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Archived Old News 2013


Pope donates mooncakes to Hong Kong prisoners
Extract from,  Wednesday 13 September 2013
                                                                                                                                          Pope Francis’s response to a request for a symbolic mooncake donation to prisoners in Hong Kong has generated excitement and a flood of cash donations since it was published last week. Cardinal Zen of Hong Kong issued the request in August because the new pope was well known for his charity and regard for the poor as Cardinal of Argentina, “so I guessed he would also be interested in donating mooncakes to prisoners here”, Zen said. Mooncakes are a traditional pastry eaten during the commemoration of one of China’s principal traditional festivals, which falls this year on September 19, and Cardinal Zen has for the last three years headed an effort to distribute the cakes to prisoners in jails throughout Hong Kong. Shortly after issuing his request, Pope Francis sent a card on which he wrote in Italian: Dear Faithful, I gladly join with you to donate mooncakes to our brothers and sisters in the prisons of Hong Kong. Jesus will recognize us at the door of Heaven. Happy Moon Festival! I cordially bless you, PP Francesco (more)

Pope's cold calling has everyone talking
Extract from Cath News, Thursday 12 September 2013

Pope Francis already has distinguished himself with his down-to-earth style. Now he is both unnerving the Vatican and delighting the faithful by spontaneously calling people, earning the nickname "the Cold Call Pope," reports The New York Times. Earlier this month, he called to comfort a pregnant Italian woman whose married boyfriend had unsuccessfully pressured her to have an abortion. The woman, who is divorced and will be a single mother, wrote to the Pope, fearing she had fallen afoul of the church. Not knowing the correct address, she marked the envelope "Holy Father Pope Francis, Vatican City, Rome." The Pope offered to personally baptise the baby when it is born next year, according to an account in La Stampa, a Turin-based daily. In August, Francis phoned a woman in
Argentina who had been raped by a local police officer. The Pope told her that she was not alone and that she should have faith in the justice system, according to an Argentine television news report rebroadcast in Italy. On August 7, Michele Ferri of Pesaro, Italy, answered his phone and was startled to hear, "Hello Michele, it's Pope Francis." Ferri said in a telephone interview he had thought it was a joke."But then he spoke about the letter that I'd written, a letter I hadn't told anyone about, not even my mother or my wife, and I knew that it was him," Ferri said (more).

U.S. bishops set to meet with young theologians
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, NAtional Catholic Reporter, Thursday 12 September 2013

The U.S. bishops' committee known in recent years for criticizing several prominent American theologians is bringing together 14 bishops and a select group of younger members of the theological field in a three-day meeting this week. The meeting, sponsored by the U.S. bishops' doctrine committee and the Knights of Columbus, is part of a multiyear effort on the part of the bishops to encourage dialogue with theologians. Even so, attendance is open only to academics selected by the bishops (more).

Treating people well
Edited extracts from Andrew Hamilton, Consulting Editor, Eureka Street, Wednesday 11 September 2013

When power passes from one political party to another we do well to reflect on the shape of the times.......The election campaign showed that in Australia there is little sense of a shared humanity. When we put weight on the shared humanity that binds us to others we become ready to allow strangers to make a claim on our generosity. Now the bipartisan support for excluding asylum seekers from making this claim and the decisions by both parties to cut overseas aid or divert it to prisons and camps have been met by general approval......The real challenge is to persuade our fellow Australians that each person matters, not because of the choices they make or the qualities they possess, but because they are human, and that a society is measured by the quality of its relationships (more).

New Vatican Secretary of State Parolin on celibacy, democracy
Edited extract from John L Allen Junior, National Catholoc Reporter, Wednesday 11 September 2013

Comments on celibacy and democracy in the church by Italian Archbishop Pietro Parolin, whom Pope Francis named as the Vatican's new Secretary of State on Aug. 31, are raising eyebrows today, with some wondering if they herald looming changes in Catholic teaching and practice. In truth, Parolin's comments represent what might be termed the standard moderate Catholic line – priestly celibacy is a discipline, not a dogma, and can therefore be revised, but it nonetheless has value, and the church is not a democracy but it can and should be more collegial. Those points have been made many times by many different voices, and they don't necessarily point to any specific policy decisions. If anything, Parolin seems to want to temper expectations that Francis will turn the church on its ear, stressing the theme of continuity (more).

Thursday 12 September 2013

Our Prayers Of The Faithful last weekend pointed out that today is RUOK? Day, and a week in particular that we are encouraged to reach out to others, in keeping with our Parish values. It could be someone you haven’t chatted to for a long time to whom  just want to say “Hello, how are you going?” or it could be a friend on Facebook you notice is sharing some dark stuff and might need a sympathetic ear.  It could be a work colleague who seems to be down in the mouth or a shy person in your social group who never seems to get the chance to say anything. Take the time to show them you care. RUOK day doesn’t have to just be reserved for people you know who are struggling with life.  It can be for reigniting old friendships or touching base with family members with whom you rarely communicate.  How do you know they are okay unless you contact them? This challenge to you is to take the time and stop to think of these people and try to get in touch with them.  You never know, it could open up all kinds of great things for you just because you are showing that you care. TIP: If someone starts to open up about personal issues, don't respond with: "I know how you are feeling, I've experienced........". Rather say something like: "I am here for you. What can I do to help you?". A number of thoughtful suggestions are offered on the RUOK website (here).

Bishops criticize foreign aid cuts
Edited extract from Barney Zwartz, The Age, Wednesday 11 September 2013

Planned $4.5 billion cuts to Australia's foreign aid have been criticised by Australian Catholic Bishops, saying that this "clawback" was like a rich man chasing a beggar to recover crumbs from his table. The executive officer of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, John Ferguson, said the policy, unveiled just two days before Saturday's federal election, was unworthy of a civilised nation. Mr Ferguson said that twenty per cent of the world's poorest live in our region. It's clear that Australia is the rich man and Lazarus is at our gates,” he said, referring to Jesus' story of the rich man and the sore-covered beggar Lazarus in the Gospel of Luke. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference's annual social justice statement, issued on Wednesday, said it was a critical time in the fight against world poverty (source).

5 Years a priest today!                                                                                                                                                                                            Friday 6 September 2013
So much has happened for Fr Thang in the 5 years to today since his ordination, and so much for all those of us who have greatly benefited from this. On this occasion of his 5th Anniversary as a priest we offer Fr Thang today our warm congratulations, thanks, and best wishes for the further challenges that lie ahead in our rapidly changing world. In the words of Sir Francis Drake's (1540-1596) Prayer Of Disturbance "Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.".

Four themes to help young Catholics retain their beliefs
Edited Extract from Cath News (from NCR), Friday 6 September 2013

.....First, being a Christian means being a radical. Christianity does not promise a life of comfort and ease. It's not a religion for people who want to immerse themselves in our culture -- in consumerism, selfish ambition and every other bourgeois value -- and only break from that consensus at the margins. It is not a religion for people who are comfortable with the status quo. It demands more. It demands an extraordinary commitment to love: not the fleeting emotion but the force that can transform lives in both simple acts and by re-imagining and recreating the world in which we live. It should shape everything from the way one interacts with a cashier to how one views global politics and justice (more).

Pope calls on G20 to find diplomatic solution to Syria
Extracts from Cath News, Friday 6 September 2013

Pope Francis has asked leaders of the world's 20 largest economies to 'lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution' to the Syrian civil war and promote instead a 'peaceful solution through dialogue and negotiation,' reports the Catholic News Service.The Pope's words appeared in a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, host of the G20 summit in St Petersburg, Russia, from September 5-6......In his letter to Putin, Pope Francis wrote that, 'from the very beginning of the conflict in Syria, one-sided interests have prevailed and, in fact, hindered the search for a solution that would have avoided the senseless massacre now unfolding.'(more)

Right-hand man - New Vatican appointment
Extract from The Tablet,7 September 2013

The assignment of Archbishop Pietro Parolin to the key role of Secretary of State confirms that Pope Francis remains committed to his project of reform at the Vatican. It is also likely to revive Rome’s status as one of the most sophisticated players in global diplomacy. Pope Francis may have finally convinced sceptics that his pontificate will be more than just a change of recent papal style. His selection last weekend of the 58-year-old Archbishop Pietro Parolin, one of the Vatican’s savviest new breed of diplomats, as his Secretary of State could prove to be one of the most astute choices since 1979, when John Paul II appointed the now legendary Agostino Casaroli to this key position of “prime minister” of the Vatican (more)

New encyclical by Francis to clarify poverty vows
Extract from Cath News, Friday 6 September 2013

A new encyclical that is being written by Pope Francis will help address how to live out a vow of poverty in the modern world, according to one cardinal, reports the Catholic News Agency. “How to define poverty is not easy today because it’s not a question of radical poverty,” Cardinal Prosper Grech, an Augustinian friar, told CNA on Tuesday, “but an encyclical on poverty will help all religious orders to define how to really live poverty in our societies.”In May, an Italian bishop revealed on his diocesan website that the Holy Father is working on an encyclical entitled, “Blessed Are the Poor.” The Pope’s first encyclical, “The Light of Faith,” was released in July and drew upon previous work from his predecessor, Benedict XVI. Cardinal Grech, co-founder of the Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum in Rome, believes that an encyclical would help to “define our stance on poverty.” (more) Photo. Cardinal Grech, Cath News

Papal nuncio suspended over abuse allegations
Extract fronm Cath News, Friday 6 September 2013

The Dominican Attorney General later announced that a special prosecutor had been appointed to investigate Archbishop Josef Wesolowski, who has been nuncio, or ambassador, in the capital, Santo Domingo, for nearly six years.Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said the Holy See had started a probe of Wesolowski and he had been recalled "in the last few weeks", specifically over the paedophilia accusations. Archbishop Wesolowski could not be reached for comment. Weeks after his election in March, Pope Francis announced he wanted the church to root out sexual abuse of children by priests and ensure that abusers were punished (more).

Pope Francis' game-changing decision: non-ambitious, pastoral bishops
Extract from  Eugene Cullen Kennedy ,National Catholic Reporter, Thursday 5 September 2013

Pope Francis told a gathering of apostolic nuncios in June that he wants them to recommend men of pastoral experience to become bishops. This may be the most potent source of game-changing energy he has yet injected into the church's daily life in his six months as the Holy Father. He told the nuncios with the same disarming directness with which he paid his hotel bill after his election that he wanted these key figures to seek out potential bishops who are "close to the people, fathers and brothers" as well as "gentle, patient, and merciful, animated by inner poverty, the freedom of the Lord, and also by outward simplicity and austerity of life." In addition, potential bishops "should not have the psychology of princes."  (more).

Outgoing Bertone hits out at ‘vipers and crows' in Vatican
Extract from The Tablet, Wednesday 4 September 2013

The Vatican's outgoing Secretary of State has lashed out at the "vipers" in the curia who undermined him - a day after Pope Francis named his successor. Asked about his seven years in office by the Ansa news agency, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said: "I see the record of the past seven years as positive. Of course, there were a lot of problems, especially in the last two years." He hit out at "a combination of crows and vipers" - the Italian word for crow, corvo, denoting people who leak secrets. "But this should not cloud what I consider to be a positive record," he added. He made his comments a day after Pope Francis named Archbishop Pietro Parolin, 58, currently nuncio in Venezuela, as Cardinal Bertone's replacement, with a handover due next month. Announced on Saturday, the move to replace Bertone - which had been widely expected - has been seen as a vital step in Francis' long-awaited reform of the Vatican bureaucracy (more).

Catholics for Renewal submission to the Royal Commission on Child Sexual Abuse
Extract from Catholics For Renewal, Tuesday 9 September 2013

Catholics for Renewal has made a submission to the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on the effectiveness of the Catholic Church's Towards Healing protocol on the handling of child sexual abuse complaints within the Church. The submission identifies a number of deficiencies in the protocol and proposes wide ranging reforms to its operation and the legal framework governing the safeguarding of our children from abuse and the punishment of clerical offenders. The seven key reforms proposed are........(more).

Words of wisdom from our grandfathers                                                                                                                                                               Edited extracts from Kristen Toohey, Kairos, 1 September 2013
Recently Pope Francis said. 'Having Pope Benedict XVI living in the Vatican is like
having a grandfather at home. A very wise grandfather...If I'm blind, or if I'm faced with something I don't understand I can call him.' In Melbourne we're blessed to have our own 'grandfathers of the faith' through the 89 retired priests living in the Archdiocese.      We will have the opportunity to show our care for them through the Archbishop's Collection for Retired and Sick Priests, in parishes on

the weekend of Father's Day. Kairos took the opportunity to glean some wisdom from a few of our grandfathers of the faith - including Frs Len Thomas, Joe Briffa, Joe Browne and Leo Griffin from the group photographed (above) at George Maher House. You can read their insights in the latest Issue of Kairos, available from the Church Foyer. Father's Day is also an opportunity to write a note to your Parish Priest letting him know that he is appreciated and loved. Using an expression of Fr Len's it's the perfect way to let our fathers of the faith know they are 'tops!'.  Edited version of Peter Casamento photo

Pope, Jordanian king say dialogue only hope for Syria
Extracts from CathNews, Friday 30 August 2013

As Western leaders expressed strong convictions that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack against its own citizens and vowed to take action, Pope Francis met  yesterday with King Abdullah and Queen Rania.......In a statement issued after the meeting, the Vatican said that the pope and king "reaffirmed that the path of dialogue and negotiation is the only option for putting an end to the conflict and violence that each day cause the loss of many human lives, especially among the unarmed population."(more)

International law cannot justify attack on Syria
Extract from Justin Glyn SJ, Eureka Street, Thursday 29 August 2013

For the second time in a little over ten years, Britain and America (this time with the assistance of France) seem about to launch hostilities against an Arab country on the basis of the possession or use of chemical weapons. To be sure, they argue that this case is different. In the Iraqi case, no weapons were to be found. Here, there are claims of an actual chemical attack. Surely this justifies a response? Well it’s a little bit more complex (more).

Welby: repent of homophobia
Extract from The Tablet, Thursday 29 August 2012

The Church must repent of times when it has been homophobic, the Archbishop of Canterbury said yesterday. He also said most people under 35 think that the Church's traditional attitude to gay people is "wicked", "incomprehensible" and on a par with racism.....But he said he voted against the same-sex bill because it seemed to be "rewriting the nature of marriage" within the Christian tradition, and that if the debate was repeated he would vote the same way......Archbishop Welby admitted that his own mind was not yet "clear" on the wider issues relating to gay marriage, and said the Church of England was still "deeply and profoundly divided" over the issue. He also said he was keen not to exclude those who disagreed with his views (more).

Pope Francis tells young people to "make noise"
ExtractS from Vatican Radio, Wednesday 28 August 2013

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday afternoon met with a group of about 500 young people from the Diocese of Piacenza-Bobbio in St. Peter’s Basilica. The youth are on a pilgrimage which is part of their diocesan celebration of the Year of Faith. The Pope began his greetings by explaining why he agreed to the meeting. “I did it for selfish reasons, do you know why? Why I like being with you? … Why I like being with young people?” the Pope asked. “ Because you have in your heart a promise of hope. You are bearers of hope. You, in fact, live in the present, but are looking at the future. You are the protagonists of the future, artisans of the future.” Explaining what he meant, Pope Francis said young people have “three desires”: Beauty, Goodness, and Truth........He said making noise means going “against this civilization that is doing so much harm. Got that? Go against the tide, and that means making noise. Go ahead. But with the values ​​of beauty, goodness and truth.” (more)

Remarried divorcees want communion without annulments
Extract from The Tablet, Wednesday 28 August 2013

Remarried divorcees almost unanimously believe that after a personal decision of conscience they should be allowed to receive communion, according to a poll held in the German diocese of Würzburg......Those who rejected annulments emphasised that their former marriages had been part of their lives and could not be deleted. Many also recalled Jesus' merciful behaviour to those who had failed (more)

Pope dials strangers; paper offers telephone tips
Extract from Vatican News,  CathNewsUSA Tuesday 27 August 2013

(Las Vegas Sun) A word of warning to those who write personal notes to Pope Francis: He might just call you back. Francis has charmed the masses with his informal style, simplicity and sense of humor _ and a handful of strangers have gotten the treatment up close, receiving papal phone calls out of the blue after writing him or suffering some personal tragedy. After another random phone call from the pope this week, Italy’s leading Corriere della Sera daily offered etiquette tips for the lucky recipients, proposing conversation starters and no-go areas on its front page Friday.Topping the list: Be ready, especially if the land line rings. The 76-year-old Francis has a fondness for making calls the old-fashioned way, using land lines and placing the calls himself, often surprising recipients by simply announcing “It’s the pope.” (more).

I have a dream …
Extracts from U.S. blog,  Monday 26 August 2013

Across the nation and around the world, people are celebrating the 50th remembrance of the Civil Rights movement. Simultaneous with this is the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. The two leaders, Pope John XXIII and Martin Luther King inspired us and gave us all hope for a more inclusive worldview. But that was 50 years ago. The Civil Rights movement hasn’t reached its full objective but, most of us would agree that it is much further along than the outcomes of Vatican II for the Catholic Church........Already, with the election of Francis, I no longer have to dream of a Church that recognizes that Jesus died for all who do good, not just for Catholics. I no longer have to dream of a Church that embraces atheists and those who love and share their lives with those of the same sex. Pope Francis is giving me hope. I have a dream that reform is coming to our Church and that we, as members of the Church, will have a part in supporting the pope to bring this about. I have a dream. What is your dream for the Church? Please share it with us now (read full blog here).

Congratulations to Mother of God School
Friday 23 August 2013

The Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe wishes to extend their sincere congratulations to Mother of God School on the significant occasion of the School’s 50th Anniversary. Congratulations and best wishes to the Mother of God School community both past and present – staff, students, parents, friends, and parishioners. Photo:Part of the 2013 version of MOG school

NSW priest criticises children after no-show at Mass
Extract from Catholic News, Friday 23 August 2013

Father Terence Mahedy berated the students at an assembly at St Joseph's Primary School in Culcairn, on Monday , saying they have 'brought the community to its lowest level ever,' before sending a newsletter home to parents.The newsletter said that as a result of no-one attending church, all Book Week activities – including a costume parade scheduled for Wednesday – would be cancelled. Despite an instruction from the Bishop of Wagga, Gerard Hanna, for the priest to apologise, the Wagga Catholic Schools Office said it did not have the authority to discipline the priest, even if the event occurred on school grounds. The actions have upset parents and families at the school, who considered the priest’s actions an overreach (more). 

Newcastle child sexual abuse Inquiry findings delayed till next year
Edited Extract from Catholic News, Friday 23 August 2013

The Special Commission of Inquiry into  matters relating to the Police investigation of certain child sexual abuse allegations in the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle won't hand down its findings until next year, according to an AAP report in The Newcaslte Herald. The inquiry opened in February and was due to report to the government by September 30. But Premier Barry O'Farrell has told question time in the NSW Parliament that Commissioner Margaret Cunneen had sought an extension and would report on February 28 next year.'We should all agree that it is obviously more important that the relevant matters are properly and thoroughly investigated,' he said. 'No one wants any shortcuts when it comes into matters as serious as these.'Mr O'Farrell said the inquiry had more than a hundred private hearings with more than a hundred summons to produce its documents (more).  Photo: Commissioner Cunneen, Catholic News.

Benedict: ‘God told me to resign’
Extract from Tne Tablet, Thursday 22 August 2013

Benedict XVI has reportedly said that his resignation was prompted by a mystical experience that convinced him it was the will of God. According to the Catholic news agency Zenit, the pope emeritus told an anonymous confidante that God told him to resign by implanting the desire in his heart along with a conviction that he should devote the rest of his life to prayer and reflection (more).

God's word is not an easy word to accept
Extract fom (Bishop) Thomas Humbleton Homily, St Anne Church, Frankfurt Michigan, National Catholic Reporter, Thursday 22 August 2013

I don't think most of us are prepared to hear a Gospel like we just heard, where Jesus says, "I didn't come to bring peace. I came to bring division" and extreme division among nations, among peoples, even within families, where it's the most hurtful. We think of Jesus as we sing on Christmas, "Glory to God in the highest, and peace to people on Earth," that Jesus brings peace. We think of Jesus coming on Easter Sunday night and saying to the disciples, "Peace be with you." So what is happening here? (more)

US Catholic Push to Overhaul Immigration Goes to Pews
Edited Extract from from Ashley Parker and Michael D Shear, New York Times, Wednesday 21 August 2013

Washington - Catholic bishops and priests from major dioceses across the country will preach a coordinated message next month backing changes in immigration policy, with some using Sunday Masses on Sept. 8 to urge Congressional passage of a legislative overhaul that includes a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants. The decision to embrace political action from the pulpit is part of a broader effort by the Roman Catholic Church and other faith groups that support President Obama’s call for new immigration laws. It includes advertising and phone calls directed at 60 Catholic Republican lawmakers and “prayerful marches” in Congressional districts where the issue has become a divisive topic (more).

1st Eucharist at St Bernadette's an uplifting experience
Tuesday 20 August 2012

All reports from last Saturday's 1st Eucharist of children from St Bernadette's Primary School say the same thing - that it was a very joyous and uplifting occasion in the packed St Bernadette's Church. Not surprising given all the very extensive preparatory work by teachers and Parish. However pictures say a great deal and the following photographs perhaps give some idea (further photos may be published later). 

Worshippers' digital distraction may not be all bad
Extracts from Vince Horiuchi The Salt Lake Tribune, National Catholic Reporter Tuesday 20 August 2013

......"A lot of churches have announcements at the beginning that this is a holy time and to please put their devices away. It's like in an airplane," said Samantha Almanza, director of the youth and young adult ministry for the Catholic diocese of Salt Lake City. "It's just time to dedicate to God and not your mobile device, and that's taught to them and reinforced to them." Now that electronic devices have become so ubiquitous in churches, some clergy want to use them to their advantage. "I'm actually exploring a service where I would encourage people to Twitter me," said the Rev. Dennis Shaw, pastor at Sandy's Hilltop United Methodist Church. "So as I'm doing the service and I have my cellphone in my hand and the Twitter (feed) changes, I can follow the dialogue. It's a way of potentially engaging people." The Very Rev. Ray Waldon, dean of Salt Lake City's Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. Mark, recently attended a seminar in San Diego titled "Digital Jesus" in which church leaders were encouraged to get their members tweeting and posting about the sermons during service. He said younger people using social media were referred to as "digital natives" while older churchgoers are known as "digital immigrants." "Our digital natives are truly paying attention. What they are doing is texting or tweeting the word of God," he said. "My experience at this cathedral is not that they are not paying attention. It's quite the opposite -- they are so moved they want the word of God to get out."...."I see development of technology as the fulfillment of a Judeo-Christian prophecy," said Tracy Cowdell, a regional LDS leader in Sandy. "Isaiah, who spoke of our time, said: 'The Earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.' Technology is a way for us to connect with more people and more people having more access to spiritual information." (full story) Photo: A nun records a video with her phone during the Divine Liturgy at Sts. Volodymyr and Olha Cathedral Sept. 9 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (CNS/David Lipnowski) 

And finally - a Memorial Service in Ireland for Fr John Cunningham                        
Friday 16 August

On Tuesday of this week, close to a month since his death, a reportedly very good and very well attended memorial Mass for Fr John Cunningham was celebrated in his birth country of Ireland. John's family there gratefully learned a great deal more about his life and Australian Ministry from the Memorial Compilation produced by the Pastoral Leadership Team and freely published on this website. Printed copies of the full 16 page document may also be purchased from the Parish at cost for $5. Those wishing to remember and acknowledge Fr John's very substantial contribution to Ivanhoe Parish, and his other Australian Parishes, might like to do so by supporting his favourite charity, the Sacred Heart Mission, and donating a little extra to the purchase price. By purchasing a copy for, say, $20 then allowing for the production cost $15 would go to the Sacred Heart Mission. Copies are available from each of our three Parish Churches or the Parish Office.

Vatican overseer preaches to LCWR on Mary's submission to God
Extracts from National Catholic Reporter, Thursday 15 August 2013

As U.S. Catholic sisters are meeting to discern their relationship with the church’s bishops, the archbishop given expansive oversight of them by the Vatican told their annual assembly Thursday the Virgin Mary teaches the faithful to hand themselves over “completely to the will of God.” Mary, Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain told some 825 sisters during a homily this morning, teaches that it’s only in “submitting ourselves over to the one who made us … that we find fulfillment.”. “She shows to us … what God himself desires to do in us all and through the church when we let the grace of God overtake us without placing an obstacle between ourself and that grace,” he continued. After meeting in a closed-door session this morning to discuss conversations LCWR leaders have had with Sartain in past months, LCWR members are to hear from the archbishop himself this afternoon. Members have been asked by LCWR leaders not to discuss Thursday’s meetings with members of the press. Thursday’s Mass was a special occasion for Catholics, who are celebrating the solemnity of the feast of the Assumption, when it is taught that the Virgin Mary was assumed into Heaven (more). (CNS photo/Roberto Gonzalez)

Muslims and Christians must work together, says Francis                                                                                                                                       Extract from CathNews, Thursday 15 August 2013
Francis said he wanted to extend his greetings to “Muslims throughout the world, our brothers and sisters, who have just celebrated the end of the month of Ramadan." Pope Francis had written a message to the world’s Muslims for their celebration of Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the month of fasting. Echoing the theme of the message, he told the crowd that he hoped “Christians and Muslims will work together to promote mutual respect,” especially through the way they educate the younger generation  (more). Photo CathNews

What the Holy Father meant to say ...
Extract from Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter, Wednesday 14 August 2013

So, am I the only person on the planet who thinks Pope Francis said “yes” to women as deacons? The question was about what concrete measures the church should take, “for instance, the female diaconate or a woman at the head of a dicastery?” No matter a little Rome-speak in his answer. I am pretty sure he said “yes” to ordaining women as deacons..... The question came in Italian from Le Figaro religion editor Jean-Marie Guénois and also on behalf of a colleague from the French Catholic newspaper La Croix. Guénois spoke directly: “You said that the church without women loses its fruitfulness.” And then Guénois asked about women as deacons and about women heading major portions of the church’s bureaucracy. Media reports burst with analysis of Francis’ “who am I to judge” comment made on that plane ride from Rio. But a complete English translation of Francis’s mostly Italian 80-minute chat with reporters on the aircraft is posted by the highly conservative Catholic News Agency (CNA). An outgrowth of the Peru-based ACI Prensa, CNA gives free access to Catholic entities. Its aim is to proselytize while it informs. It ran the transcript. It did not seem to focus on Le Figaro’s question about women as deacons or the pope’s apparently positive answer.....But the pope did not rule out — nor has any church teaching ruled out — the restoration of women to the ordained order of deacon. In fact, he led right into the current international discussion about women in the diaconate (more).

Another underground Catholic priest arrested in Hebei
Extract from UCA News, Tuesday 13 August 2013

Police in Qiaodong District of Hebei province arrested Father Song Wanjun, an underground priest of the diocese of Xiwanzi, last Wednesday, while he was driving his car. He was taken to an unknown location.  The U.S. based Cardinal Kung Foundation confirmed the arrest. Father Wanjun, 39, was ordained 11 years ago. He worked in Zhangbei County for years before being assigned to Chongli County and risked arrest for some time now. Many priests and bishops are imprisoned, placed under house arrest or forced to undergo ‘study sessions’ to join the Patriotic Association controlled by the Communist Party of China. Pope Benedict XVI in his letter to the Chinese Church had described it as “incompatible with Catholic doctrine”. Over the past 20 years, at least 20 Catholic underground priests of the dioceses of Xuanhua and Xiwanzi in the Zhangjiakou area of Hebei province have been tortured and pressured to join the Patriotic Association. Those arrested and released after months of torture are put under surveillance. Fathers Li Huisheng and Wang Zhong were sentenced to 7 years and 3 years, respectively.  Bishop Leon Yao Ling of Xiwanzi was arrested in 2006 and subjected to isolation and studying of Chinese religious laws for two-and-a-half years. He died in 2009, a few months after his release. He was earlier imprisoned for 28 years during Mao’s rule and was released only in 1984 (more).

Election advice from ancient Rome
Extract from Dustin Halse, Eureka Street, 11August 2013

In 64 BC, at the age of 42, the brilliant orator and lawyer Marcus Tullius Cicero decided to run for the position of consul, the highest office in the Roman Republic. On the eve of the campaign his younger brother Quintus — who possessed an unfortunate penchant for the most outrageous acts of cruelty — penned a detailed strategy memo outlining what his older brother needed to do to win the election. The frank advice, eerily similar to the realpolitik of Niccolò Machiavelli, is as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago. For our current political leaders the pragmatic counsel contained within the Commentariolum Petitionis or Little Handbook on Electioneering, recently translated by Philip Freeman, is well worth a read (more). sign up free for Eureka Street . 

Breaking the stained-glass ceiling: Female roles in worship
Extract from Emma Klein, The Tablet, Saturday 10 August 2013

Pope Francis has called for the Church to create a deeper theology of women though he has ruled out women’s ordination. But how can Christianity and other religions carve out roles for women that do not cast them as second-class citizens? Could Judaism point the way? Where do women stand in world religions today? From recent developments, pronouncements and events, a very complex picture emerges. Not least complex is the position of women within Judaism, one of the smallest, numerically, of world religions. Until the nineteenth century, when the Reform movement in Judaism emerged in Germany, Orthodoxy prevailed and women, with the exception of a few historic figures, were confined to the home and, within the synagogue, to the ladies’ gallery or behind a mechitza or partition – often a curtain. The rationale behind this separation, derived from the period of the Talmud and Mishnah, the oral commentary on the Torah, or Law, was that a woman and her body could distract men and lead to impure thoughts during prayer (more).

Memorial Compilation for Fr John Cunningham
Friday 9 August 2013

For parishioners, school families and others who have requested it the Pastoral Leadership Team has compiled a Memorial Document comprising the many wonderful words written and spoken about our former Parish Priest Fr John Cunningham during and near the time of his Vigil and Funeral Mass. A condensed printed copy will be made freely available. The Website also hosts the full copy (16 pages)  which may be freely downloaded (here), and the condensed (8 pages) version (here). There are two other options. For those wanting to purchase a printed copy of the full compilation at cost ($5) orders can be placed via or the Parish Office, Tel 03 9499 1515. For those who in remembrance of John would also like to contribute a little more as a donation to his favourite charity, the Sacred Heart Mission, may do so. A Suggested contribution for the full printed copy plus donation is $20.

Calling politicians and voters to work together for justice
Extract from Media Release, Sr Annette Cunliffe rsc, Catholic Religious Australia, Thursday 8 August 2012

Today we celebrate the Feast of Mary MacKillop. “Can the politicians who celebrated with us when Mary was named as Australia’s first Saint now see her as a model and mentor”, asks CRA President, Sr Annette Cunliffe rsc.“Can our politicians rise to being worthy of our vote rather than descending into vote seeking, no matter the moral and ethical cost? Can Australians heedthe advice of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference to look beyond their own individual needs and vote for the common good?”Sr Annette Cunliffe speaks of Mary MacKillop as a woman of great humanityand justice. “She lived a life of heroic goodness and responded totally to the needs around her. Her life was motivated by compassion for those most inneed. Mary epitomises responding to the Gospel call” (more).

Cool to be Christian again
Extracts from Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Huffington Post, Cathnews, Thursday 8 August 2913

There was a time when Christians like Rev Martin Luther King, Jr., the Berrigan brothers, Thomas Merton, Paul Tillich, Dorothy Day, Henri Nouwen, Howard Thurman, Reinhold Niebuhr and John XXIII offered the basic framework for what Christianity meant to the world. Collectively, these men and women offered some of the most philosophically deep and socially relevant thought of any kind. They inspired a generation of young people to work in racial reconciliation, environmentalism, economic justice, and anti-war activism. They fed the spirit, while also walking in Jesus' way of justice and peace.......Sadly, that has not been true in recent history. The generic Christian profile that has emerged over these last decades has been someone who does not believe in the equality between men and women, degrades LGBT people, is opposed to science, especially in regards to evolution or climate change, is suspicious of people of other faiths and no faith, and is pro-militarism in foreign policy. In short, it has been a while since it has been cool to be Christian. Well, 2013 may be the year that changes (more).

Francis's good press won't last forever: Cardinal Pell
Extract from Catholic News, Thursday 8 August 2013

The cardinal, a member of the powerful Group of Eight cardinals appointed to advise Francis, made the remark in a reflection on World Youth Day in Rio. His comment followed the Pope being called 'awesome' by the men’s magazine Esquire and his face appearing on the cover of Vanity Fair and Time magazine. Considering the success of World Youth Day, Cardinal Pell said: 'Pope Francis’s reception in the secular press is too good to last, but he has cemented his place in the hearts of young Catholics.' (more)

Between the Dalai Lama and McKinsey's
Extract from  Michael Kelly SJ, Ucanews, Catholic News, Wednesday 7 August 2013

Characterisations of Pope Francis abound. In something that hasn’t happened since 1979, when John Paul II did it. During WYD, Pope Francis was Time magazine's cover story everywhere in the world except the United States. The accounts of Papa Francesco are varied. Sometimes he’s portrayed as a Catholic Dalai Lama – all sweetness and serenity in the face of the world’s horrors and all the complexity that cultures and institutions create for innocent individuals.  He visits jailed refugees; he says Mass in prisons; as Bishop of Rome (which he prefers as his title to pope) he says parish Masses and hears confessions; he has announced his respectful and non-judgmental attitude to gays; he embraces the disabled and hugs babies. His reactions are warm, humane and tug at your heartstrings. At other times, he’s expected to be a senior executive of a global agency that specializes in refitting and refocusing extensive and well resourced enterprises that have lost direction. He has inherited a Vatican in tumult over alleged corruption, inefficiency, arrogance and the influence of a 'gay lobby' that has adversely affected good governance (more).

Boston's O'Malley: Pope prefers to talk love, not abortion
Extract from Joshua J McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, Wednesday 7 August 2013

Pope Francis has not mentioned traditional hot-button Catholic issues like abortion because he prefers to emphasize that Catholics "love people" and are not "mean or old-fashioned," Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley has said. O'Malley, the only North American Francis asked to serve on a group of eight cardinals advising him on reforming the church, made the comments during a keynote address Tuesday in San Antonio at the annual convention of the Knights of Columbus. "Some people think that the Holy Father should talk more about abortion," O'Malley told approximately 2,000 attendees, according to a copy of the remarks posted online. "I think he speaks of love and mercy to give people the context for the Church's teaching on abortion," he continued. "We oppose abortion, not because we are mean or old fashioned, but because we love people. And that is what we must show the world." (more

US deacons number 18,000
Extract from The Tablet, Wednesday 7 August 2013

Falling clergy numbers in the US are being boosted by more than 18,000 permanent deacons across the Church's 195 dioceses. The number of permanent deacons in the US has risen from 17,000 in 2009-10, according to a national survey by the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) and released yesterday by the US bishops. Some 93 per cent of active deacons are married; four per cent are widowers, and two per cent have never married. There are 3,000 retired deacons. Meanwhile the US Church has more than 41,000 diocesan and Religious priests (more).

People's Pope brings winds of change
Brief summary of article by Barney Zwartz, The Age, Saturday 3 August 2013

Pope Francis has been called "a cross between the Dalai Lama and McKinseys" by Mick Kelly, head of UCS News Service, in this optimistic and encouraging report on the new Pope's approach and his "brilliant communication skills and symbolism". Kelly says that the Pope "embodies what the hierarchy has long lacked" and refers to a comment by Melbourne Jesuit Andrew Hamilton that the Pope constantly refers to himself as "the Bishop of Rome" rather than Pope, and talks further of his preference for simplicity and focus on the poor (more). Photo: The Age, Reuters

Notes of the last Pastoral Leadership Team Meeting                                                                                                                                                 Brief notes (here) from the last Pastoral Leadership Team PLT Meeting on 24 July 2013 have been published on the website Leadership Team page, under the "People" menu button.

Fr John Cunningham Memorial document
Friday 2 August 2013

Many parishioners, school families and friends of Fr John from other parishes and elsewhere have requested a copy of the powerful words about him that were written or spoken at or around the time of his Vigil and Funeral Mass. The Pastoral Leadership Team is working on this will shortly make such a document available.

Vote For The Common Good
Extract from Australian Catholic Bishop's Conference document

“We must pray for our political leaders as they prepare for the upcoming election, that they will always serve the good of the whole nation.” In the coming weeks the news will be full of politicians in shopping centres, high-vis vests and hard hats. It can be easy to be caught up in the distractions of an election campaign, but as bishops we want to focus your attention on some key issues of vital concern to the Australian community. This letter is to help us all participate in the election as Catholics and citizens. In writing this letter to you, we draw upon our rich tradition of social teaching and upon the Church’s long experience of serving all people without distinction through our work in a broad range of areas including health care, education and social services. The principles of social teaching cross party political boundaries and Catholics may, in good conscience, form different opinions on the candidates and parties standing for election. We encourage Catholics to look beyond their own individual needs to apply a different test at the ballot box – the test of what we call the common good. The good of the individual and the good of society as a whole must be brought together in harmony. When they are, we have the common good (more).

Pope's Catholic health check
Extract from Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street, Wednesday 31 July 2013

World Youth Days stir some and leave others untouched. But they are always interesting because they allow the Pope to address enthusiastic young people in a variety of contexts. He has the chance to talk of what he believes important to pass on to the next generation. In the talks the distinctive themes of a papacy can emerge. So it is instructive to compare the way in which Pope Francis addressed the young adults at World Youth Day in Brazil this week with Pope Benedict's style of address. Unsurprisingly they have much in common. Both men emphasise that Christian faith in the Catholic Church is the privileged way of finding meaning in life. Both compare Christian faith with other competing ways of finding meaning. Both call for a deeply grounded faith and solid formation in it. But within these shared themes there are differences. They are of style, but substantial. To hear the two men speak is like hearing sermons from a representative of the Evangelical wing of the Anglican communion and one from the Anglo Catholic wing. Both commend the same Gospel, but they differ particularly in the centrality that each gives to the Church and its traditions (more). Your donation to Eureka Street helps keep it free

Pope: Door ‘closed’ on women priests
Extract from editorsub1, Cathnewsusa, Monday 29 July 2013

Pope Francis reiterated the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on women priests, saying the decision is “definitive” although he would like women to have more leadership roles in administrative and pastoral activities. Speaking to reporters Sunday night while flying home from a week-long visit to Brazil, Francis said “the Church has spoken and says no … that door is closed.” It was the first time Francis — the first non-European pope elected in 1,300 years — had spoken publicly on women in the priesthood. He said women have a special mission in the Church as “first witnesses” of Christ’s resurrection. The Roman Catholic Church’s all-male priesthood has been under attack for years, particularly as Protestant denominations have begun ordaining women (more).

Mary Robinson on the Catholic Church
Extracts from editorsub1, Cathnewsusa, Monday 29 July 2013

Former president of Ireland Mary Robinson says she was on the verge of a breakdown when she took on a top role at the United Nations (UN). On the BBC Radio 4 show “Desert Island Discs” she spoke about the stress of her professional position and her problems with the Catholic Church over its authoritarian stance on family planning. Robinson quit her presidency three months before the end of her term in 1997 to take on the position of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. She told the BBC, “I decided to get up earlier in the morning, come in, work harder, work later. “I started taking sleeping pills and by the first Christmas in 1997 I was a wreck. I was exhausted. “My eldest brother who was a doctor took a look at me and he told me, ‘Mary, you’ve got to watch it, you’re going into breakdown territory’.”She decided to throw away the sleeping pills and take a break..........Robinson, who was the first female president of Ireland, spoke about her faith. She said, “I’m not somebody who goes to mass every Sunday because I feel I have to.” “I’m deeply spiritual and I’m seeking to understand the way in which so much of the Catholic Church is so authoritarian not supporting family planning. So there’s a great deal that I’m very, very troubled by.” (more)

On gay priests, Pope Francis asks, ‘Who am I to judge?’
Extract from editorsub1, Cathnewsusa, Monday 29 July 2013

For generations, homosexuality has largely been a taboo topic for the Vatican, ignored altogether or treated as “an intrinsic moral evil,” in the words of the previous pope. In that context, brief remarks by Pope Francis suggesting that he would not judge priests for their sexual orientation, made aboard the papal airplane on the way back from his first foreign trip, to Brazil, resonated through the church. Never veering from church doctrine opposing homosexuality, Francis did strike a more compassionate tone than that of his predecessors, some of whom had largely avoided even saying the more colloquial “gay.” “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis told reporters, speaking in Italian but using the English word “gay.” Francis’s words could not have been more different from those of Benedict XVI, who in 2005 wrote that homosexuality was “a strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil,” and an “objective disorder.” The church document said that men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” should not become priests (more).

David M. Perry: What the pope meant by his gay priests comment
Extract from editorsub1, Cathnewsusa, Monday29 July 2013

As has become his trademark, Pope Francis is making changes without changing anything. On the papal plane on the way back from Brazil, the pope took questions from the press corps (a sign that John Allen, of New Catholic Reporter, suggests is indicative of Francis’ good mood). Among many questions, he was asked about the power of the “gay lobby” in the Vatican and recent accusations of homosexual activity by Battista Ricca, the prelate of the Vatican Bank. The Pope took this opportunity speak more generally about homosexuality. As has been widely reported, he said (in Italian), “Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?” He noted that the problem with the “gay lobby,” if it exists, is not that these people are gay, but that they are a lobby (i.e. that the Vatican is a tangled web of pressure groups and rivalries). Finally, he chided the press for focusing on the alleged homosexual acts of Ricca, distinguishing them from the criminal matters like sexual predation on children. Criminals should be punished, but if Ricca sinned, then confessed, he must be forgiven. “When the Lord forgives,” the Pope said, “the Lord forgets.” Francis did not just normalize Catholic perceptions on homosexuality; nor did he address the theological position on sex outside of procreative intercourse between married men and women. In reality, the only concrete matter he touched on was priests who are homosexual but celibate. Under Pope Benedict, as of 2005, Bishops were directed to treat homosexual candidates for the clergy with suspicion, denying a haven to gay Catholics seeking a religious life. But Francis seems to be suggesting that homosexuals are no more likely to betray their vows of celibacy than heterosexuals. That may have concrete policy implications within the seminary, as well it should (more).

필리핀, 잇따른 체포와 납치                                                                                                          입력일 :2013. 07. 19. 

 필리핀에서 최근 잇따라 체포와 납치가 일어나면서, 정부가 반대자들에게 공포를 심어주려 한다고 인권단체인 카라파탄이 18일 경고했다.

 카라파탄의 마리-힐라오 엘리케즈 의장은 이들 사건은 “군부가 인민을 대상으로 저지르는 또 한 차례의 테러 공격의 시작일 수 있다”고 강조했

 다.   지난 한 주 사이에 과거 정치범이던 한 사람이 체포되었고, 농부 두 명이 실종되었다. (more)

Clergy Conference 29 – 31 July                                                                                                                                         Fr Thang, Friday 26 July 2013    
I will be attending the Clergy Conference next week from 29 - 31 July and I sincerely thank Fr Thanh who will celebrate weekday Masses in our parish whilst I am absent. I thank all concerned in each of our churches who ensure that all is in readiness for the celebration of Mass. Ed: The Annual Clergy Conference is a special time for catching up with other brother priests in friendship, prayer, learning and joy.

Are we still a Church capable of warming hearts?
Report and Extracts from Pope Francis, News.VA, Saturday 27 July 2013

Pope Francis had a joyful but challenging message for the Bishops of Brazil today. As part of World Youth Day festivities, the Holy Father took the opportunity to meet with the world’s largest episcopate. Pope Francis thanked the Bishops for allowing him to speak as “one among friends”. For that reason, he said, he spoke in his native Spanish, in order “to better express what I carry in my heart.”......he noted that "God always enters clothed in poverty, in littleness".  He noted, too, that, from the beginning, “God’s message was one of restoring what was broken, reuniting what had been divided.” (full report here)

Pope to clergy, religious, seminarians: respond to God's call in 3 ways
Report and Extracts from Pope Francis, News.VA, Saturday 27 July 2013

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis today urged clergy, seminarians and religious to respond to the call of God, proclaim the Gospel and promote a culture of encounter in their lives and ministry. In his homily at mass Saturday at Rio de Janeiro’s Cathedral of Saint Sebastian, the Pope cited these three aspects of their vocation as essential to evangelization. The Holy Father is in Brazil for a week long visit to celebrate World Youth Day with young people from around the world. Tracey McClure reports on what the Pope had to say (here)

In Rio slum, Pope defends poor and slams corruption
Extracts from Catholic News, Thursday 25 July 2013

On the fourth day of his visit to Brazil, he was confronted with starkly contrasting images of life in the dramatic tropical metropolis. To the obvious discomfort of his security detail, the pope traveled to Rio's northern slums in an open-sided vehicle, before walking the streets, glad-handing crowds and kissing babies. Meanwhile, thousands of young people were flocking to the city's iconic Copacabana beachfront, a much wealthier district, braving wind and rain and preparing to welcome the pope to World Youth Day ceremonies......'Dear young friends, you have a particular sensitivity towards injustice, but you are often disappointed by facts that speak of corruption on the part of people who put their own interests before the common good,' he said. 'To you and to all, I repeat: never yield to discouragement, do not lose trust, do not allow your hope to be extinguished. Situations can change, people can change,' he told thousands gathered under pelting rain on a soccer field in the Varginha slum. Brazil was rocked by huge street protests last month, when more than a million people took to the streets to condemn corruption, poor public services and the cost of hosting the 2014 World Cup. The 1,000-resident Varginha slum is one of a dozen favelas where police have evicted drug gangs and restored security ahead of next year's World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games (more).

Humanae Vitae at 45: A Personal Story
Extract from National Catholic Reporter, Thursday 25 July 2013

Recalling that today, July 25, is the 45th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae makes me cringe. In fact, I am pained whenever the 1968 papal decree comes up for discussion. I feel like a person who has witnessed a tragic event and made an intense effort to turn over a key piece of evidence — the “smoking gun” — that would make the truth known only to see lawyers either misplace the evidence or fail to use it effectively. I contend the evidence I am talking about would have been climactic—making it virtually impossible for Pope Paul to ignore changing the church’s current birth control policy, or conversely, if used today, make it relatively easy for Pope Francis to correct the church’s second “Galileo affair.” (more)

Fr John Cunningham                                                                                                                                                                                                 John Costa (with thanks to Margaret Colangeli and others), Saturday 13 July 2013                                                                                                               (Vigil and Funeral details below)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Our much valued and loved former Parish Priest of ten years died peacefully this morning following an illness.

 Fr John Bernard Cunningham was a humble and private man, though to most that didn't conceal the very faithful, thoughtful priest and caring pastor he was, driven in his mission by Christ's example.  Greatly informed and influenced as well by his many experience of life, across time and two continents, through both difficult and happier periods, he was responsive and sensitive to the realities of humanity, being ever inclusive, supportive and encouraging. So often highly relevant personal experiences linked to Gospel readings brought his homilies powerfully and helpfully to life in accessible and contemporary ways. Sharing, more than preaching, he would characteristically then conclude with the question "does that make sense? - which almost invariably it did.
Many people bring stories of John Cunningham. They start in Derry Ireland where he was born on 17 April 1934 and where as a youth he enjoyed playing soccer. His journey to the priesthood began in 1952 when he left behind parents, brothers, sisters and friends for St John's College seminary in Waterford, Southern Ireland, spending the next seven years studying for the priesthood, followed by ordination in 1959. Departing then for Australia his first appointment as Assistant Priest was to St Peter and St Paul's, South Melbourne (1959 - 1966).  This was followed by Sacred Heart Parish Oakleigh (1965 -1969), Annunciation Parish, Kingsville (1969 - 1973), PP Good Shepherd Parish, Mulgrave (1973-1980), Airport West Parish (1980 - 1986), Resurrection Parish, St Albans West (1985 - 1989), Administrator Sacred Heart Parish, Newport (1989), Caretaker of St Anthony parish, Melton South (1989), PP Mary McKillop Parish, Keilor Downs (1989 - 2001), PP at the Ivanhoe Cluster and in 2005 Ivanhoe Parish (2001 - 2011). Photo at Ivanhoe parish, 2010

Comments such as those that follow from parishioners during his time as Ivanhoe Parish Priest say more than mere chronology; "Some are physically young but mentally old. John by his own description was 'an old man', but mentally young and alert to the world, and in the church somewhat ahead of his time";  Not being highly social in public by nature Fr John would often exit functions after a respectable time with the words "I must get home to the wife and kids".  Despite strong faith his wicked humour sometimes also lead him to ask parting congregation members after Mass such rhetorical questions as "what are you doing this afternoon - no more of this religious stuff I hope?";  and in a different vein one commented that "Humility and  compassion are truly visible traits in John and he does so much for so many with little fanfare and no kudos".

Fr John has always shown particular respect for young people, concern for their needs and openness to their thinking. He re-established what for 6 years became a very successful Young Peoples' Group in Ivanhoe Parish. Recognising the reality of the times he listened to them more than preached, and responded thoughtfully and by his living example. At the 50th Anniversary of his ordination, which he was initially very reluctant to publicly celebrate, a Youth Mass actively engaging young people in liturgy, music and readings and even Gospel commentary, to his delight packed the  church with young people and their families, and to his further surprise and gratitude some members of his family from Ireland. Honest messages from youth written to him on a large farewell card then poignantly made very clear what was already well acknowledged, that they greatly valued and respected Fr John. People of all ages, to whom he equally ministered, similarly appreciated his ever ready and non-judgmental support. Photo: Palm Sunday 2010 Ivanhoe Parish.,
 With family long left behind in Ireland Fr John was fortunate to be befriended by a particular family from an earlier parish who duly 'adopted' him into their fold, allowing him to share something of regular family life, in the process also very much helping to care for him, and particularly in his declining health following retirement.
Amongst the many things that Fr John will likely be gratefully remembered for at Ivanhoe parish are  his embodiment of the Parish values of  Inclusiveness, Mission and Service, and to the extent possible for a private person, also hospitality.  Another that has arguably had an even greater and more lasting impact on the Parish, and that might hopefully encourage like behaviour across the wider church, was to be so directly inspired by Christ in all that he did. In that context it was commented that "John has led and supported the involvement of the laity with the management of the parish in a collaborative model, Decisions are shared and in his absence, the Parish Leadership Team manages the parish. While some are concerned about the future of the church John is optimistic that the future of the church is one of strength for the followers of Christ. The formal church as it was in the past has gone. The current generation has different views, expectations and relationships with the church compared to its predecessors".  Another person similarly commented that "For my part, I had already recognised that John was a priest who totally believed that we are 'the church' as had been set out so clearly in the documents of Vatican II".    Also encouragingly Fr John was a 'yes' rather than 'no' priest, gladly welcoming and empowering those prepared to share responsibility. His passionate belief in the 'people of God', community, and importance of inclusive participation in church life by lay people has noticeably moulded the Ivanhoe Community as it continues down this path. Photo: Good Shepherd Parish, Mulgrave (1973 - 1980)

Much can be said about John, his wisdom and his impact. Here is a further quote;  "I was complimentary about our new Parish priest and commented that we were fortunate to have John who appeared to be 'one of the good guys'. No sooner had the words been uttered when the newly appointed person informed me that this was a terrible thing to say about someone. This was my personal introduction to John Cunningham which reflected not only his wonderful sense of humour but also his humility.....I thank John for his unconditional acceptance, prayers, care and concern for both myself and my family".  Photo: Derry Ireland  c.1934

Towards retirement Fr John was adamant that this would be dependent on the parish finding a suitable successor. Around the time of such appointment John subsequently looked particularly pleased. A further debt of gratitude is owed to John by parishioners for helping to attract the best possible replacement. We are most fortunate.

No one is perfect and John would be the first to admit his warfare with technology, particularly church microphones. As for computers he felt destined to remain in terror of them despite best efforts by some persistent parish Primary School students to tame his fear.

As a priest who ministered to many at their deaths John was very comfortable with the idea of death. He sometimes spoke of the words he would ideally like for his own eulogy -  "He came, he was here, he left".

To sum up simply, the following familiar words seem appropriate. "I was hungry you gave me food, I was thirsty you gave me something to drink. I was naked and you gave me clothing.  I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me."  Together with all else he did and for whom, John ministered well and with care to the sick and dying, and was well prepared for his own death. A debt of gratitude is owed by many. May Fr John Bernard Cunningham now rest in peace.

We express our sympathy to Fr John's family in Ireland, and to his 'adoptive family' in Melbourne. 

Fr John Cunningham - Vigil Service and Funeral details
The Vigil Service

Date: Thursday 18/07/2013
Place: Mary Immaculate Church, Ivanhoe
Time: 7:30pm

The Funeral
Date: Friday 19/07/2013
Place: Sts Peter and Paul Church,  377 Dorcas St, South Melbourne (Near Montague St)  Time: 10:00 am

Six ideas for a lay adviser to the Holy Father
Extract from Gary Everett, Catholic News, Wednesday 10 July 2013
The Pope is seeking some help to reform the Curia. He has invited a layman, independent of the Vatican, to assist with the reform process.I thought this would be a good opportunity to offer the expert some humble hints, from members of the Church at large, to consider before beginning the process. I am sending my six suggestions (more). Photo: Catholic News

Parish sharing spirituality with the earliest Australians
This Sunday (14th in Ordinary Time) is also Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday and amongst that of others our parish Mass liturgy will reflect that this weekend, with the theme "Peace and Mercy for all". We will have the chance to share spirituality with a people who have been in this land for around 60,000 years.

Liturgy vs liturgy
Extract from Catholic News (Michael McGaugh, LA Times), Thursday 4 July 2012

The Catholic News Agency reports that Pope Francis is considering entrusting the post to Archbishop Piero Marini, who served as 'master of ceremonies' for Pope John Paul II. As I discussed in an Op-Ed article for The Times several years ago, Piero Marini is the 'bad Marini' in the eys of Catholic traditionalists, who prefer the 'good' Guido Marini, the master of ceremonies for Pope Benedict XVI who was inherited by Pope Francis. The first Marini is associated with modernistic liturgies, including those that drew on indigenous  customs. Marini No. 2 is a fastidious traditionalist. With his assistance, Benedict excavated the golden vestments and jeweled miters of the pre-Vatican II papacy, trappings that the ostentatiously simple Francis has put back into mothballs. The possibility that the old Marini might soon be presiding over the office responsible for worship appalls Catholics who revere Benedict for reviving the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass and 'reforming the reform' of the liturgy undertaken after Vatican II. (more)

Brief notes from the PLT Meeting on  26 June   2013
These have been published on the Pastoral Leadership Team page

Cardinal hid millions from sex abuse victims
Extract from The Age, Wednesday 3 July 2013

America's most senior Roman Catholic cleric obtained permission from the Vatican to move $57 million ($62 million) of church funds into a trust to shield it from sexual abuse victims seeking compensation. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, told Vatican officials in a 2007 letter that the transfer offered "improved protection of these funds from any legal claim". Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, has been credited with helping to root out a serious sexual abuse scandal in his previous archdiocese of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. "These documents show that if they want to move money to protect it from survivors they can act quick as a fox," said Jeff Anderson, one of the lawyers. He has long insisted that he never deliberately sought to protect Church funds from victims of abuse by clergy in the archdiocese, where he was archbishop between 2002 and 2009 (

Pope Francis Tweets
Extracts from Thomas C Fox National Catholic Reporter, Tuesday 2 July 2013

On the outside chance some NCR readers might have missed some of Pope Francis' tweets, I've gathered some of them here. These nuggets of spiritual wisdom date back to mid-May:  "If we have found in Jesus meaning for our own lives, we cannot be indifferent to those who are suffering and sad."; "The world tells us to seek success, power and money; God tells us to seek humility, service and love."; "Are you angry with someone? Pray for that person. That is what Christian love is." (more)

From Fr Thang
Friday 28 June 2013  
I will be taking two weeks holiday from 1 - 14 July 2013. Weekday Masses will be available at the usual times and I sincerely thank Fr Thanh and Fr Len Thomas who will celebrate weekday Masses in our parish whilst I am absent. I thank all concerned in each of our churches who ensure that all is in readiness for the celebration of Mass. I will return each weekend to celebrate Masses as normal – Fr Thang

Parish Office             
Ruth will be on leave from Monday 15 – Friday 26 July. The Parish Office will be attended as normal.

Further insights into Pope Francis - talking with students (re-published Friday 28 June 2013)
This short video provides some further insight into Pope Francis as he talks with young students about issues they raise
Fuller text from this interaction is provide by here 

The essentials of true authority
Extracts from Sr Annette Cunliffe rsc, Catholic Religious Australia, Catholic News, Friday 28 June 2013

More than 800 women leaders of congregations, from 76 countries, came to participate.  There was indeed an incredible variety of gifts, cultures, experiences, yet a common commitment to follow Christ through concrete service to humanity.  Our attendance at a private audience with Pope Francis, where he gave a special address, was a fitting culmination. The theme of this 2013 Assembly, “It shall not be so among you (Mt 20,26): The service of leadership according to the Gospel”,was explored in different ways by the women who gave the keynote addresses on the five days. One that spoke especially to me was Dr Bruna Costacurta’s address entitled “Authority in the Bible”. Bruna is a scripture scholar at the Gregorian University in Rome and her talk, as well as other papers, photos and short video clips are available on the Vidimus Dominum website. This particular presentation firstly outlined the figure of the “Ideal King” in Deuteronomy, 17: 14 – 20: “one who should not, with his power, rival the kingship of God, but who rather serves to mediate the presence of the divine in the midst of his people.” We were reminded that, “Chosen by God, and standing in a special relationship of dependence on Him, the king must live by faith ... in the awareness of being the subject of a special predilection, an election that does not flow from his abilities and personal initiative but only as a consequence of the free gift of God’s mercy.”  (more). Photo: Sr Annette Cunliffe rsc

Association of US Catholic Priests passes resolutions
Edited Extract from Editor, Thursday 27 June 2013

The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests passed six resolutions at the group’s second annual Assembly this week in Seattle: i)favoring exercise of authority in a collegial manner through consensus decision-making processes with councils and boards; ii) supporting Pope Francis in the reform of the Church to restore credibility, with participation of laity and clergy in the selection of bishop; iii)endorsing Cardinal Bernadin’s Common Ground Initiative to promote inclusive dialogue and collaboration; iv) supporting the ordination of women to the permanent diaconate; v) encouraging the reintroduction of general absolution; vi)supporting the Labor Priests Project of the National Federation of Priests’ Councils and establishing its own Priest-Labor-Union-Friendly Caucus. Seven proposed resolutions did not pass (more).

Francis takes on Vatican bank: 'trust reluctantly, verify deeply'
Extracts fom John L. Allen Jr. National Catholic Reporter, 26 June  2013

In a move that observers describe as a clear signal of a desire for greater transparency and accountability, Pope Francis on Wednesday set up a new commission to investigate the activities of the Vatican bank and to report its findings directly to him.....Observers say it's too early to know precisely what reforms might result, but it
appears to suggest openness to changes that go beyond the merely cosmetic.....The Vatican on Wednesday released the
text of a "chirograph," an instrument under canon law giving the commission legal force. According to the text, the broad aim of the commission is to help ensure that "the principles of the Gospel also permeate activities of an economic and financial nature." (More)

Schüller banned from Boston
Extract from The Tablet, 26 June 2013

Cardinal Sean O'Malley has banned the leader of the pro-reform Austrian Priests' Initiative from speaking on church property in the Archdiocese of Boston. Fr Helmut Schüller, whose organisation calls for greater transparency in the Church and the admission of women to the priesthood, was due to speak at St Susanna's church in the town of Dedham on 17 July as part of a national tour. But this week the organisers, Voice of the Faithful (VotF), said they had been informed that Cardinal O'Malley, who was recently appointed one of Pope Francis' eight governing advisers, had forbidden Fr Schüller - whom the Vatican stripped of his title "Monsignor"- from appearing on archdiocesan property. Organisers have moved the talk to a Unitarian Universalist church (more).

Evangelical ministry for gay 'cure' closes, apologizes
Extract from Kate Sommins, National Catholic Reporter, Wednesday 26 June 2013

Exodus International -- the evangelical Christian ministry that offered a "cure" for homosexuality and shut its doors last week after 37 years -- will be remembered by some as the only community of support they've ever had. To others, it will be remembered as a nightmare of broken promises and unfulfilled expectations. Exodus was a support group for Christians struggling with sexual orientation, but it also embraced the idea that gays and lesbians could become straight through prayer and counseling. Exodus president Alan Chambers released a statement June 19 apologizing to the gay community for the suffering inflicted by the organization (more).

Francis looks to the future
Extract from The Tablet, 22 June 2013

Recent events suggest the Catholic Church is beginning a new era in its attitude to other Churches and faiths. Similarities with the beginning of the papacy of Pope John XXIII are inevitable. The key factor may be that Pope Francis takes a more relaxed attitude to those who are not technically of the same persuasion, emphasising, as did Pope John, values and approaches which are held in common rather than differences in doctrine. It was the 1963 encyclical Pacem in Terris that set out the possibility that Catholics could work with “people of goodwill” outside the Church, until then frowned upon. That may now be part of the Catholic wallpaper, taken for granted as obvious, but it has not been translated into specific joint projects to the extent it could have been (more).

Pope Francis wants pastors as bishops
Extract fom Thomas Reece, National Catholic Reporter, Wednesday 26 June  2013

In an address to papal nuncios, whose job it is to nominate bishops, Pope Francis described the kind of persons he wants them to put forward. He wants pastors who are "close to the people, fathers and brothers." They should be "gentle, patient and merciful; animated by inner poverty, the freedom of the Lord and also by outward simplicity and austerity of life." They should "not have the psychology of 'Princes.'" The pope spoke at an audience to the papal representatives who had come from hundreds of countries around the world for a two-day conference at the Vatican. The pope specifically warned them against ambitious prelates who want to be promoted from one diocese to a more prestigious one. He cited the ancient view that bishops "are married to a Church" and should not be "in constant search of another." What was missing from Francis's list of episcopal attributes were loyalty and orthodoxy, the two criteria that dominated the nomination process under Popes John Paul and Benedict (more).

Fr Len Egan
John Costa, First published 19 June 2013, Updated Friday 21 and Tuesday 25 June 2013
                                                                                                       The funeral mass of former Mary Immaculate Parish Priest (1985-1993) Fr Leonard James (Len) Egan was concelebrated at 11 am today, Friday 21 June, at the packed church of St Clement of Rome in Bulleen, his prior parish. The Church is at the end of Egan Drive, Bulleen. The Eulogy by Fr Bren Donahue in all its directness showed great understanding of Len and his impact, and is available here. The Funeral left at the conclusion of Mass for the Priests' Crypt, Melbourne General Cemetery, Carlton.

Fr Egan retired in 1993 as Pastor Emeritus from what later became Ivanhoe Parish  and died at St Catherine's Aged Care Facility, Balwyn on June 16, 2013 aged 94 years. In a number of ways he was ahead of his time, speaking with honesty but gently about things that needed to be said about disturbing trends in church participation, things that were subsequently acknowledged. Whilst very much a priest and a modest man of quirky humour his challenging perceptions led this writer amongst others to become religious groupies and follow him to his new posting then at Ivanhoe. A dedicated priest for 68 years he was committed to the Gospel and to the people entrusted in his care. Pastoral visits were a regular  part of his ministry and I was impressed to find him one day at the door of my house several hilly kilometers away in Lower Templestowe to which he had walked from Bulleen, and from which afterwards he respectfully declined a lift home. Prior to Bulleen Father Egan was appointed Assistant Priest at the parishes of Deepdene, Alphington and Kew and then became Administrator of West Melbourne Parish. He was subsequently appointed Parish Priest of Sunshine North, and then Yarraville.

Fr Egan's challenging thoughts led Mary Immaculate Parish Newsletters during that time to become collectors' items.The Church has been enriched over almost two millennia by people of faith, some since canonised, who like Jesus were challenging, for which in this case also a debt of gratitude is owed to Fr Leonard James Egan. May he rest in peace.

Benedict and Francis: How much difference is there?
Extract from Alessandro Speciale, Religion Nes Service, National Catholic Reporter, Thursday 20 June 2013

As a millennia-old institution, the Vatican is accustomed to change at a glacial pace. But in the eyes of many outside the church -- and even of some within it -- the arrival of Pope Francis on the throne of St. Peter seems to have started nothing short of a revolution. Even Francis himself, in his speech to Rome's diocese Monday, said Christians not only can, but should, be "revolutionaries." Now, 100 days into his pontificate, a debate is brewing in Rome over whether Francis has set a distinctly different course from his predecessor, or whether the visible differences in style and personality between Francis and Benedict XVI mask a deeper theological and ideological continuity. One thing's for sure. All of the hand-wringing about the novelty and potential difficulty of having two popes living just yards apart has all but disappeared. So far, Benedict XVI has maintained his promise to live "hidden from the world" in retirement, while Francis quickly demonstrated there's little risk of him being overshadowed by his predecessor (more). Photo:CNS/Reuters/L'Osservatore Romano

Wedding Anniversary                                                                                                                                                                                           Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe, Friday 14 June 2013  
Congratulations to Joe and Carmel Grasso on the special occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary, a celebration for all concerned. We wish them many blessings in the years ahead. 

Failure at the heart of Christian Life?                                                                                                                                                                   Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe, Friday 14 June 2013
This interesting take on the Gospel of St Mark emerged amongst many other valuable insights during the Broken Bay Institute (BBI) eConference re-broadcast to a highly appreciative audience at Ivanhoe Parish last Wednesday. It came in the context that humans are imperfect, as were the disciples who took a very long time to understand Christ's messages although directed straight at them. It spoke of the positive side of this as God's limitless love for all despite imperfection and weaknesses, and that faith together with acknowledgement of mistakes plus determination to avoid them in future bring new hope and life. All who attended the eConference learned much about this first Gospel and were inspired by the highly relevant, down to earth, learned but very accessible interactive presentations by Fr Francis Moloney and St Michelle Connolly (shown on screen). On 16th October the parish looks forward with much anticipation to another live eConference, on the Gospel of St John. As part of an opportunity for ongoing learning a DVD of the St Mark eConference will shortly be available for loan by Parishioners.

Catholic population growing in Sth Korea
Extract from Catholic News, Thursday 13 June 2013

Recent statistics indicate that the Catholic population in South Korea has increased over the past year. Last month, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea released a publication entitled Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea 2011, reports the Catholic News Agency. The report, prepared by the Catholic Pastoral Institute of Korea, states that at the end of 2012, there were 5,361,369 Catholics in the country, an increase of 1.6 percent – or 84,959 individuals – over the last year. This accounts for just over 10 percent of the total population. According to the report, these numbers have “slightly and consistently increased at a yearly average of 2–3 percent during the past 11 years.” Just over half of South Korea’s Catholics live in the metropolitan areas of Seoul, Suwon, Incheon and Uijeongbu (more).

Pope's 'gay lobby' comments confirmed but unofficial                                                                                                                   Extracts from Catholic News, Wednesday 12 June 2013
A Latin American group which quoted the pope saying that there is a "gay lobby" in the Vatican confirmed the contents of the pontiff's speech on Wednesday, but said they were unofficial and not for publication, reports AFP in The West Australian. The Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious Men and Women (CLAR) said it regretted the publication on the Catholic Reflection and Liberation website of comments made by Pope Francis during a private meeting regarding rumours circulating within the secretive state. "In the Curia (the Vatican's administration)... there is a current of corruption. There is talk of a 'gay lobby' and it's true, it exists. We have to see what can be done," the 76-year-old pontiff was quoted as having said. CLAR said Wednesday it "profoundly regrets the publication of a text making reference to the conversation with the pope," as "no recording was made" and the quotes were jotted down "from memory". The notes from the meeting were then published by Reflection and Liberation, though "no request for the authorisation to publish was made". "Clearly we cannot be sure the words we have attributed to the pope in the text are specific, only the general sense," it said. The Vatican admitted an "internal communication" problem linked to Francis's tendency to ad-lib (more).

Francis plays down threat of Vatican scrutiny of religious orders
Extract from Catholic News, Wednesday 12 June 2013

Weeks after authorising a continued investigation of American nuns, Pope Francis told a group of nuns and priests from Latin America not to worry if they found themselves under similar scrutiny, reports the Religion News Service on NCR. The pope's purported remarks came during a meeting with top officials of the Latin American Conference of Religious (CLAR) on June 6. During the meeting, Francis seemed to refer to the Vatican investigation of an American nuns' group, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, while telling the Latin American delegates not to worry should they find themselves the target of a similar investigation. "They will make mistakes, they will make a blunder, this will pass! Perhaps even a letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine [of the Faith] will arrive for you, telling you that you said such or such thing. ... But do not worry. Explain whatever you have to explain, but move forward." In what was seen as one of the defining acts of Pope Benedict XVI's papacy, the Vatican's doctrinal office issued a "doctrinal assessment" that criticized the LCWR for not speaking out strongly enough against gay
marriage, abortion and women's ordination ).

‘I won’t be recommending Vatican III’: Cardinal Pell'
Extracts from Jill Duchess of Hamilton,, Friday 31 May 2013, reprinted Wednesday 12 June 2013

.....But so far there has been no hint of any major reforms. Nothing official has been added since the initial Vatican announcement which just said the eight will be advising the Supreme Pontiff “in the government of the universal Church and to study a plan for revising the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia”............Again, I attempted to prod the cardinal about where we might see modifications and changes in the Vatican under Pope Francis. But he was cautious in his reply. “I am very loath to go too far. The Vatican has made giant strides in communications. I would like to see that continue and develop.” He explained that by this he meant means of technology should be used: “The whole gamut, Vatican Radio, the internet, the Osservatore – every instrument that is used to communicate the Church which is based in the Vatican should be developed further.”This prompted me to suggest that he may also be referring to a need for greater transparency. “No,” he replied. “I mean better coordination, so it will all function more efficiently. And there are some real chances to reduce expenditure.” Giving a few examples, he said: “I’m not sure that in this day and age that Vatican Radio needs to be quite so expensive, because in many parts of the world the radio has been superseded by the internet.  That is just one example.  However, in some parts of the world, such as in some parts of Africa, the Vatican Radio is very much needed.” When I asked the cardinal about the content of what should be broadcast, he replied: “That’s an entirely different matter,” and went on to speak of better spreading the Gospel (more). Photo: CNS Catholic News Herald UK

Catholics revise figures on victims
Extracts from Barney Zwartz, Religion Editor, The Age, Saturday 8 June 2013

The Catholic Church has revised its figures on clergy sexual abuse victims in Victoria, now saying it has identified 849 victims and 269 offenders. The church submitted the new figures on Thursday afternoon to the Victorian inquiry into how the churches handled clergy sexual abuse, replacing the statistics in its original submission, Facing the Truth. That cited 618 victims. The offenders include 98 priests, 114 brothers, nine nuns and 42 laypeople of whom two are female. There are two seminarians and four are unknown...........the original figure of 618 cases was based only on records from the two abuse protocols, the only ones that held centralised records, but more detailed research was done as the church groups prepared to give evidence (more).

Remarkable Mark                                                                                                                                                                           Friday 7 June 2013                                                                                                                                                                                                    As the writer of the very first and most significant Gospel Mark set the scene for all the Gospels that followed. His Gospel is the most down to earth, rugged, direct, and is also the shortest. Most people become familiar with Mark's writings piecemeal, but when studied as a full set of writings they provide a context which adds significantly to their impact and meaning. Next Wednesday 12 June two outstanding speakers and  experts on The Gospel of St Mark will share with our parish their understanding and insights. A recent Broken Bay Institute eConference on this topic by Fr Francis Moloney and Sr Michele Connolly will be re-broadcast to this Parish next Wednesday, 12 June from 11.30am to 3.30pm in the Hall behind MI Church. All are invited and encouraged to attend. Light lunch provided, but for catering purposes please RSVP Parish Office, Merle Gilbo or John Costa. 

Pope Francis: Counter a culture of waste with solidarity
Extract from Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, Thursday  6 June 2013

When stock markets drop ten points its ‘a tragedy’ but starving children, homeless people dying on our streets, people disposed of like trash - such as the unborn or the elderly - has become the norm. This is the result of a culture of waste, of our being unable to ‘read the signs’ of God’s creation, His free gift to us, and of allowing  money and not man to rule society. A culture of solidarity should prevail over our culture of waste, because when we care for and cultivate creation – including the human person – when we share our resources, we all have enough. This Wednesday Pope Francis dedicated his general audience with thousands of pilgrims and visitors to St Peter’s square to the UN World Environment Day (more).

Epitomizing church's different paths
Edited extracts from Essay, Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter, Thursday 6 June 2013

As someone who grew up amid two sprawling extended families with battalions of cousins, many of whom lived in the same town and attended the same Catholic schools, I know how unfair it can feel to be compared with someone just because you're members of the same tribe. That notation is a way of expressing some understanding should Cardinal Sean O'Malley and Archbishop Charles Chaput grow weary of being compared. The two are both Capuchin Franciscans, were once classmates, and are currently, as colleague John L. Allen Jr. described them in a recent column, "ecclesiastical heavyweights." Each heads a historic U.S. see: Chaput is archbishop of Philadelphia and O'Malley is the archbishop of Boston, tapped by Pope Francis to be one of eight cardinals on a committee to help him in reform of the Curia and governance of the universal church. They also were both recently speakers at a gathering of Capuchins outside of Pittsburgh, and what they had to say was as revealing as any seminar one might attend on the different approaches to being a Catholic pastor in the 21st century. It's not the first time the glaring contrasts between the two were apparent.............The contrasts in the two prelates are apparent and have to do with personality as well as ecclesiology and theology. Over the long haul of history, the church perhaps needs all types of leaders, including the exceedingly pessimistic. But given the realities of the current era and the fact that most bishops would line up behind one model or the other, it is fair to ask: Who would you prefer to follow? What kind of church would most people be inclined to enter? What kind of community would most of us prefer to join?........The critique, of course, is essential. It has always been an element of Christian life. But at some point, the more difficult task of leadership has to surface. The community must be invited into the larger story. It has to be inspired to live something more, to be transformative, or it withers away. It has to have reason to place its faith and hope in something other than sarcasm and a bitter list of complaints (more).

Imagine being Christian in a rational world
Extracts from Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street, Wednesday 5 June 2013

The core statements of Christian faith have never been self-evident. They have always been disputed. They have also been tenaciously reasserted by Christian authorities. For many observers the exercise of power and the claim of tradition offer a sufficient explanation of why they have been defended. But that leaves unasked a more interesting question: what would be lost if these positions were softened or abandoned? I believe that what is at stake is the operative imagination: the way we see the world, from which follow consequences for our inner conversation and actions. We may, for example believe that germs exist but never think of them or take them into account in the way we eat and wash. This shows that they are not part of our operative imagination..........The challenge of maintaining the tension inherent in the Christian imagination is to live creatively within the inconsistency between the Christian imagination and conventional wisdom. This requires reflecting on the wisdom of the culture, recognising its strengths in celebrating and exploring the natural world, and also its limitations in handling human questions and realities that are not completely susceptible to empirical exploration (more). Donate to Eureka Street.

Pope's warm welcome for world's 'poorest president'
Extract from Catholic New, Wednesday 5 June 2013

“The Pope is very pleased for having met with a wise man”, was the official report from the Holy See following the 45 minute private audience of Francis with Uruguayan president Jose Mujica, the longest so far with a head of state. Although Mujica is a declared atheist and did not attend the inauguration of the first Latin American pope last March, he did request an interview with Francis, which took place on Saturday, reports Ucanews. Wearing a blue shirt with no tie, a green sweater and a dark jacket, Mujica, 78, was received very warmly by the Pope and before they walked into for their private meeting, they took a few minutes to remember Uruguayan theologian and writer Alberto Methol Ferré, ‘a common friend’ recently deceased and who for decades was an advisor to the Vatican. “He (Methol) opened our minds” said Mujica, with the Pope adding “he helped us to think”. The meeting as programmed started at 11:00 hours sharp and 38 minutes later Francis, private secretary Alfred Xuareb walked in but the two leaders continued talking in a display of great chemistry and coincidence on the many issues they addressed (more).

Bishops launch appeal for action on child abuse
Edited extract from Catholic New, Tuesday 4 June 2013

A group of Catholic bishops has launched a petition to tell the Pope and the Vatican to act to stop the abuse of children within the church, reports The Australian. Bishop Geoffrey Robinson (pictured), emeritus auxillary bishop of the Archdiocese of Sydney, said the national royal commission into institutionalised child sex abuse could bring healing and change laws but it could not force the church hierarchy to make fundamental changes. "Millions of good Catholics have been deeply disillusioned, both by the revelations of widespread abuse and even more by what they have perceived as the defensive, uncaring and unchristian response on the part of many who have authority in the church and claim to speak in God's name," Bishop Robinson said yesterday. "Catholic people all over the world are sick of the scandal and this is a chance for them to speak up and join a collective voice that will be heard in Rome." The bishop launched the petition yesterday with the support of Bishop Pat Power, the retired bishop of Canberra and Goulburn, and Bishop Bill Morris, the former Bishop of Toowoomba (more).

Pastoral Leadership Team Nominations (Online)
Friday 31 May 2013

This parish has necessarily and proudly cultivated a local reality of shared leadership, in the spirit of Vatican II. Without it and given the shortage of Priests we could no longer operate as a viable Parish. It works best when from time to time new people show willingness to share in the leadership and/or service to the Parish Community, in ways that suit such volunteers. As they say "many people make light work". You are now invited and encouraged to nominate for membership of the PLT (for general information on the PLT see here). Applications are due by Monday 17 June. You may nominate via the Parish Newsletter or for your convenience directly online here 

Pope Francis: The Church as family of God
Extracts from Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, Thursday 30 May 2013

"......In recent months, more than once I have made reference to the parable of the prodigal son, or rather of the merciful father (cf. Lk 15:11-32). The youngest son leaves the house of his father, squanders everything, and decides to return because he realizes he made a mistake, though he no longer considers himself worthy of sonship. He thinks he might be welcomed back as a servant. Instead, the father runs to meet him, embraces him, gives him back his dignity as a son, and celebrates. This parable, like others in the Gospel, shows well the design of God for humanity. What is this God’s plan? It is to make us all the one family of his children, in which each of you feels close to Him and feels loved by Him – feels, as in the Gospel parable, the warmth of being the family of God. In this great design, the Church finds its source. The Church is is not an organization founded by an agreement among a group of persons, but - as we were reminded many times by Pope Benedict XVI - is the work of God: it was born out of the plan of love, which realises itself progressively in history...............God calls us, urges us to escape from individualism, from the tendency to withdraw into ourselves, and calls us – convokes us – to be a part of His family." (more)

Francis could organise peace meeting between world's three major religions
Extract from Catholic News, Wednesday 30 May 2013

Israeli government sources claim Francis is apparently thinking of calling a meeting between leaders and faithful of the world’s three biggest monotheistic religions, in Rome, to launch a message of peace, countering violence and the use of God’s name to justify hatred and terrorist acts, reports Vatican Insider (more).

Sex abuse inquiry's grilling only the beginning
Extracts from Barney Zwartz, Religion Editor, The Age, Wednesday 29 May 2013

This week they finished taking evidence, the last witness being Sydney Archbishop George Pell on Monday. I congratulate the committee. It has been diligent, dedicated and determined, united in purpose and free of party politics, aided by an excellent team including Frank Vincent QC, police adviser Mal Hyde, and Crown prosecutor Claire Quin. The police Taskforce Sano attached to the inquiry has already laid new charges. By the end, Crozier said last week, the committee received 405 submissions and held 160 hearings - just under half in secret - with 45 organisations and scores of victims, families, whistleblowers, academics and experts. Now the committee retires to write its report, due by September 30. Whatever its recommendations, many of which could be confidently predicted now, it has already served a valuable role in giving a public voice to victims and holding the churches to account..........Tragically, the church leadership that tries to suggest the problems are now fixed is still seeking to ''manage'' the problem rather than root it out. The really important questions are off-limits. I do believe that leaders such as Hart and Pell are appalled by clerical abuse, but I'm afraid that, despite their protestations, they do not put the victims first. Protecting the church is still top priority; it's just that the goalposts have shifted.If leaders such as Hart and Pell found giving evidence gruelling, it is perhaps only a foretaste of the forensic grilling they will face when the commission hits its stride. (more)

Vatican organizing worldwide, simultaneous eucharistic adoration June 2
Extract from Cindy Wood,Catholic News Service, National Catholic Reporter, Wednesday 28 May 2013
Vatican officials are making strategic phone calls to some of the world's most far-flung dioceses, trying to verify that in each of the world's inhabited time zones there will be an organized hour of eucharistic adoration coinciding with 5-6 p.m. Rome time Sunday. The Vatican is trying to organize a global hour of prayer around the Eucharist "for the first time in the history of the church," said Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, the office organizing events for the Year of Faith. Pope Francis will preside over adoration and benediction in St. Peter's Basilica beginning at 5 p.m. Rome time Sunday, the date most dioceses in the world celebrate the feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord. To celebrate at the same time as the pope, Catholics in Mumbai would begin at 8:30 p.m.; those in New York would begin at 11 a.m.; in Seattle at 8 a.m.; in Honolulu at 5 a.m. and at 1 a.m. Monday in Sydney (more).

Pope Francis leads Catholics in understanding different aspects of Faith
Extracts from Pat Perriello National Catholic Reporter, Wednesday 28 May 2013

Writing for Religion News Service, David Gibson raises the question of the orthodoxy of Pope Francis. He suggests many conservatives are "panicky." Yet he makes clear that while plain-spoken, Francis is enunciating long-standing Catholic doctrine -- Christ redeemed the whole world -- and Francis' statements are in line with statements from popes Leo XIII through John Paul II. As Francis said in his now-infamous homily, God can save everyone through the blood of Jesus, even atheists. I think there are a couple of issues here. First, there is the issue of the new Mass translation, which says Jesus died for many, not all. I'm pretty sure Pope Benedict was not saying Jesus did not die for all. It was merely his love of the Latin Mass that led him to the dubious decision to insist on a literal translation from the Latin throughout the new Mass translation. I have even seen explanations that point out that the original Greek actually means to include all. In any case, there is no disagreement between Francis and Benedict on the doctrinal issue. More importantly, it is fascinating to see how restating solid doctrine in a different way can upset a lot of people. I believe the problem centers on the emphasis or stress placed on certain doctrines. We become so accustomed to hearing a particular doctrine stated a certain way or some doctrines emphasized more than other doctrines that we confuse orthodoxy with saying things in a customary fashion.Actually, Christianity is a religion filled with many contradictions...........In the same way, reaching out with understanding to our separated brothers and sisters will prevent us from being the self-referential church Pope Francis has warned against. We will have the opportunity to learn from the truths of every other member of our community, which will serve to enhance our own faith (more).

Cardinal Pell at the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry
Extracts from Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, Tuesday 28 May 2013
Speaking to the six  members of the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry, a packed meeting room and overflow room for victims of abuse, support groups and media, Cardinal Pell said he was "fully apologetic and absolutely sorry" for victims of child sex abuse committed by priests or church works. As Cardinal Pell's appearance was streamed live he said to the committee "that is the basis for everything which I'll now say". The Archbishop was Sydney was invited to appear before the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the handling of sex abuse allegations during the time he was archbishop of Melbourne (1996-2001).....Answering many repetitive questions Cardinal Pell said victims of abuse are and must be the church's first priority. On a number of occasions he renewed his apology to victims and their families saying the terrible crimes carried out by convicted priest-paedophiles were appalling and reprehensible. He said within 100 days of becoming Archbishop of Melbourne he established the Melbourne Response and the role of the Independent Commissioner to investigate complaints and make findings. Cardinal Pell agreed past cases of sexual child abuse by priests had been very badly handled, there had been serious errors of judgement and added; "I don't think many of any persons in the leadership of the Catholic church knew what an horrendous widespread mess we were sitting on." He said it was likely fear of scandal prompted the cover-up of child sex abuse allegations saying;"The primary motivation would have been to protect the reputation  of the church. Cardinal Pell said the number of reports of abuse by clergy members peaked in the 1970s and 80s, but had fallen as the church introduced initiatives to tackling the crime including welcoming enhanced laws, effective internal procedures, greater vigilance among Church leaders and working with police and child protection authorities. He also reaffirmed his commitment to providing practical help and support to victims (more).

Cardinal Pell admits cover-up of clerical sex abuse took place in Victoria
Edited Extracts from The Tablet, Tuesday 28 May 2013

Australia's most senior cleric, Cardinal George Pell, has admitted clergy covered up claims of sexual abuse by priests but said he personally never covered up offences.......The cardinal said abuse had largely escaped the view of church officials who didn't know what a "mess" they were presiding over. Under questioning he agreed that the fear of damaging the reputation of the Church led to a cover-up. "Many in the Church did not understand just what damage was being done to the victims. We understand that better now," he added. According to a church report at least 620 minors in Victoria suffered abuse from members of the clergy in the past 80 years (more).

Submissions to the Victorian Inquiry into the  Handling of Child Abuse Allegations by Religious and Other Non-Government Organisations. Tuesday 28 May 2013
The Inquiry concluded its public work on the Inquiry following appearance at the Inquiry on Monday 27 May 2013 by Cardinal George Pell. His submission can be accessed here. All public submissions can be accessed here. The committee now retires to write its report, due by September 30.

Abuse cover-ups perpetuated priestly mystique
Extracts from Ray Cassin, Eureka Street, Tuesday 28 May 2013

........One consequence of mandatory celibacy has been the creation of a priestly mystique: a notion that the priest, because of his heroic renunciation, is someone special, a man set apart. The lived experience of the past 1000 years has hardly vindicated the mystique, but that hasn't prevented the church's clerical leadership from continuing to invoke it anyway........In its ordinary teaching the Church routinely proclaims the spirituality of ordinary life, yet we do not have a model of sanctity that is not based on heroic renunciation. That is very strange for a church that makes marriage a sacrament. Source of grace it may officially be, but in practice it's still treated as the second-class option (more). Subscription to Eureka Street is free.

Church leadership still found wanting
Extracts from Opinion, The Age, Tuesday 28 May 2013

Cardinal George Pell prefaced his evidence before a parliamentary committee on Monday saying he was ''fully apologetic and absolutely sorry'' for sexual abuse perpetrated by Catholic clergy, and for the church's response. Yet, in the hours that followed, Dr Pell failed to demonstrate unabridged, unalloyed contrition. Genuine humility - a fundamental hallmark of remorse - was not apparent, and that leaves his apology empty......But Dr Pell said he, personally, had never covered up sexual abuse, and he denied that fellow leaders of the Catholic Church were wilfully blind. Instead, he suggested that because such things were not talked about openly within the church's hierarchy, its leaders in Melbourne in the 1990s were not aware of the ''horrendous mess we were sitting on''. The problem was not the ''structures'' of the church, he said, but the ''inactivity or mistaken decisions'' by its leaders. (more)

Cardinal Pell apologises for Church sex abuse, admits cover-ups
Extract from Catholic News, Monday 27 May 2013

The Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Pell, has admitted to a Victorian parliamentary inquiry that some members of the Church tried to cover up child sexual abuse by other members of the clergy, and has apologised for decades of child sex abuse within the Church, the ABC reports. Cardinal George Pell told the inquiry he was "fully apologetic and absolutely sorry" about decades of child sex abuse within the Church........"I'm certainly totally committed to improving the situation. I know the Holy Father is too," he told the inquiry. Despite being heckled during parts of the inquiry, Cardinal Pell defended the action the Church had taken action to tackle abuse. "Many people in the public think not only were there many mistakes made a long time ago, but there's been no progress at all over the last 20 years," he said. "I don't think that's borne out by the facts of the case. But that's for people to judge." (more). Photo: Catholic News

Pastoral Leadership Team: Supporting our Faith Journeys – Parish e-Conference Wednesday 12th June
Friday 24 May 2013

Amongst the many issues discussed at the Pastoral Leadership Team meeting last Wednesday was ongoing faith education for everyone. Continual learning is a key part of our faith journeys. The Gospels of St Mark and St John are the interesting subjects of another outstanding Broken Bay Institute ‘e-Conference’ on Wednesday 12 June with excellent speakers Fr Francis Moloney sdb and Dr Michele Connolly rsj. This follows other successful Broken Bay Institute e-Conferences broadcast to our Parish and organised locally by the Liturgy Group. This e-Conference will be re-broadcast to the parish at Mary Immaculate Hall from 11.30am – 3.30pm. Light lunch provided. A date for your diary!  – RSVP here or John Costa, Merle Gilbo or Parish Office.

Final phase of Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse
Friday 24 May 2013

After the appearance of Cardinal Pell on 27 May, the Committee of the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Non-Government Organisations will retire to write its report and recommendations. The public work of the Committee will then be completed. The findings will also be considered by the separate Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which has already commenced.

Pope says Christians can work with atheists
Extract from Catholic News, Thursday 23 May 2013

Christians are called to welcome and cooperate with the good accomplished by members of other religions or no religion at all, promoting a culture of dialogue and peace, Pope Francis said on Wednesday, reports the Catholic news Service on NCR. "We are all children of God -- all of us. And God loves us -- all of us," the pope said in his homily during an early morning Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae. Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, the Maronite patriarch, concelebrated the Mass, which was attended by Vatican employees. Pope Francis' homily focused on the day's Gospel story from Mark 9:38-40, which recounts the disciples complaining to Jesus about outsiders casting out demons in Jesus' name and Jesus telling the disciples, "Whoever is not against us is for us." The pope said that by saying, "If he's not one of us, he cannot do good; if he's not in our party, he can't do good," the disciples were "a bit intolerant, closed in the idea of possessing the truth, in the conviction that 'all those who do not have the truth cannot do good.'" However, the pope said, "the possibility of doing good is something we all have" as individuals created in the image and likeness of God (more). Image: Catholic News

Rudd's gay marriage back-flip fires church-state debate
Extracts from Ray Cassin, Eureka Street, Tuesday 21 May 2013

Most responses to Kevin Rudd's conversion on same-sex marriage have inevitably focused on whether it will change Australia's political dynamic on the issue. Equally predictably, more cynical members of the commentariat have chosen to see Rudd's announcement as his latest round of jousting with the woman who deposed him as prime minister............Why are so many of the churches' leaders afraid of accepting the consequences of living in a pluralist society? Why is the tolerance they all publicly profess too often belied by the expectations they have of the state? There is a long tradition of theological reflection that acknowledges the autonomy of both church and state. Indeed, it is no accident that modern liberal notions of tolerance emerged first in Western societies grappling with the experience of religious diversity. It cannot be denied, however, that the Catholic Church came to terms with that diversity slowly and reluctantly. Until the Second Vatican Council, when popes and bishops spoke of 'religious freedom' they typically meant freedom for the church to spread its message (more). Subscription to Eureka Street is free . Image: Eureka Street

Archbishop Hart’s summary statement to parliamentary inquiry
Catholic Archdocese of Melbourne, Tuesday 21 May 2013

Archbishop Denis Hart appeared yesterday, 20 May 2013, at the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Non-Government Organisations. A summary of Archbishop Denis Hart’s statement to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry can be read at the Facing the Truth website (more). Read the Archbishop’s Summary Statement here.

"Awful Blight"
Extracts from Barney Zwartz, The Age, Tuesday 21 May 2013

Paedophile priests in Melbourne were moved from parish to parish in a culture of secrecy and cover-up in which the Catholic Church was slow to act, Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart said on Thursday. A predecessor, Sir Frank Little, dealt with all complaints secretly, keeping no records. He moved paedophiles such as serial abusers Wilfred Baker and Kevin O'Donnell to "innocent parishes" where they blighted more lives, Archbishop Hart conceded at the Victorian inquiry into how the churches handled child sexual abuse. "It was an awful blight on the church. I want to put my anger and pain and anguish about this to the committee." He said before 1996, when he became Vicar-General in Melbourne and Cardinal George Pell became Archbishop, the church was "too keen to look after herself and her good name and not keen enough to look after the terrible anguish of the victims. Since the 1990s, that has changed - slowly and with agony, but it has changed." In a public statement, Archbishop Hart said he took responsibility, but he told the inquiry the only person responsible was the archbishop at the time..........."I am appalled by the actions of these criminals against the weakest and most defenceless in the community. I apologise unreservedly for one of the darkest periods in our church's history." He agreed that the church had been slow to defrock paedophile Desmond Gannon, writing to the Vatican 18 years later in 2012 warning that the Victorian inquiry and royal commission meant the faithful would be scandalised................Archbishop Hart said church records showed there had been 1748 priests in Melbourne of whom 59 had offended, or 3.375 per cent. He refused to concede to committee member Nick Wakeling that secrecy such as Archbishop Little's meant the record could not be complete, saying victims had come forward later. "That still leaves 96 per cent [of priests] who live the celibate life, are devoted to their people and are outraged at what their fellows do," he replied (more).

Parish Lay Leadership
John Costa, Friday 17 May 2014

On Wednesday evening around 70 people attended an interactive session on this topic run at Mother Of God School Marian Centre by the Archdiocese and hosted by Ivanhoe parish (read more on this in Fr Thang's Reflection Of The Week). The focus was on how to discern our individual gifts that make each of us essential to the Church's mission. Watch out for further opportunities and encouragement to identify and confidently use our special skills in this way. Beyond our parish which in many ways is already an established model of shared leadership there are various progressive models of parish lay leadership, and another example on a larger scale and  within the spirit of Vatican Council II may be observed at the Broken Bay Diocese in NSW. Well worth exploring by those for whom Parish or broader church lay leadership is considered important. You can visit and leisurely explore the Broken Bay Diocese online here, in the process noting their "Synod 2012".

‘Because you give me hope’
Link to April 30 commentary by James Hanvey SJ, Thinking Faith, Friday 17 May 2013

Why has Pope Francis chosen to adopt the model of leadership that is already beginning to characterise his papacy? James Hanvey SJ identifies three particular aspects of the Franciscan and Ignatian traditions that seem to be informing the new Pope’s vision of mission (more)

Archbishop Hart to appear before Parliamentary Inquiry
Friday 17 May 2013

Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, will appear before the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into child abuse on Monday, 20 May. As part of his testimony, he will acknowledge and apologise for the terrible blight of child sex abuse by priests and other Church representatives that largely occurred over a 30 year period from 1960 to 1990. The Church restates its support for the Inquiry and reiterates the full co-operation that has been made clear over many months. Cardinal Pell will appear before the Inquiry on Monday 27 May. 

Pope Francis the smiling revolutionary
Extract from Neil Ormerod, Eureka Street, 13 16 May 2013

It is now over a month since the election of Pope Francis and it is clear that he has a strong agenda of reform in mind. From his symbolic refusal of the red cloak on his election by the conclave, to his washing of the feet of young offenders in detention, both male and female, believers and non-believers, he has set a path of change in the Church starting from the top, but with ramifications for the Church as a whole.........It was not uncommon during the reign of Benedict XVI for people to speak of a 'smaller but purer Church'. While there was some debate as to the provenance of this phrase, and whether Benedict saw this as desirable or merely an observation of the direction the Church was heading, it would seem that to Francis such an outcome would represent a failure of courage on the part of the Church. He knows mistakes might be made in keeping the Church more inclusive, but he is not afraid of this. He knows too that it is difficult to evangelise a world that one constantly demonises. He wants to build bridges to the world, bridges of dialogue and cooperation. Whether they knew it or not the conclave cardinals initiated a quiet revolution in electing this man (more).  Subscription to Eureka  Street is free

Pope calls for global, ethical finance reform, end to cult of money
Extract from Catholic News, Thursday 16 May 2013

Pope Francis has called for global financial reform that respects human dignity, helps the poor, promotes the common good and allows states to regulate markets. "Money has to serve, not to rule," he said in his strongest remarks yet as pope concerning the world's economic and financial crises, reports the Catholic News Service. A major reason behind the increase in social and economic woes worldwide "is in our relationship with money and our acceptance of its power over ourselves and our society," he told a group of diplomats yesterday. "We have created new idols" where the "golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal." (more)

Brazil approves same-sex marriage
Extract from Catholic News, Wednesday 15 May 2014

Brazil has became the third and largest Latin American country to give a de facto green light to same-sex marriage, reports AFP in The Australian. In a bold stride for the majority Roman Catholic nation, the National Council of Justice, a panel which oversees Brazil's legal system and is headed by the chief justice of the Supreme Court, said government offices that issue marriage licenses had no standing to reject gay couples. "This is the equivalent of authorising same-sex marriage in Brazil," said Raquel Pereira de Castro Araujo, head of the human rights committee of the Brazilian bar association. Supreme Court Chief Justice Joaquim Barbosa explained that there was no reason for government marriage licensing offices to wait for Congress to pass a law on same-sex marriage before extending gays rights they legally already have. Barbosa noted that the Supreme Court in 2011 recognised stable homosexual unions, ruling that the constitution guaranteed them the same rights as heterosexual couples (more).

There are no part-time Christians; faith is a full-time job - Pope
Extracts from Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service,  National Catholic Reporter, Wednesday 15 May 2013

Catholics can't put their faith on a part-time schedule or rely on it just for the moments they choose; being Christian is a full-time occupation, Pope Francis said. If people don't open their hearts to the Holy Spirit to let God purify and enlighten them, then "our being Christian will be superficial," the pope said Wednesday at his weekly general audience. Knowing and doing what God wants is not possible with mere human effort -- it takes the transformative action of the Holy Spirit, he said.........In his audience talk, Pope Francis said the modern world is skeptical about the truth and echoed Pope Benedict XVI's warnings about relativism, which holds that nothing is definite and that truth is based on consensus or personal whims. But Jesus is the truth that "came among us so that we could know it," he said  (more).

 A Spirit Uncontrolled
Edited extracts from David Timbs, Cathblog, Catholic News, Tuesday 14 May 2013

In the few weeks since Jorge Bergoglio became Pope Francis he has become for many a symbol of renewed hope and confidence while for others he remains someone to be regarded with a degree of caution, even suspicion. While some are looking closely at Francis to see if he maintains a sense of recognisable continuity with his predecessor, others have been waiting for him to give clear indications of openness to future change. He has, it seems, now done that simply, emphatically in two major areas of structural change and renewal in the life of the Church...........Commenting recently in an NCR article on the shift in viewpoints between Benedict XVI and Francis, (Colleen) Koch observes, ‘Yes, he’s shifting the viewpoint. That’s not reform, that’s evolution. I am far more excited about an evolution than I would be a reform. The Church has reformed ad nauseam only to see new pathways created to keep the old ways of doing business. Evolution is a different story all together. Evolution leaves the old behind because it can’t adapt to a new environment.’ With a new Pope, there are different possibilities which might emerge. These are all things which can be done within the living and evolving life of the People of God. These involve some dramatic organic changes in Church governance, ministry and practice which are within the Church’s present understanding of what can and cannot be done. Here are some suggestions:.........(more). Photo Catholic News

Blood sweat and tears rewarded                                                                                                                                                                          Ivanhoe Parish Education Writer, Friday 10 May 2013                                                                                                                                                    Imagine an extremely busy parish office serving three church and school communities, secretarial duties, preparation and distribution of weekly newsletters, computer management, telephone pastoral work  coordination for Baptisms, Funerals and sacraments and attendance at meetings, as well as Catechetic classes for Reconciliation, Eucharist and Confirmation with Fr Thang. Then insanely add to the mix a part time degree at United Faculty of Theology, Melbourne College of Divinity. After 9 years of blood sweat and tears over many sleepless nights Parish Secretary Ruth Villani Graduated with 149 others last Thursday with a Bachelor of Theology degree, awarded at St Paul's Cathedral. When asked by our reporter about life after theological studies Ruth answered "more time with family and friends, and more sleep". She then added that going into the course as an already committed Christian the main benefits were enrichment, deeper understanding "looking at things through different lenses", and the very strong sense of ecumenism and community gained by sharing studies with a wide cross section of people from different faiths and backgrounds. It also challengingly showed how much more there is yet to learn. When further quizzed on the meaning of theology Ruth answered "a combination of heart, mind & action". Ruth felt privileged and blessed to have the opportunity to study with many fellow-graduates as part of their preparation for ordination in various Christian denominations. A Bishop who recently happened to pass by commented on Ivanhoe now having an extraordinarily highly qualified Parish Secretary. Guest speaker at the graduation ceremony was former Ivanhoe resident and parishioner Julie Edwards, CEO Jesuit Social Services.

We warmly congratulate Ruth for her achievement and the hard effort and long hours that went into it, for her personal benefit and very much that also of the parish.  In return Ruth was very quick to express deep gratitude for the encouragement of Frs John Cunningham, Len Thomas and Thang Vu and the Parish, and support of the whole of Ivanhoe Parish community. Ruth also wishes to express her sincere thanks to family and friends for their ongoing support and understanding at a variety of levels over these many years of study. Photo:Simulated image only - with apologies to all concerned

Don’t let spring turn to winter - Power and poverty
Extracts from Hans Küng, The Tablet, Saturday 11 May 2013

Who could have imagined what has happened in the last weeks? When I decided, some months ago, to resign all of my official duties on the occasion of my eighty-fifth birthday, I assumed that in my lifetime I would never see fulfilled my decades-long dream that – after all the setbacks following the Second Vatican Council – the Catholic Church would once again experience the kind of rejuvenation that it did under Pope John XXIII.....It is astonishing how, from the first minute of his inauguration, Pope Francis chose a new style: unlike his predecessor, he wears no mitre with gold and jewels, no ermine-trimmed cape, no made-to-measure red shoes or headgear, uses no magnificent throne. It is astonishing, too, that the new Pope deliberately abstains from solemn gestures and high-flown rhetoric and speaks in the language of the people, as lay preachers can. And it is astonishing how the new Pope emphasises his humanity: he asked for the prayers of the people before he gave them his blessing; he settled his own hotel bill like anybody else; showed his friendliness to the cardinals in the coach travelling to their shared residence and at the official goodbye; and on Maundy Thursday washed the feet of young prisoners, including those of a young Muslim girl. This is a Pope who demonstrates that he is a man with his feet on the ground (more).

Governance involves Catholics learning to speak and listen
Extract from Richard Shields, Viewpoint, National Catholic Reporter, Friday 10 May 2013

"Let's remember, he is the pope, after all, not the second coming of Christ." Heidi Schlumpf's caveat is well-taken, especially when it comes to questions of church governance. Media coverage leading up to the papal conclave consistently addressed three issues: curial reform, the Vatican bank, and the handling of sexual abuse allegations by bishops. Commentators were not concerned with the ethics of what were already acknowledged as moral failures in the church; it was the lapses of governance that allowed things to get so out of hand, becoming crises both for the faith of Catholics and the church's credibility. "Jesus with a MBA" became a catch phrase for the near-impossible challenges the new pope would face (more). Photo:Pope Francis celebrates Easter Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican March 31. (CNS/Paul Haring)

TJH Council tells catechists Royal Commission will pose a challenge
Extract from Catholic News, Thursday 9 May 2013

Mr Francis Sullivan, CEO of the Truth Justice and Healing Council, has told Catechists from across the ACT and NSW that the Royal Commission into child sexual assault would pose a challenge to the way they talk to children in State schools, the Council said in a statement. Speaking at the annual Catholic Conference of Religious Educators in State Schools in Canberra on Wednesday, Mr Sullivan said the history of sexual abuse in the Church was shameful and confronting.  “Catechists and others are now struggling with this painful legacy,” Mr Sullivan said. “Finding appropriate ways to discuss the past will help formative minds come to terms with this history.  "Admitting the failures will help reclaim credibility. Making decisive change and reaching out to those who have been damaged will rekindle trust (more).

Archbishops welcome Victorian Inquiry opportunity
Fron Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne Media Release, Thursday 9 May 2013

Archbishop Denis Hart, Archbishop of Melbourne, and Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, today welcomed the opportunity to attend the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Non-Government Organisations later this month. The Committee is undertaking vital and important work into the response of religious and non-government institutions to child sexual abuse, so that our children can be protected from this evil. These shocking and vile crimes are a national disgrace that were not confined to religious organisations but have been a blight across all levels of society. Archbishop Hart and Cardinal Pell have been consistent in their support for the Inquiry and again reiterate their commitment to full cooperation that has been made clear and provided to the Inquiry over many months. Archbishop Denis Hart will attend on Monday, 20 May 2013. Cardinal George Pell, who was Archbishop of Melbourne from 1996 until 2001, will also attend the Inquiry on Monday, 27 May 2013. Information on the Catholic Church in Victoria’s submission to the Inquiry is available on

Pope tells nuns: you're spiritual 'mothers' not 'spinsters'
Extract from Catholic News, Wednesday 8 May 2013

Pope Francis told 800 nuns gathered at the Vatican on Wednesday that they should be spiritual "mothers" rather than "spinsters", and stressed the importance of showing obedience to the Catholic Church, reports AFP in The West Australian. The pontiff, 76, told the assembly of the International Union of Superiors General they should strive for "a fertile chastity, a chastity which produces spiritual children within the Church." "The ordained woman is a mother, she must be a mother and not a spinster! You are mothers, like the figures of Mary and the Mother Church," he told the nuns representing women's religious orders from some 75 countries. "It is not possible to understand Mary without maternity, nor the Church without motherhood," he added. The Argentine pontiff, who in April backed a report drawn up under his predecessor Benedict XVI accusing nuns in the United States of rebellion, said "obedience is to listen to the will of God." ()

The Bishop of Rome as Christian radical
Extact from Catholic News, Wednesday 8 May 2013

It was a brief greeting to former colleagues. But if you read Pope Francis’ recent letter to the Argentine bishops conference closely, you get a glimpse of the man, his convictions, and his vision, writes George Weigel in Ethics and Public Policy Centre. First, the man: Jorge Mario Bergoglio has remained very much himself, rather than adopting what some might deem the pontifical style. Any pope who can write his former colleagues in these terms —“Dear Brothers: I am sending these lines of greeting and also to excuse myself for being unable to attend due to ‘commitments assumed recently’ (sounds good?)”—is a man at home in his own skin, and one likely to remain that way. Then, the convictions: Pope Francis believes that the Church in Latin America took a decisive step toward a new future in 2007. Then, at the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, held at Aparecida in Brazil, the leaders of the Church moved far beyond the “kept” Catholicism of the past—the Catholicism that was “kept” by legal establishment or, more recently, cultural habit—and embraced a robustly Evangelical Catholicism in which, as the pope wrote, “the whole of ministry (is) in a missionary key.” The move from “kept” Catholicism to Evangelical Catholicism is for everyone, the pope seems convinced. “Kept” Catholicism has no future anywhere, and not just because of aggressive secularism and other corrosive cultural acids. “Kept” Catholicism has no future because it doesn’t merit a future: or, as the pope put it to his former colleagues, “a Church that does not go out, sooner or later gets sick” in the hothouse atmosphere of its own self-absorption, which Francis has also called “self-referentiality.” (more)

 Parish shock, horror, all revealed
John Costa, John Cunningham Centre, Saturday 4 May 2013

What, people thoroughly enjoying themselves on a cold evening after Mass? Not wanting to go home? Well yes this is what happened at the 'you know who' birthday celebration for (as can now be fully revealed) Fr Thang this evening. Now joining the ranks of parish 'seniors' in the company of many others at this 40th birthday celebration Fr Thang's anniversary was actually celebrated by a large gathering of young and old, also including a healthy sprinkling of visiting and other priests formerly from or associated with the parish. A large and varied supply of excellent home made food and beverages added greatly to the convivial atmosphere of goodwill. A few photos on the Photos/Multimedia page capture something of the spirit of tonight. These are best viewed by clicking on "view as slideshow', sound on/full screen. Photo:PLT Chairperson Chris Dixon says a few appropriate words.

Servant, feminine leadership focus of global sisters' gathering
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, Friday 4 May 2013

Rome. As a triennial meeting of some 800 of the world’s leaders of Catholic sisters and nuns continued Saturday, focus was on just what it means for the women to hold leadership in the wider church. Questions among the group, representing sisters from every populated continent, ranged from: How should a Catholic leader use power? Should they ever admit weakness? And what role can feminine imagery play in such considerations? The answers, at least so far: They should use power as collaborators, not dictators; turn weakness into willingness to give of oneself; and look to biblical examples of women’s unique responses to God’s callings. The questions and answers come as the members of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) are meeting in Rome through Wednesday. A group of nearly 2,000 leaders of women religious throughout the world, the sisters’ group meets in plenary assembly once every three years. The theme for the sisters' meeting this year is "It will not be so among you: The service of leadership according to the Gospel" -- taken from the account in the Gospel of Matthew of Jesus telling the apostles James and John to lead as servants, not masters (more). 

'you know who' joins the ranks of the 'elderly'
Friday 3 May 2013

The parish celebration of 'you know who' joining the rank of the 'elderly' will be celebrated you know where, after 6:30pm Mass at St Bernadette on Saturday. Anyone wishing to check details may look here!

Benedict returns to Vatican to live out retirement
Extracts from Catholic News, Thursday 2 May 2013

Benedict XVI moved back to the Vatican yesterday, opening an uncertain era in Catholic Church history where an "emeritus pope" and a ruling pontiff will live as neighbours for the first time, reports Reuters in The West Australian. Benedict, the first pope to abdicate in 600 years, will live out his retirement in a restored convent in the Vatican gardens with a view of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica and just a short walk from the residence of his successor, Francis....Francis, 76, greeted Benedict in front of the convent, the first time they have met since March 23, when Francis visited Benedict at Castel Gandolfo and Benedict renewed a pledge of "unconditional reverence and obedience" to Francis (more).

Priest excommunicated after defending homosexuality, open marriage
Extract from Catholic News, Thursday 2 May 2013

The Catholic Church has excommunicated a Brazilian priest after he defended homosexuality, open marriage and other practices counter to Church teaching in online videos, reports Yahoo7 on Ucanews. In a statement released late on Monday, the priest's diocese said Father Roberto Francisco Daniel, known to local parishioners as Padre Beto, had "in the name of 'freedom of expression' betrayed the promise of fealty to the Church." The priest "injured the Church with grave statements counter to the dogma of Catholic faith and morality." The actions amount to "heresy and schism," the statement said, the penalty for which is excommunication, or expulsion from the Church (more).

 Pope condemns Bangladesh 'slave labour'
Extract from Catholic News, Wednesday 1 May 2013

Pope Francis has condemned as "slave labour" the conditions for hundreds of workers killed in a factory collapse in Bangladesh and urged political leaders to fight unemployment in a sweeping critique of "selfish profit", reports AAP on SBS. The pope said he had been particularly struck by a headline saying workers at the factory near Dhaka were being paid just 38 euros ($A48) a month. "This is called slave labour!" the pope was quoted by Vatican radio as saying in his homily at a private mass in his residence to mark May Day. More than 400 workers have been confirmed dead and scores are missing in the collapse, which occurred in a suburb of the capital Dhaka last week in the country's worst-ever industrial disaster (more). Photo: Bangladesh bury victims of the collapse at a graveyard in Dhaka. AFP

Francis ‘a boost to ecumenism'
The Tablet, Wednesday 1 May 2013

The election of Pope Francis has given a boost to Anglican-Catholic relations, according to a leading Anglican ecumenist. The Bishop of Guildford, Christopher Hill, chairman of the Church of England's Council for Christian Unity, said Francis' emphasis on being the Bishop of Rome was extremely helpful for ecumenical relations. The bishop is also a member of the Anglican Catholic Roman Catholic International Commission (Arcic) which is meeting this week in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In an interview with Vatican Radio, Bishop Hill said that use of the title "Bishop of Rome" - which suggests a respect for local Churches' autonomy - showed that there is not just one bishop ruling over the whole Church, although he accepted a "primatial role" for the Pope. (source)

German archbishop calls for women deacons
Extract from Catholic News, Tuesday 30 April 2013     
                                                                                                                                              Germany's top Roman Catholic has called for women to be allowed to become deacons, which would enable them to perform baptisms and marriages outside of mass - a novelty for Catholic women, reports The Local. Archbishop of Freiburg Robert Zollitsch (pictured), who chairs the German Bishops' Conference, called for the change at the end of a four day meeting to discuss possible reforms.  The conference, the first of its kind, invited 300 Roman Catholic experts to propose reforms. Zollitsch's comments echo year-long calls from the Central Committee of GermaCatholics to permit women to become deacons. On Sunday, Zollitsch said that aim was no longer a 'taboo.' Zollitsch said the Catholic Church could only regain credibility and strength by committing to reform. He described an "atmosphere of openness and freedom" at the conference.  Deacons assist priests during church services and can perform baptisms and marriages outside of mass. Their primary role however is to serve the needy in their community and their duties are considered secular rather than pastoral (more).

Catholic church insurers paid $30 million to abuse victims
Extract from Catholic News, Tuesday 30 April 2013

The insurers of the Catholic Church say they have paid out $30 million to about 600 victims of child sexual abuse in Victoria. The evidence came from the church's insurance arm, Catholic Church Insurance (CCI), which appeared  before the Victorian inquiry into child sexual abuse yesterday, reports the ABC. The payments relate to abuses committed mainly in the 1960s, '70s and '80s. A submission by the insurance group's chief executive officer, Peter Rush, states the CCI paid compensation and the cost of counselling. The submission also says CCI has never provided cover to any person who has committed an act of sexual abuse of a child, in either a civil or criminal context (more).

Catholic Church 'facilitated' abuse
Extract from Barney Zwartz, The Age, Tuesday 30 April 2013

The Catholic Church in Ballarat ''effectively facilitated'' child sexual abuse by leaving known paedophiles in ministry and was ''unChristlike'', former Ballarat Bishop Peter Connors conceded on Monday. His predecessor, Bishop Ronald Mulkearns, made ''terrible errors'' and showed ''great naivety'' in moving paedophiles Gerald Ridsdale and Paul David Ryan from parish to parish despite knowing they were child abusers, Bishop Connors told the Victorian inquiry into how the churches handled child sexual abuse. ''I can't see how a bishop could possibly do the things Bishop Mulkearns did today,'' Bishop Connors said. It was the first day that Catholic leaders had given evidence, marked by heightened tension in the gallery and, for the first time, the presence of an armed security officer. Deputy chairman Frank McGuire told Bishop Connors: ''What we have on record is a systemic failure. The motive was money, then the destruction of documents, all designed to prevent scandal. Hasn't this created the biggest scandal, cost people their lives and shredded the reputation of the Catholic Church? At what level should the church take responsibility?'' (more).  Photo: Catholic News

Moving paedophile priest a 'tragic mistake', bishops tell inquiry
Extract from Catholic News, Monday 29 April 2013

Moving one of the worst pedophiles in Australian history to new parishes for years after he was identified as an abuser was "a tragic mistake", Catholic bishops have told the Victorian sex abuse inquiry, reports The Australian.
The inquiry heard yesterday that the Ballarat diocese had received 116 claims of abuse, 107 of which had been substantiated and 67 of which involved convicted pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale. In a dramatic day of evidence, the inquiry also heard that the Salesian order had paid out more than $2 million in compensation to victims, and that the St John of God order had paid individual compensation of up to $200,000 to victims, including intellectually disabled children, for abuse that was "indefensible and deplorable". The inquiry heard that a police officer had told Bishop Ronald Mulkearns about an incident involving Ridsdale in the Victorian town of Inglewood in 1975, which church insurers would later use as a cut-off date for offences involving the pedophile priest. Rather than removing Ridsdale from the ministry, Bishop Mulkearns sent him to the US for "therapy" and then returned him to duties in other parishes, with "horrible consequences". Asked whether Bishop Mulkearns had been wilfully blind to the abuse, the current Bishop of Ballarat, Paul Bird, said: "It wasn't wilful blindness; it was a tragic mistake on his part. It proved to be a terrible mistake." (more)

Pope stresses workers' dignity after Bangladesh factory collapse
Extract from Catholic News Agency, Monday 29 April 2013

Pope Francis offered condolences and prayers, along with calls for worker safety, after a factory collapsed and killed more than 350 people in Bangladesh. “I express my solidarity and deepest sympathy to the families mourning their loved ones,” he said at Saint Peter's Square on April 28. In his Regina Caeli address, the Holy Father offered prayers “for the many victims” of the tragedy. On April 24, an eight-story building collapsed in the Rana Plaza complex in Savar, just north of Dhaka, killing at least 352 people. Around 30 survivors were found yesterday, but police say nearly 1,000 are still missing, trapped under the building's remains (more).

Parish ANZAC Homily
Thursday 25 April 2013

In his homily at the ANZAC day Mass at St Bernadette's today Fr Thang referred to records showing that Australia's war sacrifice per capita was greater than for any other country. At the same time he drew a parallel between the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross being a victory for all of us and the sacrifice of Gallipoli not being defeat but similarly a victory for us all. 

Reason to Celebrate
A special member of our community has a significant birthday! See details on Events page.

French parliament adopts gay marriage law
Extract from Catholic news, Wednesday 24 April 2013

The French parliament yesterday defied months of angry protests by approving a bill that is to make France the 14th country worldwide to legalise same-sex marriages, reports AFP on Yahoo7. But opponents to the law vowed to fight on, quickly filing a constitutional challenge and promising more demonstrations to pressure President Francois Hollande into backing down from signing the bill (more).

Facing the Truth - Catholic Church to appear before the Victorian Inquiry into child abuse, starting 29 April
Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, Tuesday 23 April 2013

From Monday 29 April, the Catholic Church will commence appearing before the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into child abuse. Bishop Bird and Bishop Connors from the Diocese of Ballarat, and representatives from the Salesians and St John of God Brothers will appear on 29 April. Other Catholic Church representatives will appear over coming weeks. Go to for videos, statements, frequently asked questions and fact sheets. You may register on the homepage for updates. 

Cardinal Pell talks About role of Pope's new advisory group
Edited Extract from Catholic News, Monday 22 April 2013  
Cardinal George Pell is one of eight senior church figures Pope Francis has appointed to advise him on church governance and the Curia. Currently in Rome, Cardinal Pell spoke about the advisory group to Francis Rocca of the Catholic News Service. The interview took place in the chapel of Domus Australia. See video under Photos/Multimedia page here.

Francis 'unblocks' Romero beatification, official says
Extracts from National Catholic Reporter, Monday 22 April 2013

A Vatican official responsible for the sainthood cause of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador announced Sunday that the cause has been "unblocked" by Pope Francis, suggesting that beatification of the assassinated prelate could come swiftly. Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia spoke Sunday in the Italian city of Molfetta at a Mass honoring the 20th anniversary of the death of Bishop Antonio "Tonino" Bello, known as one of Italy's premier "peace bishops........Although both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have said publicly that Romero was a marty for the faith, there's also been some question as to whether his death meets the classic test for martyrdom of being killed in odium fidei, meaning "in hatred of the faith," or whether the motives were more social and political. If Romero is judged a martyr, he could be beatified without having a miracle attributed to his intercession (more).

Pope Francis 'to appoint more women to key Vatican posts'                                                                                                                                  Edited Extract from Tom Kingston,The Telegraph (UK), Sunday 21 April 2013
Senior Catholic cardinals appointed by Pope Francis to shake up the Vatican's secretive bureaucracy have called for more key jobs at the Holy See to be handed to women and fewer jobs to be given to Europeans.
Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras said he was backing more posts for women after the Pope named him this month to lead a task force of eight cardinals from around the world to reform the Roman Curia, an alleged hotbed of intrigue, infighting and corruption. The cardinal's comments, made to The Sunday Times, were backed by Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi on Sunday."It is a natural step – there is a move towards putting more women in key roles where they are qualified," he said. ?? In its bid to address women's issues, the Vatican's daily newspaper L'Osservatore Romano has launched a women's supplement. In his general audience on April 3, the Pope noted how women were the first witnesses of the Resurrection, adding that, "The Apostles and disciples find it harder to believe in the Risen Christ, not the women however!" . In his general audience on April 3, the Pope noted how women were the first witnesses of the Resurrection, adding that, "The Apostles and disciples find it harder to believe in the Risen Christ, not the women however!". "This was a message about the importance of the role of women in the Church," said Carlo Marroni, a Vatican expert at Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore. "That said, the question still gets handled cautiously as it touches on the issue of ordination for women."(more). Photo EPA

Signs of the Papal Times – an Assessment of the New Papacy
Extracts from Paul Collins Blog, Sunday 21 April 2013    (full article here)

At first all we had to go on were the signs. The first sign was when Pope Bergoglio defined himself by taking the name Francis after the rich man from Assisi who repudiated his wealth to live like Christ, the poor man who had nowhere to lay his head. Then we saw a pope who ‘dressed down’ without the ermine lined, red mozzetta (the short cape worn over the shoulders) and the metres of lace that had characterised the previous papacy. Francis has rejected the trappings of ‘royalty’ moving out of the papal palazzo and into the quite modest, motel-like and accessible Casa Sancta Marta in the Vatican grounds. All the signs pointed not only to a different style but to a substantial change in direction........Five weeks into his papacy Francis has moved-on from signs and now squarely faces tackling the hard issues. So far (21 April 2013) he has only appointed eleven bishops and seven of these would have been in the appointment system well before he was elected. But Francis has personally appointed two:........ If Francis doesn’t understand that US women religious are so much closer to his own ideals of social justice and to the reality of the life experience and aspirations of the vast majority of Catholics in the developed world than the US bishops and hierarchs will ever be, then he has a lot to learn. His closeness to the poor is admirable, but the poor have two aims: firstly to survive and then to achieve middle class status (India is a prime example of this), or to migrate to a developed country. Then they will be facing the same existential issues as we are in a country like Australia; they will be educated Catholics with the same preoccupations as the vast majority of us have. So perhaps the US sisters and the LCWR might become a test case for Pope Francis’ real understanding of the broader church...........In contrast we have Francis’ appointment of eight cardinals to act as a kind of ‘kitchen cabinet’. With a very broad remit, they have clearly been appointed on the basis of geographical regions; several represent regional bishops’ conferences (Asia, Latin American, Europe), and others like George Pell represent specific regions such as Oceania.......According to the Vatican communiqué the group’s function is “to advise [Francis] in the government of the universal church and to study a plan for revising the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, Pastor Bonus.” Perhaps significant are the facts that only one cardinal (Giuseppe Bertello) has been appointed from the Vatican and he comes not from the curia but from the government of the Vatican City State, and that the co-ordinator of the group is Cardinal Óscar Andreś Rodriguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, a highly talented, multi-lingual, outspoken moderate progressive. Vatican commentator, Sandro Magister (, says that “with the sole exception of the Australian Pell ... all of the other cardinals [belong] ... to the moderate or progressive camp of the College of Cardinals.” (more) Photo: Pope Francis with Jesuit General Father Adolfo Nicolas. Paul Collins

Rite of Enrolment across the Parish
Friday 19 April 2013

At Masses across the parish this weekend Confirmation candidates supported by their families, friends and all parishioners will be invited to participate in the Rite of Enrollment.

Vocations Sunday
Friday 19 April 2013

Within our own parish community there have been and are many uplifting stories concerning Vocations. During his studies in Melbourne the Ivanhoe presence of Fr Thanh Tran provides a very good opportunity to read the remarkable Vocation story which he has kindly agreed to share with us, on the website's Reflection Of The Week.

Francis’ reform club - ‘Cleaning up’ the Curia
Extracts from The Tablet, Friday 19 April 2013

The new Pope’s unprecedented decision to create a commission of cardinals to study how the Catholic Church is governed has been seen by many observers as a response to recent Vatican scandals. But it is a far more radical move than that, as analysis of his choice of commissioners shows........“What Pope Francis has announced is the most important step in the history of the Church of the last 10 centuries and in the 50-year period of reception of Vatican II,” said the noted church historian Alberto Melloni. Writing in the Milan daily Corriere della Sera, he said the Pope had “created a synodal organ of bishops that must experiment with the exercise of the consilium”. In other words, shared governance of the Church between the Bishop of Rome and all the world’s bishops........The Vatican said the eight advisers would not hold their first joint meeting until next October. But the Pope is already consulting with them, probably by telephone and mail, as well meeting them during their frequent visits to Rome. No doubt he is also consulting with several others who are already living in the Eternal City – cardinals such as Walter Kasper, Cláudio Hummes OFM and João Cardinal Bráz de Aviz. Certainly, Pope Francis is not expected to postpone all significant decisions or appointments until the autumn. Rather, he’s likely to discuss them with his consultants in Rome and his G8 abroad (more).   Image: The Tablet.

Without evangelisation, Church becomes babysitter, Pope warns
Extracts from Catholic News, Thursday 18 April 2013

If Catholics do not proclaim Jesus with their lives, then the Church becomes “not the mother, but the babysitter,” Pope Francis cautioned in a homily and a separate letter to his brother bishops in Argentina, reports the Catholic News Agency. When believers share their faith, “the Church becomes a mother church that produces children (and more) children, because we, the children of the Church, we carry that. But when we do not, the Church is not the mother, but the babysitter, that takes care of the baby – to put the baby to sleep. It is a Church dormant,” Pope Francis stated. The solution to this is “to proclaim Christ, to carry the Church – this fruitful motherhood of the Church – forward,” he said.....He based his homily on a reading from the Acts of the Apostles, which recalled the lives of the first Christians. “They left their homes,” he recalled, “they brought with them only few belongings, and going from place to place proclaiming the Word. “They were a simple faithful, baptised just a year or so – but they had the courage to go and proclaim,” the Pope said (more).

A less political Vatican, a less self-referential church?
Extracts from John L Allen Jnr, National Catholic Reporter, Thursday 18 April 2013

At the time Benedict XVI’s papacy officially ended on Feb. 28, Italy had no functioning government because of the massively inconclusive results of Feb. 24-25 national elections. By this writing, the Catholic church has had a new pope for more than a month, while Italy is no closer whatsoever to a transition in power.........From the pope-watch point of view, what’s most interesting is that moments of political chaos in Italy are generally when the Vatican steps to the fore, exercising its historical role as a moral authority and voice of tradition in Italian affairs. Yet in the run-up to today’s presidential balloting, the silence from the Vatican has been fairly deafening......Pro Life Summit. Famously, one key difference between Catholic culture in the United States and in Europe is that because abortion is largely a settled political question on the Old Continent, the term “pro-life” in Catholic parlances often has a more expansive sense here. It generally refers not just to opposition to abortion, but to a wider range of concerns about human life and dignity – care for the sick and the elderly, for instance, for the disabled, and for the poor.That’s seemingly the ethos of a major pro-life rally the Vatican is planning to stage June 15-16, as part of the church’s “Year of Faith” and under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization (more).

Pope Francis' LCWR reaffirmation leads sisters to hard questions
Extract from Jishua J. McElwee, NCR, Wednesday 17 April 2013

Within hours of the Vatican's announcement Monday that Pope Francis had reaffirmed a controversial takeover of the primary group of U.S. Catholic sisters, reactions from prominent American sisters ranged from "wait and see" to the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. It may be too early to tell what the news means for the country's 57,000 Catholic sisters, said several former leaders of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Others said it could signal it is time to reconsider their energy in trying to tamp down potential tensions with bishops (more).

Pope Francis appoints group of cardinals to advise him on church government and revision plan of apostolic constitution on Roman Curia
Vatican Information Service, Vatican City, 13 April 2013 – Full text of a communique issued today by the Secretariat of State.
“The Holy Father Francis, taking up a suggestion that emerged during the General Congregations preceding the Conclave, has established a group of cardinals to advise him in the government of the universal Church and to study a plan for revising the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, 'Pastor Bonus'.   The group consists of:

Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State;
Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop emeritus of Santiago de Chile, Chile;
Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay, India;
Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany;
Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo;
Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley O.F.M. Cap., archbishop of Boston, USA;
Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia;
Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, S.D.B., archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in the role of coordinator; and
Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, Italy, in the role of secretary.

The group's first meeting has been scheduled for 1-3 October 2013. His Holiness is, however, currently in contact with the aforementioned cardinals.”

Website full steam ahead (almost)                                                                                                                                                                            John Costa, Friday 12 April 2013                                                                                                                                                                                    After a fatal experience with the computer previously supporting this website a brand new (and expensive) new computer has arrived. The usual teething problems for a new PC have (hopefully) now been resolved, and the laborious process of transferring previously backed-up data to the new system has begun. So things are looking good once again, and pending the transfers it's almost full steam ahead.Shortly we'll also resume our usual weekly emailed "Website Update" for Ivanhoe parishioners requesting it.

The healing God of the Royal Commission
Extract from Fatima Measham, Eureka Street, Thursday 11 April 2013

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has begun, with its first sitting held in Melbourne last week. Expectations are high; relief runs deep. Both commissioners and victims will be treading a harrowing path together in the coming months and years. It is bound to be a national catharsis. The six commissioners expect to receive more than 5000 submissions. Orders have already been served on the Catholic Church, its insurer, the Salvation Army and the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions. The Commission foresees that it will miss the 2015 deadline for a full report, due to the monumental scope. Though it will not be prosecuting criminal cases, it has established links with state and territory police. There is also a focus on policy corrections for institutions which are found to have failed in their duty of care. The prosecutorial and legal outcomes from the commission will be significant. But other wounds bear considering. The Catholic Church is placed uniquely among institutions under scrutiny. The trust that laypeople hold in priests and other vowed religious is not the same trust held in teachers, doctors and coaches. It is sourced from the stories that feed their faith (more -  including reader responses).  Subscription to Eureka Street is free.

Cardinal leads rethink on same-sex civil unions                                                                                                                    Extract from The Tablet, Thursday 11 April 2013
A leading cardinal has said that same-sex relationships should be respected and recognised in law amid signs of a change in church thinking on the subject. Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, made the remarks in a lecture at the National Gallery evening titled "Christianity: Alien Presence or Foundation of the West?" on Monday. "There can be same-sex partnerships and they need respect, and even civil law protection. Yes, but please keep it away from the notion of marriage. Because the definition of marriage is the stable union between a man and a woman open to life," Cardinal Schönborn said. "We should be clear about terms and respect the needs of people living in a partnership together. They deserve respect," he added....Two other cardinals, Colombian Ruben Salazar and Theodore McCarrick have recently suggested the Church should not oppose same-sex civil unions (more).

Catholicism's demographic centre moves south

Extracts from Catholic News, Wednesday 10 April 2013

Although more than half of the 115 cardinals who elected Pope Francis were from Europe, Europeans now make up less than a quarter of the world's Catholics, CNS reports. The church's relative strength in Europe has declined sharply as the Catholic population worldwide quadrupled over the past century to nearly 1.2 billion, according to the Vatican's statistical yearbook for 2013. Catholics make up about 16 percent of the world's population, about the same percentage as a century ago. A closer look at where Catholics live illustrates the changing body of the church..... Whereas two-thirds of the world's Catholics lived in Europe in 1910, fewer than a quarter do today, reported the U.S.-based Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life.....France and Germany each boasted twice as many baptized Catholics as Brazil in 1910. Today Brazil, with 126 million Catholics, has more than three times as many as France or Spain; Mexico, with 96 million Catholics, has 2.5 times as many as France. Overall, Catholics in Europe have declined from 38.5 percent to 23.7 percent of the population since 1970, according to the World Christian Database compiled by the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary of South Hamilton, Mass (more).

Vatican confirms hard line against abusers
Extracts from Catholic News, Wednesday 10 April 2013

In a meeting with the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Gerhard Luudwig Muller, Pope Francis reaffirmed a Vatican tough line against abusers, Vatican Insider reports....“In particular, the Holy Father recommended that the Congregation, continuing along the lines set by Benedict XVI, act decisively with regard to cases of sexual abuse, first of all by promoting measures for the protection of minors, as well as in offering assistance to those who have suffered abuse, carrying out due proceedings against the guilty, and in the commitment of bishops' conferences to formulate and implement the necessary directives in this area that is so important for the Church's witness and credibility.”....Mr Francis Sullivan, CEO of the Truth Justice and Healing Council, has welcomed Pope Francis' comments (more).

Website Updates ‘limping along’, John Costa, Saturday 30 March 2013

The high-end but ageing computer used for updating this website has had a near death experience from which there is no practical recovery. An expensive new computer has been selected and ordered and is expected to arrive in one week’s time. Until then there will be only limited website updates provided.

SMH Apology to Cardinal George Pell. From The Age, Saturday 30 March 2013

On 11 March 2013, the online edition of The Sydney Morning Herald published an article "Tainted Pell out of race after lobbying" by journalist Barney Zwartz. A shortened version of this article titled "Pell has no chance of top job" also appeared in the print and online editions of The Sydney Morning Herald on 11 March 2013. Our description of the outcome of the 2002 investigation by retired Victorian Supreme Court Judge A.J. Southwell into allegations against Cardinal George Pell did not fully set out his findings about Cardinal Pell. Soon after Mr Southwell made his findings in 2002, The Age published an article describing the findings as “a just result” and The Sydney Morning Herald accepts and agrees with this conclusion. As we said in an article published on 14 June 2010, this independent investigation cleared the Cardinal. The Sydney Morning Herald apologises sincerely to Cardinal Pell for any suggestion to the contrary and for any adverse reflections on him in our 11 March articles (more).

Church leaders hit back at clergy abuse inquiry claims. Extract from Barney Zwartz,The Age, Saturday 30 March 2013

Australia's two most senior Catholic prelates, Cardinal George Pell and Archbishop Denis Hart, have repudiated as inaccurate allegations against them at Victoria's clergy sex abuse inquiry. Melbourne Archbishop Hart denied testimony by Victorian Police Commissioner Ken Lay to the parliamentary inquiry that the church has hindered and obstructed police, and challenges police about why they have not acted already if they have evidence of such behaviour. Cardinal Pell again rejected claims by Melbourne lawyer Vivian Waller that he was present in 1969 when a child described being raped to another priest, and attacked the claims as ''seriously defamatory'' and possibly a contempt of Parliament and professional misconduct. Their responses were posted on Thursday on the inquiry website, on a new section called ''right of reply''. Archbishop Hart first wrote on October 17 and Cardinal Pell's statement is dated January 15. Senior church figures have been furious at the stream of negative headlines as the inquiry unfolded, with the church not due to give evidence until the end, and have wanted to make an earlier rebuttal. Besides the police and victims' groups, an array of experts have savaged the church's response to clergy sex abuse, including claims such as that one in 15 Melbourne priests is a child abuser, that Catholic priests offend at six times the rate of all other churches put together, and that the church's protocols are designed to protect the church rather than help victims (more).

Easter Bulletin available for download                                                                                                                                        The Easter Bulletin may be downloaded here (and on the 'Download It' page) . Apart from its Easter Message from our Parish Priest it provides an overview and update on key parish matters.

Pope Francis and the model of a maximum Pope
Extract from Catholic News, Thursday 21 March 2013

High expectations typically accompany the election of a new Pope. Invariably they derive from the hopes and concerns of people other than the man chosen to be Vicar of Christ and who, in this role, claims authority to speak in Christ's name not only to Catholics but to the world at large, writes Chris McCgillion in The Sydney Morning Herald. If history tells us anything, however, it is that such expectations can be quickly turned on their heads. Who, initially, would have expected that Angelo Roncalli (John XXIII), the ailing 76-year-old elected as a stop-gap Pope in 1958, would go on to initiate the greatest shake-up of the church in 100 years - the Second Vatican Council (1962-65)? Or who, initially, would have thought that Karol Wojtyla (John Paul II), the first non-Italian pope in 400 years and one who came from a communist dictatorship, would recentralise power in Rome and impose what many now regard as a distinctly anti-Vatican II discipline on the church? Following last week's conclave, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Austria commented that the election of a Pope "is something substantially different from a political election" and that the role of Pope was not "the chief executive of a multinational company, but the spiritual head of a community of believers" (more).

UK church opens doors to Islam because mosque too small
Extract from Catholic News, Thursday 21 March 2013

An Episcopalian priest has made headlines in the UK and India by opening the doors of his Scottish church to Muslims for prayer, reports Ucanews. The Rev Isaac Poobalan allowed Muslims to use St John’s church in Aberdeen for prayer after he saw worshippers praying “on a bitterly cold day” outside a nearby mosque because it was too small to accommodate them. Up to 100 Muslims now pray in the main chapel at St John’s every Friday – and the church hall is being converted for the exclusive use of Muslims. “The mosque is in fact in a former diocesan office in the church grounds which was sold by the diocese to a Muslim businessman. He opened it as a mosque but it only holds about 50 worshippers,” Poobalan told The opening of the church has featured in The Guardian, Daily Mail and The Sun in the UK and the Indian Express and Times of India. Poobalan, 50, grew up in Vellore, Tamil Nadu, and his father was a member of the chaplaincy team at Christian Medical College Vellore Hospital. “I saw people from all religions praying in the hospital chapel,” he said. “It taught me that prayer transcends religion. We all pray to essentially the same God.” (more)

Delay to Website Update, Friday 22 March 2013                                                                                                                                                           A computer failure is currently delaying the usual regular update to this Website. However the Prayers Of The Faithful & Fr Thang's Reflection on the Paschal Mystery  HAVE BEEN updated, and the LATEST Parish Newsletter IS also available as usual for download from this site. Other updates will progressively occur. Our volunteer resource is working around this problem until the major computer fault is rectified.

'Self reform has started' as Vatican officials catch cabs
Extract from Barney Zwartz (Rome), The Age, Monday 18 March 2013

Vatican officials, made nervous by the public example of the new pope, have already begun to moderate their lifestyle, taking taxis around Rome rather than using the large fleet of luxury sedans, Italian newspapers have reported. "The pope, who is used to taking the minibus with his Cardinal brethren, standing in line for breakfast at the self-service restaurant in the Domus Sancta Martha (the Vatican hotel) and settling his hotel bill in person, could look out of the window and see that he is surrounded by people who are not getting the drift and not following suit," reported La Stampa. "Self reform has started." (more)

Your Holiness, if I may be so bold as to suggest ...
Extract from Barney Zwartz (Rome), The Age, Monday 18 March 2013

It may seem slightly irreverent to refer to a ''honeymoon'' period for a 76-year-old celibate pope, but it is an apt metaphor. Francis and his flock, in all its vast diversity, seem deeply enamoured of each other. Progressives have every reason to hope that the spirit of Vatican II, the great reforming council of the 1960s that opened the church to engage with the world, might be restored, that the stultifying hand of an authoritarian Vatican bureaucracy might be lifted, that it might become servant rather than master. Social justice moves up the agenda, and clericalism is on notice. Traditionalists can rest content that the core doctrines and social teaching will be strenuously defended. All the early symbols - and it is entirely symbols at this point, with no appointments made, no agendas laid out - suggest Francis will be a reforming pope, a modest pope, but not a radical pope. Or, if he is radical, it will be in the sense of back to the roots - the humility, service and love that supposedly underlie the Christian message. His style is decidedly unregal, an example he is likely to want other church leaders to adopt. No more princely palaces. And how he has charmed the watching world, in his utterly unaffected way. His first public act as pope was to seek a blessing from the faithful, rather than the reverse; he checked out of his hotel himself, paying his own bill and carrying his own bags. In becoming the first pope in 1000 years to take an unused papal name - itself implying new directions - the choice of Francis was significant: the message is humility, sympathy with the creation, and rebuilding the church. His first homily to the cardinals could have come straight from Martin Luther, emphasising ''the cross'' as the heart of Christian life, without which even cardinals and popes are worldly rather than disciples. In his meeting with the world's media on Saturday, he joked freely and said he decided on his papal name only after his election when close friend Claudio Hummes of Brazil told him ''remember the poor''. Another cardinal, he said, suggested Clement - the pope who suppressed Francis' order, the Jesuits......First, clergy sex abuse. ........Second, the Curia......Third, more women.......Fourth, fewer Italians (more). Photo:

Parish Easter Bulletin
Friday 15 March 2013

A special parish 'Easter Bulletin' will be distributed from next week and will also be available on this website. Apart from its Easter Message from our Parish Priest it provides an overview and update on key parish matters.

Reformer who holds to church orthodoxy
Extracts from Barney Zwartz, The Age, Friday 15 March 2013

Simplicity and a concentration on core values - particularly social justice and outreach - will be among the gifts Pope Francis brings as the 266th leader the Roman Catholic Church. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Jesuit cardinal who has been Archbishop of Buenos Aires since 1998, has won affection and praise for moving into a small apartment rather than living in the episcopal palace, giving up his chauffeur-driven car in favour of public transport where possible, and even cooking his own meals. ''It's a very curious thing: when bishops meet, he always wants to sit in the back rows. This sense of humility is very well seen in Rome,'' his biographer Sergio Rubin said before the conclave. As the first Third World pope, as well as the first Jesuit, Francis will bring different priorities, but his personal humility and simplicity and his recognition that reducing clericalism - privileging priests and prelates, and keeping lay Catholics at a distance - is a key challenge will hearten the faithful around the world. He has accused church leaders of hypocrisy and forgetting that Jesus Christ bathed lepers and ate with prostitutes. ''These are today's hypocrites. Those who clericalise the church. Those who separate the people of God from salvation,'' he told Argentine priests last year. ''Jesus teaches us another way: Go out. Go out and share your testimony, go out and interact with your brothers, go out and share, go out and ask. Become the word in body as well as spirit.'' (more). Photo:Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio riding the Buenos Aires subway. Photo: AP/Sergio Rubin

Pope for a new Reformation
Extract from Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street, Thursday 14 March 2013

In the media hugger-mugger before the papal conclave began, most cardinals spoke of the need for reform. But they had in mind different kinds of reform: an evangelical reform that would focus on renewing the faith of all Catholics; a disciplinary reform that would tightly define Catholic identity, act against dissent and unify the Church against the 'secularist threat'; a structural reform that would address those aspects of governance and culture that contributed to the sexual abuse crisis and to alienation among Catholics. Pope Francis will address these proposals not simply as sociological challenges, but within a Catholic framework that developed in the face of the late medieval pressure for reform of the Church in its head and its members, culminating in the Reformation. In this understanding the Church has divine and human aspects. In its faith and essential structures the Church is simply a gift that is held in trust. It is unchangeable and holy, so that Catholics' access to God through its sacraments and teaching is guaranteed. But the Church is also a sociological reality composed of human beings and their structured and unstructured ways of relating. Human beings are sinful, and so the church needs constant reform. In weighing how Pope Francis may set reform within this understanding of the Church as both holy and sinful, Augustine's complex treatment of the holiness of the Church may be helpful. He argued that the Church would be holy in an unqualified sense only at the end of time (more). Subscription to Eureka Street is free.

How Pope Francis will mend a broken church
Extracts from Michael Mullins, Eureka Street, Thursday 14 March 2013

The election of a new pope is always an exciting moment for the Church and the world. After weeks of uncertainty, it seems there is good reason to celebrate the election of Pope Francis I, and to congratulate and offer support to him in the immense task ahead. The excitement of the election of a new pope always brings with it the expectation that he is a new Messiah and has the ability to fix what is broken with the Church. But a more realistic, and indeed preferable, aspiration is for him to acknowledge before all else the ways in which the Church is broken. With Benedict's resignation acting as a circuit breaker, the world will be looking to Francis to fix the Church. But in reality his role will be to set the Church on the path to recovery, along the lines of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. This will begin with the admission that the life of the Church is out of control in the face of clergy sexual abuse and other systemic challenges. It would seem that such a disposition of humility and honesty is a more effective and inclusive path than attempting to turn the Church upside down. Such a radical approach would further polarise an already divided Church, and we know from his past actions that Francis is more of a bridge builder than a revolutionary.

He was far from liberation theology, which was seen to be the way to decisively switch the allegiance of the Catholic Church in Latin American from the ruling elites to the poor. He preferred to live with the dictatorships, to plead the cause of the poor, but make his statement by making radical changes to his own lifestyle........Early commentaries on the new pope are emphasising his distaste for the clericalism that many believe has been a key factor in the Church's sexual abuse of minors. While he failed openly to challenge Argentina's dictatorship of the late 1970s, he was unequivocal in his condemnation of clerical privilege: 'These are today's hypocrites. Those who clericalise the Church. Those who separate the people of God from salvation.'...This is enough to give hope to the Catholic Church and its victims (more). Photo: Acoma Pueblo Mission church under repair, New Mexico. Subscription to Eureka Street is free.

Statement by Archbishop Denis Hart following announcement of new Pope
Extract from Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, Thursday 14 March 2013

As Archbishop of Melbourne and President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, I joyfully welcome the glad news of the appointment of Pope Francis.  For two weeks the Catholics of the world have been without the spiritual father of their family.  We have been looking forward to this special moment when our new Holy Father, chief teacher and shepherd would be announced. The announcement brings great joy and hope and readiness to walk with him on the way to Jesus Christ. ......He is known for commitment to doctrine and social justice, and is a humble man of simple lifestyle.  His appointment is a sign to the Catholics of Latin America and the whole world of the invitation given to all to follow Jesus closely.  He has served as member of a number of offices in the Holy See”
In this time of rejoicing we thank God who has given us a leader and teacher to bring us to God, to care for us and unite us in the service of God and others. We offer our new Holy Father our prayers, obedience and love as he prepares to begin his ministry for us.  On behalf of all Australian Catholics I will immediately write to the Holy Father with our pledge of loyalty, prayer and support.  Yours sincerely in Christ (more).

Choice came down to simply the best candidate
Extracts from Barney Zwartz (Rome), The Age, Thursday 14 March 2013

The church's first South American Pope, Francis, elected in the fifth ballot of the conclave in Rome on Wednesday night, is regarded as a humble man of orthodox theology and wide vision. In his first appearance, on the veranda of St Peter's Basilica, soon after his election, he came across as charming and modest, with a warm smile. The Jesuit cardinal, who had been Archbishop of Buenos Aires since 1998, won affection and praise for moving into a small apartment rather than living in the episcopal palace, giving up his chauffeur-driven car in favour of public transport where possible, and even cooking his own meals. In 2005 he was the cardinal the progressives grouped behind, because their main advocate, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, was suffering from Parkinson's disease. He got 40 votes in the last ballot before Joseph Ratzinger was elected as Benedict XVI, but this time the Italian and curial cardinals hoping to avoid Vatican restructuring had no candidate of similar stature.........It clearly symbolises their recognition that the centre of gravity in the church has moved south – Latin America has the largest Catholic population in the world. It also indicates their desire to focus on the gospel (the church's message of salvation in Christ) and the recognition of Third World priorities such as under-development and poverty rather than such First World concerns as gay marriage or women priests. At another level, it is a safe and responsible choice that will be well received by the 1.2 billion Catholics, one-fifth of the world's population, who owe allegiance to the Pope......His attitude to Vatican reform is not yet clear. Much will be revealed by his eventual choice of secretary of state, the No 2. But scandals, such as the infighting and cronyism revealed in the "Vatileaks" episode last year and the ongoing turmoil at the Vatican bank, need urgent attention. He may well allow local bishops more flexibility to engage their differing cultures and challenges than his more authoritarian recent predecessors.

Jorge Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires on December 17, 1936, the son of an Italian immigrant, and began studying for the priesthood with the Jesuits in 1958. He taught literature, psychology and philosophy, before becoming the provincial (head of the order in Argentina) from 1973 to 1979. Then he became rector of a seminary, and studied in Germany before becoming auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires in 1992, archbishop in 1998 and cardinal in 2001. He is theologically orthodox and a social conservative, especially on issues of sexual morality such as same-sex marriage, contraception and abortion. In 2010, he said that gay adoption was a form of discrimination against children.

During the exhilarating years of liberation theology in South America, which was eventually disowned by the Vatican, Bergoglio demanded that the priests follow a more traditional Jesuit spirituality and serve in parishes rather than becoming political activists. But he embraced its central message of "the preferential option for the poor" when many church leaders were complicit with dictators' regimes across the continent. In 2007, he told Latin American bishops that they lived in the most unequal part of the world, which had reduced misery the least. Unjust distribution created a "social sin that cries out to heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many of our brothers". He is credited with modernising one of the most conservative churches in the world, which will stand him in good stead in Italy (more). Photo: Getty Images, The Age.

Argentina’s Cardinal Bergoglio becomes Pope Francis I
Extracts from Barney Zwartz (Rome), The Age, Thursday 14 March 2013

Argentinian cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio has become the first-ever pope from the Americas in the history of the Church, taking the papal name of Francis I. French cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran made the announcement from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica. Francis is the first non-European pope in more than 1200 years, a choice that reflects the shifting demographics of the Roman Catholic faith. Bergoglio, 76, is the archbishop of Buenos Aires and is believed to have been the runner-up to Benedict XVI at the last conclave in 2005. He chose the name of Pope Francis I for his pontificate and was greeted by thousands of cheering faithful as he stepped out on a balcony overlooking St Peter’s Square to be presented to the world for the first time as pope. ‘‘Brothers and sisters, good evening,’’ Bergoglio said in Italian in his first words to the crowd. ''You know that the work of the conclave is to give a bishop to Rome. It seems as if my brother cardinals went to find him from the end of the earth. Thank you for the welcome.''......He is the 266th pope in the Catholic Church’s 2000-year history.... The decision came after five votes - longer than for Benedict’s succession to late Pope John Paul II in 2005, which was decided in just four votes.....Bergoglio took the name Francis, apparently in honour of St Francis of Assisi Cardinal Bergoglio’s election was something of a surprise, given his age, but his pedigree is strong, as shown by his status at the last conclave. He has been archbishop of Buenos Aires since 1998 (more). 

Conflicting pressures on new pope
Extract from Barney Zwartz (Rome), The Age, Wednesday 13 March 2013

The new pope will have to face the challenge of managing markedly diverse expectations from the developed and developing worlds, Australia's ambassador to the Holy See says. Speaking in his Rome office, ambassador John McCarthy said the issues that some wanted to be the agenda for the Catholic Church in Western countries - such as abortion, gay marriage and female priests - were ''simply not accepted by the church elsewhere''. ''This is leading to bewilderment among the Western elite, who can't understand why their agenda is not the agenda of the whole church. This is a serious problem for the Holy See,'' he said. He said leaders of the developing world believed Western Catholics had to shift to reconnect with the wider church and that the biggest issue facing the church was the ''new evangelisation'' - finding ways to reach lapsed or inactive Catholics. The 115 cardinal electors who will choose the next leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics were to move into a residence inside the Vatican on Tuesday (more).

Vote for new pope set for Tuesday, no clear consensus
Extract from Joshua McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, Friday 8 March 2013

The cardinals of the Roman Catholic church will begin voting for the new leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics Tuesday, the Vatican has announced. The decision to set the date for the vote, widely anticipated after five days of secret deliberations, came amid a reportedly unsure atmosphere among the cardinals. Going into the final meetings, there was reportedly a lack of clear consensus among the cardinals on who the leading candidates are for the next pontiff. Friday's decision to set the date of the secret vote for the next pope, known as the conclave, came at the cardinals' eighth meeting since the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI Feb. 28. They have been meeting daily, sometimes twice daily, since Monday. "The eighth General Congregation of the College of Cardinals has decided that the Conclave will begin on Tuesday, 12 March 2013," the Vatican said in a release (more).

Conclave set to begin on Tuesday could be a lengthy one
Extract from Robert Mickens (in Rome), The Tablet, Friday 8 March 2013

The conclave to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI has been set to begin next Tuesday, 12 March. Most observers believe the lack of strong leading candidates suggests the process is likely to take longer than just two days, as happened in 2005 at the last papal election (more).

The parish Easter experience
Friday 8 March 2013

As our website visits very clearly show each year record numbers of people start to look for details of the various Easter services in our parish around this time. This is matched by larger than usual service attendances. In the background a large amount of work is underway once again to help make Easter period the very significant time it is in our spiritual calendar and life journeys. Very shortly those service details, together with a special Ivanhoe Parish "Easter Bulletin", will be available, in various forms, for everyone.

Gift of motherhood on International Women’s Day, and measures announced
Extracts from Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne and ABC News, Friday 8 March 2013

For women worldwide, motherhood is one of life’s most precious gifts. Proper care during pregnancy is a privilege we can easily take for granted in Australia, in many other countries the reality is starkly different. Caritas’ Project Compassion is tackling this issue by providing women, like 18 year old Salma from Bangladesh, with access to quality prenatal care....Your donation to Caritas Australia’s Project Compassion helps us care for children, women and men in over 30 countries worldwide. (more, or contribute here).

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has used International Women's Day, today, to announce new measures aimed at cracking down on slavery and people smuggling, saying businesses tainted by such activities will be prevented from winning government contracts...Ms Gillard says there is no evidence that is currently happening, but says there is a risk of it becoming an issue as the global economy becomes more integrated......Opposition Leader Tony Abbott attended a morning tea in Melbourne today to mark International Women's Day, highlighting the need for a more generous paid parental leave scheme. "It's an important day to celebrate how far we've come as a nation, how much better we are at recognising one half of our population, and making the most of their abilities (and) fully recognising their dignity," Mr Abbott told reporters. (more).

Decision on conclave postponed, focus on Vatican finances
Extract from Catholic News, Thursday 8 March 2013

Cardinals from around the world have put off a decision on when to begin a conclave to elect the next pope, instead debating Vatican finances and a reform of the bureaucracy, according to an AAP report in the Herald Sun (more).

Kids corrupted by criminal treatment
Extracts from Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street, Wednesday 6 March 2013

When it comes to responding to children who behave badly, we have come a long way. In Roman times children, like wives and slaves, were seen as possessions of the father of the house. He had the right to beat and even kill them. Under the law children over seven were treated as little adults, liable to the same punishments for crimes. Even in 19th century England, children were sentenced to death, although the sentences were almost always commuted. In general, harsh punishment was a favoured way to encourage responsibility in children and adults. Today conventional wisdom no longer sees children as small adults, but as people growing towards responsibility and constructive participation in society. When they break the law, the response is usually to help them find a better way. They have special courts and supportive programs. The evidence overwhelmingly suggests punishment and incarceration are ineffective in encouraging responsibility. That is the theory. But in practice children often suffer in Australia because the welfare of the child is often trumped by the demands of a justice system focused on containment of risk and due process for wrongdoers. And that in turn is overtrumped by the the populist call to get tough on crime (more). Subscription to Eureka Street is free.

College of Cardinals imposes media blackout after leaks

Extracts from Catholic News, Wednesday 6 March 2013

The College of Cardinals has decided that its members will no longer speak to journalists after several cardinals gave too much information to the Italian press, reports the Catholic News Agency....The American cardinals have been the only ones to organize press conferences during the general congregation phase of the Sede Vacante period......However, the primary reason for the cancelation was that some Italian cardinals were divulging too much information to the Italian press. At this morning’s general meeting, the names of those who raised eyebrows were read off in front of the assembled cardinals.Yesterday was the third day of preliminary meetings as the cardinals prepare to vote for a new Pope (more).

Papal contender says condom use a 'duty' in some circumstances
Extracts from Catholic News, Wednesday 6 March 2013

An African cardinal who is considered a possible contender for next pope has said that he believed condom use is not only a right "but in some circumstances even a sort of duty" for couples where one partner is HIV-positive, in order to protect the other, reports The Tablet. Nigerian Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja, told the US-based National Catholic Reporter that it was important to distinguish between using a condom in the context of HIV/AIDS and condoms as contraceptives, and said moral questions regarding their use depended on what they were used for. An estimated 3.5 million Nigerians have HIV, according to the UN. Acknowledging this viewpoint was not the Church's official view, he added: "I believe this situation is different than the reason for which Humanae Vitae condemned artificial contraception. To cite Humanae Vitae in this case, I think, is inappropriate." (more)

Vatican could learn a thing or two about renewal from women religious
Extracts from Joan Chittester, National Catholic Reporter, Wednesday 6 March 2013

Like most people in the Catholic community -- and far beyond that, I'm sure -- I am following the transition from one papacy to another with great interest. Which in itself is something to be considered. After all, there have been six papacies in my lifetime, so you would think that by this seventh one, the fascination may have faded. On the contrary: The sense of fascination this time is even more heightened than in the past. We are about to elect a new pope who will face serious 21st-century issues using 19th-century structures to resolve them. The cognitive dissonance of a situation like that cries to heaven for resolution. And this one may take heaven to resolve...........For that reason, women religious may have something to teach the church about the process of conversion and development at this very important moment.Religious life, too, had been encased in another world. Women religious lived separately from the world around them, they dressed in clothes that had been designed centuries before, they gave up a sense of personal or individual identity. As a result, they got further away from the people they served by the day, further away from their needs, further away from their feelings. The renewal process of religious life required three major changes before they could possibly pursue anything else of a particular nature, like future planning or ministry decisions. Renewal, they discovered, was a matter of demystification, integration and relevance. Religious life had its own kind of monarchies to be deconstructed before anything creative could possibly happen or the gifts of its members be released for the sake of the world at large.

The first step was to take the Second Vatican Council's direction about collegiality and subsidiarity, the concepts of shared responsibility and personal decision-making. That meant that the kind of absolute authority that had built up around religious superiors had to be relinquished. Major decisions began to be shared with the community at large. Personal decisions began to be entrusted to the sisters themselves, all adult and educated women who had been deprived of the minutest decision-making: for example, the hour at which they would go to bed; the right to make a doctor's appointment; the structure of their lives between prayer times. Major superiors began to be expected -- and allowed -- to be Jesus-figures in the community, spiritual leaders not lawgivers, not monitors, not queen bees.

In the second place, religious had to learn to integrate themselves into the society they were attempting to serve. That did not necessarily mean eliminating a kind of symbolic dress, but it did mean updating it in a way designed to simplify rather than to separate. Most women religious chose, like Jesus, to set out to be the sign rather than do it the easy way and wear the sign. Grave and sober voices everywhere warned women religious that to do something like that would eliminate generations of respect from the people around them. I can only speak personally for my own community, of course, but I can promise you that separated from the people, locked away from the world like specters from another planet, and dressed to prove how special we were in relationship to everyone else around us generated nowhere near the mutual respect the community feels now from those who come to the community to seek spiritual support, to search out individual sisters for compassion and guidance, and to take their rightful places with us in ministry and spiritual reflection.

Finally, addressing the questions of the time that plague the world -- peace, justice, women's issues, sustainability -- and admitting the questions undermining the current credibility of the church, as well -- clericalism, sexism, sexuality, the implications of interfaith societies -- make sisters honest and caring members of a pilgrim church. From where I stand, the church hierarchy itself could well take the opportunity, the crossroad, that Benedict provides us now and themselves do a little demystifying, a large bit of collegiality and a serious amount of communal discernment with the people of God on the great issues of the time. It means being willing to learn something from women, of course. But then, if they could do that they would be almost a third of the way to the goal already, wouldn't they? Now there's a thought.

Cleveland priest excommunicated for role in breakaway worship community
Extract from Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter, Wednesday 6 March 2013

Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon has issued a decree formally excommunicating Fr. Robert Marrone, the pastor who followed his parishioners from St. Peter Church to the independent worship community that formed in the wake of their parish's closing."It is with sadness I recognize that the Reverend Robert J. Marrone, a priest of the Diocese of Cleveland, has broken communion with the Catholic Church," Lennon's decree, issued Monday, reads. "He is found to have withdrawn submission to the pastors of the Church and from communion with the members of the Church subject to them. "I hereby declare that by doing so freely and with knowledge, the Reverend Robert J. Marrone has incurred ipso facto the automatic penalty (latae sententiae) of excommunication as stated in canon 1364, [paragraph 1] of the Code of Canon Law," he said. The decree accuses the priest of schism and forbids him from participation in celebrations of the sacraments or in public worship. Marrone can neither receive sacraments nor hold a position in any ecclesiastical office. Canon law allows him 10 days from his excommunication's publishing to appeal the decree -- in this case, until March 14.  Marrone addressed his status in a brief statement to members of the Community of St. Peter, stating the action "reflects the continuous pattern [in the diocese] which has marked the process of clustering, consolidation, closing, suppressions and reopening of parishes. I must, as I have stated repeatedly in the past, follow my conscience in this matter." Marrone expressed his gratitude to the community while reaffirming his commitment as their pastor-administrator (more).

Victorian Catholic Church response to Child Abuse
Saturday 2 March 2013

In a new Fact Sheet published by Facing The Truth on 1 March 2013 The Catholic Church in Victoria has offered a response to Child Abuse. Fact Sheet 7 "Learning from the Past - How the Catholic Church in Victoria has responded to Child Abuse is sub-headed "Church provided new options for victims" and may be accessed here

Project Compassion 2013, Friday 1 March 2013   
Project Compassion boxes and Lenten share packs are available in each church to take home for your use.  There is a Project Compassion box available in each church for contributions if you wish to use this option. Photo: Salma pumps water from the tube-well beside her house, while Armena, her mother-in-law, cares for Maya. The tube well provides safe drinking water for the family. Credit: Majed Chowdhury

Convent Public Meeting                                                                                                                                                                                            The Parish has been working for some time towards a new use for the Convent at 95 Bond St Ivanhoe, and we are finally ready to welcome ARAFEMI as our new tenants.  We would like to invite interested neighbours and parishioners to a short presentation and discussion on ARAFEMI’s proposed use of the Convent which is hosted by the Parish and ARAFEMI.  The meeting will be on Wednesday 6th March at 6.00pm at the Convent, 95 Bond St.  Tea will be provided.

Reform dominates the agenda
Extract from Editorial, The Tablet, Saturday 2 March 2013

It would be entirely understandable if Benedict XVI wanted “business as usual” signs to go up at the Vatican as soon as possible after his retirement, and for the new man in charge to carry on the good work of the old though perhaps with extra energy. What is emerging is something rather different – a growing groundswell of conviction, apparently at all levels in the Catholic Church, that things cannot go on as they are. The scandal of clerical child abuse and subsequent episcopal cover-ups refuses to die down. The dramatic resignation of Cardinal Keith O’Brien has calmed nobody’s nerves, and the growing evidence of dysfunction in the Vatican is hardly disputed. But the most significant crisis in the Church is the breakdown in koinonia – love, trust and fellowship – between the hierarchy on one hand, and priests and people on the other. If the leaders of the Church are not careful, the laity could desert in droves. A retreat could accelerate into a rout (more).

Church blame in the frame
Extract from *Fr Frank Brennan SJ, Eureka Street, Thursday 28 February 2013

.................The unaccountable hiddenness of Vatican clericalism has reached its use-by date. The God of the scriptures looks first to those deaf victims and decries the silence in the house of God. Lets hope the Royal Commission can help us hear the voices that need to be heard for the good of us all, and for the good of the Church. And let's hope our cardinals elect someone who can insist on justice, compassion, transparency and due process within his own Curia. Meanwhile we would all be well advised to take more seriously the notions of good and evil, grace and sin, repentance and forgiveness, individual complicity and sinful structures. Whatever our language or theological matrix, we need to own collectively what we could have prevented institutionally. We have a responsibility to call everyone including the pope to account, and not just after they resign (more).  *Fr Frank Brennan SJ is professor of law, director of strategic research projects (social justice and ethics), Australian Catholic University, adjunct professor at the College of Law and the National Centre for Indigenous Studies, Australian National University.

Pope vows 'obedience' to successor on final day
Extract from Catholic News, Thursday 28 February 2012

Pope Benedict XVI has vowed "unconditional obedience" to his successor on his historic final day as leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, as he becomes the first pontiff to resign since the Middle Ages, reports the ABC. He made the pledge at a gathering of Roman Catholic cardinals, before meeting each of them individually and blessing them in their task of electing a new pope in the next few weeks. "Among you there is also the future pope to whom I promise my unconditional obedience and reverence," the pope said as he bade farewell to the cardinals in the Vatican's ornate Clementine Hall. "Let the Lord reveal the one he has chosen," said the 85-year-old pope, wearing an ermine-lined red stole over his white cassock. "We have experienced, with faith, beautiful moments of radiant light together, as well as times with a few clouds in the sky." (more)

Australian Catholics respond to Cardinal Pell comments
Extract from Catholic News, Thursday 28 February 2013

Prominent Australian Catholics have largely rejected claims by Cardinal George Pell that the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI weakened the papacy, and dismissed notions that the Archbishop of Sydney is angling for the top job, reports the Age (more).

Benedict's final farewell. Pell sees papacy as mixed blessing
Edited extract from Barney Zwartz, The Age, Thursday 28 February 2013

A frail Pope Benedict made his public farewell to the world's Catholics on Wednesday morning, hours after one of his closest allies - Sydney Archbishop George Pell - criticised his decision to resign and said the church needed a stronger leader. Cardinal Pell, who was close to the Pope when both served on the key Vatican watchdog congregation and played an important role gathering support for him at the 2005 conclave at which Benedict was elected, said the resignation created a precedent and left the church in an even more uncertain position. Cardinal Pell, Australia's only voter at the coming papal election, was unexpectedly candid in a television interview. He said: ''People who, for example, might disagree with a future pope will mount a campaign to get him to resign.'' He called the Pope a brilliant teacher but said government was not his strongest point. ''He's got to know his theology but I think I prefer somebody who can lead the church and pull it together a bit,'' he said. Benedict was the first pope to step down voluntarily since 1294, and conservatives fear the precedent will open the church to other possible innovations at a time when it faces profound challenges (more).

Seattle parish opens doors to homeless
Extract from National Catholic Reporter. Wednesday 27 February 2013  
                                                                                                                                 In Fr. Tim Clark's designated parking spot, a small trailer set up shop, at his urging, from Feb. 5-26. Its contents -- blankets, camping-style mats, hygiene kits, and cleaning supplies, among other items -- belong to Seattle's Union Gospel Mission, a faith-based social-service provider in Washington state that launched this winter a rotating "volunteer-run satellite shelter" aimed at providing a refuge for homeless people who choose to remain in their neighborhoods rather than seek out large dormitory-style shelters downtown. In partnership with three other churches of various faith denominations in North Seattle, it's now Our Lady of the Lake Parish's turn to convert three months of preparations, as well as the lower level of a parish office, into a safe and smoothly running evening-only emergency shelter. First proposed for consideration by the parish's Justice and Peace Committee, church leadership approved the idea to join in this ecumenical effort and more than 100 parish and parish school families embraced the decision in their responses to Deacon Roy Harrington's initial announcement. Other Catholic churches in the area, often through association with Catholic Community Services, have established a tradition of outreach to the poor and homeless (more).

Church helps set gay captives free
Extract from Eureka Street, Sunday 24 February 2013

Slavery, as depicted in recent films such as Lincoln and Django Unchained, might seem unthinkable to modern audiences. But for centuries, it was the norm. What's more, the worldwide church, due to suspect interpretations of New Testament passages, acquiesced in it. Yet it was Christians like William Wilberforce, leading the movement to abolish slavery in the British Empire, who helped society — and the church — overcome this evil. Today, millions of gay men and lesbian women in every country, culture and religion of the world are in chains; bound by prejudice, hatred and fear. The Jesus I try to follow said he'd come to set captives free. Yet the church, far from setting gay men and women free, contributes one of the loudest voices to keeping them captive (more). Subscription to Eureka Street is free.

Project Compassion
Friday 22 February 2013  
Project Compassion is a vital part of our Lenten journey which raises our awareness of needs in many parts of our world. Take a box or a set of envelopes to give much needed financial support to others in need. Join in the prayer each week as we hear stories of real people who have needs as well as hope.

  • Project Compassion boxes and Lenten share packs are available in each church to take home for your use.
  • There is a Project Compassion box available in each church for contributions if you wish to use this option.

Parishioners of all ages welcome
Merle Gilbo, Friday 22 February 2012
That was very true last Wednesday when we gathered for the first Mass of Anointing and Blessing this year.  For Grades 5 and 6, it was one of the days they joined in the weekday Mass and, as usual, they participated fully – serving, reading, singing and responding to Fr. Thang’s questions. Their presence was joy to the hearts of the ‘older’ parishioners who were graced by a special blessing. All then met in the hall where there were plenty of willing young hands to help with hospitality and a frienfly smile. I’m sure I speak for all of us older parishioners when I say: “Thank you to all who ‘made it happen’. We are looking forward to the next time”

Philippine Papal contender wants people power for Church
Extracts from Catholic News, Thursday 21 February 2012

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle wants to bring the Catholic Church closer to people, a vision his fans say comes from a genuine passion for helping the poor and one that could make him Asia's first pope, reports AFP on Yahoo7. The 55-year-old cardinal from a working-class family close to the Philippine capital is being touted at home and abroad as a genuine chance to succeed Pope Benedict XVI during a historic Vatican vote next month. Tagle has a reputation across the devoutly Catholic Philippines as a humble man with a lifelong commitment to helping the poor, while senior Church figures regard him as a moderate progressive who balances conservative doctrines.....But speaking at a public seminar in Manila last weekend, Tagle elaborated on his well-known views that Church leaders needed to do a better job at reaching out to the people within their communities, particularly the youth.....Eloquent and with a soothing voice, Tagle has also made high-profile speeches in recent years calling for a humbler Church that is more open to the public's concerns (more).

Cardinal Turkson links gays with abuse
Extract from Catholic News, Wednesday 20 February 2013

The cardinal who is favourite to be the first black pope has linked clerical sex abuse with homosexuality, according to a report by The Times in The Australian. Cardinal Peter Turkson claimed the sort of abuse that has shaken catholicism to its roots in Europe was unlikely to ravage the church in Africa because its culture condemned gays. Cardinal Turkson, from Ghana, who is president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, is the second-favourite after Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan to succeed Benedict XVI, but he became the target of anger from sex-abuse victims after he told a television interviewer that Africa's hostility to homosexuality would protect it from sex abuse (more).

Irish PM apologises to women incarcerated in Magdalene laundries
Extract from AP, The Australian, Wednesday 20 February 2013

Ireland ignored the mistreatment of thousands of women who were incarcerated within Catholic nun-operated laundries and must pay the survivors compensation, Prime Minister Enda Kenny said in an emotional state apology for the decades of abuses in the so-called Magdalene Laundries. "By any standards it was a cruel, pitiless Ireland, distinctly lacking in a quality of mercy," Mr Kenny said, as dozens of former Magdalenes watched tearfully from parliament's public gallery overhead. Mr Kenny said his government has appointed a senior judge to recommend an aid program for the approximately 1000 women still living from the residential workhouses, the last of which closed in 1996. He also pledged government funding for the erection of a national memorial "to remind us all of this dark part of our history." A government-commissioned report published two weeks ago found that more than 10,000 women were consigned to the laundries after being branded "fallen" women, a euphemism for prostitutes, even though virtually none of them were - and instead were products of poverty, homelessness and dysfunctional families. More than a quarter were directly referred by public officials, such as judges or truancy officers, and all spent months or years in menial labor without access to education. Most did laundry for local hotels, hospitals and prisons, while others scrubbed floors or made rosary beads for the church's profit (more).  Photo: AP

In picking the next pope, Catholic population doesn’t equal power
Extract from Eric Marrapodi and Dan Merica, CNN Belief,

Despite calls for a new pope from Latin America or Africa, the areas of the Catholic Church experiencing the most rapid growth, the power in the College of Cardinals is decidedly European. The rapid growth of the Catholic population in Latin America and Africa has not yet led to a proportional balancing of the College of Cardinals.  The makeup of the college skews overwhelmingly European, while the majority of the congregants are increasingly not European. “It (the College of Cardinals) doesn't reflect the population, it reflects the power structure,” said William D’Antonio, a professor at The Catholic University of America. “It is like a corporation. The corporation picks its own board of directors. You might own some stock in it, but you are really fighting a battle against a corporation here.” Dubbed the “princes of the church,” the cardinals’ main role is to select the next pope, which is done in a secret conclave in the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City.  Cardinals are handpicked by the pope both to choose his successor and to assist in the daily needs of the church.  When they are elevated to the role they take on a red hat, symbolic of their willingness to shed their own blood for their faith. Cardinals have selected the pope since 1059, and the College of Cardinals was formally established in 1150 (more).

Radical Benedict
Extracts from Neil Ormerod, Eureka Street, Sunday 17 February 2012

Pope Benedict's resignation shocked the Church and the world. A papal resignation has not occurred in almost 600 years. Benedict did something that was considered 'not done'. It was not against the rules, but it has changed the institution of the Church. It makes him look like a radical in the tradition of Christian radicalism. ......Such re-orientation is informed by conscience. Accordingly, Benedict wrote in his statement last week: 'After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry ... In order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary.' The logic of what Benedict did implies that his successor could choose to overlook practices that are arguably no longer suited to an adequate exercise.....The logic of what Benedict did implies that his successor could choose to overlook practices that are arguably no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the ministry of Jesus Christ in general, such as priestly celibacy......The upshot of Benedict's resignation is that the Church has grounds for hope that did not exist a week ago...... Those of us who have hung in must now pray for a new direction, a return to the spirit of the Second Council, a Pope of reform after an era of often irrational reaction and concealment of some of the worst evil imaginable. It can happen. Perhaps Benedict XVI finally grasped that. And finally did what he was never ever capable of doing before: let go and let God take over. Moreover it would do no harm for the reverberations of Benedict's radical and conscientious action to be felt beyond the Church, inside institutions such as political parties and unions, where more attention is often given to particular rules and conventions than the purposes for which they were founded (more). Subscription to Eureka Street is free.

New Series of Weekly Reflections
Friday 15 February 2012

This week Fr Thang commences a new Series of weekly Reflections, beginning with "Sacraments". This is published on this website under "Mass Details", and in the printed Parish Newsletter. 

Active Parish Liturgy Group - rewarding and open to all
Friday 15 February 2013

For this Year Of Faith and particularly right now for our parish Journeys to Easter 2013 the long-standing Parish Liturgy Group is busily arranging special events, as well as our Easter liturgies in conjunction with our Parish Primary Schools. Further details soon. Apart from our Parish Priest (and visiting PP) the long-standing Liturgy Group chaired by Merle Gilbo comprises various interested persons from MI, MOG and occasionally St Bernadette's. No special skills required to share in its work, just an interest. All are invited to participate to the extent available, in what according to those involved is actually highly enjoyable, enlightening, spiritually stimulating and rewarding work. Further representation from St Bernadette's is also sought.  Thursdays 9-10am, Parish Office. Image: Flickr, Evissa

Viewpoints: Successes and failures of Benedict XVI
Extracts from BBC News Europe, Thursday 14 February 2012

Pope Benedict has led the Catholic Church since 2005, and his papacy has reflected his belief that the Catholic Church should retain its core traditional, conservative values in an era of rapid change. He rejected calls for a debate on the issue of clerical celibacy, and reaffirmed the ban on Communion for divorced Catholics who remarry. He has also said the Church's strict positions on abortion, euthanasia and gay partnerships were "not negotiable". This outspoken orthodoxy has divided liberals and more traditional Catholics, while the recent leaking of personal documents suggests a lack of control over the machinations of the Vatican. How has Benedict XVI managed the world's largest Christian community? We asked six scholars and analysts for their perspective on key areas of the pontificate (more).

New Evangelisation in the context of the Royal Commission
Extracts from Fr Noel Connolly SSC, St Columban's Missionary Society, Wednesday 13 February 2012 (published 8 February 2013)

It is an irony that we are being encouraged to boldly call people back to the Church, at a time when the Church has never been more distrusted, exposed and held up to criticism. Yet there may be a special meaning and opportunity in this. I have a Leunig cartoon on my office wall in which a man meets God in the person of the wounded man lying on the side of the road. God begs the man, "Help me I am God and I am wounded". "You’re not God," says the man. "God is all powerful." "I am all-vulnerable" says God. "I am in pain. I am at your mercy." It was too unbearable for the man. He became so infuriated he killed God. Whatever the theological niceties, it is a very revealing cartoon. Most of us want God to be powerful because we would like to be powerful, to be in control, and not to suffer. We fear the pain, the chaos, the lack of order and loss of certainty if vulnerability is at the heart of life. But now, because of our sins of deed and omission in the area of sexual abuse of children and the care of victims, we are learning to be a more vulnerable and much less powerful and respected Church. It is also ironic that this may be a better starting point for mission........This crisis may force us to be humble and respectful. We have been taken down from the pedestal and freed from perfection and power, to know shame, to feel powerlessness and to share the anxieties, struggles and "sins" of our brothers and sisters. We are called to the same vocation as Jesus, "to empty ourselves" (Phil. 2:1-11), to live in humble solidarity with those to whom we are missioned. As with Jesus, sharing the life of the community is the core of mission not just a tactic or strategy. Mission is always in amongst the people not apart from or above them (more).

Ex-Benedict, where will the Catholic Church go?
Edited Extract from Editorial, The Age, Wednesday 13 February 2013

As the late Cardinal Carlo Martini of Milan was dying last year, he took a last pointed swipe at the Vatican and what he considered a hopelessly outdated Catholic Church. ''Our culture has aged, our churches are big and empty and the church bureaucracy rises up; our rituals and our cassocks are pompous,'' he said. ''The church must admit its mistakes and begin a radical path of change, starting with the pope and the bishops.'' His comments of just five months ago are worth considering now as the 117-strong College of Cardinals prepares to elect a new pope following the sudden resignation of Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger). Where the Catholic Church goes from here, what kind of direction and inspiration a new leader might provide, is vitally important to us all. That is because, on issues such as artificial contraception, abortion and homosexuality, even divorce - all legitimised in modern civil law systems - the church has trod a determined path of opposition. Cardinal Martini articulated what many lesser Catholics sensed from afar. The liberal reforms of the Second Vatican Council - hallmarked by messages of tolerance and inclusion, and the recognition of the people as ''the church'' - have been undermined, if not deadened, by decades of conservative Vatican leadership. He argued that unless the Vatican softened its stance on vitally important issues, such as those mentioned above and more, it risked losing a generation of followers. Whether that matters to the next pope depends on how the church sees itself, say, five decades from now. The church is facing enormous challenges. Its congregation is declining in traditional strongholds, such as Europe and the Americas, though increasing in developing nations in Africa and Asia. Its claim to moral leadership has been truly compromised by the way it handled scandals involving sexual abuse by clergy in Catholic dioceses from Ireland to Germany, the United States to Australia ..(more)  Photo: The Age, Joe Armao



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