NEWS 2018

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) 
(archived 2017 News HERE)

Holy Week 2018 Poster on the Mass Details page or  HERE


A timely thought for broader reflection?

Saturday 17 March 2018

"Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy which sustained him through temporary periods of joy."
- William Butler Yeats
Pope Francis backs decision to hold Plenary Council in Australia
Extract from Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Monday 19 March 2018
Pope Francis has given his approval for the Catholic Church to hold the first Plenary Council – the most significant national gathering that can be held – in Australia in more than 80 years.       “The Australian Bishops are deeply grateful to Pope Francis for affirming the decision and we ask all people to join in prayer as we embark on this journey together as God’s people in Australia,” said Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, chair of the Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council.       “The Council will be a unique opportunity for people to come together and listen to God in all the ways God speaks to us, and in particular by listening to one another as together we discern what God is asking of us at this time – a time when the Church in Australia is facing significant challenges.    “We sincerely hope the preparation and celebration of the Plenary Council is a time when all parts of the Church listen to and dialogue with one another as we explore together how we might answer the question: ‘What do you think God is asking of us in Australia?’”    In approving the Plenary Council, Pope Francis also endorsed the bishops’ nomination of Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB as the president of the Plenary Council. Archbishop Costelloe said he holds great hope that the Council will bring about a period of authentic renewal.    “This is a significant moment for the Catholic Church in Australia and I look forward to walking with the people of God as we look towards the future,” Archbishop Costelloe said.....(more)
Preparing for the Plenary Council 2020
Extract from Fr Noel Connolly, Diocese of Ballarat website,  March 2018
The Australian Bishops at their November meeting decided that the Plenary Council will be held in two sessions, one in October 2020 around the tenth anniversary of Mary Mackillop’s canonisation and the second in May 2021. One of these sessions will be held in Central Australia and the other in one of the major cities on the East Coast.     In the next few months, the Facilitation Team and the Executive Council will prepare a website, social media access, a Plenary Council logo and prayer, a survey [online and on paper] and other instruments to ensure that all Catholics can be consulted in as full, free and productive way as possible. Meanwhile, the Bishops are to appoint working groups to ensure that the people in their dioceses, parishes, schools, health care and social welfare facilities can be involved.     The official launch will be on Pentecost Sunday 2018. That will begin a year of consultation through diocesan and parish meetings, family conversations, facilitated community discussions, meetings with scho ols, health care, social welfare agencies, with aboriginal groups, the poor, listening sessions with the bishops and so forth. There will also be consultation and reporting back through the website, discussion through social media, and other ways. The hope is that many Catholics, active and disaffected, will take the opportunity to help plan the future of our Australian Church.    After Easter 2019 we will try to review and consolidate what has been said in the hope of beginning a second phase of consultation and prayerful discernment after Pentecost 2019.      Early in 2020 the main issues and directions should be clearer and we can prepare documents, merciful and inspiring ones along the lines of the Vatican II documents. These can then be shared and attract feedback and discernment before the October 2020 first Session. They may also be accompanied by legislation to ensure they are implemented....(more)
Towards 2020
Extract from Fr Justin Driscoll, Vicar General Ballarat Diocese, March 2018
The Catholic Church in Australia has commenced preparations for a Plenary Council to be held in 2020. A Plenary Council provides an occasion for the whole Church to discern what the Holy Spirit is saying to our Church at this time. For this to happen, wide consultation of the entire Australian Church will be necessary so that all voices have an opportunity to be heard. Processes that enable all to genuinely listen to each other will also be required. A new relationship of trust and confidence has to be created within the Church in Australia and the wider community.       The last time a Plenary Council was held in Australia was eighty years ago in 1937. At that time those engaged in the Plenary Council were advised to “take care that provision is made for the pastoral needs of the people of God… and to decide what seems opportune for the increase of the faith, the organization of common pastoral actions and the regulation of morals and of common ecclesiastical discipline which is to be observed, promoted and protected.” A Plenary Council has legislative capacity that will be applicable to the Church in Australia.       The idea of having another Plenary Council in Australia has been around for some years.     The idea has been given fresh impetus by Pope Francis’ encouragement of a ‘synodal’ style of Church and also by the reflection on the lessons of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.        The synodal process has three stages – preparation, celebration and implementation......(more)
Plenary Council 2020 and the Diocese of Broken Bay
Extract from Daniel Ang, Diocese of Broken Bay
What does it mean as a Catholic community to live the life and mission of Jesus in contemporary Australian society?      It is this question that has moved the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference to announce a Plenary Council of the Church in Australia to be held in the year 2020. The Bishops Conference has sought the approval from Pope Francis for this Council, official endorsement which is expected in due course.    Put simply, a Plenary Council is the highest form of communion between the various local or particular churches of a nation. It is, then, not simply a meeting of bishops but a process that calls for the participation of the entire Catholic community. It invites the whole Church into dialogue, to discern how its communities can live the Gospel with renewed vitality amidst new questions and challenges. The Plenary Council itself will feature representation from among the laity, religious and ordained ministers, together with the bishops of Australia, as the culmination of a sustained pilgrimage in faith.          As such a Plenary Council is an expression of the ‘synodality’ of the Church, the nature of the Church as a communion of persons ‘walking together’ in faith as disciples of the Lord. The Plenary Council recognises that all the baptised have received a common vocation to be a ‘sacrament or instrumental sign of intimate union with God and of the unity of all humanity’ (Lumen Gentium 1) and upholds with faith that it is by our mutual listening to the Holy Spirit – who guides the Church ‘into all truth’ (John 16:13) – that we can realise our mission most deeply as a community of faith.        As set out in Canon Law, a Plenary Council has legislative power with the final decisions reserved to the bishops by nature of their episcopal ordination as successors of the Apostles. The bishops are obliged to make decisions on the basis of their careful discernment of the work of the Holy Spirit in the minds and hearts of all the People of God, recognising that the sense of the faith of the faithful – what is known as the sensus fidelium – is a source of the Church’s life and learning as it seeks to fulfil its Gospel mission.          This means that the Plenary Council is more than a single event to be held in the year 2020 but an extended process that invites the entire Catholic community, even now, to ‘walk the path of dialogue’ and interpret what God is doing today and how God is calling the Church to live the Gospel into the future. It calls the Church to undertake a pilgrimage of listening and learning, to be a synodal and receptive church that engages in honest speaking and mutual listening to the Holy Spirit, to share insights and also hear insights shared.     Throughout this process of listening, dialogue and prayer, experiences of diverse lives will be welcomed and invited to share their sense of faith, questions and hopes for the Catholic Church – from those who are attempting to live a committed and sacramental life in the Church, those baptised Catholics with lesser involvement in ecclesial life, to those who are vulnerable in Australian society, who may be more distant from the Church, or who have been hurt and may or may not still regard themselves as Catholic in some way.....(more)       
“I’m a Catholic too, Father.”
Hong Kong priest’s mission to save drug mules from a system that favours kingpins.
Crusading prison chaplain is seeking shorter jail terms for couriers and greater police efforts to hunt down senior gang members.
Extract from Simon Parry, South China Morning Post, 18 March 2018
In the hustle and mayhem of a downtown Bangkok street teeming with prostitutes, sex tourists, garish bars and counterfeit-goods stalls, a grey-haired priest stops beneath a pedestrian footbridge to talk to two cocaine dealers from Ghana.     “It’s 4,000 baht [US$130] a gram,” one of the dealers mumbles, rummaging in his jacket pockets and shuffling nervously from foot to foot. His eyes then land on the crucifix around the man’s neck and he says, with a broad grin, “I’m a Catholic too, Father.”     The priest smiles, leans in and asks the dealer questions in a low voice. He hands the African a booklet explaining his work, tells him, “Look after yourself,” and walks deeper into the city’s dark heart.     The prison chaplain who has stopped 150 drug mules reaching Hong Kong.       John Wotherspoon is a man on a mission. He has flown to Thailand from Hong Kong to track down a Nigerian drug kingpin known as IK in a corner of Bangkok so lawless, even local police consider it a no-go zone. Armed with little more than his crucifix and an implacable faith in human nature, the 71-year-old is racing against time to get evidence that might lessen the jail sentence for a mainland Chinese woman called Li Dandan.    “She’s in court this week and I need to find him and get him to confirm to me that she was set up,” he explains, clutching photocopied pictures of IK, who the suspect says seduced her and then conned her into flying from Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong with a cocaine-filled suitcase... (more)    Photo: Fr John Wotherspoon, South China Morning Post
NSW: New religious education classes take ‘radical’ turn
Extract from CathNews, The Catholic Weekly, 16 March 2018
A new religious education curriculum that focuses on faith and reason will soon be rolled out in years 11 and 12 in Catholic schools across NSW.     The new “Studies in Catholic Thought” curriculum was requested in 2015 by the NSW bishops, who expressed a desire for a common RE curriculum for the state's 10 dioceses.     The new course will replace the current year 11 and 12 elective subject, Catholic Studies, and will adopt a classic liberal arts approach, bringing together history, philosophy, music, culture and art.   According to the project officer for the new curriculum, Janina Starkey, it is a “radical departure” from current religion curricula in schools across NSW.   “At the heart of it is the integration of faith and reason,” Ms Starkey said. “That’s something our Church has had for the 2000 years of its history. But it’s not something that has really been very apparent in any of our existing courses. That’s the underlying premise of the new curriculum – how do faith and reason sit together?” ...(more)  Photo: Janina Starkey-TheCatholicWeekly GiovanniPortelli
Overseas abuse survivors also need justice: Sullivan
Extract from Francis Sullivan,  ABC News, CathNews, Truth Justice and Healing Council, Fr16 March 2018
Truth, Justice and Healing Council chief Francis Sullivan is calling on the Church in Australia to deal with crimes carried out overseas by Church officials.      Mr Sullivan said it was clear that priests with child sex allegations made against them had been sent overseas to developing countries, including Papua New Guinea and the Philippines, although he was not prepared to concede that those actions were deliberate.     But he said the Church needed to treat overseas survivors exactly as they would those in Australia, and ensure they get justice.     “The relevant Church authorities need to be able to demonstrate that they’re taking responsibility for the actions in how they moved personnel, particularly when those personnel either had a history of abuse, or abused when they were overseas,” he told Pacific Beat.     Four years ago, media reports revealed how one priest, Fr Roger Mount, had spent decades working in PNG after being accused of sexually abusing boys in Australia during the 1960s...(more)
Church moves quickly to join redress scheme
Extract from CathNews, The Australian, 15 March 2018
The Church yesterday began negotiations to join the Turnbull Government’s $4 billion sexual abuse redress scheme, a move that would place intense pressure on the remaining states and other organisations yet to sign up.     Social Services Minister Dan Tehan said Church officials had agreed to hold intensive talks in the next three weeks to iron out problems with the draft laws to enable the faith to lead the way among non-government institutions. If the Church opts in before the July 1 start – as expected – it will transform the rollout of the scheme in Australia.      Mr Tehan met Catholic officials in Canberra where the path was laid for the Church to opt into the scheme, which would provide up to $150,000 in redress to proven victims but with a lower burden of proof compared with the courts.     Catholic bishops have agreed to opt into the scheme but officials are attempting to clarify and resolve a series of outstanding concerns to enable the Church to become involved. No firm timeline has yet been agreed.    Church officials only received key documents on the scheme on Friday and are yet to see draft legislation proposed by the Victorian Government.    But with momentum heading towards a deal within weeks or months, smaller institutions and churches will be under enormous pressure to fall into line. There remain real concerns that some entities with high abuse rates could be sent broke by the scheme.    The NSW and Victorian governments decided last Friday to opt into the scheme....(more)
Cardinal Pell committal hearing opened to public
Extract from CathNews, ABC News, 15 March 2018
Cardinal George Pell’s committal hearing in the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court has been opened to the public and the media for the first time since it began on March 5.    The hearing has been closed up until yesterday to allow the complainants to give their evidence, which is standard practice in Victoria for cases involving sexual offence charges.    Cardinal Pell is fighting historical sexual offence charges involving multiple complaints. No other details can be reported for legal reasons.    For the past 10 days, a security guard had been stationed by the door to court room 22 at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court to ensure no one but Cardinal Pell, his support person, legal team, prosecutors and a magistrate made it inside.    Over five days, multiple complainants gave their evidence via video link before being cross-examined by Cardinal Pell’s barrister Robert Richter QC.    If Magistrate Belinda Wallington sends the case to trial, Cardinal Pell will be required to enter a plea to the charges.    The hearing is expected to remain open for the rest of the committal hearing which is set down for another fortnight...(more)   Photo:: CathNews, CNS/Stefan Postles)   
Pope Francis and Stephen Hawking at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences at the Vatican
Extract from Carol Glatz, CNS, The Tablet, 14 March 2018
Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, who said he did not believe in God, was still an esteemed member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and fostered a fruitful dialogue between science and faith.    The academy, which Pope Pius IX established in 1847, tweeted, "We are deeply saddened about the passing of our remarkable Academician Stephen #Hawking who was so faithful to our Academy."    "He told the 4 Popes he met that he wanted to advance the relationship between Faith and Scientific Reason. We pray the Lord to welcome him in his Glory," @CasinaPioIV, the academy, tweeted March 14.    The Vatican observatory, @SpecolaVaticana, also expressed its condolences to Hawking's family.    "We value the enormous scientific contribution he has made to quantum cosmology and the courage he had in facing illness," the observatory tweeted in Italian.    The British-born theoretical physicist, cosmologist and popular author died March 14 at the age of 76....(more)  Photo: The Tablet
Five Years of Francis: How Has He Changed U.S. Catholicism?
Extract from John Gehring, Commonweal magazine, 13 March 2018
Five years ago this week the cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church selected the first Latin American pope—and the first from a Jesuit religious order known for its fierce commitment to social justice. Pope Francis immediately began changing the public face of Catholicism. He warned that the church can’t only be “obsessed” with opposing abortion, struck a more welcoming tone toward LGBT people, and chose to live in a Vatican guesthouse instead of the more regal Apostolic Palace.   Along with disrupting business as usual in Rome, the pope has empowered a new generation of “Francis bishops” in the United States to speak out with renewed vigor on issues beyond abortion and birth control, insisting that being prolife also means addressing income inequality, climate change, and treatment of immigrants. One of the most visible of them, San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy, has argued that the pope’s emphasis on economic justice and poverty demand a “transformation of the existing Catholic political conversation.” Another, Newark’s Joe Tobin, appointed a cardinal by Francis in 2016, took to Twitter a few days after President Trump touted a nativist, “America First” ideology at his inauguration with a warning that only “a fearful nation talks about building walls and is vulnerable to con men.” While a majority of white Catholics voted for Trump, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has consistently denounced his administration’s efforts to limit refugees from entering the country and blasted the president’s decision to rescind protections for young undocumented immigrants—a move the bishops called “reprehensible.”......Pope Francis has provided bishops a way out of the corner they boxed themselves into over the last decade....(more)     Photo: Commonweal, CNS photo/Paul Haring
Pope Benedict XVI: there is continuity with Pope Francis' Pontificate
Extract from Vatican News, 12 March 2018
Pope Benedict wanted to give a contribution, very significant as always, to the interior spiritual unity of the two pontificates. Thus Msgr Dario Edoardo Viganò characterizes the letter sent to him by the Pope Emeritus.   Regarding the magisterium of Pope Francis, Benedict writes that “there is interior unity” between his pontificate and that of Pope Francis, his successor. Pope Benedict’s letter was presented by its recipient, Msgr Dario Edoardo Viganò, during a press conference presenting “The Theology of Pope Francis,” a series of 11 books written by 11 different authors, and published by Libreria Editrice Vaticana. The news conference was held in Sala Marconi in the headquarters of Vatican Media.    Pope Benedict applauds publication of the series.    “I applaud this initiative,” writes Pope Benedict. “It contradicts the foolish prejudice of those who see Pope Francis as someone who lacks a particular theological and philosophical formation, while I would have been solely a theorist of theology with little understanding of the concrete lives of today’s Christian.     The Pope Emeritus writes that he is grateful to have received the set of 11 books edited by Roberto Repole, President of the Italian Theological Association. Pope Benedict XVI adds that these volumes “reasonably demonstrate that Pope Francis is a man with profound philosophical and theological formation and are helpful to see the interior continuity between the two pontificates, even with all the differences in style and temperament.”...(more)  Photo: Vatican News, Vatican Media
 NSW, Victoria sign up to redress scheme
Extract from CathNews, ABC News, 9 March 2018
A national redress scheme for child sexual abuse survivors is a step closer with NSW and Victoria signing up to an agreement that offers practical services and compensation of up to $150,000. Source: The Age.     Malcolm Turnbull will reveal the agreement with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian today, in an agreement that puts each state on the line for costs that will run to hundreds of millions of dollars over a decade.     The new pact intensifies pressure on churches and other groups to submit to the scheme and help victims recover from abuse that dates back decades, putting the primary responsibility on the institutions to fund the payments and support services.
The Church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council chief Francis Sullivan has urged other states to sign up and noted that Catholic leaders are on the record saying they will join the national scheme.     But the fine print of the agreement is yet to be finalised and some victims appear certain to fall between the gaps, with nobody offering to pay for their help if the institution responsible for their abuse no longer exists.....(more)
Diarmuid Martin says Mary McAleese's criticism of the Church was 'brutally stark'
The former president has called on Pope Francis to address gender inequality in the Catholic Church.
Extract from TheJournal Ireland, 10 March 2018
The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin has said former Irish President Mary McAleese’s criticism of the Catholic Church was “brutally stark”.     Speaking in Dublin last night, Diarmuid Martin said: “Probably the most significant negative factor that influences attitudes to the Church in today’s Ireland is the place of women in the Church.”    In recent days McAleese described the Catholic Church an “empire of misogyny”. She said the bar on women becoming priests should be lifted and called on Pope Francis to address gender inequality in the Church.      “Failure to include women as equals has deprived the Church of fresh and innovative discernment; it has consigned it to recycled thinking among a hermetically sealed cosy male clerical elite flattered and rarely challenged by those tapped for jobs in secret and closed processes.     “It has kept Christ out and bigotry in,” she said while giving a speech in Rome yesterday.       Martin made his comments while launching a new edition of Donal Harrington’s book Tomorrow’s Parish....(more)    Photo: Diarmuid Martin Artur Widakl NurPhoto via Getty Images
Five years a pope and still reforming the church
Francis’ reforms are aimed at changing mentalities   Limited Extract from Editorial, Nicolas Senèze, Rome, subscription journal La Croix International, 10 March 2019
Pope Francis has already set in motion significant changes, particularly with the church’s finances but there is still much to do about the Curia’s structure and sexual abuse.     
“Making reforms in Rome is like cleaning the Egyptian Sphynx with a toothbrush,” the 19th century Belgian prelate and Papal States statesman Xavier de Mérode used to say.      The phrase was taken up by Pope Francis when he addressed the Curia in December.     The pope — elected five years ago with a mission to reform the church and the Curia, an aspiration expressed by cardinals in meetings prior to the conclave — was emphasizing the magnitude of the task ahead, and drawing attention to the lack of support from those who were supposed to be helping him.     Is his revolution now well under way?      Exactly a month after his election, Francis set up the “C9” — a council of cardinals charged with supporting him in the government of the church and the reform of the Curia. Yet, while this council held its 23rd meeting last week, there is still no sign of the forthcoming publication of an apostolic constitution replacing Pastor Bonus, the text enacted in 1988 by...(Source) Photo: LaCroix International, Vatican 5
Pope Benedict XVI: there is continuity with Pope Francis' Pontificate
Extract from Vatican News, 12 March 2018
Pope Benedict wanted to give a contribution, very significant as always, to the interior spiritual unity of the two pontificates. Thus Msgr Dario Edoardo Viganò characterizes the letter sent to him by the Pope Emeritus.   Regarding the magisterium of Pope Francis, Benedict writes that “there is interior unity” between his pontificate and that of Pope Francis, his successor. Pope Benedict’s letter was presented by its recipient, Msgr Dario Edoardo Viganò, during a press conference presenting “The Theology of Pope Francis,” a series of 11 books written by 11 different authors, and published by Libreria Editrice Vaticana. The news conference was held in Sala Marconi in the headquarters of Vatican Media.    Pope Benedict applauds publication of the series.    “I applaud this initiative,” writes Pope Benedict. “It contradicts the foolish prejudice of those who see Pope Francis as someone who lacks a particular theological and philosophical formation, while I would have been solely a theorist of theology with little understanding of the concrete lives of today’s Christian.     The Pope Emeritus writes that he is grateful to have received the set of 11 books edited by Roberto Repole, President of the Italian Theological Association. Pope Benedict XVI adds that these volumes “reasonably demonstrate that Pope Francis is a man with profound philosophical and theological formation and are helpful to see the interior continuity between the two pontificates, even with all the differences in style and temperament.”...(more)  Photo: Vatican News, Vatican Media
Friday essay: who was Mary Magdalene? Debunking the myth of the penitent prostitute
Extracts from Dorothy Ann Lee, The Conversation, 9 March 2018
Who was Mary Magdalene? What do we know about her? And how do we know it? These questions resurface with the release of a new movie, Mary Magdalene, starring Rooney Mara in the titular role.  The question of how we know about her is a relatively simple one. She appears in a number of early Christian texts associated with the ministry of Jesus.        These texts comprise Gospels written in the first and second century of the Common Era (CE). The earliest of them are included in the New Testament, where Magdalene plays a significant role. She also appears in later Gospels, which were not included in the Bible and come from a later period in early Christianity.      The answer about who she was and what we know of her is more complex. In Western art, literature and theology, Mary Magdalene is portrayed as a prostitute who meets Jesus, repents of her sins, and pours oil on his feet in a gesture of humility, penitence and gratitude. She is sometimes depicted kneeling at the foot of the cross, hair unbound, emphasising the sinful past from which she can never quite escape, despite being declared a saint.  The tradition of the penitent prostitute has persisted in the Western tradition. Institutions that cared for prostitutes from the 18th century onwards were called “Magdalenes” to encourage amendment of life in the women who took refuge in them. The word came into English as “maudlin”, meaning a tearful sentimentality. It is not a flattering description.........Yet nowhere in the Gospels is Mary Magdalene associated either overtly or covertly with sexuality. The four Gospels of the New Testament present her in two significant roles.     In the first place, she is a disciple of Jesus: one among a band of women and men from Galilee who believed in his message of love and justice and followed him in his ministry.     Secondly, Magdalene is a primary witness in the Gospels to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Unlike many of the other disciples, she does not flee when Jesus is arrested. She remains at the cross when he dies and later visits his tomb to find it empty, with a vision of angels declaring his resurrection....(more)  Image: The Conversation, Titian c 1565   Magdalene Wikimedia commons.
Signs suggest a turning point on the role of women in the Church
Extract from Claire Giangravè, CruxNow.com  Friday 9 March 2018
While tensions over women in the Church have been a constant in Catholic life for a long time, recent signs suggest a turning point may be looming, with conferences, assemblies and media outlets both within and outside the Vatican speaking up in a new way about perceived injustices.    Women meeting at a Voices of Faith conference this week in Rome, for instance, are saying the ‘Church is at a very important crossroads,’ while the editor of a Vatican magazine focusing on women says she sees an ‘internal cultural revolution’ brewing.   At the same time, a general assembly of bishops from Latin America taking place inside the Vatican walls has invited forty women to take part in a conversation on the female role in the Church, amounting to another recognition that it’s a subject that can’t be avoided.    While these female perspectives may differ in tone and focus, one common thread emerges: ‘The Times they are a Changin’.’    Today, the Church increasingly faces not only newfound feminist zeal expressed in the #metoo movement throughout the world, but also profound changes from within....(more)
International Women’s Day 2018: a chance to reflect, consider and promote change
Extract from Office for the Participation of Women, Australian Catholic Bishop's Conference, Melbourne Catholic, Thursday 8 March 2018
 Australians are today encouraged to join with people around the world in reflection and consideration for the particular challenges women face when they live outside metropolitan areas.       International Women’s Day is celebrated each year on 8 March and 2018 welcomes the theme of Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives.    The day will help give voice and support to the work, the rights and the activism of women living in rural areas across the globe. They make up more than one quarter of the world’s population.    They till the lands and plant seeds to feed nations, ensure food security for their communities and build climate resilience. Yet, on almost every measure of development, because of deep seated gender inequalities and discrimination, rural women fare worse than rural men or urban women.    Furthermore, 2018’s International Women’s Day comes on the heels of unprecedented global movement for women’s rights, equality and justice. Sexual harassment, violence and discrimination against women have captured headlines and public discourse, propelled by a rising determination for change....(more)
 Pope Francis: No need to pay for Mass
Extract from The Tablet, 8 March 2018
The Mass is Christ's sacrifice, which is free, the Pope explained      Mass isn't a paid arrangement for salvation but rather the commemoration of Christ's sacrifice of his life, given freely to all, Pope Francis said at his general weekly audience at the Vatican this week.     Christians can make a silent prayer during Mass or donate money to offer a Mass for a loved one who is in need or passed away, but should never feel obliged to make a payment, the Pope said at his audience yesterday (7 March).   "Nothing! Understood? Nothing! You do not pay for the Mass! The Mass is Christ's sacrifice, which is free. Redemption is free. If you want to make an offering, do it. But you do not pay for it! This is important to understand!" he said.   Pope Francis held the audience in the Vatican's Paul VI hall due to forecasts of rain for Rome. The Vatican also opened St Peter's Basilica to accommodate the overflow, with giant screens set up in the basilica so the people could follow the audience.    In his main talk, the Pope continued his series on the Mass, focusing on the eucharistic prayer, "the central moment" in which Christians re-live "what Jesus himself did at the table with the apostles at the Last Supper".   "In this solemn prayer, the Church expresses what it does when she celebrates the Eucharist and the reason why she celebrates it, that is, to make communion with Christ truly present in the consecrated bread and wine," the Pope said.....(more)  Photo:The Tablet.
Misdirected blame skews public debate on Church
Extract from Dr Noel Hodge, CathNews, 8 March 2018
Has debate around the Catholic Church become so polarised that it is moving towards irrational extremes, asks Joel Hodge. Source: ABC Religion and Ethics.    By no means am I advocating that the Church be exempt from robust public scrutiny. I am also not wishing to divert attention from historical abuse and grievous cover-ups in the Church. I firmly express support for the survivors who have bravely stood up to seek justice and healing.    Rather, I want to avoid prejudicial scrutiny that only leads to misdirected blame. This misdirection allows all parties to avoid proper accountability.    Take the recent six-month investigation by The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald into the properties of the Church. The investigation sought to highlight issues around the transparency and accountability of the Catholic hierarchy.     Yet, despite the purported aims of the investigation, there were some obvious flaws. These flaws highlight how resources and attention are being irrationally misdirected against the Church and could be better deployed.   For example, the Church was treated as one entity by the investigation, whereas, in fact, it is many different entities in Australia – dioceses, religious congregations, parishes, schools, hospitals, aged care, social services and so on. To lump all these agencies together – like lumping all the assets and agencies of the federal, state and local governments – is misleading.    Without quibbling about the actual valuations given by the newspapers, much of the reported property cannot be liquidated for obvious reasons. There are churches, hospitals, schools, aged care and social services facilities on these properties....(more). Photo: CathNews, Fiona Basile, Melbourne Archdiocese.
Pope Paul VI, Archbishop Romero to be canonized this year
Congregation for the Causes of Saints is making public decrees of miracles, martyrdom, and heroic virtues that Pope Francis authorized
Limited extract from International staff,  subscription journal, La Croix International, 7 March 2018
Vatican City: Pope Francis has approved the decrees of miracles for Blessed Paul VI and Archbishop Oscar Romero, paving the way for their canonization this year in late October at the end of the Synod of Bishops on youth and discernment.    The Congregation for the Causes of Saints is making public decrees of...(Source)
Stop accusations of heresy, says Cardinal Kasper
Pope Francis’ views on allowing the Sacraments for those who remarry not heretical — criticism of ‘Amoris laetitia’ misplaced
Limited extract from International staff,  subscription journal, La Croix International, 7 March 2018
Pope Francis’ post-synodal apostolic exhortation on the family gives hope to “the wounded” and is not heretical, Cardinal Walter Kasper said while promoting his new book in Rome on March 5.  The sanctity of marriage must be respected but debate on issues like di....(Source)
Abuse commission needs working time with Francis, says former member
Extract from by Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 7 Mar 2018
Rome — Pope Francis' clergy sexual abuse commission could be more effective in protecting children if the group were granted more time to work directly with the pope and given resources to hold more in-person meetings each year, a former member has suggested.    French child psychiatrist Catherine Bonnet, who was among a group of six founding members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors not reappointed by Francis last month, said the "most important thing" is that the group does not have adequate time to explain its proposals directly to the pontiff.    "We never worked with Pope Francis," Bonnet said in an NCR interview Feb. 19. "We only said hello, two minutes, and good-bye, two minutes."    "The most important thing for the next commission ... would be that there are times where Pope Francis can come and the proposals are explained to him, why they are so important," she said....(more)
Photo: NCR, (CNS/Paul Haring)
Archbishop Hart voices support for repeal of Ellis defence
Extract from Media and Communications Office, CAM, Tuesday 6 March 2018
The Andrews Government has introduced new laws to quash a legal loophole preventing child abuse survivors from suing some organisations for their abuse.   Under proposed new laws introduced to parliament, unincorporated associations—including religious institutions—would have to nominate an entity to pay damages. If a religious organisation failed to nominate an entity, a court could order the unincorporated organisation’s associated trusts to be sued and used to pay compensation to victims.   Previously victims of abuse have been unable to sue unincorporated entities like the Catholic Church in civil claims. Stemming from a case brought to the NSW Court of Appeal by abuse survivor John Ellis in 2007, the Court of Appeal found the Catholic Church was not a legal entity, and as such could not be sued for abuse.   Leaders within the Catholic Church including Archbishop Denis Hart have voiced their support for the new laws.   ‘I welcome today’s announcement by the Victorian Government of its intention to introduce new laws allowing victims of child abuse to sue institutions which may be responsible for their abuse’, the archbishop said in a statement.    ‘I remain committed to fair, reasonable and honest dealings with victims of child abuse and to always treating them with respect and dignity,’ the archbishop said.   Speaking with reporters, Premier Daniel Andrews said, ‘this deals with what is something that I think has re-traumatised victims and survivors for too long, something that has made a terrible set of circumstances even harder.....(more)
Bishop’s support for gay parents pulled from World Meeting of Families promo video
'Pope Francis, he gets it. Today there are all sorts of configurations of families ... gay couple raising children, people in second marriages'
Limited extract from International staff,  subscription journal, La Croix International, 6 March 2018
A one minute clip about a Catholic bishop welcoming people in second marriages  and gay people raising children has been removed from a video promoting the World Meeting of Families 2018.     The meeting is scheduled to take place in Dublin in August and which Pope Francis is expected to attend....(source)
Pope, cardinal advisers studying regional tribunals for abuse cases
Extract from Junno Arocho Esteves, CNS, Melbourne Catholic, Thursday 1 March 2018                   Pope Francis and his international Council of Cardinals discussed the possibility of establishing regional tribunals around the world that would judge cases of sexual abuse allegedly committed by clergy, the Vatican spokesman said.             Greg Burke, the spokesman, confirmed a report published 27 February on the website Vatican Insider that said the pope and his cardinal advisers were considering decentralising the role of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in handling cases, but would not diminish the congregation's authority.      ‘I can say that this is one of the options. The pope himself spoke about this in one of his press conferences,’ Burke told journalists 28 February.     The Council of Cardinals, often referred to as the C9, held its first meeting of the year from 26-28 February with Pope Francis. The pope appointed the council members five years ago to advise him on the reform of the Roman Curia and on church governance.    During his flight to Rome from Fatima last May, Pope Francis spoke to reporters about the possibility of establishing regional tribunals. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the pope told journalists, was overwhelmed with ‘many delayed cases because they have been piling up.’ He added that discussions on the regional tribunals were ‘in the planning stage.’    ‘For this, we are thinking of providing continent-wide assistance, one or two per continent. For example -- in Latin America -- one in Colombia, another in Brazil. They would be continental pre-tribunals or tribunals,’ he said.      According to Vatican Insider, the establishment of regional tribunals also would resolve the complication of dealing with cases in various countries with different laws and customs, thus allowing for a faster process in examining those cases.     Burke emphasized that if established, regional tribunals ‘would always be under’ the authority of the doctrinal congregation.    The Vatican spokesman said the council also discussed the role of bishops' conferences and ways the conferences could contribute to discussions on theological issues in a more collegial spirit.    Pope Francis, in his 2013 exhortation, ‘The Joy of the Gospel,’ had written about the need for a greater role for bishops' conferences, asserting that ‘excessive centralisation, rather than proving helpful, complicates the church's life and her missionary outreach.’....(more)  Photo: Melbourne Catholic (archive photo)
A question of governance
Extracts from Media and Communications Office, Melbourne Catholic, 28 February 2018
Roughly 600,000 non-for-profit (NFP) organisations exist in Australia, supported by 4.6 million Australian volunteers. As the size and complexity of NFP organisations has grown, so has the importance of good governance, explained Elizabeth Proust AO, during an afternoon workshop as part of the CSS Hearing Healing Hope conference. Proust is one of Melbourne’s leading business figures. With a mix of public sector and business experience, Proust has played key roles in developing and leading organisations, including as Chairman of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), Secretary of the Victorian Department of the Premier and Cabinet, and Chief Executive of the City of Melbourne.     Proust explored the range of emerging issues facing NFPs, particularly around trust, company culture, and refining governance practices.    ‘In Australia, trust in institutions is in decline,’ Proust said. In the last year alone, trust in government has fallen eight percentage points from 45 per cent to 37 per cent. Trust in the media has fallen to 32 per cent. Across all sectors for the last five years, trust has been falling. Trust is key to any organisation’s success, but trust is the non-for-profit sector ‘is absolutely vital’, says Proust......Given the decline in trust, the need for greater accountability and changes in regulation, the area of corporate governance is rapidly evolving. Responding to these forces, governing boards now look much different and much leaner than they might once have. ‘Boards have got smaller, and now a good board will look for someone who has a range of skills.’ Today boards are looking for strategic thinkers, and people who understand the people dynamics of an organisation, she explained. ‘Add an overlay of diversity on top of that, and not just gender, and boards are starting slowly to look different. The good ones look for much more than just the hard skills.’ Further, directors and board members will be more valued for their relevant skills rather than passion for the cause.     Given there’s an overall demand for better governance and more accountability and transparency, in larger NFP organisations, boards are progressively becoming more professional including engaging directors with relevant experience and providing governance training for them. Ultimately more will be demanded of directors and NFPs will respond by making sure their directors become more professional....(more)
Cardinal Sarah does it again
He is a reform-of-the-reform partisan, who believes that things went badly wrong in the implementation of the Vatican II reform of the liturgy.     Limited extract from Rita Ferrone, Subscription Journal La Croix International, 28 February 2018
In an arena where, arguably, the most important thing he could do is to encourage charity and an irenic spirit toward various forms of Eucharistic piety, Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, has once again demonstrated that what he really does best is sow division.    He did it concerning washing women’s feet on Holy Thursday (delaying more than a year in fulfilling Pope Francis’ request). He did it by urging that altars be turned around so that Mass would be celebrated with the priest’s back to the people (for which he was reprimanded). He did it by minimizing and misinterpreting the pope’s initiative on liturgical translation (prompting a public correction from the pope). Now, he is sowing division concerning how communion is received.    In a preface to a new book, the cardinal rages about offenses against the Eucharist. He fulminates over Satanism and black masses, and then — astonishingly — links these phenomena with receiving communion in the hand. He evaluates this liturgical practice as pure evil, a tool in the hand of Satan, promoting unbelief. Those who take communion in the hand are on the side of Lucifer in the great cosmic struggle of good against evil, Sarah claims. They are opposed to Michael and all the angels. If you think I am exaggerating, see for yourself. Here are his own words....(source). Photo: La Croix International, François-Régis Salefran
Francis acts to speed up priest sex abuse case
Extract from The Tablet, 28 February 2018
Pope Francis and his group of cardinal advisers are examining proposals over how to speed up the Church’s handling of priest sex abuse cases.     One option being considered by Francis' cabinet - known as the C9 - is the creation of courts around the world to help deal with a huge backlog that has overwhelmed the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the body that deals with them.     The proposal for the new tribunals would see them work under the direct supervision of the Vatican and would help tackle the 1,800 cases still waiting to be processed.      C9 member Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the Archbishop of Boston and the president of the Pope’s child protection commission, has now been tasked to work on the proposal.    During a lunchtime briefing with reporters on Wednesday, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke explained the creation of courts was one of the proposals being considered and that the prime objective is reducing the time that cases take....(more)
Why clericalism matters
Extract from Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street,  27 February 2018
In the Catholic Church clericalism is now the whipping boy of choice. But what it embraces is less clear.      It is a pejorative word, used by people of others but never of themselves, and is normally defined ostensively by reference to examples of it. We know who is a clericalist even if we are not sure what he is. So it is worth pausing to reflect on clericalism and its significance for church and society.      Although clericalism is rarely defined, it is possible to reconstruct a perfect case of clericalism by enumerating the various attitudes and practices that critics find fault with.      The perfect clericalist always dresses formally in a style that identifies him clearly as a Catholic priest. He is also formal in address, addressing and speaking of other priests as father and bishops as my lord. He insists, too, that others address him as father or my lord. His pastoral relationships with laypeople are formal and asymmetrical.       This asymmetry is based on a strongly hierarchical understanding of the Catholic Church in which authority and power are centralised in bishops and local power in the priest. Boundaries both within the Church and between the Church and the surrounding world are clearly marked out by clear and binding rules governing Catholic allegiance. It is the job of the priest to insist on and police them.      The interest of the perfect clericalist is narrowly focused on the internal relationships, practices and customs of the Church, and particularly on the conduct of worship of which he sees himself as custodian. He shows little interest in the outside world except when he sees it intruding on the rights and freedom of the Church. His conversational style is didactic. He does not easily engage in dialogue, and is more comfortable issuing authoritative judgments and final decisions.     Common to these traits is the urge to control — to have self control, control in relationships, control over the beliefs and practices of his congregation, over the language of faith, and over boundaries....(more)    Photo: Eureka Street
Can the dining table enhance the Eucharistic experience?
Sadly, our celebration of the Eucharist or Mass, that has been so greatly ritualized, remains exclusive in many ways
Limited Extract from Virginia Saldanha, Mumbai, subscriptiopn Journal La Croix International, 27 February 2018
India. On Maundy Thursday, which this year falls on March 29, Catholics commemorate how Jesus instituted the Eucharist by offering himself as the "bread of life." (Jn. 6:35).    We Catholics believe the frequent reception of the Eucharistic bread, which is transformed into the body of Christ at the altar of Mass, enhances our spiritual health.     But this enhancement is subject to certain conditions, just as material food to benefit our physical health is subject to what we eat and how we eat it.   Without fulfilling the essential conditions, the reception of the Eucharist alone will not provide us the "abundance of life" (Jn.10:10) that Jesus has destined for us.    There are similarities between the Eucharist and the material food we eat.     As a theologically trained Catholic mother, I see the dining table as having the innate capacity to enhance the Eucharistic experience....(more)
Love, justice and humility to abuse survivors
Eureka Street Staff 26 February 2018
'Instead of a church walking humbly with its God, it found an arrogant church, that placed its own reputation above the interests of victims, and did so knowlingly in a way that would cause further harm to many of those victims.' Robert Fitzgerald of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse addresses the Catholic Social Services annual conference in Melbourne, February 2018. LISTEN   Photo: Eureka Street
Bishop Barnes invites parish input on his successor
Who will be the next Bishop of the Diocese of San Bernardino?
Extract from Inland Catholic Byte, Diocese of San Bernardino, 23 February 2018
With his mandatory retirement just two-and-a-half years away, Bishop Gerald Barnes used this year’s Combined Vicariate meetings to ask the leadership and staffs of diocesan parishes to ponder this question.     As part of his keynote talk, Bishop Barnes explained the formal process of how a new bishop is chosen for a diocese when the existing one retires. While the ultimate decision of the next Bishop of San Bernardino rests with the Holy Father, there is a multi-layered process of consultation in the selection of a new bishop.  Bishop Barnes invited the faithful of the Diocese to be part of it.       “You have a say,” he said. “I’m proposing that before I send anything to Rome, that I consult with the parishes. In the next few months we’re going to come up with a tool to do that.”       Bishop Barnes tied the consultation on the next bishop into the celebration this year of the 40th Anniversary of the Diocese. He asked parishes to look back and learn about the history of the Diocese, to assess both its strength areas and challenges, and, finally, to identify what qualities will be needed in the next bishop.      “We need to do this a very transparent, honest way,” he said.       Some specific questions to guide these parish discussions will be provided to the parishes in March....(More)

Greetings to friends in the Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe from Fr. Lasbert

Friday 23 February 2018
Photo shows Blessing of apples after Mass to celebrate the 2018 Lunar New Year in Indonesia. See other photos from Lasbert on the Mass Details page
Australian Trailblazer Rosemary Goldie remembered in Rome
Extract from CathNews,23 February 2018
The Australian embassy to the Holy See has honoured the late Rosemary Goldie, who was the first woman to hold a leadership post at the Vatican. Source: Women Matters/National Catholic Reporter.        Defence Minister Marise Payne, the first woman to hold her post, ceremonially opened a new conference room named for Ms Goldie at the embassy in Rome.       Ms Goldie served as undersecretary for the Pontifical Council for the Laity from 1967-76.     In a statement, Senator Payne called Goldie “a heroic figure with a legacy on which others have built”. She said “few have followed in the years since”.    Before serving on the laity council, Ms Goldie was one of the first women appointed to attend the Second Vatican Council as an auditor and was an official observer at its last two sessions in 1964 and 1965.    She had previously served as the executive secretary for the International Congresses of the Lay Apostolate and as a staff member of Pax Romana, one of the oldest international lay Catholic movements...(more) Photo CathNews, Embassy.
No new UK schools planned in eight Catholic dioceses
Edited Extract from  Megan Cornwell, The Tablet, 22 February 2018
Nearly half of all Catholic dioceses in England have no immediate plans to build new schools should the current “faith cap” on admissions be lifted, while a further five are monitoring demand, a survey conducted by The Tablet has found, This follows recent reports that the education secretary is planning to reverse the current policy, which bans new free schools admitting more than 50 per cent of pupils on the basis of their religion.     The Tablet contacted every diocese in England where the cap applies and found that eight of the 19 had no proposals, including Hexham and New­castle, Hallam and Brent­wood, which said they currently have sufficient school places for Catholic children.     Three dioceses did not respond, while only one said they had immediate plans.  The new education secretary, Damian Hinds is expected to make a decision on the controversial policy shortly. In an interview with The Sunday Times last weekend, Mr Hinds was reported to have said he supported the abolition of the cap. The pledge to end the cap was in the Conservative Party’s 2017 election manifesto.      Responding to the survey findings, Paul Barber, director of the Catholic Education Service (CES), said the uncertainty surrounding the cap had meant few dioceses had “spent a lot of time and money putting together actual concrete plans to propose new schools”. Several dioceses were likely to be looking at developing more tangible plans “once the cap is lifted”, he said.    Limited resources, the complexities of “place planning” and difficulties finding appropriate sites – particularly in urban areas – were among several factors delaying investigations, he added....(more)  Photo The Tablet.
Rivers of people: Billy Graham’s last crusade
Thursday 22 February 2018
Extracts from David Halliday, Media and Communications Office, Melbourne Catholic
It was a cold and clear night in November 2004 when I attended one of Billy Graham’s last ever crusades. A crowd of around 60,000 had packed out an outdoor stadium in San Diego to hear the legendary preacher. From the back, you could make out a small figure with silver swept-back hair standing behind the podium under bright lights. His face appeared on the jumbo screen, weathered but animated.     Graham didn’t speak for long—20 minutes, tops. It was a simple message. He spoke about the importance of inviting Christ into your heart and at the end, he asked those who had decided to make a decision for Christ to come forward to the stage. ‘You come now,’ he said with an authority that felt ancient.      When he made his famed altar call, people began to rise. At that point, I noticed people had been making their way into the aisles already. I could hear the plastic slap of folding stadium seats as people rose nearby. And it was compelling. ‘Come,’ he said in a baritone that echoed through the night. ‘Now.’.......Christianity in this country owes a debt of gratitude to Graham. He spent a month in Melbourne in from 15 February to 15 March in 1959, and preached in the MCG to a crowd of 143,000 people. This is comfortably the largest number of people ever crammed into the ’G. As a comparison, the most recent AFL Grand Final drew a crowd of 100,000. It was the nearest thing to a revival Australia had seen. During the crusade, sales of bibles trebled and in the following year, the ABS showed alcohol consumption dropped nationally by ten per cent.    It’s not a stretch to say he’s one of the most influential religious figures of the modern era, his words leaving an indelible mark on America......I don’t know where all these people came from. But now reflecting on that night, I’ll always recall how in 2004 one man was able to fill a stadium with people embracing faith in an endless stream that showed no signs of thinning....(more)
Global movement an opportunity for Church
Extract from CathNews, MelbourneCatholic.org.au,  20 February 2018
The #MeToo global movement presents an opportunity for the Church to engage in important issues of gender equity and justice, says the head of the National Office for Participation of Women.        Andrea Dean, Director of the Office established by the Australian Catholic Bishops to promote the participation of women in the Church, says the situation offers a chance to revaluate the shifting role of women in the Church.     “Narratives about one group of powerful people exploiting another group can open our eyes to understand the call to justice more clearly,” she says.         “The #MeToo movement is a gift to society as it brings hidden abuse into the light in the same way that the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is gift to the Catholic Church as it has brought hidden abuse into the light.”     Ms Dean says this stretches far beyond sexual abuse and harassment, and concerns systemic abuse of power, something the Church is dealing with in the wake of the royal commission.      “It is apparent that the Catholic Church’s problem is not so much the sexual exploitation of women, but the abuse of power,” Ms Dean says. “This abuse of power has damaged the lives of too many children.          “Some women in the Catholic Church — though certainly not all — feel that the intractable link between ordination and power sets up a disparity between ordained men and lay women that fosters injustice and exploitation.      “These are legitimate concerns and addressing them will no doubt take time. For the Church to remain relevant throughout this movement and beyond, it should aim for parity where there has been a disparity. This would mean equal numbers of women in leadership positions, and some degree of transparency in pay scales to eliminate the possibility of a gender pay gap.”....(more) Photo: CathNews, Shutterstock

Getting Catholic Church Renewal happening now

Extract from Catholics For Renewal Newsletter, 20 February 2018

Catholic for Renewal has  recently taken three new initiatives to get Catholic Church renewal happening.  They concern freedom of religion, grassroots consultations in preparation for the 2020/21 Plenary Council,  and the need for urgent action  on the Church’s dysfunctional governance as recommended by the recent Royal Commission.... (More)
Australian joins Pope’s safeguarding commission
Extract from CathNews, Truth Justice and Healing  Commission, 19 February 2018
Neville Owen, chair of the Truth Justice and Healing Council, is one of eight new members appointed to Pope Francis’s renewed clergy sexual abuse commission.
The 17-member Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, headed by Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley, is the Pope’s peak advisory body on clerical sexual abuse and child protection issues.      Mr Owen is a former senior judge of the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Western Australia.      Francis Sullivan, chief executive of the Truth Justice and Healing Council, said the appointment of Mr Owen to the commission was significant and insightful.   “Having worked with Neville for more than three years in his capacity as Chair of the TJHC I am confident he will bring unique insights and experience to the commission," Mr Sullivan said.      “There are few people, anywhere in the world, who have both a deep understanding of the Catholic Church and of the clerical child sexual abuse crisis which has had such an impact on it over the past decades.”...(more)  Photo: CathNews, The Record   Neville Owen  The Record.
Vatican investigator meets with Chilean abuse victim in New York
Extract from Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter, 18 February 2018
New York — Juan Carlos Cruz, who has accused a Chilean bishop of witnessing and covering up for sex abuse he endured as a minor, met here Feb. 17 with Archbishop Charles Scicluna, a representative of Pope Francis. "For the first time, I felt someone was listening," Cruz said after emerging from the three-hour meeting.    On January 30, the Vatican announced that Scicluna, a Maltese archbishop, would collect testimony about Bishop Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid of Osorno, Chile. Barros has been accused by Cruz, who now resides in the Philadelphia area, and two other men, of witnessing Fr. Fernando Karadima sexually abuse them when they were minors.     Scicluna will travel to Chile to continue the investigation. Karadima, now 87, was a charismatic church leader in Chile. A Chilean court declined to rule on the case because of a statute of limitations, with a judge emphasizing that the case did not lack for evidence.     Despite the accusation, Barros was appointed bishop of Osorno by Francis in 2015. The appointment caused outrage among many Chilean Catholics, and was a source of discord, including public demonstrations, during the pope's visit to the country in January.      The pope said he had never heard any evidence against Barros, even though the Associated Press has produced copies of a letter sent to the pontiff detailing the accusations.       Cruz said that Scicluna, the main Vatican troubleshooter on sex abuse cases, wept as he heard his account.      "He was moved by what I said," said Cruz. Scicluna's demeanor, said Cruz, was one of "openness and transparency," a far different response than what he said survivors have received from Chilean church authorities....(more)
Where is your Treasure?                  
Extract from pastoral Letter by Fr. Bill,  Lent 1, 16 February 2018
Many of you will be aware that the Age newspaper has run a series of articles this past week on the Church, its assets and financial position. Some of you have already expressed anger at what many see as a continuing vendetta against the Church by the Age and other media outlets, while others believe such articles are simply holding the Church to account. The truth may, or may not be somewhere in the middle.     What can be said is that there were serious errors in both the print and online articles, notwithstanding our Archdiocese’s input provided to the Age prior to publication, which was ignored, and there seems a deliberate attempt at misinformation and sensationalism. In reality most of the assets listed are not controlled by the Archdiocese, cannot be disposed of by the Archdiocese, and any funds raised by the sale of these assets would not belong to the Archdiocese.    That the majority of the Church’s assets are used for primary, secondary and tertiary education, health care, aged care, welfare, charitable works and the gathering together and building up of community seems to have gone unrecognised.       I certainly believe the Church has a long way to go in issues of governance and of financial transparency but that aim is not achieved by deliberate misinformation and scuttlebutt with an aim to undermine the Church....(read the full pastoral letter HERE)
Bishops: Religious freedom is critical in a pluralist Australia
Extract from Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Friday 16 February 2018
 Religious freedom must be enshrined in Australian law and recognised as a right, rather than an exception or an exemption, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) has explained.        In its submission to the Religious Freedom Review called by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and chaired by the Hon Phillip Ruddock, the ACBC has tasked the Review to recognise the increased need for a framework to support all people of faith as Australian society continues to evolve.   Joining a group of lay Catholic leaders with expertise in health, education and law, Broken Bay Bishop Peter Comensoli will next week represent the ACBC at a hearing before the Expert Panel on Religious Freedom to make the argument for an Australian society that upholds the protection of religious freedom of its people.       ‘Australia is a pluralist society and inherent to this welcomed diversity is the holding of different worldviews and beliefs. The challenge of how to accommodate these different perspectives, without excluding or discouraging views from people who have a religious faith, is one of the great tasks of our current generation,’ Bishop Comensoli said.        The ACBC submission says the Religious Freedom Review ‘is a timely opportunity to consider whether Australia’s laws need to be updated to ensure all Australians continue to enjoy freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and the accompanying freedom of association’....(more)
Governments failing miserably over redress scheme: Sullivan
Truth Justice and Healing Council chief Francis Sullivan says the federal and state governments have "failed miserably" in advancing the establishment of a national redress scheme for survivors of institutional abuse.           Extract from CathNerws, Source: TJHC, 16 February 2018
The council has called for a separate Council Of Australian Governments (COAG) committee to urgently consider the issues currently blocking the redress scheme a national redress scheme, after the February 9 COAG meeting failed to deliver progress.           “Despite the Prime Minister’s rhetoric the day before, which gave some indication that the COAG meeting might deliver something, as it turns out redress for child abuse survivors hardly got a look in," Mr Sullivan said.     “The COAG agenda was heavily committed, and I’m sure all the issues for discussion were worthy,” Mr Sullivan said.     “But it was disappointing to see the outcomes from the discussion on a national redress scheme warranted just one paragraph. And beyond this there was no further insight into how the stalemate currently facing the states and the federal government might be resolved.       Mr Sullivan said the a dedicated COAG committee should urgently focus on having the national redress scheme ready to begin on July 1.     “Politicians have been dodging this issue for far too long. They have had the [royal] commission’s redress report for well over two years. All the talk about support for the commission from state and federal leaders means nothing unless survivors see some action,” Mr Sullivan said.    The council’s submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee’s inquiry into the Commonwealth Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse Bill 2017 notes the bills currently under consideration will not deliver a scheme which operates nationally.     As presently understood, the ability of non-government institutions, including Church authorities, to opt in to the scheme is limited as no state government has chosen to participate.....(more)   Photo: CathNews
Preparing for the Plenary Council 2020
Extract from  Fr Noel Connolly, Columban eNewsletter, 15 February 2018
The Australian Bishops at their November meeting decided that the Plenary Council will be held in two sessions, one in October 2020 around the tenth anniversary of Mary Mackillop’s canonisation and the second in May 2021. One of these sessions will be held in Central Australia and the other in one of the major cities on the East Coast.      In the next few months, the Facilitation Team and the Executive Council will prepare a website, social media access, a Plenary Council logo and prayer, a survey [online and on paper] and other instruments to ensure that all Catholics can be consulted in as full, free and productive way as possible. Meanwhile, the Bishops are to appoint working groups to ensure that the people in their dioceses, parishes, schools, health care and social welfare facilities can be involved.      The official launch will be on Pentecost Sunday 2018. That will begin a year of consultation through diocesan and parish meetings, family conversations, facilitated community discussions, meetings with schools, health care, social welfare agencies, with aboriginal groups, the poor, listening sessions with the bishops and so forth. There will also be consultation and reporting back through the website, discussion through social media, and other ways. The hope is that many Catholics, active and disaffected, will take the opportunity to help plan the future of our Australian Church.      After Easter 2019 we will try to review and consolidate what has been said in the hope of beginning a second phase of consultation and prayerful discernment after Pentecost 2019.      Early in 2020 the main issues and directions should be clearer and we can.......(more)      Fr Noel Connolly SSC is a lecturer in Missiology at both the Broken Bay Institute and the Catholic Institute of Sydney. He is also a member of the Adult Formation Team with Catholic Mission Australia and has recently been appointed by the Australian Bishops to the Facilitation Team for the Plenary Council 2020.
German diocese launches parishes of the future
Currently Trier Diocese has 172 parishes but this number will be reduced to 35 by the end of 2020
Limited extract from Delphine Nerbollier, Berlin, subscription journal La Croix International, 15 February 2018
To the surprise of many local priests, the Diocese of Trier has launched a sizable reform plan.   Located in Germany’s west on the border with France, Luxembourg and Belgium, the diocese is the country’s oldest with 1.5 million Catholics out of a total population of 2.5 million.    Currently it has 172 parishes but this number will be reduced to 35 by the end of 2020....(source)
Theologian: Church doctrine must be life-giving, not oppressive
Extract from Charles C. Camosy interview with Richard Gaillardetz, Crux, 14 February 2018
...One of the more daunting challenges facing the Church today comes from many young adults, in particular, for whom the idea of adhering to a normative religious tradition appears both unnecessary and irrelevant to their lives. The Church needs to offer an account of its tradition that makes evident the authentic human flourishing that tradition makes possible while affirming the value of questioning, doubt and disagreement. Such an account might build on the biblical metaphor of Jacob’s wrestling with an angel in the book of Genesis to propose what it might mean to “wrestle “with the Church’s normative tradition....(more)     Photo: Crux, Gaillardetz.com

Vatican deal with China moves closer
After a Rome-sanctioned bishop agreed to stand aside, the only impediments to an agreement are two bishops with families
Limited Extract from Michael Sainsbury and ucanews.com reporters, Subscription journal La Croix International, Hong Kong, China, 13 February 2018
The Vatican appears to have cleared the ecclesiastical decks for a deal with China's ruling Communist Party after one of two bishops at the center of a dispute over the Sino-Vatican agreement was reported to have promised to step down and make way for a bishop appointed by Beijing.     The final hurdle for the Holy See now appears to be recognizing two bishops, appointed by Beijing without Rome's approval, who are widely understood to have familial arrangements including long-term partners and children.     After sacking Bishop Zhuang Jianjian in December, no Vatican-appointed bishops stand in the way of a deal that would see the Holy See give its imprimatur to five bishops appointed by Beijing whose dioceses do not have Vatican appointees in charge of the....(source)  Photo: La Croix International,   Bishop Vincent Guo Xijin
Should Australian Catholic Bishops be Trusted?
Extract from Peter Johnstone, Pearls and Irritations, John Menadue website,  13 February 2018
The bond of trust between the laity and their bishops has been severely impaired…a serious erosion of trust in the hierarchical leadership of the church’’.- leading Australian Catholic theologian Professor Neil Ormerod of the Australian Catholic University in Fairfax papers on Sunday 11 February 2018.    Many Catholics have become demanding of their Church leaders following the starkly inadequate responses of the Australian bishops to the findings of the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. It is remarkable that the bishops have focussed on processes and procedures, basic changes that did not need a Royal Commission, while failing to address the culture of unaccountable clericalist leadership exposed by the Commission – the actual basis of the cover up and protection of paedophiles.     Inexplicably, that culture of unaccountable clericalist leadership seems to be continuing in the bishops’ response to the Royal Commission. They possibly hope that their focus on the horror of the statistics and the condemnation of paedophiles will distract the faithful from the moral and criminal failings of the Church’s leadership and governance.    The bishops are perhaps stunned by the Royal Commission’s terrible finding that the Catholic Church accounted for more than 60 per cent of all abuse survivors who reported sexual abuse in a religious institution. But are they so stunned, like rabbits in the headlights, that they are unable to face the dysfunctional governance and urgent reforms identified by the Royal Commission?     The hierarchical leadership of the church has seemingly ignored the Commission’s key findings that the Church’s dysfunctional governance aggravated the harm done by paedophile priests and religious. The faithful have not been so easily distracted....(more)
Democracy Is the Problem?
The Return of Catholic Anti-Liberalism
Limited extract from Massimo Faggioli, subscription journal Commonweal, 12 February 2018
One of the most troubling developments in the current debate on religion and politics is the renewed characterization of liberal democracy as a bigger threat to Christian morality than any other political system. This is not just a return of the old legitimist doctrine that nondemocratic systems and monarchies are more Christian than democracies; rather, it’s a general crisis of the theological-political alignments of the twentieth century. Catholic anti-liberalism is trying once again to cast serious doubts on the idea that democracy and Christianity are even compatible. This is a sign that what Ross Douthat has called “the John Paul II synthesis” is in crisis, while demonstrating as well that John Paul II was not a neo-conservative pope.          In Tertio millennio adveniente (1994), his apostolic letter introducing the church to the third millennium, John Paul II wrote that “the Second Vatican Council is often considered as the beginning of a new era in the life of the Church. This is true, but at the same time it is difficult to overlook the fact that the Council drew much from the experiences and reflections of the immediate past, especially from the intellectual legacy left by Pius XII” (italics in the original).       In that legacy there is also Pope Pius XII’s radio message of December 1944, what French historian Jean-Dominique Durand has called the pontiff’s “baptism of democracy.” Delivering it on the eve of the last Christmas during World War II, Pius XII said:.....(more)   Photo: Commonweal
Is the canonization of Paul VI a desire to revive a message?
The decision whether to canonize a pope is always a question of ecclesial policy, related to the current pontificate
Limited extract from Gauthier Vaillant, subscription Journal La Croix International, 10 February 2018
With the Holy See shortly set to announce the canonization of Pope Paul VI, this two-part series explores the phenomenon of recent popes being canonized. In this final installment, Gauthier Vaillant interviews Philippe Chenaux, professor of the history of the modern and contemporary Church at Lateran University, Rome, to explore if this trend is becoming a bit too automatic.             I can understand that many people feel that canonizing recent popes is....(source)
A Message to the Catholic Community at the beginning of Lent
Days of Fasting and Reparation

Extract from Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Friday 9 February 2018
Days of fasting and reparation in sorrow for child sexual abuse and for the healing of victims – February 14-17, 2018,
Dear brothers and sisters,
Last December, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse handed down its final report. Like the Australian Government and many other institutions, the Catholic bishops of Australia and leaders of religious institutes are currently studying the final report and its recommendations.      In the long years since the tragedy of child sexual abuse within the Catholic community became known, the Church has committed to policies, procedures and structures to respond better to survivors of abuse and their families, to establish professional standards for all ministers and Church workers, and to safeguard children and vulnerable people. For the Church, as for other institutions, this has involved gradual learning and development, and so it will continue to be.     Through these years, Australia’s bishops and other Church leaders have often expressed their sorrow and have offered their apology for what has occurred in the past – the harm suffered by victims and survivors, the instances of cover-up, the failure to believe survivors’ stories and to respond with compassion and justice, and the distress that many still experience.        Our apologies have, at times, seemed too little – not because they were insincere, but because trust has been broken. We stand firm in our resolve to ensure that the abuse of children never happens again in the Catholic Church and to build new bonds of trust.        With the Royal Commission concluded, our country and our Church enter into a new moment. We are calling upon the Catholic community in Australia to embrace this new moment by beginning the penitential season of Lent with four days of fasting and reparation. These are spiritual practices which express our desire for God’s reconciling and healing grace....(more)
Child sexual abuse survivors to receive formal apology; PM urges states to stop holding out on redress scheme
Extract from ABC News, 8 February 2018
Malcolm Turnbull will deliver an apology to survivors of child sexual abuse by the end of this year, and is urging states to join a redress scheme recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.   The Prime Minister announced to Parliament this morning abuse survivors would be consulted to ensure they were comfortable with the way the apology process is handled.    The royal commission's report was released late last year after a four-year inquiry, and found tens of thousands of children had been sexually abused.    It found the abuse happened in almost every type of institution, including church-run bodies, as well as schools and places run by sporting and cultural groups.   Mr Turnbull said the survivors had relived the worst moments of their lives when they gave evidence — often telling their stories for the first time — so that the abuse would "never be allowed to happen again".   "Now that those stories have been told, now that they are on the record, we must do everything within our power to honour them," he said.       Mr Turnbull also used his speech to Parliament to warn the states and territories to act quickly so a national redress scheme could be set up by July 1....(more) Photo: ABC
Pastoral Letter of Archbishop Denis Hart:  Lent 2018 'Repent and believe the good news!'    
Extract from Melbourne Catholic,  8 February 2018

Dear Friends,   Lent is a time for ‘Spring cleaning’ in our souls. We move the furniture in our life, take down the curtains, wash the windows and create space by removing what clutters our daily lives. It is not just a matter of getting rid of mess. It is rearranging things, finding ways to create more room, a better space. We see ourselves differently and make more room for God.      During the holy season of Lent we open our hearts and minds to a fresh, deeper, fuller awareness of God within us, around us: a deeper awareness of God's will for us. We are each called to spend extra time in prayer and to confess our sins honestly to Christ in the Sacrament of Penance.       Lent reminds us forcefully that we will be judged at our death and must give an account of our life.      Yet death is such a taboo subject in our culture. Some treat it as a ’problem’ that can be 'solved' and legislated about. But Lent reminds us we must ponder deeply its stark reality.       During our life on earth we struggle to protect our future with bank accounts, credit cards and investments. We protect the future with health plans, life insurance, social security and retirement plans. There is nothing wrong with that. But the statistic on death has not changed. It is still one per person.      There comes a moment when no amount of cash or plastic or investment protects us. We die. No human support goes with us to the grave. Human companionship stops at the tomb, and we enter alone, except that the Lord goes with us. Because of his dying and rising to new life, the Lord is with us at death, through death, and takes us to the other side to share in the transformed life which God has prepared for us.      This is why we could wear ashes on our forehead for four weeks and say "dust to dust" without being morbid. We were entering into the dying and rising of Christ.     So this Lent please fast, pray, and give alms. When we reduce our intake of food we discover what it is like for so many in our world to go hungry all day. We reflect more deeply about life… and death. When we pray more intensely, our mind opens up to wider horizons. When we give things away and support Project Compassion, we create more space in our lives, more room for God, and we realise how much we depend on God .     And during this Lent of 2018 we have a special duty. At every Mass we pray ‘through my fault, through my most grievous fault’, and the recent Royal Commission has indeed highlighted the evil and sins that have done so much damage to children, families and all of the Body of Christ.     I urge each of you this Lent and beyond to pray and act for healing for all victims. I commit our Church once again to the sacred vocation of ensuring such terrible evils are never again inflicted on Christ’s ‘little ones”.       Yes, let us pray for the grace of repentance. Christ’s message is demanding, but let us never forget, it is our Good News and salvation!....(More, including a link to the Pastoral Letter)
Neighbouring Parishes (Yarra Deanery) and the '2020 Plenary'
8 February 2018
A Yarra Deanery meeting on Wednesday spent most of the evening considering issues associated with the '2020 Plenary' planned by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and concerning the Catholic Church in Australia. In particular the Deanery meeting will consider ways in which all Catholics in our neighbouring parishes will not only have the opportunity to participate in preparations for the Plenary  but will be actively encouraged to do so through our parishes and the Deanery. The next meeting will work towards a process for proceeding, and providing resources and engaging as many Catholics of all ages as possible, active or otherwise. The Vatican is formally yet to endorse the Plenary but could do so by July.
Professional Standards chief sets out priorities
Extract from CathNews, 8 February 2018
As the inaugural chief of Catholic Professional Standards Limited, Sheree Limbrick says she will know she is doing her job when children and vulnerable people know where to go when something is not right. Source: The Southern Cross.      “My concern is not whether the bishops and religious leaders are happy with the job we’ve been doing, it’s about whether children and vulnerable people can get a message to me that says ‘yes I feel safe in our communities’,” Ms Limbrick told representatives of the Adelaide Archdiocese during a visit to South Australia recently.       Catholic Professional Standards Limited (CPSL) is a new independent company established by the Church in Australia in November 2016 to develop, audit and report on compliance with professional standards across Catholic entities.     Appointed CEO in July 2017, Ms Limbrick most recently worked with CatholicCare Melbourne as deputy CEO and has managed statewide programs for Berry Street, a service provider for vulnerable children and families across Victoria.    She said CPSL was “functionally independent” from the Church and as such was a new model. Its mission was to “promote the dignity and welfare of all persons who come into contact with the Church and its work, especially its young and vulnerable”.     The aim is to change culture through four key areas: awareness, accountability, consistency and compassion.     “Critical to the implementation of the CPSL Standards is that Church leaders should be accountable for the activities under their jurisdiction,” she told the diocesan gathering.....(more)  Photo: Cathnews, The Southern Cross eree Limbrick The Southern Cross
Top German cardinal signals cautious support for blessing same-sex couples
Extract from Tom Heneghan, Religion News Service, World, National Catholic Reporter, 5 February 2018
One of Roman Catholicism’s most influential cardinals has signaled cautious support for Catholic priests to bless same-sex couples, indicating movement on the issue after he and other German Catholic leaders opposed the legalization of "marriage for all" last year.    Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the archbishop of Munich, said in a radio interview Saturday (Feb. 3) that the Catholic Church must find pastoral ways to respond to the challenges of changing societal views and should be welcoming to gay people who seek its spiritual guidance.     Marx stopped short of a full endorsement of blessings for same-sex couples, which would be difficult in a church that opposes gay marriage as unnatural and does not now officially bless these couples. But his positive comments made it clear he was open to approving such benedictions in private ceremonies.      Two German bishops have recently come out in favor of blessing same-sex couples and urged the church to consider allowing the practice. Marx, as head of the national bishops' conference, is the top Catholic prelate in Germany....(more)
Vatican rejects three women speakers from Voices of Faith conference
Organizers move conference outside the Vatican, make former Irish President Mary McAleese keynote
Extract from Sarah Mac Donald,Vatican, National Catholic Reporter, Feb 2, 2018
Dublin — An attempt to stop a former president of Ireland from speaking at an international conference on women's rights, which was due to be held in the Vatican next month, is causing a stir in Ireland as the country prepares to host the Vatican-organized World Meeting of Families in August.    The Voices of Faith conference has been held at the Vatican on March 8, International Women's Day, the last four years. Organizers say when the Vatican reviewed the list of speakers for this year's event, three speakers were not approved, one of them Mary McAleese, who was president of Ireland from 1997-2011.     Cover Death eBook small.jpgDownload this complimentary eBook from our sister publication, Celebration.    Chantal Götz, managing director of Voices of Faith, said that Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the prefect of the Vatican's Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, had objected to the three speakers. No reasons were given, according to Götz, but McAleese has been outspoken on gay rights and women's ordination.     The matter has gained extra attention because Farrell's dicastery is the main organizer of the World Meeting of Families, which is being promoted as a major event for the Irish church.     Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin distanced himself from controversy, issuing a statement Friday saying neither he nor his offices "were consulted by the Vatican in relation to this matter."    Neither Farrell nor the dicastery responded to requests for comment.      The Voices of Faith conference will now go ahead at a venue outside the Vatican, and organizers have made McAleese the keynote speaker in a gesture of solidarity. She had previously been asked to take part in a panel discussion at the event.     McAleese, who has studied for a doctorate in canon law at the Gregorian University in Rome, has written to Pope Francis about the situation.     In a statement on Friday, she said she would not make any further comment on the matter as she was waiting to see if the pope responds to her letter....(more)   Photo: NCR, RNS/AP Mohammd Zaatari
Vatican-China bishops deal is 'imminent', sources say
Extract from Catholic News Agency, Vatican Ciity, 3 February 2018
Vatican City, Several sources familiar with a proposed deal between the Chinese government and the Holy See have said the landmark agreement is not only a possibility, but an “imminent” certainty that could come to fruition as early as this spring.       While no specific timeline has been given for the agreement, “I've heard that it is imminent. And in China, in many areas and environments, it is already taken as a done deal,” Henry Cappello told CNA Feb. 2.        President of the “Caritas in Veritate International” organization, Cappello travels to China on a regular basis to offer training to the country's bishops, and has strong ties with both those approved by the Holy See and those backed by the communist government's Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.        Cappello was in China two weeks ago, where Joseph Ma Yinglin, the government-backed bishop of Kunming, explained the proposed deal to him.       Without the Vatican's consent, Ma was tapped by the patriotic association to head the diocese in 2006. After his episcopal ordination, Ma’s excommunication was declared by the Vatican, because he was ordained a bishop without approval from Rome. In 2010 he was appointed president of the Chinese patriotic association’s bishops’ conference.      As part of the agreement, which has been widely reported in recent days, the Vatican is expected to officially recognize seven bishops who are out of communion with Rome, including 2-3 bishops, one of which is Ma, whose excommunications have been explicitly declared by the Vatican.     Most notably, the new deal would also apparently outline government and Vatican roles in future episcopal selection.  Reportedly, the details of the deal would have the Vatican proposing names and the Chinese government having the final say over Vatican-vetted candidates.      Cappello said the proposal has already been discussed in China, and he believes “this is the direction that things are going.”      In 1951 Beijing broke official diplomatic ties with the Vatican. Since the 1980s they have loosely cooperated in episcopal appointments, however, the government has also named bishops without Vatican approval....(more) Photo, CNA, FreshStock on Shutterstock
Ramping Up
Fr Bill, Friday 2 February 2018
After the relatively quiet weeks of January parish activity has started to ramp up. While Christmas may now seem a distant memory we thank all who assisted in the preparation and celebration of our Christmas ceremonies and parishioners who supported the ministry of our St. Vincent de Paul Conference in their care of those in need during the festive season.    Lent begins very early this year (February 14th) and I encourage everyone to enter our annual penitential season with a real sense of enthusiasm and to use the spirit of the season as a means of growing in our Christian discipleship.  Image: Ramping-up (Sprout - Arlene Richman)
Parish Pastoral Council
Friday 2 February 2018
The Parish Pastoral Council had its first meeting for 2018 this week. The following agenda items are brought to your attention:
Parish Redevelopment Project: Progress on the re-development of the Mary Immaculate site has been further delayed by moves to have the church listed on the Heritage Victoria Register. While the Chief Executive of Heritage Victoria, after consideration of the nomination, has recommended the church not be listed, submissions have been received opposing that decision. So, it must now go to a formal hearing of the Heritage Council and that will not be till April 17th. The only certainty here is that our re-development project will suffer serious delays before we can move forward with any confidence.
Mother Of God School
Friday 2 February 2018
Mother of God School: While local gossip continues unabated as to the future of the site the reality is that we are having initial discussions with the Victorian State School Building Authority in the hope that the site will be leased for use by the neighbouring state primary school. Furniture and resources from the school have been given to our other two parish schools  or sold to other catholic schools. A truck load of tables and chairs not wanted by our local schools was packed up during January and sent to schools in Papua New Guinea.       The tables, chairs, crockery etc from the Marian Centre will be moved to Mother of God Church over the following weeks.
Please keep the Parish Leadership Team (our Parish Pastoral Council and our Parish Finance Committee) in your prayers throughout the year.
Catholic organisations face growing challenges.
We cannot be complacent about the challenges facing Church social service agencies, writes Denis Fitzgerald. Source: CSSV
Extract from  CathNews, 2 February 2018
Social service organisations are an outstanding example of the Church in action in Australia, however, the challenges these agencies face are building.     On any given day, our social services agencies provide services as diverse as family and relationship services, mental health support, homelessness services, community building, and disability and youth services.     On top of this, some agencies also provide chaplaincy services for those in prison, in youth justice or immigration detention, in hospital and beyond, as well as providing assistance to Indigenous Australians and recently arrived communities.      The list of services provided is as diverse as the list of needs is long.        Love of neighbour and the call to work with humility for a more just society are central to the mission of the Gospel, so these endeavours are to be welcomed and celebrated. But there is no room for complacency.      Vatican II serves as a beacon: "The Church has always had the duty of scrutinising the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel."       Some of the "signs" our social service agencies are grappling with at the moment include:....(more)
Pope blocks recruitment as Knights of Malta tussle for control of order
Extract from Christopher Lamb The Tablet, 1 February 2018
Pope Francis has told an elite section of the Order of Malta to stop admitting new members until reforms have been carried out, while declining a request from those knights to hand them greater control of the organisation.       The move comes just over a year after the Grand Master of the order, Fra’ Matthew Festing, resigned following a public stand-off with the Pope and an unprecedented intervention by the Vatican.     It resulted in the election last April of Fra’ Giacomo dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto who took over as interim leader with a brief to reform the 11th century organisation, a religious order that combines a vast global charitable enterprise with a byzantine governance structure. Knights from across the world are due to gather in Rome next week for a major summit on planned reforms.       But Fra’Giacomo is now grappling with a bid by a small group of knights to gain more power over the order. This emerged in a letter written on 16 December by the knight’s Grand Commander, Fra’ Ludwig Hoffman von Rumerstein, to Francis. It was sent without consultation with the order’s governing body....(more)  Photo: Order of Malta, The Tablet.
Bishops concerned new spy laws will target Catholics
Extract from Media and Communications , Melbourne Catholic, Wednesday 31 January 2018
 In an attempt to curb foreign political influence, in December the federal government has announced an overhaul of espionage and intelligence laws. Proposed new laws will ban foreign political donations and anyone attempting to influence federal politics on behalf of other nations will be forced to declare exactly who they are working for.     ‘Foreign powers are making unprecedented and increasingly sophisticated attempts to influence the political process, both here and abroad,’ Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told the ABC last year.      Australian bishops have expressed concerns about new laws that could force Catholics to register as agents of Vatican under foreign interference laws. Especially when it comes to political donations.....(more)
Pope Francis sends special prosecutor to Chile to investigate charges against Bishop Barros    Extract from Gerard O'Connell, America Magazine: The Jesuit Review, Tuesday 30 January 2018
In a stunning move of the utmost importance, the Vatican today announced that Pope Francis has decided to send Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta to Chile to listen to the victims that accuse Bishop Juan Barros of being present when they were abused by the country’s most notorious predator, the Rev. Fernando Karadima, and of covering this up.    The Vatican statement, issued in Italian and Spanish, said:    As a result of some information received recently regarding the case of Monsignor Juan de La Cruz Barros Madrid, Bishop of Osorno (Chile), the Holy Father has decided that Msgr. Charles Scicluna, the archbishop of Malta and President of the College for the examination of appeals (“in materia delicta graviora,” “in matters of grave crimes”) in the Ordinary Session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is to go to Chile to hear those who have expressed their wish to submit elements in their possession.       
Sources told America that Francis made the crucial decision a few days after returning to the Vatican from his weeklong visit to Chile and Peru during which he had staunchly defended Bishop Barros against those who accused him of cover-up, saying they had not yet produced proof or evidence for such charges, and consequently the allegations can be considered “calumny.”    
Until now Pope Francis has stood firmly by Bishop Barros...(more)  Photo:   Pope Chile Luca Zennaro Pool via AP
Australia Day Award: Professor David William Kissane AC
I usually cast an eye over the lists which are published at this time (and at Queen’s birthday). Last Friday, a familiar name leaped out at me was: Professor Kissane, a member of the family who were parishioners here in Ivanhoe? It didn’t’ take long to be sure that he was the second of the five sons of Miriam and Frank Kissane.  Among other activities, Miriam was a member of the Catholic Women’s League and Frank took on many roles, including being Parish Accountant for many years. Several people have mentioned, in the last few days, that they remember him striding  towards the bank on Monday mornings to make  secure that hard won cash, not to mention his joy in being in the choir.   The citation gives a glimpse into the career which has earned David this significant award:  It says: “For eminent service to psychiatry, particularly psycho-oncology and palliative medicine, as an  educator, researcher, author and clinician, and through executive roles with a range of national and international professional medical bodies”.   What a wonderful way to share your gifts, David.  Congratulations. -       Merle Gilbo
Robert Mickens. The pope’s bewildering inaction on sexual abuse
Extract from Roberty Mickens, Pearls and Irritations, John Menadue website, 23 January 2018
Pope Francis has been away in South America this past week and, while in Chile, he drew only modest crowds of supporters. It was the frostiest reception he’s received on any of his 22 foreign trips — at least to those countries with a majority of Christians and certainly in the traditionally Catholic lands of Latin America.     Some say the 81-year-old pope got the cold shoulder because Chile is a highly secularized nation that has lost all confidence in the church and its ordained leaders.        That’s only part of it.     What the trip made glaringly clear is that, despite the support Francis has received for his many good and inspiring steps to restore evangelical credibility to the church and its mission, many people still see him as “all talk and no action” when it comes to the issue of clergy sex abuse — especially in holding accountable those bishops who tried to cover it up.      The best-known case of this in Chile directly involves the pope and his unwavering support of Bishop Juan Barros Madrid, who has been accused of protecting one of the country’s most notorious abusing priests. Many Chileans were angered when the pope allowed the bishop to concelebrate at the largest public Mass of the papal trip.      And while the surprising and touching wedding ceremony that Francis performed for two flight attendants during an inland flight on Thursday may have deflected attention from this for a fleeting moment, it is not likely to reassure the people of Chile — or many other Catholics from around the world — who continue to be disappointed and confused by the pope’s apparent inaction on sex abuse.     This has long been the ugliest blot on his pontificate. And in the course of a few days it is now even uglier.      Pope Francis’ credibility in dealing with sexual abuse has always been questionable, despite the many excuses and the positive “spin” his apologists and adulators have continued to put forth.....(more)
The bishop, the priest, and the sins of omission
Extract from Farrah Tomazin, The Age, 28 January 2018
On a Winter evening in 2016, dozens of churchgoers gathered at a local primary school in the NSW Riverina to bid farewell to the town's most-senior religious figure   Gerard Hanna had been the bishop of Wagga Wagga for 14 years, a servant of God who led a diocese of 66,000 Catholics in 31 parishes.    But here, in the refurbished sports stadium at Henschke Primary School, Bishop Hanna was set to step down sooner than expected, citing "continuous ill health" as the reason for his early retirement.     It was about two weeks before he was due to give evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.     As the tributes flowed, few in the room would have known that this church leader was harbouring a secret.....(more)
Welcome to the: Catholic Church in Australia
Mandate of the Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council
Extract from Preamble to New ACBC website "Plenary Council 2020", a website than promises "resources plus regular updates", 16 January 2018
At the conclusion of the Jubilee Year 2000, Pope Saint John Paul II encouraged the Church in his Apostolic Letter ‘Novo Millennio Ineunte’ (2001) to discern what the Spirit has been saying to the Church and to put into practice resolutions and guidelines for action that fit the context and culture of each place (§3). Reflecting on what the Spirit has been saying to the People of God, he exhorted “the Pastors of the particular Churches, with the help of all sectors of God’s People”, to plan for the future in a collegial way that harmonises among the dioceses the work of pastoral revitalisation (§29).

Pope Francis has encouraged and fostered the same collegiality among bishops and synodality throughout the whole Church. In his address last October commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the institution of the Synod of Bishops, he stated: “A synodal Church is a Church which listens, which realises that listening ‘is more than simply hearing’. It is a mutual listening in which everyone has something to learn. The faithful people, the college of bishops, the Bishop of Rome: all listening to each other, and all listening to the Holy Spirit, the ‘Spirit of truth’ (Jn 14:17), in order to know what he ‘says to the Churches’ (Rev 2:7).” Speaking of Ecclesiastical Provinces and Regions, Particular Councils and Conferences of Bishops, the Holy Father went on to observe that, “We need to reflect on how better to bring about, through these bodies, intermediary instances of collegiality, perhaps by integrating and updating certain aspects of the ancient ecclesiastical organisation. The hope expressed by the [Second Vatican] Council that such bodies would help increase the spirit of episcopal collegiality has not yet been fully realised. We are still on the way, part-way there.”

The circumstances of the Church in Australia in our time, including the patterns of change that are evident within the community of the Church, the issues confronting the Church in modern multicultural and secular Australia, the increase in entrusting responsibility for and leadership of the Church’s mission to laity, and even the changing face of the Episcopate, prompt the Church to review, analyse, and discern the signs of the times, to listen anew to the Spirit, and to chart its course into the future.

Accordingly, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) has decided to celebrate a Plenary Council for the Church in Australia in 2020.....(more)     Image: Mark Votava
The humble, indispensable women leading the Catholic Church you’ve (probably) never heard of
Extract from Kerry Weber, The Jesuit Review (U.S.), 16 January 2018
Coleen Heckner grew up immersed in Catholic culture. From her parents and her devout grandfather, who served as an usher in his parish, to the Daughters of Charity and the Sisters of Mercy, who educated her in grade school and high school, she was surrounded by examples of faith. A member of the Vatican II generation, she was influenced by St. John XXIII and became passionate about issues of social justice, in part because the peace activists Daniel Berrigan, S.J., and Phil Berrigan were among the speakers brought to her Baltimore classroom. “I grew up in a really neat time to have all these folks touch my life in some way,” she said.      In the years that have followed, Ms. Heckner’s faith commitment has not waned. While working as a psychiatric nurse practitioner, she has attended Mass weekly and has been active in parish life, having served as a member of a parish council and a eucharistic minister to the homebound. Her adult son spent some time in seminary, and she enjoyed her visits there. She would love to be a deacon someday and has a devotion to Mary (“I’ve always believed if you want to get something done you give it to a woman”).    In 2011 she earned a master’s degree in pastoral studies from St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry in Albany, N.Y., which allowed her to serve as a chaplain resident at Albany Medical Center and now as a pastoral associate at a nearby nursing home.    Her wealth of experience would seem to make her a natural role model for others looking to put their faith into action, but she shies away from the title. “I don’t see myself as a role model,” Ms. Heckner said. “I tend to work one on one behind the scenes.”    Yet Ms. Heckner is, in some ways, just the type of person many Catholic women name when describing their models of the faith.....(more)
Love is in the air as Pope marries couple during flight
Extract from CathNews, 19 January 2018
During his flight to Iquique overnight, the Pope was approached by LatAm flight attendant Carlos Ciuffardi Elorriaga and asked for a blessing for him and his wife, flight attendant Paula Podest Ruiz.    The couple were supposed to be married in their home parish in Santiago in 2010. However, tragedy struck when an earthquake destroyed the church. Eight years later, they remained only civilly married.   Mr Ciuffardi told journalists aboard the flight that, after he explained their story, he asked the Pope for their blessing.   At that moment, Francis surprised the couple with offering to marry them right there on the plane.   Mr Ciuffardi said the Pope asked the couple, “Well, do you want to get married?”     “I said, ‘Well, yes. Are you sure?’ Then the Pope said, “Are YOU sure?’ I told him, ‘Yes! Let’s get married,'” Mr Ciuffardi recalled excitedly.    The newlywed said he asked his boss and president of LatAm airline, Ignacio Cueto, to be his best man and one of the Vatican prelates drew up a handwritten marriage certificate.    “The Pope said it was historic! Never has a pope performed a wedding on a plane!” Mr Ciuffardi said.    The Pope was on his way from Santiago to Iquique before heading to Peru later in the day.    Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, says the wedding was "totally legit" and "doctrinally OK", Vatican News reports....(more) 
Letter From Rome: Working towards a full-scale 'paradigm shift'
Pope Francis has not just unleashed the stifled energies of Vatican II, he is actually leading the effort to help the church enter into the new paradigm
Limited extract from Robert Mickens, Rome, subscription journal La Croix International, 12 January 2018
Cardinal Pietro Parolin this week put his finger on the single most important issue that has become the driving force of the small, but tenacious opposition to Pope Francis and his pontificate.     It is the full-scale “paradigm shift” the pope is working so diligently to bring about within the global Catholic Church.      That’s not exactly how the pope’s Secretary of State articulated it in a video-taped interview posted Thursday on the Vatican News website.    But looking at the many changes and processes for change that Francis has set in motion since being elected Bishop of Rome in March 2013, the paradigm shift is definitely well underway. And this has caused some very influential people – both inside and outside the church – to be extremely worried.      So what did Cardinal Parolin actually say? He actually used the word “paradigm” three different times in the recent interview conducted by the Holy See’s Secretariat for Communication.     The first instance was in reference to the creative approach the Vatican is taking to prepare for next October’s meeting of the Synod of Bishops, which will discuss issues regarding today’s youth.    “I believe the most innovative aspect to this approach is the search for a new relationship between the church and young people, based on....(source)
Pope faces challenge of restoring trust in wake of Peru, Chile scandals
Friday 12 January 2018
Extract from Junno Arocho Esteves, Melbourne Catholic, Catholic News Service
When Pope Francis embarks on his fourth visit to South America, he will face the enormous task of restoring trust and encouraging healing after scandals in both countries left many wounded and angry at the Catholic Church.     Pope Francis planned the trip 15-21 January to Chile and Peru as an opportunity to take a message of hope and comfort to people on the margins of society, particularly the indigenous people.      The Vatican said on 10 January that Pope Francis followed the case ‘with concern’ and ‘insistently requested’ the congregation to act.     Despite his actions to address the issue of sexual abuse in Peru, his decision to appoint a bishop accused of turning a blind eye to abuse drew outrage in Chile.    The pope's appointment of Bishop Juan Barros as head of the Diocese of Osorno sparked several protests — most notably at the bishop's installation Mass — due to the bishop's connection to Father Fernando Karadima, his former mentor.    Father Karadima was sentenced to a life of prayer and penance by the Vatican after he was found guilty of sexually abusing boys. Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, told reporters on 11 January that Pope Francis' formal schedule for Chile and Peru does not include a meeting with sexual abuse victims or with the people still protesting Bishop Barros' appointment. Sexual abuse is ‘clearly an important theme,’ Burke said, adding ‘the best meetings are private meetings.’...(more)   Photo: Melbourne Catholic. (CNS photo/Pablo Sanhueza, Reuters)   
Ruddock's religious freedom review kicks off in Sydney
Edited extract from SBS News, 10 Jan 2018
A government-appointed panel set up to critique whether Australia's laws adequately protect religious freedom (has just met) for the first time in Sydney.    The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, announced the review in the final month of the national same-sex marriage debate last year, amid pressure from some Coalition conservatives who wanted to see religious exemptions built into the bill to amend the Marriage Act.     In the end, the so-called Smith bill to legalise same-sex marriage in Australia passed with no amendments.   Mr Turnbull decided the panel would be led by Phillip Ruddock, a Liberal elder who served as a senior minister in the Howard government and is now the mayor of Hornsby in Sydney.    Also on the panel are Jesuit prist Frank Brennan, former high-profile judge Dr Annabelle Bennett, Australian Human Rights Commission president Rosalind Croucher and constitutional lawyer Nicholas Aroney.     The panel has been asked to make its recommendations by March 31 and is currently accepting submissions, although the submissions have not been made public.....(more)
Joy but some are cross after Melbourne girl wins male-dominated Blessing of the Waters        Extract from Liam Mannix, The Age, 10 January 2018
The priest tossed the wooden cross high in an arc over her head, and Emily Paxevanos​ took a deep breath, turned and plunged into the water.  The 16-year-old swam about 30 metres through the choppy sea at Rye, the only girl in a field of young men who were all in hot pursuit of the crucifix.    In doing so on Saturday, Emily became the first girl to retrieve the cross at the annual Blessing of the Waters ceremony at Rye – possibly the first girl to win the traditionally male-only event anywhere in Australia, her family believes. She was the only female swimmer in the race.   The Greek Orthodox community holds several blessing ceremonies across Melbourne, with the largest held at Port Melbourne....The ritual commemorates Christ's baptism in the River Jordan, and is one of the most important days on the Greek Orthodox calendar. A priest tosses a wooden cross into the sea for young men to chase, with the winner receiving good luck and prosperity....."When I jumped under the railings to go on the pier, people were going 'oh, what's this'. But I didn't really care, I just went up front," she said.    "There was a few of the boys kicking up a stink about girls being allowed in – I think because she got it. He thinks it will be the last time only a single girl competes in the ceremony, with many adoring young women approaching Emily after she emerged victorious....On Tuesday, the Red Hill parish issued a statement confirming Emily was the first woman to retrieve the cross in Father Tatsis' 51 years as a priest.  "Our congratulations to dear Emily. Her achievement in retrieving the cross also helps dispel the oft-levelled charge the Orthodox Church is misogynistic in character," the Red Hill church statement said....(more) Photo: The Age, Rob Paxevanos [Ed: Joyous female surrounded by unhappy males]
Cardinal Pell's accuser dies before court case
Damian Dignan, who lived in the Victorian town of Ballarat, made allegations that were strenuously denied by the Australian cardinal.     
Edited extract from The Guardian, 8 January 2018

A man who publicly accused Australia’s most senior Catholic cardinal, George Pell, of child sexual abuse has died following a long illness.....QC and former chief Victorian magistrate and crown prosecutor, Nicholas Papas, told Guardian Australia that Damian Dignan’s death would affect the structure of Pell’s upcoming court case in Melbourne.   “The death of a witness if generally very serious and can affect whether the case proceeds or not,” he said. “But it’s not as simple as that, as there may be other evidence or witnesses. In a murder case, for example, the victim is obviously never there and yet a case can proceed. So it’s not that it’s unusual for witnesses to be dead, but in a case where an allegation involved historic sexual assault and there may be no other direct witnesses to that abuse, it can seriously affect the case.”(more)
The 'Francis Revolution' enters the New Year
The aim of papal activity over the next year is to put more flesh on the inspiring blueprint the pope issued for his pontificate in 2013
Limited extract from Robert Mickens, Rome, subscription journal La Croix International 5 January 2018
We are just into the first week of 2018, but this new calendar year is already showing clear signs that this will be a challenging and exciting time for the continuing reforms Pope Francis has been trying to bring to the Vatican and the entire Catholic Church.      The 81-year-old pope, who will mark his fifth anniversary as Bishop of Rome in only a few months from now, has a full slate of events over the next twelve months. They promise to form yet another series of decisive moments in his efforts to change the mentality and practice of what it means to be church in the 21st century.      The aim of all this papal activity over the next year is to put more flesh on the inspiring, yet skeletal outline and blueprint Francis issued for his pontificate in the 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel).      I dream of a ‘missionary option’, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation,” Francis wrote in that remarkable document.        “The renewal of structures demanded by pastoral conversion can only be understood in this light: as part of an effort to make them more mission-oriented, to make ordinary pastoral activity on every level more inclusive and open, to inspire in pastoral workers a constant desire to go forth and in this way to elicit a positive response from all those whom Jesus summons to friendship with himself,” he stressed, still in the early months of his papal ministry.....(more). Photo: La Croix International/ucanews    1515152187
Dear Correctors: Where is your love, intelligence and charity?
'If one chooses to be more Catholic than the pope, at least do so with a touch of modesty'
Limited extract from Benoît Bourgine. subscription journal La Croix International 4 January 2018
Heresy is back. Not at the end of a dark alley or whispered at illicit meetings of nonconformists, but, we are told, at the very summit of the church, on the throne of St. Peter himself.      In a petition, a few dozen priests and academics overtly accuse Pope Francis of propagating doctrines which "tend of themselves to the profaning of all the sacraments and the subversion of the Law of God."       Let us be clear from the outset that there is no reason to doubt the sincerity of the signatories of the 25-page letter entitled "Filial Correction." The anguish they feel and which inspired them to put collective pen to paper is worthy of respect......(more)
Melbourne’s New Archbishop.
Extract from Eric Hodgens, Pearls and Irritations, John Menadue website, 5 January 2018
2018 will be a fateful year for the Catholic Church in Australia as Melbourne gets a new archbishop. This appointment, if successful, offers some hope for the Church; if a failure, it will hasten the Church’s decline into insignificance. Here’s why.     The national episcopal conference is of central importance because changes affecting the whole country require its approval. Pope Francis is encouraging national conference to be more proactive – in contrast to the policy of the last two popes who restricted conference authority.    The Australian Conference of Catholic Bishops (ACCB) is in poor shape having been hit by a triple whammy of Roman constriction under the last two popes, the back room influence of Cardinal Pell and the public devastation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.    The two popes exercised their control by carefully selecting compliant bishops and then closely supervising them. Over 35 years this led to a paralysis of local initiative and a policy of doing nothing without Rome’s approval.....(more)
Father Tom Doyle says tax concessions should be on table as church responds to Royal Commission           Extract from Joam McCarthy, Newcastle Herald, 4 January 2017
The Australian Government should ignore the church/state divide and put “massive pressure” on the Catholic Church to name child sexual abuse as a crime in church law, says the American Catholic cleric who first blew the whistle on the global abuse scandal in 1984.      “The church gave up this privilege long ago when they started to enable sex abuse, lie about it to society and cover up for abusers,” said Dominican priest Tom Doyle after the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse’s final report in December recommended major changes, including to celibacy and the secrecy of the confessional.            The government must link tax concessions with the need for significant change in the church because “when enough money goes away they start to feel the reality”, he said.         Australian politicians needed to end the “deference and preferential treatment” given to the Catholic Church because “the deference accorded by many sectors in civil society has done its part to enable this harm, by allowing the churches to escape accountability”, he said in response to Newcastle Herald questions.....(more)  Photo: Fr. Tom Doyle - Newcastle Herald.
Pope Francis message for the 51st World Day of Peace
Migrants and refugees: men and women in search of peace
Extract from Pope Francis, published in Melbourne Catholic, Monday 1 January 2018
Peace to all people and to all nations on earth! Peace, which the angels proclaimed to the shepherds on Christmas night, is a profound aspiration for everyone, for each individual and all peoples, and especially for those who most keenly suffer its absence. Among these whom I constantly keep in my thoughts and prayers, I would once again mention the over 250 million migrants worldwide, of whom 22.5 million are refugees. Pope Benedict XVI, my beloved predecessor, spoke of them as ‘men and women, children, young and elderly people, who are searching for somewhere to live in peace.’ In order to find that peace, they are willing to risk their lives on a journey that is often long and perilous, to endure hardships and suffering, and to encounter fences and walls built to keep them far from their goal.      In a spirit of compassion, let us embrace all those fleeing from war and hunger, or forced by discrimination, persecution, poverty and environmental degradation to leave their homelands.     We know that it is not enough to open our hearts to the suffering of others......(more)   Image: Pope Francis Facebook