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News 2020

A broad and diverse mix of Local, National and International faith-related News, Information and Opinions.
Views expressed are those of the Authors and may or may not always represent those of the Parish.
** See important  Parish Letter  from Fr Bill on the HOME page  concerning COVID-19 **

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What Future for Humanity
Pope Francis' new encyclical Fratelli Tutti - Brothers & Sisters all
A Zoom seminar with Fr Bruce Duncan & Danusia Kaska - Thursday 22 October 2020 7:30pm - 8:30pm Details & Registration  HERE

Appreciating and discovering hope in Pope Francis' 3rd Encyclical Fratelli Tutti: Seeking the common Good
John Costa, 16 October 2020
When human values around the world become increasingly diluted and polarised both by extreme 'Left wing' and extreme 'Right wing' politics, it's very timely to receive Pope Francis' 3rd encyclical Fratelli Tutti: Seeking the Common Good.  For all peoples of the world regardless of beliefs trying to make sense of increasing conflict and confusion and looking for ways to move collectively towards something more morally and humanly based amidst the realities around us this encyclical offers a hopeful way forward.           We can immediately start reading Fratelli Tutti as it is very accessible, however a little prior background reading can provide further context and fuller sense of its direction.          I can suggest two background papers on the encyclical as a helpful lead-in.       The first 'Saving liberalism from itself'  is by Jesuit Damian Howard SJ and can be accessed HERE , from Thinking Faith.   The Second, 'Pope Francis’s new encyclical On Human Fraternity and Social Friendship' is by Fr Bruce Duncan and can be accessed HERE from Peals & Irritations.                Finally the (3rd) Encyclical Fratelli Tutti  itself (with Index added) can be accessed HERE.        The two prior Encyclicals of Pope Francis are Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith, June 2013), and Laudato si (On Care For Our Common Home, May 2015).          The Cardijn Institute and Social Policy Connections invite you to a (free) Zoom Seminar on Fratelli Tutti  by Fr Bruce Duncan & Danusia Kaska on Thursday 22 October from 7:30 - 8:30 pm. Details and registration above or HERE

Columnist deeply wrong on Hiroshima
Extract from Christian Bergmann, Catholic Weekly, 16 October 2020
I didn’t live through the Second World War. I don’t know what it was like. I can’t even begin to imagine the gravity involved in making the kinds of decisions that would affect entire countries, to the point of even irrevocably impairing them.       If I was in the shoes of President Harry Truman, would I have done any differently? Would I have decided to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?        I don’t know. But what I can say with confidence is that, were my conscience formed according to Catholic moral principles, there would be no doubt in my mind that dropping those bombs would be unquestionably evil and in no way permitted by anything in the Catholic moral tradition.       The only question left would be whether to listen to this conscience.         I raise this point because I recently read George Weigel’s limp defence of Truman’s decision in First Things.          I call the defence limp for two reasons.        Firstly, because the moral argument boils down, at the end of the day, to one simple point: the decision saved lives. Incalculable lives.        Maybe many more lives than would have been saved by taking other routes of action.          Secondly, because even though he acknowledges it is almost impossible to defend the decision according to traditional just war reasoning, and the moral norms of Veritatis Splendor, his only counterpoint is that those norms had been broken long before anyway.            By the end of the article, it seems as though Weigel has stared down the entire tradition of Catholic moral thought and said, ‘But he’s not Hitler’. As if that is a sufficient moral thought process.            Weigel isn’t the only Catholic who holds this defence of the bombings. I have heard many faithful and devout Catholics, as morally uncompromising as they come, treat the bombings in the same way.       It was a necessary evil, they’ll say (suddenly finding that language acceptable). The innocent lives were ‘collateral damage’. I find this sudden shift in morals bewildering.        The Catholic Church has expended immense amounts of energy combating diverse forms of moral relativism – whether in blatant or more ‘situation-ethic’ guises – because we believe that regardless of the situation, we can and should make moral judgments about what is right and wrong that are universal and objective and binding, that no circumstance can alter....(More)Photo: Hiroshima 1945
Christian families ‘not immune’ to domestic violence
Extract from CathNews, The Catholic Leader, 16 October 2020
Surging domestic violence cases during the COVID-19 crisis is a pandemic within a pandemic, according to Church workers on the frontline of violence education and prevention.         They say Church communities “provided no immunity” to the domestic violence scourge.         Months of restrictions have created “a perfect storm” of conditions with stay-at-home orders, school closures, and many workers laid off or told to work from home.        “Because people are isolated more it’s a perfect storm for people who already have control over a victim,” said Evangelisation Brisbane project officer Carole Danby, who is a member of the Joint Churches Domestic Violence Prevention Project (JCDVPP).      “It just means they are isolated more from family support people.”      The JCDVPP has launched a series of webinars aimed at increasing the awareness of clergy, church leaders and pastoral carers of domestic family violence.       Ms Danby said Christian families were as prone as anyone else to domestic violence in all its forms – physical violence, economic abuse and coercive behaviour......(more)       Photo: Bigstock CathNews 20201016
Pope Francis’s new encyclical On Human Fraternity and Social Friendship
Extract from Bruce Duncan, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue website, 15 October 2020
The new social encyclical of Pope Francis not only renews his strong critique of ‘neoliberal’ forms of capitalism which result in growing and extreme inequality but is a plea for a return to the ideals of fraternity and solidarity, invoking the humanist ideals of France’s ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’.       When one part of society exploits all that the world has to offer, acting as if the poor did not exist, there will eventually be consequences. Sooner or later, ignoring the existence and rights of others will erupt in some form of violence, often when least expected. Liberty, equality and fraternity can remain lofty ideals unless they apply to everyone.’.           Francis does not speak as a politician of course, but highlights the social implications of the Gospel parable of the Good Samaritan, fleshing out the values needed for enhanced human solidarity. It is a message that people of all religions, and everyone of good will, including those who are not at all religious, could endorse. The implications are immense for believers, insisting on practical solidarity with everyone, especially strangers or foreigners.      The Pope wrote that ‘by acknowledging the dignity of each human person, we can contribute to the rebirth of a universal aspiration to fraternity. Fraternity between all men and women… Let us dream, then, as a single human family, as fellow travellers sharing the same flesh, as children of the same earth which is our common home, each of us bringing the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all.’    Not a rewrite of Laudato Si’....(more). 
Polarization and Public Morality
Extract from J.A.Dick, Another Voice, Being a Theologian, 15 October2020
There is no debate today….When I think about today’s extreme polarization in US society, however, I become concerned about public morality. It has nothing per se to do with being a Republican or a Democrat, or being left or right of center. It has everything to do, however, with our survival.          Public morality – what some call civic virtue — refers to ethical standards for public behavior. The survival of democracy depends on it. A democracy is a social system in which citizens are bound to fellow citizens, with each individual bearing social as well as personal responsibilities. Public morality governs everyday life: the decisions we make, how we treat ourselves and others, and what we think about the world — about nature, business, culture, religion, family life, and so on. Openness is essential as well as serious reflection and engagement.       Without a healthy public morality, democracy collapses into either chaos or authoritarian dictatorship.       Those dangers are very real today. Public morality is often cast aside in authoritarian dictatorships because social order is maintained not by adherence to shared public values but by fidelity to the dictates and wishes of the authoritarian leader. Authoritarian leaders like chaotic situations in which people living in fear can be kept obedient and dependent on the leader.      In a healthy democracy there are certain generally held moral principles. Key primary values, for example, are that murder is immoral, theft is immoral, harming innocent people is immoral, and lying is immoral. When these immoral actions are turned into social virtues or social normalities, society is in trouble. Think about contemporary militia and vigilante groups.....(more)
Women who ‘applied’ to be clergy say Vatican envoy is ‘open-minded
Extract from Elise Ann Allen, Snr Correspondent, Crux Now, 15 October 2020
ROME – Seven women who recently turned in résumés at the Vatican embassy to France for ecclesial jobs open only to men were shocked not only when they got a response, but were offered one-on-one private meetings with Vatican’s nuncio to the country, Archbishop Celestino Migliore.        These meetings took place between Sept. 14 and Oct. 2.         Several of the women came out of their conversation describing it not only as “cordial” and pleasant, but praising Migliore – a longtime Vatican diplomat who from 2002-2010 served as the Vatican’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations – as kind, as an attentive listener, and as someone who is well-informed.     Claire Conan-Vrinat, who applied to be a deaconess and who met with Migliore Sept. 28, told Crux that she found in the nuncio “an open mind and a sincere listening to my observations and suggestions.”         Without going into details, she said the conversation “was active, interesting” and even “spiritual.”        Similarly, Hélène Pichon, who applied to be a Vatican ambassador herself and who met with Migliore Oct. 1, said he was “very courteous and kind” and was “definitely very, very open and very attentive.”        “He had done his research as well in terms of who we were individually,” she said, recalling how he knew who she was, was familiar with a book she had written and also knew about her work as director of institutional relations at the Center for Study and Strategic Prospective (CEPS).         Both Pichon and Conan-Vrinat said their conversations, while private, were only the beginning, and said Migliore indicated there could be more meetings in the future......(more).  Photo: Toutes Apotres Yong Chim CuxNow 20201015
How can we still be universal? The pope's new encyclical on human fraternity offers to a way out of selfish individualism
Limited extract from  Isabelle de Gaulmyn subscription Journal La Croix International, 10 October 2020
ome coincidences make sense...Pope Francis published his encyclical Fratelli tutti just weeks before the American elections. Of course, he didn't write it for that; this text is not in any way an anti-Trump polemic. But just the same...The electoral campaign on the other side of the Atlantic is, like a distorted mirror, projecting back to us here in Europe the image of a democracy on the verge of collapse.
We see many taking refuge in a cynical "every man for himself" attitude, of a fractured society, polarized via social media, where hatred seems to prevail over reason.        And then there's the pope, a religious leader, who finds courage -- or recklessness? -- to still believe in fraternity? It is as if he is out of time.        Indeed, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of communism, a triumphant liberalism placed the most extreme form of individualism on a pedestal.      This has provoked a disintegration of the sense of the collective good and of what brings us together. It has transformed our societies into a sum of narrow forms of communitarianism, leaving the field open to populist demagoguery, or even desperate violence.      "In a society without transcendence, the denial of human universalism in favor of a multiplicity of closed communities contains a seed of death for democracy," worried the French historian Jacques Julliard in a recent article in Le Figaro.     He was referring to Alex de Tocqueville, for which there can be no functioning democracy without a religion to provide a common framework. In our secularized societies, what can replace God in this role? he wondered. Paradoxically, it is precisely a man of religion who comes to him with the answer....(source).   Source: Pope Francis signs 3rd encyclical Fratelli tutti EOA EFE Vatican Media Handout Max PPP La Croix Int 2020101
Sector warns ‘Budget failure’ will increase homelessness
Extract from CathNews, The Age, 9 October 2020
A sharp rise in homelessness during the coronavirus pandemic will be made worse by the federal Budget’s failure to directly invest in social housing, advocacy groups warn.          Community Housing Industry Association of Victoria chief executive Lesley Dredge said the Budget was a “missed opportunity” to invest in desperately needed social housing and generate jobs in construction.          The Budget included an additional $1 billion in low-cost finance to encourage the construction of affordable housing, but Ms Dredge described this “an additional $1 billion in debt”.           Launch Housing chief executive Bevan Warner said Australia was staring at a homelessness crisis because not enough was being done to increase the supply of social housing.         Research commissioned for the organisation shows that before the coronavirus pandemic, about 290,000 Australians were homeless, an increase of 14 per cent in the four years to 2018-19.           Federal Housing Minister Michael Sukkar said while the delivery and construction of social housing was the responsibility of state and territories, the Morrison Government was making significant investments in the sector.        He said the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation estimates that by providing an additional $1 billion of low-cost finance in this year’s Budget, 2500 new and existing affordable homes could be supported by community housing providers.      Meanwhile, Melbourne Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli has supported calls for affordable housing calls from VMCH, Melbourne Catholic reports.....(more).  Photo: Budget BigstockCathNews 20200911

German churches to continue talks on shared Communion
Extract from CathNews, Crux, 9 October 2020
The German Catholic bishops’ conference and the council of the Evangelical Church in Germany plan to continue their discussions about shared Communion.              German Catholic and Protestant theologians and bishops had published an appraisal of the topic in May, and it was scheduled to be discussed at the German bishops’ plenary assembly in Fulda at the end of September.    However, on September 18, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith voiced strong objections to the appraisal, saying that differences between Catholics and Protestants in the understanding of the Eucharist and the ministry were “still so grave” that they ruled out the attendance of at each other’s services, German news agency KNA reported.      On October 6, leaders of both churches identified questions that “still need to be clarified” and addressed by Catholic and Protestant sides in different ways, KNA reported.     “For the Catholic Church, the open questions are so weighty that it does not feel able to allow mutual participation in general before they are clarified, especially since the question of the unity of the Catholic Church is affected here as well,” said the statement from the church leaders.     Germany has many mixed marriages — Catholic and Protestant — and the issue of being able to receive Communion at each other’s churches has long been an issue of concern.....(more).   Photo: CNS Harald Oppitz KNA CathNews 20201009

Vatican’s top diplomat defends China deal
Extract from CathNews, Crux, 8 October 2020
Despite criticism of a 2018 deal with China over the appointment of bishops, a senior Vatican diplomat is optimistic the accord will be renewed. Source: Crux.
 Had Rome not granted Beijing a significant role in choosing bishops, said British Archbishop Paul Gallagher, “We would have found ourselves – not immediately, but 10 years down the line – with very few bishops, if any, still in communion with the pope.”          “If we don’t begin now, that’s the future,” he said.         Archbishop Gallagher is the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States and a former apostolic nuncio to Australia. He confirmed the Vatican has proposed a two-year extension of the deal. The terms of the accord have not been made public since it’s a provisional agreement rather than a formal treaty. He said the Vatican does not yet have a response from Beijing, and that if no answer is received by the end of the month, then the deal expires.       “It would mean it wasn’t renewed,” he said, but implied the Vatican has reason to believe its proposal will be accepted: “You dip your toes in the water before you jump in,” he said.       “We’re optimistic the Chinese authorities will wish to continue the dialogue with the Holy See within the agreed terms of the accord, and we move forward,” he said, adding that under the right conditions, it would be “desirable” for the deal eventually to be made permanent......(Source) Photo: ACBC CathNews 8 October 2020
Coronavirus pandemic puts huge financial strain on Vatican
Offices have been ordered to take cost-cutting measures, but Pope Francis forbids them from laying off employees
Limited Extract from Loup Besmond de Senneville, La Croix Internatiuonal, 7 October 2020
......In an unprecedented exercise of transparency, the Vatican last week presented its economic balance sheet for 2019. Yet it is towards the results for 2020 that all eyes have already turned.         For here, as everywhere else around the globe, the financial crisis has weakened the world's smallest state. It is a fragility that has fueled growing concern about the size of the envelope allocated each year to the Roman Curia.         Expenses in 2019 for the Catholic Church's central bureaucracy amounted to 318 million euros. But there were 307 million euros in revenues, leaving an 11 million euro shortfall.          100 million euro deficit foreseen for 2020             While the Vatican has not published precise figures, the crisis has in fact undermined three of its important sources of funding -- the museums (which have seen a drastic fall in the number of visitors), donations from the faithful (18% of the Curia's budget in 2019) and financial income (21%).           "There is no doubt that there is a clear decrease in income, which obliges us to reduce expenses and to be very careful about the evolution of liquid assets," said Bishop Nunzio Galantino, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), the Curia's budget management body.          He told La Croix he did not have figures on how much revenue the museums have lost, but admitted that they were "considerable".         "As for Peter's Pence, it's too early to talk about it," the bishop continued, referring to the annual collection from among the world's Catholics......(source). Photo: St Peters Square deserted on April 10 LA Presse Panoramic Bestimage La Croix Int 20201007
Teetering on the Edge
A year after the Amazon Synod, the crisis continues
Limited extract from  Bryan P. Galligan SJ, Subscription journal La Croix International, 7 October 2020
The Amazon Synod's final document and Pope Francis's post-synodal exhortation Querida Amazonia both describe a social and environmental crisis of historic proportions, a crisis Francis portrays as "provoking a cry that rises up to heaven."       This crisis now threatens the Amazon region with ecocide and ethnic cleansing, and—because of the role the Amazon rainforest plays in regulating global climate patterns—it also threatens the planet as a whole.      Yet the synod's urgent message was largely drowned out in the United States by ideological controversies about the ordination of (married) viri probati, the value of inculturation, and racist accusations of idolatry.      A year later, the "dramatic state of destruction" to which the synod's final document refers has only gotten worse, and Catholics in the Global North still seem none the wiser.       Many of the Amazon region's poorest residents live in rural communities and informal settlements. Development of the region has led to economic growth in recent years, but there is little evidence that living conditions are improving.     Food security remains a persistent problem; workers in extractive industries are exposed to diseases like malaria and rabies; and there is a severe lack of health and sanitation infrastructure.       The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated many of these preexisting problems, and indigenous communities have been hit the hardest.          Celia Xakriaba, a Brazilian indigenous leader and activist, has described the public-health risk indigenous communities are facing as one of extermination......(source)   Photo: Brazilian indigenous tribe 2018 Brasilia Photo EPA MAXPPP La Croix Int 20201007
Five keys to understanding the encyclical "Fratelli tutti"
"Fratelli tutti" calls for fraternity and "social friendship"; this relatively long magisterial document is a summary of Pope Francis's thoughts
Limited Extract from Xavier Le Normand , Subscription Journal La Croix International, 5 October 2020,
1. A sombre observation.  The new magisterial document from Pope Francis -- the encyclical Fratelli tutti -- opens with a rather bleak assessment of the current state of the world.         The pope makes no secret of this. The first chapter is titled "Dark Clouds over a Closed World" and the first section is called, "Shattered Dreams".        "Our own days, however, seem to be showing signs of a certain regression," the pope warns.       "Nowadays, what do certain words like democracy, freedom, justice or unity really mean? They have been bent and shaped to serve as tools for domination, as meaningless tags that can be used to justify any action," he notes.        Francis says today's world is experiencing a period of inward-looking and xenophobia. And he laments that the first victims of this are the poor.      2. A cry of alarm against demagogic populism.       "Closed populist groups distort the word 'people', since they are not talking about a true people," the pope writes in the encyclical.        He then goes on to denounce the "unhealthy" and "irresponsible" populism of some political leaders.        "At other times, they seek popularity by appealing to the basest and most selfish inclinations of certain sectors of the population," he states.        This does not mean that Francis, a follower of "the theology of the people", disqualifies the people, a word which appears 95 times in the new encyclical.      In number 182, he affirms that "each of us is fully a person when we are part of a people".             3. Social friendship ......(more).   Photo: Riccardo Antimiani ELA La Croix Int 20201005
Pope releases new encyclical, Fratelli tutti: On Fraternity and Social Friendship
Extract from Communicationsa Officem Melbourne Catholic, 4 October 2020
Pope Francis has written his third encyclical entitled Fratelli tutti (On Fraternity and Social Friendship), which he addresses to all people of goodwill and offers as a proposal for a way of life 'marked by the flavour of the Gospel’.       While the pope's second encyclical, Laudato Si' (On care for our common home), focused on our relationship with the natural world, Fratelli tutti focuses on our relationships with each other.     The document's release coincides with the conclusion of this year’s Season of Creation, and during this time of pandemic is offered as a contribution to ‘the rebirth of a universal aspiration to fraternity by acknowledging the dignity of each and every human person’. (FT 8).       Following the release of the new encyclical, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli encouraged the faithful to read the pope's words: 'Situated as we are in the latter stages of this Pandemic, Fratelli tutti offers much that we might embrace as we determine who we are as people of God in Melbourne, and how we might emerge from this time of exile to go on mission into the world with the beating heart of Jesus.     I urge everyone to read it, and to then return to it with time and space to draw more deeply into the riches within.'....(more - including video by Arbishop Peter)
Opening Up For Mass - Where, When and How!
Fr Bill, Friday 2 October 2020
Under the revised COVID 19 restrictions we are permitted to celebrate Mass OUTDOORS with only FIVE people present. Where & When?  There will be TWO MASS LOCATIONS in the Parish and the new Mass timetable will begin on TUESDAY 6TH OCTOBER.     The first location is at MARY IMMACULATE SCHOOL in the outdoor amphitheatre. Masses at MI school will be Tuesday to Friday inclusive at 9.30am and on Sundays at 9.00am and 10.30am.     The second location is outside ST. BERNADETTE’S CHURCH in the area between the church, the presbytery garage and the community centre. Masses at St. Bernadette’s will be Tuesday to Saturday inclusive at 6pm.      The 6pm Weekday Masses at St. Bernadette’s will be a trial and will only be continued if they are fulfilling a need. How?    Those wishing to attend any Mass must ring my mobile (see full details in the Parish Newsletter HERE). 
Image: massmoca
Pope Francis wants Catholics to dare to dream of a better way of doing politics
With the much-anticipated release of Pope Francis’s new encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti” on Oct. 4, Catholic Christians would do well to revisit his critique of false realism and false nostalgia, and his call for the church to foster a political attitude of faithful and daring dreaming.
Extract from David Albertson, Jason Blakely, America, The Jesuit Review, 1 October 2020
Politically, the United States is facing a crisis of the real. Yes, we confront political realities of an urgency and scale not witnessed in more than a generation—from ecological death and pandemic to the rise of authoritarian nationalism and militarized violence against Black citizens. In the midst of these calamities, millions of Americans struggle to discern real news from fake, science from conspiracy theory, political wisdom from magical thinking. As reality grows more and more menacing, fewer Americans are in touch with it. Politicians indulge nostalgic fantasies to distract our attention and shift the blame.          But we also face a crisis of the real in a very different sense. Namely, the politics presented for decades by serious politicos and wonks as the only “realistic” way forward seems with every passing day more unsustainable. Our entire way of life seems at once unchangeable and yet in need of radical intervention, lest we continue the downward spiral.         This paradoxical predicament was trenchantly observed by the British theorist Mark Fisher over a decade ago in his book Capitalist Realism. Fisher defines “capitalist realism” as “the widespread sense that not only is capitalism the only viable political and economic system, but also that it is now impossible even to imagine a coherent alternative.” Yet Fisher also suggests that the very crises generated by capitalism—if discerned properly—might awaken us from the trance. Once the realist fantasy is dispelled, the political imagination will be free to dream of quite different futures.        This problem of imagining more hopeful futures amid a self-destructive, unrealistic “realism” provides a key to unlocking the politics of Pope Francis, whose pastoral letters and encyclicals have stirred confusion and controversy among conservatives and liberals alike. Unlike Marxists including Fisher, Pope Francis embraces a utopianism that is not grounded in violent struggle but in a deeply Christological hope for the transformation of people and communities—from the bottom up. With the much-anticipated release of Pope Francis’s new encyclical “Fratelli Tutti” on Oct. 4, Catholic Christians would do well to revisit his critique of false realism and false nostalgia, and his call for the church to foster a political attitude of faithful and daring dreaming.         Unrealistic Realisms.....(more)   Photo: CNS Paul Haring America Jesuit Review 20201001
Before release of encyclical 'Fratelli tutti', pope draws a sketch of post-COVID world
Francis has used his Wednesday general audience the past several weeks to offer his vision of creating a better world after the pandemic
Limited extract from Loup Besmond de Senneville, subscription journal La Croix International, 30 September 2020
Pope Francis these past two months has been trying to answer a thorny question that all of humanity must grapple with as it seeks to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic: how do we build a better, post-COVID world?        The pope has offered a nine-week cycle of catechesis -- beginning in August -- to gradually unfold his thoughts on the way out of the crisis.        During his weekly audiences, first recorded in the library and then held in the extraordinary setting of the San Damaso Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, Francis has made clear his conviction that the pandemic provides historic opportunity to change the world.       This is a conviction that should also be well reflected in his future encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, which will be released next Sunday (October 4).            "We come out better or we come out worse"      The Bishop of Rome has often repeated that it is certainly not a question of rebuilding the world afterwards by reproducing the world of before.       "The pandemic is a crisis, and we don't come out of a crisis the same way: we come out better or we come out worse," he has repeated throughout his speeches.        "After the crisis, will we continue with this economic system of social injustice and disregard for the environment, creation and our common home? Let's think about it," he has said.       But how is this to be done?       The pope says it is by relaying on "certain fundamental social principles. This is so as to heal both the world of the pandemic as well as the "wider social pathologies" that have emerged as a result of this crisis.           "We must cure a great virus, that of social injustice, inequality of opportunity, marginalization and lack of protection for the vulnerable," Francis has insisted.        The former Archbishop of Buenos Aires believes that "faith, hope and love necessarily lead us towards this preference for the most needy"....(source)
Grieving for the lost parish
The church as institution is in trouble but not the Church as the People of God
Limited extract from Eric Hodgens, Subscription journal La Croix International 30 September 2020
Some Church groups are pressing for a post-pandemic opening up, others, who have already opened up, are sounding a lament as they find it is not business as usual. There are signs of grieving for the parish – an institution on its knees.          World War II changed Western history. The post-war Catholic parish was an institutional wonder. It took off with the baby boom, reached its peak in the 1980s, started its decline in the 1990s and may well be mortally wounded by the COVID-19 epidemic in the 2020s.      The parish of my wartime infancy appeared timeless. It was an identifiable part of the wider culture but, for Catholics, it was a mainstay of life. Baptisms, marriages and funerals happened there. Most Catholics started formal schooling there.       That is where you ritualised being a Catholic. Lifelong personal and family friends were made. It had its social oddities such as not eating meat on Friday, the practice of confession and regular Sunday Mass. Adherence was tribal.        Post-war reconstruction for Catholics brought new vitality to the parish. With population growth came new parishes and schools.         The baby boom brought not only a large new generation of members but increased vitality and vision to the whole of society. The times – they were a changin.        Vatican II was in tune with that change.        The fortress church lowered its drawbridge and out streamed the People of God on a march towards establishing a new Kingdom of God – a new world order marked by identification with the hopes and joys, the griefs and anxieties of all, mutual respect, the discarding of bygone enmities, diminished sectarianism an improved life for everybody and a fairer society.       Parishes implemented that new vision. The laity moved into active mode. There were youth groups, senior citizens groups, social justice groups, parent groups, social groups sporting groups.        And all had their formal coming together in the parish liturgy which, while led by clergy, was no longer a clerical preserve, and was in a language all could embrace and understand.       Lay action and leadership became a top policy in the renewed Church – especially with the youth. The Young Christian Worker movement (YCW) formed a whole generation to see, judge and act. Loads of young priests who were mentors of this movement.       The parish was a scene of action and vitality.        But an undertow was forming under this enthusiasm.....(source) Photo:Parish La Croix International 20200930
Cafeteria anti-Catholicism: Trump, the Vatican and China
Limited extract from Massino Faggioli, Subscription journal La Croix International 30 September 2020
The US presidential campaign seems at times to have become an almost intra-Catholic affair, especially after President Donald Trump nominated a Catholic to be the next Justice on the Supreme Court.         If confirmed, Amy Coney Barrett would be the sixth of the nine justices who are members of the Catholic Church. A seventh justice, Neil Gorsuch, was baptized and raised Catholic.        Barrett's nomination shows that Trump's administration and campaign team have a Catholic agenda.        It is aimed at capitalizing on the antipathy that sectors of the United States, including among vocal and influential Catholics, have shown towards Pope Francis since the beginning of this pontificate in 2013.        Trump's Catholic agenda is a domestic strategy with an international dimension.              Mike Pompeo attacks the Vatican's policy on China.           The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets top Vatican officials this week in Rome – Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See's Secretary of State; and British Archbishop Paul Gallagher who, as deputy Secretary for Relations with States, is Pompeo's counterpart.           One person Pompeo will not meet when he goes to the Vatican is Pope Francis.             The pope must avoid any appearance that he is being used for political purposes just a few weeks before a presidential election. But he must also avoid being entangled in the serious crisis in the transatlantic relations that have to do with China.....(source).   Photo:La Croix Int 20200930
French Catholics want open talks with bishops in run-up to next Vatican Synod
Catholic organization calls on French bishops to include lay people in preparations for the Synod on Synodality, set for 2022 in Rome
Limited extract from Claire Lesegretain, Subscription journal La Croix International 28 September 2020
France.  The Catholic Conference of the French-speaking Baptized (CCBF), a group founded in 2009 to promote the voice of the laity within the Church, has called on the bishops of France to open a dialogue with all Catholics as they prepare for the next assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome.         How can we think of a Church of France that is entirely synodal yet only speaks to the 1.8% of regular practitioners? That was the main issue at the CCBF's first meeting of 2020, which took place on September 26 in a suburb of Paris.          Because of ongoing measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, only about 60 people turned out for this first session, compared to 230 last year.         The second session will take place between now and the end of the year and will discuss "the lockdown and liturgy" and "abuse in the Church, the damage of clericalism".          Although the crowd at the first session was much smaller than hoped, dozens of others followed on YouTube. Five different speakers held conferences that explored ways to open up avenues for the future.          The German synodal path:  Among them were Julia Knop and Dorothea Sattler, two German theologians who are involved in the current "synodal path" of the Church in Germany.         They explained to what extent this "path" could contribute to the universal Church since "it allows the exercise of a form of synodality not yet provided for in canon law".       Knop noted that the Church in Germany has significant resources at its disposal (the rate of practice remains at 10%) with "lay people accustomed to democratic participation and interdisciplinary dialogue."       But she admitted that such a synodal way seems difficult to envisage in France because of secularization and the absence of an official, united body of the laity (such as the Central Committee of German Catholics or ZdK)....(source)   
Plenary Council 2021/2022
Talk Theology: A Journey of Discernment
Extract from a paper by Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, Plenary Post Edition 28, 30 September 2020
As I reflect on the extraordinary level of engagement with the work of the Plenary Council so far, it seems very clear to me that there is a hunger for change in the Church. If Cardinal [John Henry] Newman is correct, this hunger is really a desire for the Spirit to be alive and active in the Church today.       It will be the task of the Plenary Council to discern which of the changes being called for in the Church really are legitimate developments and further “uncoverings” of the depths of the faith of the Church, and which instead are not in harmony with God’s intention in bringing the Church into being. This is a delicate and sensitive task, especially given the level of hope and expectation that the work of the Plenary Council has generated among the People of God in Australia.        The sincerity, the deep yearning and, yes, the pain and distress evident in so many of the contributions to the Council so far should not and must not be disregarded or minimised. The Spirit of God is undoubtedly speaking in and through these voices.       The invitation of the Plenary Council is to listen to what the Spirit is saying. The Council will be a success if we do indeed listen to the voice of the Spirit speaking in and to the Church over the last 2,000 years and remain faithful to our determination not to lose anything of the giftedness of the Spirit’s guidance over that time.         If we fail to do so then we will not be the Church that God has created and is calling us to be. We will not be the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of those who have gone before us, and which we have received from them through the work of the Holy Spirit........Link to Abp Costelloe full paper HERE      Link to Plenary Post  HERE 
Why is Australia’s Cardinal Pell returning to Rome?
Extract from Gerard O'Connell, America. The Jesuit Review, 29 September 2020
Cardinal George Pell returns to the Vatican on Sept. 30 and is likely to remain there at least until June 8, when he turns 80. His long-term plan, however, is to return to Sydney, Australia, according to a source close to the cardinal, who asked not to be identified.         “His return to Rome has been planned for the last three months. It was not a sudden decision,” the source said. He made clear the cardinal’s return was in no way linked to Cardinal Angelo Becciu’s recent renunciation, as suggested by Italian and other media in reports that recalled how the two had clashed strongly over the reform of Vatican finances. Cardinal Becciu had blocked some of Cardinal Pell’s initiatives.       Some media even suggested that Francis had asked Cardinal Pell to return to Rome, but there is no evidence for this assertion. In fact, shortly after his acquittal and release from prison, Cardinal Pell had told Sky News Australia last April that “I think I might go to Rome for a while.”        Cardinal Pell’s return was in no way linked to Cardinal Angelo Becciu’s recent renunciation, as suggested by Italian and other media in reports that recalled how the two had clashed strongly over the reform of Vatican finances.           Pope Francis will receive Cardinal Pell in audience in due course, sources told America. Although the two differ significantly on some theological questions and on the vision of the church, Francis has always stood by him in these years when the pope saw that Cardinal Pell was already being judged guilty by much of the media. Francis insisted on Cardinal Pell’s right to be presumed innocent—“in dubio pro reo”—until the judicial process had reached its completion.       After his release from prison in April, Cardinal Pell “received encouragement” from some high-level Vatican officials “to return to Rome,” the source said.....(more)  Photo: CNS Screen grab America Jesuit Review 10100929


Friday 25 September 2020


Last Thursday Bernie and Elaine Jowett celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. Married on grand final day at St. Anthony’s Alphington. As a Parish Family we rejoice with them and give thanks for the gift of the vocation of marriage.


May their witness to the gift of married love inspire all whose lives they touch.


May the God of love bless you both.


Putting lower value on older lives  unethical
Extract from CathNews, 25 September 2020
Commentary on the pandemic that suggests some lives are worth more than others is troubling, write St Vincent’s Health Australia’s Toby Hall and Dr Daniel Fleming. Source: Sydney Morning Herald.              At the weekend The Age published an article by the University of Melbourne’s vice-chancellor, Professor Duncan Maskell, asking Victorians to wrestle with uncomfortable questions about our future. He called on us to be ready to make tough calls, and to accept the unavoidable reality of mortality.        No problems there. Any community with a grain of wisdom goes through that process. But at the centre of his approach, Maskell suggests a way of thinking that we should all find troubling.       He asks: “What is the value of a 90-year-old’s life versus the value of the continuing livelihood and happiness of a 25-year-old?”       His view appears to be that in a future pandemic, authorities should apply a “quality-adjusted life year” model to help them chart a way forward.       This approach would say the 25-year-old's life is of much higher value than that of the 90-year-old. This is because a life nearer its end is allocated less QALYs than a healthy life closer to its beginning.       Such a model would provide a justification for accepting risk – even mortality – for the 90-year-old and prioritising the 25-year-old because the latter's life is valued more...(more) Photo: COVID different value in different people CNS Benoit Tessier Reuters CathNews 20200925
The first virtual Nuns on the Bus tour begins, highlighting voting rights, poverty and pro-life policies
Extract from Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter Project, 24 September 2020
Saying they could not stay silent, the Nuns on the Bus began their virtual tour of the country Sept. 23 with a range of speakers talking about the need for a government that serves everyone.            The online event by Catholic social justice lobby Network featured House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Cory Booker as well as several activists and clergy from various religious denominations.           Social Service Sr. Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, began the event by noting it was being held in the shadow of more than 200,000 deaths caused by COVID-19 and the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.            She added that the kickoff also began as President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr were honored at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast.         "Our politicians are once again attempting to wrangle Catholics with the all-too-flawed, narrow and politically opportunistic view of our faith," Campbell said. "We need to be multi-issue voters in our complex reality."....(more) Photo: Nancy Pelosi virtual 2020 Nuns on Bus kickoff Netwok Screenshot Globa Sisters Report 20200923
People leaving Church in 'droves' warns McAleese
by Ruth Gledhill , Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet, 24 September 2020
Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland, has warned that people are leaving the Catholic Church “in droves”, tired of “little old men” who continue to “beat the drum of obedience”.        Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour today, former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, whose book Here's the Story: A Memoir is published today, said: “I am a person of faith but I am also a person with a thinking brain.”         Describing the hierarchy of the Church as a small, self-serving hermetically-sealed group of men, she reminded listeners that she was actually banned from speaking at a conference on women at the Vatican, an exclusion that occurred during the papacy of Pope Francis. Both his predecessors had welcomed her to the Vatican.        McAleese, a licensed canon lawyer as well as a civil lawyer, who has spoken out frequently against misogyny in the Church, admitted that nothing she had ever said had changed anything.       “I am ignored completely by the Church's hierarchy. Utterly, absolutely ignored. But that's ok because they're only a tiny proportion of the Church. They're desperately powerful, yes, and they make the rules, yes, but the Church is 1.2 billion people which is why I stay.”       She said the Church is the biggest NGO in the world, hugely influential and a permanent representative at the UN. “No other faith system has that power and influence in the world.”       She said she remained in the Church in the hope that one day, her “tiny little voice” will permeate upwards, along with that of many others who are speaking out.....(more).  Photo:Mary McAleese, Ruth GledhillThe Tablet 20200924
There will be no return to a pre-COVID world; it has changed forever
Extract from Peter Comensoli, Opinion Piece, The Age, 23 September 2020
Victorians have been in exile from the homeland of our humanity for six months now. Throughout this exile, hope has been hard to come by as fear, fatigue and frustration have taken hold. Now, a way out of captivity has been set before us.          Every Victorian has an interest in the government’s road map towards a "COVID-normal" destination. But what do we actually want that destination to look like, and how might it shape the road ahead?       People of faith have deep resources to share here. While the voice of religious communities has gone largely unheeded in recent years, at this time of great fear it turns out religious people are motivated by something positive and inspirational. In the middle of lockdown, and cut off from all kinds of human sources of inspiration, people of faith draw on something that does not depend entirely on other people.     It might be unfashionable to say, but God has been helpful to lots of Victorians in 2020.       All God’s people – whether believers or not – are my friends and fellow pilgrims on the journey ahead. From my Christian faith, this is a road that offers a horizon of hope and wellness. Some friends on this road have been lonely and isolated this year.         Some of them have had a hard time stuck in high-rise public housing. Some have faced death and sickness apart from loved ones, and cried at a funeral without the tender presence of their nearest and dearest. Talking with our friends on the phone and via Zoom has been helpful. But all of them tell me that it’s God who has made all the difference.....(more).  Photo: COVID Keep Calm Mask The Age 20200923 Getty
Suspended Irish priest Tony Flannery calls Vatican inquiry ‘unjust’
Extract from Gerard O’Connell. America The Jesuit Review, 22 September 2020
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has formally requested that the Rev. Tony Flannery, a well-known Irish Redemptorist suspended in May 2012, sign a statement affirming his acceptance of church teaching, as formulated by the C.D.F., on homosexuality, civil unions between persons of the same sex, the admission of women to the priesthood and “gender theory.” His signature on the C.D.F. document would allow him to return to public ministry.       He declined to sign the document and made the C.D.F. letter public on Sept. 16. He described the process that brought him to this point as “unjust,” saying he had “no chance to defend myself, no appeal system, no direct communication, judgment passed and sentence decided before I even knew what was happening.”        “Maybe I am deceiving myself,” he said to America by email, “but I believe I can do more for the church by exposing in every way I can the unjust process, rather than trying to get Francis to wave a wand and return me to the ministry.”.....(more).   Photo: The Jesuit Review
Iran sentenced three teenagers to have four fingers amputated
Extract from CathNews NZ Pacific, UK Dailt Mail, Monday, September 21st, 2020
Iran has sentenced three teenagers to have four fingers amputated each as a punishment for stealing.       Hadi Rostami, Mehdi Sharafian and Mehdi Shahivand, whose exact ages are not known, were handed the punishment on Thursday after a failed attempt to appeal.        They were originally tried on November 2 last year on four counts of robbery at a court in the city of Urmia, in northern Iran close to the border with Turkey....(more)   Photo Iran finger amputation  Is na  dailymail uk Cathnews NZ 20200923
Gay children are 'children of God', Pope tells parents
Extract from Christopher Lamb, The Tablet, 18 September 2020
Pope Francis has told the parents of gay children that God loves them “as they are” because they are “the children of God”.      His remarks came following the Wednesday General Audience where he had a brief meeting with members of an Italian group Tenda di Gionata (Jonathan’s Tent), which supports the parents of LGBT children.       According to reports of the encounter, Francis said "God loves your children as they are." He also said: "The Pope loves your children as they are, because they are children of God."       Mara Grassi, the vice-president of the support group, relayed details of what the Pope said following the audience, and that she had presented Francis with a book Genitori Fortunati (Blessed Parents). A copy of the book will soon be available in English.       Speaking to Avvenire, the newspaper owned by the Italian Bishops’ Conference, she said: “I explained [to the Pope] that we consider ourselves lucky because we have been forced to change the way we have always looked at our children.
She added: “What we now have is a new gaze that has allowed us to see the beauty and love of God in them. We want to create a bridge with the Church... so that the Church too can change its gaze towards our children, no longer excluding them but welcoming them fully.”       Francis’ remarks are consistent with what he said in 2018 to Juan Carlos Cruz, a survivor of clerical sexual abuse and who at that time had spent several days with the Pope.      “He told me, ‘Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like this and loves you like this and I don’t care. The Pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are’,” Cruz recalled.....(more) 
Bishop condemns human rights abuses in Philippines
Extract from CathNews, Catholic Oiutlook, 18 September 2020
Parramatta Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv. has expressed his solidarity with people in the Philippines in their struggle for human rights. Source: Catholic Outlook.             Bishop Long, chair of Bishops Commission for Social Justice – Mission and Service, took part in the “Church People's Prophetic Voices against State Terrorism in the Philippines” online forum on Wednesday. The forum aimed to highlight the response of Christians in the Philippines to the escalating attacks on human rights defenders and activists.          Bishop Long said he joined other Christian leaders in “condemning acts of violence and terror that have escalated in intensity and frequency”.        “These acts are even more deplorable when committed by the government institutions such as the police and the military, which are supposed to protect and defend the people.”         Bishop Long said under the Duterte Government’s war against drugs “a spate of extrajudicial killings has continued unabated, causing a reign of terror in many communities”.       “It is alarming that the poor are most vulnerable to the loss of life, as well as the destruction, violation and suppression of their rights. The government’s claim of ensuring and protecting those who have less in life appears to be merely a lip service when the state itself violates and disregards the rights of the poor. It seems like this is not so much a war against drugs but rather a war against the workers, farmers and the marginalised in society.”        Bishop Long also spoke of the ongoing persecution of people defending human rights in the Philippines, particularly noting Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, Bishop Teodoro Bacani Jr and Bishop Honesto Ongtioco who face sedition charges....(more)  Photo: Parramatta Diocese CathNews 20200918
Edmund Rice supports push for Pacific synod
Extract from CathNews, 18 September 2020
Catholic human rights organisation the Edmund Rice Centre has applauded statements made by Australia’s new Ambassador to the Vatican supporting the push for a synod for the Pacific region.       Ambassador Chiara Porro met Pope Francis last month to present her credentials as Australia’s representative to the Holy See. In an interview with Vatican TV news agency Rome Reports, Ms Porro supported the call from Catholic leaders in Oceania for a synod in the region.       “One idea that I’ve been discussing with a few people is potentially pushing for a synod on the Pacific down the track – something along those lines because of the climate change issue, the anniversary of Laudato Si’ and also the fact it is one of the frontier regions that Pope Francis is so focused on,” Ms Porro said.       Corinne Fagueret, coordinator of the Pacific Calling Partnership (PCP), an initiative of the Edmund Rice Centre for Justice & Community Education, said it was encouraging Australia’s representative to the Holy See was "raising the calls and concerns of Pacific leaders outside of our region”....(more) Photo: Chiara Porro Rome Reports CathNews 20200918
Melbournians suffering from 'deprivation in sacramental life’
Extract from CathNews, Melbourne Catholic,  17 September 2020
Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli has written to clergy and faithful in the Melbourne Archdiocese, acknowledging the many challenges facing the Catholic community during Victoria’s extended COVID-19 lockdown.               The pastoral letter follows last week’s overturning of restrictions on spiritual ministry to the sick and the dying.         “Throughout the pandemic, I have been advocating directly with the Government, reminding authorities continually of our respectful compliance with each stage of restrictions, and seeking a fair consideration in what is permitted,” Archbishop Comensoli said.         He said it was essential that the Government "does not treat faith communities as an afterthought to the opening up of other sectors. Our churches are locations for communities of care and essential service, and must be treated fairly and reasonably”.           In the letter, Archbishop Comensoli acknowledged the “profound loss” the Melbourne faithful are suffering from the “deprivation in sacramental life” since churches were first closed in March.       He said the “sense of estrangement from the Eucharist has been a particular struggle for Catholics. He gave particular acknowledgement to “countless Catholic families” who are “awaiting Baptism, Reconciliation, Holy Communion and Confirmation for their children. Adults, too, have longed to be received into the life of the Church”.   “We shall be exploring possibilities such as outdoor liturgies in parish and school settings to facilitate these crucial events of grace and welcome,” Archbishop Comensoli said.....(more)    Photo: Melbourne Catholic, CathNews 202009017
US study a snapshot of teenage faith
Teen’s commitment roughly half of their parents’
Extract from Catholic Weekly' 17 September 2020
A Pew Research Center study released in September shows that teens’ religious practice is the United States is less than that of their parents. The lessened observance cuts across all denominational lines.             And religious practice by adults, the study noted, has itself declined in recent decades.     One key finding of the report is that 43 per cent of parents said religion is “very important in their lives,” and that, of teens ages 13-17, only 24 per cent feel the same.      Surveys were taken of 1,811 adults who had given Pew permission for one of their teen children to later take the same survey. The surveys were conducted in April-June 2019, long before the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.          “it’s hard to process what the statistics are saying with what we’re witnessing”.               But Christina Lamas, executive director of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, told Catholic News Service that she finds it hard to square the figures in the Pew report with what she sees at her organisation’s biennial conventions in Indianapolis.      “When you’re able to witness the fire and engagement of 20,000 young people … who are sharing on social media about their relationship with God, it’s hard to process what the statistics are saying with what we’re witnessing,” Ms Lamas said.        She took some comfort in one finding from Pew than 47 per cent of Hispanic teens identify as Catholic.            Faith is very much embedded into the culture of the community,” Ms Lamas said. “In Hispanic families, God and religious practices are lived out daily. It’s part of who the individual is, not separate. I can see why the specifics are higher among Hispanic families, absolutely.”     Still, she is cognisant of societal forces that can erode strength in Catholic belief and practice. NFCYM has had in its toolbox for the past 15 years an initiative called Strong Catholic Families, designed to combat secularising influences.     Lamas said NFCYM collaborated with the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership, the National Catholic Educational Association and the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers in revisions to the program a few years ago.....(more)   
Maitland-Newcastle Diocesan Synod calls for reforms
Extract from CathNews, MN news, 17 September 2020
The call for reform of diocesan and parish governance at the first session of the Maitland-Newcastle Diocesan Synod will strongly influence planning for future sessions.
A Governance Focus Group is evaluating diocesan governance structures and processes and will prepare documents and recommendations for the next Synod session in 2021.          It is one of several working groups preparing documents for the Diocesan Synod’s 2021 sessions and is made up of clergy, senior diocesan staff and lay members.          Lawrie Hallinan, chair of the Synod’s Governance Focus Group said the group had embraced the recently released national report on diocesan and parish governance, The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia.         This report was recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.       “The concerns and hopes expressed at our Diocesan Synod are echoed in many of the themes and recommendations of The Light from the Southern Cross report,” Mr Hallinan said.        “Some of the report’s recommendations are already established practice in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese, such as a functioning diocesan pastoral council (locally known as the Council for Mission) and a publicly available annual report (including financial report).”         Mr Hallinan said the focus group was grateful for the report’s theological explanations of governance, which emphasise all the baptised fulfilling their right and responsibility as missionary disciples.       The Maitland-Newcastle Diocesan Synod will take place over three sessions. The first session was in November 2019, with further sessions planned for May and November 2021...(more)    Photo: MNnewsToday
Synodality at the crossroads
Pope Francis's powerful gestures are urgently in need of a theological language
Extract from Massimo Faggioli, La Croix International, 16 September 2020
United States. Rarely does a journal article offer an X-ray of a particular moment in a pontificate, providing such depth and detail that it remains essential to understanding how a pope perceives his ministry in the life of the Church.       But that's exactly what happened in September 2013 when Antonio Spadaro, editor of La Civiltà Cattolica, published his blockbuster interview with Pope Francis.           It happened again earlier this month when the Italian Jesuit published another article in the venerable journal explaining his confrere's style of papal governance.        The most recent piece is especially important because of what the Jesuit pope says in his own words.         The pope says the driving force of his pontificate is not institutional reform.         The pontificate is far from over, but this is a delicate moment of passage to understand what type of reform Francis can realistically expect to achieve within a timeframe that can be measured historically, rather than in geological eras.         The Civiltà Cattolica article responds to a number of essays published in the last few months – one of them my own here – that analyzed the repercussions of the pope's interpretation of the 2019 Synod in the exhortation Querida Amazonia.        They pointed out the gap between the proposals for institutional reform approved by the Synod (viri probati, ministries for women) and the non-reception of these proposals by Francis in his post-synodal exhortation.....(More)
'Church setback over confession in WA'
Extract from Marilyn Rodrigues, Catholic weekly, 16 September 2020
Both major parties to support law affecting sacrament.     A push to force priests to report information on child sexual abuse gained during confession looks likely to continue in Western Australia despite a parliamentary committee’s recommendation that it would be an ineffective measure against abuse.      The recommendation was made in a report by the Standing Committee on Legislation on the Children and Community Services Amendment Bill 2019, which passed the state’s Legislative Assembly in May and will be considered by the upper house.       In its current form, the bill is in line with WA’s Premier Mark McGowan and Minister for Child Protection Simone McGurk’s commitment to require priests to break the sacrament’s absolute confidentiality in known or suspected cases of child sexual abuse.      The five-member WA committee recommended last week that “ministers of religion be excused from criminal responsibility [of mandatory reporting] only when the grounds of their belief is based solely on information disclosed during religious confession.”       But Liberal Opposition Leader Liza Harvey said on 15 September that her party had decided against supporting the recommendation.....(more)
Appointment of bishops: the Vatican and China to renew their agreement
ANALYSIS: China and the Vatican have agreed to extend the historic agreement reached in 2018 for another two years
Limited Extract from Loup Besmond de Senneville, subscription journal La Croix International 16 September 2020
Two years ago, it was hailed as a historic agreement. And it was.  After almost 70 years without diplomatic relations, the two-year agreement China and the Holy See, signed on September 22, 2018, on the appointment of bishops was widely welcomed.    But the content of this text has always been kept secret and is due to expire in a few days. Until now, it was not clear whether it would be renewed.            But La Croix has learned from a source close to the negotiators, who insisted on total anonymity, that the agreement will be extended for another two years under the same terms as the one signed in 2018.              The very renewal of the Sino-Vatican is itself an event.      While the question of the appointment of bishops may seem technical, what is at stake in the eyes of Rome is nothing less than the unity of Chinese Catholics and the avoidance of a possible schism.      This is in a country where the Communist authorities have been appointing the bishops they wish for decades and without Rome's approval, while "clandestine" bishops loyal to the pope were being ordained at the same time.      On two different occasions -- in 2016 and 2018 -- the authorities challenged the Holy See by appointing about 40 bishops independently.       These were massive appointments that would have anchored the Chinese Church's separation from Rome, and would have made it difficult for them to be recognized later.        What is known about the terms of the current agreement is that the pope has the last word on episcopal appointments -- that is, a kind of right of veto -- while Rome commits to no longer appointing clandestine bishops without Beijing's agreement....(source). 
COMECE president all praise for German Catholic Church's Synodal Path
Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich mentioned the role of women in the Church as the most important question in the reform debate
Linuted extract from subscription journal La Croix International staff, 14 September 2020
COMECE president all praise for German Catholic Church's Synodal Path.        The EU bishops' president said he very appreciative of the German Catholic Church's Synodal Path and that this process could be an inspiration for the Church in Europe.       The Synodal Path reform project in Germany is viewed "with great respect because one is daring to ask very big questions," Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, president of the European Union Bishops' Commission COMECE, told Germany's Catholic News Agency (KNA).      The process was launched on Dec. 1 and over the next two years some 230 bishops and lay delegates will engage in dialogue around four main themes — power in the Church, priestly celibacy, the place of women and sexuality.     Cardinal Hollerich particularly mentioned the role of women in the Church as the most important question in the reform debate.       "I am not saying that they have to become priests; I simply don't know that. But I am open towards that. It is clear however that the current situation does not suffice. One must see and realize that women have a say in the Church", he said.      He praised the Synodal Path for being a path "of which you don't always know where it leads. One takes steps and together seeks out the next one."       He said the local churches in Europe "often think too nationally, focused on the situation in their respective countries. We need to engage more with each other."        The Catholic Church in Germany has begun its Synodal Path in an atmosphere of free and respectful dialogue. It held its first plenary assembly from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2 in Frankfurt.       German Catholics who are delegates for the Synodal Path have held their latest plenary assembly in several different cities across the country.....(source)
New poll: 36 percent of young Catholics say they will attend Mass less often after pandemic
Extract from Mark M. Gray, America. The Jesuit Review, 14 September 2020
Not many young adult Catholics are tuning into Masses on television or online, according to a survey conducted in July and August by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. A more troubling finding is that 36 percent said they plan to attend Mass less frequently when stay-at-home orders related to the Covid-19 pandemic end and churches fully reopen.           Only 25 percent said they participated in Mass online or on television during the pandemic “somewhat” or “very” often.       Another 51 percent say they will return to their normal pattern of attendance after the pandemic, and 14 percent said they plan to go to Mass more often.        More than one-third of young Catholics said they would attend Mass less frequently even after the pandemic.        We surveyed 2,214 self-identified Catholics between the ages of 18 and 35; only 25 percent said they participated in Mass online or on television during the pandemic “somewhat” or “very” often. (The CARA poll has a margin of error of 3.6 points.) Another 22 percent said they watched Mass “a little,” and 54 percent said they had not watched at all.         This breakdown looks somewhat like actual Mass attendance before the pandemic, when 13 percent of Catholics said they attended Mass weekly, another 20 percent attended at least once a month, and 67 percent attended no more than a few times a year. Sixty-three percent of young adult Catholics who used to attend Mass weekly said they now watch Mass on television or online “somewhat” or “very often,” as did 36 percent of those who attended Mass at least once a month before the pandemic. Of those who used to attend no more than a few times a year, 13 percent said they watch Mass on television or online “somewhat” or “very” often.          Most young Catholics said they have not watched Mass online or on television during the pandemic.         The respondents saying that they plan to attend Mass less often in the future cut across all categories of prior attendance. Of the weekly attenders, 31 percent said they will be attending Mass less often when things return to normal, compared with 42 percent of monthly attenders and 35 percent of those who used to attend a few times a year or less often.....(More).  Photo: America, Jes Rev 20200914

Mary Immaculate Church Closes!

Fr Bill, Friday 11 September 2020

I hope that headline got your attention. In preparing for the renovation of the church and the construction of our new Parish Centre, Yarra Valley Water has decommissioned the sewer easement that crosses our property. Consequently the site cannot be occupied until the project is complete. We hope the project will go to tender early October with work commencing late November. Estimated completion is December 2021 but that will depend upon many things - not the least being the Covid-19 restrictions.     While the site is closed the Parish Office will operate out of Mother of God Church where a temporary office has been established. Many thanks to Vince Marino who has painted out the office and Eugene Ballao who has assisted in moving office furniture.       When we are able to resume Masses there will be a new schedule of Mass times at Mother of God and St. Bernadette’s which will remain in effect until our new Parish Centre at Mary Immaculate reopens. Photo: John Costa

Celebrating mission work of ‘people with a thousand faces’
Extract from CathNews, 11 September 2020
Inspired by Pope Francis, Catholic Mission has launched a global awareness campaign for World Mission Month in October, highlighting missionaries as “people with a thousand faces”.       Earlier this year, Pope Francis highlighted his passion for the Pontifical Mission Societies, known in Australia as Catholic Mission, saying the mission is at the heart and identity of the Church. He said the worldwide network reflects the rich variety of the “people with a thousand faces”.        “Catholic Mission is part of that global network. We are with all the communities, in every corner of the world,” said Catholic Mission national director Fr Brian Lucas.       “World Mission Month is a time when Catholics all over the world join to support and celebrate global missionary work.”      World Mission Month this year focuses on the essential work of priests, religious and lay missionaries in Cambodia, supporting people with disability and their families......(more)  Photo: We are still here Cathnews 20200911
Priests defy ban on last rites
Extract from CathNews, The Australian, 11 September 2020
Melbourne’s Catholic priests are taking a quiet stand, giving dying parishioners the last rites in defiance of the Andrews Government’s stage 4 restrictions.       The Government has banned faith leaders from visiting patients at home, in a hospital or a care facility “for last rites or to perform other religious ceremonies in person”. The rules also state “last rites … can be provided using video or livestreaming”.        That is impossible, said Msgr Charles Portelli, parish priest of St Mary of the Assumption Parish, Keilor Downs – a COVID-19 hotspot.       Msgr Portelli said providing the sacraments to the dying was one of a priest’s most serious obligations and it can only be done in person.      Fr Frank Brennan SJ – rector of Newman College at the University of Melbourne and a part-time chaplain to St Vincent’s Hospital – was unaware of the restriction. Fr Brennan has been giving the last rites in full PPE gear.     Msgr Portelli said the Andrews Government’s restriction on administering the last rites, especially during a pandemic in which almost 700 Victorians had died, was an attack on “the free practice of religion”.       Melbourne Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli knew nothing about the ban on the last rites when contacted by The Australian. After checking the DHSS rules he has sought “urgent clarification” from the Government....(more)
Catholics push for more asylum-seeker support
Extract from CathNews, 10 September 2020
Catholic organisations have joined a campaign calling on the Morrison Government to extend support to asylum-seeker families adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Source: Jesuit Refugee Service Australia.       The Refugee Council of Australia’s Nobody Left Behind campaign this year has the theme No Child Left Behind. Jesuit Refugee Service Australia, together with Catholic partners including the Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum, Vinnies NSW, the House of Welcome, the Sydney Archdiocese Justice and Peace Office, Parramatta Diocese and Catholic schools around the country will this week acknowledge, pray for and act in solidarity with families seeking asylum and their children.        There are approximately 16,000 children and young people seeking asylum in Australia.         The impacts of COVID-19 have been particularly tough for people seeking asylum. Many have experienced job losses but have not had access to any form of ongoing government financial support.      “Today, many hundreds of children seeking asylum are wholly reliant on JRS Australia’s food bank to eat healthy, nutritious meals. A significant number also depend on emergency relief payments to pay rent or buy life-saving medications,” JRS Australia said in a website statement on the campaign.     “Children need love, care, safety, and education, not the stress of wondering where their next meal will come from or whether they will be homeless.     “Join us in calling on the federal Government to extend ongoing financial support to the thousands of children seeking asylum who cannot leave Australia and need security.” .....(more) Image: children and young people seeking asylum in Australia JRS Australia CathNews 20200910
Factions and ginger groups within the church
Extract from John Warhurst, Eureka Street, 10 September 2020       
Knowing full well of the conservative-moderate split within the party and of the fractious relationship within the party between Turnbull and Tony Abbott, the Liberal Party delegates fell about laughing.       The laughter was derisory. Facts can’t be papered over by sweet talk.       The same is true of the church in Australia today. This fact of life must be spoken about openly in the lead up to the Plenary Council assemblies. What is happening at the moment is that certain bishops are condemning members of the church renewal movement as pressure groups pushing an agenda, while ignoring the well-known fact that groups with other agendas are widespread within the church.        Condemnation of the renewal movement is a clear attempt to shut down legitimate engagement and debate from some quarters while allowing jockeying, factional politics and agenda-pushing by other conservative groups, including certain bishops, certain Catholic media and other groups embedded in the hierarchical structure of the church.        My impression is that bishops prefer to deal with individuals. Catholics who organise themselves independently of official church structures to advance church renewal are frequently treated with suspicion by the hierarchy.      Trying to shut down the renewal movement is not the work of the Holy Spirit. If it continues it will make for a very lop-sided Plenary Council. No amount of prayer and discernment will overcome a stacked assembly.        The renewal movement is large and growing numerically and in regional diversity. It has engaged with the Plenary Council through submissions and public discussions from the very beginning. It has also tried, collectively and individually, to engage with bishops and other church leaders.....(more) Photo: St Patricks Cathedra Parramatta Leela kajonkij Getty Eureka Street 202009010
Queensland passes law to jail priests for not reporting confessions of child sexual abuse
Extrtact from Mark Bowling, Catholic Leader, 8 September 2020
Priests in Queensland will be forced to break the seal of confession to report child sex abuse to police.        New laws passed through Queensland Parliament on Tuesday, September 8 mean religious institutions and their members are no longer able to use the sanctity of the confessional as a defence or excuse in child sex abuse matters.       The laws passed with support from both major parties, and despite strong opposition from the Catholic Church.        The new laws arose as a result of recommendations from the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse, and failure to comply will carry a three year jail sentence.       Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge has maintained the Church commitment to the protection of children, however breaking the confessional seal would “not make a difference to the safety of young people”.       In a formal submission to a parliamentary inquiry, Archbishop Coleridge  explained that stripping Catholics of the seal made priests “less a servant of God than an agent of the state”.      He said the proposed legislation raised “major questions about religious freedom” and was based on a “poor knowledge of how the sacrament actually works in practice”.      Archbishop Coleridge said the seal “enables the penitent to speak openly before God, to stand open and honest before God, to hide nothing from the God who sees all and forgives all.”         However, Police Minister Mark Ryan maintains the laws will ensure better protection for vulnerable children.      “The requirement and quite frankly the moral obligation to report concerning behaviours towards everyone applies to everyone in this community,” he said.       “No one group or occupation is being singled out.      “Child protection is everyone’s responsibility.”....(more)
Time to start telling – and doing – the truth in the liturgy
Pastors need to internalize the challenge: we cannot simply resume, we must renew
Limited extract from Thomas O'Loughlin, subscription journal La Croix International, 8 September 2020
United Kingdom. As parishes re-open to varying extents – and with a range of anti-viral measures from face-shields to people scattered by tape in near empty benches, many clergy note that the numbers have not returned to the pre-COVID-19 level.        The preferred explanation seems to be that now is still not 'normality' and that many are fearful about a church gathering as a potential source of infection.          I have no reason to doubt that this is a plausible explanation for some, but perhaps these clergy should be more circumspect in their optimism that parochial 'normality' will return.       There are some worrying counter-indications.       First, in the same localities the numbers who have returned to shopping is far closer to pre-pandemic levels, and people are going on holidays in one way or another trusting that masks, hand sanitizers and care will keep the enemy at bay.     Second, there is a sizable group of Catholics – but I doubt if it can yet be quantified – who are asking if 'going back to Mass' will make all that much difference to them.      For this group there is a real crisis in relation to the utility of liturgy within their lives.      This is a new challenge to those whose task is to act as pastors within the Church.....(more).   Image: Stained glass Last Supper La Croix Int 20200908
Pope reveals why he said 'no' to married priests
Extract from Christopher Lamb, The Tablet, 4 September 2020
Pope Francis decided against giving the green light to married priests after the Amazon synod because he was concerned the debate militated against true discernment.     The pope felt that the discernment became impossible because debate became a parliamentary-style battle between different sides.      He has revealed his thoughts in a note in which the 83-year-old Jesuit Pope also emphasises that the “synod is not over”, calling on the Church to “continue walking together”. These and other comments suggest the door is not closed on future reforms.      In a personal note shared with the Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica, Francis says that during last year's synod there was “a rich discussion…a well-founded discussion, but no discernment”.      The Pope continues: “We must understand that the synod is more than a parliament, and in this specific case, it could not escape this dynamic. On this subject it was a rich, productive and even necessary parliament; but no more than that. For me, this was decisive in the final discernment.”      A majority of bishops attending the October 2019 synod gathering voted in favour of ordaining married men as priests for remote parts of the Amazon rainforest, where communities are unable to celebrate the sacraments regularly. But sources inside the synod say the proposal was strongly resisted by senior prelates in the Roman Curia who succeeded in blocking any immediate change....(more)
Holy See offers observations on inquiry’s recommendations
Extract from CathNews, 4 September 2020
The royal commission proposed that the Bishops Conference engage with the Holy See on those recommendations because they relate to universal Church law or practice. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin confirmed that the recommendations, and the entire final report of the royal commission, were studied closely by several Vatican dicasteries.         The Holy See reiterated its commitment to child protection, and its desire to “spare no effort … in collaborating with civil authorities to pursue every avenue to end the scourge of sexual abuse”.         “The Pope has sought to promote reform and vigilance at all levels within the Church and to encourage the efforts of local Churches in the same direction,” the response said.          “That commitment has led to the adoption, both by the Holy See and by Dioceses, Episcopal Conferences and Religious Institutes, of a wide range of measures, designed to ensure a proper response to such cases, including at the canonical level, as well as encouraging cooperation with civil authorities, both domestic and international.”        Many of the royal commission’s recommendations have already been addressed by the Holy See, including some of the matters related to priestly formation and the appointment of bishops. Others, such as having local tribunals to manage disciplinary cases, are still under consideration because they are part of a broader revision of Church laws that will be applicable worldwide.       Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge said the commitment to child safety that underpins the Holy See’s observations is one the Church in Australia shares......(more)   Photo: CathNews 20200904
Forget millennials. How will churches reach Generation Z?
Extract from CathNews NZ, 3 September 2020
For the last decade, church experts have been wrestling over the best ways to reach and retain “millennials,” which is a phrase the describes individuals born from the early 1980s through the mid-1990s.          Data shows that many millennials leave the church during their college years, and some never return.        The fastest-growing religious identifier among this generation is “spiritual but not religious.”                  But as millennials age, get married, and start families, they are no longer the only “young people” that churches must consider.         A new cohort has risen: “Generation Z” or individuals born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s.       Generation Z diverges from millennials in many ways and presents unique challenges and opportunities for churches who hope to capture their attention.                  For this reason, I decided to speak with Pastor James Emery White about his new book, “Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World.”         Here we discuss what sets these young people apart from their elders and what he believes it means for modern ministry, evangelism, and apologetics.        What do you mean when you say that the church is at the beginning of a ‘seventh age?’       White: During my studies at Oxford, I was introduced to the writings of a Catholic historian named Christopher Dawson.       He had an intriguing thesis he introduced just after WWII that I have come to appreciate: that the history of the Christian church can be divided into segments of 300-400 years, and that each of these “ages” began — and then ended — in crisis.        The nature of each crisis was the same: intense attack by new challenges, if not enemies, from within and from without the church. .......(More)       Photo:   CathNews NZ 20200903
Demolition work starts on Christchurch Catholic cathedral
Extract from CathNews NZ, 3 Sept 2020
Demolition of the earthquake-damaged Catholic cathedral in Christchurch has begun, but heritage campaigners still hope to save it.       The $1.8 million demolition project is expected to take a year and started this week with three workers salvaging two stone angels from the front of the historic building.       Catholic Bishop Paul Martin said he was sad to demolish the cathedral.      He said in a statement on Tuesday the building was still unstable.       “Even though much work has occurred over many years to remove badly damaged sections of the cathedral as part of the stabilisation process, the site remains very hazardous and dangerous.”        Some artefacts will be preserved.      Martin said the cathedral’s angels and some stone columns would be salvaged as part of the demolition.
“But any other salvage activities will be opportunistic in nature, and subject to being able to safely access areas of the building.       This also includes the recovery of other items such as stained glass windows and plaques.       Ornate stone elements may be retained for future projects where opportunities are identified.      While it would be desirable to incorporate some of the recovered artefacts into the new cathedral, successfully merging two architectural styles from different eras into a modern building can be extremely difficult to achieve.”....(more)  Photo 20200903 CathNews NZ
Pope Francis: We need to get serious about climate change and unfair economic systems
Extract from Bruce Duncan, Pearls & Irritations, John Mendaue website, 2 September 2020
Here in Australia, we need to make a bigger contribution to the fight, given our abundant resources and expertise.       Pope Francis has repeatedly challenged us to “make some noise” about the issues of climate change, poverty and extreme inequality. He summarised his concerns in his social encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home’, which he signed on Pentecost Sunday, March 24, 2015.             This is not just any other document from the Pope. It is his signature document about how faith should be mobilising our hearts and energies to tackle these imminent threats to the wellbeing of hundreds of millions of people and even endangering the very life-support systems that sustain humankind and all God’s creatures.          Francis is in no doubt about the “catastrophic” threats from climate change, and he reflects the overwhelming views of climate scientists. Laudato Si’ was launched in Rome on June 18, 2015, by one of the world’s most eminent climate scientists, Professor Schellnhuber, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.              In writing this document, Francis drew from his personal involvement tackling issues of poverty and injustice in Argentina. In it he showed he is listening intently to leading scientists and economists about what needs to be done to ensure a better life for all people.       Hence he released Laudato Si’ to bolster international support for the UN Paris Climate Conference held in December 2015, and to encourage all nations to endorse the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Soon after he spoke to the UN General Assembly on September 25, 2015 in New York, 193 member states voted to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.      Keep the action going from Laudato Si’....(more)
Read something spiritually nourishing: Message from Archbishop Comensoli
Extract from Communications Office CAM Wednesday 2 September 2020
In his latest video message, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli welcomes the new season of spring as recognition of 'the hope that the Lord has for each one of us.' He also invites everyone to take up the chance to read something new: 'Make it something spiritually nourishing ... something that can bring the Gospel alive in your life.'....(HERE)   Image: 20200902 CAM
Putting Children First: Child Protection Week 2020
Extract from Communications Office CAM Wednesday 2 September 2020
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Child Protection Week (6-12 September). The theme for 2020, 'Putting Children First', was chosen by the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) and underscores the need to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of children in all aspects of our community and family life.      The occasion is of great significance for the Catholic Church in Australia as it emphasises the need for a continuous commitment to effectively safeguard children, young people, and vulnerable adults.       Partnered with the commitment to safeguard those most at risk, the Church also acknowledges the devastating harm caused by the sexual abuse of children by priests, religious and lay people within Catholic settings.      ‘Although the Pandemic has changed the way we are all living and working, it doesn’t change what is most important,’ said Archbishop Peter A Comensoli.     ‘For Christians, the Lord Jesus shows us that at all times, the most vulnerable among us are those requiring our greatest care. Our priority is to ensure the safety and the protection of children at all times.    I am sad and angered that the Church has not always been a place that has put children first. We continue to address the horror of abuse, and I will continue to meet with survivors of abuse, hearing and trusting them, and helping our Church be continually converted.’     In the lead up to and during Child Protection Week, the Professional Standards Unit of the Archdiocese will be offering some resources to ensure all of our local parishes and ministries can become places that support children and young people, and their right to be safe and feel safe.....(more)
New Plenary Council Timeline
From Plenary Post 27, Thursday 27 August 2020
With all the date changes that have taken place with the rescheduling of the Plenary assemblies, a new timeline has been developed to help people understand the next couple of years of the Council journey.......Timeline   HERE

Mental health in Australia: Bishops release 2020-21 social justice statement

Extract from Mellbourne Catholic, Catholic Archdioceseof Melbourne, 27 August 2020

‘Our society tends to push away or draw away from those who confront us with our frailties and limitations. This is not the way of Jesus,’ writes Bishop Terry Brady, the Bishop Delegate for Social Justice on the release of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Social Justice Statement for 2020-21, To Live Life to the Full: Mental health in Australia. It was released ahead of Social Justice Sunday, celebrated on 30 August. Given the challenges our country and world are facing due to COVID-19, the issue of mental health is very much front and centre for many people. ‘The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting many members of our parishes, schools and communities,’ Bishop Brady says. ‘Understanding mental health will help us to be aware of those who most need our support.’

Read full Statement HERE

German bishops say talks with Rome on parish document must include laity
Extract from Crux, Catholic News Service, 25 August 2020
Germany — The German bishops plan to seek talks with the Vatican about its instruction on parish reforms in the Catholic Church.      The German Catholic news agency KNA reported the bishops said they want lay Catholics to be involved in the discussion. The bishops’ conference made the announcement after a meeting of its 27-member Permanent Council.      The announcement said the president of the bishops’ conference, Bishop Georg Batzing, would accept an offer for talks recently conveyed by Cardinal Beniamino Stella, head of the Vatican Congregation for Clergy.     Batzing will suggest to the congregation that the discussion be held with the leaders of the synodal path reform project because the Vatican instruction addressed bishops, priests, deacons and laypeople alike, the bishops said.                The synodal path is an effort by the bishops’ conference and Central Committee of German Catholics to restore trust following a September 2018 church-commissioned report that detailed thousands of cases of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy over six decades....(more)
Australia appoints new ambassador to the Holy See
Extract from CathNews, ACBC Media Blog,  25 August 2020
Australia’s bishops have welcomed the appointment of Chiara Porro as the new residential ambassador to the Holy See.            Ms Porro has worked within the Department of Foreign Affairs for most of the past dozen years, including in overseas postings in India and New Caledonia. She has also served in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.       Ms Porro becomes the fourth Rome-based Australian ambassador to the Holy See, following former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer, prominent Sydney barrister John McCarthy QC and career diplomat Melissa Hitchman.       “The Government’s decision to appoint another residential ambassador is welcome and will help consolidate the Australian presence in the offices of the Holy See and in Rome more generally,” said Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.       “Ambassador Porro will bring to the role substantial experience as a career diplomat and also an intimate knowledge of Italian culture and language, which will serve her well.      “The Australian bishops look forward to meeting the new ambassador and working closely with her on matters of mutual concern.”      Ms Porro, in a message on the website of the Australian Embassy to the Holy See, noted several milestones that will take place during her time in Rome.       “During my mandate, we will be celebrating 50 years of Australia-Holy See diplomatic relations – an important milestone, built on the very strong and robust people to people links we share,” she wrote.       “This year we will also celebrate the 10th anniversary of the canonisation of Mary MacKillop, Australia’s first canonised saint and a remarkable woman who encapsulates the true spirit of Australia.”        Ms Porro will present her credentials to Pope Francis on Thursday....(more)    Photo:  Chiara Porro (LinkedIn)
Looking to future governance of our Church
Extract from Frank Brennan, Jesuit priest and human rights lawyer, on the webinar,
Subscription journal, La Croix International, 24 August 2020
During the week, I participated in a Webinar entitled 'The Light from The Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia'. Zoom conferences and webinars are now a common place for those of us enduring pandemic lockdowns.           This Webinar was run out of the offices of a large law firm in Sydney.          The proceedings were chaired by the distinguished Australian broadcaster, Geraldine Doogue. More than 150 committed Catholics tuned in. There was quite a buzz to the proceedings. And most of the time, the technology worked well.         Geraldine introduced the keynote presenter, Francois Kunc, who is a judge of the New South Wales Supreme Court.          He had the unenviable task of providing a 15-minute overview of the 208-page report containing 86 recommendations for improved governance of the Catholic Church in Australia. I was one of nine responders.          The other responders included three of the key authors who were part of the seven-member Governance Review Project Team commissioned to provide this report to the Church's Implementation Advisory Group which had been set up by our bishops after the royal commission.         Another responder was one of the theological advisers to the review team.         The discussion was lively, informed, and respectful. Men and women were at the table in equal numbers. Appropriately, the laity heavily outnumbered the clergy.        But something wasn't quite right.        There was no bishop on the panel. We were told that invitations had been extended, but to no avail. Like most things in the Church, there's probably a back story.        But I was left thinking that a discussion about co-responsible governance in the Catholic Church could well do with a couple of bishops at the table.        Most of us who spoke would have been in our 60s. When looking to future governance of our church, it's probably best to start as we'd want to finish. If co-responsibility is to work, bishops and young people will need to be at the table......(more)
Pope Francis has questions: Most popes have answers
Extract from Bishop Peter Cullinane, Bishop Emeritus, Diocese of Palmerston North, CathNews NZ, 24 August 2020
.........Some of Pope Francis’ critics like to contrast him with Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. But they conveniently overlook that Pope Francis is building on what Pope St John Paul II had already taught.          It was John Paul who said “the Church’s teaching authority is at the service of conscience”; in other words, it upholds the sovereignty of conscience, it doesn’t render conscience superfluous.               It was also Pope John Paul II who taught what he called “the law of gradualness”; this means recognizing that people’s ability to fully comply with the moral law develops gradually; for some faster, for some more slowly.         This is why Pope Francis often speaks of taking people where they “are at” – not starting from where they should be, but from where they are – and accompanying them on the journey to where they should be.      And while on the journey, they are not sinning if they doing the best they can for now, and praying for better.       So when Pope Francis asks whether Eucharist is for people not yet fully complying with the moral law – who would if they could – he is not questioning the Church’s teaching, but simply taking account of gradualness in their ability to comply fully, and asking whether Eucharist is only for those who already comply fully, or also for those who are trying to get there.       It is rather Pope Francis’ critics who question, and even reject, Church teachings – especially people who are protecting their own business or ideological interests.       Some of them even say: ‘the Church’s job is to save souls; people’s social and economic lives are none of the Church’s business’.        Here too, Pope Francis’ teaching is in line with the teaching of his predecessors.       His critics are also very selective in what they accept from the social encyclicals of Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI.  Perhaps it is the gospel itself that they need to look at more closely.      When it comes to the tone of their criticisms, sadly, the bitterness, divisiveness, deceptiveness and scapegoating are all tell-tale signs that their agenda are not from the Holy Spirit.       There is another spirit at work. The same gospel we heard says the gates of the underworld will not prevail.  But they will try!      Take this as a sure guide:  wherever evil is at work, sooner or later it over-reaches, can’t hide its ugly face, and discredits itself.        That’s why Pope Francis doesn’t always bother to respond to his critics.  But he prays for them.         Many are good people, sometimes troubled people, but people in need of compassion. ...(more)
They're nice to have, but we don't need churches
The coronavirus pandemic has forced limits upon Christians' ability to gather in churches to pray and celebrate liturgy
Extract from Fr William Grimm, CathNews NZ, UCA News, 24 August 2020
Just as Christians in the 21st century are heirs of the apostles and martyrs of the early Church, Christians in Japan are heirs of the martyrs and hidden Christians of that country from the early 17th century to the late 19th century.         That is true whether we modern believers are Japanese or not, Catholic Christians or not. The Church within which we live and worship endured persecution so recent that I know a woman whose grandfather died a martyr.        The rest of her family — parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews — was wiped out on Aug. 9, 1945, when the atomic bomb exploded over the Catholic neighbourhood of Nagasaki. She was the only member of the family out of town that day.       During the centuries of persecution, Christians in Japan had no church buildings, no clergy, no religious, no Masses, no religious institutions, no diocesan structures, and no contact with the rest of the Church in the country or outside.        What they did have was each other and a commitment to maintain as well as they could the faith that was passed on to them and to pass it on to the next generations even at the risk of their lives.      They were poor, oppressed and lived in perpetual danger, but they prayed and shared their ability to help one another in need. In many ways, it was the Golden Age of Christianity in Japan.        Those Japanese Christians knew that church is not someplace to go, but something to be, something to do.        The coronavirus pandemic is an opportunity to learn or relearn that today....... But God is still with us whether we are in a cross-decorated building or not. The real issue is, are we with God?......(more)
Image: Twenty Six Martyrs of Japan  crucified 1597 in Nagasaki UCA News 20200824
Church Governance
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Media Release, Saturday 22 August 2020

One of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was that the Catholic Church in Australia conduct a review of diocesan and parish governance and management. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia accepted that recommendation and the Implementation Advisory Group was tasked with conducting and presenting that review.

The Implementation Advisory Group established the Governance Review Project Team to lead the review. The GRPT presented a version of the report to the Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia in May 2020. That version, which was not the final version, was leaked and published.

That version was subsequently amended, making a number of corrections and clarifications. The final version of the report, entitled The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia, was presented to the Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia in mid-August 2020. The report was published online on August 21, 2020, along with an accompanying Reading Guide.

Click here to access a Reading Guide, which people are encouraged to read before the report.

Click here to access The Light from the Southern Cross.

Click here to read a joint media release from the Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia.

ACT ‘shows the way’ on child detention
Extract from CathNews, Jesuit Social Services, 21 August 2020
Jesuit Social Services says the ACT has paved the way for other jurisdictions to provide age-appropriate responses to children in trouble, with the Legislative Assembly voting yesterday to raise the age of legal responsibility from 10 to 14.         It is the first state or territory to commit to changing its laws to ensure primary school-aged children are not incarcerated, after the Council of Attorneys-General decided last month to defer recommendations about the issue.        Jesuit Social Services chief executive Julie Edwards said the decision will improve outcomes for children, their families and the broader community.          “By locking up children as young as 10, Australian states and territories have long been out of touch with international standards and acted against recommendations by the United Nations,” Ms Edwards said.        “This is despite a wealth of evidence from Australia and abroad showing that children under 14 years do not possess the neurological maturity to form criminal intent.                “We also know that many children who have contact with the justice system are victims of trauma, abuse and mental illness. Instead of incarcerating them, we need to be supporting them in the community, connecting them with family and school, and helping them get their lives back on track.”          Ms Edwards said the ACT’s decision must be the impetus for other states and territories to take similar action.       “Primary school-aged children belong in the classroom, not in prison. Other states and territories must look at the leadership shown by the ACT today and commit to helping, not harming, vulnerable children,” she said......(more)   Photo: age of criminal responsibility Bigstock CathNews 20200821
Scripture and papal leadership inspire retreat for creation
Extract from Media Blog, ACBC, 21 August 2020
Catholics in Australia are being encouraged to participate in a first-of-its-kind week-long retreat in preparation for the ecumenical celebration of the World Day of Prayer for Creation on September 1.            The “7 Days of Creation Reflection-Retreat” has been prepared by Columban priest Fr Charles Rue, whose ministry has for many years had a focus on the Catholic understanding of care for the environment.           Fr Rue said the retreat is inspired by the leadership of recent popes, who have proclaimed the message of caring for God’s creation.       “Pope John Paul II in 1990 named environmental care as integral to Catholic faith and named St Francis of Assisi as the patron of ecological conversion,” he noted.        “Pope Benedict XVI reinforced this Catholic vocation. Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ detailed the call to See, Judge, Act on care for our common home. Hear the twin cry of the poor and the cry of the earth.       “For the Church in Australia, the establishment of Catholic Earthcare back in 2003 was an important initiative and one that has helped foster a broader understanding of this issue across the country.”       Fr Rue said the retreat was designed to lead people up to the World Day of Prayer for Creation, so they are encouraged to start it on Tuesday, August 25. However, it could be prayed at any time during the September “Season of Creation”, which runs from September 1 until St Francis’ feast day on October 4.....(more)
Pope Francis has promised to pray for a nun and the transgender women the nun is helping.
Extract from CathNews NZ, 20 August 2020
Discalced Carmelite nun Mónica Astorga Cremona wrote to Pope Francis telling him about the inauguration of a new housing complex she has established to help transgender women living in poverty.           The new 12-studio apartment complex in Neuquén, Argentina, is part of a permanent housing solution for about twelve people between the ages of 40-70.          The pope, who is an old friend of Cremona, replied to her letter saying “God who did not go to the seminary or study theology will repay you abundantly” for the work you have done.          He told her he is praying for her and the transgender women she is assisting, adding, “Don’t forget to pray for me. May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin guide you.”....(more) CathNews NZ 20200820
The Polding House Push and The Catholic Weekly Bugle.
Extract from David Timbs, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue website, 20 August 2020
Over the past year in particular, Australian Catholics have become convinced that their bishops, with some exceptions, are playing games with them in the lead up to the national Plenary Council which is now scheduled to start in October 2021. Some believe, not unreasonably, that important stages in the process have been closely micro managed and that the outcomes of the Plenary may have been determined already.        Australian Catholics have also expressed concern that their measured, but serious and theologically sound calls for systemic reform and renewal in the Church have been dumbed down, trivialized and even ignored. As time passes, they are becoming convinced that their bishops have not really listened to them, that they are being given the run around, and that they are not being taken seriously.         So far, few bishops have spoken publicly, clearly, and in detail about what kind of substantive reform and renewal they want the Plenary Council to achieve. One obvious reason is because they are hopelessly divided. They show no united leadership, and little by way of common vision, except to maintain ‘business as usual’. Collectively, Australia’s bishops, like the institution they have been appointed to lead, are drifting, with little real sense of mission. You could even say they have lost their way. Furthermore, according to the Bishops Conference president Mark Coleridge, their credibility has been ‘shot to pieces’....(more) 
Ireland, More new bishops than priests to be ordained this year amid vocations crisis
Extract from Sarah McDonald,  Independent, Ireland, 18 August 2020
Statement of the Pastors’ Initiative Austria on the “Instruction on the Pastoral Conversion of Parishes at the Service of missionary mission of the Church”.          Association of Catholic Priests, Ireland, 13 August 2020            The Instruction offers only a rudimentary analysis of the changed social and church situation, in order then to demand canonical regulations, which already at the time of their adoption 40 years ago were no longer up to date and in part have lagged behind Vatican II. With missionary zeal it is underlined that parish councils only have an advisory function, that all unordained persons are forbidden to preach during the celebration of Mass and a collegial leadership of priests and laypersons is forbidden.        If we were to lead our parishes with this exhorted monarchical clericalism we would be losing those Christians who are jointly responsible and who are the salt and the light of a parish that is turned towards the people. The Instruction conjures up a situation in which bishops and priests, out of pastoral need, are driven to “insubordination”. So the letter is based on not taking the situation seriously and dividing the bishops, priests and parishes.      The great illusion of the Instruction is to think that the Church can speak of a missionary approach today, without, as church leadership themselves accepting the fundamental values of modern society and of the Gospel, such as participation and the equal dignity of every person to realise themselves. (cf. Letter to the Galatians 3:26: For all of you through faith are sons and daughters of God in Christ Jesus). We also see that through the exaltation of the priesthood that God, Jesus Christ and the work of the Spirit are pushed out of the centre of church life......(more)
New Zealand women support Anne Soupa's petition to become Archbishop of Lyon
Their mission is to promote the inclusion of women in leadership of the Catholic Church
Extract from La Croix International staff  (with CathNews New Zealand)  New Zealand. 14 August 2020
Several New Zealand women have signed a 17,000+ person petition joining Anne Soupa's campaign to become the next Archbishop of Lyon.     Calling themselves 'Be the Change', the group of men and women say their mission is to promote the inclusion of women in leadership of the Catholic Church.        "As a sign of our support for Soupa, we are delighted to put our names to a global petition supporting Soupa's campaign," Jo Ayers of 'Be the Change' told CathNews.       As well as signing the petition, the group also wrote to Soupa.       "We are delighted to learn that you have applied for the position of Archbishop of Lyon. We think you would be an Archbishop with a fresh approach," 'Be the Change' wrote.      "If canon law does not allow a woman Archbishop, we support changes to canon law."       "We feel you have the knowledge and experience to become Archbishop of Lyon," they wrote.       'Be the Change' was delighted to receive a prompt response from Soupa.       "I have not embarked on this enterprise in a spirit of provocation, but to offer my hand to a Church which is imprisoned in a false sense of loyalty to the past.       "I wish candidates would stand all over the place, to show that women are there, ready and able, with a faith in their hearts that would move mountains," wrote Soupa.       The 73-year-old journalist and biblical scholar, one of France's best known activists for a greater role for women in the Catholic Church, sent a letter to the papal nuncio in Paris on May 25 stating her desire to head the ancient diocese.       She included a detailed cover letter and her curriculum vitae......(more) Photo: Anne Soupa  Corinne Simon CIRIC La Croix Int 20200814
German-speaking bishops criticise Vatican parish instruction
Posted by Enda on Catholica from Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, from The Tablet, 15 Auust 2020
The Vatican instruction, The pastoral conversion of the parish community in the service of the evangelising mission of the Church, of 20 July continues to be hotly debated in the German-speaking countries.         In Switzerland, it has been sharply criticised by the Bishop of Basel, Felix Gmür: “That the Vatican sees the parish solely concentrated on the parish priest does not reflect our reality. It is, moreover, a theologically deficient and too constricted a view,” Gmür wrote in a letter to church employees in his diocese. The Vatican Instruction left the “stale impression” that in the final instance the Vatican was only interested in the “predominance of the clergy”.    Parishes would continue to be led by leadership teams in his diocese and lay leaders would continue to be addressed as such, Gmür underlined. Parish communities had to be organised democratically in Switzerland, moreover, he recalled, otherwise they were not publicly recognised by the state.              As bishop I will not allow myself to be paralysed or blocked by these restrictive orders as much of the instruction is pretty far removed from reality,” Bishop Gerhard Feige of Magdeburg in former eastern Germany emphasised. “This is particularly so in our extreme diaspora situation, a situation which Rome obviously has not the vaguest idea about, as there are no positive solutions whatsoever for the drastic shortage of priests in the instruction,” Feige wrote in his letter to the faithful....(Catholica source)
Vatican finances must run with integrity, says new council member
Extract from Christopher Lamb, The Tablet, 14 August 2020
Pope Francis recently broke a Vatican glass ceiling by appointing six women to serve on the board overseeing the Holy See’s finances.       Reforming the chaotic, and sometimes opaque, money management practices of the Vatican has been a priority for the Francis pontificate, but one that has been hampered by infighting, resistance to change and suspect transactions.       Among those chosen to sit on the Holy See’s Council for the Economy is Leslie Ferrar, a business leader with formidable experience and someone who, crucially, shares the Pope’s desire to ensure the Holy See’s finances are handled with honesty and transparency.        In an interview with The Tablet, Ms Ferrar says the route to credibility will be found through integrity, transparency, and a clear set of values that everyone can operate under. She offers a simple test.       “If you were talking to a judge in court would you be able to explain what you had done and not be embarrassed?” she tells me.       The same rule can be adapted to a Church setting.        “Is what you are doing a sin? If it’s a sin then you shouldn’t be doing it. I think helping people understand what a sin is, rather than it just being okay…is what we need to do,” the new council member explains.        Ms Ferrar spent almost 30 years as a partner at KPMG, one of the “big four” accounting firms, before becoming treasurer to the Prince of Wales. She holds a series of non-executive posts including as a member of the audit and risk committee at HMRC, the UK tax authority.....(more)  Photo: Pope apppoints 6 women to Vatican Council for Economy Vatican Media CPP IPA Niklestome Media PA Inages The Tablet 20200814
New Zealand women support Anne Soupa's petition to become Archbishop of Lyon
Their mission is to promote the inclusion of women in leadership of the Catholic Church
Extract from La Croix International staff and (with CathNews New Zealand)  New Zealand. 14 August 14, 2020
Several New Zealand women have signed a 17,000+ person petition joining Anne Soupa's campaign to become the next Archbishop of Lyon.     Calling themselves 'Be the Change', the group of men and women say their mission is to promote the inclusion of women in leadership of the Catholic Church.        "As a sign of our support for Soupa, we are delighted to put our names to a global petition supporting Soupa's campaign," Jo Ayers of 'Be the Change' told CathNews.       As well as signing the petition, the group also wrote to Soupa.       "We are delighted to learn that you have applied for the position of Archbishop of Lyon. We think you would be an Archbishop with a fresh approach," 'Be the Change' wrote.      "If canon law does not allow a woman Archbishop, we support changes to canon law."       "We feel you have the knowledge and experience to become Archbishop of Lyon," they wrote.       'Be the Change' was delighted to receive a prompt response from Soupa.       "I have not embarked on this enterprise in a spirit of provocation, but to offer my hand to a Church which is imprisoned in a false sense of loyalty to the past.       "I wish candidates would stand all over the place, to show that women are there, ready and able, with a faith in their hearts that would move mountains," wrote Soupa.       The 73-year-old journalist and biblical scholar, one of France's best known activists for a greater role for women in the Catholic Church, sent a letter to the papal nuncio in Paris on May 25 stating her desire to head the ancient diocese.       She included a detailed cover letter and her curriculum vitae......(more) Photo: Anne Soupa  Corinne Simon CIRIC La Croix Int 20200814
Bishops worry about looming mental health crisis
Edited Extract from Mark Bowling, The Tablet,  CathNews NZ, 13 August 2020
Australia’s Catholic bishops have identified a looming mental health crisis as their priority social justice focus this year.        During the past year Australian’s resilience has been tested with the country coping with droughts and deadly bushfires followed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the uncertainty that goes with it.          “People experiencing mental ill-health are not some ‘other’ people, they are ‘us’,” Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president and Brisbane Archbishop, Mark Coleridge says.        In the foreword to the bishops’ 2020-21 social justice statement, To Live Life to the Full: Mental Health in Australia Today, Coleridge writes: “People in our families, faith communities, workplaces and society are suffering mental ill-health – and they can be of any age or socioeconomic background.”     “It is surely time for us to make mental health a real priority, so that all people may know the fullness of life which Jesus offers (John 10:10).”    Australia’s recent bushfires were implicated in over 400 deaths. They displaced entire small towns, and destroyed homes and businesses.      Their impact that has caused “environmental-related anxieties,” and “led to resignation and loss of hope”,,the bishops’ statement says, noting:    Suicide rates in rural and remote communities are 66 per cent higher than in major cities.      The greater frequency and intensity of weather-related disasters amplify the impact climate change is having on mental health.        The Covid-19 pandemic makes us recognise our vulnerability and we realise that we are not in control;  Our daily routines have been disrupted;  Over a million people have lost their jobs or been stood down;   Our workplaces and churches have been closed;    We have been forced to isolate ourselves from others;    Many people will be distressed or relive previous trauma through the impact the virus is having in their lives...(more)   Photo: ACSJC Social Justice statement 2020 CathNews NZ 20200813
Sr. Elise García is a bridge for sisters, younger and older, as she assumes LCWR presidency
Extract from by Soli Salgado, Global Sosters Report, 13 August 2020
Before she surprised everyone, including herself, by becoming a sister at age 50, Elise García lived a life that, in one sense, closely resembled that of a sister: She was engaged in social justice issues, advocacy and nonprofits and had a keen lifelong concern for the fate of the planet.        But organized religion had been peripheral in her life, as her spirituality in adulthood was more grounded in nature and the cosmos. It wasn't until she met Adrian Dominican sisters in her social justice circles in the 1990s that she began to follow a mysterious call to Catholicism and religious life.        Now, García, 70, is the president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the national organization that represents 80% of women religious in the United States. In the triumvirate presidency, she is joined by past-president Sr. Jayne Helmlinger, a Sister of St. Joseph of Orange, California, and new president-elect Sr. Jane Herb of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Monroe, Michigan, who was elected June 29, ahead of LCWR's annual assembly, held virtually Aug. 12-14.         Today, LCWR leadership overlooks an increasingly multicultural religious landscape. Younger sisters, though fewer in number, are more diverse, equipped and enthusiastic about the potential of their global sisterhood.....(more) Sr Elise García global sisters report 20200813
Online Mass brings Maree back to church
Extract from CathNews, 13 August 2020
Maree Hyde was used to life without Sunday Mass until a comment she read on Facebook four months ago turned her into an almost daily virtual Massgoer. Source: The Catholic Leader.        Ms Hyde’s mum, a member of the Caloundra parish, had left a comment on the community’s live-streamed Mass, which the parish has offered on its Facebook page since March 19.          “Mum had commented on their church online Mass, and I thought it’d be interesting for me to watch it,” Miss Hyde said. “I started watching it almost every day.”          The 40-year-old said she had been to the Caloundra parish once before with her parents, but had not been to regular Sunday Mass for nearly eight years. She said she did not have transport to get to Mass.           “I went to church until I was in my teens and stopped going … not that I think I stopped believing in God, it’s just that I wasn’t going to church.”        Ms Hyde said the daily readings and homilies from the parish’s four priests helped her rediscover her faith.         “With the online Masses I started to form a stronger spiritual connection,” she said.           “Even though I’m not really there and we do spiritual communion, it still feels like I’m attending. “So I said to my dad, ‘I couldn’t go to church but church found me through online Mass’.”....(more)
Bolivia’s bishops offer to mediate destabilizing political crisis as pandemic worsens
Extract from Inés San Martín, Rome bureay Chief, Crux, 12 August 2020
Bolivia’s bishops offer to mediate destabilizing political crisis as pandemic worsens.       
ROSARIO, Argentina — Bolivia’s Catholic bishops have once again offered themselves as mediators in the country’s ongoing clash between the government and sectors of society who still support former president Evo Morales.       Protestors have blocked several main roads in the South American country, heavily affecting transport.       In a statement released on Monday, the bishops of Bolivia say that, “seeing the grave social conflicts and health crisis” the country is going through, they offer themselves to once again “facilitate dialogue where it’s needed.”       "The life of human beings has an absolute value, that must never be used to achieve any other objective,” write the bishops, who said the use of the ongoing crisis due to the global pandemic of COVID-19 coronavirus to “destabilize the institutions of the country” is “irrational” and “immoral.”....(more)    Photo: Bolivia Demonstration coronavirus pandemic David Mercado Reuters via CNS Crux 20200812
Keeping VMCH (Villa Maria Catholic Homes) disability group home residents connected
Extract from Melbourne Catholic, Wednesday 12 August 2020
Life in isolation is difficult for all of us. Being physically separated from the people we love is heartbreaking. We hear a lot about older people in aged care and how they’re coping, but how are people in other support services faring?        VMCH provides 14 Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) homes across Melbourne for adults with disabilities who can live independently, with some support.             SDA, or group home, residents are used to getting out and about in the community doing activities they love, enjoying visits from friends and family, and working at their various places of employment. But with much of that now on hold, VMCH support teams are thinking outside the square and making an extra effort to keep residents feeling safe, comfortable and connected.         The use of PPE including face masks and shields is vital but it can be confronting, particularly for people with intellectual disabilities. Staff have created video clips explaining why masks are being used to allay any fears, educating residents in fun ways about hand hygiene and social distancing, and making an effort to turn off the news when the doom and gloom of COVID-19 causes stress.      One of the biggest efforts has been keeping life fun in lockdown. Birthday celebrations and other milestones have become even bigger affairs with festive treats, decorations and families invited to join via Skype. In-house discos, restaurants and bowls sessions have kept everyone entertained, and Netflix has been installed to give residents more viewing options. Staff and volunteers from other VMCH sites have also made craft packs for residents to get creative.      When Cheltenham SDA team leader Heidi noticed residents were becoming anxious about rising COVID-19 cases, she decided to arrange a dance-off to ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’ on video sharing app TikTok – which lifted everyone’s spirits......(More)
Autistic representation and Love on the Spectrum
Extract from Alex Creece, Eureka Street,  11 August 2020
Since ABC’s Love on the Spectrum first aired last year, it’s been personally recommended to me six times. Eventually, I watched it. Or at least, I watched as much as it took to realise that this program isn’t for me. It’s for gawking at people like me.       It’s now hosted on Netflix, I’ve completed a full binge-watch for good measure, and the point still stands.      With all its good intentions and charming participants, Love on the Spectrum is for the neurotypical eye. Just like The Undateables, a similar show from the UK, it takes the inner machinations of disabled lives and creates entertainment for non-disabled viewers. Autistic representation on television is rare, which makes it all the more alienating when these few depictions exist purely for everyone else’s warm-n-fuzzies.      This is an inherent problem with disability dating shows. Most other dating shows are advertised as sexy and salacious. By contrast, our attempts at love are ‘adorable‘.        When autistic people are only seen as something cutesy, something to foster laughs through our wins and losses, it relegates us to this role. Viewers absorb the idea that they are entitled to satisfy their curiosity about our personal lives, even if the reality is far from cute. It’s the same human zoo quality that leads to unsolicited comments such as, ‘what’s your special interest?’, ‘I bet you’re great with computers’, ‘what textures do you like?’, and ‘school must’ve been rough, huh?’ when I’m visiting the doctor… for an ear infection.           Despite the autistic community’s push for self-advocacy, Love on the Spectrum plays into the typical power dynamic wherein non-autistic people frame our narratives, produce our interactions, and act as our mentors.....(more)   Photo:  Thomas Barwick Getty Images Eureka Street 11 August 2020)
Women priests are possible, says new Vatican finance council member
Extract from Katholische Nachrichten-Agentur, National Catholic Reporter, 10 Aug 2020
BONN, Germany — Law professor Charlotte Kreuter-Kirchhof, recently appointed by Pope Francis as a member of the high-level group that oversees the Vatican's finances, said Aug. 10 that she regards it possible that women could serve as priests in the Catholic Church and in top roles within the Vatican bureaucracy.        "In my view very much is possible in this area," she told catholic website in an interview. "But there are heated debates going on in the church about this at the moment."       A Duesseldorf-based professor, Kreuter-Kirchhof is one of six women that Francis named as members of the Vatican's Council for the Economy on Aug. 6. Francis created the group in 2014 to supervise the financial activities of both the Vatican city-state and the offices of the Holy See.           The council had previously included solely men.       Kreuter-Kirchhof, who is also chairwoman of the Hildegardis Association, which supports women in academic education and job training, said in the interview she saw encouraging signs of women's leadership in the German church.      "In many dioceses women are taking on central leadership tasks and making a substantial contribution to the future viability of our church," she said.       Kreuter-Kirchhof described the new appointment to the Council for the Economy as a "clear sign of the desired cooperation between bishops, priests and laypeople and of the cooperation between men and women." The council membership reflects a togetherness that is preparing the church for the future, she said.........(more)
Hiroshima atomic bomb memories still fresh for Japanese war bride of WWII digger
Extract from ABC News, 7 August 2020
Takako Watts remembers washing her newborn sister's nappies in Kure hospital when suddenly the windows smashed.        The then-12-year-old came to learn it was caused by the shockwave from the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, 20 kilometres away.         Although it happened 75 years ago, Ms Watts, who is now known as Cherry and lives in Murwillumbah in northern NSW, remembers as if it was yesterday.           "I started seeing all these people with burns coming into the hospital. I thought it was the end of the world," she said.        She remembers leaving the hospital with her mother and sister and seeing the devastation from the bomb.         "All the buildings were smashed to the ground with dead bodies underneath and a massive fire was burning throughout the city.           "We could smell the burning of flesh for days. It was horrible."       Before World War II, Ms Watts had lived a happy childhood; her parents were wealthy and had provided a stable environment for their children.       But that came to an abrupt end.      Kure, Japan's largest naval base and arsenal at the time, was constantly attacked by American bombers, with the family taking refuge in the side of a mountain where caves had been built.         "It was scary being in the cave at night because it was so dark. I would constantly pray to God to stop the war," Ms Watts said......(more) Photo: Takako (Cherry) married Bill Watts before settling in NSW  (Supplied) ABC News 20200807
Pope sends special message to the people of Japan
Extract from CathNews, Vatican News, 7 August 2020
Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the people of Japan yesterday to mark the 75th anniversary yesterday of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima.          In a message sent to the Governor of the Hiroshima Prefecture, Hidehiko Yusaki, the Pope offered his “cordial greetings to the organisers and participants in the seventy-fifth solemn anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, and in a special way to the hibakusha survivors of the original tragedy”.          The Pope also recalled that he was able to reflect on “the destruction of human life and property” at the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima and at Hypocentre Park in Nagasaki during his Apostolic Visit to the two cities in November 2019.        Recalling his message at Hiroshima, Pope Francis said that “the use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral”.           In Australia, a coalition of religious organisations and faith groups have signed an open letter in support of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, according to the Missionary Sisters of Service website.       The open letter was organised by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons to mark the 75th anniversary of the bombings.        Among the many Catholic signatories to the letter were Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Stancea Vichie of the Missionary Sisters of Service, Sr Monica Cavanagh of the Sisters of Saint Joseph and Br Peter Carroll of Catholic Religious Australia......(more)    Photo: Pope Francis at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial in 2019 (CNS/Paul Haring)
Catholics for Renewal endorses Columban Call for Abolition of Nuclear Weapons
Media Release, Catholics for Renewal,  6 August 2020
Thursday 6th August and Sunday 9 August 2020 mark the 75th anniversary of the bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic weapons. The destruction of human life and dwellings was horrific. Pope Francis, on his visit to both cities in 2019, pleaded for the world to understand that “the possession of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction is not the answer to the longings of the human heart for security, peace and stability”.               In its submission to the Plenary Council, Catholics for Renewal identified the ‘nuclear threat’ as one of the most significant signs of the times. The Catholic Church in Australia has not made a clear, forceful and principled statement on the elimination of nuclear weapons since 1985.             On 3 August the Society of St Columban, whose missionary members have been working in Japan since 1948, just three years after the atomic attack, published a powerful and prophetic Message of Peace and Nonviolence calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons, their production, possession, testing and use. Catholics for Renewal unequivocally endorses this message which we re-publish below.               We also pray that the hierarchy and forthcoming Plenary Council of the Catholic Church in Australia will speak to our nation and its leaders with clarity and wisdom urging a total ban on the development, possession and use of nuclear weapons here and throughout the world.           "Columban Message of Peace and Nonviolence -  On the 75th anniversary of the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki"    HERE                    Photo: J Costa, Hiroshima 2015 
Pope Francis appoints 6 women (and a U.S. cardinal) to Vatican economic council
Extract from Gerard O’Connell America - The Jesuit Review, 6 August 2020
Pope Francis has appointed seven highly qualified lay persons—six of them women—and six cardinals, including Joseph Tobin of Newark, N.J., to the board of the Vatican’s Council for the Economy.        The pope first established the Council for the Economy together with the Secretariat for the Economy on Feb. 24, 2014, when he issued the decree, “Fidelis dispensator et Prudens” (“Faithful and prudent administrator”), which created a new coordinating agency for the economic and administrative affairs of the Holy See and the Vatican City State.        He then tasked the council with “oversight for the administrative and financial structures and activities of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, the institutions linked to the Holy See, and the Vatican City State.” The council was to be composed of 15 members, eight chosen from among the cardinals and bishops to reflect the universality of the church and seven “lay experts of various nationalities with recognized professional financial competence.” He appointed Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Germany as coordinator of the council, and he retains that position.         Pope Francis has appointed six cardinals, including Joseph Tobin of Newark, N.J., and seven highly qualified lay persons—six of them women—to the board of the Vatican’s Council for the Economy.          Today the pope renewed the membership of the council by appointing six cardinals for the full five-year term: Péter Erdő (Hungary), Odilo Pedro Scherer (Brazil), Gérald Cyprien Lacroix (Canada), Joseph William Tobin (Newark), Anders Arborelius (Sweden) and Giuseppe Petrocchi (Italy). He has retained Cardinal Wilfrid Napier Fox (now 79), who was a member of the council during the past five-year term, for one more year. (Cardinals have to retire from all offices on reaching the age of 80.)        It is significant, however, that Pope Francis has appointed six lay women to the council and only one lay man. It is a further indication of his determination to give more responsibility to women in the Vatican in positions that do not require ordination. There was no woman on the council during the past five-year term.   All of the women are Europeans: two each from Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom. They all have first-class credentials and distinguished careers, as evidenced by the brief biographical notes provided by the Vatican when it announced the new membership of the council on Aug. 6. .....(more)
Pope Francis appoints new Bishop of Port Pirie
Extract from  Media Release, Gavin Abraham, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, 1 August 2020
Pope Francis has this evening appointed Fr Karol Kulczycki SDS, the former head of the Salvatorians in Australia, as the new bishop of the Diocese of Port Pirie in regional South Australia.         Fr Kulczycki was born in Poland in 1966, ordained to the priesthood in Trzebinia in 1994 and is currently based in Poland. He spent 21 years serving the Church in Western Australia, including in parish ministry, as vocations director and as a college chaplain. In February 2018, while still serving in Australia, Fr Kulczycki was elected vice-provincial of the Polish province of the Society of the Divine Saviour – widely known as the Salvatorians.           Two-and-a-half years on, Pope Francis has appointed him Bishop of Port Pirie. “Just a few weeks ago I had an interview for our Salvatorian newsletter and was asked how and where I see myself in 10 or 20 years. I replied that I would be where God sent me. I did not expect that God would act so quickly in my life,” Fr Kulczycki said. “God is working in mysterious ways in my life. Firstly, calling me unexpectedly to religious and priestly life; secondly, directing my heart to serve him in Australia and now serving him and his people in Port Pirie Diocese.”                Fr Kulczycki will become the 12th Bishop of Port Pirie – including the bishops who led what was from 1887 until 1951 the Diocese of Port Augusta. He succeeds Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ, who has been Bishop of Port Pirie since 2009. Bishop O’Kelly also served as apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Adelaide for almost two years.......(more)
Reflections on sixty years as a priest .
Layout-edited extract from Eric Hodgens, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue Website, 31 July 2020
The more reflective component of the Church is crying out for imaginative leadership on the ministry crisis and institutional re-organisation. But episcopal conferences seem paralysed.      Ordained in 1960 my major anniversaries synced with the decades. I published a Golden Anniversary Reflection in 2010.               It characterised the decades as: *The awakening 60s;  *The exciting 70s;  *The suspicious 80s;    *The depressing 90s and    *The imploding noughties.      Now at my diamond anniversary I have added      *the Counter-intuitive Teens.         This decade has been notable for unexpected disruptions and reversals both good and bad but all remarkable.           First there was the election of Pope Francis. This brought a reversal of the 45 years of Restorationist policy under JPII and Benedict. Francis brought a pastoral mind and style of conversation which broke the formal kabuki-style image of the papacy.   People heard the Jesus message in story and image as Jesus told it. Francis wanted to replace a self-referential church with one that looked outward and dealt with reality as it is. His vision was to replace a juridical institution with a pastoral community of service. His way to get there was synodal – with everyone equally walking the Way together.          This disrupted the whole Roman administration and the episcopacy around the world. They were the pope’s pretorian guard – but now, the pope wanted them to change tack. Some were delighted. More were alarmed. The culture wars had been going on for decades, but now the leaders of the right swung into action with passive and overt resistance. Francis, though less familiar with Vatican politics, was the experienced veteran of South American intrigue. He skilfully made progress against opposing winds and gradually built up his own team. The opposition continues but Francis, following his own mantras, is still ahead.         After years in pastoral leadership and administration, he had developed four rules of thumb:  *Unity is more important than conflict.   *The whole is more important than the part.   * Time is more important than space – gently, gently.        *Reality is more important than the idea.        He is not an ideologue. Pastoral experience has softened rigidity and dogmatism. He has no time for the hard right, nor for the hard left. Reality is more important than the idea. Restorationism is over.....(MORE)
Working Document Next Step on Plenary Council Journey
Extract from Gavin Abraham, Media release, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, 30 July 2020
The working document – or instrumentum laboris – for the Plenary Council will provide a constant reminder of the need for deep and ongoing discernment of God’s will for the Church, the Council’s president has said.     Work recently began on the development of the instrumentum laboris, with the document drawing heavily on the first two preparatory phases of the Council journey: Listening and Dialogue and Listening and Discernment.      The voices of more than 220,000 people across the country, as well as discernment and writing papers on each of the six National Themes for Discernment, are being considered alongside Church teaching, Scripture, papal documents and a range of other sources – within and beyond the Church –  in preparing the instrumentum laboris.     Plenary Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB pointed to a national review of parish and diocesan governance, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the COVID-19 pandemic as some of those sources.......(MORE)
New Closing the Gap deal ‘to move country in new direction’
Extract from CathNews, ABC News, 30 July 2020
Australia will commit to reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rates, suicides and child removals under a historic Closing the Gap agreement to be unveiled by the Prime Minister today.           All state and territory governments have signed up to 16 targets as part of the national agreement, which Indigenous groups say will “move the country in a new direction” to substantially improve life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.       The deal follows years of failure to meet most of the previous Closing the Gap targets, set in 2008. But Indigenous organisations say their direct involvement in negotiating and implementing the new agreement should prove a key difference this time around.     The ABC understands the new agreement will also aim to move hundreds of Indigenous adults and children out of prison within a decade.....(more)  CathNews 20200730 Bigstock
Nuns, priests, bishops protest Duterte government
State of the Nation address provides opportunity for visibility of dissent
Extract from Ma. Ceres P. Doyo, Global Sisters Report, 28 Jul 2020
Manila, Philippines — Nuns, priests and bishops in the Philippines issued protest calls in the run up to and during President Rodrigo Duterte's fifth State of the Nation address, delivered July 27 at the House of Representatives in Quezon City, Metro Manila.       Despite warnings about the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, nuns wearing face masks and face shields joined morning protest activities on University Avenue at the main campus of the University of the Philippines in Quezon City. The stretch branches off from the 18-lane Commonwealth Avenue that leads to the House of Representatives building, which was off-limits to the public. The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported a crowd of about 2,000.       To make their presence known, nuns wearing face masks and face shields carried the streamer of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP). Elsewhere in Metro Manila, other groups of nuns staged their own protests. The Missionary Benedictine Sisters who run St. Scholastica's College in the City of Manila went out to the streets to stage a short program......(MORE)
AOC the future of the Catholic Church
Extract from Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter, 27 July 2020
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's stunning speech on the House floor last week has been called "a comeback for the ages," "the most important feminist speech in a generation" and "a lesson in sexism and decency."     I just call it "truth."       Responding to an incident on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in which Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida verbally assaulted her — including calling her a "f---ing bitch" — Ocasio-Cortez noted that "this is not new, and that is the problem."       "This issue is not about one incident," she said. "It is cultural. It is a culture of lack of impunity, of accepting of violence and violent language against women, and an entire structure of power that supports that."        As I listened to her 10-minute address on the House floor, I was struck by how often it referenced Catholic values.        Ocasio-Cortez repeatedly railed against the "dehumanizing" of others and instead called for treating people with dignity and respect. These are themes often repeated by Pope Francis, who has  specifically cautioned about gossip and urged the use of respectful language, saying "it is possible to kill someone with the tongue."       The Democratic congresswoman who represents New York's 14th District also universalized the need to treat all people with dignity and respect, noting that Yoho's behavior gave "permission to other men to do that to his daughters."       "I'm here to say that is not acceptable," she said.......(More)
Poland to quit treaty on violence against women, minister says
Extract from Reuters, The Age, 26 July 2020
Warsaw: Poland will take steps next week to withdraw from a European treaty on violence against women, which the right-wing cabinet says violates parents' rights by requiring schools to teach children about gender, the justice minister said on Saturday....(more)
A Church That Is Poor?
Money, Sectarianism, & Catholic Tradition
Extract from Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal, 24 July 2020
What to make of the fact that the Catholic Church received $1.4 billion from the U.S. government’s Paycheck Protection Program?   The remarks from Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, seem to suffice. As he put it in a statement, the “Catholic Church” in this case encompasses the hundreds of individual Catholic dioceses, parishes, schools, social-service agencies, and other organizations that collectively employ thousands of people, and so is not prohibited from receiving taxpayer-backed federal aid.       “The Paycheck Protection Program was designed to protect the jobs of Americans from all walks of life, regardless of whether they work for for-profit or non-profit employers, faith-based or secular,” his statement read in part. A range of Catholic media outlets have made the same observation, and it seems clear there is less to this “story” than meets the eye.         Yet at the same time, we should remain mindful about the constitutional and political issues concerning the relationship between Church and state, and the continued need for financial accountability and transparency in light of the links between the sexual-abuse crisis and financial mismanagement in Catholic institutions.   It seems that some of the objection to PPP funding for the Church arises from the belief that the money could be used to pay settlements and legal costs associated with sex-abuse cases and other scandals. And this unfortunately speaks to the level of regard many people have for the Catholic Church today.....(more)    Photo:Commomweal 20200724 CNS Alessandro Garofalo Reuters
Vinnies calls for release of refugees from hotel detention
Extract from CathNews, The Catholic Leader,  24 July 2020
The St Vincent de Paul Society has called for the release of refugees detained in hotels in Brisbane and Melbourne. The society’s national president Claire Victory, in a statement coinciding with the seventh anniversary of the start of Australia’s regime of off-shore immigration detention on July 19, reiterated the charity’s call for the immediate release of the refugees into safer accommodation.         The statement noted that in July 2013, then prime minister Kevin Rudd launched the policy that ensured no people who arrived in Australia by boat would ever gain permanent settlement in Australia but would instead be sent to Papua New Guinea and Nauru.        Vinnies took the anniversary as an opportunity to highlight “the deteriorating situation for the nearly 400 people still in PNG and Nauru, and the hundreds still in closed detention in Australia”.       About 200 refugees transferred to Australia for medical treatment under the repealed medevac legislation are being detained in hotels in Melbourne and Brisbane.        Ms Victory said some of the detainees in Brisbane and Melbourne had family members in the community, and others had offers of support and housing with friends.       “A safe and permanent resettlement must be found for all as a matter of urgency, whether they are in detention in Australia or elsewhere,” she said.        Meanwhile, the executive officer of Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, Peter Arndt, joined a candlelight vigil last Sunday outside the Kangaroo Point Central Hotel supporting calls for the freedom of refugees detained there.......(more Photo: ACBC, Greek Archdiocese of Melb. CathNews 20200724
Changing status of 'Hagia Sophia' could sow division
Extract from Melbourne Catholic, ACBC Media Blog, 24 July 2020
The president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and the head of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia say Hagia Sophia’s revised status as a mosque risks sowing division in a world seeking common ground.       In a statement signed by Archbishop Mark Coleridge and Archbishop Makarios released today, the two leaders “join our voices to the many around the world who have expressed deep regret at the recent decision in Turkey to change the status of Hagia Sophia/Aya Sofya”.        Hagia Sophia, which was a Christian cathedral for more than 900 years before becoming a mosque in the 15th century, became a secular museum in 1935. After a decision earlier this month, it has again become a mosque, with Friday prayers set to resume there today.       The archbishops said the grand building has, for the past 85 years, been “a monument of world cultural heritage and a symbol of inclusivity”.        “Our fear is that this could aggravate tension between Christians and Muslims at a time when we need to pursue the path of dialogue and seek common ground,” the statement says.      “The path of nationalist ideology and the political decisions it prompts can lead only to division, which is never the fruit of the holy wisdom all religions seek.”....(More)    Photo CathNews 20200724 ACBC. Greek Archdiocese of Melbourne 20200724
Pope Francis makes bishops accountable for cover-ups
Edited Extract from Kieran Tapsell, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue website, 24 July 2020
On 16 July 2020, the Vatican published a manual for dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse against Church personnel. It marks a significant change in culture expressed in canon law for the last 100 years where the Church was more concerned about providing immunity for clergy child sex perpetrators than it was for the welfare of their victims.      In 2014, two United Nations Committees, for the Rights of the Child, and against Torture, criticized the Vatican for the pontifical secret imposed over allegations of child sexual abuse and for not changing canon law to require Church authorities to report such allegations to the police. The Vatican’s response was that the Church would obey civil reporting laws, but it was otherwise not its responsibility to report – it was up to the victims, even if they were children or those intellectually incapable of reporting.       The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse had found in its 2017 Final Report that the pontifical secret still applied where there were no applicable civil reporting laws, and recommended its abolition. Within Australia at the time, only New South Wales and Victoria had comprehensive reporting laws. Once the other States and Territories adopted the Royal Commission’s recommendation that they pass similar laws, canon law required bishops in those places to report abuse to the civil authorities.        In February 2019, Pope Francis held a summit meeting on child sexual abuse at the Vatican with the heads of national Catholic Bishops’ Conferences. Three prominent speakers, Cardinal Marx, Professor Linda Gishoni and Archbishop Scicluna criticized the pontifical secret. It was widely expected that Pope Francis would abolish it, and would impose mandatory reporting to the civil authorities under canon law, as demanded by the two United Nations Committees.....(more)
Learn who you are in the eyes of God: Bishop Mark Edwards farewells Melbourne
Extract from Communications Office, Melbourne Catholic, 21 July 2020
This Wednesday, Bishop Mark Edwards OMI will be installed as the sixth bishop of the Diocese of Wagga Wagga, NSW. Before leaving Melbourne, Melbourne Catholic caught up with Bishop Mark for a conversation and walk through the Fitzroy Gardens, where he reflected on what he’ll miss most about “home”, his thoughts on the Plenary Council and how passing on the faith is all about telling stories...(more including video farewells by Bishop Mark and Abp Peter Comensoli   HERE)
Bishop McElroy's hopeful vision for a church transformed
Extract from Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter, 20 July 2020
.......It was McElroy's discussion of this "moment of societal crisis," however, that makes his homily especially worthy of widespread consideration. A kind of "state of the local church" reflection, it has wide applicability for the rest of the country.         First, he notes that "the pandemic has transformed the landscape of our ecclesial life in ways that will permanently change the nature of pastoral action and evangelization. Patterns of parish life that have sustained community and the proclamation of the Gospel for decades have been ruptured by the isolation of these months and the atomization of all social life that we have witnessed. There is a great danger that that pandemic is creating a culture of increased disengagement within the life of the Church that will persist long after a vaccination is found."           For the church, the words "sustained community" are especially important. Communities do not self-sustain on autopilot. They need to be tended and nurtured, and the methods the church in the U.S. has adopted have wilted in the heat caused by this virus.          McElroy then looks at the national focus on racial issues, "The issues of race and nationality, the rights of immigrants and the imperative for authentic solidarity in society and our Church that have surfaced in these past months are also a turning point, not an episode," he said. "We are in the midst of a profound social renewal in which the meaning of equality in our nation is in these days being irrevocably changed for the better."      I want to share the bishop's confidence that we are in a moment of "profound social renewal" and that things are changing "for the better." I worry that the righteous anger at the persistence of racial injustice has spent itself on symbols and semiotics. The murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor demand more than statements and empty pedestals.       "Finally, and most profoundly, the pandemic has destroyed our individual and collective feelings of security on every level — personal health, financial security, safety, and relationships," McElroy continued. "We have come face to face with the existential reality that we are not in control and that the security we had treasured and presumed is an illusion."         McElroy said that these three ruptures — "the disruption of ecclesial life, the overpowering recognition that we do not live in a society of authentic solidarity, and the devastating assault that the pandemic has visited upon our false sense and sources of security" — force the recognition that our ecclesial structures will not be recovered so much as they will be transformed, of necessity......(more)
French women challenge Catholic hierarchy to open up male-only ministries
Seven women apply publicly for various Church positions -- including bishop, nuncio, parish priest, deacon, preacher...
Limited extract from Héloïse de Neuville and Xavier Le Normand, subscription journal La Croix International, 23 July 2020.
France. The date was not chosen by accident.    On July 22 -- the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, "Apostle of the Apostles" -- seven Catholic women in France decided to run for Church offices linked to ordination (bishop, parish priest, deacon, nuncio...).     The initiative comes after lay theologian Anne Soupa publicly put her name forward on May 25 as a candidate to be the next Archbishop of Lyon.           But this latest move goes even further than the 73-year-old Soupa's manifesto, which did not call for access to the ordained ministry for women.      "Noting that two popes had declared the issue of women's access to....(source).   Photo: La Croix Int 20200723 Corinne Simon Ciiric
The pastoral conversion of the Parish community in the service of the evangelising mission of the Church
Extract from Instruction. Holy See Press Office, 20 July 2020
1. The ecclesiological reflection of the Second Vatican Council, together with the considerable social and cultural changes of recent decades, has resulted in various Particular Churches having to reorganise the manner in which the pastoral care of Parish communities are assigned.       This has made it possible to initiate new experiences, enhancing the dimension of communion and implementing, under the guidance of pastors, a harmonious synthesis of charisms and vocations at the service of the proclamation of the Gospel, which better corresponds to the demands of evangelisation today.                Pope Francis, at the beginning of his Petrine ministry, recalled the importance of “creativity”, meaning thereby “seeking new ways”, that is “seeking how best to proclaim the Gospel”; in respect of this, the Holy Father concluded by saying, “the Church, and also the Code of Canon Law, gives us innumerable possibilities, much freedom to seek these things”.
2. The situations outlined in the following Instruction, represent a valuable opportunity for pastoral conversion that is essentially missionary. Parish communities will find herein a call to go out of themselves, offering instruments for reform, even structural, in a spirit of communion and collaboration, of encounter and closeness, of mercy and solicitude for the proclamation of the Gospel......(more)

Exciting Joint Venture With The Good Samaritan Inn

17 July 2020

It’s very easy to think that during the shutdown brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic nothing much is happening - but nothing could be further from the truth.              Not only is our Parish Centre Redevelopment Project steaming ahead, with preparations being made for the tendering process and the temporary move from the Mary Immaculate site to Mother of God church while the site is being redeveloped, we have also been busy developing a partnership with the Good Samaritan Inn who currently provide emergency accommodation at their Sacred Heart Preston premises for women and children who are victims of domestic violence.              The Good Samaritan Inn, in partnership with our Parish, will repurpose and redevelop the former St. Bernadette’s Convent into an accommodation facility for women and children who have experienced family violence and consequently have been made homeless.              This proposal has been endorsed by our Parish Pastoral Council and the Archbishop and is now in the final approval stage. It is hoped that works will begin on the former convent before the end of the year so that this sadly growing need within our community can benefit from this new initiative of outreach and mission on behalf of the Parish and in partnership with the Good Samaritans.

Improving care for terminally ill prisoners
Extract from CathNews, Persuiot, 16 July 2020
New research by the University of Melbourne and St Vincent’s Hospital has identified opportunities to improve palliative care for people in prison with terminal illnesses.          With an increasing and ageing prisoner population, there are now more people who are likely to face their end of life in prison. Of those prisoners who die in Victoria, approximately 38 per cent will spend their final weeks or months of life in a secure, guarded public hospital ward.                 The research uncovered the opportunities perceived by health professionals to improve the models of care for prisoners dying with progressive and life-limiting illnesses.         Recently published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, the researchers explored the perspectives of public hospital-employed doctors, nurses and allied health staff from a range of disciplines about their experiences of providing care for dying prisoners in the public hospital setting.            Health professionals described obstacles faced by people in prison across a range of areas of care, and for themselves, as they strove to provide optimal end-of-life care for prisoners.      
They described the challenges in providing access to the best pain relief and facilitating death in a desired site of care. They also described a system which at times requires prisoners to forgo their minimum-security incarceration and be transferred to a maximum-security facility in order to access specialist hospital care.... (more).  Photo: Prison death CathNews 20200716 Bigstock
Knockers or Rockers of the Barque of Peter?
Extract from Trish Hindmarsh, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue Website, 15 July 2020
Let’s not entirely knock the six Theme Papers from the Plenary Council Writing Groups.        Short-comings? Of course.     Are they a faithful representation of the sensus fidelium expressed through the 220,000 participants in the Plenary lead up? Yes, and no. Could other, more competent people had been working on them? No doubt.    Are humans capable of reaching genuine consensus when confronted with a variety of worldviews, back ground experience and formation? Hopefully, but only with difficulty, patience, prayer, study and dollops of respectful listening.   I came to some sharp realization of all this as a member of the Writing Group for the theme, ‘Conversion, Renewal and Reform’.       It was challenging for me to work at a deep level with Catholics from totally different faith experiences … converts too young to be steeped in Vatican 2, knowing nothing from lived experience of those hope-filled years after the Council when the Adelaide Diocese set up its Diocesan Pastoral Council;      the Australian Justice and Peace Commission was founded; the laity hungered for formation; the liturgy took on renewed life and immediacy; prophetic voices were being heard from the basic Christian communities in Latin America;      the religious orders were refounding themselves in response to the call to go out to the peripheries with Good News to the poor; ecumenism and inter-faith dialogue were flourishing.       We older, Vatican 2 Catholics in the group were among ‘newer’, youthful and fresh-faced Catholics for whom the Theology of the Body, loyalty to the tradition and its authority and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament are compelling fundamentals of Catholic culture. We did share common ground… a desire to listen to the Spirit; the power of prayer and the grace of the sacraments; a love for Christ; hope for a faith-filled future for our children … During the months of work and reflection, we also came to consensus regarding how critical to God’s mission are ecological conversion; openness to our First Peoples and their wisdom; reformed governance structures for a renewed, ‘synodal’ church; and recognition of how antithetical to the conversion, renewal and reform of the church are the structural ‘sins’ of clericalism and the exclusion of women.      The alternative to patient, respectful dialogue, to negotiated pathways through discernment, is factionalism, isolated self-righteousness, echo-chambers where the ‘friend of my friend is my friend and the enemy of my friend is my enemy’.    If we insist only on reinforcing our own position, without a willingness to sit together in our parishes, dioceses, homes and local cafes, engaged in fellowship and dialogue, face-to-face or online, difficult, tedious and utterly frustrating as that can be, we are left with division and dead ends.     Ultimately a failure to engage in respectful, skilled processes of dialogue and negotiation leads to the sort of sabre rattling that we are seeing, terrifyingly, right now in our nation and across our planet.      The world needs the church to model a better way to go about the human business of peaceful coexistence, seeking alternatives to conflict and war.....(more)
German bishops split over plans to cut number of seminaries
Steady decline in number of priesthood candidates has bishops re-thinking current structure
Limited extract from Gwénaëlle Deboutte, subscription journal La Croix International, 14 July 2020
Berlin. In Germany, a working group of the German Bishops' Conference has proposed to concentrate formation in a smaller number of dioceses.        "The number of candidates for the Catholic priesthood has gone from 594 in 2011 to 211 at present," said Heinrich Timmerevers, Bishop of Dresden-Meissen.        Because of this steady decline, the Germany's Catholic bishops over the past several years have been considering how they might streamline the formation of future priests.       Three seminaries and nine teaching locations.  Timmerevers, 67, co-chairs the German Bishops' Conference (DBK) working group on the issue. And on June 23 that body presented a proposal....(source).  Photo:  Photo:  La Croix Int 20200714 Sven Hoppe  DPA MAXPPP
A reformed Roman Curia and a new batch of cardinals
Strange as it sounds, there's word the new constitution is signed and the rings have been ordered
Limited extract from Robert Mickens, subscription journal La Croix International, 10 July 2020
Vatican City.   It is perhaps the most ambitious project of the current pontificate: attempting to truly reform the mentality and structures of the Catholic Church's central – and, up until Francis arrived, centralizing– bureaucracy known as the Roman Curia.         Exactly one month after his election in March 2013, the Argentine pope established the "Council of Cardinals".        Originally made up of eight and then nine senior churchman from different parts of the world, the members of this C-9 were given the task of helping Francis in his governance of the Universal Church.      They were also given the very specific project of drawing up a plan to reform the curia by revising the apostolic constitution Pastor Bonus, which currently regulates this Vatican structure.      A draft of the new constitution was completed over a year ago, but the pope wanted to give national episcopal conferences, select heads of religious orders and certain theologians the opportunity to offer more suggestions.       Early in the year there was talk that the final document would be released on the Feast of the Chair of St Peter in February or, at latest, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul at the end of June.       Praedicate Evangelium has already been signed.        But then the pandemic hit and the remnant of the C-9, now reduced to just six cardinal-members, cancelled its last three meetings.       So is the project on hold? Not according to a source at the Vatican who claimed the new constitution, Praedicate Evangelium, is done and Pope Francis has already signed it.      It appears the text is currently being carefully translated into the major languages. And once that is done, it will be officially published.       Naturally, this would be extremely out of the ordinary. The middle of Roman summer is not usually the time for launching major Vatican documents or important events. But this is not an ordinary pontificate.         No matter....(source)  Photo: La Croix International 20200711
Formation must also focus on human aspects of priestly life
Extract from CathNews, Australian Catholics,  10 July 2020
Catholic Professional Standards Limited held the first session of its online Seminary Formation and Safeguarding Seminar last Friday in Melbourne, which included a keynote address from Fr Zollner for seminarians and others involved in forming people for religious life.       The Head of the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Fr Zollner spoke of a recent study on priestly formation by Sr Anna Mary Thumma, which highlighted how both those in formation, and those doing formation, believe there is inadequate focus on the human aspects of priestly life.      “My own experience tells me that we really focus much in formation on questions of faith and theology – and this is certainly one key area – but we focus much less on relational, emotional and other issues that also need to be addressed,” he said.      He asked formators to consider how many priests leave the priesthood because of crises of faith or theology-related issues, as compared to those who leave because of issues around human relationships and sexuality.       “I’m a university professor, so I have nothing against intellectual formation. But when we look into the real needs and the real challenges that priests live up to, my question is whether pastoral, spiritual and the human formation needs much more attention given to them,” he said.      One of the issues is that priests in formation may not trust formators enough to come forward to them about their anxieties and problems in these areas because they’re worried about being sent away.     “They try to go underwater from the day of their entrance in seminary and they dive through for five or eight or whatever years, trying to be as calm and trying to not to show any signs of disturbance or trouble or questions,” Fr Zollner said. “The fear is that they will be thrown out of the seminary, so they become what I would call “submarines”.      Similarly, bishops and formators might themselves be hesitant to initiate these conversations for fear of losing people from the priesthood, he said....(more).  

Parish Office Shutdown

Friday 10 July 2020

Who would have thought that last Sunday's strictly limited attendances and physically distanced Masses (shown at MI Church) would be the last before reintroduction of Phase 3 restrictions for 6 weeks from Midnight on Wednesday 8 July.      Because of the unexpected return to stage 3 Shutdown Restrictions our Parish Office has closed and our Parish Secretary, Ruth Villani, will immediately transition into retirement and begin her annual leave and long service leave. We thank Ruth for her 16 years of service to the Parish and for delaying her retirement to assist over the past week.             Our new Office Administrator, Teana McIntosh, will not be able to commence work in the office until restrictions are lifted but will gradually transition to working from home once I can arrange her connection to our Parish on Line network.        In the meantime all phone calls to the office will be automatically forwarded to Fr. Bill’s mobile phone.

Paul Harris Fellowship Award

Friday 10 July 2020

Congratulations to Vince Marino and Eugene Ballao who have been honoured by Bundoora Rotary Club with the Paul Harris Fellowship Award for their extraordinary community work over the past four years.



Do You Need Assistance During The Shutdown?

Friday 10 July 2020

If you need support during the shutdown, for example, shopping, transport to doctors, a regular phone call, a meal, pastoral care etc., please contact Fr. Bill 0427 879 733. Don’t be bashful - we have people ready to help and support you.

Australian Catholics’ sensus fidei: Priority Issues for the Plenary Council.
Peter Wilkinson, June 2020. Republished July 2020
This report is based on detailed analysis of of the 28 Diocesan Reports which analysed both the respondents in each territorial diocese and the content of their submissions in response to the ACBC May 2018 question "What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?"  Its aim was “to listen to the voice of God speaking through the voices of the people and to gain a sense of their faith (sensus fidei)”........(See report HERE)
Celebrating Sea Sunday (12 July) Wednesday 8 July 202 Apostleship of the Sea Australia 
Extract from Melbourne Catholic, Wednesday 8 July 2020
This Sunday (12 July) is Sea Sunday, an opportunity to recognise the important work being done by seafarers across the world. The theme for this year is “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11: 28)           We only have to look around us, in our homes and in our work, to recognise the many commodities that are brought to our shores by cargo ships. In fact, over 95% of global trade is carried by ships. As an island nation, we in Australia are heavily reliant on ships and the commodities they bring to us for our survival.          The Stella Maris (Apostleship of the Sea) ministry has recognised this reality and concerns itself totally with the welfare and pastoral care of seafarers who crew these ships. In almost every country bound by sea, there exists a community of people who care for seafarers, fishers and their families. The Stella Maris Apostolate has, for the past 100 years, responded to seafarers’ needs and has advocated on their behalf regardless of their colour or creed.        By anyone’s standards, seafarers are burdened more than most other workers. They are in need, especially at this time of the pandemic, of the rest that Jesus promises in this year's Gospel theme. They are burdened by isolation, loneliness, exploitation, wage theft, climatic hardship, abuse (physical, sexual and verbal), fear of piracy and insecure employment......(More)
 Australian priest wins top book award
Extract from CathNews, 8 July 2020
Townsville priest and theologian, Fr Ormond Rush, has won a North American Catholic media award for his book on the Second Vatican Council.         Associate Professor Rush is a Reader in Theology at Australian Catholic University. His book The Vision of Vatican II: Its Fundamental Principles, was awarded first place in the category of Theological and Philosophical Studies in the Catholic Press Association awards announced on July 3.          The book analyses the key principles behind Vatican II and calls on today’s Church to continue the work it started. Professor Rush said he hopes the success of the book will prompt those in Church leadership to further the work of Vatican II, which ran from 1962 to 1965.       He hopes Australia’s upcoming Plenary Council will reflect on the vision of Vatican II.         “I want people to take away the excitement I feel for the vision of the Council but also a healthy anticipation and, indeed, an impatience for the fuller realisation of its principles,” he said.            In particular, he hopes to see more progress on challenges to clericalism and recognition of the importance of lay people to the mission of the Church -- themes which were essential to the Council’s conclusions but have met some resistance since.        “One of the great challenges of the Council was to move away from a very legalistic and triumphalist vision of the Church. Two words that were leitmotifs at the Council were ‘participation’ and ‘dialogue’,” Professor Rush said.      He said in the wake of the child abuse scandals which have rocked the Church, there was a new awareness of resting too much power in the Church hierarchy.       “I think in the wake of all the horrors that have been done, it’s emboldened lay people to say, ‘We need to have a say’. People are seeing this as an opportunity for change,” he said.....(more)  Photo: Associate Professor Fr Ormond Rush ACU, CathNews 20200708
Parish Secretary - Changeover or NOT!
Fr Bill, Friday 3 July 2020
Just as we were to wish Ruth a blessed retirement and welcome Teana as our new Office Administrator our plans were dismantled by Covid-19. Teana lives in one of the suburbs now in lockdown and it seems prudent that Teana’s commencement in the office should be delayed until the lockdown is lifted by the State Government. Ruth has kindly agreed to continue on in the office part time until this resolves itself. I am grateful to both Ruth and Teana for their understanding and co-operation in these circumstances.
Another Resignation
FR Bill, Friday 3 July 2020
After over thirty years of faithful service and ministry as our Sacristan at Mother of God, Bernadette Milesi is hanging up her chalices, brasso and altar linen. Over forty years of priesthood I have been blessed with wonderful sacristans and Bernadette has been that and more in her long ministry with the priests serving Mother of God. Good sacristans are hard to find as they have to tolerate all the mad idiosyncrasies of the priests that come and go. And for that I am sure they have a special place in God’s kingdom. On behalf of the Parish, and all the priests you have assisted over the years - a huge thank you, and a plenary indulgence, as your penance is done, in the care and support you have given to priests and the Parish

Parish Redevelopment Project – Mary Immaculate Site Early Works

Pat Kelly. 1 July 2020

Advice has been received from the managing architects that the sewer through Mary Immaculate site is to be decommissioned as soon as is practical.  Yarra Valley Water has agreed to the removal and the design has commenced. YVW conditions state that the site cannot be occupied once the works commence.            We have requested that works be delayed until the redevelopment contract is in place.  However, YVW sets its own timings. As soon as the date for the sewer removal is known we will advise all parishioners.             The Mary Immaculate site will be closed from that date until completion of the Redevelopment Project. While Sunday and weekday Masses will be at Mother of God Church, Mass times may have to be rescheduled to comply with Covid-19      

Zooming in on Church reform across two countries
Extract from CathNews, The Southern Cross, 2 July 2020
Catholics from reform groups across Australia and New Zealand met via Zoom last month to discuss the Plenary Council and Church governance.     Participants representing 17 reform groups and other invitees joined the forum of the Australian Coalition for Catholic Church Reform (ACCCR) to discuss the way ahead for Church decision making, especially in the lead up to the Plenary Council, which is now scheduled for October 2021.      Presentations included overviews of the Plenary Council process to date, reviews of the six official discernment papers meant to shape the Plenary Council agenda, and the Implementation Advisory Group’s recent governance report, "The Light from the Southern Cross".      Speaking shortly after the forum, ACCCR Convener, Peter Johnstone, said that the coalition was increasingly harnessing the energy for renewal Australia-wide.     “Catholics want a Church that lives and models the teachings of Jesus,” he said. “We believe that this is the most representative meeting of Catholic reform groups ever held in Australia.    “We were pleased to also have New Zealand Catholics share their views"..............(more)
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP reappointed to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Extract from Benjamin Conolly, The Catholic Weekly, 2 July 2020
Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP to a second five-year term on the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The CDF is the top Vatican body for promulgating and defending Catholic doctrine.  Appointment to the CDF, which the Archbishop has held since 2015, is an acknowledgement of an individual’s deep proficiency and expertise in the Catholic faith.       The position also recognises Archbishop Fisher’s expertise in fields such as bioethics where, even as a priest, he was widely regarded as one of Australia’s top experts.      In 2019 the Archbishop was also appointed to the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and serves as a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.....(more)
NEWS 2020  January - June  HERE