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Catholic Parish Ivanhoe

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.
NEW: A very short personal message from Fr. Bill  (17.09.2021)


Strange Sighting in Ivanhoe

Friday 17 September 2021

It’s not a Ballistic Missile!
It’s not a Submarine
It’s Step 1 in our Environmental Plan for our Redevelopment Project
Our 35,000 litre underground tank to supply recycled water to our toilets and gardens


Advisers and chairpersons named for Plenary Council
Extract from CathNews, ACBC Media Blog, 16 September 2021
Some of the country’s leading Catholic thinkers have been engaged to support the members of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia when they gather for the first general assembly early next month.             As happens with international gatherings, including at the Second Vatican Council, participants are able to seek guidance from a group of advisers. Their expertise covers a broad range of disciplines, including theology, philosophy, ethics, ecclesiology, education, liturgy, governance and social justice.         Plenary Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB said while there are experts across many fields within the approximately 280 members, the additional advisers – sometimes known by the Latin term periti – will be there to nourish and deepen the existing knowledge base in a special way.         “The members of the Plenary Council are responsible for discerning concrete proposals in answer to 16 questions for the Church in Australia, so having as much support on call as possible makes sense,” he said.         Archbishop Costelloe said there will be a diversity of skills and experience, as well as ministerial and working contexts, represented among the advisers.      The list of advisers can be found on the Plenary Council website.         The chairpersons to guide the work of the Plenary Council and facilitate members’ conversations when they gather as a full group have also been confirmed.         They are: Jacinta Collins (National Catholic Education Commission); Nichii Mardon, Catholic Education South Australia, Diocese of Port Pirie); Fr Thomas McDonough CP (Passionists); Br Paul O’Keefe FSP Patrician Brothers); Fr David Ranson (Broken Bay Diocese); and Theresa Simon (Maronite Catholic Eparchy of Australia)....(more)
Pope Francis: ‘I have never denied Communion to anyone.’
Extract from Gerard O’Connell, Aneruca the Jesuit Review, 15 September 2021
“I have never denied Communion to anyone,” Pope Francis revealed in answer to one of my questions on the flight back from Bratislava to Rome, Sept. 15.  It was a significant revelation coming at a time when a group of bishops in the United States are pushing to deny Communion to pro-choice politicians, including President Joe Biden. Francis appears to be sending a very different message—and it was not the only one.        He sent a second strong message in answer to my other question about the heated discussion regarding denial of Communion to pro-choice politicians, when he called on bishops to be “pastors,” not politicians. I was struck by this because over the past year, I have heard several Vatican officials ask: “Why can’t the American bishops be pastors not politicians?”        On the plane, Francis elaborated on this when he said, “if we look at the history of the church, we will see that every time the bishops have not dealt with a problem as pastors they have taken sides politically. ” He cited examples where their taking sides politically has cost lives such as in the case of the Dominican Friar, Giacomo Savonarola, in Florence in 1989, and the Huguenots (Protestants) in France in 1472.       “When the church, in order to defend a principle, acts in a non-pastoral way, it takes sides on the political plane, it has always been so,” Francis said.  He asked, “What must a pastor do?” and responded: “Be a pastor. Don’t go condemning. Be a pastor because he is a pastor also for the excommunicated.”  Bishops, he said, should be “pastors with God’s style, which is closeness, compassion and tenderness.”.....(more)    Photo:Pope Francis answers Qs Slovakia CNS Paul Haring, America, Jesuit Review 20210915
The world’s smallest army - just 140 soldiers - considers the ‘unthinkable’
Extracts from Nick Squires, The Age, 14 September 2021
Rome: Resplendent in their striped knickerbockers and clutching murderous-looking halberds, they have faithfully defended popes for more than 500 years.     But the Swiss Guard, the world’s smallest army with just 140 soldiers, is considering the previously unthinkable - opening up to female soldiers.     A bastion of conservatism even by the standards of the Vatican, the Swiss Guard has been a celebrated institution ever since its foundation in 1506. Recruits to the ancient corps must be single, practising Catholics of Swiss nationality, aged between 19 and 30.       They must serve for a minimum of two years, protecting the Pope and standing ramrod straight in sentry boxes outside St Peter’s Basilica.       Now comes a potential revolution - the tiny corps has announced that it is having new barracks built within the walls of the Vatican and that it will be able to accommodate female soldiers...........Adapting the guardsmen’s helmets and breastplates to female soldiers should not be too challenging - these days they are made not of beaten metal but plastic, produced by 3D printers.......(More).   Photo: Vatican Swiss Guards, AP, The Age, 20210914
In Slovakia, Pope Francis calls for freedom in both civil society and Church
Extract from Inés San Martín, Rome Bureau Chief, Crux, 13 September 2021
.......To the Catholic hierarchy: The center of the Church is not the Church.            “Living within the world means being willing to share and to understand people’s problems, hopes and expectations,” he said during a meeting with the bishops, priests and religious men and women in Bratislava’s Cathedral of St. Martin.  “This will help us to escape from our self-absorption, for the center of the Church is not the Church!”       He urged those present to leave behind the “undue concern for ourselves, for our structures, for what society thinks about us,” and instead become immersed in the lives of peoples and try to address their spiritual needs and expectations.         Answering his own question as to what people expected, he said freedom, creativity and dialogue.           Freedom, Francis said, is the key to humanity, as human beings were created free, and as Slovakia learned during the years of Communist rule, whenever freedom is attacked, violated or suppressed, humanity is disfigured and violence, coercion and the elimination of rights follows.        The Church too can fall into this temptation, believing it’s “better to have everything readily defined, laws to be obeyed, security and uniformity, rather than to be responsible Christians and adults who think, consult their conscience and allow themselves to be challenged.”       “A Church that has no room for the adventure of freedom, even in the spiritual life, risks becoming rigid and self-enclosed,” he said.  “Some people may be used to this. But many others – especially the younger generations – are not attracted by a faith that leaves them no interior freedom, by a Church in which all are supposed to think alike and blindly obey.”                Speaking about creativity, Francis argued that faced with the loss of the sense of God and of the joy of faith, it is useless to complain and “hide behind a defensive Catholicism, to judge and blame the world.  We need the creativity of the Gospel.”        Lastly, speaking about dialogue, he said that a Church that forms the faithful in interior freedom and responsibility is able to be creative by tapping into their history and culture, capable of engaging in dialogue with the world:  “Those who confess Christ without being ‘ours,’ with those who are struggling with religion, and even with those who are not believers.”.......(More). 
The Plenary Council: Consulting the faithful
Extract from Bill Uren*, Pearls & Irritations, 12 September 2021
......I am not suggesting that such manifestations of division between clergy and laity should be entertained at the upcoming Australian Plenary Council.  Nor am I even contemplating that some of our bishops may be in schism.  But I am suggesting, in line with Newman’s essay, that the episcopal and clerical members of the Council should be particularly attentive to the voices of the laity when they address the Council’s agenda. This is all the more necessary because, inevitably, in view of the canonical structure of the Council, the laity will be in a very significant minority. An overwhelming majority of clerical members is appointed ex-officio, and in some instances bishops have seen fit to choose further clerics, rather than laity, to fill what vacancies remained.        Indeed, one might submit that a Plenary Council is a cumbersome instrument to ascertain the genuinely representative views of the Catholic Church in Australia.  Many of the canonical strictures regarding the membership, agenda and process of the Council will dampen the original enthusiasm for the Council that provoked over 17,500 submissions. Second thoughts might have suggested an extra-canonical assembly after the German or Irish model as a better way to convoke a more representative, less clerical, meeting. On the other hand, a canonically structured council does have the advantage that its recommendations are more likely to be taken seriously by the Roman authorities.       Whatever the outcomes of the Plenary Council, let us hope that this consultation entered upon by the clergy and the laity will be regarded as a first, rather than a final, step. Pope Francis has already indicated that further consultations of this nature should be conducted in every diocese prior to the Synod on Synodality in 2023.  If the Australian Plenary Council were to prescribe in preparation for this Synod that in each parish a parish council should be instituted, and that in each diocese a diocesan council should be established, and that in both instances the laity should be significantly represented on these councils, that might seem to compensate, at least to some degree, for the disparities of membership that more or less inevitably attend the Plenary Council.......(more).   Image:Unsplash, Pearls & Irritations, 202109122
*Bill Uren SJ AO is a Jesuit Priest, Scholar in Residence at Newman College at the University of Melbourne.
Synods and synodality take center stage
From "How Sept. 11 inadvertently paved the way for the future election of Pope Francis"
Limited extract from Christopher White, United States, Subscription Journal La Croix International, 9 September 2021
............In many respects, the themes of the 2001 synod, which focused on "The Bishop: Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World," foreshadowed many of the same touchstones and tensions of the Francis papacy.         Papal biographer and collaborator Austen Ivereigh told NCR that, historically, a persistent "sticky issue" of synods has been the question "of the authority of the college of bishops itself, and its role in the universal governance of the church" and navigating "the right balance of collegiality versus primacy."          "The 2001 synod was a key moment in surfacing this call to collegiality, because there was a sense the John Paul era was at an end and that centralist governance had become a major obstacle to the church's mission," said Ivereigh.         He pointed to the 2001 consistory — when Pope John Paul II created a number of cardinals, including Bergoglio, from Latin America — as a tipping point.          "Because that consistory was made up of so many Latin American cardinals, there was a sense that the Catholic heartlands — Europe and Latin America — were pushing for collegiality that was being resisted by Rome," said Ivereigh. "Bergoglio saw all this, and took note."         During the 2001 synod, the issue emerged again, with one in five speeches among the synod fathers raising collegiality, according to Ivereigh. By contrast, collegiality was only mentioned twice in the synod's working document and Cardinal Jan Pieter Schotte had it excised from the final report.         "At his first press conference as relator following Egan's return to New York, Bergoglio was asked about collegiality," Ivereigh recalled. "Sitting next to Schotte, he said a proper discussion of this topic 'exceeds the specific limits of this synod' and needed to be dealt with elsewhere and with adequate preparation."        "Looking back, he was clearly signaling that collegiality could only be introduced through a thorough reform of the synod itself, to make it an instrument of collegial governance and ecclesial discernment," he said.          Piqué offered a similar assessment, telling NCR that Bergoglio's experience at the 2001 synod was "essential also for him to understand better the need of real consultation, with discussions, in the church, because he saw that those kinds of meetings were already pre-fabricated."         "It was all already carefully managed by Rome," she added. "The bishops were not really free to discuss any subject and to express their opinions. They knew that if they expressed an opinion that Rome did not like, their future career would be blocked."        And after being elected pope, Francis himself has not minced words about what he learned in the synod process and his belief reform was needed.          "I was the rapporteur of the 2001 synod and there was a cardinal who told us what should be discussed and what should not," he told La Nacion in 2014. "That will not happen now."........(source)Photo: Broken steel from 9-11 Museum World Trade Center Museun THOMAS A  FERRARA UPI MAXPPP La Croix International 20210909
Vatican releases Synod Preparatory Document
It points out some concrete steps on listening without prejudice; speaking out with courage; dialoguing with the Church, with society, and with other Christians
Limited extract from subscriptional Journal La Croix International, 7 September 2021
The General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops has released the Preparatory Document and "vademecum" – or handbook – to indicate the guiding principles that will direct the path of the Synod on Synodality.            The opening of the Synod will take place in Rome on October 9-10, and in the particular Churches on October 17. It will conclude in the Vatican in 2023 with the assembly of bishops from around the world.              The Preparatory Document, released September 7, is intended to facilitate the first phase of listening and consultation of the People of God in the particular Churches, which will take place from October 2021 to April 2022.       "It constitutes a sort of construction site or pilot experience that makes it possible to immediately begin reaping the fruits of the dynamic that progressive synodal conversion introduces into the Christian community," the document reads.       The text begins with a question:.........(Source).  Image: vatican-releases-synod-preparatory-document-14850-30 La Croix International, 20210907
Pope at Angelus: Healing of the heart begins with listening
Extract from Catholic Outlook, Diocese of Parramatta, Vatican News, 7 September 2021
In his reflections before leading the recitation of the Angelus, Pope Francis recalls in Sunday’s Gospel when Jesus restores the hearing and speech of the deaf man. He says we can ask Jesus to touch and heal our own interior deafness, since the healing of the heart begins with being able to listen.        Recalling Sunday’s Gospel reading which presents Jesus who heals a deaf man with a speech impediment, Pope Francis observed the many actions Jesus took in healing him: putting his finger into the man’s ears, touching his tong with saliva and looking up to heaven and then saying to him “Ephphatha”, that is, “Be opened!”. Perhaps, the Pope suggested, it was because the man’s condition of deafness had a special symbolic value and can say something to all of us, since we all have ears, but “very often we are not able to hear”.       Healing Interior Deafness             The Pope described this as an “interior deafness” that we can ask Jesus to heal today. And “the healing of the heart begins with listening”. He pointed out that the deafness of the heart is worse than physical deafness, because we can become impervious to everyone and everything in our haste and busyness, sometimes closing ourselves off to the Lord and our brothers and sisters. By listening and letting ourselves be touched by people’s lives we can learn to live and grow in faith. ....(More)
           (Ed: Pastoral Letter on the Latin Mass)
The application of Traditionis Custodes in the Archdiocese of Melbourne
Extract from Pastoral Letter, Archbishop Peter Comensoli (28 August 2021),  3 September 2021 
Dear clergy and lay faithful of the Archdiocese of Melbourne...............The Church has always attended closely to the form and expression of our public worship, especially in the celebration of that greatest of Sacraments, the Holy Eucharist.   To this end, various forms of the Mass have been promulgated through the centuries, drawing on ancient liturgical sources to give renewed expression for current times and people. These reforms are articulated in the approved text we use for Mass, called the Roman Missal. The Roman Missal sets out how the Mass is celebrated in the Latin Catholic Church (as distinct from the other Catholic Churches, such as the Maronite, Melkite, Syro-Malabar, Chaldean, and Ukrainian Churches).   The Roman Missal we now use was promulgated in 1970. The manner in which the Mass is to be celebrated is set out in the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal of 2000. The approved English translation is from 2011.             

Last month, Pope Francis recalled this reality in an Apostolic Letter (Motu Proprio) called Traditionis Custodes (Guardians of Tradition). Following a world-wide consultation of the Bishops of the Church into the celebration of the Mass using the previously promulgated Roman Missal of 1962 (the one in use prior to the reforms called for at Vatican II), Pope Francis has considered it necessary to reiterate that “the liturgical books promulgated by Saint Paul VI and Saint John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II, are the unique expression of the lex orandi [the law of prayer] of the Roman Rite.” (TC, Art.1) 

Traditionis Custodes sets out new arrangements for the celebration of Mass using the 1962 Missal, and directs “the diocesan bishop, as moderator, promoter, and guardian of the whole liturgical life of the particular Church entrusted to him, to regulate … the use of the 1962 Roman Missal in his diocese.”  (TC, Art.2) In the Archdiocese of Melbourne, it falls to me, as Archbishop, to apply these directives of Pope Francis for the celebration of the 1962 Mass within the territory of the local Church in Melbourne.....
..........(details in full Pastoral Letter here)
Catholic 101: What is the Creed?
Extract from Brian Strassburger SJ, Catholic Outlook, Diocese of Parramatta,  31 August 2021
“Let us stand and profess our faith.”         Every Sunday at Mass, we stand as a congregation after the homily and recite the words of the Creed. “I believe in one God, the Father almighty…”
  What exactly is the Creed? Where did it come from? What are we saying when we recite it? The truth is, the Creed is a huge topic, and many lines in the Creed were the product of tremendous debate and contention. You could take a whole graduate-level class on the contents of the Creed! This article is not going to unpack everything about the Creed. Not even close.  This article is an introduction.
         What the Creed is NOT.       First things first, let’s dispel some misguided ideas about the Creed.  It is not a single, solitary summary of the entirety of the Catholic faith. In fact, it’s not even single. We use two Creeds regularly in the Catholic Church: the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed. These two Creeds aren’t contradictory, but they include different wording, and the Nicene Creed has more content.      Even the longer of the two, the Nicene Creed, doesn’t include a complete summary of the Catholic faith.  For example, the Eucharist is never mentioned. And while the stanza on Jesus talks about his birth and Passion, it gives no mention to his teaching or miracles. What about Mary and the apostles? Barely mentioned. Yet those are all things that “We believe.” So, we can’t say that the Creed is a complete summary of the Catholic faith.        In fact, we also can’t say that the Creed is exclusively Catholic. A variety of Christian churches use the Creed: Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and more. When we profess belief in the “holy catholic Church” in the Creed, it’s important to note that the word catholic has a lower-case c.[i] It means “universal,” not Roman Catholic. There’s even disagreement over what the word “catholic”/universal means in the context of the Creed, but it does point beyond a local church to belonging to something greater....(More)

Don’t blame the boomers for decline of religion
Extract from CathNews NZ,     2 September 2021
The generation born in the two decades after World War II has long touted itself as the revolutionary religious demographic that grew up dutifully sitting in the pews before rebelling — as they did in music, politics, art and the bedroom — and freeing American culture from its hidebound superstitions.             OK, boomer.       Examining the data from the General Social Survey, it turns out it’s not the baby boomers who were the last vestige of a highly religious, very Christian era of American history.          Instead, Generation X — born between 1965 and the early ’80s — is the last to come of age and even perpetuate an overwhelmingly Christian and largely devout religious landscape in terms of church attendance and beliefs about God.       The GSS has been asking people about their belief in God since 1988, when the oldest members of Gen X were moving into adulthood.       The Silent Generation, the baby boomers and Generation X show up in its findings as just as likely (if not more) to have a certain belief in God in 2018 compared to 1988.      That’s clearly not the case for millennials, who dropped about 10 percentage points in 20 years in reporting their certainty about a supreme being.     It’s still very early to come to any firm conclusions about Generation Z, but there’s ample reason to believe that they are half as likely as Gen X to express a certain belief — leaving millennials as the generation that was the great divide.....(more) Photo: CathNews NZ

Lay Catholic to represent Poland in Rome at Synod opening
Extract from CathNews NZ, CNA, 2 September 2021
In a first-ever appointment of its kind, a lay Catholic will represent the Church in Poland at the official opening of the synodal process next month.         The two-year synodal process is a consultative phase involving Catholic dioceses around the world.      Chosen by the Polish bishops’ conference president Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, Professor Aleksander Bańka is the first lay person to represent the Church in Poland at an inaugural session.        He is one of 10 representatives from Europe at the official opening. The others include the president of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences, two bishops and seven lay people.           The Vatican says immediately after its official opening in Rome next moth, the two-year “synodal path” will begin in dioceses throughout the world.       Continental assemblies will follow the diocesan consultations. The process will culminate in the October 2023 synod of bishops at the Vatican.        The synod theme is “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,”.....(more).  Photo:   Professor Aleksander Bańka first lay representative of Church Poland at an inaugural session of Rome Synod.

Holiness does not come from following rigid rules, pope says
Extract from Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, 1 September 2021
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Redemption is the work of God, not of human beings, so be careful and do not listen to “fundamentalists” who claim holiness comes through following certain laws, Pope Francis said during his weekly general audience.       The belief that holiness comes by observing particular laws “leads us to a rigid religiosity, a rigidity that eliminates that freedom of the Spirit which Christ’s redemption gives us. Beware of this rigidity that they propose,” he said Sept. 1 to those gathered in the Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican.       God’s saving grace is received through faith in the Gospel message of Christ’s death and resurrection, and God invites people to rejoice in the righteousness received through that faith in Christ, he said.      The pope continued his series of talks on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians by looking at the apostle’s explanation of justification by faith and of graces flowing from the Spirit, not from works of the law.      However, before beginning his catechesis, the pope spoke off-the-cuff to explain the context and purpose of the weekly audience talks, which are usually in-depth reflections on many aspects of church teaching.       The pope said the teachings in St. Paul’s letter were not anything new or “my own thing.”         “What we are studying is what St. Paul says during a very serious conflict” in Galatia. “They are not things that someone invented. No. It is something that happened at the time and that can repeat itself,” he said, referring to the apostle’s attempts to correct those who were tempted to believe a person is justified through works of the law, not faith in Christ’s redemptive action.       The pope said, “This is simply a catechesis on the Word of God expressed in the letter of St. Paul to the Galatians. It is not something else. Always keep this in mind.”....(more)

New women deacons commission to meet with unclear agenda
by Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter, 31 August 2021
First, the bad news: two officials of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith have told me, in person, at lunch, that women cannot be ordained deacons because women cannot image Christ.         The good news: At least one no longer works there. I am not sure about the other.             Now, the London Catholic newsweekly The Tablet reports that the new commission for the study of women in the diaconate will meet for one week in Rome, beginning Sept. 13. One may assume the meetings will take place in the CDF's vaulted meeting room. The coming commission constitutes the fourth discussion group in recent history to discuss women deacons there.      Two subcommittees of the CDF's International Theological Commission reviewed the question over 10 years. In 1997, the first subcommittee reportedly found no problem with restoring women to the ordained diaconate. However, the CDF prefect at the time, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, refused to promulgate their report. He named a new subcommittee, which produced a much longer report five years later. That 2002 report concluded that, while male and female deacons did not perform the same tasks and duties, there is a clear distinction between the diaconate and the priesthood. Therefore, they wrote, the question is up to the magisterium to decide....(more).   Photo: sign supporting women deacons Vatican Nov. 6, 2019,CNS Paul Haring, NCR 20210831
Pope Francis' "attitude adjustment program" is gaining traction
Two phrases the pope casually threw out at the beginning of his pontificate now look like seeds that have begun to bear fruit
Limited extract from Robert Mickens,  subscription Journal La Croix International, 27 August 2021
The widespread negative reaction to the latest pronouncement by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) -- that the Church does not have the power to bless same-sex unions -- clearly surprised many people.      Pope Francis was probably among those who were taken back a bit, especially by the fact that more than a few bishops voiced displeasure with the CDF text. After all, he did authorize its publication.        It's fairly normal for theologians to speak out against documents that come from the Vatican's doctrinal office. But it's not so normal when bishops do so -- especially when it means "dissenting" from a clear Church teaching or discipline.       But that is what has happened. A number of bishops stepped forward (and others continue to join them) to say they disagree with the latest CDF statement, which was merely a re-iteration of the Church's official teaching on homosexuality.       And let's be honest. Except for its stinging line that God "cannot and does not bless sin", the authors of this statement seem to have tried -- though ham-handedly -- not to intentionally repeat the offensive language used in previous texts on homosexuality.      Bishops signal desire to "develop" teaching on homosexuality.          In fact, for the first time ever, we have a CDF document actually acknowledging that there can be "positive elements" in homosexual relationships, elements that "are in themselves to be valued and appreciated".        Of course, the authors of this badly argued text basically admit just one line later that they really cannot appreciate this because -- well, you know -- these "positive elements exist within the context of a union not ordered to the Creator's plan".      So, in the end, this latest CDF statement has not changed anything in the Vatican's longstanding, official line on homosexuality. Not a thing.       And yet, there was criticism and outrage -- even from bishops.       This is very significant, because it means that the Church's "official teachers of the faith" believe this teaching needs to be re-evaluated and developed.....(more)
In Ireland, the national synod will be organized by a lay woman
"The synodal pathway is an important and hope-filled development in the life of the Catholic Church in Ireland and I am grateful for the opportunity", says Nicola Brady
Limited Extract from Nicola Brady, subscription Journal La Croix International, 25 August 2021
The Catholic bishops of Ireland are promoting the "synodal pathway" by setting up an organizing committee headed by a woman under whose authority two assistants, including a bishop, will be placed.            After announcing their desire to hold a national synod, the Irish bishops have created an organizing committee responsible for carrying out the various stages leading up to the synod which should take place by 2026.       To chair it, they chose Nicola Brady, a laywoman who is General Secretary of the Irish Council of Churches and co-secretary of the Irish Inter-Church Meeting.       Nicola Brady has expertise in the field of faith-based peace-building on the island of Ireland and at the international level, according to a statement from the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference.        "The synodal pathway is an important and hope-filled development in the life of the Catholic Church in Ireland and I am grateful for the opportunity to help guide and shape this work", Nicola Brady said.        The vice-chairs of the synodal steering committee are Andrew O'Callaghan, a lay partner at the consulting firm PwC, and Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick.       The Irish bishops say they have been helped and greatly encouraged by Cardinal Mario Grech and Sister Nathalie Becquart, respectively secretary general and undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops.        The Irish Catholic Bishops Conference has identified seven areas for "listening to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church in Ireland', one of which is "honoring the contribution of women".         Women often feel undervalued by the Catholic Church. A study found that 74% of Irish Catholic women believed that the Church did not treat them with "a lot of respect", compared to 6% of Protestant women.        Former Irish president Mary McAleese has described the Catholic Church as "a primary global carrier of the virus of misogyny". A 2018 poll found that 55% agreed with McAleese that the Church does not treat women equally....(more).   Photo:  Nicola Brady N Brady Irish Council of Churches La Croix Int 20210925

Parish Redevelopment

A very early (external) look at our new, more accessible, Parish Office-to-be

Friday 27 August 2021

Structural steel being put in place across the entry and ceiling of the new parish office.

Centre of picture shows chapel windows, to the right is the  entry to parish office.


By The Way:

On  next weekend, September 5th, Father's Day,  we traditionally take up a collection for Retired Priests. Please see an 'advance notice' about this on the Mass Details page HERE

Fr Charles Balnaves appointed as Parish Priest of St Kevin’s Templestowe and St Gregory The Great Doncaster.

Edited extract from St Kevin'e Parish, 26 August 2021

Fr Charles  will commence his tenure on Wednesday, 8th September.  He  lived in the parish of St Kevin’s for twenty years.   He worked for BHP for thirty years, was married and has two adult sons.             He was among the early cohorts of men to prepare for ordination as permanent deacons in the Archdiocese, and was among the first group to be ordained deacons in October 2012.               During his time of preparation, and subsequent to ordination as deacon, Deacon Charles served as a very effective Deanery Resource Co-Ordinator for the Yarra Deanery. His first ministerial term as deacon was spent right in his “home” parish of St Kevin’s.             Fr Charles was a very good student during his preparation for the diaconate. He received a number of awards at Catholic Theological College and one year he received the Master’s Prize.             Charles’ wife died in March 2012 after a long illness during which he lovingly cared for her.                Some time later, Charles was encouraged to consider applying to be ordained a priest. He  obviously went on to apply for the priesthood, but he did so after serious and well-rounded spiritual discernment.            He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2015 and after a short time as an assistant priest, was appointed to the leadership of a parish. He has served on the Archbishop’s Council of Priests and, in December 2020, he was appointed to the inaugural Board of CatholicCare Victoria Ltd.     Many of St Kevins parishioners know Fr Charles already and his appointment to St Kevin’s and St Gregory The Great is testimony to the esteem in which he is held.      He will arrive on September 8, 2021 and take up residence at St Gregory the Great Parish.......(source)  Photo: St Kevin's

Call for Australia to take 20,000 Afghan refugees
Extract from CathNews NZ, SkyNews, 26 August 2021
Jesuit Priest and human rights lawyer Father Frank Brennan says Australia should take in 20,000 Afghan refugees rather than the 3,000 being proposed.       “There are lots of people, including our veterans, who know these Afghans. They want us to do more. We can do much better than 3,000,” Brennan told Sky News Australia.             There are particular fears for the safety of women and girls as the Taliban imposes hardline Islamic rule on Afghanistan.       Alex Hawke, the Australian Immigration Minister, defended the number, pointing out that Australia’s total intake of Afghans since 2013 would be up to 14,000.             He said Australia has been welcoming Afghans every year, unlike some other countries.            In 2015, the Abbott government granted 12,000 humanitarian visas to people in Syria on top of Australia’s regular humanitarian program.    However, Brennan pointed out that Australia used to have 18,750 places a year for humanitarian cases. That was reduced by 5,000 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “So, to say that we’ll just take 3,000 in the first place as a floor, not a ceiling, and that’s part of the 13,000. We need to get back to a decent intake.”             Brennan believes three issues need to be addressed related to the Afghanistan refugee situation.        The first issue is the evacuation of people from Afghanistan, given the collapse of the situation there. The Australian government need to “evacuate those who are Australian citizens, those who have visas and those who worked for the Australians.”             Secondly, Brennan asked, what will Australia do for those who will flow across the border, particularly into Pakistan and Iran or seeking refuge elsewhere?      “As Australians, we need to do our bit, and I’m one of those Australians who think our bit sounds more like twenty thousand rather than three thousand,” said Brennan.                The third issue Father Brennan raised was “what the country should do with the 5,000 Afghans on temporary protection visas. Many have been in Australia for 10 years?”       “I think we should move to give permanent residence to those 5,000 so they can start to sponsor their families. Then we can sponsor 20,000 places for those who are stranded in Pakistan or Iran.”...(more)
A closer look at synodality and its promise for a more inclusive church
Extract from Hosffman Ospino, Opinion Piece, National Catholic Reporter, 23 August 2021
My colleague Rafael Luciani is one of the world's leading experts on the topic of synodality, the experience of "walking together" rooted in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council that Pope Francis has called on the Catholic Church to embrace.         Luciani, a native of Venezuela, serves as a theological expert for the regional Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM) and the Confederation of Latin American Religious (CLAR).       He is also one of three Latin American theologians invited as expert advisers for the theological commission of the secretariat for the next Synod of Bishops. Earlier this year, Francis expanded the upcoming synod: It will begin with a diocesan phase this fall, followed by continental meetings next year, and will conclude with a general assembly at the Vatican in 2023.      uciani is professor extraordinarius at Boston College and a full professor at the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello in Venezuela.          We spoke earlier this month about synodality, why some Catholics seem reluctant or unwilling to consider this way of being church, and what it means that Xavière Missionary Sr. Nathalie Becquart, his former student, will be the first woman serving as a voting member at a Vatican synod.        Following is our interview, which I translated from Spanish and edited for length and clarity.      Ospino: We hear much about synodality these days.      What do you think needs more clarity to understand this topic better?           Luciani: Above all, synodality is a way in which the church is and acts in history. It is not a method of doing things. It is an ecclesial way of proceeding grounded in the ecclesiology of the people of God described in Chapter 2 of Lumen Gentium.........(more).  Photo:  Rafael Luciani NCR screenshot YouTube Boston College School of Theology and Ministry Continuing Education, NCR 20210823
Archbishop Coleridge urges PM to increase Afghan intake
Extract from CathNews, ACBC Media Blog, 20 August 2021
The Australian Government should provide at least 20,000 humanitarian places for Afghans in the wake of the Taliban takeover, Australian Catholic Bishop Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge has said.     In a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison last night, Archbishop Coleridge noted there has been “an outpouring of concern for the people of Afghanistan” as that country’s government has collapsed and the Taliban seized control.      He said the 3000 places offered above and beyond 8000 places over the past decade “is a substantial commitment, but more is needed”.      Based on estimates from key humanitarian organisations and pledges from other countries, Archbishop Coleridge proposed that at least another 17,000 places be made available.      “Australia has stepped up before in response to significant humanitarian crises, and I urge your government to be generous,” he wrote, adding that Catholic agencies “stand ready to assist your government with resettlement of refugees as an expression of our great concern for the people of Afghanistan”.      Archbishop Coleridge said many Afghans would find themselves vulnerable under Taliban rule, but he made particular mention of those who supported Australia’s defence personnel who served in Afghanistan, some of whom lost their lives, as well as religious minorities and women.    “It would seem our moral duty to stand with those who supported Australian military forces as interpreters or in other capacities, who it seems likely will suffer reprisals and even death for their work,” he wrote.     “We should also offer refuge to other Afghans who are likely to suffer persecution or risk being killed because of their opposition to the Taliban, or because of their beliefs, values and way of life, including members of the Christian community.         “There is a particular risk to women, and Australia's humanitarian response should recognise and support their dignity and human rights.”...(more). Photo: Archbishop Mark Coleridge ACBC CathNews 20210820
Pope Francis has said some interesting things about Vatican II in last several weeks.
Limited extract from from subscription journal La Croix Internmational, first published March 3, Republished 20 August 2021
On January 11, in a letter to the cardinal prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith accompanying his motu proprio allowing women to become lectors and acolytes, the pope described his decision in terms of the "horizon of renewal traced by the Second Vatican Council" and "in line with the Second Vatican Council."         Then came these remarks in his January 29 speech to the national catechetical office of the Italian bishops' conference:      This is the magisterium: the Council is the magisterium of the Church. Either you are with the Church and therefore you follow the Council, and if you do not follow the Council or you interpret it in your own way, as you wish, you are not with the Church. We must be demanding and strict on this point. The Council should not be negotiated in order to have more of these.... No, the Council is as it is. And this problem that we are experiencing, of selectivity with respect to the Council, has been repeated throughout history with other Councils.              As with all other teachings by Francis, these statements speak in a particularly direct way to U.S. Catholicism.       In recent months, some bishops and clerics have tried to advance a theologically defensible conservative interpretation of Vatican II, something to counter the extremist views of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò and a group of like-minded quasi-schismatics, who in addition to rejecting the "Bergolian" magisterium have taken a position that's hard to distinguish from pure and simple rejection of the council's teachings.        Bishop Robert Barron, for example, has spoken of attacks on Vatican II as a "disturbing trend," and Thomas Weinandy, former executive director of the Secretariat for Doctrine and Pastoral Practices of the USCCB, has chastised Viganò for challenging the council's authenticity.       But there's more than theological interpretation to consider......(Source)  . Photo: Pope Francis. La Croix International, 20210820
Catholic agencies help after Haiti quake, storm
Extract from CathNews, Caritas Australia,  20 August 2021  
A tropical storm that hit Haiti three days after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake has complicated efforts to provide help to the Caribbean nation.      Since the earthquake on Saturday, Catholic agencies Catholic Relief Services and Caritas Haiti have been working to provide relief to over 75,000 families affected.      At least 1,941 deaths and more than 6,900 have been injured so far, with expectations for these figures to continue to rise. At least 37,000 homes were destroyed and another 46,000 damaged.     On Tuesday, Tropical Storm Grace hit Haiti.      “We’d feared widespread destruction from the storm, but thankfully the storm weakened over Haiti and the flooding of the city of Cayes was not as severe as we’d anticipated,” said Melville Fernandez, Caritas Australia’s humanitarian emergencies manager.       “Nonetheless, the storm has complicated relief efforts because now some key roads are impassable from flooding-related landslides or damage to bridges. The ongoing gang violence along key routes to the south is also making local travel extremely dangerous for humanitarian workers, which makes responding even tougher.”        There is immediate and urgent need for food, water, shelter, hygiene kits and first aid to be distributed. Donations: Caritas Australia’s Emergency Response Appeal or call 1800 024 413....(more).  Photo: Haiti, Catholic agencies help after quake Caritas Haiti, CathNews 20210820
Unnecessary red tape aimed at silencing charities
Extract from Fr Frank Brennan, CathNews, Eureka Street, 18 August 2021
If the Morrison Government is going to add another layer of red tape to the operation of charities, it needs to provide a coherent, transparent explanation about what it is up to, writes Fr Frank Brennan SJ.          Last Wednesday, the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Delegated Legislation chaired by the Government’s Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells tabled a report highlighting problems with a proposed new regulation affecting charities.       Australia’s 59,000 registered charities are the backbone of the voluntary sector assisting citizens in all manner of situations, particularly in times of emergency and particularly in situations of ongoing economic deprivation. Think only of Vinnies and the Salvos.     The Morrison Government has a strong commitment to reducing government red tape. But at the same time, it has moved to tighten the supervision of charities.       The proposed new regulation would place a charity at risk of losing its registration if one of its staff or volunteers were to do an act (or omit to do an act) that may be dealt with as a summary offence under an Australian law relating to real property, personal property or causing personal injury or harm to an individual.      Vinnies chief Toby O'Connor gave the example that if a Vinnies member participated in the annual Palm Sunday protest rally against the Government’s refugee and asylum policy and disobeyed a police direction at one of these protests, it could impact on the ongoing registration of Vinnies as a charity....(more).
Technology in place for first Plenary Council assembly
Extract from ACBC, Melbourne Catholic, 16 August 2021
Despite large parts of the country being in lockdown, those planning the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia say all is in readiness to deliver the first assembly in October wholly online. Bishop Shane Mackinlay, the Plenary Council’s vice-president, said the Council journey has adapted to changing circumstances because of COVID-19 – and it is adapting again.         'With most of the country’s population currently in lockdown or having experienced lockdowns in recent weeks, we have plans in place to ensure the first assembly opens on October 3,' he said.        'Just as there was disappointment in needing first to postpone the assembly and then to move to regional hubs, the likelihood that most members will now join the assembly from their home is not what we had planned and hoped for.       'We know, though, that the Holy Spirit can and will work through this assembly, just as the Spirit has led us over the past three-and-a-half years.'        Plenary Council facilitator Lana Turvey-Collins said a huge amount of work had been done to prepare for the Council to be held in hubs, with each member participating on their own device.            'As a result, this shift to most people participating from home is a pivot rather than a major detour from what we were planning,' she said.        'We are receiving exceptional support from technical experts within and beyond the Church to ensure that we can make the virtual assembly one that allows for the prayer, conversation, listening and discernment we’ve hoped for all along.'       Teams working on liturgy, communications and the assembly’s program are also altering existing plans for the new format.      Bishop Mackinlay said the approximately 280 members of the Council gathered online in four groups in recent weeks to continue their formation, including from a technology perspective.     'While there has been greater exposure to videoconferencing in the past 18 months, the Microsoft Teams environment was new to some,' he said....(more)
Excommunicated or not, Call to Action leader served his church, community
Extracts from National Catholic Reporter, 19 August 2021
John Krejci has died in Lincoln, Nebraska.    It really wasn't his intent to die. Just no other options. For 15 years, he had outlasted the cancer that was supposed to take him in a year. All the while, he protested on street corners, testified for or against legislative bills, wrote countless letters, went fishing, rode his bike all over town and played ice hockey. Attitude, he said, was everything.         A daily communicant, John was a person of faith and action who took "Love your neighbor" seriously. Even if the cause he championed was unpopular or ahead of its time or iconoclastic, he persisted. He'd challenge the powers-that-be because he simply expected them to do their best. He thought that if one were reasonable and direct and grounded in love, the challenge was worth the effort.     John grew up in the Omaha Czech community, went to seminary in Missouri and studied in Rome. Marching on March 7, 1965, at the second crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma was his call to a life of activism. John never stopped marching.     He left the priesthood in good standing to pursue graduate work at the University of Notre Dame, studying social work — and capped it off with a doctorate in anthropology and sociology. There, he and former Benedictine nun Jean Gettelfinger met and married.....John also worked among the Omaha and Winnebago tribes, served on the board of Nebraskans for Peace, was active in the local NAACP and supported the United Nations Association's Model UN.         He was a frequent letter writer to newspapers, heads of church and state, and anyone else who he felt wasn't fully informed. He was on the street in vigils against the death penalty or protesting this or that war or liquor sales in communities bordering Indian reservations.....(more).  Photo:  John and Jean Krejci, Jennifer Krejci, NCR 20210819
Mary Assumed into Heaven?
No, just descending from the wall of the church to be restored before ascending to her new position on  the wall of our new Parish Centre
Our new Parish Centre - up it goes
Friday 13 August 2021
Photo 1 (l-r top row) shows our crane-driver-in-training!  Photos 3&4 show the 1st wall: extending from the ground floor office to the 1st floor Presbytery.   Photos 5-6 show the external wall between the Vet’s and the Parish Office & Presbytery
Drinking ‘At the Well’ with three wise women
Extract from CathNews, Catholic Outlook Parramatta Diocese, 13 August 2021
Young women in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains have been inspired to “let God do his thing” among all the challenges of lockdown. Source: Catholic Outlook.       A group of 30 women discussed faith, life and womanhood during the Parramatta Diocese’s of Parramatta’s At the Well online gathering last week.       Participants were able to ask questions about life, faith, careers and vocation to three guest panellists – Joy Adan, Danica D’Souza and Stephanie Musgrave.        One of the questions the panel was asked was how do they managed to balance their faith and living in our modern society.        Ms D’Souza, a certified dietitian, explained said she felt she was living in two different worlds growing up, but that she is blessed to have found a group of Catholic women who can guide her through her struggles.       Ms Adan, a podcaster, content journalist and mother of two, said she is passionate about encouraging women to understand that they are women of God.        The panel were asked how they remained hopeful that their vocation is meant for them despite all the difficulties of lockdown.        Ms Musgrave, head of primary at Santa Sophia Catholic College in Box Hill in Melbourne, said she was meant to be married during this period of lockdown.        “During this time of lockdown, I’ve learnt patience and I’ve learnt to trust in God and the way that God loves me,” she said.         “God’s plans are so much richer than we can ever think of, and I know that’s what will get me through these times. God knows better than what I could ever plan, so I just need to let God do his thing,” she said.....(more).  Image: Three Wise Women CathNews, Parramatta Diocese, 202108113
The challenge of Church leadership
Extract from Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street, 12 August 2021
Two recent books set out the size of the challenge and the kind of leadership for meeting it envisaged by Pope Francis in his Synodal process.  As its title suggests, Wrestling with the Church Hierarchy takes a critical view of the leadership of the Catholic Church. It comprises annotated articles and talks of John Warhurst, a political scientist and long-standing columnist in Eureka Street. The collection gathers together descriptions of the Australian Catholic Church and its relationship to the State, correspondence, advocacy and personal views.        It begins with the findings of the Royal Commission on Sexual Abuse, which offered a study of an organisation whose operative values differed sharply from its professed mission both in the action of some of its officers and the cover up of their crimes.  It led a group of Canberra Catholics to which Warhurst belonged to advocate for church reform in response to this event, and later to the announcement of the Plenary Council.          Warhurst brings to this work his extensive participation and experience in Catholic agencies concerned with social justice. In his engagement with Catholic leaders about the Plenary Council and its processes he found them generally intent on avoiding engagement. The overall tone of his writing is not polemical but explanatory and persuasive, respectful of persons and positive in proposing necessary reform. He was clearly frustrated by the difficulty of persuading Church leaders to engage in ways that are recognised commonly as good governance.  He sees the defects of Catholic hierarchical leadership as structural, leading to a lack of transparency, accountability, consultation, inclusivity and humility, and a surfeit of clericalism. In that sense the tone of the book is elegiac.        Warhurst’s work is helpful in illustrating in great detail the difficulties of promoting needed change in the face of structural paralysis.  The short book of Anne Benjamin and Charles Burford complements it by presenting an attractive and detailed understanding of leadership in the Church which might free the energy needed for reform.  Leadership in a Synodal Church is informed with familiarity with contemporary theories of leadership. It provides the background for understanding Pope Francis’ concept of a synodal Church.....(more).     Image: Eureka Street 20210812
Encounter with Jesus is more important than all of the commandments
Extract from Pope Francis, America-the Jesuit Review. 11 August 2021
Brothers and sisters, good morning!     “Why the law?” (Gal 3:19). This is the question that we want to deepen today, continuing with St. Paul, to recognize the newness of the Christian life enlivened by the Holy Spirit. But if the Holy Spirit exists, if Jesus exists who redeemed us, why the law?  And this is what we must reflect on today. The Apostle writes:  “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Gal 5:18). Instead, Paul’s detractors sustained that the Galatians had to follow the Law to be saved. They were going backward. They were nostalgic for times gone by, of the times before Jesus Christ. The Apostle is not at all in agreement.  These were not the terms he had agreed on with the other Apostles in Jerusalem. He remembers very well Peter’s words when he said: “Why do you make trial of God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?” (Acts 15:10). The dispositions that had emerged in that ‘first council’ – the first ecumenical council was the one that took place in Jerusalem – and the dispositions that emerged were very clear.  They said: “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us [the apostles] to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols [that is, idolatry] and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity” (Acts 15:28-29). Some of the things touched on worshiping God, and idolatry, and some things regarding the way of understanding life at that time.                             When Paul speaks about the Law, he is normally referring to the Mosaic Law, the law given by Moses, the Ten Commandments. It was in relationship to, it was on the way, it was a preparation, it was related with the Covenant that God had established with his people.  According to various Old Testament texts, the Torah – that is, the Hebrew term used to indicate the Law – is the collection of all those prescriptions and norms the Israelites had to observe by virtue of the Covenant with God.  An effective synthesis of what the Torah can be found in this text of Deuteronomy, that says......(more).   Photo:  Pope Francis general audience 2021 CNS Vatican Media, America the Jes. Rev. 20210811
The bishops must hear the laity for synodal process to succeed
Limited extracts from Frank Callus, The Tablet, 9 August 2021
....Religious practice evolves. It is not the norm for rapid and dramatic change. These times are far from normal, however. One thousand nine hundred and fifty years after the desecration of the Temple in Jerusalem, the Church faces its own significant moment. The pandemic has closed churches, interrupted the ebb and flow of liturgical services and caused profound anguish to people of faith and people of none......The papacy of Pope Francis is the one that spans the pre- and post-Covid-19 eras. In many ways his sense of mission is perfectly in tune with the spirit of the age. He has been shaped by a global pandemic and seeks to shape a global response. Even before the first cases in Wuhan, his papacy has been characterised by a renewed interest in and commitment to the principles of a synodal Church............. It was Pope St Paul VI who developed the concept of a Church that was in dialogue with itself. The establishment of the synod of bishops has become an integral part of the governance of the Catholic Church for the last half century. For the Church, in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council, synodality was a process that engaged the clergy in general and the episcopate in particular........Like the Jews in Jerusalem in the first century, we need to find our new place in a community where the Church will need to be alive to the needs of the local area, where the domestic issues are at the centre of our concern and where pastor and people journey together. The synod is a call to the people of God to consider what they need from the Church and how they are to be Church to the rest of the world.....(full article HERE).     Photo: Bishops, Pope Francis closing Mass Amazonia Synod Robert Harding Alamy, The Tablet 20210809
Vinnies National President to participate in Catholic Church's historic Plenary Council meeting
Extract from St Vincent de Paul Society,  Media Release, 9 August 2021
Speaking just weeks before the first assembly of the historic 5th Plenary Council in Australia, National Council President and Plenary Council Member, Claire Victory, said she hoped the Plenary Council would lead to greater inclusion and an urgent recasting of church leadership and governance at every level of the Church in Australia.        ‘The Plenary Council process is one opportunity for urgently needed cultural and systemic change identified not just by the recent child sex abuse royal commission, but by faithful lay Catholics for decades.       ‘As the largest lay-led Catholic organisation in Australia the St Vincent de Paul Society has a crucial role to play in the restoration of our church’s credibility’, Ms Victory said.         ‘Our mission as church is not to fill buildings, but to reach people where they are, not where the church wants them to be.  This is what Vincentians do when we offer care and support to people who are disadvantaged, voiceless and in need of a hand up.       ‘This calls for a paradigm shift – from an authoritarian, hierarchical, patriarchal model to a communion of communities engaged in dialogue, discernment and decision making around both ecclesial and social concerns.             ‘To transform itself, the Church must strive to be more representative of the entire community it seeks to serve. We want our Church to be known for its commitment to the poor, not as passive recipients of our benevolence but as people central to the Church’s life and mission.         ‘The Society strongly advocates for a Church that condemns clericalism and promotes a more transparent and accountable model where hierarchical structures give way to shared leadership, where wisdom is sought through a process of genuine dialogue and inclusive vision.       ‘We don’t know how successful the Plenary Council process will be in enabling the voice of lay people to be heard or what will come out of this historic opportunity, but we choose to remain optimistic about the potential for the genuine engagement of lay Catholics.                 ‘Do we want the smooth path to completion or are willing to engage in the radical and confronting work of transformation to make room for the new?         ‘As Vincentians, we hope that this Plenary Council (and the significant hard work that follows it) will lead to a Church that has a more deliberate, inclusive and intentional focus on its fundamental mission of following Christ by serving the poor,’ Ms Victory said.....(More). 

Update Parish Redevelopment Project

Friday 6 August 2021

The walls of our new Chapel facing unto Upper Heidelberg Road go up.


Church urges action to care for the earth, the poor
Social Justice Statement, Australia’s bishops commit to a seven-year journey towards seven Laudato Si’ Goals
Extract from CathNews, 6 August 2021
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has made an historic commitment to work towards a more sustainable Church in its annual statement promoting social justice.      In the Social Justice Statement 2021-22 launched online yesterday, Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor, the bishops commit to a seven-year journey towards seven Laudato Si’ Goals.      “We are facing an ecological crisis and Pope Francis wants the whole Church globally to act with a greater sense of urgency,” said Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, chair of the Bishops Commission for Social Justice, Mission and Service.      “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been caring for country from time immemorial. The rest of us need to listen, and to learn how we can walk together to care for the whole of creation – including one another.”       The statement explains that the Laudato Si’ Goals “aim to put Pope Francis’ [2015] encyclical into practice, making communities around the world sustainable in the spirit of the integral ecology of Laudato Si’”.      The statement urges families, schools, parishes, dioceses and organisations to join the bishops in signing up to the Laudato Si’ Action Platform.      The platform, an initiative of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, will gather ideas for action from around the globe to help participants in their journeys.      The Bishops Conference’s Office for Social Justice has been involved in developing the platform.      At the statement’s launch, Bishop Long also announced a new name for that agency – now known as the Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace – affirming “social justice, ecology and peace are inseparable”.......(more).  Photo: SJS_Cry_of_the_earth-ACBC_2021-22 CathNews 20210806
Bishops Conference names deputy general secretary
Extract from CathNews, ACBC, 6 August 2021
Jeremy Stuparich, who for 10 years has been the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s public policy director, has been appointed to a new role as the Conference’s deputy general secretary.      Mr Stuparich will retain his public policy responsibilities while working closely with the general secretary, Fr Stephen Hackett MSC, in the new role.      Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of the Bishops Conference, said the role was established following an analysis of the responsibilities of the general secretary, which have grown significantly in recent years.       The role will occupy about half of Mr Stuparich’s workload. He will continue to handle the Conference’s government relations and oversight of political and social matters, with the Public Policy Office to receive additional resources to assist with other policy and research work.      Archbishop Coleridge said Mr Stuparich has been a major contributor to the work of the Conference and the Church in Australia for many years.      “Jeremy is among the longest-serving staff members in the Conference and someone the bishops know, trust and respect,” he said.       “Jeremy has seen significant changes in the life and work of the Conference and understands well our current mission and purpose. He will very capably work with Fr Hackett in a range of important areas which will help the Conference to function even more effectively.”        Mr Stuparich said he looks forward to taking on the additional responsibilities as part of the Conference’s senior leadership.      “My new role will be to help support the work done by the bishops commissions and their executive secretaries, to foster the ongoing professional development of Conference personnel and to support the improved governance and operations of the Conference.”...(more)Photo: Jeremy_Stuparich-ACBC_CathNews 20210806
Rebel Irish Bishops defy government’s Covid Communion ban
Extract from Sarah Mac Donald, The Tablet, 5 August 2021
Rebel bishops in Ireland plan to defy the government’s ban on First Holy Communions and Confirmations by recommencing the sacraments in their dioceses later this month.      The move was first announced by Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran, who said he had made the decision after consulting senior priests in his diocese. He said the ceremonies would be held in line with public health regulations for general religious services.      Currently the rules for such ceremonies allow 50 worshippers in smaller buildings and pods of 50 spaced out by four metres in bigger premises.      Writing in the Irish Independent, Bishop Doran says: “The mission of the Church cannot be put on hold indefinitely.”      Following his decision, the bishops of Clogher, Meath, Raphoe and Waterford and Lismore said they would also be recommencing Communions and Confirmations....(more).   Photo: Irish rebel Bishops defy Communion ban George Sweeney Alamy
Crises are signs that church is still alive, pope says
In a video message released by the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network Aug. 3, 2021, Pope Francis offered his prayer intention for the month of August and prayed that the church "may receive from the Holy Spirit the grace and strength to reform herself in the light of the Gospel."
Extract from Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service.
Difficulties and crises within the Catholic Church are not signs of a church in decline but one that is alive and living through challenges, just like men and women today, Pope Francis said.      “Let us remember that the church always has difficulties, always is in crisis, because she’s alive. Living things go through crises. Only the dead don’t have crises,” he said.       In a video message released by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network Aug. 3, the pope offered his prayer intention for the month of August, which is dedicated to the church’s mission of evangelization.      At the start of each month, the network posts a short video of the pope offering his specific prayer intention.      The church’s call to evangelize and not proselytize, he said, is more than just a vocation; it is a part of the Catholic Church’s identity.      “We can only renew the church by discerning God’s will in our daily life and embarking on a transformation guided by the Holy Spirit. Our own reform as persons is that transformation. Allowing the Holy Spirit, the gift of God, in our hearts reminds us what Jesus taught and helps us put it into practice,” the pope said.      Catholics can renew the church only by “discerning God’s will in our daily life” and putting Jesus’ teaching into practice, he added.       “Let us begin reforming the church with a reform of ourselves, without prefabricated ideas, without ideological prejudices, without rigidity, but rather by moving forward based on spiritual experience — an experience of prayer, an experience of charity, an experience of service,” the pope said.      Before reciting his prayer intention, Pope Francis expressed his hope for “an even more missionary option” that “goes out to meet others without proselytism.”       “Let us pray for the church, that she may receive from the Holy Spirit the grace and strength to reform herself in the light of the Gospel,” he said.....(more)   Photo: Pope Francis prayer church recs from Holy Spirit grace and strength to reform in light of Gospel CNS screenshot Vatican Media 20210803
Parish Redevelopment Project
Update from Pat Kelly, Project Manager, Parish Pastoral Council, Friday 30 July 2021
While our project at the Mary Immaculate site is progressing well we are expecting a 20 - 30 day delay in the completion of the project due to weather and Covid restrictions. We now hope for a completion date around the end of March or early April 2022.        Work inside the church and on the new chapel and office area continues and works are planned to commence on the Upper Heidelberg Rd side of the church, which include the new sacristies and toilets.       While we hoped to be in the new Parish Centre by Easter that now seems a little problematic at this stage because even after the completion of the building works there will be much moving to do from both the current presbytery and the Mother of God Church and Parish Office site. We will also have to await our Certificate of Occupancy to be issued by our building surveyor.      The other side of our Redevelopment Project is the realization and realignment of parish property assets, a central part of this long-term project, which has been on the Parish agenda for nigh on fifteen years.      With the assistance of the Archdiocese, agents have been appointed for the eventual sale of both the presbytery and Mother of God Church. Covid lockdowns notwithstanding, the presbytery will soon go to market with a possible auction date in September, while MOG church will not proceed to market until we are more certain of the timing of our move to our new Parish Centre.       The objective of our Redevelopment Project is to provide the facilities for the future where we can meet and support each other as a strong Catholic community. Each day now brings us closer to realising this objective.
Consultation prompts diverse responses
Extract from CathNews, The Southern Cross,  30 July 2021
More than 600 responses have been provided as part of the consultation phase of the Adelaide Diocesan Assembly since a video message was shown at every parish and community in the diocese last month.           In the video, Adelaide Archbishop Patrick O’Regan invited people to participate in the consultation by reflecting on the community and diocesan family, and answering the Diocesan Assembly question, “What do you think are the most important things to be discussed at the Diocesan Assembly?”        The gathering is scheduled to take place at Cabra Dominican College on September 17 and 18.      Diocesan Assembly coordinator Peter Bierer said while the number of responses received via the website and postage-paid postcards was “not insignificant” he was still hoping for more people to share their “thoughts, ideas, feelings and hopes”.       “The responses from this consultation phase, along with the local responses from the Plenary Council listening and dialogue process from a few years ago, will guide the development of the agenda for the Diocesan Assembly,” he said.      “So the more responses we receive from a wider diversity of people, the better the discussions will be at the Assembly.”      Mr Bierer said the responses so far touched on a wide range of topics, from the length of homilies and quality of music in parishes, to global issues such as the priesthood and the sacraments.       He added that some of the responses were things that could be passed on immediately to specific communities and parishes to address. The global issues could be discussed and sent to Rome.       The Diocesan Assembly co-ordinating team has produced a short video with a sample of the responses received to date. The video can be viewed at www.adelaidediocesanassembly......(more).    Image:Adelaide Diocesan Assembly, Adelaide Archdiocese, CathNews 20210730
Let’s go to where the people are: Archbishop Comensoli
Extract from CathNews, The Weekend Australian, 26 July 2021
A mission renewal process in the Melbourne Archdiocese has reinforced a shift in city populations, with the once-dominant inner-city parishes being overtaken by outer suburban churches in the city’s growth areas.       The archdiocese is undertaking a major internal review of how it sells the Gospel in a changing society, with moves to set up a series of missions that will attempt to serve more than one million mainly Melbourne Catholics.        Melbourne Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli is overseeing a process of renewal that includes a reordering of resources and an expectation of considerable changes to the way the Church functions in the future.          He said a key aspect of the mission renewal was making sure that resources were allocated to growth areas without forgetting inner areas; six of the top-10 parishes with the smallest Catholic population are now in the inner city.        “I’m saying let’s go to where the people are,” Archbishop Comensoli said. “Where do you go to plant the seeds? Go plant them where the people are.”         Census data shows that five of the top-10 parishes are in Melbourne’s north and the other five in the west, which coincide with some of Australia’s highest population growth, fuelled by cheaper housing and immigration.        The mission renewal process is being greeted with concern by clergy, many of whom are ageing and facing uncertainty over their futures and how they will spend their final years as priests.....(more)  Photo: Archbishop Peter Comensoli with Fr Fabian Smith and the Samoan Divine Mercy Choir at outer-west parish of St Anthony CathNews 20210726
Church, Network Ten to mark 50-year milestone
Extract from CathNews, 26 July 2021
The longest-running program on Australian commercial television, Mass for You at Home, will celebrate 50 years on our screens when Mass is broadcast into people’s living rooms on August 1. Source: Wollongong Diocese and ACBC.        Mass for You at Home, which originally aired on Channel 0 in Victoria, was a ministry of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne from 1971 until earlier this year.        It is now produced by Wollongong Diocese, in partnership with the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. It airs on Network 10 across Australia and is also available online via 10 Play and the Mass for You at Home website.       Wollongong Bishop Brian Mascord said much has changed in the 50 years since Mass was first broadcast on free-to-air television. The need for the Mass remains, though.       “Fr Michael King’s vision from the early 1970s – to provide spiritual nourishment to the housebound – is still relevant today for people who are sick, infirm, in hospital or aged care, in prison or don’t have internet,” he said.      “We also have a special commitment to the deaf, supported by AUSLAN interpreters.      “To bring a real sense of the sacred to people, inviting them to be part of a scattered yet connected worshipping community, is a privilege and a great responsibility. We take that responsibility seriously and are humbled by the letters, emails and calls we receive from our grateful community.      “The pandemic has also introduced a new audience to Mass for You at Home, via television and online platforms.”.....(More).   Photo. Recording an episode of Mass for You at Home, ACBC, CathNews, 20210726
‘HOME Ground’ keeps the Church in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains open
Extract from Christina Gretton, Catholic Outlook, Archdiocese of Parramatta, 25 July 2021
From the creatives behind the success of The Well streaming platform during the 2020 lockdown, the ministries of the Diocese of Parramatta have ‘dug deep’ again with “HOME Ground” launching this week.              Commencing Monday 26 July 2021 and continuing for four weeks, the ministries of the Diocese of Parramatta invite people to HOME Ground online gatherings featuring an innovative mix of conversation, music, talks and prayer.        Sr Ailsa Mackinnon RSM, Chancellor of Ministries in the Diocese explained, “With the pressure of lockdown and its imminent extension into August, our new Mission Enhancement Team, MET – Parramatta has responded to the times. We want to provide spiritual and emotional support.      “While church buildings are closed, HOME Ground is an additional way we can ‘open our doors’ to our parishioners online,” she said.        James Camden, Head, Mission Engagement in the Diocese added, “HOME Ground seeks to meet people where they are right now. Since ‘lockdown 2.0’ started in June this year, we’ve been inundated with requests from people who are slipping through the cracks.      “These nightly HOME Ground offerings are full of variety and complement the wonderful online ministry and Masses already being led at many parishes across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains,” he said. “There’s something for everyone.”         Gatherings include game nights; social justice round tables; “Worship Wednesdays” featuring Fr Rob Galea and Gen Bryant; the FaithFeed Livestream with follow-up conversation nights; and special check-ins for young people......(more)  Photo: Home Ground Parramatta Archdiocese, 20210725
Who are our Plenary Archdiocesan members?
In the lead-up to Australia’s Fifth Plenary Council, the Catholic Voice sought the views of some of our Archdiocesan members. They discuss their Plenary journey, reflections, expectations.
Extract from Catholic Voice, Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, 6 July, republished here 25 July 2021
John Warhurst          What has your role been?      In terms of the official plenary process my role hasn’t been to do very much yet. I have a set of core beliefs about greater equality for lay people in the church especially women. I am a believer in increased transparency, accountability and co-responsibility in the church. I am an open-minded good listener. I believe the church is at a crisis point and there has to be some bold reforms taken.        What do you expect to come out of the plenary process?      The honest answer is, I don’t know. It’s a process that has been made much more difficult by the fact that we aren’t all meeting together, we are in multimodal hubs and online so in terms of the logistics that’s difficult and we haven’t had our training sessions yet and the agenda hasn’t been published yet. The aspirations have been set very high and I think there has to be something substantial across several areas in terms of the church’s internal operations and the church’s relationship with the wider world.        What do you believe are the perceived expectations from those in the Archdiocese?        Some people are more or less happy with business as usual with some tinkering around the edges, but a whole lot of people are unhappy in terms of the place of women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the church, dealing with the ageing of the church, and it’s a necessity to do something about those.     What do you tell people who believe nothing will change?       I tell them that this is a great opportunity and try to put your scepticism on the backburner for a while to give the process a chance.       How confident are you that the outcomes of the plenary will represent the changing demographic face of the church?          The church is changing around us and in my own parish it is more multi-cultural than ever. The church has to engage with the hopes and aspirations of recent immigrants and the multicultural community. That depends on a willingness and confidence of the multicultural community to speak up for themselves and to engage and also listen to other delegates.        Do you feel you are a voice for a particular group of people in the Archdiocese?         I hope to be a voice for everyone. Having said that there’s no doubt because of my background and age I am a Vatican II Catholic and I hope to speak for the aspirations of Vatican II Catholics who have had a lifetime of hoping for church reform including a voice of the laity................(More  - including from Sally Fitzgerald,  Brigid Cooney).     Photo: Canberra Goulburn Archdiocesan Plenary members L R Monsignor John Woods  Brigid Cooney  Archbishop Prowse  John Warhurst  Sally FitzGerald  Fr Tony Percy VG
Parishes: Leadership and other issues associated with clustering and mergers
Extract from Brendan Daly*,  CathNews NZ 23 July 2021
Today the most common experience of church and Christian community is in a parish. In many dioceses and archdioceses, parishes are being clustered into pastoral areas,2 and often the number of Masses in these pastoral areas is being rationalised and timed so that it is easier for neighbouring priests to celebrate Masses in the other parishes for which they are responsible.      When parishes are clustered, priests sometimes find it difficult with the number of meetings they now have to attend, because there is a parish council and a parish finance committee in each parish.        Also, throughout New Zealand and Australia, parishes are being combined or merged with other parishes. Major questions arise concerning leadership and the role of priests. Church buildings are sometimes being sold for profane use or used as educational facilities, rather than as places of worship.      These changes in parishes raise a number of pastoral and canonical issues concerning leadership, ownership of property, consultation and the procedures required. In fact, suppressions and alterations to parishes elsewhere in the world have been successfully challenged by recourse to the Holy See.       Scripture.........(more)
*Brendan Daly is a priest from the diocese of Christchurch and a Doctor of Canon Law. He taught at Holy Cross College, Dunedin and then at Good Shepherd Theological College, Auckland. In 2002 he became principal at Good Shepherd College and is now a Lecturer at Te Kupenga. Brendan is a judge on the Tribunal of the Catholic Church for New Zealand.
Catholic charities not slowing down during lockdown
Extract from CathNews, The Catholic weekly,  23 July 2021
During the lockdown, Catholic charities are determined to continue reaching out to Sydney’s rough sleepers and other people needing a little help to get by.        Maronites on Mission Australia directory George Nasr says that while the lockdown has forced it to pare back some of its projects, its food services across the city continue in a COVID-safe way – although meal preparations at St Charbel’s Church in Punchbowl stopped last week as it is located in one of the areas of heightened concern.        “There are many people who have a roof over their head, often they live in government housing, and they are just barely getting by,” Mr Nasr said.         Carrie Deane, community manager at St Canice’s Kitchen in Elizabeth Bay, east of the CBD, said that it had closed its indoor and outdoor dining areas and was running a takeaway service offering its usual variety of hot, freshly cooked lunches each day.        Along with shower and toilet facilities, health and legal support, St Canice’s is also offering to keep in touch by phone with any community members feeling isolated during the lockdown.       Brett Macklin, director of housing and homeless at St Vincent de Paul Society NSW, said that it was similarly business as usual at the Matthew Talbot Hostel in Woolloomooloo, except for increased COVID-safe measures including take-away meals being provided for non-residents....(more).  Photo:Maronites Mission Australia volunteers Sydney lockdown, The Catholic Weekly Giovanni Portelli Cathnews 20210723
Nathalie Becquart explains synodality
In lengthy interview in Germany, the first-ever woman undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops says Church decisions must involve listening to as many Catholics as possible
Limited extract from  Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, Subscription Journal, La Croix International, 22 July 2021
Nathalie Becquart, the French religious sister who was named undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops last February, says Church leaders need to include a plurality of opinions in decision-making processes to avoid endorsing one limited view of the world.        The 52-year member of the Xaviere Missionary Sisters is the first-ever woman to be appointed to an executive position in the Synod secretariat.             And when the Synod of Bishops holds it next plenary session in October 2023, she will make history again by being the first woman ever to vote at such a gathering.        Becquart is keenly aware of how greatly symbolic that will be for many Catholics.      But in a 12-page interview published by German Catholic Podcast Himmelklar, she insisted that if the decision-making process is truly synodal, then the vote at the end will be "more or less a formality".      A Church in which everyone has a voice       "To put it quite simply, synodality means walking together along a common path and being an itinerary Church in which all the baptized work together," she said.       The undersecretary said a synodal Church is one in which everyone has a voice. She called it an inclusive Church concerned with relationships.         And she explained that the people in the secretariat in Rome have made efforts to be in contact with as many different Catholics as possible in order to really listen to what they have to say.             They had already arranged meetings with bishops' conferences and Catholic associations on the continental level.       "Pope Francis has made it clear that the coming Synod must result from a process that emanates from the very roots of the Church," she noted......(source).  Photo: Sister Nathalie Becquart in Rome, ALBERTO PIZZOLI AFP, La Croix Int 20210722
Women believers changed the Roman Empire — now we must change the Roman Church
Extracts from Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter, 22 July 2021
On the feast day of the "apostle to the apostles," St. Mary of Magdala, I want to reflect on something I suspect this first witness to the Resurrection and foremost leader in the early Jesus movement might find puzzling. Namely, what is the big deal about recognizing women's leadership in today's Catholic faith communities?        We live in a very different cultural context than did Mary of Magdala and other early Christian women, but our own times are no less in need of Christ's healing energy than the ones in which they lived.         The Jesus movement spread rapidly throughout the Roman Empire because of the initiative of female prophets, evangelists, missionaries, heads of house churches and widows, and financial support from Christian businesswomen such as Mary of Magdala and Joanna (Luke 8:1-3) as well as Lydia (Acts 16:11-40), Phoebe (Romans 16:1-2), Olympias, a fourth-century deacon (whose feast day is July 25) and others.       Pope Benedict XVI himself acknowledged as much on Feb. 14, 2007, when he said the "the history of Christianity would have turned out very differently without the contribution of women" and noted the "female presence that was anything but secondary."          Church historians tell us that the domestic networking and evangelizing efforts of women led to the remarkable expansion of early Christianity. Early house churches were led by women of status such as Grapte, a second-century leader of communities of widows and orphans in Rome. Through the house church, early Christians gained access to social networks that brought them into contact with people from diverse social classes.           When a female head of household, perhaps a wealthy widow or freed woman, converted to Christianity, Christian evangelists such as Prisca (Romans 16:3-5) or Paul gained access not only to her domestic household but also to her patronage network. This meant that her slaves, freed persons, children, relatives and patronal clients would convert as well. ...........In their exhaustively researched book A Woman's Place, Carolyn Osiek and Margaret Y. MacDonald demonstrated that within their Christian social networks, these lower-class Christian women had money, high status and freedom of movement, especially throughout the extended household of antiquity.        This is affirmed by a notorious critic of the early church, Celsus, who took a dim view of women's evangelizing activities.....(More).   Photo:Christ's Appearance to Mary Magdalene Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov CNS Wikimedia Commons, NCR 20210622
The challenges of representing Catholic Australia
Extract from John Warhurst, Eureka Street,  20 July 2021
The Plenary Council First Assembly is only two months away, but uncertainty still remains about the role that its 282 members will play. Not just about what work they will do but what conception of the role they will bring or will be imposed upon them by the authorities. Their designation has changed from delegate to member, freeing them somewhat from the expectation that they will be tied to the views of their diocese or other ‘sponsoring’ body. But it has not resolved some perceived role confusion both among the members themselves and within the wider Catholic community. This confusion has important consequences.             My member formation session last month was told, in the context of discussion about the part that connection with the wider Catholic community would play in the assembly, that the Plenary Council Assembly should ideally be a community but not a bubble.  I was struck by this description because it nicely encapsulates the possibilities.  There is a sense in which the membership should bond together to do its “job”, but not to the extent of shutting out the general community. This leaves room for individual members to be a bridge to the broader Catholic community and raises expectations that the Catholic people have a right and duty to communicate with them.                 My impression is that the Plenary Council organisers have always leant towards a narrow vision of the assembly.  Members have been advised that they have no responsibilities beyond official PC duties. The PC authorities have also not tried to take obvious steps towards encouraging connections between members and the community. For instance, they have not provided public contact addresses, such as email addresses, which would enable the community to contact PC members directly.  They have also allowed several members to continue in their role although they have left their dioceses temporarily for travel or study. This breaks the desirable link to community as they are no longer present among “their people”....(more).   Image: Woman in church face mask praying Gabriella Clare Marino Unsplash Eureka Street 20 July 2021

UPDATE 22 July 2021 : See result of the PPC renewal process on the People / Leadership page HERE

Nominees For Parish Pastoral Council

The following have been nominated for the 9 vacancies on the Parish Pastoral Council.

The election will take place after each Mass on the weekend of 7 / 8 August.

Clare Bellio     Wennie van Lint

Eugene Ballao                     Pat Kelly

Isma Chiera      Lucy Dal Pozzo

Robert Erbacher            Maxwell Gratton

Phi Nguyen          Sue Moorhen

Full details of each nominee, with photo, will be distributed next weekend when hopefully we will be back at Mass.


Parishes wanted for refugee Group Mentorship Program
Extract from Catholic Outlook, Diocese of Parramatta, 16 July 2021
CatholicCare Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains is working with the newly formed charity, Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia (CRSA): to assess how parish communities can support refugees in settling into Australia.      Following a successful trial, CRSA are expanding their Group Mentorship Program, which CatholicCare is supporting in our Diocese.         Last year, with Australia’s refugee resettlement program largely paused due to the pandemic, CRSA implemented a pilot program that screened and trained local groups of volunteers to provide practical support to refugees already in Australia, and then worked to pair-up those groups with refugees living in their community and in need of additional support. We called this the ‘Group Mentorship Program’. The idea was to test and demonstrate the viability of some key features of a future community sponsorship program as well as develop the tools that will be required to see such a program run successfully in the future.            The program has been a great success, with so many groups around the country eagerly taking up the opportunity to help trailblaze a new way of supporting refugee newcomers to the benefit of an inspiring group of mentees.       How parishes can be involved in the Group Mentorship Program.....(more)   
[John Costa: Perhaps this might be of interest to our parish?]
Francis reimposes restrictions on Latin Mass, reversing decision of Pope Benedict
Extract from Nicole Winfield, Vatican, The Associated Press, National Catholic Reporter, 16 July 2021
Pope Francis cracked down July 16 on the spread of the old Latin Mass, reversing one of Pope Benedict XVI's signature decisions in a major challenge to traditionalist Catholics who immediately decried it as an attack on the ancient liturgy.         Francis reimposed restrictions on celebrating the Latin Mass that Benedict had relaxed in 2007. Francis said he was doing so because Benedict's reform had become a source of division in the Roman Catholic Church and used as a tool by Catholics opposed to the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 event that led to wide reforms across the global church.      Francis issued a new law requiring individual bishops to approve celebrations of the old Mass, also called the Tridentine Mass, and requiring newly ordained priests to receive explicit permission to celebrate it from their bishops in consultation with the Vatican.          Under the new law, bishops must also determine if the current groups of faithful attached to the old Mass accept Vatican II, which allowed for Mass to be celebrated in the vernacular rather than Latin. These groups can no longer use regular parishes for their Masses; instead, bishops must find an alternate location for them.      In addition, Francis said bishops are no longer allowed to authorize the formation of any new pro-Latin Mass groups in their dioceses.      Francis said he was taking action to promote unity and heal divisions within the church that had grown since Benedict’s 2007 document, Summorum Pontificum, relaxed the restrictions on celebrating the old Mass.....(More).  Photo:Latin Mass, Immaculate Conception Seminary NY CNS Gregory A Shemitz, NCR 20210716

Archivists file new ideas for the digital Church
Extracts from CathNews, The eRecord,  16 July 2021
The Catholic Diocesan Archivists of Australia gathered in Perth recently to explore new ways of serving the Church in the digital age.
The meeting drew about 30 (online and in person) under the theme of "Walking together in Service with our Community".      The Catholic Diocesan Archivists of Australia (CDAA) is a sub-committee of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, established to foster fellowship and professional development among the Catholic diocesan archivists of Australia......Keynote speaker, Director State Records of WA and State Archivist, Damian Shepherd, spoke about the ways which the State Records Office has been working with a range of agencies to support digital transformation of government services.     The Archdiocese of Perth also shared its focus on a new vision and mission statement for the Archives Office, and the new information management strategy, policies, and records management system which are also a key platform of the Archdiocesan Transition Programme.       Archdiocese Archivist and Director Odhran O’Brien said the meeting identified many opportunities and challenges for the Church across Australia as it seeks to adapt to new ways of doing things.     “Our parishes and agencies now create large volumes of digital information which needs to be managed and this is a particular challenge for regional dioceses,” Mr O’Brien said.       “The key message that came out of the meeting was that if we are going to respond to these challenges effectively as a national community then collaboration is more crucial than ever.”....(more)

German church exodus slows during pandemic year
Extract from CathNews, Catholic News Service, 16 July 2021
Fewer Christians left the church in Germany during the coronavirus pandemic year of 2020 than in previous years, two church organisations reported this week.     About 221,000 Catholics quit the church, while 220,000 left the Evangelical Church in Germany, a federation of 20 Lutheran, Reformed and United Protestant regional churches and denominations and known by its German acronym EKD, reported the German Catholic news Agency KNA.        The numbers represent a decline of about 20 per cent from 2019, statistics showed.      The latest figures put the Catholic Church’s membership in 2020 at 22.2 million, accounting for 26.7 per cent of Germany’s population. The EKD membership in 2020 stood at 20.2 million, or 24.3 per cent of the population....(more).    Photo: Mass in Rheinbach, Germany, CNS Julia Steinbrecht, KNA, CathNews 20210716
Pope Francis and women's (church) work
Is the Jesuit pope paving the way towards women deacons or stopping it in its tracks?
Limited extract from Phyllis Zagano, subscription journal, La Croix International, 15 July 2021
Legions of female church workers at every level in parishes and chanceries, at episcopal conferences -- and even at the Vatican -- welcomed and welcome Pope Francis' efforts to eliminate clericalism.        The general perception that "they" (clerics) do not need "us" (women) seems to be fading. Or is it?          The great diversity of the "church workers" on which the Catholic Church depends fall into two main categories: paid and unpaid.        The great majority of paid professional positions are held by clerics. The great majority of volunteer, unpaid positions, whether professional or not, are filled by women.       Of course, there is cross-over, but the exploitation of women in what is loosely referred to as "church work" is a scandal that Francis seems ready to repair. For sure, restoring women to the ordained diaconate may be part of the answer, but it is not the only one.      Let us look at three points: 1) Francis' emphasis on lay involvement in the Church; 2) the problem of clericalism; 3) the possibilities for women deacons......(source).   Photo: Pope Francis and womens Church work, La Croix International, 20210715
Pope has a golden opportunity to substantially re-make the US hierarchy
As many diocesan leaders in America reach retirement age, Francis has a chance to select more bishops who enthusiastically support him and his vision of Church
Limited extract fron Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter, Subscription Journal LA Croix International, 15 July 2021
If personnel is policy, then a vote last month by the U.S. bishops to draft a controversial document on Communion that the Vatican had cautioned against reveals Pope Francis may have considerable work ahead of him in his efforts to get the American Catholic hierarchy to embrace his priorities.        Although the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has taken great efforts to walk back its own mixed messaging and now insists the eventual document will not address whether pro-choice Catholic politicians like President Joe Biden can receive Communion, the vote of 168-55 to move forward appears to indicate that, after eight years of the Francis papacy, the U.S. bishops' conference is still controlled by a majority of bishops out of sync with Rome.      "I thought that they had made more progress than that vote showed," said Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese, a veteran Vatican observer and senior analyst for Religion News Service. "I was expecting the vote to be about 50/50."       While Reese noted that it is hard to know what was motivating each individual bishop, especially given the conflicting messaging about whether the document would address Catholic politicians, he told NCR it was still significant that a supramajority voted to move forward in light of the Vatican's doctrinal office urgingthe bishops to tap the brakes on their plans.       Yet if Francis, who turned 84 in December* and was hospitalized last week for the first major health scare of his papacy, is seeking to pick up the pace of episcopal appointments with bishops more aligned with his agenda, he does have a number of opportunities on the horizon.       To date, three dioceses in the U.S. are currently vacant, another nine bishops have already passed the age of 75, when bishops are required to submit their resignation to the pope, and there are several other dioceses that will soon open......(source).   Photo: Episcopal hierarchy US La Croix International 20210715

Happy Birthday Fred

Friday 9 July 2021


Last Sunday afternoon was a day of celebration for Fred Cullen, as his family and friends gathered in the Heidelberg Town Hall to celebrate Fred’s 100th birthday.


We wish Fred every blessing on this milestone - 100 years of life gifted by God and lived to the full.


A Parish  'COVID 2021-Photo Reflection'  (and a Competition)
John Costa, Friday 9 July 2021
The COVID years of 2020 and 2021 so far have confronted us all with new life and Parish experiences.     This photo captures just one such experience, and with others will always serve as a reminder of what would never have been imagined as little as just one year ago. Our faith teaches us always to be prepared to respond to the world around us, as we must.  But as Gospel readings remind us changes also bring new opportunities, to break out of habits that are merely automatic, and to follow the mission of our faith and lives wherever that may lead us in a changing world.       But now for the Competition part!    Who is the masked person in this photo?   The first neatest correct entry will be awarded free membership of the Parish Liturgy Group!    Submit your entries to the Parish Office at    Alternatively if you have an interesting photo that unmistakably reflects Parish life since COVID, and would like to offer it for possible sharing on the Parish website, forward it to the same address. Good luck with the competition!
Teenagers, sister win major environment case
Extract from CathNews, The Guardian,  9 July 2021
The Federal Court has formally declared the environment minister has a “duty to take reasonable care” that young people won’t be harmed or killed by carbon dioxide emissions if she approves a coalmine expansion.               In the case, brought by eight schoolchildren and an octogenarian nun, Sr Brigid Arthur CSB, Justice Mordecai Bromberg yesterday also ordered the minister pay all costs.        The judge had indicated he would make a declaration during the case in May, when he rejected a request by the children to issue an injunction blocking Whitehaven Coal’s plans to expand its Vickery coalmine project near Boggabri, New South Wales.        Climate campaigners said there should be “no moral, legal or rational way” Environment Minister Sussan Ley could now approve the project.       Justice Bromberg declared that when the minister makes her decision over the coalmine, she has a duty “to take reasonable care” to “avoid causing personal injury or death” to Australian residents under 18 “arising from emissions of carbon dioxide into the Earth’s atmosphere”.       Anj Sharma, a 16-year-old Melbourne student and one of the eight children supported in court by Sister Brigid, said they were delighted that the law of the land now states that the government has a duty to avoid causing harm to young people.      The minister will have 28 days to appeal against the case.        A spokesperson for the minister said the Morrison Government would review the judgment closely and assess all available options.....(more)  Photo:Sr Brigid Arthur, Melbourne Catholic, Fiona Basile, Cathnews 20210709
Pope, recovering well after surgery
Extract from  Nicole Winfield, National Catholic Reporter, The Associated Press, Jul 7, 2021
Rome — Pope Francis’ recovery from intestinal surgery continues to be "regular and satisfactory," the Vatican said July 7, as it revealed that final examinations showed he had a suffered a "severe" narrowing of his colon.     The Vatican spokesman, Matteo Bruni, said the 84-year-old pope was continuing to eat regularly following his Sunday surgery to remove the left side of his colon, and that intravenous therapy had been suspended.      Bruni said final examination of the affected tissue "confirmed a severe diverticular stenosis with signs of sclerosing diverticulitis."        Francis underwent three hours of planned surgery Sunday. He is expected to stay in Rome’s Gemelli Polyclinic, which has a special suite reserved for popes, through the week, assuming no complications, the Vatican has said.      Among those offering get-well wishes was U.S. President Joe Biden, a Catholic who has cited Francis in the past. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a daily briefing Tuesday that the president "wishes him well and a speedy recovery."         Bruni said Francis appreciated all the prayers coming his way.      "Pope Francis is touched by the many messages and the affection received in these days, and expresses his gratitude for the closeness and prayer," he said.       Francis has enjoyed relatively robust health, though he lost the upper part of one lung in his youth due to an infection. He also suffers from sciatica, or nerve pain, that makes him walk with a pronounced limp....(more)
New Qld law forces priests to report child abuse
Extract from CathNews, The Catholic Leader, 7 July 2021
A new Queensland law requires priests to report to police any information about child sexual offences heard during confession.      According to the law, all adults will have a legal duty to report to police sexual offending against children, unless they have a reasonable excuse for not doing so.      The law came into force on Monday. It passed through the state’s Parliament with support from both major parties last September, despite the Church defending the seal of confession.      In a formal submission to a parliamentary inquiry, Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge explained that stripping Catholics of the seal of confession made priests “less a servant of God than an agent of the state”.       The new law arose as a result of recommendations from the royal commission into child sexual abuse. The maximum penalty for failing to report belief of a child sexual offence is three years’ imprisonment.       Queensland joins South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory to have already enacted laws that make it a criminal offence for a priest to withhold abuse disclosures.     A Brisbane Archdiocese letter sent to all parish employees explained the changes “should be noted by all Queenslanders, including those within our parishes and schools and similar institutions”....(more)  Photo: Confession CNS CathNews 7 July 2021
Transgender group get COVID vaccinations at Vatican
Extract from CathNews NZ, 6 July 2021
Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, July 1, confirmed about 50 transgender people were invited to have their COVID vaccinations at the Vatican. Their first shots were on 3 April and their second on 24 April.     The group came from a parish near Rome, where Fr Andrea Conocchia has been ministering to a transgender community for several years.      Last year Francis asked Krajewski to provide food and financial support to members of the transgender community who were struggling without work due to the pandemic.      “Life is life and you must take things as they come,” Francis says. Each situation is unique and must be welcomed, accompanied, studied, discerned and integrated.     “This is what Jesus would do today,” Francis said another time when asked about meeting a transgender man who said it would be a consolation to come and see him with his wife.      This Easter,  the papal almoner invited Conocchia to bring the transgender people under his care to the Vatican to have their COVID vaccinations.         The group reacted with “surprise” and “emotion” to the experience of entering the Vatican for the vaccination, Conocchia says.        Many are undocumented and unable to access Italy’s free health care services, he says.        “They were moved to tears and felt remembered, having experienced once again and in a tangible way the closeness and tenderness of the pope’s charity.”           Vaccine hesitancy and disinformation.      Pope Francis and others in the Vatican are working to encourage vaccinations of all people, especially those most vulnerable to missing out on the life-saving opportunity.....(more).    Photo: Transgender people COVID vaccinated at Vatican CathNews NZ 20210706

Pope Francis' Herculean efforts to clean up Vatican finances
The announced trial of 10 people connected to risky investments, including a cardinal, is just one part of a long series of internal reforms that has provoked fierce opposition
Limited Extract from Loup Besmond de Senneville, Vatican City, Subscription journal, La Croix International,  5 July 2021
The scene is the medieval-looking tower of the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), more notoriously called the "Vatican Bank".   It was here in March 2019 that a request for a 150 million euros loan landed before IOR's board of directors.     The applicant? The Secretariat of State of the Holy See.       Located in the Apostolic Palace and headed by Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, this is the Vatican's equivalent of a combined ministry of the interior and of foreign affairs.       It is here that the Vatican's finances, in particular its real estate investments, are managed.       And it was precisely to cover an investment in a building in London that the Secretariat of State sent the request for a loan to the IOR.      However, according to La Croix's information, officials at the so-called bank immediately balked.        First, because the reason for the request was more than vague: "institutional purposes".         Then, because one of the consequences of the profound financial reforms Pope Francis began in 2014 is that the Vatican Bank no longer grants loans, at least in theory.        In recent years, the operation and structure of the IOR have been considerably cleaned up. For example, nearly 5,000 suspicious accounts were closed there in 2016.         But in the case of the Secretariat of State's request, the board of directors -- under pressure -- made an exception.       It asked for documents justifying the reason for the requested loan.       This was just the beginning of a struggle that would last several months.       The first documents that arrived at the IOR were four photocopied sheets of paper slipped into an envelope. The Vatican bankers were far from satisfied.         They quickly realized that the real estate investment in London was based on a series of holdings stacked on top of each other.        Several trips back and forth followed, during which the IOR-mandated auditors did not succeed in obtaining the necessary documents.       One of them, in charge of compiling the file, was even threatened. This IOR employee resigned a month later.... (source).   Photo: Pope Francis attends IOR board of directors AP La Croix Int 20210705

Parish Redevelopment Project
Friday 1 July 2021

Pat Kelly (Project Manager) and Tim Neill (Architect) inspect form work for the stairwell leading from the new parish office to the church.


Bishop Vincent: ‘My hope for the Plenary Council’
Extract from Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Dom Helder Camera Lecture, Catholic Outlook, 30 June 2021
Plenary Council: Abundance of goodwill or the last throw of the dice?         With a few months to the first session of the long-awaited Plenary Council (PC2020), we are finally headed down the home stretch. The initial phase of listening drew nearly 220,000 people across Australia and 17,500 individual and group submissions. These submissions were distilled into the six national theme papers and then further distilled again into the working document and finally the agenda. Momentum for the Plenary Council ebbed and flowed during this process, which has been disrupted by the pandemic.       By and large, there has been considerable goodwill, enthusiasm and even a sense of hope for the future of the Church in Australia in the post-Royal Commission period. Robert Fitzgerald who – among other prominent roles – is the new Chair of Caritas Australia, once enthused that the Plenary Council is the only game in town. For a country of about five million nominal Catholics, the initial response was quite remarkable. Perhaps, for many of the disenfranchised, it is the last throw of the dice. I wouldn’t put all my eggs in one basket, though.        Some of you might have heard or even attended the first of the three convocation series organised by the Australasian Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (ACCCR). There were 3,000 participants, including myself. We heard a powerful and inspiring address by Sr Joan Chittister. Catholicism “must grow up”, she said, “beyond the parochial to the global, beyond one system and one tradition, to a broader way of looking at life and its moral, spiritual, ethical frameworks.”       That is the kind of stretching of the imagination and dreaming of the transformation of the Church that many Catholics are thirsting for. Few Catholics have any appetite left for cosmetic changes, mediocrity or worst, restorationism dressed up as renewal. We have struggled under the weight of the old ecclesial paradigm of clerical order, control and hegemony with a penchant for triumphalism, self-referential pomp and smugness. We yearn for a Church that commits to a God-oriented future of equal discipleship, relational harmony, wholeness and sustainability.       The revitalisation and convergence of many lay reform groups in response to the Plenary Council is no small development for the Church in contemporary Australia. It is a sign of the “growing up” that Joan spoke about. Australian Catholics are growing up beyond the passive, subservient to the co-responsible agents for the transformation of the Church. In Germany, there is a lay body called Central Committee, which plays a key role in their Synodal Assembly, including having one of its members as co-president of the said structure. Perhaps this unique feature is part of the legacy of the Reformation in the German Church.        Is the Church in Australia in pole position for deep reform?....(more).   Photo: Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, Diocese of Parramatta 20210630

US priests' association looks toward a synodal future
"We have to help the Church in the United States to be a listening Church"
Limited extract from International Staff, subscription journal LA Croix International, 30 June 2021
The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP) is helping members with a strategic planning process to focus on the future.       "It's our tenth anniversary assembly, but our focus is on the future," said Father Greg Barras, chair of the leadership team of the AUSCP, the country's largest group of Catholic priests, in a statement.      "Where do we go from here?" was the theme of the assembly, held June 21-24 in Minneapolis.     Part of 'the assembly was to delve deeper into the synodal model called for by Pope Francis, Father Barras said.       "The next synod at the Vatican will be on synodality itself, with diocesan, continental and universal phases over the next two years. We have to help the Church in the United States to be a listening Church."      Speakers to help the group with its strategic planning and to focus on the future included......(source)
Pope Francis' demanding program for new archbishops
At the annual pallium-blessing Mass, the pope warns recently appointed archbishops to avoid "hypocritical outward show" and "dubious associations with power"
Limited extract from Loups Besmond de Senneville, subscription journal LA Croix International, 30 June 2021
Pope Francis has told the 34 metropolitan archbishops he appointed within the past year that the Church's pastors "need to be set free time and time again" from worldliness, rigidity, dubious associations with power and fear of being misunderstood.      "For only a free Church is a credible Church," the pope said Tuesday as he celebrated Mass at the Vatican on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul and blessed a "pallium" for each of the new metropolitans.     The woolen ban signifies authority and the special bond of communion with the Bishop of Rome.      During the liturgy in St. Peter's Basilica, which was almost back to its pre-pandemic atmosphere with a thousand faithful spread throughout the massive church, Francis exhorted the archbishops to let themselves "be set free" by Christ in order to better accomplish their mission.....(Source)
The Italian Church needs to find itself in a synodal state
Do we not feel the need for a kick from the Spirit today, if only to wake us up from our torpor? asks Father Antonio Spadaro, SJ, Editor-in-Chief, La Civiltà Cattolica
Limited extract from International Staff, subscription journal LA Croix International, 1 July 2021
From May 24 to 27, 2021, the Italian Episcopal Conference held their 74th General Assembly. Pope Francis opened it with a prayer and a dialogue with the bishops present.      The work of the Assembly, under the guidance of Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, focused on the theme: "Proclaiming the Gospel in a time of rebirth.      Starting a synodal journey." In his introduction Cardinal Bassetti defined this journey as "a necessary process that will allow our Churches in Italy to continue to adopt a better style of presence in history that is credible and reliable."      The pontiff urged the bishops to take up the challenge proposed at the Florence Ecclesial Convention, and to improve a path that starts from below and puts the people of God at the center.      He has always complained of a certain "amnesia" regarding the directions he gave during his speech to the bishops in the Tuscan capital on November 10, 2015.       Clearly, the overlap between the calling of the Synod of the Universal Church – about which we will speak later – and the start of the synodal path of the Italian Church will be a unique opportunity to harmonize these paths.      The General Assembly then voted on the following motion: "The Italian bishops should initiate, with this Assembly, the synodal journey as indicated by Pope Francis and proposed in a first draft of the Charter of Intent presented to the Holy Father."     The Permanent Council of the Italian Episcopal Conference will establish a working group to harmonize its themes, timetable and forms.       The measured words of the motion summarize and relaunch a debate that has lasted six years.          It was the pope who opened the debate in Florence, suggesting the synodal method: "The nation is not a museum, but is a collective work under permanent construction in which the very things that differentiate, including political or religious affiliations, are to be shared," Francis said.      "I like a restless Italian Church," he added, "ever closer to the abandoned, the forgotten, the imperfect."

Parish Redevelopment Project
Friday 25 June 2021

The walls to the lift well are the first walls to arise from the floor slab. The lift will connect the various levels of our Parish Centre: Offices, Chapel, Meeting Rooms, Church, Presbytery.

Congratulation to Paul Shannon

Friday 25 November 2021

It has been announced this week that Paul (a regular reader at the 9.00am Mass) has been appointed the new Principal of Mazenod College. We congratulate Paul and wish him every blessing as he prepares to take up this responsibility in Catholic education.

Local community TV station C31 Melbourne to continue
Extract from Melbourne Catholic, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, 23 June 2021
Community TV stations C31 Melbourne and C44 Adelaide have received a three-year license extension after an amendment to broadcast legislation was passed in the Australian Senate and confirmed in the House of Representatives this week. C31 Melbourne has been an essential partner of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne and other local faith-based groups during the pandemic, helping communities to stay in touch through free-to-air televised religious services and programs.        For Catholics in Victoria, this has included the weekly broadcast of Sunday Mass from St Patrick's Cathedral since March 2020, as well as other liturgies and programs during Holy Week/Easter and at Christmas time.         'The gathering of our people – especially for the celebration of the Eucharist – lies at the heart of our identity,' said Archbishop Peter A Comensoli....(more)
Sr Joan invites Catholics to climb every Biblical mountain
American writer and speaker Sr Joan Chittister OSB has invited Australian Catholics to “climb the eight mountains of the Bible” in order to harness the energy needed for Church renewal
Extract from Fr Jim Mulroney SSC, CathNews, Columban eBulletin. 21 June 2021
The climb through the mountains that Sr Joan invites us to is essential to our preparation for the Australian Plenary Council scheduled for October.      In an address to some 3,000 people tuned into a digital conference on May 2, she began her reflection on “The Future of Catholicism in Australia” with a quotation from St Benedict encouraging us to “listen and attend to the ears of the heart”.           It is compassion and emotion that ultimately connect us to this world, a world which she points out is a long way from that of just three or four decades past.       She points to a basic shift in the demographic makeup, making it clear that God is speaking today in many tongues and through many cultures. Everything has changed, she says, and “everything must grow up, religion too. It must be much more than obeying rules”.       In introducing Sr Joan, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge described the purpose of the Plenary Council as an opportunity to listen – to each other and to the Spirit, to which Sr Joan added tuning in carefully to the world around us.     She described this as an invitation to find what stirs the heart and then to act on its stirring, as only the laity can help our struggling Church to relocate and touch what is sacred in the changing society it exists to serve.   She lists the eight mountains of the Bible: Sinai (Horeb), Gilboa, Olivet, Moriah, Carmel, Hermon, Gerizim and the Beatitudes as heights we must scale. Some we have already climbed, but we may be struggling to hold our grip on their slopes. Others we have yet to attempt....(more).         Photo:Sr Joan Chittister OSB (Supplied)  
[John Costa: Anyone with an interest in the future of our Church and with hope in the forthcoming Plenary Council is likely to find Sr Joan's presentation an opportunity thankfully not missed. A video is available but strictly only until the end of June. Details on this website Events page]
Vatican Secretariat begins discussing new synod process with bishops
Extract from CathNews NZ, Vatican News, 21 June 2021
In preparation for the next world Synod of Bishops, leaders of the synod’s general secretariat held online meetings to discuss the process with the presidents and general secretaries of national and regional bishops’ conferences.       Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary of the synod, and the office’s two undersecretaries, Xaviere Missionary Sister Nathalie Becquart and Bishop Luis Marín de San Martín, held the meetings June 14-18 in sessions divided by language.     Revisions to the synod process were announced May 21. Pope Francis asked that it begin with consultations with lay people on the diocesan level. The discussion and discernment would then move to a national level and then the 2023 synod assembly itself.    “Without this consultation, there would be no synodal process, because the discernment of pastors, which constitutes the second phase, emerges from listening to the people of God,” Grech had explained in May.    After the first couple of meetings with leaders of bishops’ conferences, the cardinal said the reaction was “surprising, very positive, and there is a lot of enthusiasm among the bishops we have heard.”      Grech told Vatican News, not much is set in stone. “We have some general ideas, but we are open, as this is not a fixed process. We are listening to our partners because the synod is not a project of the secretariat but of the church.”       The expanded consultation, listening and discernment, he said, is the desire of Francis. But it is based on the teaching of the Second Vatican Council that the church is the people of God.        The Synod, which presents itself as a real “synodal time”, will be opened by Pope Francis on 9-10 October 2021.     The synodal journey will then be marked by three phases:      - a diocesan phase (October 2021 – April 2022) during which each individual faithful can participate in the diocesan consultation. This phase will end locally with a pre-synodal assembly: the culminating moment of diocesan discernment; – a national phase during which discernment will be entrusted mainly to the Episcopal Conferences;  – a continental phase (September 2022 – March 2023) which will discuss the text of the first Instrumentum Laboris.          Finally, the synodal journey will culminate with the celebration of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme “For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission.”....(more).   Photo: Synod of Bishops preparation CathNews NZ 21 June 2021
US bishops flout Vatican request
Extract from CathNews NZ, National Catholic Reporter, 21 June 2021
Pope Francis has not commented about America’s Catholic bishops’ vote to deny US President Joe Biden Holy Communion because of Biden’s political support for abortion.      The US bishops are drafting new guidance on the abortion-communion issue, which they expect to release in November.      Their decision to vote about this matter flouts a letter from the Vatican in May.        The letter explicitly urged the bishops to avoid the vote.        The decision also disregards Francis’s pleas for them to de-emphasise culture war issues and expand the scope of their mission to climate change, migration and poverty.       The US bishops’ vote resulted in a large majority – 168-55 – agreeing to begin drafting guidance on the sacrament of the Eucharist at the bishops’ virtual meeting last Friday. Six bishops abstained from the process.      Although the guidance’s details have not been divulged, it is assumed that conservative leaders in the U.S. church will use it as a vehicle to deny communion to prominent Catholics who support abortion rights. Biden is one such Catholic.      Church law, however, says for the bishops to pass a doctrinal declaration on banning communion, the conference needs either unanimous support – and at this stage not all US bishops are in agreement. The alternative is for the bishops to have two-thirds support and the Vatican’s approval.      Vatican approval seems unlikely.       “It’s not going to get to that point,” says a senior Vatican official with knowledge of the thinking inside the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the church’s doctrinal watchdog.        Biden, who attended Mass on Sunday (pictured) and was named several times during the bishops’ debate, says whether he is allowed to receive holy communion is a “private matter”.        He agrees with the Vatican that it’s unlikely to happen.       The grave issue of Friday’s vote is that it particularly threatens the unity of the American church itself.....(more)

Parish Redevelopment Project - Laying the Foundation Stone / Slab

Thursday 17 June 2021

(L)  Fr. Bill pours the slab from the overhead hose fed from one of the concrete mixers. 
Then he rakes the concrete through the reinforced mesh (R).

Then the real tradesmen clean up his mess -  ensuring a perfect slab and a solid foundation stone for our future!    Ad Majorem  Dei Gloriam



Parish Office

Friday 18 June 2021

Our Parish Secretary, Teana McIntosh, is currently on a period of extended leave. For the time being the Parish Office at Mother of God will only be open on Tuesdays from 9.00am - 2.00pm during which time the office will be staffed by Ruth Villani. We thank Ruth for coming out of retirement to assist us in this way. At other times the best ways of communicating with the office are:

Phone or Text Fr. Bill’s mobile: 0427 879 733       Leave a message on the office phone 9926 2310     Email:  

Drop messages, prayer requests, envelopes etc into the letterbox beside the front door at Mother of God Church 

Plenary Council, 18 June 2021

As children of God, disciples of Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, the Members of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia are called to develop concrete proposals to create a more missionary, Christ-centred Church in Australia at this time.

‘I dream of a “missionary option”, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channelled for the evangelisation of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.’   Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium 27 
            Downoad .PDF Agenda  HERE
Cardinal's case has ‘lessons for Church and state’
Extract from CathNews, Catholic Voice,  18 June 2021
More than a year after the High Court’s unanimous acquittal of Cardinal George Pell on child sexual abuse charges, Fr Frank Brennan SJ believes there are lessons for both Church and state.  These lessons will be the subject of Fr Brennan’s address to the annual St Thomas More Forum in Canberra on June 25.    The Australian Catholic Bishop’s Conference formally commissioned Fr Brennan to observe the proceedings and, when permitted by the lifting of suppression orders on media reporting, to offer commentary.    The respected Jesuit priest, human rights lawyer, and Rector of Newman College at the University of Melbourne, has drawn from these observations and his public remarks on the case for his latest book, Observations on the Pell Proceedings, published earlier this year on the first anniversary of the High Court acquittal.    “There’s a lot of complexities…[with the case] and I thought it was best just to put it all out there and people can make their own assessment,” he said of his reasons for publishing the book.      Asked if being both a priest and a lawyer was a difficult thing to reconcile when following the case, he said it was probably very useful as it gave him not only a ready understanding of church rituals and processions but also of the legal issues.       The 16th Annual St Thomas More Lecture will take place in Braddon, ACT, on Friday, June 25, at 7.30pm. While ticket sales have ended, the event will be livestreamed on the Catholic Voice Youtube channel.....(More).  Photo: Frank Brennan CathVoice, CathNews 20210618
Pope Francis endorses Cardinal Marx and his ‘manifesto’ for Church reform
By Robert Mickens, Catholic Outlook, Diocese of Parramatta, 16 June 2021
The pope’s refusal to accept the German cardinal’s resignation further strengthens moves towards a substantial reform of the Catholic Church.         Cardinal Reinhard Marx tried to resign but, in the end, Pope Francis rejected the move and instructed the 67-year-old German to continue leading the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising.        The news is a major blow to doctrinal hardliners and neo-traditionalists, and everyone else who is a part of the Catholic Church’s “no change” crowd.         Because Marx is not just any bishop or cardinal. He’s one of the most energetic and forceful proponents of ecclesial reform through synodality, a process of wide-ranging consultation of all the Church’s members that Francis is trying to make constitutive of Roman Catholicism.        And the cardinal’s an extremely influential papal aide as member of the Council of Cardinals and moderator of the Vatican’s Council for the Economy.        He’s also served from 2012-2018 as president of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (COMECE) and until last year as head of the German Bishops Conference (DBK).      In short, Reinhard Marx is a big player.       And the Pope’s refusal to let him resign, has only made him all the more imposing as a leading figure in this current moment of Church history.        From this point forward, everything is now different.       By keeping Marx in place, Francis has endorsed the cardinal’s push for bold ecclesial reform and his desire to change a Church “system” that helped spawn the worldwide clergy sex abuse “catastrophe”.       Marx said he agreed to withdraw his resignation “in obedience” to the Pope, but he made it clear that, from this point forward, everything is now different.       “Simply going back to the previous agenda cannot be the way forward for me or for the Archdiocese,” he said on June 10, the very day Francis wrote him a warm and brotherly letter (in Spanish and German) telling him to continue in the post he’s held the last thirteen or so years.     “For me and our joint work in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, this also means considering which new paths we can go — also in the face of a history of various failures — in order to proclaim and testify to the Gospel,” Marx said.       A “dead end” Church that needs to be reformed        The Cardinal revealed on June 4 — with the Pope’s permission — that he had sent in his resignation on May 21 in order to “share the responsibility for the catastrophe of the sexual abuse by Church officials over the past decades”.       He insisted that beyond any personal failures, the abuse crisis was also the result of an “institutional or ‘systemic’ failure”.          Marx said this “requires changes and a reform of the Church”, a Church he described as being at “a dead-end”.        The Cardinal called out those in the Church who refuse to admit this and who “disapprove of discussing reforms and renewal in the context of the sexual abuse crisis”.        “A turning point out of this crisis is, in my opinion, is only possible if we take a ‘synodal path’,” he said........(More).    Photo: Pope Francis and Cardinal Reinhard Marx File Image Vatican News, Catholic Outlook 20210616
US bishops vote to limit debate on controversial Communion document
Pope Francis' US representative urges dialogue and unity
by Christopher White, Vatican,  National Catholic Reporter, 16 Jun 2021
On the opening day of a closely watched and at times chaotic virtual meeting of the U.S. Catholic bishops on June 16, a majority of U.S. prelates voted to limit discussion on whether to proceed with drafting a contentious document regarding Communion and pro-choice Catholic politicians.       Following months of open discord among the bishops about the necessity of such a document, the prudence of advancing it in a virtual format and a Vatican intervention urging caution, Pope Francis' U.S. representative encouraged unity and dialogue, telling the U.S. bishops that "If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together."       "The starting point, therefore, cannot be to shame the weak but to propose the One who can strengthen us to overcome our weaknesses, especially through the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist," said Archbishop Christophe Pierre, who has served as the papal nuncio to the United States since 2016.        "We are not a church of the perfect but a pilgrim church in need of the mercy offered generously by Christ," the nuncio said.....(more)
 Stage One of the Synod: Listening to the Faithful
Senior ecclesiologist warns that things could go terribly wrong at the Synod of Bishops next assembly if the listening stage is not carried out properly
Limited extract from George Wilson, US, Subscription Journal LA Croix International. 16 June 2021
In the large body of literature on the theme of leadership it has become almost trite to say that a good leader's first task is not to teach but to listen.        That same wisdom applies to synods and synod-like projects. In Church language it is called "consulting the faithful".        So it is encouraging to read that those designing this preliminary stage of the coming assembly of the Synod of Bishops have determined that "listening to the people of God" is the synod's first objective.        Much depends, however, on (1) what such listening is designed to discover; (2) who is to be listened to; and (3) what processes are employed in that discovery.         And the answers to those questions depends, first, on being clear just what a synod is.        What is a synod? Pope Francis offers the mantra: "A body walking together."        That is an attractive metaphor, to be sure. But if the three questions above are not carefully weighed before designing the first listening stage, "walking together" can be reduced to a warm fuzzy feeling, open to much mischief.       How this first step is designed and executed can determine the success or failure of the whole venture.           The fundamental issue        Long years as a consultant/facilitator for several diocesan synods and many synod-like projects have led me to view a synod as a wisdom-seeking effort undertaken by the people of God under the guidance of the Spirit of Jesus at a particular era in its engagement with surrounding society.       A synod is an assembly of the Church -- the People of God. That embraces persons who happened to be called to differing states of life within the community—ordained, lay or vowed religious. But they are all there by virtue of their baptism, in solidarity.       Baptism is the only ticket of admission. The Spirit is poured out upon the entire baptized community. Any structuring of the synod that diminishes the sense of equal agency of all its participants will insure the failure of the enterprise.....(Source).   Image: La Croix International 20210616
Dead end or no end?   could synodality really be the "turning point"?
Limited extracts from Justin Stanwix*, Australia, Subscription Journal LA Croix International. 16 June 2021
Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Germany made a noble gesture when recently he tendered his resignation to Pope Francis.              He stated his impression that the Church is "at a dead end". Quintessentially, he allowed the potential of a "turning point".        That is the essence of Jesus' message.         Thankfully, the cardinal's offer has been refused and for good reason. The pope reminded him that it remains time to tend the sheep. Probably more urgently than ever.         The generosity and undoubtedly prayerful discernment that preceded the cardinal's offer must be acknowledged.        The inherent rectitude and personal penalty involved as he shouldered vicarious responsibility for the sexual abuse crisis, in the interest of the whole Church, may appeal to many.           A missionary Church that has made many mistake throughout history       But his offer raises the question about how we see ourselves as Church.        Even for a reason of generous proportion is it acceptable to offer to quit in such circumstances?         No cavil about the sinful situation in which we find ourselves. My issue is about how we should respond, move forward and give example. How we live the Gospel message now.        We are not solely individuals in our Church, the institution is not only human and its fundamentally divine nature is not of our making.       We are a missionary Church and a pilgrim people. The People of God have accumulated plenty of missionary mistakes, repeated atrociously sinful behavior and have failed to learn even obvious lessons.       We wasted no time after the death of Jesus in Beatitudes-absent behavior. Given the history of the two thousand years since, we are highly likely to engage in some lamentable repetition.        At some point we must move beyond the sexual abuse crisis. Obviously, I don't mean ignore it or avoid the guilt, the shame and the ongoing responsibility we have in many ways to victims and families.       The Holy Spirit is in charge        As Church we have a rugged history. Our missionary Church has faced division, scandal and an abundance of challenge.       The whole while we have been blessed by the presence of the Holy Spirit. No doubt at times the Spirit has shuddered but the promise of Jesus to be with his Church until the end of time is no mean promise.        We may never gainsay that certainty because it is the Gospel message.        We can celebrate prayerful and beautiful liturgies for the great occasions of our Church – or not. But we cannot ignore the Holy Spirit in our lives and his presence in our Church and in the world............The pope seeks to encourage a synodal Church where we work together collaboratively at all levels, abandon clericalism and monarchical structures and operate much differently from the way we do at present.         In this context, the decision to defer the Synod of Bishops' assembly on synodality, while a world-wide consultation of the international Church takes place, must be embraced for the quantum change it represents.............(Source)     *Justin Stanwix is a deacon at St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish in the Diocese of Wollongong (Australia).
Cardinal Marx: Pope’s decision a ‘great challenge’
Limited extracts from Staff Reporter, Subscription Journal, Catholic Herald UK 11 June 2021
“In obedience, I accept [Pope Francis’] decision, as I promised him,” said Cardinal Reinhard Marx in a statement following the pope’s decision to reject his resignation as head of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising.      Cardinal Marx offered to resign his See in a “confidential and personal” letter to the pope that was later made public with the pope’s permission. In his letter, Marx said, “It is important to me to share the responsibility for the catastrophe of the sexual abuse by Church officials over the past decades.”        Cardinal Marx acknowledged that his own silence, neglect, and overemphasis on the reputation of the Church made him “personally guilty and responsible,” but also stressed the importance of accountability for “institutional and systemic failures.” In a personal statement released when the letter was made public, he added, “As a bishop, I have an ‘institutional responsibility’ for the acts of the Church in its entirety as for its institutional problems and failures in the past.”         Although agreeing with Cardinal Marx’s characterisation of the sex abuse crisis as “a catastrophe,” and on the importance of accepting responsibility for the crisis, Pope Francis refused to accept his resignation, instead asking him to stay on as Archbishop of Munich and Freising, confirming his mission and asking him to continue to work for “a spiritual renewal” in the Church.”.......... He described the pope’s decision as “a great challenge” and insisted “after that, simply going back to the agenda cannot be the way for me, nor for the Archdiocese.” He said that, with the faithful of the Archdiocese, it was necessary to consider “which new paths we can travel,” saying that “in the next few weeks about how, together, we can contribute even more to the renewal of the Church here in our diocese and as a whole,” especially as the pope essentially agreed with his analysis, as well as providing “important impulses” for reform....(Source)
Pope refuses Cardinal Marx’s offer to resign
Extract from CathNews, The Tablet, 11 June 2021
Pope Francis has refused Cardinal Reinhard Marx’s offer to resign over the sexual abuse crisis, saying although the German prelate had been courageous in taking responsibility for past scandals, he should stay in office.       Cardinal Marx has not been accused personally of mishandling cases but in a decision that sent shockwaves across the Church, he submitted his resignation to the Pope over institutional failings. The 67-year-old cardinal, who is eight years off retirement age, set out his reasons for stepping down in a letter on May 21.       In his response, Francis agreed with the cardinal that the abuse crisis has been a “catastrophe” and that “each Bishop of the Church must take it up and ask himself what should I do in the face of this catastrophe?” This includes, the Pope said, making a “‘mea culpa’ in the face of the many historical errors of the past … and before the many situations, even if we have not personally participated in that historical situation.”      The Pope praised Cardinal Marx’s offer to step down which he says displays a “Christian courage that does not fear the cross” and that reform in the face of the abuse crisis cannot consist merely of “words” but putting one’s life on the line. Jesus’ reform, Francis pointed out, is not contained in a particular religious project but is witnessed to “with his flesh on the cross”. Francis went on: “And this is the path, the one that you yourself, dear brother, assume when you present your resignation.”        Nevertheless, the Pope said he would not accept Cardinal Marx’s offer.      “That is my answer, dear brother. Continue as you suggest, but as Archbishop of Munich.”........(More).   
Church embracing Aboriginal Catholic ministry
Edited Extracts from Fiona Basile, Melbourne Catholic, CAM, 10 June 2021
In 1986, Pope John Paul II addressed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholics in Alice Springs, in Australia's Northern Territory. He reaffirmed that the Spirit of God had been with our First Nations People for thousands of years and that their culture, which 'shows the lasting genius and dignity of their race', must not be allowed to disappear. 'Your songs, your stories, your paintings, your dances, your languages, must never be lost,' he said. With these words, Aboriginal Catholic Ministry was established in Victoria, and its mission of sharing Indigenous spirituality and educating the broader community about its rich culture, endures today.       Sherry Balcombe, an Olkola/Djabaguy woman originally from Far North Queensland is the Manager of Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Victoria located on Wurundjeri land in Thornbury, in Melbourne's inner north. She remembers that day and those words in 1986 well.        ‘It was a wonderful speech’ and it was ‘the pinnacle of the establishment of Aboriginal Catholic Ministry in Victoria’, she said. ‘Aunty Joyce Smith, a Muthi-Muthi/Wemba Wamba from the Lake Mungo area was at the gathering in Alice Springs. She came back to Melbourne and organised for a submission to be written to the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne calling for the establishment of an Aboriginal Catholic Ministry in Victoria. Previous attempts had failed, but this one was accepted right away.’         Sherry said the Pope's words 'provided the mandate’ for a ministry within the Catholic Church that incorporated and encouraged the rich and deep spirituality of Australia’s First Nations people.       ‘Pope John Paul spoke about how precious our [Aboriginal] culture is, and how it’s very important for us to pass it on,’ Sherry said. ‘He said that “we’re like a tree that’s been through a bushfire where the bark is burned and scarred, but inside the sap still flows and the roots underground are still strong”.            ‘Most importantly, he said, “until Aboriginal people have made their contribution, and until that contribution is joyfully received, the Church in Australia won’t be what Jesus wants it to be”.’            Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Victoria (ACMV) contributes to the life of the Catholic Church by educating and informing the community about the spiritual and cultural traditions of the Indigenous Peoples and to foster acknowledgment, truth-telling, reconciliation and healing both within the Aboriginal community, and with non-Indigenous people. Vicki Clarke was the inaugural manager of ACMV, with Sherry Balcombe taking over in 2016.        ‘The heart of our mission is to share our spirituality and to educate about our culture,’ said Sherry. She is often called and invited to speak to schools and parishes, including parish council meetings, across the Archdiocese around National Sorry Day, Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week (4-11 July).        ‘National Sorry Day is about empathy and recognition. It’s about recognising and being truthful about what has happened in the past. Because what has happened to Aboriginal people is not just 200 years ago, it’s in the last 50 years.........(more)   Photo: Naidoc 2021 CAM 20210610
church's complicity in dehumanizing the LGBTQ community in Ghana
Extracts from Daniel P. Horan, National Catholic Reporter, 9 Jun 2021
The West African country of Ghana is one of the most homophobic countries in the world today. It not only refuses to recognize same-sex unions, but it also criminalizes consensual same-sex acts with imprisonment of up to three years. Those who are arrested for being gay are then often subjected to further physical, psychological or sexual abuse as a result of their captivity.      A 2018 Human Rights Watch report documents numerous accounts of horrendous anti-LGBTQ abuse and "corroborates that LGBT people are often victims of mob attacks, physical assault, sexual assault, extortion, discrimination in access to housing, education and employment, and family rejection on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In an environment in which homophobic views abound, and few are willing to publicly come to the defense of LGBT people, it is easy for violence to flourish."      Not only have LGBTQ individuals been targeted, harassed, denied basic human rights and assaulted because of their sexual orientations or gender identities, but those who have sought to advocate on their behalf through education programs or resource centers have now become the target of comparable treatment and discrimination. In February, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, a member of parliament and the Ghanaian minister for information, went so far as to propose formal legislation that would make advocacy on behalf of LGBTQ persons illegal.......According to the 2010 census, more than 70% of Ghanaians identify as Christian, making the rampant homophobia and anti-LGBTQ attitudes, laws and violence an inherently Christian problem. In an interview with the BBC, Anima Adjepong, a Ghanaian sociologist who is based in the United States, said: "The church also advances this argument that queer people in Ghana are abhorrent. And really the church promotes violent discourse against queer people about 'throwing them into the ocean', about how they 'don't belong here', about how they're 'bringing the downfall of the society'."....(more).    Photo: business area Accra Ghana, CNS Luc Gnago Reuters, NCR 20210609
Pope Francis’ reforms the Church’s disciplinary system in response to royal commission
Extract from Kieran Tapsell,  8 June John Menadue website, 8 June 2021
One of the main reasons for the Catholic Church shifting around abusive priests was because its disciplinary system was dysfunctional. Far more children were abused than would have occurred if it had a decent one. The Royal Commission made recommendations for change, and Pope Francis has adopted some of them, but he has retained two of the most harshly criticized canons.        In its 2017 Final Report, the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse made recommendations for the reform of canon law, including the abolition of the pontifical secret over child sexual abuse by clergy, initiated by Pope Pius XI in 1922. In December 2019, Pope Francis abolished it.         The Royal Commission also criticized the canonical disciplinary system which made it virtually impossible for abusive priests to be dismissed. On 1 June 2021, when announcing the changes to that system in Book VI of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, a Vatican spokesman said, “In many places, punishments were mentioned only as a possibility, and the whole text gave the impression that it was almost merciless to apply punishments…Today…due to the examination of the abuse of minors, the atmosphere is different.”      The purpose of this article is to examine how much has changed.        Child Sexual Abuse as a “Moral Failure”          The Royal Commissioners were baffled by evidence given by Church leaders that they considered child sexual abuse to be just a “moral failure,” a view reflected and reinforced by the Code of Canon Law which included it in a section dealing with breaches of celibacy, as if it were no different to masturbation or a consensual affair with an adult. The Royal Commission’s Recommendation 16.9a was that child abuse should be “articulated as canonical crimes against the child, not as moral failings or as breaches of the ‘special obligation’ of clerics and religious to observe celibacy.” The Vatican has adopted this recommendation and has now listed child sexual abuse in the section for “offences against human life, dignity and liberty.”..............(more)

Parish Redevelopment Update
Friday 4 June 2021

Work continues on the MI site even during the lockdown. Final preparation of underground services before the concrete slab is poured for the  parish office.


Cardinal Marx submits resignation to Francis, citing church's 'systemic failure' on abuse
"I would like to show that not the ministry is in the foreground but the mission of the Gospel,"
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, Jun 4, 2021
Rome — German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, one of Pope Francis' closest advisors, has asked the pontiff to allow him to resign as the leader of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising as a sign of responsibility for the "systemic failure" of Catholic Church leaders over decades in responding to clergy sexual abuse.        In a shocking letter to Francis, which Marx released to journalists June 4, the cardinal says he wants to "share the responsibility" for the way priests and bishops mishandled abuse cases. He also admits he feels "personally guilty" for trying to protect the reputation of the church when dealing with victims.       "To assume responsibility, it is … not enough in my opinion to react only and exclusively if the files provide proof of the mistakes and failures of individuals," writes Marx in the letter, dated May 21. "We as bishops have to make clear that we also represent the institution of the Church as a whole."       In resigning, states the cardinal, "I may be able to send a personal signal for a new beginning, for a new awakening of the Church, not only in Germany."        "I would like to show that not the ministry is in the foreground but the mission of the Gospel," Marx tells Francis. "I therefore strongly request you to accept this resignation."         Marx has led his archdiocese since 2007. He also serves as one of only seven members of Francis' advisory Council of Cardinals and as the coordinator of the Vatican's Council for the Economy, which supervises the financial activities of both the Vatican city-state and the offices of the Holy See.       The cardinal is 67-years-old, eight years shy of the traditional retirement age of 75 for bishops. His decision to resign over the actions of the church as a whole on clergy abuse, and not because of any known investigation into his personal actions, appears without precedent............In a personal declaration to journalists sent alongside the copy of Marx's letter to Francis, the cardinal said the pope had authorized him to release his letter and told him to "keep performing my service as bishop until [Francis'] decision is made.".....(more).   Photo:   Cardinal Reinhard Marx CNS photo Harald Oppitz KNA, NCR Online 20210604
Synodality is not a walk in the park
Extract from CathNews NZ, 3 June 2021
There are many ideas about what synodality means, says Pope Francis.        “It’s not a walk in the park”.         It is “an ecclesial journey that has a soul, which is the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, there is no synodality,” he explains.        Francis is promoting a synodal process that involves the whole church. It will focus on listening to one another and to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.        Last month, he approved major revisions to how the Synod of Bishops will work. It should begin with a bottom-up full diocesan-level process of consultation, he says.          “This will require patience, work, allowing people to talk so that the wisdom of the people of God will come forth …           “A synod is nothing other than making explicit what ‘Lumen Gentium’ says:           “The whole people of God — all of them, from the bishop on down — is infallible in belief. They cannot err when there is harmony among all.”        Listening and consultation may require managing a range of expectations or fears.         It may involve explaining to people who want immediate, radical change that discernment takes time and requires fidelity to God’s will.        It may involve explaining to those scandalised by the questions they are being asked that perhaps there are better ways to explain church teaching and live the Gospel.        Francis often underlines that a synod is not a parliament, but a process of discernment. St. Paul VI, who revived the Synod of Bishops for the universal Catholic Church, also made this point.       Over the past five decades, that special nature has increasingly involved laypeople, religious and priests. They are now consulted before bishops are elected or appointed to attend the synod assembly.       To support the pope’s wish to imbue the church with a synodal spirit, the International Theological Commission published a document in 2018: “Synodality in the Life and Mission of the Church.”        It explains that synodality promotes the baptismal dignity and call of all Catholic and values the presence of different gifts given by the Holy Spirit.       It also recognises the specific ministry entrusted to pastors and bishops in communion with the pope for the preservation of the faith and the renewal of the church.......(More)       Photo: Pope Francis and people synodality CathNews NZ 20210603
All New Zealand Catholics will get a say in upcoming synod
Extract from CathNews NZ, 3 June 2021
The NZ Catholic Bishops’ Conference says the views of all New Zealand Catholics will be sought during an expanded Synod of Bishops’ process announced by the pope.       Pope Francis has frequently called for the bishops, priests and people to walk together in a common mission of the Church,” says Conference president Cardinal John Dew.        “He believes it is imperative to listen to the People of God, which means going to local churches to hear what they say.”          Francis wants all Catholic dioceses to consult with parishioners from 17 October to get local-level views on the topic for the next synod, entitled a “Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission”.         “The Holy Father wants to hear the voices of all the baptised,” Dew says.......Most of these people consider they are no longer regular parishioners and wonder how limiting the process to going to parishes and consulting parishioners will work.        Jerome De Rosario is a 40-year-old Wellington professional. A “retired catholic”, he thinks the Church needs a different strategy and fresh ideas and hopes the Synod might accomplish this.         However, he expressed surprise the Church did not factor in what it already knows, that most Catholics don’t belong to parishes and do not go to Mass.         Alex Jordan, a university student from Massey, Auckland, also picks up on the parish emphasis.       “The voice of the bulk of baptised Catholics won’t be heard because they don’t belong to the outdated parish structure, he said.        “At most, they’re gathering 5% of the baptised.         “The data will be skewed from the outset”, he said.        “If this is worth doing it’s worth doing well. I hope the Church gets good advice.”         Non-parishioners also need to be considered says Richard McKenna, a 30 something manager in Wellington.          “By focussing on parishes many people who are still fringe Catholics but not regular parishioners, and may feel excluded. This statement seems to confirm our exclusion”.        He hopes it is not the ‘last word’ and the criteria and methodology will also consider non-parishioners may wish to contribute and have valuable ideas.         “I much prefer the Vatican’s focus, consulting with ‘The People of God'”, he said.....(more).    
Aussie Bishops name three priorities for work of Bishops Conference
Extract from The Record, Archdiocses of Perth, 3 Jun 2021
Formation, becoming more missionary and fostering collegiality have been identified as the top three priorities by Australia’s Catholic bishops.      In a recent week-long process of prayer and discernment, the three priorities were identified as a means to guide the work of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, and arose following a structured review of Conference operations and financing in 2019.
     Earlier this year, the bishops were guided through a process of shared discernment, punctuated with prayer and conversation, by Br Ian Cribb SJ. Br Ian had earlier led the retreat the bishops made together immediately before their 2019 Ad Limina Apostolorum visit.        Following the three sessions, which involved the identification and ranking of possible priorities, the bishops approved the three priorities at their recent plenary meeting.         “It is important to note that these are priorities for the Bishops Conference to pursue, which includes the various bishops commissions, the work of the general secretariat and the biannual plenary meetings,” Bishops Conference President, Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge said.        “These were not developed to be priorities for the Catholic Church in Australia, though many dioceses, parishes and other ministries are no doubt focusing on one or more of these priorities.”        The Conference’s ongoing priorities are also reflected in the work of its nine bishops commissions and two episcopal panels, which will take on new focus in light of the new priorities named.       Archbishop Coleridge said the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia will have an important role in shaping priorities for the Church nationally.        “We’ve already seen during the three years of the Council journey so far how key topics and concerns are being identified, and the Council assemblies will help refine those further,” he said.        “These priorities we have developed specifically for the Bishops Conference will help the work we undertake as a college of bishops, to make important decisions and to tread a path that pursues formation, collegiality and a missionary disposition.”......(More).  Photo: Australian Catholic Bishops 2019 Ad Limina, CNS, The Record 20210603  

Synods on synods
Extracts from Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street, 3 June 2021
At first sight the recent Vatican announcement that a forthcoming synod would be delayed was non-news. All synods are considered boring, and a synod on synodality sounds entirely self-referential. Yet the announcement was significant. The synod will take up much time and energy of Catholics at the local, diocesan, national and international level for almost three years, involving local congregations in considerations, dioceses in collating these results and sharing them with other dioceses, bishops in participating in the conversations, reviewing and reporting jointly to the Roman office to draw up the agenda for the synod.      Given the human investment required by synod it is worthwhile to reflect on the recent history of synods and why Pope Francis places such importance on them. As in so many of his actions, his endorsement of synods addresses challenges facing civil societies, too. This may be the subject of a later article.       In the Western Catholic world synods came out of the Second Vatican Council. In contrast to previous Councils Vatican II focused less on Church teaching than on pastoral renewal, freeing and energising Catholics to live out the gospel in their world. It paid particular attention to the relationship of bishops to the Pope, seeing them as a college with the Bishop of Rome as its head. Together they were responsible for the teaching and living of faith in the Church. The council also emphasised the active responsibility of lay Catholics who were equal members of the Church with priests and bishops though with different responsibilities.........Upon his election Pope Francis has set out to encourage freedom and initiative among Catholics. In his own conduct he paid less attention to issues of authority and doctrine than to outreach to people at the margins of the church and beyond it. His gift for such symbolic actions as mixing freely with people, holding off the cuff press conferences, and visiting prisons and refugee camps, were as important as his words. He has made synods a crowning symbol of his vision. He has encouraged participants to speak their mind, to differ on issues, to consult their people, and to see themselves as shaping the understanding of faith. They model the proper shape of relationships within the church as a whole, which Pope Francis has described as synodality.....(more).    Photo: Bishops et al Synod of Bishops, Franco Origlia Getty Images, Eureka Street 20210603

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