Living in a culture hostile to religious belief
Extract from Richard Leonard presentation, CathNews, The Record, 26 May 2017
Confronting a culture increasingly hostile to religious belief was the focus of a Perth workshop by Fr Richard Leonard SJ last week. Confronting a culture increasingly hostile to religious belief was the focus of a Perth workshop by Fr Richard Leonard SJ last week, the eRecord reports. Topics addressed included the role of Catholics in society today, the relationship between science and faith, the centrality of religious experience and the importance of our image of God. Fr Leonard expressed that in regards to the faith, Catholics have to put up with so many people in society who "tell us we’re nuts to believe any of it". However, he expressed that between all human persons, there is common ground and a want for the same things, such as kindness, truthfulness, care for the earth, justice, peace and love. “It’s good to start with what unites us,” Fr Leonard said. “Dialogue with atheists and non-believers can be very good for us in a number of ways. It improves our clarity in our thinking, rational argument for the faith, the case for religious influence in public policy and our practising of what we preach.” He emphasised that people are not angry of belief in God but of the religious influence over public policy and legislation. “Some atheists couldn’t care less that we believe in God and want to practice our faith. They’re cranky that we’ve had a major influence over public legislation, and that influences everyone. But when they say we should have no influence, then that’s anti-democratic,” he said. Fr Leonard said that society doesn’t recognise the contributions to the community that the Church provides, recounting the number of institutions with affiliations to the Catholic Church and the people that come to seek assistance...(more)
Outback spirituality will be explored
Extract from CathNews, 12 May 2017
The Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes will hold its Lessons from the Long Paddock online event next month. For many people, experience of Catholic faith and life is challenging. The situation of the Church in Australia today points to a great need to return to the experience of God, to the reality of Christ in the ordinariness of life. Many Catholics and other Christians are aware that they have a spiritual tradition but are unaware of what it actually means for their faith. Most people know what it is they are taught to believe in terms of Catholic teaching and doctrine but few people know what the Church teaches about where the heart of the tradition finds its inspiration. The Diocese of Wilcannia- Forbes is offering an online event called Lessons from the Long Paddock on Tuesday, June 6. This online experience opens the conversation for many people who are curious about what the experience of faith actually feels like in ordinary life. Keynote speakers will be Wilcannia Forbes Bishop Columba Macbeth Green OSPPE and Fr Frank Brennan SJ, who will discuss Australian and Outback Spirituality. Through the lens of the lived experiences of specific characters from the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes, participants will accompany others into a glimpse of some of the themes which lie at the heart of our spiritual tradition. The workshops will be facilitated by Kate Englebrecht, Diocesan Director of Mission....(more) Photo: Cathnews
The Australian Church in 2030, what the research predicts
Edited Extracts from Brian Coyne, Editor Catholica, 8 May 2017
Attracting much comment on Catholica over recent weeks has been Archbishop Mark Coleridge's bleak prediction that "mass, civic Christianity is finished" [HERE]. Today we bring you some of the bleak statistics in a high quality video presentation by the Catholic Church's official sociologist and demographer, Dr Bob Dixon, to back it up. Our lead commentary today consists of the presentation Dr Dixon gave to the St Thomas More Forum in Canberra last Wednesday evening, and a written report on his presentation. This is "must read" information for anyone wondering about what the future for Catholicism is in Australia, and for those who are interested in trying to alter these bleak predictions.
Dr Bob Dixon's address to the St Thomas More Forum, Campbell, ACT
Church demographer outlines a bleak future for the Catholic Church in Australia
Dr Robert (Bob) Dixon has been running the Pastoral Research Office (PRO) for the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference since it was established in 1996 until his recent retirement as Executive Director. He continues to work for the Research Office and the Australian Bishops as a consultant sociologist and demographer. In a ground-breaking address he delivered in Canberra last week to the St Thomas More Forum, he outlined the bleak future for the Church in Australia over the next decade and a bit. He predicts the participation rate of Catholics regularly attending Mass will fall to around 5% of the total number of adult Catholics in the nation before 2030. His research suggests Confession will be a thing of the past for most Catholics. His research also suggests the remaining congregations of religious brothers will disappear completely and there will be few nuns still serving the Church by 2030.....More Image: Dr Bob Dixon, Catholica
Australian bishops gather in the light of the royal commission
Extracts from Andrew Hamilton SJ, Eureka Street, 8 May 2017 (1st published 4 May)
The government and the Catholic Church both face difficulties when commending values. The difficulties will dog events during the next week in which both institutions are on public display — the bringing down of the budget and the meeting of the Australian Catholics Bishops Conference. In each case the difficulty has its roots in defects of governance: a lack of leadership, authority, transparency and inclusiveness. When the government appeals to values with respect to the Australian community or education, its appeal is commonly assumed to mask electoral self-interest and internal party conflict. That underlying its rhetoric is a lack of transparency, inclusiveness and authority is taken for granted. When representatives of the Catholic Church appeal to values in public life, in sexuality and in education, their appeal is often thought to mask hypocrisy — the assertion of high values that it does not practice — and amnesia about its record of betrayal of the principles of good governance in its exercise of authority. The revelations of the royal commission into child abuse hangs over the bishops' meeting. Both the government and the Catholic Church will be tempted to carry on business as usual, postponing any concerted attempt to deal with the issues of governance they face until the election and the handing down of the findings of the royal commission respectively. I believe that to delay would be a mistake, especially in the case of the Catholic Church. Even before the royal commission's report is made public there is enough known about the extent, causes and right responses to sexual abuse in the church, and sufficient work done on protocols and safeguarding children to enable an initial response by the whole Australian church. The question Australians, including many Catholics, ask is whether the bishops and other public representatives of the Catholic Church have the stomach for the changes in governance needed to address the factors that led to child abuse. Delaying action until swamped by the harsh criticism that can be expected from the royal commission will make that action appear too expedient, too little and too late.....(More) Image: Eureka Street
Parish Easter Liturgy online survey says it all - almost
John Costa, Parish Communication, Friday 5 May 2017
Thoughtful People willing to assist the Parish by completing a Survey on Holy Week liturgies have been very helpful in sharing their thoughts in detail. This together with the thoughts of those actually involved in the many preparations for Easter Liturgies collectively considered these at yesterday's weekly Liturgy Group meeting, as always further enabling the Parish to work towards future liturgies that most effectively reflect the true significance of Easter, and our human and spiritual needs in responding. The survey was announced only one week ago so from across our three Parish communities and three school communities there have been only 28 responses. So the survey is to be continued because we believe, and hope, that there are more than 28 people apart from those directly involved in Easter liturgies who are supportive. We say this with some confidence because Easter liturgies this year were very well attended, with higher attendances than last year. We also recognise that not everyone is familiar with online surveys. So for those others who are interested, and online, the survey remains open and may be completed here, but hurry as we need to wrap this up quickly and move on to many other things in our rapidly evolving faith community at Ivanhoe, and within our wider Church.
Chaplaincy Sunday Appeal - This Weekend
The support of parishes and parishioners of the Chaplaincy Sunday Appeal have assisted in providing services in the much needed areas of Chaplaincy. The cost of providing these services increases with the ever increasing need for pastoral services so it is imperative that we conduct this annual Appeal.
Below are statistics showing the pastoral outreach of chaplaincy services and what your donation helps to provide:
Prisons – 2000 residents pastorally supported across 16 Prisons through face to face encounters and group based church services.
Youth Justice – 47 hours per week of face to face and group based pastoral support to young people in the Parkville, Malmsbury and Barwon Grevillia Youth Justice Correctional Facilities.
Healthcare – 126 hours per week of face to face pastoral support of patients across 6 large Public Hospital facilities. In addition financial support provided to many Parish Communities with major state run hospitals within their boundaries.
HIV/AIDS – 500 lunches and other pastoral encounters provided once a week over the year offering welcome and hospitality to some 150+ people living with HIV/AIDS.
Report to the Bishops of Australia on an Open Letter from Catholics of Australia
Extract from Catholics For Renewal, Thursday 4 May, 2017
Letter from Rome
Don't say 'we have always done things this way'
Extract from Robert Mickens, Commonweal, 1 May 2017
Pope Francis, the pontifex maximus, went to Cairo on the latest and perhaps most important mission of his four years as Bishop of Rome to try to “build bridges of peace, dialogue, fraternity, justice, and humanity.” Those were the very words he used in a video message to the people of Egypt just days before his brief, Friday-Saturday visit to the nation’s capital.......“The ‘always done this way’ phrase has done so much damage in the Church, and it continues to do so much damage to the Church,” he added. “We must always be changing because time changes. The only thing that does not change is what’s essential. What doesn’t change is the announcement of Jesus Christ, missionary attitude, prayer, the need to pray, the need to be formed, and the need to sacrifice. That does not change. You have to find the way, how to do it, but it does not change,” said Pope Francis. Connected to this, he said, was a fixation some Catholics have who want to “regulate things and not allow freedom.” He pointed to the twenty-third chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus calls the “fixated” religious leaders of his time hypocrites....(more)
[Ed: sound familiar? See Evangelii Gaudium, para 33.]:
“33. Pastoral ministry in a missionary key seeks to abandon the complacent attitude that says: “We have always done it this way”. I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities. A proposal of goals without an adequate communal search for the means of achieving them will inevitably prove illusory. I encourage everyone to apply the guidelines found in this document generously and courageously, without inhibitions or fear. The important thing is to not walk alone, but to rely on each other as brothers and sisters, and especially under the leadership of the bishops, in a wise and realistic pastoral discernment.”
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)
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
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
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)
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
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,
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
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 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
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
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?
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.
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)
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
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)
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.
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.
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)
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
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 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.
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)
Role of women a priority for Irish bishops during Vatican talks
Extract from Cathnews, 25 January 2016