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News 2021

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.
January 2021, John Costa
January provides an appropriate opportunity for many people, particularly volunteers, to have some rest after a busy year. The News page will be updated but less frequently in January than for the rest of the year - except for any breaking news which, as has been the website custom in our parish for the last 14 years, would be published immediately.
Joe Biden’s Catholicism
Extract from Paul Collins, Pearls and Irritations, John Menadue website, 18 January 2021
Australia. Most of them keep their faith private, but Biden is different; he’s right up-front about his Catholicism. ‘It’s foundational to who he is,’ his long-time friend, Senator Chris Coons of Delaware says.         Coons also says that Biden’s stances on social justice, race, refugee and environmental issues are informed by ‘a deeply rooted sense of fairness’ that he learned from his parents and his Catholic formation. He has profoundly assimilated the Christian sense of the importance of the community over individualism, of putting others before self, and he sees politics in the words of Pope Francis ‘as something more noble than posturing, marketing and social spin.’     As well as the Catholic tradition of social justice, his faith is deeply rooted in the church’s spirituality and practice. He attends Mass every Sunday and quite often on weekdays. He prays regularly, often quotes the bible in political speeches and even publicly bursts into popular hymns, as he did in his November 7, 2020 victory speech when he quoted Michael Joncas’ hymn On Eagle’s Wings. ‘In the last days of the campaign,’ he said, ‘I began thinking about a hymn that means a lot to me and my family, particularly my deceased son Beau. It captures the faith that sustains me and…I hope it can provide some comfort and solace to the…Americans who have lost a loved one through this terrible virus this year.’ He then quoted the first verse:.....(more). Photo: Paul Collins
Archbishop Coleridge: Catholic bishops can’t risk falling back on old tactics of political engagement
Extract from Mark Coleridge, America, The Jesuit Review, 11 January 2021
The way in which Catholic bishops engage with the political process in Western liberal democracies is the fruit of a long and complex history. With the demise of Christendom and the loosening of the bond between throne and altar, popes and bishops have had to reorder their relationships to the secular order.       This has meant a certain detachment from the political process and even a reluctance to be seen interfering in politics. The separation of church and state was a hard-won achievement in the West, and by and large it has worked to the benefit of both. It does not mean total separation, but it does mean that the relationship between the secular and the sacral has changed. This shows itself in the detachment of church leaders from the business of lawmaking and government—except when in the defense of church teachings and interests.       But bishops are quick to speak and act, for instance, on life issues (such as abortion and euthanasia), on religious freedom and on questions having to do with marriage and the family. To those we might add issues of sexuality and gender.  So, too, they are quick to intervene when it comes to Catholic schools, hospitals and welfare agencies. They are also keen to play both sides of the political aisle, in part to foster social amity but also because they know that the electoral wheel turns; if they attach themselves too closely to one side of politics, they will pay a heavy price when the wheel does turn.     As a prudential arrangement, this has worked well enough in most circumstances. But there have been moments in recent history when it has broken down and left the bishops seeming to be impotent bystanders or even unconscious collaborators. Think of Hitler’s Germany, where all accepted norms were cast aside and the beast was unleashed. Papal and episcopal attempts to deal with the beast missed the mark: Something new and different was needed.....(more)  Photo: Trump Supporters prayer outside Capitol 6 January 2020 CNS photo Mike Theiler Reuters America Jesuit Rev 20210111

Top German bishop presses on with Church reform, promises to involve Vatican
Limited extract from Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, Subscription journal La Croix International, 11 January 2021
President of Catholic bishops' conference in Germany says local Churches must be allowed to find solutions to pressing questions like the diaconate for women.         Bishop Georg Bätzing, head of Catholic episcopal conference of Germany (DBK), has vowed to work "in close cooperation with the Vatican" as he forges ahead with his country's synodal procedure for Church reform.       "I have already had talks in the Vatican about this and plan to continue the discussions when I go down to Rome with the synodal procedure presidium as soon as possible," Bätzing said in an interview published January 3 by the Catholic news agency KNA.       The 59-year-old bishop, who has been DBK president since last March, said he plans to keep Vatican officials informed of the developments of the synodal procedure (also known as the Synodal Way) and not just its results.        He also announced that Cardinal Mario Grech, the 63-year-old Maltese prelate who recently took over as secretary general of the Synod of Bishops in Rome, "will come and see us, perhaps for our second synodal meeting".       Following Vatican Council II   The DBK president said this would allow the cardinal to see first-hand that the German Church's endeavors for reform are based on the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) in the tradition of the Würzburg Synod (1971-75).       Many of the demands of that national synod in the 1970s -- such as admitting women to the diaconate and opening the priesthood to married men -- have not been implemented by Rome to this day.       Bishop Bätzing said these suggested reforms, like the ongoing synodal procedure, are still being discussed and debated. Thus, he said he could understand that many Catholics were restless.       "The great majority of committed Catholics in our country want change and that is why the synodal procedure is so essential," said the DBK president, who has headed Limburg Diocese just north of Frankfurt since 2016.     He warned that if the Church did not answer the "pressing questions", it would lose credibility.          Women's ordination was one such pressing question, Bätzing said in a long interview in the January issue of the German theological monthly Herder Korrespondenz.         Church's official explanation is "less and less convincing"     He said he always tried to do his best in explaining honestly the current Church teaching on the subject.....(Source)

Climate action requires unity not division
Limited extract from Chris Middleton, Subscription journal La Croix International, 11 January 2021
The bushfires that have assailed Australia over these past weeks have reminded us of the fragility of this ancient land.       The loss of life and of so many homes, properties and farms, and the loss of livestock and of native animals, have touched almost every corner of the country, just as the smoke haze has smothered so much.        The natural disaster has also brought out the best in so many people. The heroic efforts of our volunteer 'firies', and of so many others, the resilience of so many small communities, and the generosity of the wider community, shine amid the pain and loss.       A reminder too, of the richness of Australian identity, with Muslim and Sikh and Vietnamese groups, among others, reaching out in support of the firies and affected communities.      And on the ground, our traditional religious groups, the Salvos and Vinnies, along with the Red Cross, play vital roles in enabling the volunteer services and supporting affected communities.      Politically, it has been something of a disaster for Prime Minister Morrison. The ill-advised holiday in Hawaii, gaffes on the road, breakdowns in communications etc. have plagued him.       More importantly though, are the policy challenges around bushfires, drought, and climate change that need to be addressed.        The Liberals and Nationals have to find a way forward that balances the interests of their supporters with serving the national good. Old arguments and ideological stands need to be re-examined. The Prime Minister needs to enable a real debate.....(Source).  Photo: Bushfires Australia EPS MAXPPP La Croix Int 20210111
Pope says women can be acolytes and lectors
Extract from Christopher Lamb, The Tablet, 11 January 2021
Pope Francis has changed Church law officially to recognise female ministry and allow women to be instituted into roles previously reserved to men.       In a ruling on 11 January, Francis amended Canon Law so that women can become lectors and acolytes, which are both public ministries. The role of lector reads the scriptures during Mass while an acolyte assists a priest as an altar server.        One significance of the change is that until now it was mainly seminarians who were instituted into these positions in a formal ceremony carried out by a bishop. Both lector and acolyte roles are seen as staging posts on the path to the priesthood.         In practice, however, Francis is codifying what is already happening across the world. Women are often seen reading at Mass, while female altar servers are long-established. Nevertheless, church law had previously stated that only “lay men” could hold the lector and acolyte positions and Francis has now changed the wording to “lay people”.     The real impact of the Pope’s reform is in the symbolic significance of recognising women’s roles.        “This is the first official document in modern times to allow women across the altar rail during the Mass,” Phyllis Zagano, an academic from Hofstra University who has written extensively about the role of women in the Church, told The Tablet. “They are formally stating that women are equally human to men in terms of liturgical action.”           Explaining the changes, the Pope said he was following the reforms of the Second Vatican Council which saw “an urgent need” to “rediscover the co-responsibility of all the baptised in the Church.” The change, he added, has also been recommended by some synod of bishops gatherings, including the 2019 meeting on the Amazon region where women are already heavily involved in leading church communities....(More).  Photo: Women Acolyte Lector CNS Gregory A Shewmitz The Tablet 20210111
"Cast off the dictatorship of the self," says pope on Epiphany
Francis has encouraged people "not to let ourselves be imprisoned by those imaginary specters that stifle hope"
Limited Extracts from  Loup Besmond de Senneville, subscription journal La Croix International 7 January 2021
Pope Francis, who's Christmas and New Year liturgical celebrations were severely curtailed by measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, has invited believers to put aside their "weariness and complaints".   While celebrating Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on January 6 -- still observed in Italy and some other parts of the world as the Feast of the Epiphany -- the pope urged a small crowd of worshipers to reflect more deeply on the significance of the Magi.        He said their visit to the crib is an invitation to raise one's gaze to "escape the bottleneck of a narrow way of seeing things".       Francis said it was also a summons "to cast off the dictatorship of the self, the constant temptation to withdraw into ourselves and our own concerns".......The pope encouraged them and all Catholics to learn from the Magi and "devote more time to worship… to learn ever better how to contemplate the Lord".       "To worship the Lord, we first have to 'lift up our eyes'. In other words, not to let ourselves be imprisoned by those imaginary specters that stifle hope, not to make our problems and difficulties the center of our lives," Francis insisted.         "This does not mean denying reality, or deluding ourselves into thinking that all is well," he added.       On the contrary, he encouraged people to view "problems and anxieties in a new way".       "When we lift up our eyes to God, life's problems do not go away, no; instead we feel certain that the Lord grants us the strength to deal with them," Francis said.....(source).  Photo: Pope Francis Epiphany in St. Peter's Basilica KAMIL JASINSKI  EPA MAXPPP La Croix 20210107
'You reap what you sow': Some bishops decry violence at Capitol
Extract from Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter, 6 January 2021
As the U.S. Capitol was taken over by insurrectionists on Jan. 6 seeking to disrupt the certification of the Electoral College votes to formally declare Joe Biden the winner of the presidential election, a number of Catholic bishops took to Twitter to call for prayer and peace, with a few specifically condemning the siege of the Capitol by a violent mob.       "Today's events show the immensely perilous pathway of division and polarization that our country has embarked upon in these past four years," San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy told NCR.         "We need to begin immediately a moral and spiritual regeneration in the public and political realms that touches the hearts of Americans and helps us all to see through the prism of this terrible assault on our democracy," he added, saying that the country must embrace dialogue over division as it seeks to move forward.         Unlike some Catholic leaders in recent weeks who have said President Donald Trump's refusal to accept the election results did not pose a threat to democracy, McElroy did not mince words at identifying what he sees as the root cause of the day's events.         "We must be clear in identifying this moment as the logical trajectory of the last four years of President Trump's leadership of our country and stare in the face how we have stood by without giving greater witness to the terrible danger that leadership rooted in division brings to a democratic society."        "Today we see the face of insurrection in the United States in a way that we have never witnessed in the last hundred years," said McElroy. "It is ugly and calls us to action."         Over the last six weeks, some right-wing Catholics have joined forces with evangelicals in rejecting the election outcome. In December, when protestors rallied in Washington, D.C. calling for the Supreme Court to throw out the election results, they were joined virtually by a disgraced former Vatican archbishop and a Texas Catholic bishop, along with in-person appearances from several priests and prominent Catholic pro-life activists......(more)  Photo:  Trump Demonstrators US Capital Building CNS  Reuters Mike Theiler NCR 20210106
Remembering Geoffrey Robinson: a bishop of compassion and integrity
The retired auxiliary bishop of Sydney, a staunch defender of abuse victims, has died at age 83
Limited Extract from Michael Kelly SJ, subscription journa la Croix Int. 4 January 2021
Saying farewell to Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, who died this past December 29, is saying goodbye to one of the few Australian Catholic bishops with his integrity and reputation for honesty still intact. He championed the defense of the weak and the abused.         He was outstandingly intelligent and compassionate. He lent his considerable knowledge of Church law to ease the burden of those who suffered the effects of failed marriages.        He focused on what is essential in Christianity by his very accessible, popular commentaries on the Synoptic Gospels. His commentaries were well appreciated by preachers and believers of all denominational allegiance.         While our paths overlapped from time to time, it is what Bishop Robinson will be best remembered for most – caring for and promoting the rights of children abused by Catholic officials, including priests – that brought about a very significant intersection of our paths in 1997.       I vividly recall the day I was in Melbourne in 1997 and Geoff called me from Sydney on my recently acquired mobile. He was then the auxiliary Catholic bishop of Sydney (1984-2004) and champion of justice for victims of clerical sexual abuse.       He was ringing me to get advice on how to settle a score with a journalist and have a record corrected. He was furious with a young reporter from Rupert Murdoch's The Australian over a report Geoff had presented the previous day on his work with victims of abuse.        It was the first of what became annual reports on what Church authorities were doing to improve management procedures, supervise the processing of complaints and remove pedophiles from its workforce.       But Geoff was responsible for the care of victims and seeing they got some justice from Church authorities, not supervising miscreant clerics, disciplining them or seeing to their removal from the workforce.....(more).  Photo:  Bishop Emeritus Geoffrey Robinson  Dr Ingrid Shafer La Croix 20210104
Parish Redevelopment Project - Builder selected
Pat Kelly (2020)
On the 22nd December 2020, the tender evaluation committee comprising representatives of the Archdiocese, the Parish and our Architects selected Raysett Constructions Pty Ltd as the preferred tenderer for the construction of the Parish Redevelopment Project. The contract between the Roman Catholic Trusts Corporation for the Diocese of Melbourne and Raysett Constructions Pty Ltd is now under preparation with the intention of works commencing on site in January.

Raysett Constructions has delivered church and school projects for the Archdiocese and constructions for government. Current projects include Our Lady of the Way Primary School, Wallan East, St James the Apostle Church and government schools.

A reminder of the scope of the project. The redevelopment project will provide a new parish office on Upper Heidelberg Road with entrance to office, meeting rooms, the presbytery and the Lady Chapel. The Lady Chapel will be open during office hours.

The existing Waverley Avenue entrance to the church will be refurbished. New sacristies and public toilets will be constructed. An additional entry on the western side of the church will give access to the church and the new gathering space. The church and the gathering space can be independently secured as required.  The church, gathering space and new entry will all be on the same level for easy access for persons with special needs. It is intended that coffee in the gathering space will be a regular feature after Mass. The structure of the church will be refurbished with carpet throughout and a heating and cooling system installed. Environmental features include thermal insulation to the new buildings, solar electric panels and storm water retention and filtration system. The area currently occupied by the house and other buildings will become the carpark for the site.

Timing of construction and further information will be provided following signing of the contract. The Mary Immaculate Church and the entire site will remain closed until completion of the project.