that we fully express the meaning of the gesture made by Jesus in the Upper Room, his gift of self until the end for the salvation of the world, his boundless charity.”         The Roman Missal's text was modified to say that “those chosen from among the People of God are accompanied by the ministers”, while it had previously read: “the men chosen are accompanied by the ministers”.      Many parishes around the world had already been including women in the ritual for years; the decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship made the practice licit....(source)  Photo: CathnNews, CNS,

Calvary cross a symbol of lament
Extract from CathNews, 6 April 2017
A Liturgy of Lament and Hope in response to child sexual abuse within the Church was held at St Christopher's Cathedral in Canberra on Tuesday night, Catholic Voice reports.     "We have come here tonight from pain and disillusionment, from anger and confusion, from sadness, looking for hope. We come together for one thing only: to raise our hearts and voices and very bodies to God, in the hope that the very act of raising them in lament yet in faith, they may be touched in their brokenness, and know the transforming and surpassing power of God’s love."     With this invocation, the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn conducted the liturgy, attended by approximately 200 people with a number of priests, deacons and religious present.    Archbishop Christopher Prowse led the liturgy which came about in response to the recent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, some of which happened at the hands of Catholic Clergy and lay people.....(more)  Photo CathNews, Catholic Voice

Young people ready to carry on the faith
Edited Extract from CathNews, Aurora Report, 6 April 2017
Speaking on ABC radio earlier this year, Hannah Williams, a young Maitland-Newcastle Diocese local, challenged the stereotype that young people no longer engage with their faith, Aurora reports.    “Attending World Youth Day (WYD) in Poland really affirmed that the Catholic faith is not dying. It’s alive and there are so many young people out there ready to carry that on,” Hannah said.    Youth ministry is alive and well in the diocese and it’s expected to take off in new and exciting ways with a large contingency set to join an estimated 15,000 young people at the Australian Catholic Youth Festival (ACYF) in Sydney this December. The festival will kick off the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s Year of Youth in 2018, celebrating ten years since WYD was held in Sydney.    Blackbutt Pastoral Region Co-ordinator, Ellen Hazelton, believes parishes can support the youth in their midst by helping them to attend ACYF and WYD.     “WYD and the ACYF provide a great opportunity to shake up and wake up the Church. I think their greatest value is they show people the Church isn’t a dying community, but one full of other young people on a similar journey, asking the same questions. They are not as alone as they imagined. They are a different experience and can be moving, energising and challenging while still reflecting our unique Catholic identity,” said Chair of the Diocesan Council for Ministry with Young People (DCMYP), James Elliott.....(more)  Photo. CathNews

Reform movement says canon law must be amended
"The way the bishops and local Churches have reacted to "Amoris Laetitia" has been an acid test for the Church’s capacity to implement reforms."        Extract from Christa Pongratz-Lippitt,subscription jounal La Croix International, 6 April 2017
A Germany-based group that pushes for change in the Church has called on bishops to support Pope Francis’ course of reform “far more consistently and above all jointly”.    In a two-page statement on April 3 the group, “We Are Church”, said the papal document on marriage and the family, Amoris Laetitia, had initiated the “long overdue paradigm shift on sexual ethics” and set in motion the discussion of issues that had long been stalled.   “This paradigm shift must now gain momentum so as not totally to dash the hopes of the great majority of Catholics that the Church’s teaching and practice will be developed further,” said We Are Church....(source)
Number of Catholics in the world continues upward trend, thanks to Africa
Extract from Sean Smith, The Tablet, Catholic News Service, 6 April 2017
African continent now boasts a 17.3 per cent share of the global Catholic population of 1.285 billion.        Number of Catholics in the world continues upward trend, thanks to Africa.
The number of baptised Catholics in the world grew to 1.285 billion an increase of 1 per cent year on year according to the Vatican's yearbook, the 2017 Annuario Pontifico published on Thursday.   The annual publication, which contains the most comprehensive snapshot of the Catholic church and includes: a list of every diocese and bishop in the world; all Roman Curia offices and their personnel; the diplomatic corps at the Holy See; the world’s religious orders; pontifical academies and universities.      The 2017 edition of the Vatican Statistical Yearbook reports that the countries with the most Catholics account for almost 56 per cent of the world's Catholic population. The top 10 Catholic populations are (in order): Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines, United States, Italy, France, Colombia, Spain, Congo and Argentina....(more)  Photo: The Tablet

Listening is key to dialogue pope tells UK Muslim leaders
Extract from Cindy Wooden, 5 April 2017, Crux, Catholic News Service
ROME - Religious leaders need to listen to one another, and they must teach their followers to do the same, Pope Francis told four imams visiting from Great Britain.    “The most important work we must do today among ourselves and with humanity is the work of ‘the ear’: listening. Listening to one another without hurrying to give a response,” he told the Muslim leaders, who were visiting Rome with Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster.   “It’s interesting,” he said during the meeting April 5, “when people have this ability to listen, they speak softly, tranquilly. But when they don’t have it, they speak loudly and even shout.”    Religious people must listen to one another and speak to each other as brothers and sisters, he said. “Listen and speak softly, peacefully, seeking the path together.”   Pope Francis asked “almighty and merciful God” to bless the imams, and he asked the imams to pray for him.....(more) Photo: via AP

Pope names new official to oversee processing of abuse cases
Extract from Catholic Herald, Associated Press, 5 April 2017
Pope Francis on Tuesday named a new official to oversee the Vatican office that processes clerical sex abuse cases amid mounting criticism over the backlog of cases and Francis’s handling of the problem.     The promotion of Mgr John Kennedy to head of the discipline section of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) was the second abuse-related appointment in recent days. Francis named Fr Hans Zollner, one of the Catholic Church’s top experts on fighting abuse and protecting children, as an adviser to the Vatican’s office for clergy on Saturday.    Francis and the Vatican have come under fresh scrutiny over their response to the abuse crisis since Irish survivor Marie Collins resigned from the Pope’s sex abuse advisory commission on March 1, citing “unacceptable” resistance to the commission’s proposals from the Vatican’s doctrine office.....(more)
Cardinal Sarah attacks 'devastation and schism' of modern liturgy and praises text Pope wants to review  Extract from Christopher Lamb, The Tablet, 3 April 2017
Cardinal Sarah attacks 'devastation and schism' of modern liturgy and praises text Pope wants to review.   A speech by the Holy See’s liturgy prefect has lambasted the liturgical changes which occurred following the Second Vatican Council while praising controversial guidelines on Mass translations that Pope Francis has reportedly called to be reviewed.    Cardinal Robert Sarah, who runs the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, argued in a message sent to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the publication of the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum by Pope Benedict XVI that those promoting a “modern liturgy” had caused disaster, devastation and schism by trying to reduce the Mass into a “simple convivial meal”.     The 1962-65 gathering of bishops during Vatican II sought to renew Catholicism by re-connecting to the early Church while urging Catholics to engage in a dialogue with the world: and the church leaders who gathered in Rome at that time voted almost unanimously to reform the liturgy. But in the message sent this week to a German liturgical colloquium, Cardinal Sarah said "the post-conciliar Catholic Church" had "abandoned her Christian roots" which had seen her serious crisis in all areas of the Church’s life....(more) Photo: The Tablet.
Reformists urge bishops to challenge Church teachings
Extract from CathNews, 4 April 2017
A group of Catholics advocating Church reform have called on Australian bishops to lead an “urgent delegation” to Rome seeking changes to Church teaching, reports the Newcastle Herald.    In an open letter released on Friday and sent to all parishes, Catholics for Renewal has urged bishops not to “defer to the Holy See” or wait for Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommendations before acting on serious issues that it says contributed to the crisis.   Catholics for Renewal president Peter Johnstone OAM said bishops needed to urge Pope Francis to require mandatory reporting of all child sexual allegations to police and immediately appoint women to the Church’s highest ranks.            Mr Johnstone said revelations from the royal commission had demonstrated the clear need for change within many institutions, but “the big question is: are Catholics ready and determined enough to reclaim their church?”   Mr Johnstone said the call for Australian bishops and archbishops to directly challenge Pope Francis on fundamental Church teachings might be perceived as a “revolutionary step”, but was "simply in accordance with Christ’s teachings”.          It had been a “great failure” that bishops in the past had been unwilling to give “honest advice” to Popes on the subject of child sexual abuse, he said.   The letter asked bishops and archbishops to end “the corrosive culture of clericalism” and for women to be appointed to senior diocesan positions, after figures revealed by the royal commission showed dioceses with women in influential positions with authority over priests had the lowest child sexual abuse rates.         In a statement yesterday Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president, Archbishop Denis Hart, said: “Many important issues for the life and renewal of the Church are currently being addressed in a systematic way by bishops in their dioceses, and by the national Bishops’ Conference. Some have been mentioned by Catholics for Renewal.”...(more)  Photo: Cathnews. Newcastle Herald.
Australian Catholic bishops must lead 'urgent delegation' to see Pope Francis, say church reformers
Extracts from Joanne McCarthy, Newcastle Herald, 3 Apr 2017
Australia's bishops must lead an “urgent delegation” to Pope Francis seeking changes to some of the church’s most fundamental views on women, celibacy, governance and the handling of child sex cases, according to Australia’s peak Catholic reform group in a call to arms to Catholics across the country.      In an open letter sent to all parishes, Catholics for Renewal has urged bishops and archbishops not to “defer to the Holy See”, or wait for Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommendations, before acting on serious issues that contributed to the child sexual abuse crisis.     Catholics for Renewal president and former senior Australian Government bureaucrat, Peter Johnstone OAM, said bishops needed to urge Pope Francis to require mandatory reporting of all child sexual allegations to police and immediately appoint women to the church’s highest ranks.            “The appointment of women would be revolutionary, but I would argue the Pope could do that tomorrow and that would be a catalyst for forcing ultra-conservative bishops to realise they’ve got no choice but to get on board,” Mr Johnstone said.   The push for an Australian delegation to the Vatican comes only days after the church’s most prominent spokesman throughout the royal commission hearings, Francis Sullivan, returned from Rome to say he was “astounded by the resistance in some quarters of the church” to address the child sexual abuse crisis.     Catholic parishioners were asked to support renewal within the church by signing the open letter to Australia’s most senior clergy, in a campaign that will run until May. It was released on Friday as the royal commission ended its 57th and final public hearing.      Mr Johnstone said revelations from the royal commission had demonstrated the clear need for change within many institutions, but “the big question is: are Catholics ready and determined enough to reclaim their church?”     "The appointment of women would be revolutionary, but I would argue the Pope could do that tomorrow and that would be a catalyst for forcing ultra-conservative bishops to realise they’ve got no choice but to get on board. - Catholics for Renewal president Peter Johnstone."            All Australian parish priests and pastoral councils were asked to make a copy of the letter to bishops available in churches from Sunday.  ....We believe what we’ve suggested in the open letter are reasonable but necessary steps for responsible bishops to take immediately, and it can be done, and to apply the sort of pressure that might in fact help the Pope. Bishops need to support doing what is essentially necessary for the church.”    Mr Johnstone’s group told Catholic parishioners it believed an Australian delegation would be welcomed by Pope Francis as he seeks renewal in the church.          “All the actions proposed are within the authority of the Australian bishops who are able to give some hope to the church by acting now. The Open Letter asks our bishops to lead the reform of our Church now, acting promptly and decisively,” the letter said......In a statement on Monday Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president, Archbishop Denis Hart, said: “Many important issues for the life and renewal of the Church are currently being addressed in a systematic way by bishops in their dioceses, and by the national Bishops’ Conference. Some have been mentioned by Catholics for Renewal.”....(more)  Photo: Newcastle Herald
The opposition to Pope Francis is not really about 'Amoris Laetitia'
"Many have forgotten that the opposition to Pope Francis started very early in his pontificate - at least two or three years before 'Amoris Laetitia' was published."
Extract from Massimo Faggioli, Subscription Journal La Croix International, 3 April 2017
It has now been a year since Pope Francis published his post-synodal apostolic exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia (8 April 2016). And the Catholic Church is still in the process of receiving it.   The pope’s interpretation of and contribution to the long synodal debate on love in marriage and the family has certainly changed the Catholic conversation on some of the typical issues of the Church in modern times.     But it is still too early to draw conclusions about the document’s reception. That’s because the people most touched by its teaching – the lay faithful – are largely invisible to the Catholic media....(source)
Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe Men’s Group
Men's Group is meeting Friday 7th April at 8.00pm in Mary Immaculate Hall, Waverley Ave, Ivanhoe. BYO Drinks and cover charge of $5.00 for food.   Call Eugene 0407 869 582 if you require further information.   Image: Presbyterian Church
Melbourne Catholic Magazine  
The April issue of ‘Melbourne Catholic’ is available in each church and costs $4.00. Interesting reading and articles include: Deacons make their mark in parish communities; Gothic in a Green Space - St Augustine’s Church; Balancing a tricky tightrope on ANZAC Day - Joel Hodge.

Pope Francis appoints Fr Ken Howell an Auxiliary Bishop of Brisbane
Extract from Media and Communications, Melbourne Catholic, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, 30 March 2017
The Holy Father has appointed Fr Kenneth Michael Howell as an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Brisbane. The announcement was made at noon Rome time today. The Auxiliary Bishop-Elect will serve alongside Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge.      On behalf of the Australian Bishops, Archbishop Denis Hart welcomed the appointment, ‘Father Howell has shown gifted service as Liturgist, Cathedral Administrator and Pastor, having recently overseen the construction and completion of the new Mary, Mother of Mercy Church in the Parish of Burleigh Heads.         Fr Howell’s gifts, knowledge and love of people will make him a welcome and respected member of the Bishops Conference, where I’ve no doubt he will provide generous service.’...The Bishop-Elect has been a long-standing member of the Council of Priests and Chairman from 2008 to 2013. He is also a member of the Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission, which he currently chairs.         The Holy Father has also accepted the resignation of Bishop Joseph Oudeman, O.F.M. Cap as Auxiliary Bishop of Brisbane. Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge said today, ‘we thank Bishop Joseph for his years of episcopal service in the Archdiocese. We pray that his years of retirement will be fruitful and peaceful. May the Lord grant him good health and the reward of a faithful servant’.            The Ordination of Bishop-Elect Howell will take place on 14 June 2017 at St Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane....(more)   Photo: CAM, Emilie Ng, the Catholic Leader 

Hidden Figures: Is there enough space for women in the Church
Extracts from guest editorial by Tracey Edstein, editor of Aurora Magazine, the official magazine of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, 30 March 2017
Director Theodore Melfi’s Hidden Figures tells the true – albeit massaged for maximum screen impact – story of the women whose mathematical genius was integral to the United States’ mission to explore space, ultimately seeing a man on the moon in July 1969.           The NACA (later NASA) program was predictably male-dominated and driven by the determination to beat the Russians into the last frontier.       The women to whom the film’s clever title refers are disadvantaged not only by gender but by colour. A cohort of African-American women, called impersonally, “computers”, is responsible for endless calculations that are part of the space mission. Dunst). Both they and the numbers they crunch all day are hidden, not only from the public but from most NASA personnel.             They have a ‘coloured’ canteen and ‘coloured’ bathrooms, yet their work is indispensable.    When one of their number, Katherine Johnson, is plucked from the pool to join the ‘big league’, she is all but ignored by her white male colleagues. A ‘coloured’ coffee pot is thoughtfully – and anonymously - provided for her exclusive use. While it’s clear that Katherine is more than up for the task, she is not merely ostracised by her colleagues – who seem dreadfully insecure despite their specialised skill set  − but her work is actively sabotaged. Vital documents have sections ‘blacked out’ and she is denied access to critical briefings.   When she explains to her supervisor that she cannot give of her best if information is denied her, he appeals to the man most threatened by Katherine’s expertise. Paul Stafford replies, “There’s no protocol for women attending [NASA briefing]” in a tone that brooks no further dialogue on the matter.           Katherine Johnson replies evenly: “There’s no protocol for man circling the earth either, sir.”...........A very significant number of the Roman Catholic Church’s adherents are women. Many are well educated, articulate, professional and resilient. Their faith in their Church, like that of their fathers, husbands, brothers and sons, has been sorely tested by the revelations that a significant number of Church personnel – mostly priests and brothers – sexually abused children while other men in positions of power and influence, who preached the gospel  daily, failed to act.                Unlike the protagonists of Hidden Figures, these women are not hidden. In fact, it could be said that in the Australian Church, it is women who keep the wheels turning, even as the institution struggles.               Like NASA, the Church has a mission.    NASA realised that it needed the contribution of women with exceptional and rare skills to realise the mission.        The Church is yet to realise that same truth. Sure, there are countless roles for women, and no limit to our possible contributions. But in terms of official ministry, these contributions can only be made at the behest of an ordained man.    It’s time for the Church to take seriously Paul’s letter to the Galatians: “For all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 4: 27-28)           It’s time for change. It’s time there was a protocol....(more)  Image: ACBC National Office for the Participation of women

Outreach Joy amidst media gloom

John Costa, Thursday 29 March 2017

Spontaneous applause after a Parish film event highlights the importance of sharing moments of joy amidst the sadness and horrors of most daily media reports. Car-attacks, domestic violence, Civilian bombings, Home invasions, Car-nappings, sexual abuse, illness, street riots, Cyclones.         They are a long way from My Fair Lady, a film about a misogynistic and snobbish phonetics professor agrees to a wager that he can take a flower girl and make her presentable in high society.     Made in 1969 the film and its unforgettable songs have truly passed the test of time and celebrate many good things. Society has changed greatly since then. Despite the great story and music I didn't notice around the time of its making what is now regarded as sexist sentiment.     It's a tribute at least to one aspect of today's world and some Institutions that the effectively 'invisible' sexism of the late 60's are now highly conspicuous. However this doesn't detract from enjoying that film today in context. In also enjoying 'High Tea' so much during interval those attending contributed to Outreach group support for the Exodus Community of West Heidelberg and the Mental Illness Fellowshop Victoria (now Wellways). Watch ouy for future enjoyable Outreach shared events!

Church calls Australian youth to showcase talents ahead of major youth festival
Extract from ACBC Office for Youth Media Release, 29 March 2017
Young people across Australia are invited to showcase their musical, artistic and film making talents ahead of the Australian Catholic Youth Festival (ACYF) later this year.    Malcolm Hart, Director of the Office for Youth said, “These artistic and creative elements of the festival are a unique opportunity to showcase and celebrate the many gifts and talents of young people.         I encourage every parish, school and community in Australia to invite and encourage their young people to participate and to grab hold of thiopportunity by exploring and sharing their faith through song writing, film making and artistic creations. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference is hosting the three-day Festival in partnership with the Archdiocese of Sydney.     Focused on young people between Year 9 and  30 years, the program will feature a series of workshops, concerts, exhibitions, keynote addresses and plenary sessions exploring different aspects of faith.....(MORE).  Further information about each competition is available on the ACYF website HERE   Image ACYF   

Investigation accuses 25 French bishops of hiding abuse
Extract from Tom Heneghan, The Tablet, 29 March 2017
The French Bishops’ Conference spokesman has expressed his profound shame after a television documentary accused 25 bishops — five of them still in office — of shielding 32 priests guilty of sexual abuse from justice and moving them around France and other countries to keep their past out of the spotlight.    Conference president Archbishop Georges Pontier disputed some details of the broadcast on France 2 public television but admitted past errors and insisted the Church now put the interests of abuse victims first.    The 21 March broadcast by the news magazine Cash Investigation added new details to the debate about clerical sexual abuse in France, where the bishops’ conference recently said nine priests and deacons were in prison and 26 under investigation for sexual abuse.     Based on a year-long inquiry with the news website Mediapart, it examined abuse cases going back to the 1960s and said half of the 32 abusers were active after 2000, the year when the French bishops first agreed to tighten their anti-paedophilia guidelines.    The resulting database listed 339 victims and showed 228 of them had been under 15 and only 165 cases were reported to civil authorities. The programme also tracked the transfer of alleged abusers within France and abroad, especially to posts in Africa.    “I feel a profound sense of shame, humility and determination, because I am well aware that we have made mistakes,” bishops’ conference spokesman Mgr Olivier Ribadeau Dumas told AFP news agency.   Archbishop Pontier insisted the broadcast highlighted errors of the past but told La Provence newspaper: “We have evolved, even if this has not be fast enough.”....(more)
Argentinian church shamed by Grassi affair
A French investigative TV show claims the pope was too lax in the case of an Argentinian priest convicted of pedophilia.
Extract from, Éric Domergue, Buenos Aires and Nicolas Senèze, Rome, Subscription Journal La Croix International, 27 March 2017
The case of Julio César Grassi broke in 2002 when two young men accused the Argentinian priest of sexually abusing them while they were minors living under his care in the foundation he ran.    Grassi called his foundation Felices los Niños, “Happy Children". It housed several thousand poor children in the western suburbs of Buenos Aires.   Despite his protestations of innocence, Fr Grassi was sentenced in 2009 to 15 years in prison. His numerous appeals were all dismissed and, last Tuesday, the Supreme Court finally upheld his conviction. He has been incarcerated since September 2013...(source)
Outdated model for preparing priests needs major overhaul
"Whenever Pope Francis has talked about the selection and training of Catholic priests he has given every indication that he knows there are serious problems."
Extract fro, Robert Mickens, Rome. Subscription Joirnal La Croix International, 24 March 2017
It is such a serious problem that, according to one noted Church historian, not even Pope Francis dares to speak about it.     It’s the outdated model of Catholic priesthood and, even more significantly, how candidates for the ordained ministry are selected and prepared for service among the People of God.    Professor Alberto Melloni of the John XXII Foundation for Religious Sciences (Bologna, Italy) recently pointed out that the archetype of today’s priest dates back to over 400 years ago and the reforms stemming from the Council of Trent (1545-1563)....(source)
Marching for refugees on Palm Sunday
Extract from CathNews, Fr Andy Hamilton SJ, Friday 24 March 2017
Marches that take place throughout Australia in solidarity with asylum-seekers are particularly appropriate on Palm Sunday, writes Fr Andy Hamilton SJ on the CAPSA website.    Date palm branches are double edged. The fronds are soft and are waved as a symbol of victory for a visiting king. Towards the junction with the trunk, though, the unfurled fronds are sharp, like swords. They can lacerate and are about deterrence; a symbol of cruelty.   In the story of Jesus’ last days, both ends of the palm are in play. On Palm Sunday Jesus enters Jerusalem in a pantomime of royalty. Rolling on a donkey, with people waving palm fronds, he is accepted as king for a day. But later he experiences the palm spikes. He is captured and beaten, has thorn spikes hammered into his head, and is made a bloody symbol of deterrence.   The festivity of Palm Sunday is the prelude to the cruelty of the Passion. And the Passion, of course, is itself the prelude to the Resurrection in which the spikes of suffering and rejection expand, soften and flutter green and verdant.   It is appropriate that many Christian celebrations of Palm Sunday include meditations in the light of Jesus’ comic entrance to Jerusalem as king both on the nature of kingship and also on those made victims by the power of the state. It is a time for remembering the Christians and other persecuted groups in the Middle East and also the people who seek protection from war and persecution and who are treated brutally to deter others.    Marches that take place through Australia in solidarity with people who have claimed our protection and who now languish in cruel detention or have had their lives indefinitely suspended re-enact the short, comic journey of the first Palm Sunday.   They express the same solidarity with the victims of power that Jesus showed in his life. They try to turn the sharp spikes with which refugees are tormented into the fronds of welcome.....(more). Photo: Eureka Street, CAPSA 
Oscar Romero remembered at inspiring Parish Mass tonight
John Costa, Thursday 23 March 2017
One of the hymns beautifully sung by our Parish Choir tonight perfectly sums up both the memory of Oscar Romero and the significance of his martyrdom. At the same time it inspires all who fight against injustice in its various times, forms and places, "Who will speak out if I don't?".       Our Parish was privileged to host this special feast Mass with the Romero Mission, and in Fr Bill's homily and presentation after Mass by Fr Dr Kevin Leneham to hear the story of Blessed Oscar Romero who was assassinated as he preached at his last Mass in support of the persecuted and poor people of El Salvador on 24 March 1980       In practising what became known as Liberation Theology Romero at the time was fiercely accused by a corrupt and brutal State of being their enemy, and within the Church of being a Marxist. Driven by his strong Faith and Christ's example he persisted in his mission for fairness and justice, at the same time correctly predicting his own likely assassination.       The Church under Pope Benedict XVI subsequently recognised and acknowledged that Romero was indeed magnificently following Christ's mission to love, care for and protect those unable and disempowered to care for and protect themselves.         All of this lead to a jubilant social gathering afterwards in the Cunnigham Centre where Fr Lenehem spoke. This was also a day with special significance and poignance for Fr Bill and his wife Robyn who were received into the Catholic Church on 24 March 16 years ago, and Bill who was baptised on this very same date - a long time ago!
O'Malley pledges pope still committed to rooting out clergy sex abuse
Extract from Joshua McElwee, National Catholic Reportyer, 23 March 2017
In the midst of a month in which the effectiveness of Pope Francis' measures to fight clergy sexual abuse has come into question, Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley pledged Thursday that the pontiff is still "thoroughly committed to rooting out the scourge of sex abuse."    O'Malley, the head of Francis' Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, told participants of an education seminar hosted by the group that "there is simply no justification in our day for failures to enact concrete safeguarding standards for our children."    "Let there be no doubts: no other topic is more important for the life of the church," said the cardinal. "If the church is not committed to child protection, our efforts at evangelization will be to no effect; we will lose the trust of our people and gain the opprobrium of the world."....(more)
Priests shouldn't marry, says married priest
Extract from CathNews, 23 March 2017
You might be surprised to know most married Catholic priests are staunch advocates of clerical celibacy, writes Fr Joshua Whitfield, a married Catholic priest from Texas, in the Dallas Morning News.     My wife and I, we have four children, all younger than seven. Ours is not a quiet house. A house of screaming and a house of endless snot, it's also a house of love, grown and multiplied every few years.      But here's what's strange about us: I'm a Catholic priest. And that is, as you probably know, mostly a celibate species.     The discipline of celibacy, as a Christian practice, is an ancient tradition. For priests, celibacy has been the universal legal norm in the Catholic West since the 12th century and the de facto norm long before that.  Yet there have always been, for good reasons, exceptions made, particularly for the sake of Christian unity. The Eastern Catholic Churches, for example, many with married priests, have since early modernity flourished in the Catholic Church.      Likewise for me, a convert from Anglicanism. I'm able to be a Catholic priest because of the Pastoral Provision of Saint John Paul II, which was established in the early 1980s. This provision allows men like me, mostly converts from Anglicanism, to be ordained priests, yet only after receiving a dispensation from celibacy from the pope himself.        But these are exceptions made, as I said, for the sake of Christian unity, because of Jesus' final prayer that his disciples be "one". They do not signal change in the Catholic Church's ancient discipline of clerical celibacy.           I, for one, don't think the Church should change its discipline here. In fact, I think it would be a very bad idea......(more)   Photo: Cathnews
Meetings, money and dress code: how Francis is trying to change curia, by one of his most influential advisors
Extract from by Christopher Lamb, The Tablet, 21 March 2017 
Honduran Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga publiushes a new book about the reform process in the Vatican
Meetings, money and dress code: how Francis is trying to change curia, by one of his most influential advisors.    There are few who have this Pope’s ear in the same way as Honduran Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga. The 74-year-old saxophone-playing prelate is a telegenic polyglot who has been co-ordinating the important "C9" council of nine cardinals advising Francis on his reforms.     He’s just provided an insight into that work in a book by Italian journalist Francesco Antonioli compiling reflections on the Pope titled Francis and Us (Francesco e Noi). Among the contributors is Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman who died in January.    In his essay, Cardinal Rodriguez reveals how Francis was a reformer right from the moment of his election when, during the conclave, he scrapped the tradition of cardinals “paying homage” to the new Pope by greeting them himself.     Then, just four days after his election, Francis approached Rodriguez with a proposal about the new cardinal advisory body he wanted to set up.     “Can you coordinate it?” the Pope asked him. The cardinal, who has been a close friend of Jorge Bergoglio’s since 2007 when they worked on the Latin American church’s Aparecida document, replied: "If you ask me, I have to."    Since then, the 74-year-old Salesian explained that Francis has changed the exercise of the papacy through an “encyclical of gestures” such as washing the feet of Muslim women and migrants while insisting on living in the Casa Santa Marta. After looking around the palatial papal apartments Francis told Rodríguez they were like “a prison”.    While these gestures are important the Pope was elected with a clear wish from his fellow cardinals which the Honduran papal adviser sums up as follows: “the Vatican curia needs to be reformed”. Today he says Francis is pressing ahead with the mandate  “great sincerity and, at the same time, firmness”........... In the book Rodriguez also gives an insight into the informal - more Latin American - style of papal meetings. He explains that the C9 now gathers in Santa Marta on his suggestion. The first meeting, he explained, took place at the Vatican’s Apostolic palace requiring them to wear “official cassock and lace” and leave half an hour to arrive and another half an hour to leave. As a result Cardinal Rodriguez told the Pope they should use a meeting room in the Pope’s residence, and Francis agreed.    The discussions here taken place in a fraternal spirit and “a love for the Church”, according to Rodríguez, while the Pope happily stops to have a coffee break with his fellow cardinals. While Francis’ Vatican reforms are taking time to be implemented - however they do shake out, expect Cardinal Rodríguez to be playing a central role.....(more)
Cardinal Pell blasts Senate's 'unjust' attack
Extract from CathNews, 21 March 2017
Cardinal George Pell has accused the Senate of launching an “extraordinary and unjust” attack against him and interfering with due process, reports The Australian.    A Greens motion, agreed to by the upper house in February, called on the senior ranking clergyman to return to Australia to face allegations of misconduct.    “The use of parliamentary privilege to attack me on this basis is both extraordinary and unjust,” Cardinal Pell wrote in a letter tabled in parliament yesterday.     “Given that the investigation is ongoing, any calls from the Senate for my return to Australia can only be perceived as an interference on the part of the Senate in the due process of the Victoria Police investigation.”      Cardinal Pell has denied all allegations of wrongdoing, saying he was willingly interviewed by police in Rome last year and continued to co-operate with their investigations.   Police and prosecutors had not requested his presence in Australia, he said.    Cardinal Pell appeared on three separate occasions to give evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. “Any fair-minded person would conclude that I have made every effort to be available to the royal commission and to Victoria Police to assist with their inquiries,” he said.    The vast majority of allegations highlight in the Senate’s motion related to the period before his time as Archbishop, Cardinal Pell said.....(more)
International day of what?

John Costa, Monday 20 March 2017

Yes folk, since 2013 the United Nations has celebrated the International Day of Happiness on 20 March as a way of recognising the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world.  How happy is the World?  our Country? our Church? our Parish? are We?

Priest stabbed at Fawkner church
Extract from Steve Lillebuen, Ben Millar, The  Age, 19 March 2017
A priest has been stabbed in the neck at a church in Melbourne's north. Reverend Tomy Mathew was attacked as he was about to begin the 11am Italian mass at St Matthew's Catholic Church on William Street in Fawkner, a long-time church volunteer said. "You can imagine our shock," she said.   "But the ambulance was here quickly and he just walked out to get into the ambulance."    A few church attendees recognised the attacker, she said.   "He's been seen once or twice in the last couple of weeks," she said....(more)
Retreat, Escape, or Face the Challenge
Extract from J. A. Dick, Another Voice: Reflections about Contemporary Christian Belief and Practice, 18 March 2017     
Three recent books are energizing conservative-minded Roman Catholics and other Christians these days. The theme in all three is the end of Christian America. One of my traditionalist friends called them to my attention, hoping to lure me away from my “dangerous liberal thinking.”      I guess a variety of viewpoints has always been with us; and I really do respect other opinions. I do not agree with the authors of these three books, however, because they propose solutions to some genuine American problems that are either unhelpfully narrow-minded or simply utopian fantasies.     On the other hand, out of fairness to my friend who brought them to my attention, I guess one could indeed use these books for a very healthy and effective discussion about what it means to be a truly contemporary Christian…..as well as a contemporary American, deeply concerned about religion, values, and morality in today’s USA.     I begin with Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Christian World by Charles J. Chaput, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia.     Archbishop Chaput offers a strongly negative critique of contemporary U.S. society. I suspect many readers who page through his book will shake their heads in agreement, as they read his lamentations that the United States has now been conquered by a secularist, pleasure-seeking, self-absorbed worldview that leaves little place for Jesus or traditional morality. Telltale signs of America’s “post-Christian” decadence, according to the Archbishop, are divorce, contraception, abortion, materialism, an invasive Obama-generated government, and gay marriage.     Considering my own religious tradition that has long valued the voice of the People of God, and thinking about the city where the Declaration of Independence was drafted, the first red light about this book started flashing for me, when I saw Philadelphia’s Archbishop asserting that “Democracy tends to unmoor society from the idea of permanent truths.” An alternative fact?....(more)  Image: Wikipedia, A cherub, as described by Ezekiel and according to traditional Christian iconography.
Irish archbishop: St. Patrick was an ’undocumented migrant’
Extract from Melbourne Catholic, Catholic News Service,  Friday 17 March 2017
The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland has urged Irish people and those of Irish descent celebrating St Patrick's Day to remember the plight of migrants. Archbishop Eamon Martin — St Patrick's modern-day successor as archbishop of Armagh — used his message for the 17 March feast to recall that St Patrick was first brought to Ireland as a slave by traffickers.           The archbishop said that ‘as Irish people, we cannot think of Patrick without acknowledging the enormous humanitarian and pastoral challenges facing growing numbers of people who find themselves displaced and without status in our world.’ ‘This is so shockingly exemplified by the refugee crisis here in Europe,’ he said.           ‘Prompted by the situation of thousands of displaced people around the world, let us think about Patrick the 'unlearned refugee' (as he once described himself), the slave in exile, Patrick the undocumented migrant,’ Archbishop Martin said.   Referring to, among others, the estimated 50,000 Irish people living illegally in the United States, the archbishop — who is also president of the Irish bishops' conference — pointed out that ‘many of our compatriots remain undocumented in various countries around the world and, in some cases, feel vulnerable and treated with suspicion.’.             The archbishop pointed out that ‘St Patrick's experience of isolation and captivity as a teenager transformed and shaped his whole life and his relationship with God. His lonely time as a slave on the hills of Ireland became a transforming experience, where he felt embraced by the fatherly love of God. ‘I invite you to pray for refugees and for all displaced families at this time and, wherever you are, to encourage the hospitality and welcome for which we, Irish, are famous the world over,’ the archbishop said.....(more)  Image: St Patrick, Catholic Herald

Timely papers in the Autumn 2017 Edition of The Swag
Friday 17 March 2017
A timely set of worthwhile paper in the Autumn 2017 Issue of The Swag, for those who subscribe to this Quarterly Magazine of the National Council of Priests of Australia,  includes amongst other contributions "Towards a change of parish contours", a revised and updated extract by Aengus Kavanagh of a chapter from the book  "Will Catholic Schools be Catholic in 2030" co-authored by Patrician Brother, Aengus Kavanagh, and Ursuline Sister, Leone Pallisier, and Richard Curtain's paper "Having a say in selecting our Bishop" based on a recent Catholics For Renewal Survey on Parish Needs and desired attributes of Bishops.

A Protestant editor for the pope's paper
Extract from Subscription journal La Croix International, 16 March 2017
A Protestant at the head of L’Osservatore Romano? Until very recently, the idea would have seemed absurd. However, it has now become a reality under Pope Francis, who has just given the job of editing the Argentine edition of the Holy See daily to a 60-year-old Presbyterian.    “It is a little bit revolutionary… but he is a revolutionary pope!” Figueroa says with a smile. After four special editions, he is preparing to launch the first edition of L’Osservatore Romano designed for Argentina and Latin America....(more)

First STEM school to open in 2019
Extract from CathNews, 16 March 2017
The nation's first science-focused school will be run by Catholic Education in the Diocese of Parramatta, reports ABC News.    Opening in 2019, the science, technology, engineering & mathematics (STEM) school will take students from pre-school to Year 12 and will be part of Sydney Science Park, a development being planned for Londonderry in western Sydney, not far from Badgerys Creek airport.    Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who spoke at yesterday's announcement at Caroline Chisholm Catholic College, said a STEM school would put NSW at the cutting edge of education in the nation.    "When we think about what will be possible at this STEM school ... it has no bounds and no limits," she said. "Our young people are already engaging in technology more than ever and actually have skills and expertise we could only dream about.     "Just this morning I had some students telling me how they were exchanging data from here to an international space station."    Lily Popovich, who is studying chemistry and biology at Caroline Chisholm Catholic College, said the new school was important so students had a chance to consider working in the science industry.     "I think it's needed so more people understand what science is about and see if they want to get into it career-wise, because it's the future," she said.    The diocese's executive director, Greg Whitby, said schools had to keep pace with the dramatic changes in modern society.    "Unfortunately our education systems have struggled to keep pace with these changes," he said.   "We realise that we need to look ahead with new eyes....(more) 

Pope's quotes: NCR favorites from the last 4 years
NCR Staff, National Catholic Reporter, 15 March 2017
How much room for democracy in the Church?
Pope Francis is currently consulting local priests and lay Catholics to choose his next Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome, a decision which traditionally belongs to the pope himself. "La Croix" examines this unparalleled move.
Extract from Clémence Houdaille, La Croix International, 15 March 2017
In an unprecedented process for the Bishop of Rome, Vatican Insider is reporting that Pope Francis has launched a consultation with people in his diocese to select its next Vicar General.      This choice normally belongs solely to the pope.      The current vicar, Cardinal Agostino Vallini is 77 and will retire on April 17. Local priests and lay faithful have until April 12 to send letters with “suggestions on the profile of the next vicar and also eventually several names".       The consultation was launched by the pope at a private meeting with 36 leaders of the diocese, which has 334 parishes for its 2.8 million inhabitants.      Does the pope intend to make the Church more democratic?      He clearly showed his interest in the opinions of the Catholic laity  during the broad consultation that took place before the two meetings of the Synod of Bishops on the family in 2014 and 2015.     “However, that was not a matter of governance,” notes Fr Luc Forestier, director of the Institute of Religious Studies at the Catholic Institute of Paris.     Very ancient democratic practices in religious congregations     On the other hand, “consultation before appointing a bishop is, in itself, something quite normal," he emphasizes. “However, this process is organized by the nuncio and is secret. I have already been consulted several times myself and I know lay people who also have been confidentially consulted.”     The novelty of the current consultation is that it has taken place publicly among all the faithful even if they are not widely informed, Fr Forestier adds.....(more)    Photo:  La Croix, Riccardo De Luca/AP
New horizons in sight following Royal Commission hearings on the Catholic Church
Extract from Mark Bowling, Catholic Leader, 15 March 2017
In the wake of the Catholic Church’s final hearing before the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse, Church leaders from across Australia have held a day of “reflection and conversation” on child safety.      The three-week Royal Commission hearing investigated the Church’s response to a crisis of child sexual abuse by members over six decades, and particularly the Church’s plans for child protection protocols and institutional change.      The commission heard that over the past 35 years, 4445 people made complaints of child sexual abuse in Catholic Church institutions, and seven per cent of priests were identified as alleged perpetrators.     National Professional Standards Office executive officer Fr Tim Brennan said New Horizon Day, convened in Sydney on March 9, aimed to assist “in the work of safeguarding children” and “to grow in an understanding of the complexities in which we work at this point in the life of our nation, and our Church”.   “It is a moment of enormous transition,” Fr Brennan said.    The New Horizon Day brought together Church leaders from religious orders, diocese and some of the major groups which engage with Catholics across the country including parishes, schools, hospitals and welfare services.        “Clearly, while the Royal Commission has put the Church in the spotlight, now that has passed, it is important to continue the momentum, to discuss what’s going on and where we are headed – and to surface the million questions that people have as they seek to appreciate this confusing transitional period,” Fr Brennan said.    “It was not intended to make policy but to ensure a place for exchange of information and learning.”    The conference included discussion of Towards Healing protocols, how state professional standards might fit into future safeguarding arrangements, and how Church authorities can maintain a pastoral response while dealing with complex legal cases.     “People are galvanised for change and for reform,” Professional Standards Office Queensland director Mark Eustance said.    “They don’t want to lose the momentum.    “It’s about changing the conversation from the horrific history that’s been revealed to the Royal Commission and changing that to a more positive note around what’ll we do to rectify that.”...... (more)

Child Sexual Abuse, Where to from Here?
Extract from speech by Francis Sullivan, CEO Truth Justice and healing Council, to Catalyst For renewal, Villa Maria Parish, Hunter's Hill Sydney, Friday 10 March 2017
What has shocked and confronted me the most about this sex abuse scandal is that it took place in a church. The very fact that the church was on trial, rips at the heart of what the church is meant to be. And that speaks to me of a profound loss of direction, integrity, purpose and meaning at the heart of the church. A spiritual wasteland.       It is my sense that so many Catholics share that shock.  People say the Church now needs to get its house back in order but I say we have to re-build the house. Let’s not put the same foundations in place that delivered us this scandalous history – this profound moral and criminal upheaval. Why was it that moral leadership failed so consistently, so pervasively?     Where was the wisdom and counsel we have been lead to believe comes from those on the spiritual journey? We must address this spiritual bankruptcy as much as anything else. Full speech (as written) HERE

Shifting Church culture a "very long game"
Extract from CathNews, National Catholic Reporter, 10 March 2017
Pope Francis will celebrate his fourth anniversary of his pontificate on Monday. The National Catholic Reporter takes a look at his "very long game" in shifting Church culture.    In January, the Vatican office that oversees priests, sisters and brothers in global religious orders had a plenary session. Seven women attended as representatives of the world's women religious.   That fact may not seem significant for those outside the Vatican, but it was the first time in decades that women had been present at such a meeting, the result of a direct request to Pope Francis.    "We were invited and we could speak," said Sr Carmen Sammut of the Rome-based group of women religious called the International Union of Superiors General. "That was a real structural change."....(more)

Francis open to ordaining married men in some cases
Extract from CathNews, National Catholic Register, Die Ziet, 10 March 2017
Pope Francis says the issue of ordaining some married men as priests needs to be considered, reports National Catholic Register.   In an interview with Die Zeit, Germany’s leading left-leaning newspaper, the Holy Father said the shortage of priests around the world is an “enormous problem” that must be resolved, but stressed that “voluntary celibacy is not the answer”.     However, he said the issue of viri probati, married men proven in faith and virtue who could be ordained to the priesthood, is a “possibility” that “we have to think about”.    “We must also determine which tasks they can undertake, for example in remote communities,” the Pope said.     The Latin rite already allows some married non-Catholic clergymen who become Catholics to be ordained priests, such as former Anglican clergy. The Eastern Catholic Churches allow the ordination of married men as priests but like the Orthodox and Latin Catholic churches, they do not allow clerical marriage, that is priests to marry once ordained.    Last year, Pope Francis ruled out moving away from priestly celibacy, saying it should “remain as it is”. But he has mentioned the possibility of ordaining “proven” married men before, reportedly saying privately in 2014 it could be left for bishops to decide, depending on the situation. He referred to a diocese in Mexico where each community had a deacon but no priest.    The Pope is also understood to have wanted the next synod to discuss priestly celibacy, although it was voted down by the Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops. The secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, further ruled out the possibility of the issue being discussed at the 2018 Synod on “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment”....(more)

Fr Frank Brennan interviewed by Shane Healy
John Costa on MelbourneCatholic video, Friday 10 March  2017
In Depth Interview by Catholic Media & Communications Director Shane Healy of Fr Frank Brennan SJ as newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Social Services Australia. Apart from Social services it also covers aspects of the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse. At 17 minutes it's longer than Shane's usual interviews but covers much significant ground (and short interviews with lawyers can be a challenge). See Multimedia/Video page or Home page.
Oscar Romero: Feast to be celebrated in Ivanhoe
Friday 10 March 2017
Edited extracts from Caritas
and    Wikipedia 9 March 2017
Of course everyone knows the story of Oscar Romero whose 1980 martyrdom and 2015 beatification  will be especially remembered and honoured at selected Feast Masses in Melbourne, including Mother of God Church at 7.30pm on 23 March (see Events page).       Oscar Romero was a prelate of the Catholic Church in El Salvador, who served there as the fourth Archbishop. He spoke out against poverty, social injustice, assassinations and torture In 1980, Romero was assassinated while offering Mass in the chapel of the Hospital of Divine Providence.  Pope Francis stated during Romero's beatification that "His ministry was distinguished by a particular attention to the most poor and marginalized." Hailed as a hero by supporters of liberation theology inspired by his work, Romero, according to his biographer, "was not interested in liberation theology", but faithfully adhered to Catholic teachings on liberation, desiring a social revolution.
Youth leaders head to Rome to plan major events
Extract from Melbourne Catholic, 9 March 2017
Youth leaders will fly to Rome next month to help plan two major events for young people, reports the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference's Media Blog.   Ashleigh Green, from the Broken Bay Diocese, and Malcolm Hart, Director of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Office for Youth, will head to Rome in the first week of April, to participate at an international meeting about World Youth Day (WYD) and the upcoming Synod on young people.    The five-day gathering will focus on the theme, "From Krakow to Panama – The Synod Journeying with Young People". It will include an evaluation of WYD in Krakow last year and will look ahead to WYD in Panama during 2019. Time will be spent on the pastoral and logistical preparations required. Members of both the Polish and Panamanian organising committees will be present.    Ms Green was part of the Diocese of Broken Bay’s WYD pilgrimage to Krakow....(more)
More than 200 Korean martyrs are up for beatification
Extract from Crux, Catholic News Agency, 9 March 2017
The bishops of Korea are examining the cases of over 200 people who could be proposed for beatification, including the first bishop of Pyongyang, who is believed to have died in a concentration camp in North Korea. Bishop Patrick James Byrne, a native of Washington, D.C., is also among the group.    SEOUL, South Korea -- The first bishop of Pyongyang, who was born in America, and numerous priests and laity are among the 213 who could be beatified and advanced on the process to sainthood under a process begun in South Korea.    Bishop Lazarus You Heung-sik of Daejon predicted it will take at least ten years before any beatification or canonization, “but for our people, these people are already holy.”     The bishop heads the Korean bishops’ committee considering the beatifications. He told Asia News that important parts of the path to beatification are the Catholic faithful’s prayer and “desire to follow the spirit of the martyrs.”....(more).   Photo: Crux, (Credit: Prepatory Committee for the 2014 Papal Visit to Korea).  
Pope Francis' fourth anniversary: the centrality of mercy
Extract from Michael Sean Waters, National Catholic Reporter, 8 March 2018
.....In his focus on mercy, Pope Francis is not merely calling attention to a theological virtue we should practice. This is not about ethics only. It goes deeper. It is a quintessential example of ressourcement theology, which proposed a return to the sources, that was so central to the Second Vatican Council. The aggiornamento, or bringing up to date, that the Council took as its mission was not a mere indulgence of modernity, but an engagement with modernity, and an engagement based on a retrieval of the sources of Christian life rooted in the Scriptures and the early Church Fathers. It specifically aimed to question the cultural encrustations that had once revealed and explicated those sources, but now stood in the way.....(more)
Delve into the Bible during Reformation anniversary
Extract from Bill Tammeus, National Catholic Reporter, 8 March 2017
....So if I could wish for one thing to come out of this year of commemorating the start of the Protestant Reformation, it would be that Catholics would delve into the Bible in depth and with good guidance. In turn, I wish that Protestants would gain a deeper understanding of tradition, especially those aspects of the faith that were settled and secure before the Reformation and remain so (or nearly so) today.      As Jacob wrestled with God and became Israel (Genesis 32), so we can wrestle with God's word and become children of the light....(more)  Photo: NCR, (Unsplash.com/Aaron Burden)
New female advisory group to counter 'lack of the presence of women' in leadership roles in Roman Curia
Extract from Christopher Lamb in Rome, The Tablet, 8 March 2017
The 37 female consultants will advise the Pontifical Council for Culture on matters ranging from neuroscience to sports.    New female advisory group to counter 'lack of the presence of women' in leadership roles in Roman Curia.      A new Vatican women’s advisory group has been launched to counter the “lack of the presence of women” in leadership roles in the Roman Curia which has no women in leadership roles despite representing a fifth of the workforce.     Announced a day before today’s International Women’s Day, the permanent consultative body will be made up of 37 women and will report to the Pontifical Council of Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the president of the council told a press conference yesterday.     “I didn't have any women at the management level. They were only there in an administrative sense as secretaries,” Ravasi said.   The new group includes the president of the Vatican-run hospital for children, a Muslim theologian from Iran, the Irish Ambassador to the Holy See and the director of a female prison in Rome.   Donna Orsuto, a professor at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University and director of the city’s Lay Centre also joins the group. Orsuto, who has recently been named as a member of the Vatican’s liturgy department, helped Ravasi to set up the new female advisory body back in 2015.    “It’s a first step but it’s an important one,” she told The Tablet. “To bring the expertise of these women to the work of the council is a great idea.”     She added: “You see these initiatives which are only a beginning, but its positive. As I like to say ‘nothing about us without us.’ If we can move in that direction in the Church, everyone is going to be better off. Men and women.”....(more)

International Women's day - What Islam really says about women
 Alaa Murabit, TED talks, YouTube, 8 March 2017
Any day would be a good day to view this 12 minute TED talk "What Islam really says about women", but it's especially appropriate on International Women's day, and applies to many faith communities, including our own.       Alaa Murabit's family moved from Canada to Libya when she was 15. Before, she’d felt equal to her brothers, but in this new environment she sensed big prohibitions on what she could accomplish. As a proud Muslim woman, she wondered: was this really religious doctrine? With humor, passion and a refreshingly rebellious spirit, she shares how she discovered examples of female leaders from across the history of her faith — and how she launched a campaign to fight for women's rights using verses directly from the Koran.

Balwyn, Deepdene, Camberwell: A triple treat
Media and Communications Office, Melbourne Catholic, Wednesday 8 March 2017
In the next of our series of parish profiles, we have taken our cameras to All Hallows, Balwyn, where Fr Brendan Reed heads three busy parishes, All Hallows, Our Lady of Good Counsel in Deepdene and the landmark basilica on the Burke Road hill, Our Lady of Victories.   Within his domain, Fr Reed has three parishes, three churches and a school to serve. In conversation with Media and Communications Director Shane Healy, he was quick to acknowledge ‘partnership’ as the key factor in keeping so many balls in the air at the same time.   ‘There’s one administration centre,’ he said, ‘with two priests, two Pastoral Associates, a stewardship co-ordinator and an administrative assistant. It’s a staff of six looking after what are three very busy and very active parishes.’...(more)

How clergy became scapegoats of the sex abuse crisis in the Anglican Church
Extract from Muriel Porter! The Conversation, 7 March 2017
As the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse hearings have made abundantly clear, Christian churches in this country scapegoated the victims of clergy abuse for decades in an attempt to protect their reputation. That was at best deluded, and at worst evil.     Some parts of the Anglican Church of Australia were complicit in this appalling behaviour until the levels of abuse came to light in the late 1990s. Since then, the Anglican Church has directed enormous energy into establishing procedures to ensure that abuse was a thing of the past, and that churches would be safe places for all children and vulnerable people.       In the process, however, in a frantic effort to restore the church’s damaged reputation by demonstrating it is “tough on (sexual) crime”, it has created another group of scapegoats – its own clergy.     This may seem a harsh assessment, and one that will not be popular with abuse survivors. Survivors have often been so scarred by their abuse that they have no sympathy at all for the clergy as a class.    Nevertheless, as I write in my new book, absurdly severe restrictions are now being imposed on the private lives of all Anglican clergy because the abuse crisis has opened the door to opportunistic interventions by puritan elements in the church. Always eager to impose rigid rules on all sexual behaviour, in this febrile climate no one dare challenge their demands. The clergy have become the new scapegoats.....(more)  Muriel Cooper os Honorary Research Fellow, Trinity College Theological School, University of Divinity.

Rite of Election in St Patrick’s Cathedral
Extract from Tiffany Davis, Archbishop's Office for Evangelisation, Melbourne Catholic, 6 March 2017
A sense of excitement and joy filled St Patrick's Cathedral on Sunday 5 March as over 1,000 people gathered for the Rite of Election, an important step in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and Children.        Following initial enquiries about the Catholic faith, people wishing to join the Catholic Church (or renew their baptismal promises and receive the sacraments of Holy Eucharist and Confirmation at Easter) embark on a period of learning the teachings of Jesus through the Gospel. They are accompanied on this journey by their local parish who bear witness to their faith.    The wider community then welcomes these people through the Rite of Election, which takes place annually on the first Sunday of Lent at St Patrick's Cathedral. It is an important step in the RCIA/RCIC process, as it is seen as a public commitment by the candidates to pursue their faith journey and as a commitment of accompaniment by their sponsors and local parishes.....(more) Photos: Melbourne Catholic, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne
Cardinal Wuerl: Pope Francis has reconnected the church with Vatican II
Gerard O'Connell, America - the Jesuit Review,  6 March 2017
Reconnecting the church “with the energy of the Second Vatican Council,” may be the pope’s greatest achievement, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington said in an exclusive interview with America as the fourth anniversary of the pope’s election approaches on March 13.     According to Cardinal Wuerl, the pope is changing the papacy and “completely refocusing the role of bishop.” He said Pope Francis has “picked up where we left off” on Vatican II themes of collegiality and synodality and has refocused the church on “a moral theology that rests on scripture and Jesus’ command to love” and on “an evangelizing discipleship.”    Cardinal Wuerl, who is archbishop of Washington, also commented on the pope’s post-synodal magisterial document on the family “Amoris Laetitia,” the opposition Pope Francis has experienced and the U.S. church’s stance regarding migrants in the face of challenges from the Trump administration.    An edited text of an interview given at the North American College in Rome on Feb. 22 follows.........(more)   Photo: America - The Jesuit Review,  (CNS photo/Bob Roller) 
From the Archbishop’s Message for Lent
Part One: Prayer, Friday 3 March 2017
This Lent how can each of us strengthen our relationship with Christ?  What will help us get to know the Lord better?”
One simple suggestion is to spend an extra fifteen minutes at night slowly reading, praying and reflecting on the daily Gospel. (Or on the Gospel from the previous Sunday - refer to your newsletter) It isn’t a great sacrifice but it really helps.  Pope Francis reminds us that The Word is a gift” – he stresses prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Another simple practice is for each of us to seek forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance.          I encourage you all to make a good confession before Easter, even if it has been a long time.  Rightly, the Pope says:  “Sin blinds us.” In the early Church, they called confession the 'second conversion in tears.'  Saint Peter wept in sorrow after denying Jesus, and in his mercy Christ spoke to him the tender words of his pardon and peace.  In the sacrament, we too can hear these words of compassion for our sins.  
For your diary - Parish Communal Reconciliation     Friday 7th April 7.30pm - Mary Immaculate Church    Reconciliation through the Way of the Cross   Followed by the opportunity for individual Confession
Claim: Anti-reform cardinals want Pope to resign
Extract from CathNews, 3 March 2017
A group of cardinals who supported the election of Pope Francis are worried about his reforms and are planning to appeal to him to step down, a Vatican watcher claims, according to The Times.     "A large part of the cardinals who voted for him is very worried and the curia ... that organised his election and has accompanied him thus far, without ever disassociating itself from him, is cultivating the idea of a moral suasion to convince him to retire," Antonio Socci wrote in the Italian newspaper Libero.    The conservative Catholic journalist said that Pope Francis's election had been backed by progressive German cardinals and a curia faction impatient with the rule of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.    It was the latter faction who now believed that the Pope should resign and who would like to replace him with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, Mr Socci said. He believed that the group numbered around a dozen, "but the importance of the members counts more than their number".    "Four years after Benedict XVI's renunciation and Bergoglio's arrival on the scene, the situation of the Catholic Church has become explosive, perhaps really on the edge of a schism, which could be even more disastrous than Luther's [who is today being rehabilitated by the Bergoglio church]," Socci wrote.....Putting pressure on a pope to resign is a crime punishable under canon law, Socci added, so it was unclear how the moral suasion might be exercised....(more) Photo: CathNews
A church that young adult Catholics can believe in
Extract from  Nicole Sotelo, National Catholic Reporter, 2 March 2017
Where are the young people? It's a common question at Catholic parishes across the country, and soon church officials may understand why so many have left. The Vatican has invited bishops to fill out a questionnaire about young adults in preparation for the 2018 synod, which focuses on the theme "Young People, the Faith and Vocation Discernment." The questionnaire instructs bishops not only to look at the young adults who participate, but also at those who don't.    Among U.S. Catholics who have stopped participating and remain unaffiliated, nearly 80 percent did so before the age of 24, according to a 2009 Pew Research Center study. If bishops want to help the Vatican know why young adults in our country are leaving the church, they can start by looking at the research on Catholics who have left. They will find that it has less to do with a lack of belief and more to do with the fact that young people want a church they can believe in.     Reasons for leaving....(more)
People in Britain must feel able to speak about their faith in Christ, says Prime Minister Theresa May    Extract from Lorna Donlon, The Tablet, 1 March 2017
While the Church and Government will not always agree, Mrs May said there are many areas where they can work together.  People in Britain must feel able to speak about their faith in Christ, says Prime Minister Theresa May.      The Prime Minister, Theresa May, has said she believes Christianity should be celebrated and that it has an important role in making Britain a country that works for everyone.      Speaking at Downing Street reception for religious leaders on Shrove Tuesday, she explained how growing up in a vicarage shaped her upbringing as she witnessed first-hand the “many sacrifices involved and the hard work that so many of you do.”        Among those present were the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols and the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, who is standing down after more than 20 years.     Mrs May’s anecdotal reference to her own religious background, if brief, is in contrast to the reluctance of some recent occupants of Number 10 to broach the subject of religion. Tony Blair’s Director of Communications, Alistair Campbell, once famously remarked: “We don’t do God.”        The Prime Minister said: “It is right that we should celebrate the role of Christianity in our country. We have a very strong tradition in this country of religious tolerance and freedom of speech, and our Christian heritage is something we can all be proud of. We must continue to ensure that people feel able to speak about their faith, and that absolutely includes their faith in Christ.”...(more)

Pat Power. The Royal Commission and the need for reform.
Extract from Pearls and Irritations, John Menadue website, 1 March 2017
Despite all the warnings, I don’t know of anyone who has not been shocked by what has emerged from the Royal Commission. For twenty years or more, we have heard accounts of abuse, sometimes very close to home. But somehow the magnitude of it all has been almost beyond comprehension.      Often when I meet Catholics who are no longer practising their faith, they say to me without bitterness “I have not left the Catholic Church, the Church has left me.” While I have always felt I understood what those friends were saying, it is even more obvious to me now. So often because of a culture of secrecy or shame they have carried guilt for what have been the gravely sinful and criminal actions of those they should have been able to trust. It is not surprising that a number of those lives have ended in suicide......In my twenty six years as auxiliary bishop and in the nearly five years since my retirement, I have listened to many heart-wrenching stories of abuse. I never cease to be moved by these personal conversations, trying always to listen from the heart, but knowing that actions speak louder than words. Most of all, I try to a “companion on the journey”, helping the person concerned to find peace and to achieve whatever outcomes they are seeking. I hope through my own integrity and willingness to listen, they will have a very different experience of Church to what they previously negatively encountered.       I should add as well, that invariably I have been in great admiration of the courage, goodness and holiness of the people who have shared their often tragic stories with me.     It has taken the adverse publicity of the Royal Commission to make many in the Church leadership to look to those reforms which have been crying out for implementation for many years. Radical changes are needed at all levels....(more)

Lone survivor on Vatican abuse commission resigns in frustration
Extract bfrom Joshua J. McElwee1, National Catholic Reporter, 1 March 2017
Vatican City. The only active member of Pope Francis' new commission on clergy sexual abuse who is an abuse survivor has resigned from the group due to frustration with Vatican officials' reluctance to cooperate with its work to protect children.      Marie Collins, an Irishwoman who has served on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors since March 2014, announced her resignation in a press statement Wednesday.        In a separate exclusive statement for NCR explaining her choice, Collins says she decided to leave the commission after losing hope that Vatican officials would cooperate with its work following a failure to implement a series of recommendations.     Collins says her decision to resign was immediately precipitated by one Vatican office's refusal to comply with a request from the commission, approved by the pope, that all letters sent to the Vatican by abuse survivors receive a response.    "I find it impossible to listen to public statements about the deep concern in the church for the care of those whose lives have been blighted by abuse, yet to watch privately as a congregation in the Vatican refuses to even acknowledge their letters!" Collins writes in the statement.....(more) Photo NCR,  (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)
500 years after the Reformation: End the schism!
Extracts from Hans Kung, National Catholic Reporter, 1 March 2017
It was most gratifying that the chairman of the Protestant Churches in Germany, Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, accompanied by the president of the German Catholic bishops' conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, officially visited Pope Francis in Rome together on the occasion of the Reformation Jubilee. The Pope spoke of "an already reconciled diversity." He said he greatly appreciated the spiritual and theological gifts that the Reformation had given us and that he wanted to do everything he could "to overcome the obstacles that still remained.".....(more)               Photo: NCR,  (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Man sent as child from UK to Australia tells abuse inquiry: name the villains  Extract from Sandra Laville, UK Child Enquiry,  The Guardian, 28 February 2017
Chair Alexis Jay asked to name and shame perpetrators of abuse of British children shipped abroad from 1947 to the 1970s.        The UK national child abuse inquiry has been urged at the opening of its public evidence sessions to name and shame the perpetrators of the sexual abuse of tens of thousands of British children forcibly deported to Australia by the UK government and leading churches and charities.    David Hill, one of more than 4,000 children who were sent to Australia and other Commonwealth nations from 1947 to the 1970s, waived his anonymity at the opening of the independent inquiry on Monday to make an emotional call for justice for victims.       The national child abuse inquiry is hearing testimony from people who were shipped as children to Australia. Some children sent to former colonies between the 1920s and 1970s faced servitude, hard labour and Hill is one of 22 former child migrants who will give evidence at the hearing. Many will testify of the extreme sexual and physical abuse they experienced when they were sent to Australia as part of the child migrant programme.     He told the chair, Alexis Jay: “We will never be able to undo the wrongdoing to these children. But what is important to survivors of sexual abuse is where the inquiry is satisfied with the evidence, name the villains.   “Many of them are beyond the grave, but it would bring a great deal of comfort to the people who as children were their victims if they were named and shamed.”   Hill appeared in the inquiry hearing room in central London with a survivor who has also given up his right to anonymity, Oliver Cosgrove. Cosgrove was deported by the British state at the age of four. His lawyer, Imran Khan, said there would be no defence for institutions to say it had taken place a long time ago.   “When was it that the physical, emotional and sexual abuse of children was OK? Not now, not then, not ever.”...(more)  Photo: The Guardian,
Pope Francis back in firing line over how to deal with priests guilty of abuse
Extract from Christopher Lamb in Rome, The Tablet, 28 February 2017
Whether to laicise priests guilty of abuse is not always straightforward. Pope Francis back in the firing line over how to deal with priests guilty of abuse.     Pope Francis has made mercy the overriding theme of his papacy but he’s coming under fire for including abusive priests in his vision for a Church that offers forgiveness to all sinners.        It leaves the Pope open to accusations that he is soft on abuse or, as survivors are arguing, he simply “doesn't get” the problem while his critics argue that, when it comes to crimes against children, justice rather than mercy should be the priority.    The perception that Francis is not on top of the abuse problem has been reinforced by a recent story by Nicole Winfield of Associate Press, who reports that Francis has overruled the advice of the Vatican department calling for priest abusers should be defrocked.     Rather than defrocking - or laicising - the priests, the Pope has sentenced them to a lifetime of prayer and penance and removed them from public ministry, which victim groups and some of his advisers believe is too lax a penalty.......(more)
New-style 'ad limina' visits begin
Extract from CathNews, 28 February 2017
Abandoning the formalities of the past, Pope Francis has launched "a whole new style of 'ad limina' visits," according to a Chilean bishop, Crux reports.    Traditionally, bishops expected "to have a long meeting with a speech and then individual meetings," Auxiliary Bishop Fernando Ramos of Santiago, secretary of the Chilean bishops' conference, told Catholic News Service.    Instead, the Vatican informed the prelates before their departure from Chile that they were going to have a group meeting with the Pope and the prefects of several Vatican congregations and offices.   "We were told that this was going to be a new way of doing things that was beginning with us, that looks for a more fruitful, more incisive dialogue between the representatives of the local churches and the pope with his main collaborators," Ramos said....(more)
Australian archbishops to ask Vatican for clarity on confession issues
Extract from Catholic News Service, Contributor, Crux, 27 February 2017
After years of scandals and commissions regarding the issue of clerical sex abuse scandals, Australia's five archbishops wish to ask Pope Francis for clarification on whether or not the seal of confession includes only the sins confessed and in what circumstances a priest could withhold absolution.         Sydney: Australia’s five archbishops said they would consider asking the Vatican for clarification on concerns raised in a government inquiry into sexual abuse of children in the church.      Among those concerns were whether the seal of confession includes only the sins confessed, not other information revealed in confession, and under what circumstances - specifically concerning an abuser - a priest could withhold absolution.      Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide said the permanent committee of the bishops’ conference would meet in early March to set the agenda for its May meeting. If the full conference approved, documentation could be sent to Pope Francis after the May meeting, asking the pope “to expedite it and deal with it,” Wilson said.     “These are two very specific issues where the church must do more work at clarifying its own position so that those of us who are responsible for the formation of priests can make sure that our priests are properly educated in these matters,” said Archbishop Timothy Costelloe of Perth.    Wilson and Costelloe were among five archbishops who testified to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on February 23 and 24, the final two days of three weeks of public hearings.     The commission - which has spent nearly four years hearing testimony, including from victims of abuse - heard from a wide range of witnesses, including scholars, doctors, theologians and members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. It is expected to issue a final report by the end of this year.....(more) Photo: Crux
ACBC reforms aim to prevent future abuse
Extract from CathNews, 27 February 2017
On behalf of the ACBC and Catholic Religious Australia, Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart has promised "to do all in my power to ensure the abuse of the past never happens again" and that reforms will be implemented.    "As the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse concludes its final hearing into the Catholic Church, I acknowledge the co-operation of witnesses, agencies, religious institutes and dioceses across the Church in Australia," Archbishop Hart wrote in a statement.        "I particularly want to acknowledge the bravery of the survivors of child sexual abuse who have given evidence, not just in case studies involving the Catholic Church, but across the more than 50 case studies so far that have examined the many different institutions throughout Australia.     "Over the past three weeks, more than 70 Church leaders and professionals have appeared before the Commissioners sharing expertise, identifying failings and describing best practice for the future of our Church structure, culture and governance.     "The final hearing discussed many aspects and characteristics of Church and clergy life including: Canon Law, the confessional, celibacy, clericalism, formation, professional support and supervision.      "What we have learnt from our involvement in the Royal Commission case studies and our own work in coming to a better understanding of the many different issues that have contributed to child sexual abuse in the Church will inform our future policies and practices.    "The work of the Commission staff and the Commissioners themselves has no doubt been gruelling and challenging and, along with the rest of the Australian community, we owe them a debt of gratitude for their years of service....(more) Phot0: CathNews
Gough Whitlam and how Australia facilitated a child sexual abuse crisis  Extracts from Joanne McCarthy, Newcastle Herald, 26 Feb 2017
Gough Whitlam wrote a letter to Pope Benedict XVI in October, 2012, nearly four decades after his government granted formal diplomatic recognition to the Vatican, and only weeks before another Labor prime minister, Julia Gillard, established a royal commission that would expose the extent of child sexual abuse within the Australian Catholic Church.      Diplomatic relations with the Vatican from 1973 was a “memorable and significant initiative” of his government, Whitlam told the Pope. The relationship was one “which has always been maintained with deep mutual respect and consideration”.     “The mutual hopes for closer relations between the Holy See and Australia have been fulfilled in abundance. I shall always have fond memories of visiting Pope Paul VI and of the great enchantment of Rome, the Eternal City,” one of the Labor Party’s great reformers wrote.      Whitlam died two years later, on October 21, 2014, only three months after Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Pietro Parolin declined a request from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse for files of all Australian alleged perpetrator priests held by the Vatican......Time and again the commission has returned to the church’s culture, and the need for change. And outside the commission, the need for change has prompted calls for Australia to renounce the church’s diplomatic status, and for the federal government to seriously consider those calls.    Catholics for Renewal president, and former chief executive and chair of federal and Victorian government departments and public sector organisations, Peter Johnstone, supported those calls after giving evidence at the commission about the need for Australians – Catholic and non-Catholic – to send a “hard” message to the Pope and the Vatican in response to the tragedy of abuse in this country.    “I have no hesitation in arguing the royal commission should say to the government that if the Catholic Church will not cooperate in making major changes – and the Australian church can’t change without the global church changing - then the government should say to the Catholic Church it will reconsider its diplomatic recognition of the Holy See,” Johnstone said this week.....In a blistering few words this week human rights lawyer and church critic, Geoffrey Robertson, QC, supported renouncing the church’s diplomatic recognition, saying “if we have any self-respect we should sever our ties with it”.    “Closing it now would send an important message to the Vatican that it must never again orchestrate child abuse, and it must not continue to cover it up by declining to cooperate with the Royal Commission,” Robertson said....(more)  Photo: Newcastle Herald 
Bishop Vincent Long’s Lenten Message 2017
Extract from Catholic Outlook, 25 February 2017
Lent is an important season for us Catholics insofar as it reminds us of the need for conversion. We cannot live life to the full if we gloss over the inconvenient truths about ourselves. We cannot grow to full maturity if we ignore the obstacles that prevent us from reaching our potential.     Pope Francis always asks people to pray for him because he says he is a sinner. It is characteristic of a true Christian who recognises the darker side of himself and seeks metanoia, a change of heart.         More than ever before, the Catholic Church in Australia needs to recognise the dark crimes of sexual abuse against children and vulnerable people under its care, and the untold damage done to them and their loved ones. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has delivered a shameful indictment not simply on the perpetrators and their enablers but the Church’s collective and systemic betrayal of the Gospel.     Nevertheless, I believe firmly that the Church must be grateful for the work of the Royal Commission. More importantly, we must seize this Kairos, this moment of grace, this opportunity as a catalyst for change and not treat this period as a temporary aberration. It can never be business as usual again. We must have the courage to see how far we have drifted from the vision of Jesus, repent of our sins, and face up to the task of reclaiming the innocence and the powerlessness of the Servant-Leader....(more)  Photo: Catholic Outlook
Ash Wednesday Masses  - Day of Fasting & Abstinence
Friday 24 December 2017
Wednesday 1 March, 8.15am    St. Bernadette’s Church, 10.30am  Mary Immaculate Church (at which we will be joined by  students from our three parish schools), 7.30pm Mother of God Church
Welcome to the World Day of Prayer:    
This year we have the opportunity to join with our friends from the other Christian Churches at the Ivanhoe Uniting Church (behind Commonwealth Bank) on Friday 3rd March at 10.30am. The prayer has been prepared by women of the Philippines and we will hear something about life in the Philippines during the service, which will be followed by Morning Tea.. This is always an uplifting and enjoyable occasion. Do come if you can.

The Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe Men's’ Evening:

Friday 3rd March from 8.00pm onwards (after Stations of the Cross) in Mary Immaculate Hall, 4 Waverley Ave, Ivanhoe  $5.00 cover charge. More information: Eugene 0407 869 582

Today's Final  Day of Royal Commission wrap-up Hearings
John Costa Friday 24 February 2016
After 4 years already of victim statements, public and institutional submissions, Witness evidence, Comprehensive investigation and research, Recommendations from  the the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse will be handed down in December. What can be already said in relation to the subject of this Royal Commission is that it it has probably been the most comprehensive, intensive and thorough public review of the Australian Catholic Church in its history, with impact beyond to the universal Catholic Church. Much can and will be said over time about deliberations and possible outcomes.         Suffice it to say now that the Australian Catholic Church has now come to fully accept the horrific evidence provided by the Royal Commission and genuinely thanked the Commission for its enormous contribution already towards addressing child sexual abuse within the Church (and elsewhere).     The Archbishops outlined administrative measure already undertaken, under development or under consideration and highlighted key issue to be addressed by the Church, amongst other including Lack of awareness and understanding, Lack of listening, lack of gender balance in decision making, lack of openness, lack of transparency, lack of episcopal communication, lack of processes, lack of consultation, need and opportunity for committed engagement by all members of the church, a 2020 Plenary with comprehensive inputs, priestly formation in need of overhall, and most of all overcoming clericalist culture.      A full transcript of today's significant final wrap-up Hearings will be available shortly from the RC website (above).
Church response to abuse 'criminally negligent': Fisher
Extract from CathNews, 24 February 2017
It is the first time Archbishop Fisher has been questioned at the commission, which has been running for four years.    "It was a kind of criminal negligence to deal with some of the problems that were staring us in the face," he told the public hearing.    "In other cases, I think there were people that were just like rabbits in the headlights, they just had no idea what to do, and their performance was appalling."    Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe also gave a damning assessment of the way allegations of sexual abuse had been handled.    He said there had been a "catastrophic failure" in Church leadership and that the abuse of children was at odds with what the Church purported to be.     The archbishops said they were taking a more collaborative approach to decision-making in their dioceses.     "The problem will always be there to potentially rise again unless that issue is dealt with," Archbishop Costelloe said.     He said in the past, the Holy See believed itself to be "so special, so unique and so important" that it was untouchable.     "That's probably the way many bishops in their own dioceses might also think of themselves – as a law unto themselves, as not having to be answerable to anybody, as not having to consult with anybody as to being able to make decisions just out of their own wisdom," Archbishop Costelloe said.....(More)  
Royal Commission: Response to allegations of child sexual abuse was 'criminally negligent'
Extract from Riley Stuart, ABC News, 23 March 2017
The Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, has told a royal commission the response by Catholic Church leaders to allegations of child sexual abuse amounted to "criminal negligence".    Five of Australia's most senior Catholic figures are fronting the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Sydney today.    It is the first time Archbishop Fisher has been questioned at the royal commission, which has been running for four years.    "It was a kind of criminal negligence to deal with some of the problems that were staring us in the face," he told a public hearing.   "In other cases, I think there were people that were just like rabbits in the headlights, they just had no idea what to do, and their performance was appalling."......The Archbishop of Perth, Timothy Costelloe, also gave a damning assessment of the way allegations of sexual abuse had been handled.  He said there had been a "catastrophic failure" in church leadership and that the abuse of children was at odds with what the Catholic Church purported to be.    "That leads me to reflect there has also been a catastrophic failure in keeping people faithful [like priests] to the commitments they made. I asked myself what can possibly have gone wrong, or what was missing, that could lead to, not just one, but countless people failing in this way," Archbishop Costelloe said.     The archbishops were grilled about what they had done to deal with those "catastrophic failures" in leadership they had agreed were at the root of the child sexual abuse.    They said they were taking a more collaborative approach to decision-making in their diocese.     "The problem will always be there to potentially rise again unless that issue is dealt with," Archbishop Costelloe said.      He said in the past, the Holy See believed itself to be "so special, so unique and so important" that it was untouchable.     "That's probably the way many bishops in their own dioceses might also think of themselves — as a law unto themselves, as not having to be answerable to anybody, as not having to consult with anybody as to being able to make decisions just out of their own wisdom," Archbishop Costelloe said........(more)  Photo: AAP/Catholic Church)  Catholic Archbishops giving evidence today, clockwise from left: Denis Hart, Philip Wilson, Timothy Costelloe, Anthony Fisher, Mark Coleridge. (AAP/Catholic Church)
UK cardinal says on ‘Amoris’, we follow the pope’s lead
Extract from Austen Ivereigh, Contributing Editor, Crux, 22 February 2017
Amoris Laetitia has not changed Church teaching and draws directly from Catholic tradition, according to the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, who has also praised Pope Francis’s “patience and reserve” in response to vehement criticism.      Asked in an interview with The Irish Catholic following a lecture in Belfast to respond to a threat made by Cardinal Raymond Burke to issue a “formal correction” of the pope, Nichols, 71, expressed his firm support for Francis.     “The pope is the one who has been chosen under the influence of the Holy Spirit to lead the Church, and we will follow his lead,” he said, adding that “the pope’s patience and reserve about this whole matter is exactly what we should observe.”     Asked if the exhortation modified church teaching, Nichols said: “There is no question of that…The issues raised by Amoris Laetitia are not core doctrinal issues, these are about how do we live, in very traditional terms actually, everything in Amoris Laetitia is drawn from the tradition of the Church: how do we live the mercy of God and how do we enable people who feel judged, feel excluded, feel as if they have no place, to begin to explore that.”    The cardinal attended both synods on the family, and now sits on the synod’s general secretariat.....(more)  Photo: Crux,  AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia.)
Bishop Long recalls abuse
Extract from CathNews, 22 February 2017
Parramatta Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen has made an impassioned plea for the Church to become less "elitist" while revealing he was sexually abused by clergy, The Australian reports.       Bishop Long was applauded during his evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on Tuesday.    Survivors of sex abuse and their loved ones approached afterwards and some cried as they spoke with him.     "I was also a victim of sexual abuse by clergy when I first came to Australia, even though I was an adult," the former refugee said towards the end of his testimony in Sydney.    "That had a powerful impact on me and how I want to ... walk in the shoes of other victims and really endeavour to attain justice and dignity for them."    Bishop Long, who is the first Australian bishop of Vietnamese background, said titles, privileges and the Church's institutional dynamics "breed clerical superiority and elitism".    He says he cringes when parishioners call him "your lordship" and the Church needs to review mandatory celibacy - which he thinks separates the clergy from parishioners.      Archbishop of Hobart Julian Porteous and Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn Christopher Prowse said they would not insist on someone calling them by a title but would also not demand honorifics be dropped.    Bishop Porteous told the commission that while blame lies with individual perpetrators he agreed there had been a massive failure in Church leadership.....(more)
Bethlehem University, State of Palestine
20 February 2017
Last Monday, several of us took the opportunity to attend address given by the Vice Chancellor, Br. Peter Bray (de La Salle community. The University has about 3000 students, about 75% Muslim & 25 % Christian, studying a number of faculties  Students and the institution are subjected to many restrictions but Br. Peter’s aim is to be a source of hope, reminding all concerned that Ireland is overcoming its divisions; Iron curtain in Germany has gone as has apartheid in South Africa. We were so fortunate to hear an inspiring speaker and learn about his hope for this troubled country. Watch a 'Eureka Street' video of Br. Bray on the website Home page
Royal Commission final week of 'wrap-up' Hearings.
Friday 17 February 2017
Amongst others, listed witnesses for the final week of wrap-up Hearings for Royal Commission Case Study 50 - The Catholic Church - include Archbishops Denis Hart, Anthony Fisher, Mark Coleridge, Timothy Costelloe SDB and Philip Wilson. Hearings are streamed live and daily transcripts are available from the The Royal Commission website. The Commission will deliver its Recommendations in December.
Royal Commission’s release of full data report on child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church
Extract from Francis Sullivan, CEO Catholic Church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council, Melbourne Catholic, 16 February 2017
Today the Royal Commission has released the full report of its survey results on claims made against Catholic organisations for alleged child sexual abuse by their personnel.   As such, it is the composite of Church records since 1950, of claims of abuse.   As we know these claims comprise records of known offenders, alleged offenders and unidentified offenders.    Over the years, dioceses and religious orders have used a variety of processes to determine the veracity of these claims.    Some claims were too obvious to warrant any investigation and were accepted on the information provided by the survivor.    Others were substantiated by formal investigations, police referrals or corroborated evidence.   Others proved difficult to establish because victims couldn’t recall the actual names of their abusers or were uncertain over the extent to which some people were involved in their assault.   So, the data reflects the scope of alleged abuse within the Church. It does not break this abuse down into categories of certainty because Church Authorities themselves have struggled to be that accurate.    Today’s data provides new insight into some aspects of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church including:....(more)
What sort of bishops do Catholics want?
Extract from Peter Johnstone, John Menadue 'Pearls and Irritations', 17 February 2017
Concerned Catholics who responded to a recent Catholics for Renewal online survey showed widespread dissatisfaction with the current state of their local diocese and parishes. Their dissatisfaction referred to current governance arrangements, the need for a stronger pastoral focus and more effective leadership from their bishop based on his willingness to consult widely.      This year, some ten new Australian diocesan bishops could be appointed including a new archbishop of Melbourne. All the faithful have a vital interest in these selections but very few will be consulted. Catholics, both priests and laity, have too few opportunities to have their voices heard within the Church and the selection of a new bishop, the leader of a diocese, is a matter on which the people of each diocesan community should be consulted. Catholics for Renewal developed a proposal for including the people of God in the selection process with the help of a wide range of priests and lay people.   A role in the selection of bishops was key to the commitment of earlier Christian communities, and is critical today, consistent with Vatican II stressing the role of the people of God and the sensus fidei fidelium (the sense of faith of the faithful).        What do informed Catholics have to say about the current state of their local church and what qualities do they think a new leader for their diocese should have? An online survey was set up, with some focus on the Archdiocese of Melbourne. The questions were simple and open-ended to enable respondents to use their own words to express themselves freely. This required detailed analysis but has yielded valuable insights....(more)

Church has paid out $276 million in abuse claims
Extract from CathNews, 17 February 2017
The Catholic Church has paid more than $276 million in claims to thousands of victims of child sexual abuse, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has heard, ABC News reports.    Close to 4500 people made claims for alleged incidents of child sexual abuse between January 1980 and February 2015, but the earliest incidents reported to a claim were in the 1920s.    Counsel assisting the commission, Gail Furness SC, told the Sydney hearing that figure included compensation, treatment, legal and other costs.    Of the total amount, $258.8 million was monetary compensation of about $91,000 per claim.   "The Christian Brothers who, at the relevant time operated a number of residential facilities, reported the highest number of payments," Ms Furness told the hearing.    "This order made 763 payments, amounting to $48.5 million, with an average payment of $64,000.    The Christian Brothers also issued a statement apologising to victims of abuse and their families.    "To those who were subjected to abuse at any of our facilities we express again our profound sorrow and enduring regret that their trust was so grievously betrayed," the statement said.    The hearing heard the most common institution type identified in claims was schools: they were identified in 46 per cent of all claims, and children's orphanages or residential facilities were identified in 29 per cent of claims. The highest number of claims of child sexual abuse concerned a residential care facility operated by the De La Salle Brothers in Queensland, with 219 claims relating to the facility.   Earlier, Francis Sullivan from the Truth, Justice and Healing Council, told the hearing that things are very different now, and that parents should be aware that their children are in safe hands at Catholic schools....(more)    Photo:Cathnews

A conversation about Amoris Laetitia
Extracts from mark Shea, Catholic Weekly, CathNews. 17 February 2017
What little I have gleaned is that this is controversy about a pastoral document that was deliberately intended to allow as much flexibility as possible to pastors and which presented to enemies of the Pope their hoped-for shot at suggesting he is heterodox. (My English friend writes:) I get what the article is saying and the whole "we can read this in a way that's okay" thing but I can say "this is the correct way" and somebody else can say "no, this is the correct way" and it's all down to individual interpretation which is nice and all but don't we have a magisterium to avoid that situationn.     Actually, very rarely do we have a Magisterium for the purpose of closing debate. Usually, we have one that helps us debate well and gives us a few ground rules to keep us from going out of bounds. There have been arguments in the Church that have lasted for centuries.....I can only answer for myself, but it seems to me that primary function of the Magisterium, through most of its history, has not been to conclude debates, but to make sure that no party to a debate and no partisan of a custom, school of philosophy, pastoral approach or political theory is allowed to tell everybody else "my way or the highway". This is the norm in the Church's history. Romans 14 in action.....(more)  Photo: Cathnews.
Facing blowback, Pope talks brotherhood, shadow side of criticism
Extracts froms Inés San Martín, Crux, 15 February 2017
In the face of ever more vocal criticism, Pope Francis has responded with talk about brotherhood and the shadow side of criticism, when it becomes "malevolent." Perhaps part of what helps Francis keep an even keel is the realization that he's hardly the first pope to face opposition and insults.....