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)  
From the Parish Office
Ruth on leave from 24 April – 5 May 2017.
Parish Office will be attended at different intervals
Notices, anniversaries and prayer requests for newsletter must be given to the Office no later than 5.00pm on Wednesdays.
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.....The pontiff, as he has often in the past, continues to respond by talking about the importance of brotherhood and the shadow side of criticism - more often than not, rooting his words in the day’s Gospel.      Take for instance this weekend. On Friday, news broke about a spoof version of L’Osservatore Romano making the rounds in Rome, distributed to Vatican officials through email, in essence accusing the pope of being wishy-washy on marriage and divorce.   Two days later, as he was addressing the crowd that had gathered for the Sunday Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square, Francis reflected on Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew’s Gospel, and read in Catholic parishes across the world over the weekend.   According to Francis, the biblical passage is an invitation “not to establish a gradation of offenses, but to consider them all harmful, insofar as they are all moved by the intention to do harm to one’s neighbor.    “Please, do not insult! We earn nothing by doing so,” he said.........In a Mass concelebrated with the group of cardinals from around the world who advise him, and with many newly-ordained priests in attendance, Francis urged those present to be aware that “even within our episcopal colleagues” there are small cracks and rifts that can lead to the destruction of brotherhood.....This Monday, after the Mass, the group of cardinal advisors, known as the C9, released a statement signed by Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga saying that “In relation to recent events, the Council of Cardinals expresses its full support of the work of the Pope, while ensuring full adhesion and support to his person and his Magisterium.”    German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, member of the C9, stood by the statement during a press conference held on Wednesday about an upcoming meeting of the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice foundation, a lay-led Vatican non-profit organization that promotes Catholic social teachings.  “We have discussion in the Church, that is clear, normal discussions, tensions,” Marx said. “It will be ever like this. But in a time like this it is also clear for us as Catholics that loyalty to the pope is substantial for the Catholic faith, for Catholic believers.”.....(more)
Uprooting toxic inequality
Extract from Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street, 13 February 2017
Almost all listings of our present discontents include inequality. I believe that gross inequality is the greatest threat to building a just and peaceful society. It is worth reflecting on why this may be so.      In itself inequality is not harmful. It is part of the diversity proper in any human society. But the inequality that is now in question is toxic because it is extreme when measured by any scale, and because it is programmed to increase. It is self-perpetuating and self-intensifying. The increase of wealth of the few entails the marginalisation and impoverishment of others.    Fortunately, it is now notorious and is rightly resented. The cultural beliefs that have previously allowed radical inequality to be accepted as acceptable in a society have frayed. The religious understanding that each person has their God appointed station in life is no longer persuasive.    The ideological substitute — the belief that all in society benefit from unregulated economic competition — is now seen as the self-serving nonsense it has always been. Its fruits are rotten. Economic growth is now tested for fairness. It is no longer accepted as a good for which people can be sacrificed.   Resentment at the injustice inherent in an economy governed by greed ought to lead to the recognition that wealth has a social bond and is at the service of the common good, particularly to help the disadvantaged. That cooperative vision alone will lead to actions that redress increasing disparity of wealth and the resentment that its effects generate.    Much current evidence, however, suggests that resentment prompts behaviour which will intensify inequality, and so will increase resentment itself....(more)
Photo: Eureka Street  
China govt outlines religion plans
Limited extract from subscriptipon journal La Croix International, 15 February 2017
China is to continue choosing bishops for the "open" Catholic Church and it will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA), are two details from an annual plan drawn up by a communist body overseeing religious affairs in the country.    Posted on the State Administration of Religious Affairs of China's official website on Jan. 26, the working plan for 2017 said that it had been decided to enhance government legal powers over religious work of the amended Regulations on Religious Affairs and to maintain accountability via the strict management of Communist Party members. The plan likewise resolved to implement the spirit of the National Conference of Religious Work which was attended by President Xi Jinping in April 2016.   On the Catholic Church, the Chinese administration said it would "steadily push forward, electing and ordaining bishops on its own".....(source)
Report harrowing and humiliating: Fisher
Extract from CathNews, 13 February 2017
Ashamed. Humiliated. A kick in the guts. They're some of the words Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP used to describe his reaction to the extent of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, reports the Daily Telegraph.     Archbishop Fisher admitted that he and other clergy felt ­contaminated, betrayed and demoralised by the paedophiles in the Church.    He understood why Australians felt so angry.    "We knew (the report) would be bad, but it's humiliating, it's harrowing," he Fisher said.     "It really has hurt me and it has hurt a lot of priests and bishops, but that's tiny compared with how it's hurt the survivors."     Commission staff were still crunching numbers last Saturday, and senior bishops were not told the final figures until late on Sunday night ahead of their Monday release.    "I felt – probably this will be pretty universal among the bishops and the clergy – quite winded," ­Archbishop Fisher said of the ­moment he saw the figures.       He has since spoken to many ­clergy and they are "feeling ­betrayed, demoralised by it", he says.      Community reactions have ranged from defensiveness among some Catholics, to such disillusionment towards the Church from nonbelievers that, for some, the word priest has become synonymous with paedophile.    Archbishop Fisher said that, in a sense, they are both right.   "This is so awful that you lose perspective on everything else. On the really good things, the schools for poor kids, the orphanages, the hospitals where there were none, the ­wonderful things the church – and not just the Catholic Church – did in building the social infrastructure of Australia," he said.....(more)  Photo: CathNews
Cultural change the key to protecting children: Archbishop Coleridge  Extract from Mark Bowling, Catholic Leader, National News,8 February 2017
AS well as fronting the Royal Commission this week, Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge has spent time speaking extensively to journalists about child abuse and the Church.     Speaking to the ABC’s Radio National Breakfast, Archbishop Coleridge told presenter Fran Kelly, the Church was doing all it could to change the culture of the past to protect the children of today.     “The data is absolutely horrific,” Archbishop Coleridge said, following the release of Royal Commission figures revealing the extent of priest abuse.    “Sitting in the hearing room … listening to the litany of horror had an extraordinary impact. And it did on all of us.    “I for one never imagined the scale of the problem in years past. The data is there for all to see now.     “There is almost certainly more out there that has not come to light.    “I have long abandoned any suggestion of it being only bad apples, and I have said for years in fact now that we are dealing with something that is cultural and systemic.      “I began a journey on all this stuff from the mid 80s. Certainly back in those early days it struck me as being a weird exception and very much a case of bad or mad apples.”     Archbishop Coleridge said he had gone on “a journey of discovery … and it’s been painful and it’s far from over”.      “So I will be the first to say …..... this is not an exception it is something that relates to the culture. And that is why I say we’ve got to change procedures and protocols, and we’ve begun that … but if that doesn’t lead to cultural change then the likelihood is we won’t really grasp the nettle,” he said.    “And this is one of the things the Royal Commission is going to address in these three weeks – what were the cultural factors that led to the particular modulations of abuse and its mishandling in the Catholic Church.”    Archbishop Coleridge singled out clericalism – ministry in the church that is geared not to service but to power over other people – as being at the heart of cultural factors.    “And in many ways when we talk about sexual abuse it is abuse of power,” he said....(more) Photo: Catholic Leader
Time to repeal 'ugly' Mass translation
Extracts from Gerry O'Collins, Eureka Street, 8 February 2017
It is good news that Pope Francis has appointed a commission to revisit Liturgiam Authenticam (LA). This Vatican document, issued on 28 March 2001, provided the unfortunate guidelines that 'justified' the ugly, Latinised translation foisted on English-speaking Catholics by the 2010 Missal.     Roman MissalIn a swinging and detailed criticism of LA, Peter Jeffery, a professor at Princeton University, has described the document as 'the most ignorant statement on liturgy ever issued by a modern Vatican congregation'. Jeffery, a Benedictine oblate, places himself on the right of the Catholic spectrum, 'as conservative as one can get without rejecting Vatican II'.     In his Translating the Tradition: A Chant Historian Reads Liturgiam Authenticam, he charged the anonymous people who wrote LA with being 'seriously misinformed' and making many 'misstatements about the Roman liturgical tradition'.    LA claimed that the Latin Church as a whole shared a uniform tradition of starting the Creed with 'I believe', as if 'we believe were essentially an Eastern tradition'. As Jeffery showed, in the Roman Mass there have always been those who used 'credimus (we believe)' instead of 'credo (I believe)'.    LA required vernacular versions to maintain 'verbal equality' with the original Latin in which Paul VI issued the 1970 Missal. The translators went ahead and produced long sentences that belong to the Latin of Cicero but not to modern English.    LA proposed using a 'sacred vernacular' that differs from current speech and could sound strange and even 'obsolete'. Those responsible for the 2010 Missal followed this guideline by repeatedly preferring 'charity' over 'love', 'compunction' over 'repentance', 'laud' over 'praise', 'supplication' over 'prayer', and 'wondrous' over 'wonderful'.     Speaking of an 'oblation' rather than a 'sacrifice' or 'offering' can leave the congregation wondering whether the priest has stumbled over the word 'ablution'. 'Oblation' no longer has currency in contemporary English.    In the Creed, 'consubstantial', straight from the Latin consubstantialis, has replaced the genial translation 'of one being'. 'Consubstantial', like 'prevenient' grace, used by the 2010 Missal for the feast of the Immaculate Conception, belongs to theological discourse, not to the liturgy we celebrate together.    "The 2010 Missal slavishly applies the word-for-word principle inculcated by LA, rather than the meaning-for-meaning principle practised by all great translators from the time of St Jerome."...........I sincerely hope that Francis' commission will not merely revisit LA but strongly press for its repeal. The road will then be open to revisit the clumsy, difficult 2010 Missal and replace it.....(more) Photo: Eureka Street
Multimedia Liturgy change
Friday 10 February 2017
As part of the process of moving back to a more traditional Liturgy Fr Bill has changed the format of the Multimedia Liturgy at weekend Masses. The Communion Anthem in the form of reflective liturgical music provided by Fr Bill each week will commence immediately after the Celebrant has received Communion (following the Communion Rite "Lord I am not worthy.....") with no break between Communion and the 2nd Collection. This Communion Anthem music (comprising two liturgical music items) will replace the previously sung Communion Hymn. There will be no Reflection Image at the start of Mass, nor the previously used reflection images and music for the 1st Collection and Offertory procession, nor for the 2nd collection. The entrance and Recessional hymns will remain.
Pope Francis stinging rebuke of Myanmar atrocities against Rohingya Muslims
Extract from Lindsay Murdoch, SMH, 9 February 2017
Pope Francis has issued a stinging rebuke of Myanmar over mass atrocities against Rohingya Muslims, including the slaughter of babies, in what the United Nations says "very likely" amount to crimes against humanity.       "They have been suffering, they are being tortured and killed, simply because they uphold their Muslim faith," Francis said in his weekly audience at the Vatican.     Pope Francis has issued a stinging rebuke of Myanmar over mass atrocities against Rohingya Muslims, including the slaughter of babies, in what the United Nations says "very likely" amount to crimes against humanity.    The rebuke comes as UN officials dealing with almost 70,000 Rohingya who have fled to Bangladesh refugee camps expressed concern the outside world has not fully grasped the severity of the crisis unfolding in Myanmar's western Rakhine State, home to almost one million Rohingya, who are denied basic rights, including citizenship in the country where they have lived for generations     "The talk until now has been of hundreds of deaths. This is probably an underestimation – we could be looking at thousands," a UN official told Reuters.   "They have been suffering, they are being tortured and killed, simply because they uphold their Muslim faith," Francis said in his weekly audience at the Vatican......Francis said the Rohingya have been "thrown out of Myanmar, moved from one place to another because no one wants them."    "But they are good people, peaceful people. They are not Christian….they are our brothers and sisters," he said....(more)
Hearing update on Day 3 of the Royal Commission
Extracts from the Truth, Justice, Healing Council, Melbourne Catholic, 9 February 2017
On day 3 of the Royal Commission’s hearing panel members discussed structural and cultural issues, including accountability and transparency. The panel comprised Dr Maureen Cleary, Governance and Management consultant; Patrick Parkinson, Professor Law at the University of Sydney; Peter Johnstone, President of Catholics for Renewal; and Mark Coleridge, Archbishop of Brisbane and member of the Supervisory Group and the Truth Justice and Healing Council.      Dr Cleary said the Church’s network of professional standards offices have been poorly resourced and inconsistently funded by local bishops, setting them up for failure.      Professor Patrick Parkinson has been involved in child protection for nearly 30 years.     He told the Commission that church structure undermines the Church’s capacity to respond to child sexual abuse. He said mandatory celibacy, combined with emotional and sometimes geographic isolation is causative and explains some of the shocking figures in the Royal Commission’s data survey.    And added that there is a need to find a way to engage the laity in the organisation and spiritual running of the church.      Peter Johnstone said that Catholics for Renewal is a group of committed Catholics established to respond to what they saw as the dysfunctional governance of the Church and its inadequate response to the sexual abuse of children.       He said the governance of the Church is dysfunctional. It failed to measure up against principles of good governance including accountability, transparency, leadership, listening and aligning the leadership of that organisation with its mission.      He expressed concern that bishops can take decisions in secret without any accountability.       Peter Johnstone said that for cultural change you need leadership change and recommended that the 2020 Synod be preceded by a series of synods where bishops of the country listen to the people.     Mark Coleridge, Archbishop of Brisbane, told the Commission that cultural change in the Church is extremely difficult. He said Pope Francis and the Royal Commission are catalysts for cultural change and that it won’t be business as usual post Royal Commission.     ‘I think that's probably true, that we haven't yet embraced adequately a transparency that is appropriate and even necessary for an unusual community of communities like the Catholic Church,’ he told the Commission.    He said there is ‘evidence of a lingering culture – that we do our own thing, we are a law unto ourselves. We hope the Royal Commission can help us with what that is and how we can go about it.’....(more)
Put culture of concealment behind us: Coleridge
Extract from CathNews,9 February 2017
The Catholic Church is a "law unto itself" in need of serious cultural reform if it is to address widespread allegations of child sexual abuse, Archbishop Mark Coleridge has told the royal commission, the Brisbane Times reports.     Archbishop Coleridge told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse there was a lack of transparency within the Church.     "We are, as it were, a law and a world unto ourselves," he said.     The third day of the three-week public inquiry into Catholic Church authorities is examining the factors behind clerical sexual abuse.    The inquiry heard there were multiple causes including the Church's hierarchical structure, poor governance, lack of women in leadership roles and a culture of secrecy.    "We haven't yet embraced adequately a transparency that is appropriate . . . for an unusual community of communities like the Catholic Church," Archbishop Coleridge said.      "A culture of concealment is one of the things we have to put behind us."   Catholic authorities had a "great deal more work" to do on improving culture, he told the commission.     Peter Johnstone, president of Catholics for Renewal and a former senior public servant, told the inquiry that the statistics presented to the Commission "are quite conservative given that they're based on those who have come forward."    Mr Johnstone said greater inclusion of women would help change the culture of the Church.     Patrick Parkinson, a professor of law at The University of Sydney, told the royal commission there may have been a "culture of facilitation" in male religious orders which explained the high proportion of alleged perpetrators in orders such as St John of God, the Christian Brothers and the Marist Brothers....(more)
German bishops’ interpretation of 'Amoris Laetitia' is broadest to date
Extract from Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, La Croix International, 8 February 2017
They recall the pope’s words in 'Amoris Laetitia' that "no one can be condemned forever because that is not the logic of the Gospel!".    The Catholic bishops of Germany have declared that remarried divorcees can partake in the Church’s sacraments – including Holy Communion – if, after a long period of reflection, such Catholics decide they can do so in good conscience.     This is believed to be the broadest interpretation to date by a national episcopal conference on how to apply Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (AL).     The German Bishops’ Conference published guidelines for implementing the papal document on February 1st.     The Church leaders first interpret at length what Francis has to say on (a) marriage preparation, (b) the accompaniment of marriage and (c) strengthening the family. It is only afterward that they go on discuss (d) the accompaniment of remarried divorcees.    The order in which these four points are discussed is important since the guidelines were immediately and sharply criticized in conservative Church circles for only highlighting the subject of the remarried divorcees, which is not the case.    The bishops point that, while Amoris Laetitia leaves no doubt that the “indissolubility of marriage belongs to the Church’s essential deposit of faith”, it “likewise leaves no doubt about the necessity of taking a differentiated look at the particular situation people find themselves in”.    They recall the pope’s warning to “avoid judgments which do not take into account the complexity of various situations”, citing his words that “no one can be condemned forever because that is not the logic of the Gospel!”(AL 297).      In their guidelines, the bishops say it is essential to respect a final individual decision of conscience. But they also make it clear that a serious examination of conscience and a longer process of deliberation accompanied by a priest must be part of the process.     However, they also admit that, even then, it may not be possible to allow the individual concerned to receive the sacraments “in every case”.....(more) Photo:La Croix, WolfgangRoucka /Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 3.0
Six archbishops to be examined by Australian judge
Edited Extract from Michael Kelly SJ, La Croix International 7 February 2017
In a world first, the Australian Church is under the microscope for the next three weeks for its conduct and management of child abuse. Six of the seven archbishops in the country will all be called to give evidence and answer questions.    The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse, established in November 2014, will focus on a “wrap up” of the study of the Catholic Church in Australia.      The Commission has reported 1,880 cases over the last two years for investigation by the police and this represents 40% of all cases the Commission has referred to the police.    The “wrap up” will particularly focus on the structural and cultural factors involved in the Church’s life that allowed and then covered up child sexual abuse. Some 40% of all referrals for investigation and prosecution have been of people working in Catholic institutions.   An extraordinary piece of evidence presented to the Commission is that up to 7% of Australian clergy have been child abusers.   The six archbishops (of Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth, and Brisbane) are among the many officials who will be heard by the Commission in coming weeks. Amongst them are superiors of religious congregations, leaders of Catholic health, and welfare and educational services.    The focus of the Commission’s cross-examination of Catholic leaders will be twofold.....(more).        Proceedings are streamed live via the Royal Commission website (HERE) where daily transcripts may also be downloaded.    Photo: Royal Commission into Institutional Child Abuse
Commission reports 4444 alleged incidents
Extract from CathNews, 7 February 2017
More than 20 per cent of the members of some Catholic religious orders were allegedly involved in child sexual abuse, a royal commission hearing in Sydney has been told, ABC News reports.         Nearly 2000 Church figures, including priests, religious brothers and sisters, and employees, were identified as alleged perpetrators in a report released by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.          In her opening address, Gail Furness SC said a survey revealed 4444 alleged incidents of abuse between January 1980 and February 2015 were made to Church authorities.      Ms Furness said 60 per cent of all abuse survivors attending private royal commission sessions reported sexual abuse at faith-based institutions.    The royal commission's report found of the 1880 alleged perpetrators from within the Church, 572 were priests.    Ms Furness described the victims' accounts as "depressingly similar".      The Archbishops of Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Canberra-Goulburn have congregated in Sydney to give evidence as part of the three-week public hearing.        In his opening statement, Francis Sullivan, CEO of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council, affirmed the commitment of Catholic leaders to repairing the wrongs of the past, to listening to survivors and putting their needs first, and ensuring a safer future. He expressed admiration and gratitude for the survivors who came forward to tell their story.    Mr Sullivan acknowledged the data which had just been presented by Ms Furness, saying that it must be reckoned with, and noting that the hearing would provide the opportunity for this reckoning.      He said that one child abused by a priest or religious was appalling to all faithful Catholics, calling it a hypocrisy "grossly unbefitting a Church which seeks to be, and should be, held to its own high standard."....(more)  Photo: CathNews
Seven per cent of priests in Australia involved in abuse of children, royal commission announces
Extract from Rose Gamble, The Tablet, 06 February 2017
Four in ten brothers in one Catholic order involved in abuse, shocking figures released today claim Seven per cent of priests in Australia involved in abuse of children, royal commission announces.      Seven per cent of priests in the Catholic Church in Australia allegedly abused children between 1950 and 2010, an inquiry examining institutional sex abuse in the country has been told.        The statistics were released during the opening address of a hearing of Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on 6 February. The commission - which is Australia's highest form of inquiry - has been investigating since 2013 how the Catholic Church and other institutions responded to the sexual abuse of children over decades.           The commission has gathered scores of testimonies, which Gail Furness, the lead lawyer assisting the commission described as "depressingly similar" in her opening address.      "Children were ignored, or worse, punished. Allegations were not investigated. Priests and religious [figures] were moved. The parishes or communities to which they were moved knew nothing of their past," ABC Australia reports Furness to have said.        Furness said that 60 per cent of all survivors of abuse were from faith-based organisations. Of those, nearly two-thirds concerned the Catholic Church.      Between 1980 and 2015, 4,444 people reported they had been abused at more than 1,000 Catholic institutions across Australia, said Furness.      The average age of the victims was 10.5 for girls and 11.5 for boys. On average, it took 33 years for each instance of abuse to be reported.         The commission also details abuse claims against 10 religious orders in the same six decades.     Data published by the Royal Commission shows four orders had allegations of abuse against more than 20 per cent of their members....(more)
Shocking figures of abuse in Australia are a 'massive failure on the part of the Catholic Church'
Extract from Mark Brolly, The Tablet, 6 February 2017, Here
Data shows scope of sexual abuse in Australian Church
Extract from Ines San Martion, Crux, 6 February 2017 here

A Letter to all Parishioners from our Archbishop

I write to you as the final hearing involving the Catholic Church at the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse commences in Sydney on 6 February 2017. The hearing is expected to conclude at the end of February.

For the victims and survivors, for the Catholic community and for many in the wider Australian community, this hearing may be a difficult and even distressing time, as the Royal Commission reviews the evidence it has already received and seeks to understand why and how this evil occurred.

Deeply mindful of the hurt and pain caused by abuse, I once again offer my apology on behalf of the Catholic Church. I am sorry for the damage that has been done to the lives of victims of sexual abuse. As Pope Francis said recently, ‘it is a sin that shames us’.

Over the next three weeks, evidence presented during the Royal Commission hearings will be analysed, statistics about the extent of abuse will be made public, and the way forward will be explored. Many of our bishops and other Catholic leaders will appear before the Royal Commission. They will explain what the Church has been doing to change the old culture that allowed abuse to continue, to put in place new policies, structures and protections to safeguard children and vulnerable persons and to respond effectively when allegations of abuse are made.

Pope Francis has urged the whole Church to, ‘find the courage needed to take all necessary measures and to protect in every way the lives of our children, so that such crimes may never be repeated’.

I join my commitment and that of the Archdiocese to that of Pope Francis to do all that is necessary in the Archdiocese to ensure that there is no repeat of these evil crimes.

Throughout the coming weeks, I want to assure the survivors and all those affected by abuse in the Archdiocese and all Catholics of my thoughts and prayers. I encourage you to turn in prayer to the one who is always ready to listen: Jesus Christ, who brings healing and hope.

No pope or angel can change communion teaching: Muller
Extracts from CathNews, 3 February 2017
CDF head Cardinal Gerhard Muller has repeated that divorced and remarried couples must live in continence if they want to receive Communion at Mass and this teaching cannot change, writes Michael W. Chapman at CNS.     Cardinal Muller explained this point in an interview with the Italian magazine Il Timone, portions of which were translated into English in the newspaper L'Espresso and re-published in the The Catholic Herald. The topic is controversial because of Pope Francis's letter Amoris Laetitia, which not a few bishops have proclaimed permits the divorced/remarried, who are living as man and wife, to receive Communion, although they are objectively in a state of adultery, a grievous sin.    In the interview, Cardinal Muller was asked, "The exhortation of Saint John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, stipulates that divorced and remarried couples that cannot separate, in order to receive the sacraments must commit to live in continence. Is this requirement still valid?"    Cardinal Muller said, "Of course, it is not dispensable, because it is not only a positive law of John Paul II, but he expressed an essential element of Christian moral theology and the theology of the sacraments.     "The confusion on this point also concerns the failure to accept the encyclical Veritatis Splendor. For us marriage is the expression of participation in the unity between Christ the bridegroom and the Church his bride. This is not, as some said during the [2015] Synod, a simple vague analogy.  "No! This is the substance of the sacrament, and no power in Heaven or on Earth, neither an angel, nor the Pope, nor a council, nor a law of the bishops, has the faculty to change it."..... I don't like it, it is not right that so many bishops are interpreting Amoris Laetitia according to their way of understanding the Pope's teaching."...(more) 
Restorationism brings traditionalist approaches to parish life
Extract from  Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter, 2 February 2017
Within church circles, restorationism, a movement to "renew the renewal" of Vatican II by bringing traditionalist approaches to liturgy and governance of parish life, is often denied and frequently argued about.     It might be akin to how a Supreme Court Justice famously viewed pornography: hard to define, but you know it when you see it.     In parishes across the country, young pastors, raised in a post-Vatican II world, are incorporating costumes, vestments, music and other elements that have their roots in practices preceding 1965.   For some, including Pope Francis, one of its most acerbic critics, the movement is rife with clericalism, asserting priestly powers in parishes where laypeople had grown accustomed to participation in ministries and governance. The pope has railed against a resurgent clericalism, in one case telling a group of religious formation directors about "little monsters" who use ordination to lord it over others.    Benedictine Fr. Anthony Ruff, associate professor of theology at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minn., told NCR that restorationism is a reaction to growing secularization and rapid social change, such as the widespread acceptance of same-sex marriage and declines in Mass attendance.  "There is fear of a rapidly changing world. I think it is driving people to bad solutions," he said..........(more)  Photo: NCR, CNS/Nancy Wiechec
Royal Commission wrap up may be painful
Extracts from CathNews, The Catholic Weekly, 2 February 2017
On February 6, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will commence Case Study 50, otherwise known as the "Catholic wrap up", writes Monica Doumit at The Catholic Weekly.    Scheduled to run for three weeks, the hearing is intended to look at factors which might have contributed to the abuse crisis in the Church, and to our response to the crisis.    The three weeks allocated to the Church is the same amount of time which has been allocated to wrap up all other institutions, government and non-government, combined.    This series of wrap-up hearings will complete around four years of public hearings for the royal commission, and it will be the last major news we will hear of the commission until it releases its final report, which is due to Parliament on December 15......Some of the topics which will be raised include the culture of the Church generally, its governance, including Canon Law, the role of the Vatican and the bishops, its doctrine and practices, including the Sacrament of Confession and discipline of mandatory celibacy, and the selection and formation of candidates for the priesthood.   There's no point in mincing words, it will be an unprecedented public shaming of the Church and much of it will be well-deserved.....(more)  Photo, CathNews, The Catholic Weekly.
Great (US) Catholic Parishes:  How Four Essential Practices Make Them Thrive
Extracts from Eleanor Sauers Comminweal (Subscription jopurna) review on  of book by  William E. Simon Jr. Ave Maria Press, 224 pp.,  US$17.95  Published 25 January, extracted here 1 Feb 2017
At a time when many Catholic parishes in North America are faltering or failing, William Simon has set out to analyze ones that are thriving. How exactly does a parish thrive? Simon (son of the late William E. Simon Sr., Treasury Department chief under Nixon and Ford) focuses on parishes recommended by the Leadership Network, or by local dioceses, and led by pastors seen as innovators.     His organization, Parish Catalyst, specializes in providing support to parishes and priests, and his effort to help struggling parishes adopt more salutary practices is based on far-reaching and comprehensive research, using data from parish surveys along with testimony from various pastors......I applaud Simon’s research and goals, and embrace his list of best parish practices. In some respects, however, his approach seems based more on a business model than a faith model. Take, for instance, his emphasis on the importance of cathedrals, beginning with his allusion, in his introduction, to Saint-Exupéry’s remark about how in the eyes of an imaginative person, a mere pile of rocks is the beginning of a cathedral. Now, while building cathedrals is a great testament of faith, it should not be our first priority; stirring peoples’ hearts and souls is the Gospel’s first demand.       The life of a parish is much more than bricks and mortar, or programs and offerings for that matter. It is essentially about the soul of the place, that mysterious coming together of shared vision, collaborative leadership, engaged people, and generous and intentional outreach, all of it with Christ at the center. If I were choosing something from Saint-Exupéry, it would be these famed words from The Little Prince: “it is only with heart that one sees rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” The importance of the role of the Holy Spirit, and of reading the signs of the times, cannot be overstated. Parishes live in the intangibles.....(more)  
Stem parish closures and mergers, pleads US priests group
Extract from Dan Morris Young,  National Catholic Reporter, 31 January 2017
An association of nearly 1,200 U.S. priests is in the final development stages of issuing an urgent "plea" to the U.S. bishops to "formulate a plan now to meet this emerging crisis" of parish closings and consolidations.     In a working draft it calls a "Proposal for Pastoral Care In & Thru Priestless Parishes," the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests exhorts the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and "dioceses nationwide" to quickly address the issue.    Core to the plan is "new and more specific exploration" of lay ecclesial ministers to oversee non-sacramental aspects of parish life and administration, according to a proposed plan cover letter contained in an email to NCR.....(more)
Reform of the Reform: Rome Revisits 'Liturgiam Authenticam'
Extract from Rita Ferrone, subscription journal Commonweal, 27 January, linked here 30 January 2017
The tightly controlled and highly centralized approach to the translation of liturgical texts that has reigned in the Roman Catholic Church over the past fifteen years is likely coming to an end. In a move that is widely expected to open the door to more pastoral guidelines and approaches, Pope Francis has inaugurated a review and re-evaluation of the 2001 document Liturgiam authenticam....(more)
Why Pope Francis is right to revisit the new Mass translation
Extract from Michael G. Ryan January. America the Jesuit Review, 30 January, 2017
Recent news out of Rome that Pope Francis has given his blessing to a commission to study “Liturgiam Authenticam,” the controversial 2001 document behind the English translation of the Roman Missal, was surely music to the ears of many who love the church’s liturgy and to just about everyone who loves the English language. Seven years ago, I did my best to see that the translation got a test run before being mandated for general use. But, as the saying goes, timing is everything. Had Francis been elected just a few years earlier, it is likely that “Liturgiam Authenticam” would have died in committee.    At this point, I am not sure who to feel sorrier for: those members of the International Committee for English in the Liturgy, who, back in 1998, offered a worthy translation—the fruit of 17 years painstaking labor—only to have it unceremoniously consigned to oblivion by Vatican officials, or the faithful of the English-speaking world who have had to struggle since 2011 with a wooden, woefully inadequate, theologically limited Missal that is low on poetry, if high on precision.....(more)
Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the 51st World Communication Day
Extracts, Vatican, 24 January 2017, Published here 28 January 2017

«Fear not, for I am with you» (Is 43:5):
Communicating Hope and Trust in our Time

Access to the media – thanks to technological progress – makes it possible for countless people to share news instantly and spread it widely. That news may be good or bad, true or false. The early Christians compared the human mind to a constantly grinding millstone; it is up to the miller to determine what it will grind: good wheat or worthless weeds. Our minds are always “grinding”, but it is up to us to choose what to feed them (cf. SAINT JOHN CASSIAN, Epistle to Leontius).......I am convinced that we have to break the vicious circle of anxiety and stem the spiral of fear resulting from a constant focus on “bad news” (wars, terrorism, scandals and all sorts of human failure). This has nothing to do with spreading misinformation that would ignore the tragedy of human suffering, nor is it about a naive optimism blind to the scandal of evil. Rather, I propose that all of us work at overcoming that feeling of growing discontent and resignation that can at times generate apathy, fear or the idea that evil has no limits. Moreover, in a communications industry which thinks that good news does not sell, and where the tragedy of human suffering and the mystery of evil easily turn into entertainment, there is always the temptation that our consciences can be dulled or slip into pessimism.     I would like, then, to contribute to the search for an open and creative style of communication that never seeks to glamourize evil but instead to concentrate on solutions and to inspire a positive and responsible approach on the part of its recipients. I ask everyone to offer the people of our time storylines that are at heart “good news”.....(more)
Lunar New Year
Saturday 28 January 2017
We wish all those celebrating Lunar New Year a HAPPY NEW YEAR !
Parish Resumptions: welcome back  (to those who have been away!)
Friday 27 January 2017

Parish Schools resume
Our three Parish schools resume next week - welcome also to new students and families!

Liturgy group resumes     
First meeting Thursday, 2nd February at 9.45am, immediately after morning Mass. Pleased to see those who have joined us previously and newcomers are always welcome.  Feel free to come when you can. Everyone can make a contribution. - Merle Gilbo 

Multimedia Liturgy and Website Update
From February the Multimedia Liturgy returns, and the Website Update Returns. While the Website has been kept update throughout January the 'Website Update' is emailed on Fridays to parishioners and friends who wish to be informed of Parish developments and have requested to be included in the Parish mailing list. You may request inclusion on this mailing list here - John Costa

Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe Men's’ Evening 2017
Friday 3rd February: 7.30pm in MI Hall. $5.00 cover charge. More info: Eugene Ballao 0407 869 582

Maitland-Newcastle creates child protection advisory council
Extract from CathNews, 27 January 2017

The Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle, Bill Wright, has appointed a new body to advise him on protecting children and vulnerable adults, reports The Newcastle Herald.     The nine-member diocese protection and safety council will help “rebuild a sense of trust within the community about Maitland-Newcastle diocese’s commitment to protect children and vulnerable adults”, said a statement released on Monday.   It came four months after evidence at a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse public hearing in Newcastle which revealed systemic failings in the Church’s responses to child sex offenders including Fr Vince Ryan and Marist Brothers Romuald (Francis Cable) and Patrick (Thomas Butler).   Bishop Wright said the council would foster a culture of continuous improvement throughout the diocese on the protection of children and vulnerable adults after a history which includes “allowing predatory individuals to continue to abuse”.
       “It is this sad history which sees us now at the forefront of safety and protection as we aim to continually push forward with any activities which minimise the risk for people suffering in the future,” he said.    “The newly formed council will offer independent advice to ensure the diocese continues to develop its policies and practices in the field of professional standards.    “We have an absolute and enduring commitment to promoting and ensuring the safety of all who are connected with us – be it through our parishes, Catholic schools, early education or community outreach services.”   Council members were appointed by the bishop. The nine members are not employees of the diocese or clergy in the diocese.....(more)

Redemptorist Fr. Tony Flannery celebrates Mass after five-year ban
Extract from Sarah MacDonald, National Catholic Reporter, 25 Jan 2017
Dublin. Redemptorist Fr. Tony Flannery has said he is not anticipating any backlash from the Vatican over his celebration of a public Mass last Sunday in contravention of a ban on public ministry imposed on him by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.      The 70-year-old Irish missioner described the liturgy, which was attended by up to 800 people, as "emotional and beautiful."   "I have celebrated many big Masses over the years, at missions and novenas, but nothing that touched me to the core like this one." He added that the occasion "would come close to being the loveliest day of my life."    Flannery, who is a co-founder of the reform-minded Association of Catholic Priests, said he was "not worried about excommunication" by the church and didn't "anticipate" any excommunication under Pope Francis and "even less so in the context of Pope Francis' visit to Ireland next year."   Referring to the "volume of support and encouragement from people" at the Mass and those who had contacted him by email, letter and telephone, the priest said that for church authorities to do anything to him now would be "shooting themselves in the foot."     He regarded excommunication as a medieval concept and said it "wouldn't influence me or my life or my faith in any way," he told NCR.     Those who attended the Mass at a community center in Flannery's rural home village of Killimordaly in County Galway on Sunday afternoon were local friends, supporters of the priest, members of reform groups such as the Association of Catholics in Ireland and We Are Church Ireland. Some attendees had traveled from overseas to be there.    The strictures imposed on Flannery, which include forbidding him to minister publicly, relate to his liberal views on women priests, the Eucharist and the church's sexual teachings....(more)    Photo: NCR, Sara McDonald

Role of women a priority for Irish bishops during Vatican talks
Extract from Cathnews, 25 January 2016

The Irish bishops are finishing their first Ad Limina visit to Rome in 10 years, and one topic was mentioned in every meeting they had with Vatican departments: the role of women in the Church, reports the Catholic News Agency.      “I would say I don't think there was any congregation that we didn't mention it,” Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick told CNA.    He called the attention being given to women and their role “one of the signs of the times”.   The Holy Spirit “is saying something,” Bishop Leahy said, adding that what exactly the Holy Spirit wants is “the big question for us all", but one area that keeps coming up is engaging women more in decision-making processes....(more)
Never underestimate the courage and wisdom of women, pope says
Extracts from Junno Arocho Esteves, Crux, 25 January 2017
Women are more courageous than men," Pope Francis told an applauding crowd on January 25 during his weekly general audience. The pope added that the advice of courageous women should always be heeded and embraced and quoted the heroine Judith as an example of trusting God amidst turmoil......“This is my opinion, but women are more courageous than men,” the pope said to applause.....(more)
In Philippines, brutal drug war prompts Catholic outcry
Extract from Crux, 25 January 2017
MANILA, Philippines -- Catholic leaders have spoken out against a drug war that has left thousands dead, and the Philippines’ new president is not taking the criticism well.    President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war is “not any more in accord with the legal processes, and the moral norms are being violated and so now is the time for the Church to speak up,” Jerome Secillano, public affairs chief for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, told Agence France Presse last week.     He added that many priests and bishops are afraid to speak out against the killings, as well as the laity.    Baclaran church put on an exhibit of poster-size pictures of Filipinos dying in pools of blood in a campaign against the killings of the war on drugs. Some churches have put up banners denouncing the extrajudicial killings.    “When you speak to people on the ground, there is a lot of fear…many people, especially the urban poor, feel that anybody can be tagged and killed,” Auxiliary Bishop of Manila Broderick Pabillo said.   Duterte’s violent crackdown on drug use has claimed more than 6,000 lives in the six months since he took office. At least 2,250 drug suspects have been reported killed by police, while at least 3,700 others were murdered by unknown suspects who sometimes accused their victims of being drug dealers or addicts, according to AFP.....(more) Photo: Crux, Unsplash.
Knights of Malta leader resigns, pope to name delegate to run order
Extract from  Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 25 January 2017
Rome. The showdown between the Vatican and the Knights of Malta has come to a brusque end, with the leader of the historic sovereign order resigning at the apparent request of Pope Francis.    In a statement Wednesday, the Vatican said the pontiff would also be taking over control of the order with the appointment of a new papal delegate in the coming days.    News of Grand Master Matthew Festing's resignation was first reported late Tuesday evening by the Reuters news agency, which said Francis had asked for Festing's resignation in a meeting at the Vatican earlier that day.   The resignation caps an unusually tense month for the prestigious Catholic lay order, which had been openly resisting a Vatican investigation into Festing's firing of one of their top officials. At times it seemed that one of Catholicism's most storied organizations was challenging the authority and power of the pope.   Festing's resignation appeared to surprise the order's headquarters, which was unable to answer questions about the leader's status with the group until mid-Wednesday morning. The order's website was down throughout the morning, with visitors receiving a message that the server hosting the site was overloaded.....(more)
Papal critic Cardinal Burke to headline canon law conference
Extract from Dan Morris-Young, Crux, 24 January 2017
A leading critic of Pope Francis' approach to ministry to divorced and remarried Catholics and of his reforms to church annulment procedures will be the headline speaker at a San Francisco conference for canon lawyers.   Cardinal Raymond Burke will be the featured presenter at the Western Region Canon Law Meeting March 14-16 at San Francisco's St. Mary's Cathedral.     A conference flyer lists titles of the cardinal's talks as "Mitis Index Dominus Jesus: One Year Later" and "Current Issues / Concerns/Observations Regarding American Tribunals."     Mitis Index Dominus Jesus ( "The Lord Jesus, Clement Judge" ) is one of two documents Francis issued in September 2015 aimed at reforming procedures for seeking declarations of marriage nullity. It addresses annulment protocols in the Latin rite Catholic church. The second, Mitis et misericors Iesus ("Clement and Merciful Jesus"), outlines reforms for the Code of Canons of Eastern Churches.    Burke has been a high-profile detractor of the annulment reforms as well as Francis' apostolic exhortation on marriage and family life, Amoris Laetitia, released last April....(more)  Photo: NCR, CNS/Paul Haring
‘Prayer brings hope in most troubling times’
Extract from CathNews, The Catholic Herald, 20 January 2017
Prayer has the power to awaken hope in men and women, even in the face of death and destruction, Pope Francis said during his weekly general audience, according to the Catholic News Service. People often feel unworthy to turn to God when they are in need “as if it were a self-interested prayer and, thus, imperfect,” the Pope said on January 18.    “But God knows our weakness; he knows that we remember him to ask for help and, with the indulgent smile of a father, he responds graciously,” he said......(more)
Pope: Catholics, Lutherans must continue to seek common ground
Extract from Junno Arocho Esteves, Crux, 19 January 2017
ROME - Although great strides have been made through 50 years of ecumenical dialogue, Catholics and Lutherans must continue to work toward becoming a full and visible sign of unity for the world, Pope Francis said.      A continued “communion of harmony” will allow Catholics and Lutherans to “find further convergence on points of doctrine and the moral teaching of the church,” the pope told members of a pilgrimage from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland on January 19.      “I pray to the Lord that he may bestow his blessing on the Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue Commission in Finland, which is working diligently toward a common sacramental understanding of the church, the Eucharist and ecclesial ministry,” he said.      The pope met the Finnish delegation during the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The theme chosen for the 2017 observance was: “Reconciliation: The love of Christ compels us.”      The week of prayer, Pope Francis said, urges Catholics and Lutherans to reconcile and “draw closer to one another anew through conversion.”    “True ecumenism is based on a shared conversion to Jesus Christ as our Lord and redeemer. If we draw close to him, we draw close also to one another,” the pope said.....(more)  Photo: Crux, CNS/Paul Haring
Bishops call for an end to ‘scandal’ of the occupied territories
Extract from  Megan Cornwell, The Tablet, 19 January 2017
A group of Catholic bishops visiting the Holy land have called Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem “a scandal” to which “we must never become accustomed”.     Returning from a visit to Gaza and the West Bank, the Holy Land Coordination group, consisting of 14 bishops and clergy from across Europe, North America and South Africa, said the current situation violates the dignity of both Palestinians and Israelis.    In 1967, during the Six-Day War against Egypt, Jordan and Syria, Israel occupied Sinai, Gaza, the Golan Heights, West Bank and East Jerusalem. Gaza is now governed by the Palestinian militant group Hamas.    The Chair of the group, Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton, said: "We must pray for peace for everyone in this land; two peoples and three faiths. We must all make ourselves aware of the situation. Having informed ourselves of the reality, we must then take action, by supporting the charities active in the Holy Land, by coming on pilgrimage and by contacting our elected representatives”.   The group said the expansion of Israeli settlements - a process condemned by a UN Security Council resolution last month - “imperils the chance of peace”.   The group was set up at the end of the twentieth century at the invitation of the Holy See in order to visit and support the local Christian communities in the Holy Land and to find ways to raise awareness in their own countries.     Pope Francis last week met with Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, to assure him of his support as their new embassy to the Holy See opened in Rome....(more) Photo: The Tablet,  
As recent guidelines show, ‘Amoris’ argument is far from over
Extract from Inés San Martín, Vatican Correspondent, Crux, 18 January 2017
The fact that guidelines from bishops for the pastoral application of chapter 8 of Pope Francis's 'Amoris Laetitia' present opposite interpretations on the issue of access to the sacraments for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics confirms one truth: the argument is not yet settled.   ROME- Charged debate around the implications of footnote 351 of Pope Francis’s Amoris Laetitia, the document with which he closed a three-year process involving two Synods of Bishops on the family, has been going on for almost 10 months, and there no signs it’ll wind up any time soon.    The footnote addresses access to the sacraments by divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, and while it appeared to leave the door open for a cautious “yes,” Francis also stressed he didn’t intend to change Church teaching or law, and left the implementation of the document up to local bishops.    It’s that ambiguity which has cleared the path for bishops to interpret the implications of the pope’s ruling differently, with some taking a restrictive approach and others a more permissive line.     Several bishops or groups of bishops have commented on this and many released their own set of guidelines for the “pastoral application” of chapter eight, at times providing strikingly different answers.    Here’s a round-up of what bishops and cardinals (though technically, a cardinal is a bishop) have said so far.....(more)  Photo: Crux, AP Photo/Andrew Medichini.  
Another bishop says chastity key to Communion debate
Extract from John L. Allen Jr. Editor, Crux, 17 January 2016
Bishop Steven Lopes of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Peter, for ex-Anglicans, has issued a pastoral letter on 'Amoris Laetitia' holding that divorced and civilly remarried Catholics may receive Communion only if they commit to "complete chastity."    In a new pastoral letter on the implementation of Amoris Laetitia, another Catholic bishop has concluded that the pontiff’s document on the family does not change the Church’s existing rules for the divorced and civilly remarried, and that Catholics in that situation may receive Communion only if they commit themselves to “complete chastity.”    “A civilly remarried couple, if committed to complete continence, could have the Eucharist available to them, after proper discernment with their pastor and making recourse to the sacrament of reconciliation,” wrote Bishop Steven Lopes, head of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, a structure created to welcome former Anglican communities into the Catholic Church.     “Unless and until the civilly remarried honestly intend to refrain from sexual relations entirely, sacramental discipline does not allow for the reception of the Eucharist,” Lopes wrote....(more)  Photo: Crux, lopes
Pope Francis' Letter to Young People
Extracts from Rome Reports, 13 January 2016
Pope's Letter to Young People on the Occasion of the Presentation of the Preparatory Document of the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops
(read the full letter from Pope Francis  to young people here)

My Dear Young People,
I am pleased to announce that in October 2018 a Synod of Bishops will take place to treat the topic: "Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” I wanted you to be the centre of attention, because you are in my heart. Today, the Preparatory Document is being presented, a document which I am also entrusting to you as your "compass” on this synodal journey.            I am reminded of the words which God spoke to Abraham: "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.” (Gen 12.1). These words are now also addressed to you. They are words of a Father who invites you to "go”, to set out towards a future which is unknown but one which will surely lead to fulfilment, a future towards which He Himself accompanies you. I invite you to hear God's voice resounding in your heart through the breath of the Holy Spirit.    When God said to Abram, "Go!”, what did he want to say? He certainly did not say to distance himself from his family or withdraw from the world. Abram received a compelling invitation, a challenge, to leave everything and go to a new land. What is this "new land” for us today, if not a more just and friendly society which you, young people, deeply desire and wish to build to the very ends of the earth?     But unfortunately, today, "Go!” also has a different meaning, namely, that of abuse of power, injustice and war. Many among you are subjected to the real threat of violence and forced to flee their native land. Their cry goes up to God, like that of Israel, when the people were enslaved and oppressed by Pharaoh (cf. Ex 2:23)............My brother bishops and I want even more to "work with you for your joy” (2 Cor 1:24). I entrust you to Mary of Nazareth, a young person like yourselves, whom God beheld lovingly, so she might take your hand and guide you to the joy of fully and generously responding to God’s call with the words: "Here I am” (cf. Lk 1:38).........(Read the full letter from Pope Francis to young people HERE.  Photo: Rome Reports).
With paternal affection,
Maltese bishops: Remarried Catholics ‘at peace’ can receive Communion.     Extract from Inés San Martín, Vatican Correspondent, Crux, 13 January 2017
ROME- Bishops in the island nation of Malta, in percentage terms among the most Catholic nations on earth, have followed those of Buenos Aires, the pontiff’s home archdiocese, in their approach to Pope Francis’s document on the family, Amoris Laetitia.           Like their Latin American peers, they’ve produced a set of guidelines that clearly state the door to Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics is open.         “If, as a result of the process of discernment,” the bishops write, “a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship manages, with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that he or she is at peace with God, he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.”              Meaning, if a person, in good conscience, believes he or she is entitled to Communion, priests in Malta can’t exclude them from accessing the sacrament.    The Maltese “Criteria for the Application of Chapter VIII of ‘Amoris Laetitia’” was signed on January 8 by Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta and Bishop Mario Grech of Gozo. Released on Jan. 13 through the bishops’ website, the document sent to the country’s priests included a copy of the divisive chapter at the end.       In their guidelines the bishops write that when a priest meets persons who find themselves in “irregular” situations, he must “enter in dialogue with them and to come to know them in a spirit of authentic charity.”.....(more).          NOTE: The Maltese linked document “Criteria for the Application of Chapter VIII of ‘Amoris Laetitia’” was signed on January 8 by Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta and Bishop Mario Grech of Gozo. and released on 13 January 2017.   Photo: Crux, thechurchinmalta.org

Young people to set agenda for Synod
Exract From Robert Mickens, La Croix International (subscription journal), 13 January 2016

In an unprecedented move, the Vatican has decided to by-pass national episcopal conferences and give the world’s young people a unique opportunity to help set the agenda for the next major meeting of the Church’s international Synod of Bishops.          Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, head of the Rome-based secretariat that coordinates the Synod’s activities, told journalists on Friday that his office was launching a website in March that will allow youngsters to honestly raise questions and share their views about life and faith inside the Catholic Church.    He said their input – in addition to a questionnaire sent to bishops and heads of religious orders – would then form a substantial part of the working document (instrumentum laboris) that will frame the discussions when Pope Francis convenes the XV General Assembly of the Synod in October 2018 around the topic, “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment”....(more by subscription)

A template for real Catholic reform in 2017
Extract from Thomas D. Williams, Contributor, Crux, 11 January 2017
One of the key principles of reform is the idea of return, or rediscovery. To reform is not to change one’s nature or alter one’s identity, but to return to the truth of oneself that may have become distorted or atrophied over time.          Among other things, 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, an event-or series of events-that split Western Christianity into a series of factions, denominations and ecclesial communions.    While targeting real abuses and errors, the reformers ended by radically altering core Christian beliefs on issues ranging from the Canon of Sacred Scripture to the nature of the Church to the number and meaning of the Church’s sacraments.       The Church responded with her own “reformation,” which has been called variously the Counter-Reformation, the Catholic Reformation and the Catholic Revival. Culminating in the Council of Trent (1545-1563), the Catholic reform curbed abuses, clarified doctrine, purified practices, unified the Church and found new ways to present the beauty of Christian teaching.     In his address to the Roman Curia on December 22, Pope Francis once again centered his words on the need for continuous reform, and while he was speaking first and foremost of the reform of the Curia, he extended the scope of his words to the reform of the Church herself.     Reform, Francis said, “is first and foremost a sign of life, of a Church that advances on her pilgrim way, of a Church that is living and for this reason semper reformanda, in need of reform because she is alive.” Or as the Second Vatican Council taught, “Christ summons the Church to continual reformation as she sojourns here on earth. The Church is always in need of this, in so far as she is an institution of men here on earth.”      One of the key principles of reform is the idea of return, or rediscovery. To reform is not to change one’s nature or alter one’s identity, but to return to the truth of oneself that may have become distorted or atrophied over time.....(more)
Pope: Jesus amazed because he was humble, helpful, not a hypocrite
Extract from Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, Crux, 10 January 2017
Pope Francis said in his homily, “Jesus, who is humble, who is at the service (of others), who is near, who doesn’t despise people and who is consistent, has authority,” unlike the traditional teachers. “This is the authority that the people of God sense.”      ROME - Jesus astonished people with the way he taught and interacted with others because he wasn’t aloof, domineering or hypocritical, Pope Francis said in a homily.    “Jesus wasn’t allergic to people. Touching lepers, the sick did not disgust him,” whereas the Pharisees - who strolled around in fine clothes - looked down on the people and considered them ignorant, he said at the Mass Jan. 10 in the chapel of his residence.      “They were removed from the people, they weren’t close,” the pope said of the Pharisees. “Jesus was very close to the people and this gave him authority.”    The pope’s homily centered on the day’s Gospel reading (Mk 1:21-28) in which people gathered at the synagogue in Capernaum “were astonished” at Jesus’s teaching because he displayed an authority that differed so greatly from that of the scribes.    The people would listen to and be respectful toward the doctors of the law and the scribes, but the people didn’t take what they said “to heart,” he said.   These teachers felt themselves superior, as if to say: “We are the teachers, the princes and we teach you. No service. We command, you obey,” the pope said. But Jesus “never passed himself off as a prince. He was always the servant of everyone and this is what gave him authority.”        The traditional teachers were hypocrites, declaring the truth, but not doing what they preached, Pope Francis said.   Jesus “lived what he preached,” he said, representing the harmonious union of “what he thought, felt and did.”....(more)  Photo: Crux, (CNS photo/Paul Haring.)
Vietnamese Church stands up for pollution victims
Extract from Yves Kerihuel, Vinh, Ky Anh, Vietnam La Croix International, 9 January 2016
The bishop and clergy of the Diocese of Vinh have been battling to assist fishing communities in Ky Anh province who lost their work because of an ecological disaster caused by the Taiwanese-owned Formosa steel mill.   A forbidding 10 km long brick wall, topped with barbed wire and punctuated with observation towers, runs along the coast in Ky Anh district in northern Vietnam.   The wall sheltered from view the Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation, an immense iron and steel complex, which has been constructed since 2009 by the Taiwanese Formosa group.    “No access is allowed,” laments Fr Pierre Tran Dinh Lai, parish priest of a new neighborhood in Ky Anh, now home to more than 5,000 fishing families whose lands were appropriated by Formosa.    Fr Lai is one of the first people who was alerted by the fisherfolk of his parish to a maritime pollution event on April 6, 2016, which occurred during the first test runs of the Formosa steelworks.   In the following days, hundreds of thousands of fish were found dead. This maritime disaster was not just confined to the sea and beaches of a 250 km coastline, but also affected numerous fish farms that dot this region in central Vietnam.      “We don’t know what kind of chemical substances were ejected into the sea," Fr Lai says. "But we know that a diver, who was sent to check the pipes linking Formosa to the sea, died almost instantly."     No samples have yet been taken and no chemical analysis has been authorized by the Vietnamese
Vatican doctrine czar sees no need for ‘fraternal correction’ of Pope
Extract from Inés San Martín, Vatican Correspondent, Crux, 9 January 2017
German Cardinal Gerhard Muller, the Vatican's top doctrinal official, has said there's no need for a "fraternal correction" of Pope Francis, as suggested by American Cardinal Raymond Burke, because the pope's document "Amoris Laetitia" is clear in its doctrine.                ROME - The Vatican’s doctrinal czar believes Cardinal Raymond Burke’s threat to issue a “fraternal correction” of Pope Francis is “very remote,” because despite what the American prelate says, the papal document on the family Amoris Laetitia actually is very clear in its doctrine.      Speaking about a dubia letter Burke and three other cardinals sent to the pope late in 2016, urging him to respond to a series of yes or no questions regarding Amoris Laetitia and its provisions for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, German Cardinal Gerhard Muller, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith acknowledged that everyone, “above all cardinals,” has the right to write a letter to the pope.    However, Muller added, “I am amazed that this became public, essentially constraining the pope to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. I don’t like this.”    The letter was intended to be a private affair, but when Pope Francis refused to answer the questions, the cardinals gave it to the press, just a few days before October’s consistory for the creation of new cardinals.    Regarding a possible formal correction, which Burke said he was willing to do if the pope continued to refuse to answer the question submitted last September, Muller stated that “it’s not possible in this moment, because it doesn’t concern a danger for the faith as St. Thomas said.”    Amoris Laetitia, which some believe offered a cautious opening for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion, “is very clear in its doctrine and we can interpret the whole teaching of Jesus on Matrimony, the whole teaching of the Church in 2000 years of history,” Muller said.....(more)
Pope decries ‘prophets of doom’ wanting only ‘the usual fare’
Extract from John L Allan Jr. Crux now, 6 February 2017
ROME - Bringing the Vatican’s holiday season to a close on Thursday with a Mass for the feast of the Epiphany, Pope Francis delivered a strong homily on a “holy longing for God” as the answer to “prophets of doom” who think “nothing can change” and stubbornly cling to “the usual fare.”     Epiphany celebrates the New Testament story of the Three Wise Men, or Magi, who went in search of the infant Jesus. The pontiff said they were guided by a positive “inner restlessness,” which left them “open to something new.”    “A holy longing for God is the memory of faith, which rebels before all prophets of doom,” the pontiff said.   The phrase “prophets of doom” has a long history in papal rhetoric, including a famous address by St. Pope John XXIII at the opening of the Second Vatican Council in October 1962. In the decades since, it’s generally become used in Catholic parlance to characterize resistance to proposals for reform.    Francis said Thursday that “holy longing” draws people out of that reaction....“Longing for God draws us out of our iron-clad isolation, which makes us think that nothing can change,” the pope said. “Longing for God shatters our dreary routines and impels us to make the changes we want and need.”    Though Francis was speaking in a spiritual key, it was hard for many observers on Thursday not to hear echoes of some of the turbulence Francis faced during the past year, with some critics suggesting he’s introducing debatable or doctrinally unsound changes in Catholic life himself, notably with regard to the idea of opening Communion to some divorced and civilly remarried believers.     The pontiff made no reference to those debates on Thursday, but criticized a broad attitude of resistance to change......The Magi, the pope said, did not allow their hearts to be “anesthetized.”....(more)  Photo, Crux, AP Phoo - Gregorio
Mulling the practical pros and cons of married priests
Extracts from Fr Dwight Longenecker, contributor to Crux, 5 January 2017
There are plenty of historical and theological arguments for and against married priests, but few stop to consider the practical pros and cons. Yet Catholicism already has married priests, and here one of them shares his experience.    Should the Catholic Church have married priests? Many people are surprised to find that the Catholic Church already has, and I’m one of them.    In the early 1980s, Pope St. John Paul II established the Pastoral Provision, allowing married men who had been ordained in the Anglican or Lutheran churches (and were subsequently received into full communion with the Catholic Church) to receive a dispensation from the vow of celibacy allowing them to be ordained as Catholic priests.    The dispensation from the vow of celibacy is permitted because celibacy for priests is a discipline of the Church, not a doctrine. Doctrines cannot be altered. Disciplines can.    I received my dispensation from Pope Benedict XVI and, with my wife Alison and our four children in attendance, was ordained in 2006. I served first as a high school chaplain and assistant priest in a parish. I was then asked to be the administrator of a small parish.    After ten years serving as a married Catholic priest, I can report on the practical pros and cons.......But that’s just my opinion. The decision itself is above my pay grade....(more). Photo: Crux, Longenecker
Pope Francis could face key choices on bishops in 2017
Extract from John L. Allen Jr. Editor Crux,  4 January 2017
.....With Francis, however, it’s often what you don’t see coming that really tells the tale.    Trying to predict what this maverick pope will do is a fool’s errand. Yet we can at least say that in 2017, he’ll have the chance to continue doing something arguably more important than almost anything else in terms of framing his legacy and shaping culture in the Church, which is naming bishops.    As a longtime friend of mine who works in the Vatican likes to say, in the Catholic Church a good bishop can do an enormous amount of good, and a bad bishop can do an even greater amount of harm!    Bishops generally enjoy wide latitude to run their shops as they see fit - a point that’s been given an exclamation point of late by the contrasting ways various bishops have chosen to implement the pope’s document on the family, Amoris Laetita. As a result, perhaps no single thing any pope ever does is more consequential than the kinds of bishops he appoints.   We got another small but telling reminder on Wednesday, when Francis replaced Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary in Canada with Bishop William McGrattan.       Henry is a hero to the strongly pro-life camp in the Church, among other things because of his refusal to permit a government-backed vaccination program against a sexually transmitted disease in Catholic schools because he believed it promoted promiscuity, while McGrattan is seen as a more “Pope Francis” kind of bishop whose focus is generally on dialogue and cooperation over confrontation.   In keeping with Church policy, every one of the world’s more than 5,000 Catholic bishops is expected to submit a letter of resignation when he turns 75. It’s up to the pope whether to accept it, but 75 is generally the threshold at which thoughts of a transition begin to beckon....(more) Photo: Crux, (Credit: AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino.)  
Church in Kerala state forms support group for transgender people
Extract from Crux, Catholic News Service, 4 January 2017
COCHIN, India - The church in India’s Kerala state has formed a group of priests, nuns and laypeople to respond to the pastoral needs of transgender people, reported ucanews.com.      Formed in Cochin under the aegis of Pro-Life Support, a global social service movement within the church, the ministry is significant as it is one of the few outreach programs for the transgender community by the institutional church in India.    “The whole church has a big role to play,” said Father Paul Madassey, who is in charge of pro-life support for the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council. He noted Pope Francis had talked about the need to give “pastoral care to the LGBT community.”    “There is an active sex racket from North India eyeing transgender people in Kerala. They are trying to exploit the discriminatory situation they face,” Madassey told ucanews.com.    India has an estimated 500,000 transgender people. They are often ostracized from their families and - without adequate state support in terms of employment, health and education - end up on the street begging for money or are exploited in the sex trade....(more)  Photo: Crux, CNS photo/Jagadeesh Nv, EPA.      
Can Pope Francis’s legacy be rolled back? Well, yes and no
Extract frpom John L. Allen Jr. Editor Crux, 2 January 2017
Some fans of Pope Francis seem anxious that his legacy might be "rolled back" when he's gone, but here's the thing: Catholicism isn’t a zero/sum tradition, in which veering in one direction for a while means repealing what came before.     ROME - Journalistic convention dictates that whenever we write about Pope Francis these days, we frame things in terms of his supporters and his critics. In reality that’s a bit misleading, since few people fall entirely into one of those two categories.    Even the most enthused usually can cite a few times they wish Francis had zigged rather than zagged, and even the most alarmed generally have at least something positive to say. Then, of course, there’s another vast pool of Catholics, to whom the question of what they think of a pope wouldn’t even occur.    I recall once asking my late grandfather his opinion of John Paul II, and he looked at me as if I’d solicited his view on the law of gravity: “He’s the pope, for God’s sake!” Conversation closed.    That said, there are undeniably large and vocal constituencies in the Church right now which are aligned, one predominantly skeptical of the Pope Francis revolution and the other ferociously devoted to it.   For that latter camp - who the Italians often call the bergoglisti, in reference to the pontiff’s given name of Bergoglio - a key question making the rounds at the moment is the following: Will he have enough time?    In other words, will Francis be able to implement enough of his agenda before the end comes, so that it won’t be able to be rolled back?   There’s no specific health crisis prompting that anxiety, but Francis did just turn 80 and has himself suggested several times his papacy may not go on terribly long, so one understands the concern.....(more)
Pope kicks off new year renewing ‘zero tolerance’ policy on abuse
Extract from Elise Harris, Crux, CNS, 2 January 2017
ROME - In a letter sent to bishops around the world for the feast of the Holy Innocents, Pope Francis lamented the many children who suffer from war, slavery and various forms of abuse, including within the Church.    The Church not only hears the “cries of pain” of her children who suffer from war, slavery and malnutrition, he said, but she also weeps “because she recognizes the sins of some of her members: the sufferings, the experiences and the pain of minors who were abused sexually by priests.”     “It is a sin that shames us. Persons responsible for the protection of those children destroyed their dignity. We regret this deeply and we beg forgiveness.”    Francis condemned the sin “of failing to help,” of “covering up and denial” and the sin of “the abuse of power” that happened in many cases.     In celebrating the Feast of the Holy Innocents, Pope Francis asked his brother bishops to renew “our complete commitment to ensuring that these atrocities will no longer take place in our midst.”    “Let us find the courage needed to take all necessary measures and to protect in every way the lives of our children, so that such crimes may never be repeated. In this area, let us adhere, clearly and faithfully, to zero tolerance.”....(more), Photo: Crux, AP Photo/Andrew Medichini.