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Archived old news 2015


Cardinal to give evidence at Royal Commission
Extract from CathNews, 2 June 2015
Cardinal George Pell's offer to appear during the second round of Royal Commission hearings in Ballarat later this year has been accepted, as the Vatican and leading Church figures in Australia ask for him to be given a "fair go."     According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the Royal Commission announced that its Chair had received a letter from Cardinal Pell indicating that he was prepared to come to Australia to give evidence. Last week, the Cardinal again promised full co-operation with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.    "The Royal Commission will ask him to give evidence in the second of the Ballarat hearings," said the announcement.    The first Ballarat hearing, which focussed on survivors and the impact of child sexual abuse on the community, ended on Friday. The date for the second Ballarat hearing has not yet been fixed.    The Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, who is also the President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and was a bishop in Melbourne when Cardinal Pell was Archbishop there, yesterday spoke out in defence of Cardinal Pell, urging people to hold off from making hasty judgments.   "I hope all Australians who believe in a fair go will give Cardinal Pell the opportunity to answer the criticisms that have been raised in both the Royal Commission and the media before drawing any final conclusions," Archbishop Hart said in a statement.    Cardinal Pell is a "good man, an honest man" who has been willing to admit to his mistakes, the Archbishop said.......(more)

Another eConference Broadcast live to our Parish & elsewhere - "Religion: Catalyst for violence or Peace?" 

Following several successful live eConferences in past years The Broken Bay Institute in NSW will broadcast another live interactive event to venues around Australia and other parts of the world, including to our Hall behind Mary Immaculate Church, 4 Waverley Avenue Ivanhoe, on Tuesday 23 June, from 10:00am to 2:30 pm. A light lunch will be offered (donation invited) so for catering purposes bookings are required.  Contact: John Costa, Merle Gilbo, members of the Liturgy and Outreach Groups, or the Parish Office. Speakers are:

  • Terry Lovat, Emeritus Professor and Postgraduate Theology Convenor, University of Newcastle and Senior Research Fellow, Philosophy, Religion & Education, University of Oxford, UK
  • Rev Dorothy Lee, Dean of the Theological School and the Frank Woods Professor in New Testament, Trinity College, The University of Melbourne
  • Imam Mohamad Abdalla, Associate Professor at the School of Humanities, Griffith University, Queensland
  • Amy-Jill Levine, Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies, and Professor of Jewish Studies, Vanderbilt Divinity School and College of Arts and Science, USA

Read transcript of an interview of Amy-Jill Levine (photo rhs) by Amelia Morris from the Broken Bay institute  here and Terry Lovat report here (permission Broken Bay Institute)   Download eConference Flyer here

Archbishop on gay marriage: We need to ask the big questions
Extract from CathNews, 2 June 2015
The world won't end if or when Australia adopts same-sex marriage but it will change, and people need to be careful what they wish for, said the Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn, Christopher Prowse, reports The Canberra Times.   "Yes, the sun will still rise in the east and set in the west if this [same-sex marriage] comes through but what sort of society are we moving towards?" he said. "We've got to ask the big questions."     The future definitions of words such as intimacy and friendship stand at the head of the list.    "Where will traditional marriage, which has served us in such good stead for millennia, stand? Will that be relativised? Will it be seen as one arrangement amongst many or will it still be seen as the pre-eminent way families are introduced into humanity?"   Archbishop Prowse cautioned against rushing to legislate in the wake of last month's Irish plebiscite result which prompted a pastoral letter from Australia's Catholic Bishops to the Australian Church last Thursday.    The letter acknowledged the same-sex marriage debate was gaining momentum locally and referenced moves by the Labor Party and the Greens to introduce draft legislation.   Archbishop Prowse, who described the debate as "one-sided," said the danger of trying to extend meaning to everything – in this case all forms of relationships – was the removal of meaning from anything........(more)    Photo: Cathnews

Vatican downplays commission member's remarks about Cardinal Pell
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 1 June 2015
Vatican City. The Vatican's main spokesman has downplayed comments made about Australian Cardinal George Pell by a member of Pope Francis' commission on clergy sexual abuse, saying the member was speaking in his own name and not in the authority of the commission.     Commission member Peter Saunders, an English survivor of clergy sexual abuse, said in an Australian television interview Sunday that Pell had had an "almost sociopathic" disregard for abuse victims.    Responding to Saunders' interview, Vatican spokesman Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi said in a statement Monday that Saunders was speaking in his own name. The papal commission on clergy sexual abuse, Lombardi said in the statement, "does not have the task of investigating and pronouncing specific judgment on single cases."    The Vatican spokesman also referred journalists to Pell's own statements on the matter, saying those "must be considered reliable and worthy of respect and attention."..............(more)

Truth Justice Healing Council, Bishop Paul Bird Statement, Royal Commission - Ballarat, 29 May 2015
Ballarat Bishop Paul Bird took the stand to provide further evidence on the final day of this part of the hearing. His statement may be read here.

Church leaders detained in separate incidents in China
Extract from CathNews, 29 May 2015
Chinese authorities have stepped up persecution of underground Catholics with the detention of a bishop and a priest as well as the demolition of an altar that left two laywomen injured, reports Ucanews.   The detentions and demolition were all separate incidents that occured this month.   Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding was taken away by officials in Hebei province on May 12 and then sent back to his Cathedral to celebrate Mass on Pentecost Sunday on May 24, according to his priests.         It remained unclear why the Bishop had been detained for 12 days.    “He ordained a few priests in April and was then warned not to go on a pilgrimage during the Month of Mary in May,” said a source in Zhengding who declined to be named for security reasons.        Authorities have recently ordered all religious personnel — without specifying which faiths — to report their whereabouts, the source added........(more)  Photo: Cathnews    

Australian bishops: Redefining marriage would reduce it
Extract from CathNews, 29 May 2015
The Australian Catholic Bishops have issued a pastoral letter, in which they say that "redefining marriage in the way now proposed would see marriage reduced to a committed, affectionate sexual relationship between any two people."   "In the context of the Irish referendum, both the Labor Party and the Greens have announced they will introduce draft legislation to allow two people of the same sex to marry," the letter says.    "Marriage is both a personal relationship between a man and a woman, and the protective institution for their children. Marriage includes an emotional union, but it goes further than that. It involves a comprehensive bodily and spiritual union of a man and a woman.    "This union of a man and woman is the natural reproductive and protective environment for raising children. Marriage is the foundation of the family unit, which is in turn the first cell of society.....(more)


Ireland is worse than the pagans for legalising gay marriage, says senior cardinal
Extract from Katherine Backler, Liz Dodd, The Tablet, 28 May 2015
Ireland has gone further than paganism and “defied God” by legalising gay marriage, one of the Church’s most senior cardinals has said.  Cardinal Raymond Burke, who was recently moved from a senior role in the Vatican to be patron of the Order of Malta, told the Newman Society, Oxford University’s Catholic Society, last night that he struggled to understand “any nation redefining marriage”.    Visibly moved, he went on: “I mean, this is a defiance of God. It’s just incredible. Pagans may have tolerated homosexual behaviours, they never dared to say this was marriage.”   A total of 1.2 million people voted in favour of amending the constitution to allow same-sex couples to marry, with 734,300 against the proposal, making Ireland the first country to introduce gay marriage by popular vote.........(more)     Photo: The Tablet 


Ridsdale says he never had restrictions placed on him
Extract from Cathnews, 28 May 2015
Paedophile priest Gerard Ridsdale, convicted of more than 100 charges of child sexual abuse during 30 years, began offending before he was ordained and says he worked with no restrictions at any of the parishes he was moved to, reports The Age.    Ridsdale, 81, told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse yesterday that he had spent his life feeling "uncomfortable" around adults, keeping secrets and in fear of being discovered as a paedophile. He also said he had been sexually abused as a child himself, and had had a three-year relationship while in prison.    The first time he abused a child was at a camp for disadvantaged children while he was still in training to become a priest at a seminary in Werribee.    Within a year of his ordination in 1961, the Church received its first complaint about Ridsdale abusing children. Then-Bishop James O'Collins threatened to send Ridsdale "off the mission"  if he offended again, which meant he would no longer work as a priest.    Ms Furness asked if this threat played on his mind as he moved to different parishes and abused children. Ridsdale, who was also abused by a cousin and an uncle when he was younger than 12, said: "It could have."    He repeatedly denied having to comply with certain conditions when he was moved to different parishes, despite parishioners' complaints of his abusive behaviour.    "I've never had any restrictions or conditions put on me," he said.    Church authorities' knowledge and response to Ridsdale and others' sexual offending are being examined at the hearings in Ballarat......(more)

Cardinal Pell restates willingness to give evidence
Extract from Cathnews, 28 MAY 2015
Cardinal George Pell has restated his willingness to give evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in a letter written to the Chair of the Commission.    "Without wanting to pre-empt the Royal Commission in any way - you can't just invite yourself to give evidence - I want to make it absolutely clear that I am willing to give evidence should the Commission request this, be it by statement, appearance by video link, or by attending personally", he wrote in the letter sent earlier this week.    Cardinal Pell also said it was important to restate his strong personal commitment to full co-operation with the Royal Commission in light of the Ballarat hearings and speculation about his own willingness to give evidence.    "Like everyone else I am horrified by the accounts that survivors have given in their evidence during the Ballarat hearings, and at the enormous impact the abuse has had on them, their families and the community.    "I am also deeply saddened by the way Church authorities have failed in responding to these crimes...........(more)  Photo: Cathnews 

Pope Francis in another revealing interview
Extract from Catholic Arciocese of Melbourne. Catholic News Services, 28 May 2015
Pope Francis says he wants to be remembered as 'a good person who tried to do good. I cannot ask for anything more than that.'    The statement, as well as comments about his life as pope and situations that move him to tears, are part of an interview His Holiness gave in late May to 'La Voz del Pueblo,'a newspaper from Tres Arroyos, Argentina. The Vatican newspaper printed a translation of the interview May 25......(more)


Parish Review Workshop helps move things along
Wednesday 27 May 2015
Starting a collective process of refining the Parish Review scenarios tonight's workshop held at Mother Of God School worked in syndicates through the large list of options  previously made available across the parish for discussion. While this is just one further step towards an outcome there was strong consensus on the sorts of changes that satisfy the Parish Vision and Objectives previously developed across the Parish, and that also look ahead while considering finances and other resources. What also clearly emerged from tonight's proceedings and was reiterated at the end of the evening by Fr Thang is that a decision is being developed by the whole Parish community itself and neither is nor should be imposed by a Parish Priest or anyone else.  Fr Thang said Parish Priests come and go whilst Parishioners comprise the community for far longer, very often for generations. Such a parish-wide process takes more time but assures an outcome that parishioners collectively decide is the way forward in the best interests of the present and future parish community. It also necessarily responds to the strong trend of declining resources and growing costs. The following steps will be to narrow a diminishing set of scenarios, towards a final outcome. Tonight's meeting was convened by Sue Moorehen (left in the photo).

Vatican media must reallocate resources for the internet age, says Lord Patten after major review
Extract from Joanna Moorhead, The Tablet, 27 May 2015
The Vatican’s media must “up its game” for the digital age and move towards a more streamlined and joined-up operation, former BBC head Lord Patten said on Wednesday – but he hinted there are likely to be problems ahead on the road to reform. The Catholic peer and former chairman of the Conservative Party, is head of the Vatican Media Committee formed last year to recommend reforms.     “Given the speed with which news now travels and the immediate global dissemination of news and opinion, we felt that the Holy See needed to strengthen its media relations operations in order to respond rapidly to a constant news cycle and in different languages,” he told the audience at the World
Communications Day lecture at St Patrick’s Church, Soho, in London. “What is needed now is more visual, multi-media content, especially if one wishes to reach younger people.”    The Vatican, he said, had been a pioneer in the media for  more than a century – Vatican Radio, for example, was “cutting edge” when it opened in 1931. But in today’s world, Rome’s media budget was not being wisely spent: for example, around 85 per cent of the net cost of its communications outlay was on financing the newspaper and radio. “But how do most people these days get their information?” Lord Patten asked. “The television and social media services of the Vatican are very professionally run but also very under-resourced.”....(more)

Cardinal Kasper: Francis wants a hierarchy that listens to 'sensus fidei'
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 26 May 2015
Pope Francis wants to retool the Catholic hierarchy so that it not only defines and enforces church teachings, but also listens and responds to how laypeople understand God's will, German Cardinal Walter Kasper said.   Kasper, a noted theologian whose writings are known to have influenced Francis, said the pope wants to create a "listening magisterium."    Kasper said one concept important to the pope is that of the sensus fidei, or the capacity of individual believers and the church as a whole to discern the truths of faith.    That concept, Kasper said, "was emphasized by the council ... [but] Francis now wishes to give it complete meaning.   "He wants a listening magisterium -- that makes  its position, yes," the cardinal said, "but makes its position after it has heard what the Spirit says to its churches."    "Catholicity includes ... all," Kasper said. "Women and men, young and old, clergy and laity. The laity are not only recipients, but also actors. Not only objects, but much more, subjects in the church."    Kasper, the former president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, spoke Saturday at Washington's National Cathedral as part of a landmark theological conference on the Second Vatican Council co-hosted by the cathedral, Georgetown University, and Marymount University in Arlington, Va.......(more)

Can Pope Francis succeed in reforming the Curia?
Extract from Robert Mickens, National Catholic Reporter, 26 May 2015
Many Catholics who are eager to see Pope Francis reform the Roman Curia have grown noticeably impatient with how long the project is taking. Recently, some have even begun to wonder whether the 78-year-old pope has the time, energy and necessary support to radically overhaul the church's central bureaucracy.   Fr. Ladislas Orsy, one of Catholicism's most important and respected canon lawyers these past several decades, has a clear mind on the issue.    He says there can be no real reform of the Roman Curia without decentralization of the church's governing structures and its decision-making apparatus.    The Hungarian-born Jesuit was a peritus, or theological adviser, to several bishops attending  the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and, even as he prepares to celebrate his 94th birthday later this summer, he continues to teach at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C.    During a recent visit to the U.S.  capital, I spent several hours in conversation with this amazingly young nonagenarian. With his refreshingly youthful intellect, he shared some of his views and concerns about how Francis, his Jesuit confrere, has been striving to renew  the church during his two years in office.    "If there is no decentralization, there will be no lasting reform of the Roman Curia," Orsy said flatly. He pointed out that in the last 800 years, every attempt to truly reform the church's centralized bureaucracy has failed because power has remained too highly concentrated in Rome.    "In a global church that continues to expand way beyond Europe, this is not a sustainable governing model," he said. He emphasized that it  was also out of sync with the ecclesiology of Vatican II, which pointed to a shift away from Roman centralization and sought to retrieve and develop the ancient doctrine of episcopal collegiality based on synodality and subsidiarity...........(more).


Irish Church accepts its teaching jars with the faithful
Extracts from Gerry O'Hanlon, Eureka Street, 26 May 2015
Last Saturday evening there was an explosion of joy among the crowd at Dublin Castle when the result of the Irish Referendum on gay marriage was officially announced.    The ‘yes’ side had gained just over 62 per cent of the vote, the ‘no’ side just under 38 per cent, on a turn-out of over 60 per cent of the electorate (the 5th highest poll ever, in this 34th amendment to the 1937 Irish Constitution).        By any standard this was a decisive and handsome victory – only a single one of Ireland’s 43 constituencies voted against the amendment...............Serious questions remain – for us and for other countries considering going down the same route. Does equality always have to be conceived of in terms of uniformity? How do we identify and value the distinction and diversity than exists between male and female? How – in a debate characterised by an appeal to rights language – do we honour the rights of children, do we consider that their sense of identity can truly be honoured by the Brave New World of surrogacy and reproductive technologies, already sketched in the dystopian 1984 Handmaid’s Tale of the Canadian feminist novelist Margaret Atwood? How, in our public discourse, can we blend more harmoniously the appeal to story and witness with the appeal to analysis, the language of rights with that of the common good?             In particular, of course, there is need for an already demoralised Irish Catholic Church to take stock. The Bishops, for the most part, were restrained in their approach to campaigning, unable to support the Referendum, advising serious reflection, and yet basically, without using the terms, leaving it up to people’s consciences to vote.....(more)     Image: Eureka Street


Archbishop defends Cardinal Pell over handling of abuse claims
Extract from Cathnews, 25 May 2015
The Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher OP, has defended Cardinal George Pell over his handling of child sexual abuse in the Church, reports The Age.    In a letter to schools and parishes in the Sydney Archdiocese, Archbishop Fisher rebuffed allegations that the Church used legal manoeuvres to protect itself from victim claims for compensation and applauded Cardinal Pell for his handling of the child sexual abuse scandal.    A spokesperson for the Sydney Archdiocese confirmed Archbishop Fisher was referring to the Church's Towards Healing protocol and the Melbourne Response, initiated under Cardinal Pell's leadership.......(more)


A tough time to be a Catholic in Ballarat
Edited Extracts from Konrad Marshall, The Courier, Ballarat, Monday 25 May 2015
Normally swung shut and baldly unadorned, the wrought iron gates of the early Gothic church were flung wide open on Sunday morning, and tied with colourful ribbons.    They will remain that way at St Patrick's Cathedral throughout the course of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Ballarat, as an expression of the parish desire to be open to this ongoing pain.       Father Justin Driscoll was dressed in resplendent red for Mass, and he stood above the congregation of 100 or more, both welcoming and commanding, his hands raised as the searching homily began. "I don't know what to say - and don't know what not to say," he said, pausing.    "Part of me wants to be silent for long enough to allow the real impact of this past week to simply stay with us."     "We've heard so much about our church culture, that has enabled these crimes to continue - a culture of power and secrecy, silencing and clericalism, of protecting the institution," Father Driscoll continued. "For us it continues to be hard to hear, and it continues to be hard to bear, but that is no reason to seek to silence those voices who are seeking to bring the truth. Those who are speaking need our encouragement, not our condemnation."      Afterwards, Margaret Millington of Nhill was among those who said she "rejoiced" that the victims were finally being given a voice.         "We hope this will be a cleansing moment," she said. "Everyone is deeply affected by this - that such an evil would be given a chance to fester. We need this moment in order to learn, so that this will never happen again.".....(more)


Church needs a reality check, says Dublin archbishop after Irish vote in favour of gay marriage
Extracts from Sarah Mac Donald in Dublin, The Tablet, 24 May 2015
Ireland voted to allow same-sex marriage by two votes to one in an historic referendum held on Friday. “Ireland is a small country with a big message,” said Prime Minister Enda Kenny as the scale of the Yes vote became apparent.   A total of 1.2 million people voted in favour of amending the constitution to allow same-sex couples marry, with 734,300 against the proposal, making Ireland the first country in world to introduce gay marriage by popular vote.     The Yes vote prevailed by 62 to 38 per cent, with a 60.5 percent turnout and total valid poll of 1,935,907..............Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, who took every opportunity to explain his reasons for voting No, said the outcome was part of a social revolution.   “It is very clear that this referendum is an affirmation of the views of young people,” he said and he acknowledged that the Church needed a “reality check”.    “The Church has a huge task in front of it to find the language to be able to talk to and get its message across to young people – not just on this issue but in general,” he said and he noted that many of the young people who voted Yes were the product of 12 years of Catholic education............Fr Tony Flannery, a founder of the Association of Catholic Priests, responded to the result by underling that people are not listening to the Church any longer.    “What was particularly sad was to see the bishops in total opposition to a mass movement of the younger generation,” he said.    Writing on his blog, the Redemptorist warned that, “The day of doctrinaire Catholicism is over in this country. The people are no longer willing to listen to speeches and sermons on morality from the Church.”.....(more)  Photo: Associated Press



A very significant date for the Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe:
Merle Gilbo. Friday 22 may 2015
Have you noticed that there is another foundation stone opposite the one for the present Mary Immaculate Church? It was from the red brick church originally on this site and it was put in place on the 31st October 1915. So we have a centenary to celebrate in October this year. When we had the opportunity, we spoke to Bishop Mark Edwards, our recently appointed Regional Bishop, about being with us and he pencilled in Sunday afternoon, 25th October.  So we have a start............(more)


Another significant date for our future Parish
Friday 22 May 2015
The next workshop as part of the Parish Review will be on next Wednesday 27 May. See all the details and link to documentation in the News item of 15 May below.(while looking see the18 May notice below on the Dr Sr Mary Glowrey event Tuesday 26 May)


Church lawyers urged to contest victims' claims against Cardinal
Extract from Cathnews, 22 May 2015
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Chairman has urged Church authorities to challenge claims Cardinal George Pell attempted to bribe one victim of clerical abuse and ignored the pleas of another, reports The Age.   The Chairman, Justice Peter McClellan, is expected to make a determination on the veracity of the explosive allegations against Cardinal Pell, and implored Church lawyers to test the evidence put to the Commission.    Late on Wednesday night, Cardinal Pell sent a statement from Rome to the Royal Commission, strenuously denying the allegations from survivors David Ridsdale and Timothy Green......(more)

Trust lay people to live out their vocations, Pope tells Italian bishops
Extract from  Hannah Roberts in Rome, The Tablet, 21 May 2015
Pope Francis has instructed Italian bishops to respect the strength of the laity and behave more like pastors rather than “pilots” ordering the faithful around.    At the start of the Italian bishops’ conference plenary meeting this week the Pope said: “Laypeople with an authentic Christian formation should not need a bishop-guide or a ‘monsignor-pilot’ or clerical input to assume their own responsibilities at all levels, political to social, economic to legislative. Instead they need a bishop-pastor.”    Part of a bishop’s role is “reinforcing the indispensable role of the laity willing to take on the responsibilities that belong to them”, said Francis, who also urged bishops to show more humility, compassion, mercy and wisdom and go “where the Holy Spirit asks them to go”.....(more)

Cardinal Wilfrid Napier in Melbourne Discussion
Edited Extracts from CathNews, 21 May 2015
All Saints Church in the inner Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy was filled to the brim last week for a conversation between the Archbishop of Durban, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, and Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne Vincent Long.    The two Franciscans discussed a range of topics last Friday, including the effects of Apartheid on South Africa, the injustices facing refugees and asylum seekers, and the Papacy of Pope Francis. The crowd was also entertained with music sung by the Vietnamese Choir of Melbourne.........He also shared some memories from the election of Pope Francis, saying "Pope Francis is leading by example... Symbols and actions... Like Jesus, the Church serves whoever needs to be served.".................(more)

For US sisters, ordinary Catholics made a way where there was no way
Extracts from    National Catholic Reporter, 21 May 2015
I'm so thankful for the mid-April resolution of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's mandate against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.   Alongside December's positive apostolic visitation report, this is a second win-win for U.S. sisters and for Pope Francis, who successfully de-escalated the troubling (not to say scandalous) situation he inherited.  It is noteworthy, however, that Pope Benedict XVI had already made an important change when he replaced Cardinal Franc Rode -- the former head of the Congregation for Religious who ordered an apostolic visitation of U.S. religious communities -- with the more progressive Brazilian Cardinal João Braz de Aviz. Braz de Aviz criticized the doctrinal congregation's unilateral decision to investigate LCWR without any prior consultation and is on record as saying, "Women's leadership needs to grow a lot in the church."..........It is no small thing to have official approbation after so many years of distrust and criticism for thinking outside the box. And as we quickly discovered, many of God's people don't find religious boxes particularly meaningful. Yet we are called to love, serve and learn from them anyhow. Indeed, the institutional church must do the same if we are to stanch the contemporary exodus from organized religion.......(more

Cardinal denies allegations of involvement in abuse cover-up
Extract from CathNews, 21 May 2015
Cardinal George Pell has strongly denied being involved in an alleged sex abuse cover-up within the Church after the Royal Commission heard he tried to bribe a victim to keep quiet, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.   In a statement released last night, Cardinal Pell renewed his rejection of claims that he helped move disgraced paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale between parishes and tried to pay one of his victims to remain silent.    He also denied ignoring another victim's claim that a now-convicted sex offender was abusing children at St Patrick's College in Ballarat.   Chair of the Royal Commission into the Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse,  Justice Peter McClellan, said yesterday that Cardinal Pell would be required to respond to the allegations.    Cardinal Pell, now finance chief at the Vatican, released a statement online late last night saying he had already addressed many of the claims levelled against him in a Victorian parliamentary inquiry in 2013, and he stood by those statements.   "Over the last 24 hours, I have been accused of being complicit in the moving of a known paedophile, of ignoring a victim's complaint, and of bribery," he said.   "These matters again require an immediate response and it is important to correct the record, particularly given the false and misleading headlines."..........(more)

Survivors tell inquiry of harrowing abuse at Ballarat
Extract from Cath News, 20 May 2015
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has heard harrowing evidence of child sexual abuse at Catholic institutions around Ballarat, west of Melbourne, reports Nine  News.   Stephen Woods, one survivor who was raped and later blamed for what had happened, told the Royal Commission yesterday: "I want to share about how it has really affected me so personally, so deeply, and it's affected my family, it's affected my friends, it's affected my life on so many levels," Mr Woods said.   The group of abusers included former priest Gerald Ridsdale, jailed for eight years for molesting more than 50 children across a dozen parishes and churches in Victoria.      At one school Ridsdale had molested every male child aged between 11 and 16.   The Guardian reports that Cardinal George Pell was involved in the decision to move a priest who was later found to be a prolific child sex abuse offender from the Victorian parish of Mortlake.   Cardinal Pell, who supported Ridsdale during his first court appearance for child sex offences in 1993, was part of a Church clerical group called the College of Consultors that decided to move Ridsdale between parishes. Pell later became the Archbishop of Melbourne, then Sydney, before taking up a senior role at the Vatican....................(more

Sex abuse toll horrifying
Extract from Fiona Henderson, The Courier Ballarat. 20 May 2015
CLERGY sex abuse survivor Philip Nagle asked for a minute’s silence following his testimony to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on Tuesday. Mr Nagle was honouring his 12 fellow St Alipius Christian Brothers Primary School pupils who have committed suicide – out of a class of 33.   The shocking statistics were some of the evidence presented about abuse on the first day of the hearings that victims have described as a “carnage” that has fractured Ballarat.    Mr Nagle was repeatedly assaulted by disgraced priest Stephen Farrell when he was a grade five pupil.   “I would know when an attack was coming because he would always remove his glasses first,” Mr Nagle said.   “It was a scary time. I couldn’t work out what I was doing that made the abuse happen because the physical pain made it feel like I was being punished.”....(more)

Cardinal Parolin offers new insights into climate encyclical
Extract from Crux, 20 May 2015
Vatican City: A new development model is needed to combat global warming, one that marries economic growth to combat poverty with a sustainable use of resources, Pope Francis’ deputy said Wednesday.     Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, said both political and economic commitment will be required to ensure the Earth’s health for future generations.    Parolin’s remarks came in a message Wednesday to a conference of business and Church leaders on how sustainable actions can drive the economic growth needed to lift people out of poverty. It’s a theme that Francis is expected to explore in his environment encyclical, which is due in the coming weeks........(more) Photo:Crux CNS Bob Roller

Church to block victims' court bids despite promise to abandon practice by Pell
Edited Extract and link to article by Chris Vedelago, Cameron Houston, The Age, 18 May 2015
A controversial Church legal defence to block victims of clerical abuse seeking compensation will continue despite a prior promise to discontinue the practice. Fairfax Media can reveal a rift between bishops, religious orders and their insurers. Francis Sullivan has called for church lawyers to 'get with the program and renounce the controversial legal precedent.....(more)



Dr Sr Mary Glowrey - Servant of God
The Parish of St Gregory the Great will host a speakers evening on the life of Dr Sr Mary Glowrey. Victoria’s Dr Sr Mary Glowrey, who spent her life tending the sick in India, could well become Australia’s second saint. The evening will commence with a light supper of pizza and drinks at 7pm and after the presentations there will be an opportunity for questions.  Flyer here

Tuesday, 26th May 2015 7pm-9pm
St Gregory the Great Hall  396 Manningham Road, Doncaster
Presenters:   Karin Clark (involved in Mary’s canonisation cause since 2013)    Louise McGrath (Great niece of Mary Glowrey)


Arriving fit and well
Saturday 16 May 2015. updated Sunday 17 May
After an approximately six hour flight from Indonesia today (most of it flying over Australia) Fr Lasber Sinaga arrived in Melbourne looking fit and well on this fine sunny morning. He was greeted at the airport by Pastoral Leadership Team Chair Chris Dixon and Fr Thang (who took this photo).  His first Melbourne experience after lunch was a guided tour of Ivanhoe. Welcome Fr Sinaga (see article below,12 May)! The sunny weather is forecast to last for the next two days. Some photos of Fr Lasber's Sunday activities here

 Leaving Collections at Masses this weekend - for Chaplaincy Appeal
Friday 15 May 2015
As advised by the Archdiocese, there will be Leaving Collections after Mass in each church this weekend for Chaplaincy Appeal......details in Parish Newsletter here


Parish Strategic Review: Next Workshop - Scenarios
Sue Moorhen, Exec Member PLT, for Pastoral Leadership Team, Friday 15 May 2015                                                                                                As you know, the Parish is working through a Strategic Review, which includes a review of the use of Parish Assets.  We have worked through many phases of the review, including community engagement, creating a new Mission statement, and analysing the assets we have today.       We are now at the stage of brainstorming tangible scenarios for the future use of our assets.            A further workshop has been arranged and if you would also like to be involved and provide input to the Parish on this part of the Review, there are two ways to get involved:

1)Come to the Scenario Planning Workshop:
Where:  Marion Centre (MOG)
When: Wednesday 27th May, 7.30pm – 10.30pm
If you want to come, please RSVP to Sue Moorhen on 0418 595 249 or by Wednesday 20th May.  Please see the Preparation / Pre Reading...............(here).

2) Alternatively, you may wish to provide written feedback on a scenario of your choice
.  You can do this individually or perhaps get a small group together (over coffee?) and provide input from the ‘team’.  See ‘what you need to do’ (click link above).  Feel free to call me on 0418 595 249 with questions/ feedback on the process.  Written feedback would be appreciated before the workshop – by Friday 22 May. 


Bishops Conference divides the capacity of Bishops’ Commission for Pastoral Life
Extract from Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Media Blog, Friday 15 May 2015
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference voted to divide the capacity of the Bishops’ Commission for Pastoral Life by establishing a new commission for family, youth and life during their plenary meeting this week.           ‘In order to reflect the growing importance of the Church’s care for youth, and support for marriage, as well as care for the lives of all especially the very young and elderly, the Bishops’ Commission for Pastoral Life has been divided, so that the new commission will give greater attention where it is needed most,’ said Archbishop Denis Hart, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.        Gathered at Mary MacKillop Place from 7-14 May, the bishops elected Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, chairman of the new commission. Bishop Edwards, Bishop Comensoli and Bishop Kennedy were also elected to the Bishops Commission for Family, Youth and Life.        Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney, Terry Brady, will chair the restructured Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life. He will be joined by Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen ofm conv, Bishop Michael McCarthy and Bishop Bosco Puthur. The Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life will be responsible for defending the rights of migrants and refugees, the pastoral care of prisoners, prison chaplains and people with disability......(more)  Photos: ACBC  


Most US dioceses have women in key posts, but some have none
Extracts from Michael O;'Loughnin, Crux, 14 May 2015
Of three high-ranking jobs open to laypeople in Catholic dioceses across the United States — chancellor, chief financial officer, and schools superintendent — only one-third are filled by women. In fact, 35 percent of US dioceses have no women at all in these influential positions.      On the other hand, given that leadership in the Church has been historically tied to to priestly ordination, that one third of these influential posts are filled by women may seem refreshingly high to some.      As the role of women in the Catholic Church continues to be debated, and Pope Francis demands greater opportunities for women, a Crux analysis of data from the country’s 197 dioceses found a decidedly mixed bag: Most dioceses have a woman in a position of real authority, yet a significant number have no women at all......(more)


Reform groups' letter to Francis: Stop combining parishes into megaparishes
Extract from Sarah Mac Donald, National Catholic Reporter, 13 May 2015
The leaders of 24 international reform groups who met in Limerick, Ireland, in April are urging Pope Francis to call for a halt to the church's policy of clustering parishes into megaparishes as a response to the decline in priest numbers.    In an open letter, the 32 signatories -- from groups such as Catholics for Renewal in Australia, A Call to Action in England, and the Society for Open Christianity for the 21st Century in Slovakia -- tell Francis that the future of parish life is "massively threatened."        Bishops seeking to address the priest shortage are "merging active and vibrant parishes into anonymous and unmanageable superstructures," the letter said.    While merging seems to be "the formula of the hour," the reform leaders warn that in these new megaparishes, personal contact between people and ministers is being lost as the sacraments are removed ever further from the everyday life of church citizens.   This is leaving the faithful "alienated, unsettled and insecure" as priests are increasingly focused on administration instead of caring for souls......(more)


Welcome Fr Lasber Sinaga, CICM
Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe, Tuesday 12 May 2015

Whilst Fr Lasber Sinaga comes to Melbourne to pursue further studies in Clinical Psychology at CairnMillar Institute he will be staying in the backroom of the Parish Office. We warmly welcome him into our community and pray for his stay with us here. Fr Sinaga is a priest of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Congregatio Immaculati Cordis Mariae). His congregation is now called CICM Missionaries which was founded in 1862 by the Belgian priest, Fr Theophiel Verbist (1823-1868).

When you see him you feel free to introduce yourself and help make him feel welcome.


World Communications Day
"Tweet others as you would wish to be tweeted"
Extract from Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, 11 May 2015

"Families should be seen as a resource rather than as a problem for society. Families at their best actively communicate by their  witness the beauty and the richness of the relationship between man and woman, and between parents and children. We are not fighting to defend the past.Rather, with patience and trust, we are working to build a better future for the world in which we live" -Pope Francis, 49th WCD 


On Sunday 17 May parishes across Australia will celebrate World Communications Day, an annual celebration promoted by the Holy See.     This year, the theme is Communicating the Family: A privileged place of encounter with the gift of love, and a letter from the Holy Father Pope Francis focuses on communication within families and the work of the extraordinary Synod.        The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference communications office has developed four new resources for use in parishes, including a new book about social media and its use.           Tweet others as you would wish to be tweeted: a Scripture-based guide to social media for the Church is written by Catholic journalist Beth Doherty.      It takes the command from Luke’s Gospel 6:31 to ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. Throughout the 80 pages, the book describes the most commonly used social media platforms and provides advice about how they can be used in the promotion of Gospel values........... All of these resources are available at and can be used throughout the year in schools, parishes and agencies.                         

Will Francis break the Church?
Extracts from CathNews,12 May 2015
The possibility of a revolutionary pope isn't one that most Vatican-watchers have taken seriously. But then came Pope Francis. Ross Douthat reports for The Atlantic on the joy of some in the Church, and the concerns of others.............The Church is not yet in the grip of a revolution. The limits, theological and practical, on papal power are still present, and the man who was Jorge Bergoglio has not done anything that explicitly puts them to the test. But his moves and choices (and the media coverage thereof) have generated a revolutionary atmosphere around Catholicism. For the moment, at least, there is a sense that a new springtime has arrived for the Church's progressives. And among some conservative Catholics, there is a feeling of uncertainty absent since the often-chaotic aftermath of the Second Vatican Council, in the 1960s and '70s............In the age of Francis, this progressive faith seems to rest on two assumptions. The first is that the changes conservatives are resisting are, in fact, necessary for missionary work in the post-sexual-revolution age, and that once they're accomplished, the subsequent renewal will justify the means. The second is that because conservative Catholics are so invested in papal authority, a revolution from above can carry all before it: the conservatives' very theology makes it impossible for them to effectively resist a liberalizing pope, and anyway they have no other place to go.................(read full report here) Photo:Cathnews

No doctrinal change at Synod: Cardinals
Extract CathNews, 9 May, extracted here 11 May 2015
Cardinals George Pell and Péter Erdő have suggested that no change will result from the Synod of Bishops on the Family, either on Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, Crux Now and Yahoo News report.   Cardinal Erdő, who was the relator at last October's Synod and will play the same role this year, said that talk of revisions on those fronts is the result of "a pressure with no foundation to change Church teaching," Crux Now says.   Speaking to reporters in Rome, he said that the tough questions surrounding the family are being confronted "with love and sensibility," but also with "responsibility toward the unity of the Church."    Cardinal Erdő called the synod a place for an honest discussion over the difficulties families face, and said that legal and theological efforts are being made to find answers.    He warned, however, that "all the possible solutions will be rooted in the faith."    "We need to reason with a great sense of tradition, and a great sensibility toward the possibilities that are within the theological and institutional heritage," the Cardinal said, adding that the theological foundations for the family and marriage are clear and "regarded as such" by Pope Francis...........................(more)     Photos: Cathnews (above), AP Photo right - Cardinal Erdő

Missionaries of mercy to forgive abortion
Extracts from CathNews, 11 May 2015
Pope Francis plans to send out specially selected priests as "missionaries of mercy" to absolve women who have had abortions, The Washington Post reports.    The effort, which includes reaching out to doctors and nurses who have performed abortions, will commence in the Holy Year of Mercy, which Francis has declared will be celebrated from December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016, the New York Post adds.    Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation (pictured), who announced the initiative, said the Church should always be in the absolution business.    Archbishop Fisichella, now the president of the council organizing Holy Year events, said the Pope's decision was intended "as a concrete sign that a priest must be a man of mercy and close to all."    "The missionaries of mercy are priests sent out by the Holy Father . . . as a tangible sign of how a priest should be a man of pardon, close to everyone," Archbishop Fisichella said.   "There are a number of clergy with the ability to pardon abortions already, it is not that rare," said Fr Federico Lombardi SJ, a Vatican spokesman.    But Church hard-liners warned that stepped-up efforts to forgive those involved in abortions could "cause confusion" among Catholics, the Post said......(more)

Getting ready for Pope Francis' environmental Encyclical - Rerum Novarum
Extract from Neil Ormerod, Eureka Street, 10 May 2015
Towards the end of the nineteenth century the Catholic Church was facing an unprecedented social crisis, the immiseration of the working classes of Europe.   In the words of the encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891), 'The misery and wretchedness pressing so unjustly on the majority of the working class' cries out for amelioration. In the face of this the Church could not be silent, even if it meant going beyond its normal comfort zone to speak of these 'new things'.   The response of Pope Leo XIII set the agenda for Catholic engagement with and participation in the emerging labour unions of the day. To this day it remains a document honoured within the union movement.   It was a bold experiment in Catholic social teaching, an experiment we are about to see repeated by Pope Francis with his proposed encyclical on the environment, due to be released in June......(more)

Vatican unveils logo, prayer, details of Holy Year of Mercy
Extract from Cathnews, 8 May 2015 
The Holy Year of Mercy will feature several individual jubilee days, among them for the Roman Curia, catechists, teenagers, and prisoners, said the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, reports the Catholice News Service.   During a news conference on Tuesday at the Vatican, Archbishop Rino Fisichella unveiled the official prayer, logo, calendar of events and other details of the special Holy Year, which will be celebrated from December 8 to November 20, 2016.    The motto, "Merciful Like the Father," he said, "serves as an invitation to follow the merciful example of the Father who asks us not to judge or condemn but to forgive and to give love and forgiveness without measure."    Pope Francis announced in March his intention to proclaim a holy year as a way for the Church to "make more evident its mission to be a witness of mercy."   One way the Pope wants to show "the Church's maternal solicitude" is to send out "missionaries of mercy" -- that is, specially selected priests who have been granted "the authority to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See," the Pope wrote in Misericordiae Vultus (The Face of Mercy), the document officially proclaiming the Holy Year..............(more)  Image: Mercy Logo

Archbishop Fisher appointed to Vatican congregation
Extract from CathNews, 8 May 2015
Pope Francis has appointed Sydney’s Archbishop, Anthony Fisher, to the Vatican’s oldest and most influential congregation, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, reports The Australian.   The congregation is the Church’s final intellectual and moral arbiter in questions of faith and morals, the body that draws the line between what is acceptable writing/teaching/behaviour within the Church and what is not acceptable.    It was founded by Pope Paul II in 1542 as the Congregation of the Holy Office of the Inquisition to “spread sound Catholic doctrine and defend those points of Christian tradition which seem in danger because of new and unacceptable doctrines."    Almost a century later, it abandonned execution for heretics in 1640.    The word “Inquisition’’ was dropped from the name in 1904............(more)
Archbishop Wilson pleads not guilty to concealing sex abuse
Extract from CathNews, 8 May 2015
The Arcbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson has pleaded not guilty to concealing child sexual abuse allegations against a paedophile priest, reports the ABC.   Archbishop Wilson was not in court yesterday, but was represented by his lawyer, Simon Buchen.    Police allege that between 2004 and 2006, Archbishop Wilson concealed a child sexual abuse allegation that had been made against the late Hunter Valley paedophile priest Jim Fletcher..........(more)

German Church relaxes morality clauses for employees
Extract from CathNews, 8 May 2015
The Church in Germany, an influential voice for reforms prompted by Pope Francis, has decided lay employees who divorce and remarry or form gay civil unions should no longer automatically lose their jobs, reports Patheos.   The German Bishops have voted to adjust Church labour law “to the multiple changes in legal practise, legislation and society” so employee lifestyles should not affect their status in the country’s many Catholic schools, hospitals and social services.  The new rule opens the way for decisions that do justice to the situations people live in,” Alois Glueck, head of the lay Central Committee of German Catholics, said after the decision on new labour guidelines was announced on Tuesday.  More than two-thirds of Germany’s 27 dioceses voted for the change, a Church spokesman said, indicating some opposition.  There is no worldwide Catholic policy on lay employees. German law allows churches to have their own labour rules that can override national guidelines.......(more)

Cafeteria Catholicism at the US National Catholic Prayer Breakfast?
Extract from John Gehring, National Catholic Reporter, 7 May 2015
At a Washington hotel Thursday, more than a thousand prominent Catholics -- members of Congress, clergy and policy leaders -- listened to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott give a keynote address at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast.    The annual event, billed as a nonpartisan affair, has over the last decade become a platform for GOP politicians to enjoy a photo-op with a member of the Catholic hierarchy. It's also a free pass for Republicans to burnish their "pro-life" credentials without the inconvenience of having to explain how their positions on capital punishment, war, the environment and other moral issues clash with traditional church teaching.    In the era of Pope Francis, the whole event has the taste of rotten eggs that should have been thrown out long ago.   The choice of a pro-death-penalty Catholic governor to give a keynote address -- alongside the bishop of Buffalo, N.Y. -- should raise eyebrows. Pope Francis and Catholic leaders across the ideological spectrum have drawn renewed attention to this morally grotesque and often error-prone use of state power to decide who lives and dies.....(more)

UK Cardinal to celebrate Mass for gay Catholics
Extract from Cathnews, 7 May 2015
UK Cardinal Vincent Nichols will celebrate a Mass normally attended by the Westminster Diocese’s group for gay and lesbian Catholics this coming Sunday, reports The Tablet.    The Mass takes place near to the anniversary of the founding of the LGBT Catholic Westminster group in April, 1999 following the homophobia-motivated bombing of the Admiral Duncan pub in Old Compton Street in Soho.   From 2007 onwards, bimonthly Masses took place at Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory in Soho, although these were stopped on instructions from Rome following complaints.   While the Cardinal ended those liturgies, he has shown a pastoral concern to gay Catholics, at one point telling protestors against the Soho Masses to “hold their tongues.”   Cardinal Nichols is also due to attend the forthcoming Synod on the Family where the question of welcoming gay people will be on the agenda again as it was at last year’s gathering.......(more)  Photo: CathNews 2310nichols_21329artthumb

Martin: cherish gay relationships apart from marriage
Extract from Abigail Frymann Rouch, The Tablet, 6 May 2015
The Archbishop of Dublin set out his vision for an “ethic of equality” in which gay people and their relationships are recognised and cherished while marriage is reserved for heterosexual couples only.   Archbishop Diarmuid Martin was speaking to diocesan communications officers at All Hallows’, Dublin, on Wednesday, ahead of the referendum on whether the constitution should be changed to allow for gay marriage to be legalised.   He acknowledged that the Church had given “harsh” treatment to gays and lesbians in the past – “and in some cases still today”.    But he said: “A pluralist society can be creative in finding ways in which people of same-sex orientation have their rights and their loving and caring relationships recognised and cherished in a culture of difference, while respecting the uniqueness of the male-female relationship.”    The archbishop said the Church had at times used “harsh”, “insensitive and overly judgemental” language to present a message of love, and had presented rational argument as a dogma everyone must accept. But this was no justification for people today to replace dogmatism with “sound-bite-ism” as a way of avoiding rational debate, he said.   The Church still needed to learn to voice its criticism “clearly and without fear”, but in language that “which respects her Master”.........(more)

Celebrating Vietnamese settlement in Melbourne
Extract from Office of Media and Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, 4 May 2015
OVER the weekend, the sound of angels singing to heaven was heard coming from the Melbourne suburb of Keysborough. The voices were those of the Vietnamese Choir, performing as part of a two-day Marian Festival that concluded with a solemn Mass presided over by Bishop Hoang Duc Oanh, visiting from Vietnam. The activities included rosary reflections, stage dramatisations and a candlelight vigil on Saturday evening.    Thousands of Vietnamese Catholics attended the events to mark the fortieth anniversary of the fall of Saigon and the beginning of a surge of Vietnamese migration to Australia in the following decade. Among the refugees was Melbourne’s Bishop Vincent Long, who escaped from Vietnam in 1980, arriving in Australia in December 1981. As a result of the fall of Saigon, his family is scattered around the world: he has three brothers in Holland, one sister in Vietnam, and his parents, a brother and a sister in Melbourne.   Vietnamese Catholics worship in many parishes throughout the Archdiocese. In addition to Keysborough, there is also a main worship centre in Flemington and 12 other churches where Masses are regularly celebrated in Vietnamese.  There were approximately 4000 parishioners and about 500 children present for the closing ceremony of the congress. The closing Mass was concelebrated by Bishop Vincent Long, Bishop Peter Elliott, Bishop Terence Curtin, and 24 priests........(more)

 Melbourne principal admits extent of historical sexual abuse
Extract from CathNews, 4 May 2015,  
The principal of a prominent Melbourne Catholic school has, for the first time, admitted the extent of child sex abuse that took place on college grounds, reports the ABC.    Nine Xavier College students were sexually abused at the school in the 1960s and 70s, according to principal Chris Hayes.   Another six former students are in the process of having their claims heard.    "What I know of the 60s and 70s from some conversations is that it was a very different era," Principal Hayes said.    "There has been nine [cases] where there has been a resolution reached, and yes, they involved sexual abuse."    Mr Hayes said no criminal convictions were ever recorded for the offences. "There has been no criminal prosecution or matter brought to the criminal court relating to any Xavier Jesuit or Xavier lay teacher referring to sexual abuse at Xavier college," he said.    He said the school is now a very different place. "I'm very confident things have changed but in saying that we are always vigilant to make sure that the protection of children at the school is paramount," he said..........(more)

Pope Francis in the fight for women's rights
Extracts from Andrew Hamilton, and subsequent comments,  Eureka Street, 3 May 2015
......The place of women in society and the struggle for women's rights are important background issues in the Synod. To insist that women and men should receive the same remuneration for similar work is not radical. But the assumption that women will normally work is not universally shared among Catholics, including delegates to the Synod. Some believe that ideally women would be able and want to work at home and care for their families.     The Pope is realistic in assuming that many women will need and want to work. He hopes that the Synod similarly will address the realities of family life, and offer encouragement and compassion to people in their struggles.      In insisting that the diminishing number of marriages does not flow from women's struggle for rights, Francis takes a position on another underlying issue of the Synod. Some Catholics have traced the troubles of families to a pervasive secularism and to radical feminism. This view naturally inclines those who hold it to demand that the Synod take a strong stand against these currents of thought.      Francis' remarks undercut this analysis and reassert the need to reach out to people on the margins of church and society.       In asserting his support for women's right to equal salary and other rights Francis ensures that further questions will be put to him. As the battle for equal pay is being won, another war is being lost................In Western societies, too, the acceptance of the right of women to work and to equal pay has been built on their full participation by being able to vote and to be voted for. If the Catholic Church is to have credibility in endorsing the continuing struggle for women's rights, it will need to find effective ways in which women can participate equally in the governance of the church at all levels. Although this is not an immediate priority for Pope Francis, he is ensuring that it will become so for his successors......(more)  Photo: Eureka Street 

Migrants filling the ranks of the next generation of Catholic priests
Extracts from Greg Dyett, CathNews / SBS News, 3 May 2015
A surge in the number of young men wanting to become Catholic priests has prompted a training college to expand its premises. Its 59 students come from 11 different countries.         Corpus Christi College in Melbourne has seen a large increase in young men enrolling to be a trainee priest.     This year there are 59 men at the college, which is more than double the enrolment figure of 28 students in 1999.      Rector Father Brendan Lane has told SBS the seminary will be expanding to accommodate the increased enrolments.........Father Lane believes enrolments have been growing steadily because of World Youth Day, a Catholic Church event for young people held in Sydney in 2008................Adi Indra, 27, from Indonesia is in his third year.  He said he can understand why some people regard celibacy as unnatural.      "It is going against the current, in a sense, but it is a new way of loving and celibacy is something that I'm still learning to sort of embrace,” he said   Whether he manages to complete the next four years has become a day-by-day proposition for Adi Indra....... 19-year-old first year seminarian Olek Stirrat, from Adelaide, attended World Youth Day as a young teenager.             Fellow first-year student Anthony Beltrame, 23, told SBS he had a light-bulb moment after spending three months in Europe last year...........Father Brendan Lane said when assessing potential students, church demographics at its various parishes are taken into consideration.    "So we have a lot of migrants in our parishes now, a lot of Filipinos, a lot of Vietnamese, a lot of Indians, a lot of Sri Lankans, Mauritians, so we try to have the same mix in the seminary."      All prospective students are now subjected to what Father Lane said was extensive testing, including psychological tests and screening for paedophilia.      "The church is a dangerous place for paedophiles today.      They wouldn't survive five minutes now. We're alert," Father Lane said............(more)   Photo: CathNews, SBS 


Rite Of Enrollment
Weekend of 2-3 May 2015
An important step towards Confirmation as full members of the Christian community at St Patricks Cathedral on Sunday 31 May is the Rite Of Enrollment, which in the Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe was followed at Masses in each of our three Parish communities this weekend. Following an affirmation of support by parishioners the candidates responded with words of commitment to join as fully as possible in the preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation, and with thanks for the support of parents and family, and all those responsible for this programme. Photos from each of our Parish communities are anticipated, however here is the first, showing Confirmation candidates and other young people during a homily on "pruning" by Fr Thang on Sunday 3 May.

Enough to make you dotty?
Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe, 1 May 2015
Following engagement of parishioners across the three communities of our our Parish in the Parish Assets Reviews in March a workshop of the Pastoral Leadership Team (PLT) last Wednesday evening continued the challenging process of matching parish inputs to the new Parish Mission, which itself also evolved from earlier inputs from across the Parish.  Whilst a formidable task, given the parameters we need to work within based on the reality of declining parish resources the evening succeeded in advancing the process, in anticipation of a broader workshop next month,  further towards developing scenarios. Small steps but making real progress. This photograph captures the depth of concentration at a particular stage of Wednesday's intensive workshop, working with dot points. Front L clockwise are Joe & Isma Chiera, Sue Moorhen, Chris Dixon, Merle Gilbo and  Lucy Dal Pozzo. Almost in photo shot on the RHS is Fr Thang. Front RHS Pat Kelly.  Also part of this workshop but out of camera-shot were Pia Boutsakis, and John Costa (taking this photo). Some other PLT members were unable to attend that night.

Economy must deliver dignity of work, says Justice Council
Extract from CathNews, 1 May 2015
Society fails its citizens where the economy does not generate sufficient employment and when government does not adequately intervene to promote jobs and maintain basic wages, says the Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council..(more

Pope appoints commission to reform Vatican media
Extract from CathNews, 1 May 2015
Pope Francis has set up a five-person committee to find ways to implement recommendations for streamlining and modernising the Vatican's many communications structures, reports the Catholic News Service.  The reform effort is looking at how Vatican communications outlets can adapt to changing media consumption trends, better coordinate its existing channels, and make substantial financial savings.....(more

Poor to get VIP seating at Vatican charity concert
Extract from CathNews, 1 May 2015
Rome's immigrants, poor, elderly and marginalised will get front-row VIP treatment at an upcoming Vatican charity concert, while benefactors will be seated in the back, reports the Catholic News Service in NCR.   The charity benefit, to be held May 14 in the Vatican's Paul VI hall, will raise money for the Papal Almoner's Office.........(more)   Photo: Cathnews


Church can't turn its back on the mentally ill
Extracts from Paul Jensen*, Eureka Street, 28 April 2015

On Monday 13 and Tuesday 14 April, ABC's Australian Story and The 7:30 Report ran stories that highlighted the nation's poor mental health system, resulting too often in people reaching crisis point and taking their own lives. The stories were very human accounts of the dislocation and disorientation wreaked by mental illness.  These stories foreshadowed the release of the National Mental Health Commission's Review of Mental Health Programs and Services, and the addition of mental health as an agenda item for the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). The review highlights waste in the mental health system, ambiguous reports and the inability to determine whether real and substantial change has occurred.   Community based mental health providers focus on providing excellent services based on respect for the individual, a belief in hope and maintaining positive relationships..................Do these concepts sound familiar? They should. They are at the heart of the gospel and evident in parables like 'The Good Samaritan'. They are codified in Catholic Social Teaching principles like the dignity of the human person, respect for human life, human equality and participation.     Too often, faced with increasing complexity and professionalisation, the Church has backed away from engaging people with mental illness, thereby, unintentionally further marginalising them. The research above indicates that local parishes and faith communities may have an important role to play as they seek to live out the gospel and practice the principles of Catholic Social Teaching.        All of us can offer sincere respect and engage in genuine relationships as we support people with mental illness and their carers. When we feel out of our depth we can partner with mental health professionals — be they hospital and/or community based services.          For the Church it's also about recovering a confidence in the Gospel, the importance of the Church as a Eucharistic community of virtue, in part, as a broadly 'evangelical' response to Western Society's increasing wrestle with mental illness......(read full article here).  *Paul Jensen is CEO of Centacare in the Catholic Diocese of Wagga Wagga

Just how radical is Pope Francis? Radical or moderate?
Extract from CathNews,  30 April 2015

Since his ascension in 2013, Pope Francis has become a lightning rod for criticism and controversy, with conservatives faulting his pronouncements on homosexuality, income disparity and the environment.         He has openly criticised the Vatican for its "pathology of power," its careerism and "spiritual narcissism."        Francis put noses out of joint with attempts to fill key Vatican positions with moderates. He’s criticised the Curia for, among other things, its "theatrical severity and sterile pessimism."    Ever since he was elected as Pope, Francis has set an agenda for the Church. His comments on gays in the Church ("Who am I to judge?") , his brokering of the relationship between Cuba and America, his commitment to ending poverty and income inequality, and his forthcoming encyclical on the environment which will acknowledge climate change, have raised eyebrows and generated strong reactions among conservative pundits and clergy.       His comments regarding "responsible parenting" have been seen by some as the beginning of a discussion about birth control.          After his comments on not judging homosexuals, commentator Michael Brendan Doughtery wrote in The Week  that Catholics must learn to resist popes and that the duty of believers is "not just to rebuke and correct those in authority ... but to throw rotting cabbages at them or make them miserable."    Does all this really make him a radical, though?..............(more)

May they rest in peace
Extracts from Catherine Sheehan, Office of Media and Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne,  Wednesday 29 April 2015

THE tragic news was broken this morning that Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, two Australians who have been on death row in Indonesia for the past ten years, were executed in the early hours of this morning.   The two men who were members of the ‘Bali Nine’ drug-smuggling ring were executed with six other men at 3.35am this morning, despite efforts by the Australian government to have the death sentences overturned.   Many prayer vigils have been held throughout Australia in past months in the hope that the Indonesian government would act with mercy and grant clemency. Mercy Prayer Vigils have been held regularly in Melbourne organised by various groups and Church leaders.   Both Andrew and Myuran exhibited a deep Christian faith and had rehabilitated themselves during their time in prison, evidenced by their ministry to other prisoners.   The Catholic Church has spoken out on several occasions against the death penalty and in this particular case, appealing for mercy for the two men. Archbishop Fisher of Sydney made an appeal in conjunction with the Grand Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, earlier this year.  In light of the executions this morning Archbishop Fisher of Sydney released the following statement regarding the executions.............(more)

Indonesia shows its ugly side with regressive executions
Extract from Pat Walsh, Eureka Street, 29 April 2015

I am writing this with a heavy heart. I grieve for Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran and their loved ones, and the others executed by firing squad in Indonesia early this morning.   But they are not the only casualties of this bungled, cold-blooded killing. I am also distressed at the serious damage Indonesia is doing to itself and its international good name and, not least, at the damage President Jokowi is inflicting on himself and what he represents for many Indonesians dreaming of the best for their important country.   Indonesia is a country of great promise with a significant, maybe crucial, contribution to make to our troubled world. As a very large, pluralist, Muslim-majority democracy it offers a template for other societies in transition. President SBY was acutely aware of this opportunity and through his democracy forums and other initiatives did much to re-brand Indonesia in this positive light.    All this good work is being undone by the anal, small-town thinking the executions represent.........(more)   Pat Walsh is a human rights activist who was recently profiled in The Jakarta Post. 

A wedding and an execution
Extract from Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street, 28 April 2015

The last days of Andrew Chan spoke more powerfully than words can about the meaning of execution. On Monday he married Febyanti Herewila. On Tuesday he was taken out and shot. In the wedding service he may have heard the words, 'What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.' A few hours later men had sundered man from both wife and life.       If you look at life in a purely calculating way executions may have a point. Do the crime, cop the punishment; an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth; drugs cost lives, and drug runners forfeit theirs.   But there is more to human beings and society than can be caught in calculation..............(more)    Andrew Hamilton is consulting editor of Eureka Street.

Frank Brennan. ANZAC Centenary Homily.
Extract from Fr Frank Brennan SJ AO, Pearls and Irritations, John Menadue Website, 26 April 2015    
ANZAC Centenary Homily, 25 April 2015,  Harvard Memorial Church

This Memorial Church here at Harvard was dedicated on Armistice Day 1932 in memory of those who died in World War I.  The inscription over the south entrance to the memorial room reads, ‘In grateful memory of the Harvard men who died in the World War we have built this Church.’     It is fitting that we, Australians, New Zealanders, Turks and Americans should gather in this place to mark the centenary of Anzac Day, the day on which Australians and New Zealanders landed in the stillness of the early dawn on the Turkish shoreline wanting to assist with the Allies’ advance on Constantinople, now Istanbul, the day on which the Turks commenced a successful, eight month campaign to defend their homeland against the assault.   Nineteen years after the ANZAC landings, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Founder and first President of the modern Republic of Turkey, who had been Commander in Chief of the Turkish forces in Gallipoli, graciously responded to an Australian journalist’s request and wrote, ‘The landing at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, and the fighting which took place on the peninsula will never be forgotten. They showed to the world the heroism of all those who shed their blood there. How heartrending for their nations were the losses that this struggle caused.’  A century on, we, the people of both sides of that deadly struggle can gather, people of all faiths and none; we gather in peace, espousing the virtues of all who fought and daring to pray together for peace and reconciliation between us and amongst all peoples.  We gather together helping each other to repair the heartrending and to prosper as best we can from the tragic, irreparable losses............(more)      

Large Attendance at ANZAC Centenary Mass 2015
Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe, Saturday 26 April 2015

We wondered whether a Saturday evening Mass for Anzac Day this Centenary year might be difficult?  Neither that nor a cold wet evening dampened enthusiasm for this special weekend Mass coinciding with Good Shepherd Sunday Mass for the 4th Day of Easter.              Including invited government and civic guests a large congregation participated, comprising all ages ranging from senior and returned-service people through to local school children and families, helping to make this a highly memorable Centenary.          After a welcome by Pastoral Leadership Team Chairperson Chris Dixon a Co- celebrated Mass by Frs Thang and Len Thomas and a packed church the ANZAC address and requiem were poignantly presented by Heidelberg RSL President Fred Cullen.    Fr Thang's homily expressed deep gratitude and respect for the spirit of all who served their countries prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice. From his own experience in Vietnam he also said that apart from the great inspiration of endeavour, in wars all sides equally are losers.                 Just in time for this evening and as this photo shows the old worn carpet at St Bernadette's has been removed, revealing the original polished timber flooring. Thanks to those who completed restoration of the beautiful original timber altar flooring only hours before this Mass.             As photos elsewhere on this website reveal tonight's special liturgy was followed by a fine selection of customised refreshments and conviviality at St Bernadette's Community Room. Thanks to all those who contributed to tonight's historical and well received Mass, and the hospitality afterwards.   See more photos here

Good Shepherd Sunday & ANZAC Centenary Mass in Ivanhoe Parish                                                                                       Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe, Friday 24 April 2014
The powerful liturgy for this special weekend, the 4th Sunday of Easter,  combines elements both of Good Shepherd Sunday and the ANZAC Centenary 2015. This incorporates part of a new "Mass of the Fallen" commissioned by the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference, in particular the beautiful soprano recorded hymn to be played at Communion "They shall not grow old". The special centenary ANZAC Day Mass in particular at St Bernadettes (6.30pm Saturday) will include other traditional ANZAC elements, including The Last Post. On this occasion of Good Shepherd Sunday Fr Thang's Reflection (here) provides a very fitting context for the Centenary ANZAC Mass.

Perth tackles challenge of facing abuse
Extract from CathNews, 24 April 2015

Leader and pioneer in child protection, Andrea Musulin, talks of dramatic changes taking place in the Catholic Archdiocese of Perth to face abuse head on and to minimise future opportunities of its reoccurence, reports the e-Record in the first of a two-part series.      In the midst of ongoing reports about child sexual abuse in the short history of the Australian Catholic Church, the Archdiocese of Perth is breaking new ground nationally. In April, 2014, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe spoke to media of establishing Safeguarding Officers in each of the Archdiocese’s parishes.     “Much preparation work has been done since that time,” said the Archbishop. “I am pleased to say that we are now closer than ever to seeing two volunteer officers selected and trained for each parish.”    The recent appointment by Archbishop Costelloe of Andrea Musulin, an expert in child protection, is seeing the Catholic community across Perth establish itself as the first Diocese to embark upon appointing Safeguarding Officers into every parish.           Additionally, it aims to educate children in Catholics schools aged four years and upwards with age-appropriate knowledge about protective behaviours to reduce the opportunities for future abuse.        Musulin joined the Archdiocese of Perth with a background of 28 years of experience as a police officer specialising in child protection. She has provided services to children in metropolitan, rural and remote areas of Western Australia and has developed the first and only Child Protection Program for Rural and Remote Children..........(more)   Photo: 2204musulin_21106artthumb

Francis met with gay French Vatican nominee
Extract from CathNews, 24 April 2015

Pope Francis has held a private meeting with France’s nominee as Ambassador to the Holy See, the French government said on Wednesday but there was no change to the stand-off over his nomination, reports Reuters in the Religion News Service. Paris nominated the government’s head of protocol, Laurent Stefanini, for the post on January 5 but has still not heard back from the Vatican — a delay that French and Italian media have said is due to his homosexuality.  “There was a meeting between the Pope and Mr Stefanini,” government spokesman, Stephane Le Foll, told a regular briefing, confirming a report by satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine but dismissing the newspaper’s assertion that his candidacy had been finally rejected during the April 18 meeting.     “Nothing has changed: France has proposed a candidate and for the time being we are waiting for the Vatican’s reply after the usual discussions and review of his candidacy.”     Neither the nominee nor the French government has made an official statement on his sexuality, the Foreign Ministry saying only his private life should be respected.    The Vatican has declined to comment on the matter, saying that an appointment is confirmed when the name is published in the official bulletin of the Holy See. It is extremely rare for the Pope to get directly involved the naming of ambassadors................(more)

German Catholics say Vatican survey idealises image of family
Edited Extract from CathNews, 24 April 2015

The German bishops’ conference has summarised and commented on the replies of German Catholics to the 46 questions of the second Vatican questionnaire on the family, in a major report published this week, reports The Tablet.    The main criticism, which applies to all parts of the questionnaire, the Bishops point out, is that it proceeds from an idealised image of the family which does not adequately relate to the reality of life in German society.    Many of those who replied said that idealising marriage and the family not only did not appeal to Catholics in Germany but, on the contrary, put them off sacramental marriage.    That is why many German Catholics would like to see definite steps taken before the October Synod to overcome the gulf between family life as it is really lived and Church teaching.    The questionnaire had not found an “appreciative language for relationships which neither corresponded to the Church’s ideals nor were definitely orientated towards marriage and the family,” says the report, published on Monday.   The German faithful were not satisfied with the Church’s present teaching concerning remarried divorcees, “mixed” marriages and registry office marriages and expect concrete changes from the Church concerning all three.........(more)  Photo: CathNews

New ‘springtime’ for women in the Church, forecasts Cardinal                                                                                                                                      Extract from CathNews, Published: 24 April 2015                                                                                                                                                          Speaking at a conference in Rome this week on women's role in conflict resolution, Cardinal Peter Turkson told participants that the next Secretary of the pontifical council that he heads could be a woman, reports The Tablet.    Jewish, Muslim, and Christian women scholars spoke at the conference, held this week,on the theme “Women’s Leadership in Conflict Resolution: Faith Perspectives” at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum).    Donna Orsuto, a professor of spirituality at the Pontifical Gregorian University, spoke of the leadership of Christian women in conflict resolution through “hidden” grassroots efforts.    She gave the examples of a Ugandan religious sister who negotiated with the Lord’s Resistance Army, of Liberian women who reintegrated an ostracised a group of child soldiers into their community, and of former Irish president Mary McAleese, whose “domestic diplomacy” prepared the road for the Belfast Agreement.    Professor Orsuto said Christian women’s efforts towards peace are generally characterised by fellowship, patient listening, courage, prayer, and the Christian obligation to cultivate peace........(more)       Photo: CathNews

In India, a truly outstanding road map for creating gender equality
Extract from Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter,  23 April 2015

In my March 12 column, I promised to revisit the creative gender policy approved by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI). This 2010 document has the ambitious goal of integrating gender justice into societal structures at every level of the Indian church, from the parish to the bishops' conference itself. An important objective is "to stimulate reflection in the Church on its mission to form a discipleship of equals," with "the ultimate goal [being] to achieve gender equality."   Nowhere in evidence is the gender-apartheid-evoking complementarity language so frequently found in recent church documents. Instead, the bishops cite Genesis 1:27 ("In the image of God, male and female God created them"); Galatians 3:28 ("There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus"); and Gaudium et Spes ("Every type of discrimination ... is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God's intent").   I recently interviewed one of the architects of the gender policy statement, Dr. Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, who is an Indian scientist, theologian, writer and mother of three. She has been living her Christian commitment in an interfaith family for the past 25 years........(more)   Photo: NCR, Astrid Lobo Gajiwala at the Voices of Faith event in March at the Vatican (Voices of Faith/Alessandra Zucconi)

Helpful feedback already on Holy Week and Easter liturgies - your views?
Friday 17 April 2015

People in our parish have already helpfully started to share their thoughts on the recent Easter Liturgies. You can see what they have said on the Your Views page of this website, where you too are also invited and encouraged to briefly let us know what you think -  in order to assist with future planning. The page also shows how you can help by emailing your views.

See you at a Parish Working Bee Saturday 18 April?                                                                                                                  Friday 17 April 2015
Our working bees are not onerous, and indeed fun and also a chance to chat during our 'cuppa'. If you can spare an hour or more between 8am and noon with other parishioners and school families that would greatly help. It's mostly a garden clean up around the Parish Office, Mary Immaculate Hall and Church, and other small jobs that can be easily done.  BYO gloves, secateurs and/or weeding fork for the garden clean up. Any other gardening/pruning/cleaning equipment will be most welcome! Morning tea gratefully provided. 

Vatican ends controversial three-year oversight of US sisters' leaders
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 16 April 2015

Vatican City. A controversial three-year program of Vatican oversight of the main leadership group of U.S. Catholic sisters has come to a curt and unexpected end, with the sisters and the church’s doctrinal office announcing that the goal of the oversight “has been accomplished."    The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has accepted a final report of the doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, “marking the conclusion” of the oversight, the Vatican announced Thursday.     After a lengthy process that saw the saw the Vatican issue what the sisters called unsubstantiated sharp critiques of their work and life while appointing Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain to oversee a program of reform for LCWR, Thursday’s release says the Vatican and the sisters both noted the “spirit of cooperation” of the ordeal.........LCWR leaders also had a 50-minute meeting with Pope Francis later Thursday, during their annual visit to Rome to visit Vatican offices.    LCWR president Immaculate Heart of Mary Sr. Sharon Holland said in a statement that the oversight process brought the sisters and the Vatican to “deeper understandings of one another’s experiences, roles, responsibilities, and hopes for the Church and the people it serves.”     “We learned that what we hold in common is much greater than any of our differences,” said Holland.......(more)

Hope I die before I get (really) old
Extract from Brigitte Dwyer, Eureka Street, 16 April 2015

Australia is a nation obsessed with productivity; it is seen as the only hope for the future by economists and the only solution to budgetary woes by politicians.         The most pressing concern relating to productivity – and one that has been threatening for decades – is the huge increase in the number of older Australians, with the associated increase in age-related disability and disease. As the Productivity Commission pointed out in 2011, this increase in the number of elderly Australians coincides with the decline in the number of informal carers.      It raises the uncomfortable question – who will look after us in old age?    The answer to this question is increasingly urgent, not only for its impact on the budget but also for the legions of Baby Boomers who must finally contemplate what happens to those who don't 'die before they get old'.............(more)

Euthanasia again voted out of State parliament
Edited Extract from Natasha Marsh, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, 16 April 2015

THE LATEST attempt to introduce euthanasia failed in the Victorian Parliament yesterday afternoon.      The motion was forwarded by Colleen Hartland, Upper House Greens MP for Western Metropolitan.      She was forced to retreat from the motion to have the Victorian Law Reform Commission draft legislation after it became clear that the majority of parliamentarians were not supportive of the move.     The Victorian director of the Australian Christian Lobby, Dan Flynn, said it became clear during the course of the debate that parliamentarians were ‘not convinced that euthanasia can remain voluntary and be made safe.’      ‘The broader issue of the value of human life was highlighted in a number of speeches with warnings of elder abuse and coercion, dangers evident in Belgium and the Netherlands—–two jurisdictions that have legalised euthanasia.’    ‘The idea of euthanasia seems attractive on face value but, when the evidence of abuse is examined, Australian parliamentarians don’t buy it.’..... (more)

Orphanage witness describes abuse by priest, beatings by nuns
Extract from CathNews, 16 April 2015

A woman has told an inquiry how she was sexually abused by a priest and forced to drink her own urine to stay hydrated at St Joseph's Neerkol Orphanage at Rockhampton, reports the ABC.    Diane Carpenter, who lived at Neerkol intermittently until she turned 17, was giving evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which is holding public hearings in the central Queensland city.    The inquiry is continuing to hear evidence from former residents of the orphanage, where hundreds of children were physically and sexually abused from the 1940s to 1970s.     Ms Carpenter, one of several Aboriginal children at the orphanage, said her sexual abuse at the hands of Fr Michael Hayes, who ministered to the Indigenous children, was witnessed by another priest.    She also gave evidence she also witnessed an orphanage employee sodomising a young boy, an episode that she said made her physically ill.   "The first time I was abused was around four months after my father died," Ms Carpenter said. "I went to visit Fr Hayes at the presbytery opposite the church in Rockhampton because, naturally, I was feeling upset and missing my father.......(more)

The burning of a tainted church
Extracts from Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street, 15 April 2015

Two weeks ago one Melbourne church was burned down, and fires were started in two other churches.          The media response to the fires focused on Rachel Griffiths' remark that she was happy to see her former parish church, St James, Gardenvale, in Melbourne, go up in flames because of the predatory behaviour of one of its parish priests. It also speculated whether the fire may have been lit by a victim of abuse.              My own feelings about the destruction of St James were mixed. I was baptised and made my first confession and communion there. I was also an altar server, where I helped with the ritual and experimented in such pyrotechnics as putting gunpowder in the incense and making a blow torch out of the fly spray and candle, so mixing the boyhood dough of piety, responsibility and mischief that might later be baked into a living adult faith. Later I returned to the church to celebrate my first Mass and my mother's and father's funerals, as well as other family events. So the church is a place of remembered blessing.       But more recently at the beginning of celebrations at St James I have felt bound to acknowledge that for some of those present this church would be a holy place, but for others a demonic place. And indeed for me, as for most former parishioners of my own and the next generation, it has become associated irredeemably with a parish priest who preyed on many children and bullied many older women. He redecorated the church in his own style, and devastated many lives in his own way. So the church is a place of remembered blasphemy...................... And we sympathise with the present members of the congregation and the parish priest, who had nothing to do with the evil done in the church, in their loss and devastation. But to us St James came to speak most strongly, not of God's love, but of betrayal by one who claimed to represent God. It is a place to avoid......(more)

In between synods, bishops keep talking
Extracts from  Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, National Catholic Reporter, 15 April 2015

With months to go before October's Synod of Bishops on the family, bishops from around the world are already discussing some of the main topics, including LGBT relationships and divorced and remarried couples.     Meanwhile, Pope Francis asked for prayers, "not gossip," for the upcoming synod at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square March 25.      The pope called on everyone to pray each day for the synod, scheduled for Oct. 4-25, and for the church so that it could be even more "dedicated and united in the witness of the truth of God's love and mercy for the families of the world, [with] no one excluded either inside or outside the flock."    Francis asked that prayers and the synodal process itself be driven by "the compassion of the Good Shepherd for his flock, especially for people and families who, for different reasons, are 'troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.' "................German Cardinal Walter Kasper also urged Catholics to let their bishops know their hopes and concerns for the synod, and to pray that the Holy Spirit guide the bishops' deliberations.    "We should all pray for it because a battle is going on," he said March 19 in a speech presenting his new book, Pope Francis' Revolution of Tenderness and Love, published in English by Paulist Press.     Bishops attending the synod will be called to discern ways the church can communicate joy to all families, including those who have experienced the brokenness of a sacramental marriage, he said.     "Hopefully, the synod will be able to find a common answer, with a large majority, which will not be a rupture with tradition, but a doctrine that is a development of tradition," the cardinal said. He added that if the church believes it has a "living tradition," it means that there is room for it to develop..........(more)

Vatican: Council of Cardinals has bishop accountability 'on the table'
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 15 April 2015
Vatican City. The cardinals advising Pope Francis on reforming the church's central bureaucracy have discussed the issue of accountability for Catholic bishops who mishandle cases of clergy sexual abuse, the Vatican spokesman said Wednesday.     Addressing the latest meeting of the Council of Cardinals during a press briefing, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi said the prelates have put the issue "on the table" after being presented with it by Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley.     "It is not that they might have made a precise project or a document" on the issue, Lombardi said. "But the theme is explicitly, let's say, on the table of the C9, and the intention is now to find a way to proceed in the deepening of the competence in these cases."     The Council of Cardinals is a group of nine prelates advising the pope on reforming the Vatican bureaucracy, known as the Roman Curia. The council is frequently referred to as the C9.       O'Malley serves as a member of the cardinals' group and is also the president of the new Vatican commission on clergy sexual abuse.........(more).   

Pope Francis: Gender theory is the problem, not the solution
Extract from  Carol Glatz Catholic News Service, National Catholic Reporter, 15 April, 2015

Vatican City. Eradicating male and female identities does nothing to solve the problem of unfair or disrespectful treatment based on people's gender, Pope Francis said.    "Getting rid of the difference is the problem, not the solution," he said Wednesday during his general audience in St. Peter's Square.    The right way to solve the problems and conflicts in male-female relations is to have men and women "talk to each other more, listen to each other more, know each other better, care more for each other," he said.    The pope continued a series of general audience talks about the family by beginning the first of two talks on "the difference and complementarity between men and women." He said the two talks would serve as the foundation for two later talks dedicated to the sacrament of marriage......(more

Buckle up for Francis' third year
Extracts from Michael Swan Winters, National Catholic Reporter, 14 April 2015

We just passed the second anniversary of Pope Francis' pontificate and all the commentators, on the left and the right, agreed that the first pope from Latin America has taken the Vatican by storm. He's urged a reform agenda on several fronts, from church finances, to the pastoral care of divorced and remarried Catholics, to the way a Synod of Bishops is conducted.        If you thought the last two years were tumultuous and exciting, you ain't seen nothing yet.                 The Council of Cardinals will continue to meet regularly to advise Francis on the reform of the Curia. Already, changes to the financial administration have been sweeping and irrevocable, after fierce opposition.          The Commission for the Protection of Minors is working on protocols for holding bishops accountable if they fail to protect the children in their diocese from predatory clergy -- the last, critical missing piece of an effective policy at child protection. Again, opposition within the Curia is fierce.    Perhaps the most interesting and far-reaching change has to do with the way a Synod of Bishops is conducted. Originally instituted after the Second Vatican Council in order to enflesh the conciliar teaching on collegiality, the synods quickly became talkathons in which all essential decision-making was left to the pope and the Curia...........But Francis encourages participants to speak their mind and risk open disagreement in order to get to the heart of the questions in a way that the entire church is consulted. The long-term potential for such a seemingly simple change is enormous.   Indeed, the second synod on the family, scheduled for October, is likely to be the most combustible event in Francis' third year as pope.........(more)        Photo: NCR, CNS Paul Harring     

The barque of Peter in shark-infested waters
Extract from Robert Mickens, National Catholic Reporter, 13 April 2015

The seas have suddenly become a lot more agitated for Pope Francis, who up to now has proven to be amazingly unsinkable in the face of any kind of adversity. But in the last few weeks, he has found himself in the midst of several minor crises and controversies that if not resolved well could work to undermine his credibility with many Catholics and deal a blow to his project for reforming the church.  The polemics range from the unprecedented and violent protests that cut short the installation Mass last month of a bishop he appointed in Chile to a diplomatic storm with Turkey after he repeated his long-held conviction Sunday that the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 was, in fact, a "genocide."  Sandwiched between these more sensational incidents are troubles hidden from public view. Most of them concern episcopal politics and power struggles, especially inside the Vatican.  However, one of them spilled into the press just last week: a supposed Vatican stalemate with France over the appointment three months ago of the new French ambassador. Reports say the pope has refused to give the Holy See's approval ("agrément") to the French envoy, which is required before he takes up the post, because the diplomat is said to be openly gay.   And this from the pope who famously said, "Who am I to judge?"  Add to this the growing impatience that some reform-minded Catholics now show with his tortoise-like pace of overhauling the Roman Curia, promoting women to decision-making positions and removing bad bishops and appointing better ones.  So what is happening? Is Francis' wildly popular (and some would say "populist") pontificate beginning to show signs of the same illness that afflicted his Bavarian predecessor's administration?  Before writing the obituary, it's important to stop and look a bit more deeply and widely at the situation the 78-year-old Argentine Jesuit pope is facing................ (more).

"Your Views" on Holy Week / Easter celebrations/liturgies?
Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe, Friday 10 April 2015

Each year we invite you to review  the previous week's celebrations of Holy Week & Easter Sunday. These involve a great deal of effort and the parish depends on your feedback to plan  ahead for, dare I say, 2016!  It would greatly help if you could take just a few minutes now to reflect on your experiences of Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil, Reconciliation, Easter Sunday and let us know what you thought about any one, more or all of these. It's as easy as replying here   ( Even just one paragraph would help!  With your agreement we would also love to publish your comments  with (or even without if you prefer) your name on the "Your Views" page of this website for the information and benefit of all the parish. Now is a perfect time to let us know what you thought, good, bad, or any suggestions. Thanks for helping us to make the Holy Week/Easter celebrations/liturgies as meaningful and good as we possibly can.

Cardinal to religious: Those who abandon Vatican II are 'killing themselves'
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 9 April 2015

Rome. The cardinal who leads the Vatican's congregation for religious life told members of religious orders globally that they must live their vocations "inserted" into the world, not closing themselves off to new things but open to changes of modern life.   Brazilian Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, speaking to a first-of-its-kind congress of many of the world's religious formation directors, also warned the religious against trying to abandon the changes in the church brought about by the Second Vatican Council.   "We feel today new geographical and cultural contexts that manifest in intense ways," Braz de Aviz said Wednesday to some 1,200 formation directors at the Rome conference.   "The contexts have changed," he said. "We are disoriented. In our identity, we are a bit insecure. We need a new deepening, a new pausing, a new listening."   Continuing, the cardinal told the formation directors: "Do not distance yourself from the great lines of the Second Vatican Council."...............(more

Archbishop Fisher to debate philosopher Peter Singer
Extract from CathNews, 9 April 2015

The Archbishop of Sydney, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, will debate one of the world’s most influential ethicists, Peter Singer, on a yet-to-be-confirmed topic surrounding end-of-life issues on August 13, reports The Catholic Weekly.   In a major coup for the student association, the Catholic Society of St Peter, the  debate will be held in the Great Hall at the University of Sydney, the same venue where the then Bishop-elect Fisher debated euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke in 2003.    The academic thought of Archbishop Fisher, one of the world’s leading bioethicists, is in almost every respect worlds apart from that of Singer’s.    The Australian-born Singer, a professor of bioethics at Princeton University, argues that sentience, or the ability to feel, and rationality, are among the truest markers of personhood, making some animals more ‘persons’ than some humans (more).

Can speech be free in the Catholic Church?
Extract from Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street,8 April 2015

Some 60 years ago the German Catholic theologian Karl Rahner (pictured) wrote a pamphlet on free speech in the Catholic Church. His explorations may seem now to be very tentative, but were daring at a time when the Pope took positions on disputed questions and demanded acquiescence.     Rahner's Catholic world was different from that of today. In discussions about the Synod on the Family, cardinals have differed publicly on how to approach irregular relationships.    Priests in England drafted a letter, invited other priests to sign it, and made it public. In turn, English Cardinal Vincent Nichols rebuked them for caucusing.   Meanwhile Pope Francis has insisted that the participants in the Synod are free to express their opinions, urged them to give priority to people at the margins of church and has proclaimed a Holy Year of Compassion to coincide with it...............(more) Photo: Eureka Street

Catholic reform leaders from around the world to meet in Ireland next week
Extract from Sarah Mac Donald, The Tablet, 8 April 2015

Catholic reform leaders from around the world will meet in Ireland next week for a three-day conference organised by the censured Redemptorist priest Fr Tony Flannery.   Forty representatives from North America, South America, Asia, England, Germany, Switzerland and Ireland are due to attend the conference between 13-16 April in Limerick...........Speaking to The Tablet, Fr Flannery, who was banned from ministry by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2012 for what it considered heret­ical views on the Eucharist and priesthood, said some of the topics expected to be discussed include the “reform agenda of Pope Francis, the future of parishes and communities, women’s equality and how to communicate with the Vatican”............“I am interested in getting a sense from people of what they think about Francis – whether he is interested in real reform or whether it is just rhetoric,” he added......(more)

Pope Francis: Children are never a mistake
Extracts from CAM, Catholic News Service, 9 April 2015

CHILDREN are never a ‘mistake’ and no sacrifice is too great for an adult to make so that children can feel their worth, Pope Francis said.    During his weekly general audience in a chilly, but sunny St Peter's Square on Wednesday 8 April, the Pope continued his series of talks about the family, dedicating a second catechesis to children. He described the great suffering and difficulties many children around the world experience as ‘a Passion.’     Even in rich countries, ‘many children live dramas that scar their lives heavily’ due to family crises or inhuman living conditions, he said. They suffer the consequences of ‘a culture of exaggerated individual rights’ and become precocious, he added. And often, they absorb the violence they are exposed to, unable to ‘dispose of it,’ and ‘are forced to become accustomed to degradation,’ the Pope said.  ‘In every case, these are childhoods violated in body and soul,’ the Pope said. ‘But none of these children is forgotten by the Father in heaven. None of their tears are lost.’    The Pope also said children, too often, suffer the effects of their parents' precarious and poorly paid work or unsustainable work hours. Children, he said, ‘also pay the price of immature unions and irresponsible separations; they are the first victims.’ He underlined the social responsibility of each person and government toward children........‘The church places her maternal care at the service of children and their families,’ he added. ‘It brings God's blessing to the parents and children of this world, maternal tenderness, firm reprimand and strong condemnation. Brothers and sisters, think carefully: You don't mess with the lives of children.’ (more

US bishops object to death penalty in Boston bomber case
Extract from CathNews, 8 April 2015

The Bishops of Massachusetts have reiterated the Church's opposition to the death penalty as the trial of Boston Marathon bombing defendant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev went to the jury on Monday, reports the Catholic News Service.     If convicted, Tsarnaev could be sentenced to death or to life without the possibility of parole.    The Church opposes the death penalty except "if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor," but such cases "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent." (more) Photo:  Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Cathnews  0804tsarnaev_20990artthumb

The Case for a Mass Conversion of Men
U.S. Research shows that almost 9 out of 10 Catholic men don’t participate in a Catholic activity outside of attending Mass; if men aren’t being reached in the Mass, they aren’t being reached.
Extract from Matthew James Christoff, The Catholic World Report, 6 April 2015
Despite the fact the New Evangelization has been an ongoing emphasis by the Catholic Church for over forty years, it has failed to stem the disastrous losses of the faithful in the U.S. Since 2000, 14 million Catholics have left the faith, parish religious education participation of children has dropped by 24%, Catholic school attendance has dropped by 19%, baptisms of infants has dropped by 28%, baptism of adults has dropped by 31% and sacramental Catholic marriages have dropped by 41%. Something is desperately wrong with the Church’s approach to the New Evangelization.     Of Mass and Men.   One reason the New Evangelization is faltering is because it is missing men. The New Evangelization Project has documented the serious Catholic “man-crisis” in the United States. 1 in 3 baptized Catholic men have left the faith and of those who remain, 50-60% of them are “Casual Catholics”, men who don’t know and don’t practice the faith. Of those who practice the faith, many are lukewarm, not converted to the point of conviction, a conviction in which they are prepared to make disciples for Christ and His Catholic Church. The New Evangelization has largely ignored men, with no substantial or sustained efforts to directly confront the Catholic “man-crisis”. (more)  Ed: In Australia the purpose of the active menAlive program is to bring men together, to renew their faith in God and to encourage them become an active force of renewal in the Church.

The Pact of the Catacombs (Domitilla) A poor servant Church
The Vatican II nature of Church:  Good Friday, 3 April 2015

As Vatican Council II drew to a close in 1965, 40 bishops met at night in the Domitilla Catacombs outside Rome. In that holy place of Christian dead they celebrated the Eucharist and signed a document that expressed their personal commitments as bishops to the ideals of the Council under the suggestive title of the Pact of the Catacombs. The only place we have found its complete text transcribed is in the Chronicle of Vatican II by the Franciscan bishop Boaventura Kloppenburg. He titled the document Pact of the Servant and Poor Church......... Read the pact here

Archbishop Hart's Easter message 2015
Video, Catholic Achdiocese of Melbourne, CathNews, 2 April 2015

Archbishop Denis Hart delivers his Easter message for 2015, focusing on Christ as the only remedy for the emptiness we experience in life  (here - 4 minutes)

UK bishops shut down synod debate in media
Extract from CathNews, 2 April 2015

Two bishops in the UK have reminded the nearly 500 priests who recently signed an open letter resisting change to the Church’s current moral teaching not to use the media to make their voices heard, reports The Tablet.    Debate in the UK on issues such as allowing Communion for those divorced and remarried to be raised at October’s Synod on the Family has exposed tensions in the Church with one bishop refusing to meet a prominent lay group pressing for change.    Meanwhile, two other bishops have reminded the conservative-minded priests who recently signed an open letter resisting change to the Church’s current moral teaching that other channels exist by which to make their voices heard.    Following news that the Bishop of Lancaster, Michael Campbell, had refused to meet diocesan members of Acta (A Call to Action), the head of the organisation issued a statement saying that she believed her group’s stance was “what Pope Francis wants.”    “He told the youth in Brazil to ‘make a mess’ in their dioceses,” said Eileen Fitzpatrick, Acta’s national chair. “We hope the Bishops of England and Wales will catch up with him if they haven’t already done so. Acta are not going away and if doors don’t open to us, we shall continue to knock.” (more)

Archbishop celebrates Mass of the Holy Oils
Edited Extract from Natasha Marsh, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, 31 March 2015

Over 250 priests, deacons, seminarians and religious including Fr Thang gathered with the laity at St Patrick’s Cathedral this morning for the Mass of the Holy Oils, celebrated by Archbishop Denis Hart.         Every year, Mass of the Holy Oils is celebrated in the days leading up to Holy Thursday. During the Mass, Archbishop Hart blessed the oil of the catechumens (for adult and infant catechumens), the oil of the sick (for anointing the sick) and the oil of chrism (for Baptism, Confirmation, Ordination of Priests and consecration of altars) to be used across the Archdiocese for the rest of the year.         As the bishop is the only person in the diocese who may consecrate chrism, the Mass is a powerful reminder of the role of consecration and priesthood in the community.       ‘We pray earnestly for our priests and deacons, and those about to be ordained that their service will continue to show us how Christ is “all in all”,’ Archbishop Hart said in a short introduction to the Mass (more including photos). Photo: Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne,  John Casamento

Survey responses show diverse feelings on Church    (30 March 2015)
Extract from Fr Brian Boyle, Catholic Newspaper of Sandhurst Diocese, Bendigo,  Issue 121, March 2015
              THE Synod in Rome on Marriage and the Family last year and the projected session in October this year has aroused considerable interest among people, particularly on the issues or marriage and reception of the sacraments.          Pope Francis has been keen to involve the wider Church in the discussions, both on the level of prayer as well as consultation. Recently, the people in our Diocese had the opportunity to Offer their opinion and conviction about matters relating to marriage and the family in a survey form of some 38 questions, adapted from a list of such questions sent out from Rome.       All Australian Catholics had the same opportunity through an on-line form or printed copy to participate in the survey. This survey was not a plebiscite but rather an initiative of Pope Francis to garner opinion and see the pressing issues for Catholics about marriage and the family.    At the invitation of our Bishop I had the opportunity to read all the survey responses and then make a synthesis of the main ideas and themes in a report which was submitted with other similar reports from other Australian dioceses to a central body in Canberra.            A synthesis of these responses received from the Australian Church is then to be sent to Rome, to assist in the preparation for the next phase of the Synod later this year. Catholics have had the opportunity to speak. Before proceeding to a general summary of the survey now, I would like to say what a privilege it has been to read all these responses.          I would like to assure those who submitted responses, both on-line and hard copy form, that I have read all the responses carefully and respectfully.        The general outline of the Sandhurst Diocese response to the survey was as follows.................(full report here

Holy week in our Parish
Friday 27 March 2015

Easter is the most significant time of the church year, and for the whole country is associated with holidays originally based on Easter. Ironically school holidays no longer start with Easter but the week before, potentially compromising the major events of Holy Week, commencing with Palm Sunday this weekend and through Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Eeaster Vigil next Saturday evening, and then Easter Sunday.    See Fr Thang's  Reflection on Holy Week and Easter here.    The richness and significance of Easter are fully celebrated within the Church, and for the Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe events details may be viewed or downloaded on the 'Mass Details' page here.    Image: Flickr

Church alarmed at government rejection of abuse redress scheme
Extract from CathNews, 27 March 2015

The Church says it is disappointed the Federal government has so quickly rejected a national scheme to compensate abuse survivors, reports AAP on SBS.      In its response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the Church backed a national, fair, compassionate, and independent scheme which would be run by the Federal government with the participation of State and Territory governments.     Francis Sullivan, CEO of the Truth Justice and Healing Council (TJHC), told the Royal Commission yesterday it was surprising that the Commonwealth had initiated the inquiry and "yet has so quickly discounted itself from one of the most fundamental issues we have to redress".    "You would think that any government that was setting up a Royal Commission of this nature would know that a possible redress scheme would be one option," Mr Sullivan said.     The Commission has recommended a single national scheme and done modelling to show it would cost $4.3 billion and cover 65,000 survivors.    In a blunt, written submission to the Commission, the Federal government said such a scheme would be too costly and too complex to implement (more).

Govt rejects national redress scheme for sex abuse victims                                                                                               Extract from CathNews, 26 March 2015
The Chairman of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse has expressed disappointment that the Commonwealth government has refused to support a national redress scheme for victims, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.   Justice Peter McClellan made his comments yesterday after the Federal government stated that such a scheme is too complex, time consuming, and costly.    A national scheme has been supported by the Catholic and Anglican churches, and yesterday the Uniting Church Queensland CEO said the church supported the structure proposed by the Commission for a national scheme, reports AAP. The SMH reports that the Government statements were made in a blunt, two-page submission to the Commission, which is trying to develop a redress scheme for those who have suffered abuse.   Yesterday Justice McClellan expressed disappointment that, while the Commonwealth government had accepted the need for "effective redress" when it set up the Commission, it now did not support what evidence showed was the most effective scheme.   Under the scheme proposed by the Commission this year, the Commonwealth would have responsibility as a co-ordinator, and also as a "funder of last resort" - to provide financial support for victims when the institutions responsible were insolvent (more). Photo: Cathnews

Pope Francis to visit White House during trip to the US
Extract from CathNews, 27 March 2015

Pope Francis is to meet President Barack Obama when he makes his first visit to the US in September, reports The Catholic Herald.   President Obama and First Lady, Michelle Obama, will welcome the Pope to the White House on September 23.   “During the visit, the President and the Pope will continue the dialogue which they began during the President’s visit to the Vatican in March, 2014, on their shared values and commitments on a wide range of issues,” said a White House statement issued today.   Those issues, it said, include “caring for the marginalised and the poor; advancing economic opportunity for all; serving as good stewards of the environment; protecting religious minorities and promoting religious freedom around the world; and welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees into our communities.”   The statement added: “The President looks forward to continuing this conversation with the Holy Father during his first visit to the United States as Pope.” 

UK cardinal rebukes 500 priests over letter to resist change
Extract from CathNews, 26 March 2015

UK Cardinal Vincent Nichols has rebuked the almost 500 British priests who have signed a letter resisting any change to Church teaching at the Vatican’s next Synod on the Family in October, reports The Tablet.   The Cardinal said discussions between priests and bishops ahead of the gathering are "not best conducted through the press."    Almost 500 priests in England and Wales have signed a letter calling on the Vatican’s next Synod on the Family to proclaim the Church’s “unchanging” moral teaching and resist any move allowing Communion for the divorced and remarried (more). Photo: CathNews 

UK priests urge Synod to stand firm on Church teaching
Extract from CathNews, 25 March 2015

Almost 500 British priests have signed a letter urging those attending this year’s family Synod to issue a “clear and firm proclamation” upholding Church teaching on marriage, reports The Catholic Herald.    In the letter, published in this week’s Catholic Herald, the priests write: “We wish, as Catholic priests, to re-state our unwavering fidelity to the traditional doctrines regarding marriage and the true meaning of human sexuality, founded on the Word of God and taught by the Church’s Magisterium for two millennia.”    Last year’s extraordinary Synod provoked heated debate on the question of whether remarried Catholics should be permitted to receive Holy Communion – a proposal presented by retired German Cardinal, Walter Kasper.    In what is thought to be an unprecedented step, 461 priests in England and Wales have joined together to urge Synod participants to resist the proposal.    They write: “We affirm the importance of upholding the Church’s traditional discipline regarding the reception of the sacraments, and that doctrine and practice remain firmly and inseparably in harmony.” (more)

Dublin Archbishop Recalls Synod, Reflects on Ireland's Debate on Marriage
Extracts from speaking notes of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin on the Church's teaching on marriage today, a lecture given last week to the Iona Institute.  Zenit, 24 March 2014
..........The strong message of the Synod was a call for a radical renewal of the Church’s pastoral support for marriage and the family and their role in society.   In the pluralism which exists today in every part of the world we need a radical catechesis on marriage and the family.  Marriage preparation is not just preparation for a wedding day.      The tone which Pope Francis wished to give the Synod was never condemnatory.  The Church must encounter families where they are. The Church must listen to where God is speaking also through the witness of those Christian married couples who struggle and fail and begin again.  The tone was one of reaching out pastorally and of reflecting the mercy of Jesus.  Pope Francis constantly stresses an image of the Church as a “field hospital on the scene of a battle”, where people are taken up into the caring arms of someone, where their wounds are washed and cleaned and they receive a welcome of care and concern.       One Bishop took up Pope Francis’ image of the Church as a “field-hospital” where wounds are healed, saying that sadly too often the Church appears more like the city morgue where all the pathologies of things that have gone wrong with the family are examined without emotion.     That is something we must keep in mind in the way we reflect for the future. We should be very realistic in our examination of the reality of the institution of marriage and family in society, but not get bogged down only with problems, but bring a message of hope and encouragement and support to families...............Among the subjects discussed at the Synod was that of men and women with same sex orientation.  During the Synod’s discussion as to how to reach out to men and women of same sex orientation it was clearly and unanimously stressed by all that there is a radical difference between marriage between a man and a woman and the union of two people of the same sex.        Yet it was also stressed that the Church had to welcome people as they are.  For many it is hard to understand how Pope Francis can be opposed to same sex marriage and yet ask “who am I to judge” (more).

In defense of Cardinal Keith O'Brien, sort of
Was the cardinal's confession and resignation a missed opportunity for the Church?

Extract from Robert Mickens, Rome, GlobalPulse, 24 March 2015
There are good reasons why Cardinal Keith Michael Patrick O'Brien of Scotland should have participated in the last Conclave. (I'll get to that in a minute.).      Instead, he resigned as archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh just before the papal election got underway. Four men had gone public and accused him of pressuring them into having sex years ago when they were junior priests (one was actually an adult seminarian). The papers ran wild with the story and the cardinal could no longer deny it.    “I… admit that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal,” he finally confessed publicly on March 3, 2013, before going into seclusion.    Last Friday, a full two years later and following a Vatican “investigation,” a note from Rome announced that Cardinal O'Brien had freely relinquished “the rights and privileges” — but, bizarrely, not the title — of a being a cardinal. Even weirder, Church officials said he could continue wearing his cardinal attire, but only in private (more).

Australian Church urges generous payments, ongoing care for abuse victims
Extract from CathNews, 24 March 2015

Generous financial payments, ongoing care and support, and a meaningful apology should be key elements of a national child sexual abuse redress scheme, according to the Church submission to the Royal Commission released yesterday. The Truth Justice and Healing Council submission to the Royal Commission’s redress and civil litigation consultation has supported Commissioner Peter McClellan’s call for governments to establish an independent national redress scheme funded by the institutions responsible for the abuse.  Francis Sullivan, CEO of the Truth Justice and Healing Council, said the issue of redress is at the very heart of the Commission’s work. “A national scheme is necessary to ensure survivors of child sexual abuse are treated consistently across Australia. It would effectively provide consistent, easy access redress for all survivors of child sexual abuse regardless of where or when the abuse occurred,” he said.    “It would also remove the justifiable criticism that the investigation and determination of abuse claims by the very institutions against which the claims were brought lacked transparency.” (more)

Child sex abuse investigation launched at Riverview
Edited Extract from CathNews, 24 March 2015

Police have launched an investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse at Sydney's St Ignatius College Riverview dating back more than 30 years, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.  Yesterday, the school sent a letter to its old boys informing them that a former student had made allegations which principal Paul Hine said had now been reported to the NSW police force.   The only detail of the allegation contained in the letter is that it concerned "child sexual abuse over 30 years ago."..........."For a long time Riverview has had a proud history of education and care for boys," Dr Hine wrote. "This situation presents a salient reminder of the need to protect our young people both in policy and in practice." (more)

NCR Editorial: What kind of reformer is Francis?
Edited extracts from National Catholic Reporter, Editorial Staff, 23 March 2015

Editorial:  Any assessment of Pope Francis at the two-year mark of his papacy would do best to first deal with the unrealistic expectations and the disappointments that often drive the discussion over whether he is a true reformer.    On one hand, Francis is not going to ordain women or marry a gay couple during his tenure as pope. His attitude toward women seems woefully outdated, calling them "strawberries on the cake."  Despite his words about including women in the church, he has yet to involve them in any substantial way in church governance.     On the other hand, he will not suddenly become princely and engage in the royal court culture that flourished during the era of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI and in which blossomed the crimes and corruption that Francis inherited.    Nor will he suddenly reverse course and reinstitute a tick list of orthodoxies as the measure of Catholic identity, or worry inordinately about what prevailing hermeneutic will result in the purest expression of the church.    If he is, then, dispensing disappointment across the spectrum, what accounts for the fascination with him that seems unabated since he appeared on the balcony the evening of his election in simple garb, gave a simple greeting, and asked the crowd to silently pray for him?.............The depth of reform during the Francis years will depend on time and how successful he is in shaping an episcopacy in agreement with his vision. The longest-lasting reform may be the education that Catholics and the rest of the world are receiving: that the church can and does change and that what may be perceived as chaos in one papacy is, in another, an opportunity for encounter (more). Image: Wikipedia, This painting by Sir George Hayter (now in the National Portrait Gallery) commemorates the passing of the Great Reform Act in 1832.

Despite low Catholic marriage numbers, some see trend turning around
Extracts from Nate Madden, Catholic News Service, NCR, 23 March 2015

Washington. The number of Catholic marriages in the United States is at its lowest point since 1965. Georgetown University's Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate keeps records of Catholic church statistics going back to 1965, tracking such things as the total number of priests, the Catholic population of the United States, and the number of baptisms and marriages per year.    The statistics show that while there were over 420,000 Catholic marriages in 1970, that number has dwindled to just over 154,000 for the year 2014.    "There's no definitive answer" for this trend, according to Mark Gray, a senior research associate and poll director at the center. He cited some of the leading hypotheses about the decrease.    "We're seeing an increase in cohabitation," he said, which can "create a hurdle to receiving the sacrament of marriage, depending on the parish or diocese's policies," Gray said in an interview with Catholic News Service. "There's also the notion of a destination wedding trumping the traditional notion of getting married within the church."    rectangular-logo.jpgVisit our sister website, Global Sisters Report!    And there has been "no increase in Catholics marrying non-Catholics that might lead us to believe that they're marrying in other churches," he said.    "Some things have changed culturally. ... The church just isn't seen as important" to many young Catholics, Gray said.................One of the several "takeaway" messages of the synod for American Catholics, according to the Heinzens, is "to remain accountable to the truths that come from God [when it comes to marriage]. We must never stray or be led away from the Gospel message when we deal with families."    "Perhaps the greatest challenge [to marriage] both here and abroad," they told CNS in a joint email, "is the triumph of self-reliance over self-sacrifice. Today's culture values independence over interdependence. The need to commit oneself to another in marriage makes little sense when the perceived outcome is 'me' and not 'we.' "    However, like Gray, the Heinzens also see a cultural renewal emerging on the Catholic marriage front.    "One of the most positive cultural trends that we see is a shift in catechesis from a child-centered focus to a parent-centered focus," they said. "This trend allows parishes to utilize the basic desire found in most parents' heart to provide the very best for their children.........This shift in the catechetical approach is bearing great results because parents are learning how to become primary educators for their children." (more)  Photo: NCR (CNS file photo/Jon L. Hendricks)

Pope criticised after Cardinal O'Brien resigns
Extract from CathNews, 23 March 2015

Pope Francis has been criticised after accepting the de facto resignation of the British Cardinal disgraced in a sex scandal without any follow-up on the allegations against him, reports AFP on Yahoo7. A statement from the Vatican on Friday said Francis had accepted former Archbishop Keith O'Brien's resignation of the rights and privileges of a cardinal in a highly unusual move, for which the last precedent dates from 1927. It came two years after Cardinal O'Brien stepped down as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, having admitted inappropriate sexual behaviour towards priests in the 1980s. At the time of his resignation, Cardinal O'Brien was the most senior Catholic churchman in Britain and an outspoken critic of homosexuality -- which he described as a "moral degradation" -- and gay marriage. He was exposed as a hypocrite when several priests who had been in his charge, one of whom had left the priesthood, came forward with testimony that he had made unwanted sexual advances to them, often after late night drinking sessions. In a statement, the Vatican said the resignation had been presented "after a long period of prayer" -- a formulation which means the matter was dealt with by the Pope personally, without reference to an internal Church court. "With this provision, His Holiness would like to manifest his pastoral solicitude to all the faithful of the Church in Scotland and to encourage them to continue with hope the path of renewal and reconciliation," the statement added. SNAP, a global campaign group on the issue of clerical sex abuse which counts many victims among its activists, criticised the pope's handling of the issue. "As it has done with dozens of abusive prelates, the Vatican is disclosing nothing about O'Brien's wrongdoing," SNAP spokeswoman Barbara Dorris said (more).

Open letter from Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson
Extract from CathNews, 23 March 2015

Archbishop Philip Wilson has written an open letter to the people of the Archdiocese of Adelaide expressing his determination to defend himself against the charge of concealing child sexual abuse. In the letter, he writes that he will be taking indefinite leave from his role as Archbsihop, and other national responsibilities, to help prepare his defence. "I will have to spend considerable time out of Adelaide over the the next few months," he writes."I have handed over my responsibilites to my Vicar General, Father Philip Marshall." Archbishop Wilson adds: "I ask you to pray for justice for all victims of child sex abuse in the Church and beyond. Their voices should be heard and justice must be afforded to them, as a right before God and before the community in which we live."LETTER IN FULL.......(more)

Chile's Bishop Juan Barros, linked to sex abuse priest, faces Catholic fury
Extract from Canberra Times, 22 March 2015

Santiago: Black balloons in hand, hundreds of Catholics gathered at a church in the small Chilean city of Osorno to protest against the appointment of Bishop Juan Barros, accused of protecting one of the nation's most notorious paedophiles. The appointment has sparked outrage from many parishioners and puts into question Pope Francis' promise to rid the church of sex abuse.       Critics say Bishop Barros helped cover up abuse by Father Fernando Karadima, whose case is the most infamous of several allegations of paedophilia within the Catholic Church in Chile. In 2011, Santiago-based Father Karadima was found guilty by the Vatican of abusing teenage boys over many years. Freed from criminal prosecution after the case against him collapsed for technical reasons, the church punished him by banning him from celebrating public mass.         Father Karadima was a mentor to several younger priests, including Bishop Barros. Juan Carlos Cruz, a Karadima victim now living in the United States, says Bishop Barros did the paedophile priest's "dirty work", tearing up letters from victims detailing abuse, and that the recently appointed bishop was present when molestation took place. Protestors shout as bishops and priests enter the cathedral in Osorno. "This contradicts everything the Pope has said. He was aware of the situation but named [Juan Barros as bishop] anyway," Mr Cruz said "We were accustomed to getting slapped in the face by the Catholic Church [in Chile], but getting slapped by the Pope himself is the saddest part." Many Chilean Catholics have repudiated the planned appointment. Father Alex Vigueras, provincial superior of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in Chile, said that the appointment had "left us perplexed".....(more)  Photo: Camberra Times, AP

Next step of Parish Review for each community
Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe, Friday 20 March 2015

Having completed the recent Parish Review update to parishioners the next step has begun, which is a review of parish assets by means of a series of working sessions within each of our three parish communities.  Resources include the obvious: buildings; but also include all aspects of human and physical capital, for example voluntary professional skills, Voluntary labour, Existing groups and committees, Access to finance. The process is based on an Archdiocese methodology and will lead next to an overall review of parish assets.

UK Bishop excommunicated over illicit ordination
Extract from CathNews, 20 March 2015

Traditionalist British Bishop Richard Williamson has been automatically excommunicated, along with the priest he illicitly ordained a bishop, reports the Catholic News Service.      Bishop Williamson,who has denied the Holocaust, violated Church law when he ordained Father Jean-Michel Faure, 73, a bishop, without papal approval during a ceremony yesterday in Nova Friburgo, Brazil.       While the Vatican did not comment immediately, canon law provides automatic excommunication for the newly ordained Bishop and for the Bishop ordaining him in cases where the ordination goes against the will of the Pope.      Bishop Williamson had been excommunicated in 1988 when he and three other traditionalist bishops were ordained against Papal orders by the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, founder of the Society of St Pius X. Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunications in 2009 as a first step toward beginning formal talks aimed at reconciliation with the group (more). Photo: Cathnews

Saudi grand mufti: Destroy all churches in Arabian peninsula
Extract from CathNews, 20 March 2015

Saudi Arabia’s top Muslim cleric has called for the destruction of all churches in the Arabian Peninsula after legislators in Kuwait moved to pass laws banning the construction of religious sites associated with Christianity, reports The Times of Israel.    Speaking to a delegation in Kuwait on Tuesday, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, who serves as the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, said the destruction of churches was absolutely necessary and is required by Islamic law, Arabic media reported.    Abdullah, who is considered to be the highest official of religious law in the Sunni Muslim kingdom, also serves as the head of the Supreme Council of Ulema (Islamic scholars) and of the Standing Committee for Scientific Research and Issuing of Fatwas (more). Photo: CathNews

Pope Francis and the road map of a St. Joseph pontiff
Extract from Analysis, Joshua J McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 19 March 2015

Much of the analysis of Pope Francis during his two years as leader of the Roman Catholic church has focused on two key aspects: He is a member of the Jesuit religious order, and he has named his papacy in honor of the 13th-century saint of the poor, Francis of Assisi.   But there's a third connection with which the pope's ministry is inextricably tied: that with St. Joseph, husband of Mary and foster-father of Jesus. Officially inaugurated into his Petrine ministry on March 19, 2013, Francis celebrates the anniversary of his papacy each year on the day the church celebrates Joseph's feast day. Francis has made the connection between him and Joseph publicly many times. During his visit to the Philippines in January, he told families there that he keeps a little statue of the saint on his desk. Sometimes, the pope said, he writes problems he's having on pieces of paper and tucks them under the statue so Joseph can dream over them for him.   Within months of his election, Francis also permanently amended the eucharistic prayers used at most Catholic Masses to include Joseph's name along with Mary's.    But the connection between pope and father also seem almost like a papal road map (more).

As Obama pushes for trade pact fast track, faith groups say to call the deal off
Extracts from Soli Salgado, National Catholic Reporter, 19 March 2015

Thirty-five faith-based organizations and 31 Catholic leaders and theologians are calling on President Barack Obama and Congress to cease negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership -- a trade agreement involving the U.S. and 11 other countries in the Pacific Rim.    The Obama administration wants to fast-track the pact, arguing it will give the president more leverage in negotiations by assuring his trading partners the agreements won't be amended. But interreligious coalitions that released the letters Feb. 18 say that permitting him to fast-track, essentially delegating congressional authority to the president, is inconsistent with the country's democratic and moral values.      Fast-track authority would also make it  more difficult to challenge and modify the content of the agreement, which coalitions find morally troubling as well.    The Trans-Pacific Partnership could be the largest trade agreement in U.S. history. It involves Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. These countries account for nearly 40 percent of the world's gross domestic product.......Interreligious coalitions said they believe the agreement could increase the wealth gap while making it harder to enforce environmental policies (more).

Vatican liturgy secretary rules out possibility of Catholics using 1998 Mass translation
Extract from Christopher Lamb, The Tablet, 19 March 2015

A Vatican archbishop has ruled out the possibility of Catholics being able to use a different English translation of the Mass. There have been growing calls for the 1998 version to be made available as critics are unhappy with the current missal text which is judged clunky, awkward, and a too literal translation of the Latin. The 1998 text was approved by English-speaking bishops’ conferences after 17 years of work. It was, however, rejected by the Vatican and a revised translation, introduced in November 2011, was then implemented (more).

Pope's zero tolerance for abusive priests faces test in Chile
Extract from CathNews, 19 March 2015

The Pope's appointment this month of a bishop in Chile who has been accused of covering up sexual abuse has caused an outcry among victims and Catholic faithful, reports AP in Crux.   Juan Carlos Cruz recalls that he and another teen boy would lie down on the priest’s bed, one resting his head at the man’s shoulder, another sitting near his feet. The priest would kiss the boys and grope them, he said,  while the Rev. Juan Barros watched.   “Barros was there, and he saw it all,” Cruz, now a 51-year-old journalist, told the Associated Press.   Bishop Barros has been tapped by Pope Francis to become bishop of a southern Chilean diocese this month, provoking an unprecedented outcry by abuse victims and Catholic faithful who contend he covered up sexual abuse committed by his mentor and superior, the Rev. Fernando Karadima, in the 1980s and 1990s.    A Vatican investigation found Karadima guilty in 2011 and sentenced the now 84-year-old priest to a cloistered life of “penitence and prayer” for what is Chile’s highest-profile case of abuse by a priest.    Bishop Barros had long declined to comment publicly on allegations against him. However, in a letter sent Monday to the priests of the diocese he’ll be overseeing, he said he did not know about Karadima’s abuses when they happened.    “I never had knowledge of, or could have imagined, the serious abuses that this priest committed against the victims,” said the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the AP (more).  Photo: Bishop Barros, CathNews

Can Pope Francis Turn the Church around?
Extract from Eric Hodgens, Pearls and Irritations, John Mendue website, 18 March 2015  (originally published  16/03/2015) 
                                          The question needs to be asked because the Catholic Church is in trouble. Firstly, it has a . credibility problem. Affiliation has been dropping since the 60s. Sunday Mass attendance, the first indicator of affiliation, backs this up. The Church’s compelling message of Jesus as the icon of life defeating death is not getting through. Relentlessly, Catholics are feeling more and more marginalised or leaving the Church altogether. Bishops are not leading. Sexual and financial scandals have blackened the Church’s image. The administration is too centralised and preoccupied with issues which are irrelevant to the lives of people whether Catholic and not.          Secondly, the Church has a ministry problem. Canon Law demands that an ordained priest be the sole leader of every parish. But it is forty five years since enough have come forward to fill the basic demand for Parish Priests. It is a seller’s market for ordained priests whether suitable for the task or not. Parishes with good priestly leadership are doing well – but they are getting fewer (more).

Archbishop Wilson denies charge of concealing child sexual abuse
Extract from CathNews, 18 March 2015

In a statement released yesterday, Archbishop Wilson said: “I am disappointed to have been notified by the NSW Police that it has decided to file a charge in respect of this matter. "The suggestion appears to be that I failed to bring to the attention of police a conversation I am alleged to have had in 1976, when I was a junior priest, that a now-deceased priest had abused a child. "From the time this was first brought to my attention last year, I have completely denied the allegation.  I intend to vigorously defend my innocence through the judicial system. "I am unable to make any further comment at this stage, but I would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm my commitment to dealing proactively with the issue of child sexual abuse and the implementation of best-practice child protection measures which I have pioneered since becoming a bishop." The President of the ACBC, Archbishop Denis Hart, said in a statement yesterday: "The presumption of innocence applies to Archbishop Wilson as it does to all citizens subject to criminal charges before the court. I urge people not to make any judgement until the charge against Archbishop Wilson has been dealt with by the court." (more)   Photo:  Alan Porrit (AAP)

Report into Cardinal O'Brien is with the Pope
Edited Extract from CathNews, 17 March 2015

The Church in Scotland has responded to media reports suggesting that the Church is “sitting on” a report on allegations regarding Cardinal Keith O'Brien, former Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh who admitted sexual misconduct in 2013. A spokesman for the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh said that Pope Francis had “tried his very best to handle the case of Cardinal O'Brien with great justice and compassion” and was now considering the report. “We hope and trust that he will reach a decision that is fair and just to everybody involved,” the spokesman said.   Following public accusations by a number of priests and one former priest, and following the cardinal’s resignation, the Pope appointed Bishop – now Archbishop – Scicluna, to speak to all those involved and report back to the Vatican.  One of the men who have accused Cardinal O'Brien of inappropriate sexual conduct said that despite Archbishop Scicluna's report being “hot enough to burn the varnish” off the Pope's desk, the Church was moving with “glacial” speed when it came to making public its findings (more).

Francis: Who are you to shut the door of mercy for someone?
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 17 March 2015

Vatican City. Pope Francis has again forcefully emphasized the Catholic church's need to be merciful, pointedly asking who Christians that do not allow someone to renter the church community think they are. Speaking Tuesday during his daily homily at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, Francis asked bluntly: "Who are you who shuts the door of your heart to a man, a woman who wants to improve, to return back into the people of God, because the Holy Spirit has stirred his or her heart?" The church, the pontiff said, is "the home of Jesus and Jesus welcomes -- but not only welcomes, [he] goes to find people." "And if people are hurt, what does Jesus do?" asked Francis. "Scolds them because they are hurt? No, he comes and carries them on his shoulders." "This is called mercy," the pope continued. "And when God reprimands his people -- 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice!' -- he speaks of this."  Francis' emphasis Tuesday on the need for mercy from Catholics comes just days after the pope announced Friday that he will be convoking in December an extraordinary jubilee year for the Catholic church to be called the Holy Year of Mercy. The pope has made mercy a central theme of his papacy. On Friday he said he wanted to call the holy year -- a special time for Catholics to receive blessing and pardon from God and remission of sins -- so that the church "can make more evident its mission of being a witness of mercy." (more)

'Gayest' US Catholic parish strives to maintain openness, accepting
Extracts from Thomas C Fox, National Catholic Reporter, 16 March 2015

On a damp and chilly Saturday morning, a dozen men and women converge on Most Holy Redeemer Church at 18th and Diamond in the heart of the Castro. Entering, they peel off gloves, remove their hats and take a place in pews near a wooden altar that sits on a platform in the center of the church........"Everyone needs shelter; everyone needs a protective environment," (Fr. Jack) McClure notes, adding this is precisely what Most Holy Redeemer attempts to do -- provide shelter. He talks about the need to maintain an open and accepting parish......."And just as our parish is an accepting parish," he adds, "each of us needs to be accepting people. But sometimes the most difficult thing about being accepting is accepting ourselves."   His words, hardly idle, seem to have special application to those gathered for the liturgy. They listen intently. A few nod.   Most Holy Redeemer Parish has earned a reputation locally -- and beyond -- for being a distinctly open and accepting parish. It actively welcomes everyone, no questions asked. The parish motto is "God's inclusive love proclaimed here." A banner hanging above two large doors that open up into the church is inscribed with these words. But this isn't what makes Most Holy Redeemer, or "MHR," as the locals call it, one of the nation's most distinctive parishes. The parish has the reputation of likely being the "gayest" Catholic parish in the nation. Eighty percent of its parishioners are LGBT people.    MHR draws its parishioners not only from within the Castro, but also from throughout the San Francisco Bay area. Furthermore, most lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics who visit this West Coast city know of its welcoming reputation, and so the pews at Sunday services invariably are filled with Catholics from across the nation.    The parish's "gayness" isn't the only thing that makes it unusual. MHR, unlike most other local parishes its size, has two priests who work as a team. Other San Francisco parishes its size, with some 400 single or family units, struggle to keep even a single priest (more). Photo: NCR, (Dennis Callahan)

Pope announces Jubilee Year of mercy
Extracts from Christopher Lamb, The Tablet, 13 March 2015

Marking the second year of his pontificate, Pope Francis today announced a Jubilee Year of mercy in order to celebrate God’s forgiveness. During a penitential service in St Peter’s Basilica the Pope said an “extraordinary Holy Year” will take place from the 8 December 2015, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and concluding on 20 November 2016, the Feast of Christ the King.........They are rare events in the life of the Church with the last one taking place during Pope John Paul II’s pontificate in 2000. Ordinary jubilee years take place every 25 years while an extraordinary one can be announced to mark a particular event. The jubilee year of mercy will take place on the fiftieth anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council in 1965 with the year-long event seen as continuing the work of the council. Announcing the news today, the Pope said: “This is the time of mercy. It is important that the lay faithful live it and bring it into different social environments. Go forth!” He also stressed during the service that no one is excluded from the mercy of God. God’s mercy has been a theme of Francis’ pontificate and is part of his episcopal motto, taken from a saying of St Bede: “miserando atque eligendo” which translates as “by having mercy and by choosing.” (more)

Pope Francis: I feel like my papacy will last only four or five years
Edited extract from Staff Reporter UK Catholic Herald, Friday, 13 Mar 2015

Francis made the remark in his most candid interview to date. Pope Francis has said that he “did not know what to say” when greeting the world from the balcony overlooking St Peter’s Square after his election two years ago. He made the remark in a candid and wide-ranging interview with the Mexican broadcaster Televisa.   In the interview he said he felt his pontificate would be brief and that he did “not mind” being pope, adding: “The only thing I would like is to go out one day, without being recognised, and go to a pizzeria for a pizza.”   According to a translation by Vatican Radio, he said: “I have the feeling that my pontificate will be brief: four or five years; I do not know, even two or three. Two have already passed. It is a somewhat vague sensation. Maybe it’s like the psychology of the gambler who convinces himself he will lose so he won’t be disappointed and if he wins, is happy. I do not know. But I feel that the Lord has placed me here for a short time, and nothing more … But it is a feeling. I always leave the possibility open.” (more)

Fr Len's forthcoming "80-50" Celebrations
Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe, Friday 13th March 2015

Fr Len Thomas is widely known in Melbourne parishes and the general community, and particularly in the Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe and the preceding Ivanhoe Cluster where he was Priest In Residence  from 1999 - 2010 whilst living at St Bernadette's. During that time and before he was also Chaplain of  the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne mental health ministry.

Fr Len retired from active parish duties in 2010 but remained busy in many ways, including as a relief Priest from time to time for various parishes in Melbourne and elsewhere in Australia, working with Rotary, visiting Gallipoli, maintaining friendships with many, and writing (see below).

Shortly Fr Len will separately celebrate his 80th birthday and around the same time the 50th Anniversary of his Ordination. Accordingly you are warmly invited to share with Len and friends in any or all of  the celebratory Masses and associated occasions on Saturday 20 June and Saturday 1 August 2015. Full Details and more (including free download of his 2005 "70-40" book Free to be Priest) and information on his forthcoming "80-50 Celebration" Newspaper may be found here.

Oscar Romero to be beatified on May 23
Extract from CathNews, 12 March 2015

Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero will be beatified in San Salvador May 23, said Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the postulator or chief promoter of the Archbishop's sainthood cause, reports the Catholic News Service.   The ceremony, which moves the murdered Archbishop a step closer to sainthood, will be in Plaza Divino Salvador del Mundo. The Archbishop said Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, would celebrate the Mass.   "Romero, from heaven, wants every Salvadoran to walk the path of peace and justice," Archbishop Paglia said yesterday at a news conference in San Salvador.   The Archbishop called the beatification a gift for the world, but particularly for the people of El Salvador.   Pope Francis formally recognised on February 3 that the slain Salvadoran Archbishop was killed "in hatred of the faith" -- and not for purely political reasons (more).

Pope Francis has history, but not time, on his side in reform push
Extracts from Opinion Piece, David Gibson, Religion News Service, National Catholic Reporter, 12 March 2015

Vatican City. Can the Roman Catholic church change? And if so, how? And what's on the table -- traditions, rites, doctrine, none of the above? Such fundamental questions go to the heart of Catholic identity, and they're the same questions Pope Francis has raised almost since the moment he was elected two years ago Friday, a dark horse candidate who became the first pope from Latin America. He shunned the apostolic palace for a modest apartment and cold-called people who wrote to him with problems, and Francis' humble approach endeared him to the masses. Yet he also surprised -- maybe stunned -- Catholics by encouraging open debate, especially about church teachings and practices that had long been considered out of bounds.           "A basic general condition is this: to speak clearly. No one must say: 'This can't be said; he will think of me this way or that,' " Francis told bishops from around the world last summer at a high-level Vatican summit on issues facing the modern family. "It is necessary to say everything that is felt" with candor.  That kind of openness and straight talk is also central to Francis' enormous public appeal. But Francis' glasnost -- so revolutionary in the context of the recent history of the papacy -- has also sparked fierce opposition on the Catholic right, with some high-profile prelates and pundits vowing to thwart reforms and resist any changes in pastoral practice.................. History has shown the church changing on many occasions, something that popes as tradition-minded as Benedict have acknowledged.   "The great idea at stake today is the relationship between the church and history," (Fr. Antonio Spadaro, an Italian Jesuit who is close to Francis) said.(more).

Sydney to join 24 hours of reconcilation over indifference
Edited Extracts from CathNews, 12 March 2015

The Church in Sydney will offer the antidote to the “globalisation of indifference” when it throws open the doors of St Mary’s Cathedral on March 13-14 for 24 hours of Eucharistic Adoration and Reconciliation, reports The Catholic Weekly.   The move, which is expected to be mirrored in churches throughout the archdiocese, is a direct response to the Pope’s global invitation to offer "24 Hours for the Lord," or what its Vatican organisers have previously described as a “festival of forgiveness.”........“Pope Francis explains that we are tempted to indifference as a Church; in our parishes and communities, as well as individually, and that is why we must come together to pray ‘in communion with the Church on earth and in heaven’,” (the organiser) said, referring to the Pope’s 2015 Lenten message (more).

2nd Anniversary: Pope in Interview: 'My Life is in God's Hands'
Extract from Salvatore Cernuzio, Zenit: "La Carcova News" Publishes In-Depth Interview with Pope Francis 11 March 2015

Rome, Whereas the first 365 days of Pope Francis’ pontificate were commented on in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, with the authoritative signature of Ferruccio De Bortoli, this time the Holy Father decided to observe his second anniversary in the See of Peter with a long and passionate interview with La Cracova News. Some might think that the latter is an important daily or a noted agency of Latin America or, perhaps, a history TV channel. It is difficult to think, instead, that the publication in question is a magazine with the same name as that of a shantytown on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, in Argentina. An extravagant, unusual choice, but certainly consistent with his attention to the peripheries, which he always preaches. And it is, in fact, speaking about the “peripheries,” that this eighth conversation of the Holy Father with the press begins, recorded in January in Saint Martha’s House by his friend Father Jose Maria Di Paola.........(more)

Francis: 'First commandment' of parish life is closeness to people
Extracts from National Catholic Reporter, 10 March 2015

Varican City. The key role of a Catholic parish is practicing closeness to its people by working to provide for their needs and to always show God's love for all, Pope Francis has said.   In fact, the pope said, the "first commandment" for parishes is to practice such closeness and to avoid telling people what they must change in their lives..................Speaking to the parish council of a church on the eastern outskirts of Rome Sunday evening, Francis emphasized the difficult situations many people are living when offering advice to the council about how to go about their work.   "We cannot go to a family with sick or hungry children -- or those that have fallen to vice -- we cannot go with 'You must, you must, you must,'" said the pope. "No. We must go with closeness, with the caress that Jesus has taught us." (more)

Cardinal Burke condemns pro-reform voices at Pope’s ‘confusing and erroneous’ Synod on the Family
Extract from  Liz Dodd, The Tablet, 10 March 2015  
                                                                                                                                       US Cardinal Raymond Burke has condemned church reformers who want to explore ways of admitting civilly remarried Catholics to Communion in a damning critique of October’s Synod of bishops on the Family. The cardinal, whom Pope Francis moved from heading the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura to leading the Knights of Malta, is in England this week. In an hour-long address he criticised attempts to change church teaching on marriage and family life and said that last year’s Synod on the Family, called by Pope Francis, was “confused and erroneous” in that it sought to condone contraception, gay relationships and “living in a public state of adultery”. He told a meeting on Friday in Chester, which was organised by the lay Catholic group Voice of the Family, that “confusion about the meaning of human sexuality” had led to breakdown of the family, corruption of children and “ultimately, self-destruction.” During the address, which ran to 25 pages but did not mention Pope Francis, he called the report that was issued at the midpoint of the Synod, which advocated using more welcoming language around homosexuality, “a manifesto, a kind of incitement to a new approach to fundamental issues of human sexuality in the Church. He singled out a presentation given in February 2014 by Cardinal Walter Kasper, who urged the Church to show greater mercy when dealing with family issues, as the first instance where such “confusion and error” was expressed, (more)

Vatican female staff increases but women still a minority
Extract from CathNews, 10 March 2015

The number of women working for Vatican City has nearly doubled in the past 10 years, while the number of women in leadership positions in the Curia remains low, with only two women serving as undersecretaries, reports the Catholic News Service.     Gudrun Sailer, a journalist at Vatican Radio, conducted a study of the Vatican employment situation and published the results in preparation for the celebration on Sunday (March 8) of International Women's Day. According to Sailer, 371 women were employed by the office governing the City State in 2014, up from 194 in 2004. Most work in service jobs and at the Vatican supermarket, post office, or museums.    Sailer's research also includes women working for the Holy See, which includes the Roman Curia and organisations such as Vatican Radio. The number of women employed by the Holy See in 2014 was 391, up from 288 three years earlier. Among them, 41 per cent had university degrees and worked in professional positions, such as archivists, historians, journalists, and department heads.    The increase does not come close to balancing the scales in male-female employment within the Vatican walls: The percentage of women employed in the office governing the Vatican City State is now 19 percent; the percentage of female staff at the Holy See is 18 percent (more).    

Vatican event tackles women's equality, inclusion, ordination
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 9 March 2015

Vatican City/ A Vatican event Sunday saw a remarkably open and frank discussion among women about the limits on their participation in church structures in what may have been the first such public conversation ever to take place at the center of the Catholic hierarchy.   Among the topics the women discussed at the event, held to mark International Women's Day: the need for the church to practice what it preaches about full equality between men and women, to include women in every level of decision-making, and to use inclusive language in its worship.    The women also expressed a desire for a fundamental rethink regarding how church prelates and documents describe them, saying they are often pigeonholed as reflecting only the sensitive or tender half of humanity.    "I would like to see women have [the] opportunity to be strong, courageous, intelligent," said Ulla Gudmundson, a former Swedish ambassador to the Holy See, during the discussion. "I would also like to see men have the opportunity to be tender, patient, sensitive."    Turning a phrase often used by bishops to describe women on its head, Gudmundson continued: "Pope Francis is a shining example of feminine genius: patient, tender, showing mercy and love."    Expressing her dreams for how the church would treat women in the future, another member of the discussion presented a multilayered vision of a Catholic church where men and women are treated as equals at every level.    "I dream of a church where it won't matter whether you're a man or a woman and you just respond to God's call of service," said Astrid Gajiwala, an Indian biologist who has worked as a consultant for her bishops' conference (more).

Francis: Theologians should smell like the sheep, too
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 9 March 2015

Vatican City. Pope Francis has called on Catholic theologians not to simply practice an academic exercise of studying at their desks, but to take their work to the frontiers to "pour oil and wine over the wounds of humankind."   Writing in a letter last week to the theological faculty of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, the pope also adapted a favorite phrase he has used to describe the type of Catholic bishops he wants, calling on theologians to "smell of the people and of the road."    Francis' letter to the university, which is dated March 3 but was released by the Vatican on Monday, was addressed to its chancellor, Buenos Aires Cardinal Mario Aurelio Poli. The pope was writing on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the university's theology faculty.   Beginning his letter by noting that the faculty is celebrating its anniversary in the 50th year of the closing of the Second Vatican Council, the pope tells them the council "produced an irreversible movement of renewal that comes from the Gospel."   "Now, we must go forward," Francis writes. "How, then, to go ahead? Teaching and studying theology means living on a frontier, one in which the Gospel meets the needs of the people to whom it should be proclaimed in an understandable and meaningful way." (more) Photo: Book cover, Francis, by Patrick J Mann

Cardinal Tagle criticises use of ‘harsh words’ for gay and divorced people
Extracts from Catholic Herald UK, 9 March 2015

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, has lamented the “harsh words” that the Church used about gay and divorced people in the past, saying it left them feeling “branded”. The cardinal, who had spoken at the Flame 2 Youth Congress, a gathering of 8,000 young Catholics at the SSE Wembley Arena, told the Telegraph that a “growth in mercy” and a shift in sensibilities meant that “what constituted in the past an acceptable way of showing mercy, … now, given our contemporary mindset, may not be any more viewed as that”. He said that insights in child psychology had led to a change in the way people were instructed about Church teaching in Catholic schools and other institutions. He said: “I think even the language has changed already, the harsh words that were used in the past to refer to gays and divorced and separated people, the unwed mothers etc, in the past they were quite severe. “Many people who belonged to those groups were branded and that led to their isolation from the wider society.................Speaking about the upcoming extraordinary synod Cardinal Tagle said: “The questions asked were an invitation for people to really examine their conscience. For example, in your parish if you are aware that something is happening are you just aware? Or have you already started doing something? There’s the question of the youth, the elderly, and in the case of the Philippines, families that are separated by migration because of jobs. We know what is happening and we know about the negative effects. But what are we doing? Are we just talking about it? “We must remember that this is an international gathering so people are coming from different contexts. It is the same gospel and the same truth, but you cannot avoid people thinking: ‘How do I present this teaching to my people?’. No single country, diocese or parish can exhaust all possible responses, so it will be a learning moment where the diversity could help all of us.” Asked about communion for divorced and remarried couples under certain circumstances, he said that it is not easy to say either yes or no. “Every situation for those who are divorced and remarried is quite unique. To have a general rule might be counterproductive in the end. My position at the moment is to ask, ‘Can we take every case seriously and is there, in the tradition of the Church, paths towards addressing each case individually?’ This is one issue that I hope people will appreciate is not easy to say ‘no’ or to say ‘yes’ to. We cannot give one formula for all.” (more)

Cardinal Burke: New evangelization fails unless teachings on marriage are upheld
Extract from Somon Caldwell, Catholic News Service, National Catholic Reporter, 9 March 2015

Chester, England The new evangelization of Western societies will fail unless the church succeeds in transmitting its teachings on marriage and the family to Catholics, said U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, patron of the Knights of Malta.    The success of efforts to convincingly preach anew the Gospel in secularized societies rests on the ability of Catholics to faithfully abide by the church's teachings, Burke said.    He said the obedient Christian witness of faithful married couples was critical to the renewal of the church and society and said Catholics must be willing to suffer in their efforts to uphold the truth of marriage.    "The challenge which confronts the whole church confronts particularly the church in the first cell of her life, which is the family," he said in a March 6 speech, "Remaining in the Truth of Christ on Holy Matrimony."    "If we can't get it straight with regard to the truth about marriage and the family, we really don't have much to say about anything else," Burke told more than 150 people at a meeting organized by Voice of the Family, an initiative of Catholic laity in support of the 2014-2015 Synods of Bishops on the family (more). Photo: NCR CNS/Simon Caldwell

Women See Themselves as Left Out Amid Talk of Change in Catholic Church
Extracts from  Elisabetta Povoledommarch, New York Times,6 March 2015

VATICAN CITY — In the first two years of his papacy, Pope Francis has stirred great expectations for change among Roman Catholics who believe that the church has not kept pace with the social transformations of secular society.        Nowhere are those hopes felt more keenly, perhaps, than among women, often the driving force behind local church communities, but who say that their voices remain marginalized.        Though the pope has repeatedly cited the importance of women in the life of the church, critics say he has at times proved strikingly tone-deaf toward the sensitivities and needs of women (for example, describing five women he appointed to a committee as “the strawberries on the cake”).    Some momentum is nevertheless gathering behind women’s issues, however, if only because women, correctly or not, see his papacy as an opportunity and have begun pushing their agenda forward, challenging various corners of the Vatican’s male-dominated status quo.        On Sunday, International Women’s Day, Voices of Faith, an initiative sponsored by a Liechtenstein-based foundation, will for only the second time bring together women from various walks of life to discuss women’s issues at a seminar inside Vatican City, a hard-fought victory, said Chantal Götz, the president of the foundation.        “It becomes all the more symbolic when it’s inside the Vatican. It’s a step ahead,” she said. Participants in the seminar could provide a sort of de facto think tank. “If the pope needs advice, there are women who can provide it,” she said. ...................A document adopted in 2010 by the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India recognized the need for gender equality in decision-making and urged greater empowerment of women. “Our focus was changing mind-sets,” said Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, who worked as a consultant for the bishops’ group, and is in Rome this week to participate in Voices of Faith. So far the policy has been adopted with mixed results in India. “These are slow processes,” she said, “overcoming the conditioning of centuries.” (more).

World Day of Prayer in Ivanhoe Parish today
Friday 6 March 2015

With a focus this year on Prayers from The Bahamas the annual eucumenical service for World Day of Prayer today was held in Ivanhoe parish. Lead by Merle Gilbo with shared participation by other Christian community representatives the theme was - Jesus said to them "Do you know what I have done to you" and the Bible Reading from John 13:1-17, NRSV, set the scene as summarised in its concluding words "...servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them..." The Reflection by Jill Moore of Ryder Cheshire illustrated this well and in that regard spoke of Pope Francis. At the end of the Service Fr Thang praised the service and its Prayers and Reflection, and warmly invited those attending for refreshments afterwards.

US Catholic publications make call for end to capital punishment
Extract from CathNews, Friday 6 March 2015

Four US Catholic publications with a broad range of audiences have come together in a joint editorial citing Church leaders in calling for an end to the death penalty in the United States, reports the Catholic News Agency. “Capital punishment must end,” stated a March 5 editorial by America magazine, the National Catholic Register, the National Catholic Reporter and Our Sunday Visitor. The death penalty is both “abhorrent and unnecessary,” the publications said, arguing that the practice of capital punishment drains resources in court battles that would be “better deployed in preventing crime in the first place and working toward restorative justice for those who commit less heinous crimes.” The joint editorial comes a month before the US Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case challenging lethal injection protocol as cruel and unusual punishment (more). Photo: VCathnews  0603execution_20666artthumb

A solid start for the seminary
Extracts from Corpus Christi College, 5 March 2015

Thirteen men took a leap of faith by entering Corpus Christi College Seminary on Sunday 15 February 2015 to continue discerning their call to the priesthood. It is the largest intake of first year since 1974. Hailing from different parts of the world, they are studying for Melbourne and Adelaide Archdioceses, as well as Sandhurst and Darwin Dioceses. Fr Brendan Lane, the seminary rector welcomed these men with their families and friends........... ............Bishop Eugene Hurley of Darwin was also present and later joined the seminary community for dinner. Bishop Hurley, who has been a priest for more than 50 years, described his journey to the priesthood as “challenging, but rewarding at the same time” when he shared the situation of the Catholic Church in Darwin, especially about the faith in the Aboriginal community. Bishop Hurley had a captive audience, with some seminarians regarded his speech as “very inspirational”. Four other seminarians will later join the 2015 first year community in the next few weeks (more). Photo: New York Archbishop Tim Dolan with Corpus Christi College seminarians

Finally, the Church has noticed single Catholics
Extract from Gary Spence, The Tablet, Blog, 5 March 2015

Being single in the Catholic Church is not fun. I have to agree with the French bishop reported in The Tablet this week, Hervé Giraud of Soissons, who said single Catholics felt “forgotten, even devalued, by the Church.” The idea singles want to stay silent is an anathema to me. As Bishop Luc Ravel, founder of a network for single Catholics says in the same story: “The singles question must not be left to shrinks and Internet sites.” The French bishops’ Family and Society Council are preparing a theological analysis of the situation of single Catholics, a group it said has been overlooked by the Synod of Bishops on the Family. This is long overdue. It is as if the Church only considers young people from baptism as a little child until the end of secondary school. From my very subjective experience, the message seems to be: if you are married, then we are interested in you; as you are single, we do not care about you (more).

Francis picks McElroy, known for mercy emphasis, to lead San Diego diocese
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 3 March 2015

Vatican City. Pope Francis on Tuesday appointed an auxiliary bishop known for his focus on addressing poverty and stressing the role of mercy in church teaching as the new bishop of San Diego. Robert McElroy, a San Francisco native who had served as a prelate in his hometown since 2010, is expected to be installed in his new role soon. He succeeds late San Diego Bishop Cirilo Flores, who died last year from cancer after less than a year as head of the diocese. A prelate who has garnered attention both for his writings and his pastoral approach, McElroy in January said Francis is moving the church away from an ecclesiastical vision of "smaller but purer" to a church that embraces the wounded and frail. Speaking in a presentation to Dominican women religious in San Rafael, Calif., the new bishop said the church has in the past focused too much on telling people how to live rightly instead of welcoming them and supporting them in their struggles. "To be judgmental is a cardinal sin for religion," he said then. "It is easy for the church to get lost in the rules, but pastoral theology trumps rules." (more)

Pope backs Cardinal Pell with new financial statutes
Extract from CathNews, 4 March 2015

Pope Francis has decided the future of his financial reform, issuing a new legal framework for three key oversight bodies which largely confirm the authority of Cardinal George Pell, whom he put in charge of his clean-up operation, reports Crux. The decision, announced yesterday, came in the form of a new legal framework approved by the Pontiff for the Vatican’s three financial oversight bodies created in 2014: The Council for the Economy, the Secretariat for the Economy, and an independent auditor general. Despite mounting calls from some quarters of the Vatican to rein in Cardinal Pell, such measures are largely missing from the new statutes, which were signed by Pope Francis on February 22 and became effective on March 1. The only major concession is that while the Secretariat for the Economy has been confirmed as responsible for procurement and personnel, it will not administer Vatican real estate (more).

US diocese asks parishioners to fund priest training
Extract from Catholic News, 4 March 2015

Faced with a surging number of seminarians, the Diocese of Madison in Wisconsin, US, is turning to its parishioners to help fund the training of priests, reports AP in Crux. The diocese has seen its priests-in-training soar from six in 2003 to the current 33. To educate current and future seminarians, the Madison diocese says it needs A$37 million. Church-goers have responded with vigour, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. The campaign began last fall and will continue through the end of this year. Although the campaign has yet to expand to all churches in the 11-county diocese, parishioners already have pledged more than $28 million. “I couldn’t be more pleased,” Madison's Bishop Robert Morlino said in an interview. He gives immense credit to the diocese’s 110 priests who have been rolling out the campaign in their parishes. The diocese declined to pinpoint a per-seminarian cost. But calculations, based on interviews and available data, suggest the diocese spends A$3150,000 to $3750,000 to train each new priest — figures diocesan officials did not contest, the newspaper reported.Bishop Morlino has made priestly vocations — the spiritual call to serve — a priority. He increased the position of director of vocations to full-time, and he routinely promotes the priesthood at functions (more). Photo: CathNews

Fr Cantalamessa reflects on Evangelii Gaudium
Extracts from News.Va, Vatican Radio, 27 February 201

(Vatican Radio) The preacher of the Pontifical Household, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, says the conversion that Jesus wants from us is not a step backwards but instead a leap forwards. Father Cantalamessa was speaking in his first meditation of Lent during which he reflected on Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium.  He said every baptized Christian is an active agent of evangelization and the ultimate purpose of that evangelization is a personal encounter with Jesus. First Lenten Homily 2015...............Reflections on Pope Francis’ “Evangelii Gaudium”...................This means that the ultimate purpose of evangelization is not the transmission of a doctrine, but an encounter with a person, Jesus Christ. The possibility of such a face to face encounter depends on the fact that Jesus, risen, is alive and desires to walk next to every believer, as he really walked with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus; more than that, as he was in their very heart, when they returned to Jerusalem, after having received him in the broken bread......................In Catholic language, “the personal encounter with Jesus” has never been a very familiar concept. Preferred instead of “personal” encounter was the idea of ecclesial encounter, which occurs, namely, through the sacraments of the Church. To our Catholic ears, the expression had vaguely Protestant resonances. Obviously the Pope is not thinking of a personal encounter that substitutes the ecclesial. He only wishes to say that the ecclesial encounter must also be free, willed, and spontaneous, not purely nominal, juridical or habitual (more). Photo, Vatican Radio

An invitation to Ivanhoe Parish                                                                                                                                                    

Friday 27 February 2015  Several years ago our friends at the Uniting Church invited us to their Bible study to discuss Baptism. Three of us accepted that invitation and stayed through other studies until now when we reflect on the Sunday readings. It’s not highbrow’ theology’ but a chance to share what the readings mean for our lives. Next meeting: Wednesday, 4th March, 10.30am at Ivanhoe Uniting Church,  Seddon St. Just come and bring your bible! – Merle 9497 1691; 

Pope Francis sends clergy off to management lessons
Extract from CathNews, 27 February 2015

The Pontifical Lateran University in Rome has inaugurated a pastoral management course for those who manage financial and human resources in parishes, dioceses, and other organisations affiliated with the Church, reports Bloomberg/SMH. Fr Massimo Cavallo jumped at the chance to go back to school after struggling with maintenance work, suppliers, and taxes as the manager of a students' dormitory in Rome. The 34-year-old is one of 26 attendees of the 15-month course, inaugurated this month, which covers topics such as strategic communication, business ethics and creative problem-solving. The effort is in line with the Holy See's attempt to close a budget shortfall and comes as Italy strives to emerge from the longest recession since World War II. Pope Francis is also trying to boost efficiency and clean up finances after scandals involving the Vatican Bank and the Holy See's administrative body, APSA, which manages real estate and financial holdings of the world's smallest state (more). Photo: Cathnews

Celebrating the Year of Consecrated Life Extracts from pastoral letter was from the Australian Catholic Bishops Commission for Church Ministry to celebrate the 2015 Year of Consecrated Life, CAM, 26 February 2015
EACH of our Brothers and Sisters in the consecrated life, recalls a word, an event, a priest or religious who inspired them; something as simple as a word of Scripture or the kindness of a dedicated religious. With a simple and humble ‘yes’, they began a journey by which the Lord drew each one into a deeper relationship with himself, so that his word was deeply understood and cherished: ‘I have called you by name; you are mine.’ On the first Sunday of Advent last year, Pope Francis proclaimed 2015 a Year of Consecrated Life. This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, which speaks of religious in its sixth chapter, and of the Decree Perfectae Caritatis on the renewal of religious life. This Year will conclude with the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple on 2 February 2016. We welcome the invitation of Pope Francis to make this a year of thanksgiving and of deeper reflection on the calling of the consecrated men and women among us Pope Francis, who identifies himself as a Religious, shares with us his hopes for this year of consecrated life. ‘May this Year be an occasion for bearing vigorous and joyful witness before the world to the holiness and vitality present in so many of those called to follow Jesus in the consecrated life.’ Australia is blessed to have had so many religious sisters, brothers and priests living and ministering here for almost one hundred and seventy five years (more). Photo: CAM

U.S. National clergy group launches its own synod questionnaire
Extract from Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter, 26 February 2015

As U.S. dioceses continue their Vatican-ordered consultations for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the family, a national clergy group has launched its own questionnaire in an effort to highlight the issues most pressing to priests. The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests sent a synod survey on Jan. 31 to its 1,000-plus members, asking each not to answer the 46 questions presented in the synod’s working document, the lineamenta, but instead to rank them in importance on a seven-point scale from “not important” to “essential.” Each question also offers comment space for priests to expand on those questions they deemed as essential. The instructions for the survey also ask respondents to keep in mind two “preliminary” questions posed by the synod document: Does the descriptions of family issues in the lineamenta correspond to today’s church and society? And what aspects are missing that should be included? The exercise, said Fr. Bernard Survil, an association board member, allows the priests to show which questions they as a group view as most important for the synod to discuss, and ultimately, answer. “We know that none of us are going to be delegates, but we do want to have input,” said Survil, who is a priest in the Greensburg, Pa., diocese. “We want to let our delegates know … that this is what you should be focusing on,” he added (more).

Homeless man to get Vatican burial
Extract from Thelocal.It, 25 February 2015

A dead homeless man will have the rare honour of being buried in the Teutonic cemetery at the Vatican after Pope Francis gave his permission, according to Italian media reports. The body of Willy Herteller will be laid to rest in the cemetery alongside German princes and bishops, according to reports in Il Messaggero. Herteller, who is Flemish, was found dead between December and January at the age of 80 in the Vatican. The homeless man reportedly used to beg near St Peter’s Basilica where he attended mass. He was known to many in the Vatican and was a friend of Monsignor Amerigo Ciani, the paper said.  It was Ciani who first noticed the man's disappearance. When he found out about his friend’s death he asked Pope Francis’s permission for the man to be buried in the cemetery.  Located between St Peter's Basilica and the Paul VI Audience Hall, the Teutonic cemetery is the oldest German establishment in Rome. During the Roman Empire, it was the site of the martyrdom of many Christians in the city (more).

U.S. Strong Catholic Families offers simplified survey for family synod
Extracts from Soli Salgado, National Catholic Reporter, 25 February 2015

If you found the official survey on family life presented to Catholics by about half of all U.S. dioceses difficult to answer and time-consuming, maybe you should try the survey prepared by Strong Catholic Families, a group of four national organizations that minister to families and youth.     Your answers, unfortunately, won't be shared with the Vatican's Secretariat for the Synod, which is directing the official surveys, but you can be sure the answers will be discussed by church leaders and parish workers interested in your family's welfare.       "It became pretty frustrating for me, even as a church leader, to read [the official synod surveys] and think of the people who had to respond to them, and how difficult it is to both understand and respond pastorally to those kinds of questions," said Michael Theisen, director of Ministry Formation at the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, part of Strong Catholic Families.   "They're certainly not made for parents to respond to; they're specifically for a very few church leaders to grasp and understand the language use."    The survey from Strong Catholic Families, which went live Monday, uses concise language and consists of  three questions that take about five minutes to complete.   And you won't have to wait until some unknown date in the future to know what the survey found. Theisen plans to present the results of the survey at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress on March 14 in Anaheim, Calif (more)

Francis' theological spokesman Walter Kasper publishes new book on pope
Extracts from  Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, National Catholic Reporter, 24 February 2015

German Cardinal Walter Kasper has emerged as Pope Francis' theological spokesman. In his recently published book, Pope Francis' Revolution of Tenderness and Love, released Feb. 18, Kasper portrays the pope as neither conservative nor liberal but a radical who wants to bring about a revolution of mercy.    Kasper begins by describing how in a very short time the new pope managed to bring a fresh wind to the church, which soon attracted favorable attention worldwide. Within 18 months of Francis' election, a great many books about him were published. Most were in favor, but there were also a few critical voices, Kasper wrote. And in certain circles, both open and hidden criticism of Francis has increased.        "A considerable number of people do not trust the new enthusiasm, are exercising genteel restraint and have adopted a wait and see attitude," Kasper wrote. "What for most people seems a new spring, is for them a passing cold spell -- not a new beginning but just an intermezzo." .................His book is an attempt to "approach the Francis phenomenon theologically," to throw light on the theological content of the present pontificate and to elucidate the new perspectives it opens up. Francis is neither a star nor a theological lightweight but a deeply mystical person, Kasper wrote....... According to Kasper, Guardini's Attempts at a Philosophy of what is Concrete and Alive had a pivotal influence on Francis (more). Photo: NCR, CNS/Paul Haring 

Brisbane Archdiocese to strengthen child protection policies
Extract from Cath News, 24 February 2015

The Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge, has released a suite of new initiatives and stronger child protection policies in response to the Royal Commission’s findings into the way the Archdiocese dealt with a survivor of child sexual abuse in 1999. In a statement released on Thursday, Archbishop Coleridge has once again apologised to survivors of child sexual abuse and outlined how the Archdiocese has responded since appearing before the Royal Commission in December 2013, as part of the its examination of the Church’s Towards Healing process. As part of the response to the Commission’s hearing and its findings the Archdiocese has..........(more)

Most US dioceses consult Catholics on family issues for fall synod
Extract from Staff, National Catholic Reporter, 23 February 2015

With little more than a month to go before reports are due in Rome, more than half of U.S. dioceses have asked Catholics in their regions for input for the upcoming ordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican in October. A NCR investigation of websites and online publications for 33 Latin-rite archdioceses and 145 Latin-rite dioceses, conducted Thursday and Friday, found that roughly 52 percent of them (93) have begun to gather information in some capacity. For the remaining 85 dioceses, it was unclear how or if they were collecting responses within their borders. Almost two-thirds of U.S. archdioceses (21) have collected information for the synod that will address areas related to contemporary marriage and family life, with 17 percent of them offering online surveys. For dioceses, about half (72) had sought out responses, with 48 percent of them using online forms (more).

Allow Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumuran to flourish
Extract from Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street, 22 February 2015

Last Friday's World Social Justice Day was overshadowed by the impending execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumuran in Indonesia. Its delay keeps alive the teasing, agonised hope that the sentence may yet be commuted.   The demands of justice lie behind the strong opposition to the executions by politicians, columnists, church leaders and many citizens. They see execution as an unjust punishment for any human being. Respect for human dignity means that we can never take a human life, and certainly not an Australian life, as punishment for crime.   But the demands of justice also fuel the conviction of many Australians that the sentence should be carried out. They argue that the State may legitimately take the lives of those who devastate others' lives by dealing in drugs, and that people who break national laws carrying the death penalty deserve to die.   Here two approaches to social justice come into conflict. One focuses initially on society and the law................... The other approach focuses on the persons involved in the decision..............The last ten years enable us to see what is at stake for the flourishing of Chan and Sukumuran (more). Photo: Eureka Street

Parish Presentations on Future of our Parish
Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe, Sunday 22 February 2015

Presentations to parishioners on progress with the Strategic Review of our Parish have now been made at weekend Masses in each of our three communities. These reviewed our 2007 Starting point and developments since then, and further discussed the Action Plan ahead, indicating a time frame of "at least 6 months more" before proposals are developed for further and final deliberation across the Parish. A copy of the Presentation Pack may be downloaded here

Church Carpet at St Bernadette’s – Friday 20 February 2015    
As you may have noticed, the carpet in the church is old and developing folds, which have now become a tripping hazard.  We have investigated having it stretched but it is too old to take the strain.  Therefore in the coming weeks we will be arranging for the carpet in the sanctuary to be lifted and we will return to the polished boards for the time being. Thanks, Finance and Maintenance Committees

Vatican event seeks to gently push Francis on women's roles
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 20 February 2015

Rome. An organization seeking to influence Pope Francis' view of women -- and to propose female professionals he might tap to lead high church offices -- will be hosting a live-streamed event from the Vatican for the second time next month. Called Voices of Faith, the event will feature storytelling presentations from 10 women from various parts of the world who have overcome adversity or have reached the highest places available for women below the hierarchy's stained-glass ceiling. The event will be held March 8, the day marked as International Women's Day, at the Vatican's iconic Casina Pio IV, a white marble structure inside the Vatican Gardens that houses the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (more).

Issue of ordaining married men is in my diary, Pope reportedly tells Rome priests
Extract from Hannah Roberts in Rome, The Tablet, 20 February 2015

Pope Francis has reportedly suggested that he may be open to the idea of married men being ordained priests in the Catholic Church, saying that the issue “is in his diary”. Francis was quoted by priests from the diocese of Rome who met him at the Vatican yesterday. The Bishop of Rome traditionally meets the priests of his diocese during Lent. The Pope addressed them on the theme of homiletics and then took questions. Francis reportedly told the priests that last week he celebrated Mass with five priests who were marking the golden anniversary of their ordination, and that five priests who had left the priesthood to marry were also present (more).

Can Pope Francis reform the Curia?   Madeleine Teahan speaks with Vatican observer Fr Mark Drew
Edited extract from UK Catholic Herald, 19 February 2015

Everyone expects Pope Francis to reform the Roman Curia. But can he actually do it? Last week he summoned the world’s cardinals to Rome for an update on his progress. But almost two years after his election has he actually made much progress? If not, what’s stopping him? To find out, I spoke to Fr Mark Drew, an English parish priest who keeps a keen eye on Vatican affairs. Listen to podcast here (19'45"). Photo: The Guardian,. Article here

Free E-Book for Computer or E-Reader: Son of God: The Daily Gospel Year B-1: Friday 20 February 2015
This e-book which may be downloaded free of charge to a computer or e-reader, offers the Gospel for every day of the Liturgical Year B-1 (Sundays Year B, weekdays Year 1), together with a reflection of some 750 words on each daily Gospel. It contains Gospel passages not only for this present year but for any B-1 Liturgical Year in the future, together with their respective reflections. It may be passed on to friends or acquaintances as desired. It carries the Imprimatur of Archbishop Anthony Fisher, Archbishop of Sydney. Son of God: The Daily Gospel Year B1 may be accessed at:

Two new appointments as Archdiocese of Sydney structure split
Edited Extract from CathNews, Thursday 19 February 2015

The Archbishop of Sydnet Anthony Fisher OP has split roles of chancellor and vicar-general in a restructuring of Diocesan management, reports The Catholic Weekly. and appointed Chris Meney and respected academic and parish priest, Fr Gerald Gleeson to the respective roles. The joint responsibilities were previously held by Mons John Usher, parish priest of Mortlake. “The Archbishop has discerned a need to bring more people in to help focus on some of these discrete aspects that previously perhaps were swept up in one role,” said Mr Meney, founding director of the archdiocesan Life, Marriage and Family Centre and father of nine.  “I think it’s probably even reflective of the Church Universal, and some of the perspectives that Pope Francis has brought into play in Rome.”  Mr Meney said Archbishop Fisher indicated it would be beneficial to have “a lay person and a well-qualified clergyman in these sorts of roles, and working together” (more).

Put the new evangelisation on hold
Extracts from Stephen Bullivant*,  UK Catholic Herald, Thursday 19 February 2015

Unless we truly understand why thousands are leaving the Church in Britain any attempt to spread the faith will flounder. Here are some not so fun facts about Catholicism in contemporary Britain: 1) Two out of every five cradle Catholics now no longer identify as Catholic; 2) A Catholic upbringing is a stronger predictor of having “no religion” in adulthood than it is of being a once-a-month-or-more church-goer; and 3) For every one convert the Church attracts, 10 Catholic children grow up to regard themselves as non-Catholic adults.     These are hard facts, in both senses of the phrase. The numbers come from the respected British Social Attitudes survey. Since 1983, the BSA has been a crucial resource for policymakers and social scientists. Each year around 3,000 adults are interviewed on a wide range of topics, including a number of items relating to religious identity, belief and practice.          Pooling several years’ worth of data yields a sizable number of Catholic respondents (in this case, nearly 2,500 cradle Catholics from 2007 to 2011). Such statistics provide a stark illustration of what St John Paul II began pointing out a quarter of a century ago, in his 1990 encyclical Redemptoris Missio: “Entire groups of the baptised have lost a living sense of the faith, or even no longer consider themselves members of the Church.”................More surprising, perhaps, is the age profile of those who leave. Received wisdom tends to think inactivity and disaffiliation is most prevalent among those in their twenties and thirties. The BSA says differently. Only 54 per cent of cradle Catholics in their forties, and 60 per cent of those in their fifties, still identify as Catholic. Compare those to 66 per cent of twenty-somethings, and 62 per cent of thirty-somethings. None of these proportions give particular cause for complacency, of course. But how many dioceses do you know with vibrant middle-age ministries? (more)   *Stephen Bullivant is Senior Lecturer in Theology and Ethics at St Mary’s University, Twickenham

Pope sympathizes with married ex-priests, but doesn't say they should return
Extract froms By Vatican Correspondent Inés San Martín, Crux, 19 February 2015

ROME — Pope Francis expressed compassion Thursday for men who have left the priesthood to marry, reportedly saying he understands their “suffering,” but he stopped short of saying that those ex-priests should be able to return to active ministry. The pontiff’s remarks reportedly came during the annual meeting between the pope — in his capacity as as bishop of Rome — and the city’s parish priests, when an Italian named Giovanni Cereti, a former priest who was dispensed from ministry after getting married, asked the pope about the possibility of being re-admitted.Cereti cited the example of the Eastern Catholic Churches, where married men can be ordained priests, to question why the married priests of the Latin Rite cannot celebrate the Mass and the other sacraments of the Church. Although the Vatican hasn’t yet released an official transcript of the pope’s response, Italian media reported that Francis acknowledged the ex-priests’ “suffering.” He reportedly said the issue was difficult to resolve, but one that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy is studying and that the Church has at heart. Reports say that Francis told his Rome priests that last week he celebrated his daily Mass with seven priests who were celebrating 50 years in the priesthood, and that five men who had left the ministry to get married were also present.Francis was quoted after that encounter as saying that the issue of priests who left to marry being able to come back was “on his agenda,” but a cleric who took part in the Thursday session said Francis did not indicate that he was inclined to take dramatic steps (more).

Liturgies need to help people experience awe, mystery of God, pope says
Extracts from Carol Glatz Catholic News Service, National Catholic Reporter, 19 February 2015

Vatican City. The liturgy should help the faithful enter into God's mystery and to experience the wonder of encountering Christ, Pope Francis told priests of the diocese of Rome. People should feel the wonder and allure "that the apostles felt when they were called, invited. It attracts -- wonder attracts -- and it lets you reflect," the pope said during an annual Lenten meeting with Rome pastors in the Paul VI audience hall..........Pope Francis told the priests that "the homily is a challenge for priests" and he said he, too, had his own shortcomings -- pointed out in a reflection he prepared for a plenary meeting of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments on "ars celebrandi" in 2005........."For me the key of 'ars celebrandi' takes the path of recovering the allure of beauty, the wonder both of the person celebrating and the people, of entering in an atmosphere that is spontaneous, normal and religious, but isn't artificial, and that way you recover a bit of the wonder," he said.     Sometimes there are priests who celebrate Mass in a way that is "very sophisticated, artificial," or who "abuse the gestures" he said.        If the priest is "excessively" focused on the rubrics that indicate the movements and particular gestures during Mass and "rigid, I do not enter into the mystery" because all one's energy and attention are on the form, he said.     The other extreme, he said, is "if I am a showman, the protagonist" of the Mass, "then I do not enter into the mystery" either (more).

Can the church welcome the transgender community?
Extract from Jennifer Mertens, National Catholic Reporter, 19 February 2015

"The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren't treated the way I was, they're treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. ... Fix society. Please."    The suicide note appeared on the social media site Tumblr, scheduled for publication shortly after a transgender teen walked onto an interstate and was fatally struck by a tractor trailer. The Cincinnati teen, born Joshua Ryan Alcorn, signed the message, "Leelah Alcorn."...........Beyond gender identity, Leelah's death has intensified debate on a host of related issues. Ongoing taboos around suicide and mental health have come under increased scrutiny. The teen's painfully public suicide has also fueled conversation on how social media platforms shape and can even dissolve apparent boundaries between private and public life. In particular, Leelah's story poses significant pastoral, theological and moral challenges for the Christian community. The suicide note from Leelah, who was raised in a fundamentalist Christian household, recounts an experience of Christianity in which gender variance was communicated as being "selfish and wrong." This stance exacerbated a social isolation and despair from which she concluded: "The life I would've lived isn't worth living." (more)   Photo: NCR  

Cardinals Pell and Marx clash over financial transparency as tensions in Curia surface
Extract from Christopher Lamb, Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet, 19 February 2015

Clashes over reforms to Vatican finances took place this week following a meeting of cardinals after a detailed breakdown of the Holy See’s economic position was outlined. Cardinal George Pell, Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, told a consistory of cardinals that a review of finances found a total of £978 million in assets and funds that had not been previously accounted for. But Cardinal Reinhard Marx, President of the Council of the Economy, the body that has overarching responsibility for all the financial activity of the Holy See and to which the secretariat reports, questioned the wisdom of releasing of the figures.........Cardinal Pell gave details of the figures in interviews with French, Italian and American publications where he also spoke about opposition to his push for transparency (more). Photo: The Tablet

Friendships bloom as Vatican offers haircuts for the homeless
Extract from Catholic News Agency, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, 19 February 2015

AS homeless men and women line up under the massive arms of Saint Peter's colonnade waiting to take advantage of the Vatican's newly-christened showers and barbershop, volunteers who assist them say they are deeply moved by their encounter with a population often rejected by society. ‘Initially when they offered me this (job) I thought I would find myself confronted with grouchy, perhaps mean people,’ said volunteer barber Danielle Mancuso.‘Instead, I discovered a truly tremendous humanity.’ ‘You see these poor people out in the middle of the street, discarded. Then, you speak to them, and they're human,’ he said, recounting his first day. Officially inaugurated on Monday 16 February, the facilities provide the opportunity for homeless individuals to have their hair cut each Monday – a day when barber shops in Italy are traditionally closed – by volunteer barbers. Meanwhile, the shower services will be offered daily, with the exception of Wednesday due to the large crowds which attend the weekly general (more

Ashes to go: UK C of E bishops join busy commuters at stations to offer crosses, prayer and a chance to chat
Extract from Liz Dodd, The Tablet, 18 February 2015

Church of England bishops and priests took to the streets today to impose ashes on commuters. The Bishops of Durham, Paul Butler, and Chichester, Martin Warner, were among those to take part in events outside coffee shops and train stations. Bishop Warner said that by walking the streets they offered people a “moment of reflection or prayer as we enter a valuable time of the year in the Christian calendar.” (more)                                                                  Photo:The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, imposes ashes, The Tablet, Keith Blundy

Gay Catholics get Vatican welcome, but no papal shout-out
Extract from Nicole Winfield Associated Press, Crux, Wednesday 18 February 2015

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican did something it has never done before by giving a group of U.S. gay and lesbian Catholics VIP seats at Pope Francis’ weekly general audience Wednesday. But in a sign that the welcome wasn’t all it could have been, the New Ways Ministry pilgrims were only identified on the Vatican’s list of attendees as a “group of lay people accompanied by a Sister of Loreto.” And not even that got announced: When a Vatican monsignor read out the list of the different groups of pilgrims in attendance in St. Peter’s Square, he skipped over the group altogether. Francis didn’t mention them, either. Even without a papal shout-out, New Ways Ministry officials were nevertheless pleased that they had been invited to sit up front by Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, the prefect of the papal household who dispenses the coveted reserved tickets for Francis’ audiences (more).

Pope says "rules make us harsh judges"
Extract from Fr Noel Connolly SSC, St Columbans Mission Society, E-News, 17 February 2015

In The Joy of the Gospel (Apostolic Exhortation, 'Evangelii Gaudium) Pope Francis has restored to prominence a number of virtues we had largely forgotten: “joy”, “beauty”, “warmth”, “mercy” and “tenderness”.    With his emphasis on mercy he has rescued for us the virtue which in the Old and New Testaments defined God. From the time of the Exodus, our God is "a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness" (Exodus 33:19).     Francis reminds us that “rules make us harsh judges” and that mercy is the greatest of the virtues, since all the others revolve around it and, more than this, it makes up for their deficiencies (#37) .      What “the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle.” We are to heal wounds not to exacerbate them with our criticisms and demands.    In this he is again mirroring Jesus. For Jesus, mercy takes precedence over holiness and even justice. Unlike the Pharisees, Jesus doesn’t demand that people approaching him must first be perfect or undergo formal rites of penance. Often he just dines with “sinners”, and scandalously touches or is touched by them. It was probably Jesus’ deeds of mercy that aroused opposition and ultimately lead to his death (more).

Another view of our Parish and Schools
Friday 13th February 2015

How connected are the activities of the Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe and our three Catholic Primary Schools? Here is another important view that people might not often see, though it happens periodically throughout the year. This photo shows the most recent meeting (Thursday 12th February) between each of our three Primary Shool RELs (Religious Education & Learning Services teachers) and the Parish Liturgy Group. In support of our school religious education programs this gathering coordinates, plans and works collectively to engage parish school children and their families in such things as school and family Masses and liturgies, 1st Reconciliation and Eucharist, Confirmation, Altar Servers, Reading at Masses, training and operating for Multimedia Liturgies, Lenten and Easter Services, Christmas Masses and more.  Clockwise from the left are RELs Karen Campbell (MI), Jo Nolan (St Bernadette's) and Brian Anderson (MOG), and liturgy group members Merle Gilbo (Chair), Fr Thang, with John Costa (unseen but taking the photo). Other regular Liturgy group members were away today. So here is one more view of the Parish and Schools working together as one.

Parish Newsletter with COLOUR                                                                                                                                                        Friday 13 February 2014 2014                                                                                                                                                                   For the first time the Catholic Parish of Ivanhoe Newsletter goes colour this weekend - but only for website users! This is to highlight a photo montage of the very successful Combined School Mass last Tuesday (10th February). As everyone well knows parish newsletters going back to 2007 may be downloaded on the Newsletter archive page, or  here.

Consistory discusses creation of two congregations. Reform talks continuing
Extract from Cathnews, Friday 13 February 2015

The idea of consolidating several offices in the Curia into two large groups - one for family, laity and life, and the other for justice and peace, migrants and charity - seems to be taking form, reports the Catholic News Service. Briefing reporters on Wednesday, the third day of meetings of Pope Francis' international Council of Cardinals, Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi SJ insisted "there is not and has never been" a draft document of a constitution providing a new list of all Curia offices and their responsibilities. But there does seem to be a "concrete" and "more developed" proposal to put the pontifical councils for laity and for the family, along with the Academy for Life into one office and the pontifical councils for justice and peace, Cor Unum (charity) and migrants and travelers into another, he said (more).

Royal Commission report criticises Church response
Extract from CathNews, Thursday 12 February 2014

The Royal Commission has found that the former Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, placed the Church’s financial interests above his obligation to a victim of sexual abuse to protect the Church's assets, reports The Australian. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse reported yesterday on three case studies, ­including that of solicitor John Ellis, who it found was denied justice and compassion by the Archdiocese of Sydney, which vigorously defended his compensation claim despite its own asses­sor’s conclusion he was telling the truth. Mr Ellis was sexually assaulted by Fr Aidan Duggan for five years between 1974 and 1979, when he was an altar boy. The abuse began when Mr Ellis was 13 years old. When he finally disclosed the abuse and, in 2002, took part in the church’s Towards Healing process, set up to offer pastoral care and reparation to victims, the Church fundamentally failed to comply with the principles of its own policy. Cardinal Pell initially dismissed Mr Ellis’s complaint, saying: “I do not see that there is anything the Archdiocese can do.” (more)

Rabbi Abraham Glick resigns from Yeshivah College after fronting royal commission on child abuse
Extract from Jane lee, The Age, 12 February 12, 2015

After fronting the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Abuse on Thursday, Rabbi Abraham Glick, the former principal of Melbourne's Yeshivah College over the period of David Cyprys' and David Kramer's sexual abuse of students, has resigned his current role of teacher......(more)

Francis: Vatican reform does not serve itself, but evangelization
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 12 February 2015

Vatican City. Pope Francis begin a rare meeting with some 150 Catholic cardinals to discuss reform of the Vatican bureaucracy by calling on them to speak boldly and to keep in mind the "supreme law," which he called the "salvation of  souls." Opening what is known as a consistory, a closed-door meeting of the world's cardinals at the Vatican, the pope also called on the prelates to help him in building "more effective collaboration" amongst church offices "in that  absolute transparency that builds authentic synodality and collegiality." Speaking of the reform process that he has undertaken over the past 18 months with a select group of nine cardinals, Francis said reform of the Vatican bureaucracy "is not an end in itself." Reform of the bureaucracy, said the pontiff, is "but a means to give a strong Christian witness; to promote a more effective evangelization; to promote a more fruitful ecumenical spirit; to encourage a more constructive dialogue with all." (more)

Canadian court ruling on assisted suicide dismays Church leaders
Extract from Cathnews, Thursday 12 February 2014

Canadian Church leaders and advocates for the disabled have reacted with dismay at a decision by the Supreme Court of Canada to strike down laws against physician-assisted suicide, reports the Catholic News Service.In a unanimous decision on February 6, the court ruled that doctors can help adults with severe and incurable conditions to die, overturning a 1993 ban against assisted suicide.  Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec,  president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, noted that "Catholics are called by their faith to assist all those in need, particularly the poor, the suffering and the dying."  "Helping someone commit suicide, however, is neither an act of justice or mercy, nor is it part of palliative care. The decision of the Supreme Court of Canada today does not change Catholic teaching," he said (more).

Key African prelate backs Communion for divorced, remarried
Extract from John Allen Jnr, Associate Editor, Cruxnow, 11 February 2015

ROME — A key African participant in October’s looming Synod of Bishops on the family said Tuesday he’s open to allowing divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion, belying impressions of a uniformly hostile African stance toward change on such matters. Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle of Accra, Ghana, said in a Crux interview that he supports allowing local bishops to make those decisions on a case-by-case basis, and also believes that’s the result . Pope Francis wants from the October summit. Palmer-Buckle, 64, is one of four executive officers for the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), the continent-wide assembly of Catholic bishops in Africa who met Pope Francis last Saturday in Rome. In late January, Francis confirmed the election of Palmer-Buckle by his fellow bishops in Ghana as a participant in the Synod of Bishops, set to assemble at the Vatican Oct. 4-25. When it does, Palmer-Buckle says he’ll be disposed to cast a “yes” vote on the proposal of German Cardinal Walter Kasper to allow Catholics who divorce and remarry outside the Church to return to Communion under certain circumstances (more). Photo: CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec,    

Planet Vatican
Extract from Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter, 11 February 2015

You don’t have to speak Italian to understand the Vatican’s recent “Women's Cultures” events, but it could help. (It was all in Italian.). The Pontifical Council for Culture touted its meetings as analyses of the status of the world’s 3.5 billion women. (About 43 million of them speak Italian.). The council’s offensive Christmas-week infomercial was supposed to crowdsource a video for its opening event, which did flash a few (unreadable) submissions toward its end.  The avant garde production in Teatro Argentina, a Roman opera house, included a jazz trio, professionally produced videos and scripted declamations. (All in Italian.). What are we to make of all this? The Pontifical Council for Culture seems to be the Vatican’s faculty of arts and letters. Like all Vatican councils and congregations, it is predominantly male. It includes 13 cardinals, 14 bishops and four “men of culture.” It has 35 consultors, including seven women.  Its 16-person staff has male professionals and four female secretaries. It is headed by four clerics: a prefect, a delegate, a secretary and an undersecretary. Such is the crowd that set out to advise the pope on women. (In Italian.) (more)

Synod questionnaire
Extract from Media Release, Rene Reid, Catholic Church Reform International, 10 February 2015

Catholic Church Reform International (CCRI) has written an Open Letter to Pope Francis telling him that the 46-question survey requiring all essay-type answers devised by the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops to gather feedback for the October 2015 Synod on the Family, is totally unworkable and not being promoted on most of the worldwide diocesan websites. "We know it is an unworkable document," said Peter Wilkinson, CCRI coordinator from Australia, "because our research shows that, in the nine weeks it has been out there, few bishops and dioceses anywhere in the world are using it. The complex survey is not only doomed to fail, but sadly, appears to have been designed to fail." "Not only will it not gather the voices of Catholic couples and families, but it will drive them away," said Rene Reid, CCRI co-founding director. "Whether it is intentional or not, this questionnaire is counterproductive, threatens to thwart the Pope's wishes, and could even endanger the effectiveness of the Synod itself."  (more)

Pope tells bishops their priority is to protect children
Extract from CathNews, 6 February 2015

Pope Francis has ordered Catholic bishops around the world to co-operate as a matter of priority with a commission he set up to protect children from sexual abuse by clerics, even if it unearths new scandals, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. The Pope, who met victims of abuse last year, sent the letter to the bishops and heads of religious institutions a day before the commission was due to hold its first full meeting. "Everything possible must be done to rid the Church of the scourge of the sexual abuse of minors and to open pathways of reconciliation and healing for those who were abused," the Pope says in the letter. "Families need to know that the Church is making every effort to protect their children ... priority must not be given to any other kind of concern, whatever its nature, such as the desire to avoid scandal, since there is absolutely no place in ministry for those who abuse minors." One of the members of the commission, Marie Collins of Ireland, herself a victim of sexual abuse, said commission members had asked the Pope for a letter to thwart any resistance from bishops, which she said some members expected. "Bishops' conferences have various views on abuse, as we know. In my own country, Ireland, there was a great deal of resistance to change, to putting in all the correct, necessary prevention measures and treating survivors in the right way," she said. "You must pre-empt that. If the commission wants co-operation ... then I think a letter from the Holy Father indicating that they [bishops] should co-operate certainly lends the backing necessary to our work," she said (more). Image:Flickr, Suffer little children, Fergal of Claddagh

Francis invited to address US Congress
Extract from CathNews, 6 February 2015

The US House Speaker has announced that Pope Francis will address a joint meeting of Congress on September 24, making him the first leader of the Holy See to do so, reports the Catholic News Service. The Speaker, John Boehner, noted that "in a time of global upheaval, the Holy Father's message of compassion and human dignity has moved people of all faiths and backgrounds. His teachings, prayers, and very example bring us back to the blessings of simple things and our obligations to one another." "We look forward to warmly welcoming Pope Francis to our Capitol and hearing his address on behalf of the American people," he added (more).

Last chance. Giving a Voice to Families: 2015 Synod on the Family
Following the recent Synod on the family, Pope Francis and the Bishops’ Synod are again seeking input ahead of their 2015 meeting. In response to feedback during the previous process, a simplified questionnaire has been developed for our local church. As previously advised  the survey can be found here.The online survey will be open until midnight Tuesday 10 February. Contact: Life, Marriage and Family Office on 9287 5579 or at

Pope sorry for telling Catholics not to 'breed like rabbits'
Extract from CathNews, 5 February 2015

The Pope has said that he is “truly sorry” for offending large families by saying that there was no need for Catholics to breed “like rabbits,” reports The Tablet. Francis caused dismay among parents of larger Catholic families when he advocated “responsible parenthood” advising that three children was “about right” for a family on his flight home from a visit to the Philippines. Archbishop Giovanni Becciu, Substitute at the Secretary of State, has apologised on Francis’ behalf saying “the Pope is truly sorry” that his remarks about large families “caused such disorientation.” Archbishop Becciu told the Italian bishops’ newspaper Avvenire that the Pope “absolutely did not want to disregard the beauty and the value of large families.” (more)

Pope celebrates Mass on World Day of Consecrated Life
Extract from Catholic News Service, CAM, 4 February 2015

TOTAL obedience to God's will brings wisdom, joy and hope, Pope Francis told religious men and women. ‘Yes, the happiness of a religious is a consequence of this path of lowering oneself with Jesus and, when we are sad, when we complain, it will do us well to ask ourselves how we are living this dimension of “kenosis”’ or self-emptying, he said. The pope's words came during his homily at a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on Monday 2 February celebrating the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which the church marks as the World Day for Consecrated Life. The Mass also came during the Year of Consecrated Life, which, called by Pope Francis, opened on 30 November last year and will close on 2 February 2016. The liturgy for the feast, once widely known as ‘Candlemas,’ began with dozens of sisters, brothers and religious priests carrying lighted candles into the basilica ahead of the pope. In his homily, the pope said Jesus came not to follow his own will, but to obey the Father's will. ‘Whoever follows Jesus takes the path of obedience,’ which means lowering, emptying and humbling oneself like Jesus, he said (more).

Stephen Fry has the right to say God is evil – freedom of religion is a fundamental right for all, says Welby
Extract from Abigail Frymann Rouch, The Tablet, 4 February 2015

The Archbishop of Canterbury said the atheist broadcaster Stephen Fry had every right to describe God "were he to exist", as "utterly evil, capricious and monstrous,” and should not be abused by Christians for his views. Archbishop Justin Welby said that the freedom to choose for or against faith went right through the Bible and Christians should defend the religious freedom of others, even if they “passionately” disagreed with their beliefs. Archbishop Welby “It is as much the right of Stephen Fry to say what he said and not be abused by Christians affronted by what he said, as it is for Christians to proclaim Jesus Christ,” he said.
He stressed that Christians should not just stand up for persecuted members of their own faith, but also for Muslims if they are attacked. “We have a responsibility before God to protect those rights,” he said. “What’s good for one is good for all.” (more)  Photo: welby-thoughtful

Rabbis tried, failed to deter Yeshivah child sex offender, victim tells inquiry
Extract from The Age, 4 February 2015

One of Australia's most senior Orthodox rabbis says Jewish people have an obligation to report sexual abuse, and that the prohibition against informing against other Jews to secular authorities does not apply to child sexual abuse. Rabbi Moshe Gutnick spoke out against the ultra Orthodox Chabad community's treatment of victims and cover-up of past crimes at the royal commission into child sexual abuse on Wednesday (more).

Francis declares Oscar Romero a martyr
Extract from CathNews, 4 February 2015

Pope Francis has signed a decree declaring Archbishop Oscar Romero died a martyr, raising expectations that a beatification could be announced within months, reports The Tablet. The Vatican said yesterday it will be holding a press briefing in Rome today, February 4, with Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the Vatican official leading the cause for the Salvadoran prelate’s sainthood. Last month theologians at the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints voted unanimously that Romero was killed in “hatred of the faith.” Archbishop Romero was shot dead on March 24, 1980 by right-wing death squads colluding with the then-Government. Archbishop Romero had been a vocal critic of the ruling elite in El Salvador for their record on human rights and their harsh treatment of the poor. Opinion within El Salvador was for a long time bitterly divided over Archbishop Romero's legacy but the current President, leftist Mauricio Funes, has prayed at his tomb and in 2013 presented Pope Francis with a reliquary containing a blood-stained piece of the vestments Romero was wearing when he was shot dead (more). Photo: CathNews

Melbourne Jewish college tried to 'cure' sex offender
Extract from CathNews,3 February 2015

The Yeshivah Orthodox Jewish College in Melbourne tried to "cure" a serial sex offender and continued to employ him more than 20 years after victims reported he had sexually abused them, reports The Age.   The evidence was given to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse yesterday as the Commission began its second hearing in Melbourne, focusing on the ultra-orthodox Jewish organisation Yeshivah.    The two-week hearing at the County Court will examine Yeshivah Melbourne and Yeshiva Bondi's response to child sexual abuse allegations against their former employees, convicted sex offenders David Cyprys, David Kramer and Daniel Hayman.   Cyprys was found guilty of indecent assault in 1992 and released on a good behaviour bond. In 2013, the County Court found him guilty of five charges of rape, five charges of indecent assault, attempted indecent assault, and two counts of gross indecency. He is still serving his eight-year prison sentence for these crimes.   One of Cyprys' victims, known as AVA, said he was sexually abused between the ages of 14 and 17, when he took private kung fu lessons from Cyprys.  "There is no doubt in my mind Yeshivah College and some of its rabbis were aware of David's penchant for young boys," he told the Commission (more). Photo: Cathnews, Victim Manny Waks

Pastoral Letter for Lent 2015
Extract from Archbishop Denis Hart, 2 February 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters, I invite you to join me in our common pilgrimage to Jesus and to others, which is the season of Lent. Through casting aside our own self-sufficiency and indifference we see once again the journey of Jesus through suffering to Easter and new life. In the Church we are one with others who suffer and have a unity in holy things; the love of God revealed to us in Jesus and his gifts. We are invited to respond by being touched by this love, so that we can do something for those whom we could never otherwise reach, asking that we may be open to his plan of salvation. In our parishes and communities, do we care for our weakest and insignificant members? We need to press beyond the boundaries of the visible Church in two ways:  (more)

Pontifical council to consider challenges women face in society, church
Extract from Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, National Catholic Reporter, 1 February 2015

Vatican City. Violence against women, cultural pressures regarding women's physical appearance, attitudes that subjugate women or that ignore male-female differences and the growing alienation of women from the church in some parts of the world are themes the Pontifical Council for Culture is set to explore.    The council, whose members are all cardinals and bishops, has chosen to discuss the theme "Women's Cultures: Equality and Difference" during its plenary assembly Feb. 4-7. A document outlining the theme was published in late January, and four women involved in writing it joined Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, council president, at a news conference Monday at the Vatican.     The cardinal announced to the press that he was planning to establish within his office a special group of female consultants to provide women's opinions and points of view on a variety of issues.   He also noted that if priests had to follow the Jewish rules for a quorum for prayer -- 10 men must be present -- many of them would not be able to celebrate daily Mass, even though there would be dozens of women present in the church (more).

Book Reviews: Who Is the Pope?
Edited extract of 3 book reviews by Eamon Duffy*, The New York Review of Books, 1 February 2014

On December 22, 2014, Pope Francis delivered the traditional papal Christmas speech to the assembled ranks of the Roman Curia. This annual meeting with the staff of the church’s central administration offers popes the opportunity for a stock-taking “state of the union” address. In 2005, his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI had used the occasion to deliver a momentous analysis of the “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture” that he believed had distorted understanding of the Second Vatican Council by presenting it as a revolutionary event, and to which he attributed many of the ills of the modern church. The phrase “hermeneutic of rupture” was eagerly seized on by those seeking a “reform of the reform,” and became a weapon in the struggle to roll back some of the most distinctive developments in the church following the Second Vatican Council of 1962–1965, which had been presided over first by John XXIII and then by Paul VI.     The scope of Pope Francis’s 2014 address, however, was far more local and specific......... (more).
* The Great Reformer: Francis amd the Making of a Radical Pope, by Austen Ivreigh, Pub. Henry Holt.
* A Big Heart Open to God" A Converstaioin with Pope Francis, by Antonio Spadoro. Pub. HarperOne
* Pope Francis: Untying the Knots, by Paul Valley, Pub. Bloomsbury.

Eamon Duffy, FBA, FSA is an Irish historian and academic. He is Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow and former President of Magdalene College.

Archbishops to receive pallium at home with their flock
Extracts from CathNews, 30 January 2015

Pope Francis has decided that from now on, the public ceremony of investiture of the pallium on metropolitan archbishops will take place in the prelates’ home dioceses and not in the Vatican, reports Vatican Insider. He believes that in this way the ceremony  "will greatly favour the participation of the local Church in an important moment of its life and history.” The decision follows an earlier report by Catholic Communications that the Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, will be travelling to Rome to receive the pallium..............Furthermore, he said, Pope Francis believes that this new custom can serve to advance “that journey of synodality in the Catholic Church which, from the beginning of his pontificate, he has constantly emphasized as particularly urgent and precious at this time in the history of the Church”. The pallium is a liturgical vestment that symbolizes “the bonds of hierarchical communion between the See of Peter and the Successor of the Apostle and those who are chosen to carry out the episcopal ministry as Metropolitan Archbishop of an Ecclesiastical Province,” Mgr Marini wrote. It is also a symbol of the Metropolitan Archbishop’s jurisdiction in his own diocese and in the other dioceses of his ecclesiastical province (more). Photo: Cathnews

Chief organiser hopes Vatican family synod will listen to ‘irregular’ families as it considers cohabitation and remarriage
Extract from Hannah Roberts,The Tablet,  28 January 2015

Rome. The top Vatican official for October’s Synod on the Family has tried to seize the ground for the reformers in the run-up to the meetings. Italian Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the secretary general of the Italian bishops’ conference, told a congress of family-focused Catholic groups gathered in Rome as part of the build-up to the Ordinary Synod that bishops “should listen to couples in irregular situations”. Last year’s Extraordinary Synod ended in disagreement between reform-minded and conservative bishops over topics such as acceptance of gay couples and communion for the divorced and remarried.......Cardinal Baldisseri said a working document for the next Synod would be ready in June and would address “the most sensitive issues” of homosexuality, couples living together outside marriage, and Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics (more). Photo: Baldi,The Tablet

Cardinal Dziwisz preached yesterday at Auschwitz's Centre for Dialogue and Prayer
Extract from Catholic Herald UK, 28 January 2015

Catholic leaders joined in commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp yesterday. “When we ask how God was present in the hell of Auschwitz, we must remember God’s last word is one of peace,” said Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz of Kraków.  The cardinal preached at a Mass yesterday in Auschwitz’s Church-run ecumenical Centre for Dialogue and Prayer. The Mass was concelebrated by the Vatican’s nuncio to Poland, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, and attended by Polish president Bronisław Komorowski and around 150 former camp inmates. Cardinal Dziwisz said questions still needed to be asked about human responsibility for Auschwitz atrocities, but added that the camp’s liberation was also a reminder that peace could be achieved by human effort. He said numerous great initiatives had been launched to ensure future generations remembered the past while “responsibly building the future”, helped by survivors who recalled “the cry of the victims falling silent as they were brutally suffocated”. Besides Jewish inmates, who made up 90 per cent of victims, approximately 100,000 mostly Catholic Poles were killed by German occupiers in Auschwitz’s gas chambers and execution sites. The Nazis also killed Roma, Russian POWs and prisoners of other nationalities at the camp, located in Oświęcim, Poland (more). Photo: UK Herald

San Francisco priest bars altar girls, sparks another controversy
Extract from David Gibson, Religion News Service, National Catholic Reporter, 27 January 2015

A Catholic priest who recently took charge of a San Francisco parish has said only boys can be altar servers, a move that is sparking both criticism and praise and comes amid a wider debate over conservative concerns that the Catholic church has become too "feminized." As media coverage of the controversy at Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church began to build in recent days, Fr. Joseph Illo defended his decision in a statement issued Monday, saying he decided to make the change in November, a few months after he became pastor. Illo cited two main reasons for the switch. The first, he said, is that "boys usually end up losing interest [in altar service] because girls generally do a better job." The second and more important reason, Illo said, is that "altar service is intrinsically tied to the priesthood and serve as feeder programs for the seminary." "If the Catholic Church ordained women, altar girls would make sense, but the Catholic priesthood is a male charism," he said. "Nothing awakens a desire for the priesthood like service at the altar among the brotherhood of young men. At the risk of generalizing, I suspect young men serving with young women might just distract them from the sacrifice of the Mass, and perhaps even from a priestly vocation." (more)

Spanish newspaper: Pope Francis has held a private audience with a transgender man
Extract from Catholic Herald UK, 27 January 2015
                                                                                                                                     Hoy reported that Diego Neria Lejárraga wrote a letter to the Pope in December about being rejected by his parish in Spain and being called “the devil’s daughter” by a priest. He said he subsequently received a phone call from the Pontiff on Christmas Eve. Mr Lejárraga and his fiancee told the paper that they met Pope Francis in his residence at the Vatican on Saturday. “After hearing him on many occasions, I felt that he would listen to me,” he said. The Vatican have not commented on the reported meeting (more).

Fr. Richard McBrien, theologian and church expert, dies at 78
Edited extracts from NCR Staff, National Catholic Reporter, 25 January 2015

Fr. Richard McBrien, who as a scholar brought distinction to a university theology department and who as an author and often-interviewed popular expert explained the Catholic church to the wider world, died early Sunday morning. He was 78................It would be difficult to find a figure comparable in making understandable to a broad public the basic beliefs and traditions of the Roman Catholic church.For more than three decades, he was the star of the theology faculty at the University of Notre Dame and the go-to voice on all matters Catholic in the popular press. His books, particularly Catholicism, Lives of the Popes and Lives of the Saints, were staples of libraries, Catholic and non-Catholic alike........Unabashedly on the progressive side of most Catholic debates, McBrien advocated (on various issues including) an end to mandatory celibacy for priests, moral approval of artificial birth control, and decentralization of power in the church. In so doing, he helped to define the battle lines within Catholicism over the legacy of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).........He was a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America and former chair of the theology department at the University of Notre Dame. To fans both inside and outside the theological guild, McBrien was a double icon. He lifted the status of Catholic theology, and American Catholic theology in particular, by his media visibility and literary accomplishment. He also cheered the liberal wing of the church by lending intellectual heft to its reading of Vatican II."No Catholic theologian in the United States has made a larger contribution to the reception of Vatican II than Richard P. McBrien," said theologian Fr. Charles E. Curran, Elizabeth Scurlock University Professor of Human Values at Southern Methodist University in Dallas (more). Photo. NCR, David Kambla

Pope calls large families a 'gift from God'
Extract from CathNews, 22 January 2015

Pope Francis yesterday described large families as a "gift from God," just days after he said Catholics did not need to "be like rabbits," reports AFP on Yahoo7. In an apparent attempt to put the controversial comments he made on his way back from a visit to the Philippines into context, the Pope argued that the global economic system is the primary cause of poverty, rather than overpopulation (more).

Don't breed 'like rabbits': Was Pope Francis breaking new ground on birth control?
Extracts fromn David Gibson, Religion News Service, 21 January 2015

Pope Francis may have been elected by the Holy Spirit, but he seems made for the age of Twitter. A case in point were his latest remarks, in which he affirmed the Catholic church's ban on artificial contraception but derided the idea that "in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits" and produce litters of children. "No," he told reporters on his flight home from the Philippines. "Responsible parenthood." Moments earlier, Francis had signaled his approach to the vexed birth control issue when, with equally quotable verve, he said the contraception ban "does not mean that the Christian must make children in series." He noted that during a parish visit some months ago, he even "rebuked" a woman who was pregnant again after having seven children, all delivered by Caesarean section. "But do you want to leave seven orphans?" Francis told her. "That is to tempt God!"...........Conservative Catholics and  contraception opponents were also dismayed by the latest from a man who's been dubbed the "blabbermouth" pope. He appeared to criticize traditional big families (the pope said three children seemed about right) as well as undermine advocates of natural family planning (controlling birth rates without using contraception) by seeming to give aid and comfort to the church's enemies.........But was Francis saying anything new? Yes and no. First, no, Francis wasn't breaking new ground. He himself told an interviewer last March that Pope Paul VI's famous encyclical reaffirming the artificial contraception ban, Humanae Vitae, was "prophetic" but said the real issue is "making sure that pastoral
action takes into account that which is possible for people to do." (more).

Pope names former top prosecutor to head board for clergy abuse appeals
Extract from Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, National Catholic Reporter, 21 January 2015

Vatican City. Pope Francis named the Vatican's former chief prosecutor of clerical sex abuse cases to head his new doctrinal team dealing with appeals filed by clergy accused of abuse. Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna, 55, of Malta was appointed president of the new board of review within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Vatican announced his appointment as well as the names of the board's eight other members Wednesday (more).

Meditation resumes for 2015                                                                                                                    Wednesday 21 January 2015
Meditation for 2015 resumes on Tuesday February 3rd at 4.15 at the Hall behind Mary Immaculate Church. New members always welcome. Enquiries to Kathy Gillespie on 9497 1706 or 0438 530 324.


Questionnaire in preparation for 2015 Synod - Online Responses due 10 February
Edited extracts from Catholic Achdiocese of Melbourne invitation (on 18 December 2014), 21 January 2014
Following the Extraordinary Synod on the Family in October, Pope Francis and the Synod of Bishops are once again seeking responses to questions as part of their preparation for the 2015 Synod.........In response to feedback during the previous survey in 2013, a simplified questionnaire has been developed. Responses and can be submitted through the online questionnaire. You do not have to answer every question. You may choose to focus on those relating to a particular area of expertise or interest........While not essential, you may also wish to read the Relatio Synodi - the final summary of the Extraordinary Synod in October 2014 - before responding. The Relatio also includes the full set of questions.   A simple guide to responding to the survey (and the questions) can be found here. The on-line survey will be open until midnight on Tuesday 10 February 2015. While using the on-line survey is preferred, hard copy responses (which continue to be available from our parish churches) can be submitted up to Friday 6 February 2015. The online Questionnaire allows for any other comments.

No need to breed like rabbits: Pope
Extract from AAP. SBS, 20 January 2015

Catholics are not required to procreate "like rabbits," Pope Francis says, tackling family planning issues days after reiterating the Catholic Church's opposition to artificial contraceptives. "Some people believe that to be good Catholics, we need to be like rabbits," the Pope said in a press conference on the plane en route from the Philippines back to Rome. The pontiff instead said pointed to the principle of "responsible parenting. That is the key," he said. Catholics are free to use natural birth control methods, but not condoms or other artificial contraceptives, he told Italian news agency ANSA. During his Philippines pilgrimage on Friday, the Pope hailed "the sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death," and praised his predecessor Paul VI for confirming in 1968 the church's opposition to abortion and artificial birth control. His comments, taken together with his defence of the church's ban on artificial contraception during the trip, signal that he is increasingly showing his more conservative bent. On the trip, the Pope gave his strongest defence yet of the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, which enshrined the church's opposition to artificial birth control. He warned against "insidious attacks" against the family - a reference to gay marriage proposals - echoing language often used by overwhelmingly conservative US bishops. The Pope insisted that "openness to life is a condition of the sacrament of matrimony." (source)

Australian bishops make family survey more user-friendly
Extract from Mark Brolley, The Tablet, 14 January 2015

Australia's bishops have condensed into 30 questions the 46 proposed by the Vatican for a survey of Catholics leading up to next October's Synod on the Family. The questions, published on several diocesan websites including Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra and Goulburn, ask Australian Catholics to consider changing social practices in the context of Catholic teaching in areas such as de facto relationships, the indissolubility of marriage, same-sex attraction and abortion, as well as seeking responses on the effectiveness of marriage preparation and the challenges facing couples in mixed and interreligious marriages......Responses are due in early February. (more).

Francis reaches out to the margins in his picks for new cardinals
Extract from John L Allen Jr, Associate Editor, National Catholic Reporter, 4 January 2015

Rome.  With his picks for new cardinals announced on Sunday, Pope Francis continued his campaign to reach out to the peripheries. The pontiff bypassed traditional centers of power and awarded red hats to such typically overlooked locales as Panama, Thailand, Cape Verde, New Zealand, and the Pacific island of Tonga. For the second time, there were no new cardinals from the United States on the list announced by Francis. There were also no Americans in the first crop of cardinals named by Francis in February 2014. While geography seemed the determining factor in these picks for Pope Francis, who at times struggled even pronouncing the names of his new cardinals, it’s noteworthy that the list includes a couple of high-profile moderates but no one with a clear reputation as a doctrinal or political conservative. Archbishop John Atcherley Dew from New Zealand, for instance, argued for allowing divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion at a 2005 Vatican synod of bishops. Archbishop Ricardo Blázquez Pérez is president of the Spanish bishops’ conference and generally seen as a moderate opposed to the harder line of former Madrid Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela. In all, Francis announced that he will induct the 15 new members into the College of Cardinals during a consistory ceremony to be held in Rome Feb. 14-15, pushing the total number of cardinal electors slightly past the limit of 120 established by Pope Paul VI. At the moment, there are 110 cardinals under the age of 80 and thus eligible to vote for the next pope. After the February consistory, that number will rise to 125, with 31 of them having been named by Pope Francis (more).  Photo. NCR

Catholic liberals in Italy launch petition to back Pope Francis
Extract from John L Allen Jr, Associate Editor, National Catholic Reporter, 3 January 2015

Amid a robust Italian debate over the leadership of Pope Francis, a cross-section of liberal Catholic groups in the country has launched an online petition to show backing for the Argentinian pontiff. Pointedly called “Stop the Attacks on Pope Francis,” the petition was launched on Christmas Day by groups including “We are Church,” “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” the Edith Stein Study Center, an Italian association of theologians, and a variety of base communities. All are generally associated with the liberal wing of the Italian Church. The petition is also signed by the Rev. Luigi Ciotti of Turin, one of Italy’s best known anti-Mafia priests, and the Rev. Alex Zanotelli, a Combonian missionary priest and a well-known social activist. As of Jan. 3, the petition had attracted close to 2,500 signatures, toward a goal of 50,000. The current Italian row over Francis began when one of the country’s most renowned Catholic journalists, Vittorio Messori, published a front-page essay on Dec. 24 in Corriere della Sera stating his “perplexity” over what he sees as the pontiff’s contradictions (more).



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