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News 2021

A broad and diverse mix of Local, National and International faith-related News, Information and Opinions.
Views expressed are those of the Authors and may or may not always represent those of the Parish.

Holy Week & Easter Review - what did you think?

Friday 16 April 2021

On the 29th April the Liturgy Group will do its usual review of our Holy Week and Easter Ceremonies.

We would be pleased to receive your feedback, comments or suggestions.

Please send them to HERE  (


Parish Redevelopment Project

Friday 16 April 2021

The hall is now demolished. The old presbytery/parish office will be used as the contractor’s site office until it is demolished to make way for the new car park towards the end of the project.


The Future of Catholicism in Australia
Australian Catholic Coalition for Church Reform
Extract from Catholics For Renewal, Friday 16 April 2021, 4:30pm
The Australasian Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (ACCCR) is planning a series of virtual Convocations of Catholics in this year of the Plenary Council, on The Future of Catholicism in Australia. As a member of the Coalition, Catholics For Renewal supports the planned Convocations of Catholics.   The Convocations will be public and free. You can register to attend from home via your computer individually or, if you wish, with a group.        Sr. Joan Chittister will address the first Convocation on ‘A vision for Catholicism in Australia: Renewal directions, priorities, hopes and aspirations’ - Sunday 2 May 2021, 9am to 10.30am AEST.      Joan will speak to the deep desires among Australian Catholics for a fresh vision and new directions. There will be space for discussions and questions.         Joan is prophetic in proposing directions towards fulfilment of the mission of Jesus. A beacon for everyone, she consistently calls for integrity in addressing our shortcomings as a Church while promoting ways of building on traditional strengths and emerging opportunities.       The time scheduled will conflict with some Sunday Mass times in Eastern Australia but is necessary having regard to Sr Joan’s time zone in the USA (14 hours behind AEST) and time differences across Australia, New Zealand and the world, noting also difficulties during the working week and Saturdays for some families. ACCCR hopes to have a recording available for later passive viewing.       Archbishop Mark Coleridge, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, will send a greeting to participants in these public Convocations which will support all Catholics in thinking about the Plenary Council and renewal of our Church.....(more).  Photo: Sr Joan Chittister,
Controversial NDIS plans put on hold
extract from CathNews, the guardian, 16 April 2021
New National Disability Insurance Scheme Minister Linda Reynolds has signalled the Government will pause controversial plans to roll out independent assessments by mid-year, but defended the intent of the policy.     Ahead of her first disability reform council meeting with state and territory ministers yesterday, Senator Reynolds stopped short of abandoning the plan altogether, noting the assessments were “globally recognised assessment tools to ensure consistency and fairness”.    But she signalled a pause to the current timetable, saying she would be “closely assessing the independent assessment trial outcomes before any enabling legislation is taken forward”.     Under the existing timetable, the mandatory assessments with a Government-contracted allied health professional would begin by the middle of the year. Participants currently provide reports from their own treating specialists to be assessed for the scheme.    The agency that runs the scheme has already signed contracts with eight companies worth $339 million to carry out the assessments, but Senator Reynolds’ comments mean the current timetable is all but impossible given the trial is ongoing and the agency says only that its results will be available “later this year”....More
German legislators consider ending state payments to churches
Extract from CathNews, CNS, KNA, 16 April 2021
Germany is considering replacing state payments to Catholic and Lutheran churches, which received combined benefits of more than $US650 million in 2020.          At a hearing in the interior affairs committee of the Bundestag, or lower house of Parliament, they welcomed in principle the intention of legislation by the opposition liberal Free Democratic Party, the Greens and the Left Party and pointed out that it was in line with a constitutional mandate to abolish the payments, which date back to a 19th-century provision.          By contrast, a number of legal experts said an alternative bill by the Alternative for Germany party to simply phase out the benefits was unconstitutional, reported the German Catholic news agency KNA.       The bill by the three parties aims to create the necessary framework for agreements between the federal states, which currently make the payments, and the Catholic dioceses and Protestant regional churches.        Most of the state payments date back to 1803, when German imperial princes received expropriated church property as compensation for a loss of territory. In return, the princes paid the churches money on a regular basis.      The right of the churches to levy contributions, or a church tax, from their members has nothing to do with these state benefits, KNA reported.       Since 1919, the constitution has called for these benefits to be replaced. The prerequisite for this would be agreements with the churches at the federal and state level as well as corresponding laws......(more)   Photo: German churches levy tax members phasing out state benefits CNS Harald Oppitz  KNA CathNews 20210416
Catholic Church builds mosque for internally displaced Muslims
Extract from CathNews NZ, 15 April 2021
The Catholic Church has built a mosque for internally displaced Muslims at a camp in Yola, northeastern Nigeria.         The Bishop of Yola’s Catholic Diocese, Stephen Mamza, says since 2014 the Diocese has helped care for the displaced victims of Boko Haram insurgency who ran to Yola for refuge.         Mamza says Church authorities didn’t ask what religion or denomination the people were when they sought refuge at St Teresa’s Cathedral.       Up to 3,000 people have lived on the Church premises since then, although most have now returned to their original homes.       There are others who are still at the camp, however, because of continuing threats from Boko Haram.        The mosque, along with a new church and school, has been incorporated into a housing estate for the 86 families still at the camp.             Mamza says there are about 10 to 12 Muslim families in the camp.        He says it seems to him that if houses are provided for everyone, along with a church for the Christians, that they also provide a space of worship for the internally displaced Muslims.        The means to build the mosque came through the support of Missio in Germany, Mamza says......(More).  Photo:Gov-Fintiri-Commissions-Housing-Built-By-Catholic-Diocese-CathNewsNZ, 15 April 2021
Vatican event on priesthood to explore topic of celibacy
Extract from Elise Ann Allen, senior correspondent, Crux, 13 April 2021
ROME – A top Vatican official in charge of organizing a major symposium on the priesthood next year has said the discussion will touch on several controversial hot-button issues such as priestly celibacy, the women’s diaconate, clericalism, and the clerical sexual abuse crisis.       Speaking to journalists during the April 12 presentation of the event, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet said, “the question of celibacy is important.”        “We have all spoken about it, and it will be discussed, but it will not be the central theme of the symposium,” he said. “It is not a symposium on celibacy, like it needs to be taken up deeply. It’s a broader perspective.”        Head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, which is helping to organize the symposium, Ouellet when asked whether other hot-button issues such as the priestly ordination of viri probati, or “tested” married men, and the women’s diaconate would be addressed, said yes.         “I can say that certainly none of these points will be ignored in the sense they are part of the current context of the question of the priesthood,” he said, but reiterated his insistence that these will not be the main topics of discussion.        Issues such as priestly celibacy, the ordination of viri probati, and the women’s diaconate have all been major sources of discussion and controversy in recent years, specifically during the 2019 Synod of Bishops on the Amazon, during which proposals were made by several bishops to green-light viri probati ordinations as a solution to a regional priest shortage and to allow women deacons.....(more).  Photo:   Cardinal Marc Ouellet Congregation for Bishops Paul Haring CNS Crux 20210413
Monday 12 April 202i
Ramadan, the ninth month in the Muslim calendar, is a special time for the Muslim community. As a most blessed month, it is a time for reflection, prayer and renewal of faith. Muslims worldwide fast from dawn to sunset, abstaining totally from food, drink, smoking and other sensual pleasures to complete one of the five pillars of Islam and to achieve greater self-discipline, self-purification, and compassion for those less fortunate.

 in 2021 Ramadan started on Monday, 12 April, 2021 and will continue for 30 days until Wednesday, 12 May, 2021. It is to be noted that according to the Islamic dates of Melbourne Ramadan calendar, a holiday begins on the sunset of the previous day so the Muslims will celebrate Ramadan on the sunset of Monday, 12 April, 2021.    
At this time of Ramadan we wish our Muslim friends  Assalamu 'alaikum  (“peace be upon you”)

Weekday Communion Services during Fr Bill's well deserved (though brief) leave
Challenges ahead for Australian Catholic Parishes
John Costa, Thursday 8 April 2020

After a tumultuous year of COVID-19 fear and lockdowns Parish Priests well supported by lay people have valiantly 'kept the ship afloat' with redoubled effort and the understanding cooperation of parishioners, by adopting extraordinary but demanding measures, including streamed Masses, numerous additional communications and much more.   But the longer term presents even greater challenges for all parishes considering detailed data on the ageing of priests, concerning decline in priest numbers, and participation.  

Illustrating this close to home the Parish Priest of neighbouring Templestowe Parish, Fr Gerry McKernan, will retire in May. Following very much anxious Parish community engagement on this issue over some time and a consequent proposal from that Parish to the Archdiocese, a response from Archbishop Peter Comensoli was today published on Templestowe Parish website. It includes the following relevant extract from Archbishop Peter's recent Patrick Oration, which was also recently reported on this News Page (see 18 March below).

'We are built for a church that no longer exists, and we have an infrastructure for a Church that no longer exists.' Pope Francis has been quite explicit about this, calling on local Churches not to struggle to hold on to what it has left behind but to see itself as a mission church moving outward, (cf. EG.28; 33) This is going to require a renewal of the lay apostolic life.

Archbishop Peter's response to Templestowe Parish proposal for the establishment of a Lay Ecclesial Leader followed detailed consideration and development of this proposal within the Parish, and consultation with the Vicar General Fr Joe Caddy.  The Archbishop's announcement of arrangements ahead for the Parish were published today on St Kevin's Parish website,  HERE,  as are details of the Parish proposal.  In a sense and given common circumstances across the Church in Australia, although individual parishes vary widely, the indicated changes can perhaps be taken as setting the scene for many other parishes ahead, looking closer into the future than some might recognise. 

Meanwhile the above photograph was taken today just before the weekly Liturgy Group meeting at Mother Of God Church at a Word & Communion Service, celebrated by Merle Gilbo, which replaces the usual weekday Masses in our Parish during Fr Bill's very well deserved (needed) break over two weeks (other than weekends).   Archbishop Peter indicated  in his response to Templestowe Parish that "No Parish can exist without the presence of an ordained priest, just as no Parish can exist without the active contribution of its lay faithful."

Parish Redevelopment Project

Preparing the foundations for our new Parish Office and Chapel.


Pope calls for "regeneration" of global financial institutions
Francis calls for an overhaul of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund so that they foster a "spirit of global solidarity"
Limited extract from  Xavier Le Normand, subscription Journal La Croix International, 9 April 2021
Pope Francis has urged global finance leaders to ensure that COVID-19 recovery plans do not lead to "a return to an unequal and unsustainable model of economic and social life, where a tiny minority of the world's population owns half of its wealth".       In a letter to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which the Vatican made public on April 8, the pope pleads for "new, more inclusive and sustainable solutions to support the real economy".        The pope's letter is actually dated April 4 and was delivered as the two financial organizations began an April 5-11 spring meeting.              In the text, Francis says "new and creative forms of social, political and economic participation must be devised, sensitive to the voice of the poor and committed to including them in the building of our common future".        Echoing his last encyclical, Fratelli tutti (2020), he calls for "a 'culture of encounter' in which every voice can be heard and all can thrive".       The 84-year-old Argentine pope argues that it is indispensable to "create new or regenerate existing institutions" at the international level, in particular for "giving poorer and less developed nations an effective share in decision-making and facilitating access to the international market".     He says that, in order for this to happen, the World Bank and the IMF must change the voting procedures in their organizations. Currently the largest contributors -- the United States, Japan, Germany, France and the United Kingdom -- have the preponderance of votes.....(source).     P
Religious call for Indigenous voice in Constitution
Extract from CathNews, CRA,  8 April 2021
Catholic Religious Australia has made a submission to the Indigenous voice co-design process, supporting the Uluru Statement from the Heart’s request for an Indigenous voice that is protected in the Australian Constitution.       ”Whilst we understand that there are many voices and opinions across Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, we support a constitutionally enshrined voice for Indigenous peoples,” CRA president Peter Carroll FMS said.                    “That voice will safeguard the right of self-determination and enhance the participation of Indigenous peoples in the democratic life of Australia.”          In its submission, CRA urged the Morrison Government to select and implement proposed models of an Indigenous voice in full consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, in the next stage of the co-design process.....(more)     Image: Uluru Statement from the Heart, Uluru Statement website, CathNews 20210409

Thank You
Merle Gilbo, 2 April 2021
This word that has been on my lips, on my mind and in my heart in recent days as so many people wished me well on the occasion of my ‘big birthday’. The idea of belonging to a parish family has always been significant to me and it was certainly very real on this occasion — expressed in all kinds of ways. Thank you, one and all, for your thoughtfulness. It has been wonderful.  Merle

The grounded hope of Good Friday
Extract from Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street, 1 April 2021
In its Christian context, Easter Sunday celebrates the rising of Jesus to life. It follows his brutal execution on Good Friday after rigged trials. Good Friday this year occurs at the beginning of April, a month which Pope Francis dedicated to prayer for ‘those who risk their lives while fighting for fundamental rights under dictatorships, authoritarian regimes and even in democracies in crisis’.        Such prayers have always been necessary. The sun will always rise on brave people as they wake ready to continue their struggle for justice, though wondering whether at the end of the day they will still be free and alive. Most live in towns and villages of which we have never heard, in nations about which our media report little. But sometimes we see the urgency of prayer written on the public images of people who have risked their lives.      Movies have made us familiar with the faces of those who formed a chain, passing from one to another Jewish people in flight from Nazi extermination. The poems of writers who were killed or exiled to Siberia during the purges in Stalinist Russia evoke other images. We may also remember the faces of young students who offered flowers to soldiers during protests in Manila and Tienanmen Square.       More recently we have seen the faces of students in Myanmar as they offered roses to the soldiers blocking their protest. Sadly these peaceful gestures have so often been rejected with implacable bloodshed and imprisonment.       It is surely right for people who have seen their human rights violated and have suffered in defence of their families, friends and fellow citizens to be outraged by the savagery with which powerful, ambitious men with guns go successfully to war against their unarmed fellow citizens in order to protect their self-claimed entitlements. It would be hard not to nurture rage and hatred against the perpetrators.        Good Friday properly belongs in that world of outrage at the violation of humanity. It does not move us away from horror and anger but invites a pause for close reflection on them.......(more)
Pope appoints abuse victim to top safeguarding role
Extract from Christopher Lamb, The Tablet, 1 April 2021
In 2018, when the Pope visited Chile, he dismissed as “slander” the allegations of Juan Carlos Cruz that a bishop had covered up abuse by Fernando Karadima.          Cruz and two others had bravely come forward with details of abuse perpetrated against them by Karadima, then a highly-respected and powerful priest. They had faced attacks, criticism and a refusal from the church hierarchy to believe them.               Following his Chile trip, Francis realised he had made a bad misjudgment, commissioned an investigation, and apologised to Cruz and the other survivors.           Three years on, Cruz, an international advocate for survivors of clerical abuse, has been appointed by the Pope as a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. It is quite a turnaround and comes seven years after two Chilean cardinals managed to block an earlier attempt to appoint him to the safeguarding advisory body.          The reversal is also rooted in Francis' recognition that he must place victims, and their stories, at the centre of the Church’s response to abuse scandals.         During the Chile debacle, the Pope invited Cruz and two other survivors to spend several days with him in the Casa Santa Marta sharing their stories. Soon after, the Pope held a summit with the Chilean bishops in Rome which led to the entire hierarchy offering their resignations over the scandal.       “Never would I have imagined to have spoken to the Pope so freely, after all I went through,” Cruz told The Tablet. “In many ways, the bishops in Chile have been the Pope’s ‘crown of thorns’.”       He said that in his new role “no one [can] silence me or buy me, or make it a PR effort. I will try to humbly help wherever I can.” While he trusts the Pope, the same cannot be said for some of the world's bishops.        “Clericalism runs rampant in the church still,” he explains. “The Pope has done things to hold people accountable, but you run into brick walls.” ....(more).    Photo:   Juan Carlos Cruz, The Tablet, 1 April 2021
Francis says the Church is ‘never wrong’ when it listens to the faithful
Extract from Inés San Martín, rome bureau chief, Crux, 1 April 2021
ROME – An estimated 100,000 Argentines sent messages to Pope Francis March 13, sharing their opinions regarding the first eight years of his pontificate, and he responded with a video made public Thursday, arguing that the Church is “never wrong” when listening to the “holy faithful people of God.”       “In theological terms, they call it synodality,” Francis said. “It might have many names, but it’s the holy faithful people of God that carries the faith forward and in its own dialect.”        But the pope didn’t only refer to the life of the Church in his five-minute video addressed to Father Jose Maria “Pepe” di Paola, a slum priest who collected over 100,000 messages from all over Argentina – from those who live in the shantytowns of Buenos Aires to politicians and everyone in between – lamenting that governments often don’t listen to the people.         “We are used to many times making decisions without consulting the people,” Francis said in a video sent to Di Paola on Wednesday. Important decisions are taken without input at every level, he continued: “Whether for parish life, when the parish priest does not consult the people; be it in provincial life, when the governor does not consult the people; be it in the diocese, when the bishop does not consult the people; be it in the nation, when the authorities do not consult the people, even for important and disputed laws regarding morality.”........(more).   
Instrumentum Laboris: 'A major disappointment'
Extract from, Catholics For Renewal, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue website, 2 April 2020
The Instrumentum Laboris (IL) or Working Document is the latest product of the Preparatory Stage for the 5th Plenary Council of the Catholic Church in Australia, convened to address the huge existential crisis facing the Church in this nation. The final document will be the Agenda. After that has been approved by the Holy See, the Council will be officially convoked with the 1st General Assembly scheduled for 3-10 October 2021.       The IL’s stated purpose is twofold: to provide an account of what emerged from the national consultations, and to invite the whole Church, especially the Plenary delegates into a deeper discernment and listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit (n. 3).       (Note: The bishops have now been informed by the Vatican that the people they have called ‘delegates’ for the last three years are, in fact, full ‘members’ of the Council. Their authority derives, not from the local bishop or a ‘commissioning ceremony’ but from their ‘call’ to be members the Plenary Council. The official Statutes and Norms of the Council make this abundantly clear).        However, measured against these aims the IL is a huge disappointment. Instead of setting out a clear, concise and coherent blueprint for reform, it is a ground plan for inertia.........Its 69-page summary of the 3-year national consultations, including the Final and Diocesan Reports on the 17,547 submissions, the 6 Working Documents on the National Themes of Discernment, the Royal Commission’s Final Report, and The Light from the Southern Cross, has failed to organise this rich harvest of wisdom, insight and analysis into a coherent presentation that should have been the solid foundation for the Plenary’s agenda.....(more)
Consultation for Women provides hope for the future
Extracts from CathNews, ACBC Media Blog, 1 April 2021
Almost 200 Catholic women from around the country gathered online on March 27 for a national consultation organised by the Bishops Commission for Evangelisation, Laity and Ministry.             Twenty-six Australian dioceses were represented at the event, with Archbishop Christopher Prowse, the chair of the Bishops Commission, and Bishop Michael Morrissey, the Bishop Delegate for Women, also taking part.         Bishop Morrissey said the discussions during the event will inform the development of the agenda for the “Catholic Women Gather” initiative planned for September 11.        “Often we can look at the big picture of the Catholic Church in Australia and be disappointed about what does not seem to happen, yet so much is happening in the local communities of faith around the Church in Australia,” Bishop Morrissey said.        “This clear message came to me listening to women’s stories from the many and varied communities around Australia.        “I saw there was a respect shown for the divergent views expressed and shared deeply by many women during the two hours. That for me as a bishop was an enriching experience of simply listening without judgement to the many and varied voices.”........“Many women spoke of positive ways they are ministering in their local contexts, which was inspiring. However, others spoke of challenges, even despair at their local situation which has hindered their participation; this was disheartening to hear.        “Both perspectives are the reality. I felt a sense of hope though – the voice of the Spirit – as we supported one another with our honest sharing.”....(more). 

Happy Birthday Merle

Friday 26 March 2021

Last Tuesday after Mass we celebrated Merle’s 90th birthday in the Mother of God church foyer.

A wonderful milestone with no signs of slowing down.

We wish Merle every grace and blessing on her birthday. 


Photos speak louder than words!
Friday 26 March 2021

Parish Redevelopment Project

Chapel and sacristy demolished on north side in preparation for new works.




Francis says Mary is not ‘co-redemptrix’
Extract from CathNews, Crux, 25 March March 2021
Pope Francis said yesterday the Virgin Mary is not a co-redemptrix with Christ, a title which some theological movements in recent decades have tried to assign to the Mother of God. Jesus, Francis said speaking off-the-cuff, entrusted the entire Church and all the faithful to Mary, but “as a mother. Not as a goddess. Not as a co-redemptrix. As a mother.”      “It’s true that Christian piety always gives beautiful titles to her, like a son to the mother … how many beautiful things does a son say to the mother? But pay attention: the [beautiful] things that the Church, the saints, say to Mary, take nothing away from Christ’s uniqueness as a redeemer,” the Pope added, always looking away from his prepared remarks.       “He [Christ] is the only redeemer. They [Marian titles] are expressions of love like a son to the mother, sometimes exaggerated, but we know love always makes us do exaggerated things. Lovesickness,” Francis said.      The title of Mary as “co-redemptrix” dates to the Middle Ages, and the idea of declaring it as a church dogma was discussed, though not adopted, at the Second Vatican Council. In the 1990s, American Catholic theologian Mark Miravalle launched a petition asking the Pope to make such a declaration, and today the “co-redemptrix” devotion tends to be strongest among more conservative Catholics.      Yesterday, Francis that Christ is the mediator par excellence, the “bridge that we cross to turn to the Father,” and the only redeemer: “Every prayer that we give to God is for Christ, with Christ and through Christ, and are realised through his intersession.”....(more).   Photo: Pope Francis Mary Christ Child sculpture Domus SM chapel CNS Vatican Media CathNews, 20210325
Bishops in France rethink the future of seminaries
New national program of priestly formation focuses on maturity of candidates, adaptation of seminaries to current realities and the inclusion of more women on formation teams
Limited extract from Malo Tresca, subscription journal La Croix International, 24 March 2021
The Catholic bishops of France are set to vote this week on a new version of the Vatican's "program" (Ratio fundamentalis) for the formation of future priests -- something called the Ratio nationalis.       The text, which has been three years in the making, was to be presented to the bishops on March 24 during their episcopal conference (CEF) plenary assembly and voted on two days later.         Priestly formation is just one of five major issues on the agenda for the CEF spring plenary, which opened on March 23 with a one-and-a-half day session on integral ecology.      The CEF drafting committee compiled the new Ratio nationalis after careful consultation with French seminary formators and rectors, a number of bishops and officials in Rome.      It is to bring the national program for priestly formation in line with directives that the Vatican issued in December 2016.       The French text, which may be modified following the upcoming vote, intends to introduce important developments in the preparation for priesthood.   "Among the new features, the seminary will be open to ongoing formation throughout the duration of ministry," said Archbishop Jérôme Beau of Bourges, president of the Episcopal Commission for Ordained Ministries and Lay People with Ecclesial Missions...Source.   Photo: Immaculate Conception seminary Toulon, CEMOLEME Etienne Garnier Presse Sports La Croix Int 20210314
Pope Francis: Moral theology must concern reality and people, not just principles
Extract from Gerard O’Connell, America, Jesuit Review 23 March 2021
Pope Francis today called on Catholic moral theologians, missionaries and confessors to follow the example of St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, the famous moral theologian and founder of the Redemptorists, who showed how “to keep together the demands of the Gospel and human fragility.”        He invited them, following the example of the saint and bishop, “to enter into a living relationship with the members of God’s people and to look at life from their perspective in order to understand the real difficulties they encounter and to help heal their wounds.”        Moral theology, the pope said, cannot be only about principles and formulations, but must respond to the reality of the person in need, “because knowledge of theoretical principles alone, as St. Alphonsus himself reminds us, is not enough to accompany and sustain consciences in discerning the good to be done.”        “It is necessary that knowledge becomes practical through listening and welcoming of the least ones, the fragile ones, and the one who is considered discarded by society,” he added.        Pope Francis emphasized that “the radical call of the Gospel must not be set against human weakness” and insisted that “it is always necessary to find the road that does not alienate [people] but brings hearts closer to God.”       The remarks are representative of Francis’ general pastoral approach, as reflected in “Evangelii Gaudium,” which he referred to eight times in today’s message and has followed throughout his pontificate. And even though, as America has learned, Francis wrote today’s message prior to his recent trip to Iraq, the remarks may hold special significance to Catholics hurt by last week’s response from Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that states priests should not bless same-sex unions.....(more)  Photo: Pope Francis greets family members CNS photo Paul Haring America Jes Rev 20210323

Parish Redevelopment Project

Pat Kelly, Friday 19 March 2021

As previously advised, Raysett Constructions Pty Ltd took possession of the Mary Immaculate site on the 2nd February 2021. The site has been fenced and secured.      There was a delay with commencement of works because Banyule Council required some details to be clarified prior to the finalization of the stage 1 planning permit but it’s now full steam ahead. The work to date is largely internal to the buildings involving the following activities.

· Site survey and levels establishment

· Development of demolition sequence

· Asbestos removal

· Services alterations

· Site office establishment

· Site amenities, staff lunch room and toilets

The photo shows the commencement of vegetation removal and demolition of the ramp and entrance to the church.

Regular meetings with the architects and the contractor are being held.  We have also met with the specialist contractors to discuss details of the audio-visual and security systems.   Construction site meetings with the Archdiocesan representative, architects, Raysett and ourselves are held fortnightly.

'Digital Economy' and  'Digital Divide' in our Parish?
John Costa*, Friday 19 March 2021
Our lives are increasingly dependent on immediate and reliable access to resources that are online. Government services, emergency services,  essential information, accessing and managing our finances and bill payments (including Parish giving), online purchasing, food deliveries, health services ('telehealth'), social connections, education services, entertainment and more are now increasingly digital.           Apart from accessing information, digital technology also allows almost anyone from anywhere to generate content or establish online businesses, including from home, with global reach. No longer are these resources simply available from a desktop computer, but equally now via Tablet devices and  smart phones.            Consequently, what, in society, was once simply called 'the economy' has now universally become the 'digital economy'.        That means we now depend increasingly for social and economic welbeing on digital means.        But what of those who for various reasons don't have access to, or are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with this new world of digital connection?    The simple, sad,  answer is that they are clearly seriously disadvantaged, as mounting evidence now highlights.              During the peak of Australia's COVID-19 experience people were very quickly forced to adapt to lockdown in various  ways. People worked from home, schooling was delivered on line, Masses were streamed, and essential information was provided online. Reports show that despite the challenges of sudden change the overall adaptation has been very successful, and certainly better than the alternative.                But not for everyone. Those who for whatever reasons are unable to access, afford, or use online resources are seriously  disadvantaged, in our own parish as elsewhere.           This growing social challenge is what is now globally called the 'Digital Divide'.  In some countries where all but wealthy people are mostly excluded from much of the 'digital economy' the number of exclusions is become a growing social problem that needs addressing. For this reason the US Government, for example, has just approved allocation of US$ 1.9 trillion dollars. Other countries  are also necessarily having to consider responses, not solely financial, and so must we as the Digital Divide in Australia also disadvantages peoples' lives.  *The writer has worked in this area for many years and continues to do so.
Patrick Oration 2021
Extract from Archbishop Peter A Comensoli, Melbourne Catholic.  18 March 2021
Home-made bread. Who’d have thought that would be a thing in 2020? At the height of our hard lockdown, home-made bread made a come-back; and sourdough became a thing. Households across Melbourne started creating a culture, or they borrowed it from a neighbour. A bit of flour, some water, and time was all that was needed to crank up the fermenting process to create our own starters, delightfully called ‘Mother’. From a single Mother culture – appropriately fed and nurtured – came an endless gift of offspring.              But why this, in the midst of our locked-down lives? In our exile from one another, this simplest of things became a way of re-claiming our humanity and of cultivating life – a leaven for our lives.           During the ‘great exile’ of these past 12 months, our family households became the primary ways by which COVID-19 could be contained. Under the debilitating restrictions that entered every facet of our lives, we learnt – sometimes well, sometimes with hard work – to negotiate living arrangements; to accommodate personality traits; to live, work, play and pray from the same rooms. Our homes were the only places where you were not required to wear a mask; you could reveal your face quite literally – and by extension, your life – to others. Households became the ground on which to stand with any sense of safety and security, as our lives were pounded by the forces of the pandemic.         On this Patrick Oration, two years ago (which feels like another lifetime, doesn’t it?), I spoke to you about a different ground we needed to stand on, a new land to cultivate. I spoke of the need to re-plant the Gospel into our local neighbourhoods of grace – our homes and communities, our movements and organisations, our parishes and schools. And I called for current-day St Patricks who would be the seed-planters of our time.         As we now move tentatively out of exile – still in a state of ebb and flow, still uncertain of the future – we should not miss that COVID has shifted and sifted us. Where now is the ground on which we need to plant the gospel; and how do we step out towards it? How might we become the leaven needed for a more human way of living in this new world still emerging? Perhaps we can learn from our faith ancestors, in finding our identity by way of our households.....(more).  Photo: Comensoli Patrick Oration Melbourne Catholic 20210318
Bishops criticize Vatican's ban on blessing same-sex couples
In a rare display of open disagreement with the Vatican, a number of bishops have publicly denounced a statement issued by the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith
Limited extracts from subscription journal La Croix International, 18 March 2021
Numerous Catholic bishops from around the world have publicly denounced the Vatican's recent statement forbidding Church blessings for same-sex couples, calling the move "unacceptable", hurtful and clumsy.                  The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) on March 15 published something called a responsum, along with explanatory note, that reiterated the Vatican's longstanding position that it is "illicit" for Catholic priests to bless same-sex unions.         But in a rare display of open disagreement with the Vatican, bishops from several different countries immediately criticized the CDF intervention.          "The pain the Church has caused them is today my pain".           "I feel ashamed for my Church. I mainly feel intellectual and moral incomprehension," said Bishop Johan Bonny, 65, of Antwerp (Belgium).           "I would like to apologize to all for whom this responsum is painful and incomprehensible. The pain the Church has caused them is today my pain," said Bonny, a Rome-trained theologian who worked at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity from 1997 until his episcopal appointment in 2008.         "Controlling who can or cannot receive God's blessing -- this is inadequate and wrong," said Franz Kreissl, director of pastoral services for the Diocese of St. Gallen in Switzerland.          "It is not permissible to exclude a certain group from the outset as a 'sinner', without taking into account each individual concerned," Kreisel continued in a statement published March 16 on the diocesan website.           "The mission of the Church is to bestow this blessing from God and to promise it to the people -- not by its own means, but as an intermediary," said St. Gallen's Bishop Markus Büchel..........."A Church that says we can't ordain women is equally obliged to ask how we might include women in leadership...a Church which says we can't bless same-sex unions is equally obliged to ask how we might include same-sex couples," tweeted Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane (Australia), a 72-year-old Rome-educated scripture scholar and former official at the Vatican's Secretary of State (1998-2002).....(source)  Image:   Gay Marriage blessings Ban, New Africa - Stocke Adobe com La Croix Int 20120218

Australian priest serving on the COVID frontline in Peru
Extract from The Catholic weekly, 18 March 2021
Australian priest Fr John Anderson says many people living in Peru’s largest jungle city continue to fall desperately sick due to COVID-19.       Fr Anderson ministers as parish priest of Santa Rosa de Lima Parish in Iquitos, and says the city has endured “chaos” for months on end.         Administrator of the Vicariate of Iquitos, Fr Miguel Fuertes, has issued an urgent appeal for donations to provide an oxygen generator.         Last year the Vicariate was able to crowdfund enough money to purchase four oxygen generators. However, they are not sufficient to meet the need in the city of 470,000 people.
    Fr Anderson said a second appeal by Fr Fuertes garnered $US140,000 last month but more is needed. “The generator will cost about $80,000, but the price of the compressors has shot up from $50,000 to $150,000.”        Fr Anderson has been donning full PPE to visit hospital patients who are sharing wards with COVID-infected patients and conducting an ever-increasing number of funerals in people’s homes.          “How this will evolve, who knows … but we are in the hands of the good Lord,” he said.....(more).    Photo: Residents queue oxygen tanks sick relatives in Iquitos Supplied CathNews 20210318

Pope appeals for end to violence in Myanmar
Extract from CathNews, CNS, 18 March 2021
As security forces in Myanmar intensify their crackdown on civilians, with disappearances, detentions and the killing of peaceful protesters, Pope Francis has appealed for an end to violence and the start of dialogue.             “Once again, and with much sorrow, I feel compelled to mention the tragic situation in Myanmar, where so many people, especially young people, are losing their lives for offering hope to their country,” Pope Francis said at the end of his weekly general audience yesterday.          Without mentioning her name, the Pope recalled the iconic gestures of Sr Ann Nu Thawng, who made headlines when photographs were published of her kneeling before police seeking to shield peaceful protesters and of her extending her arms begging police not to shoot or hurt anyone.         “I, too, kneel on the streets of Myanmar and say, ‘Stop the violence’,” he said. “I, too, spread wide my arms and say, ‘Make way for dialogue’.”         Bloodshed “resolves nothing”, the Pope said, repeating his call for dialogue to begin.          The United Nations, human rights groups, bishops and Catholic organisations have condemned the actions of the Myanmar military, which has continued to crack down on protesters since its February 1 coup.....(more).   Photo: Protesters barricade tyres clash security forces Yangon CNS Reuters CathNews 20210318
While we can ‘celebrate small victories’ our church deserves so much more
When women question the status quo with openness, frankness and boldness, they are ignored or figuratively told to go away by male gatekeepers, writes Good Samaritan Sister Patty Fawkner SGS.
Extract from Patty Fawkner, Good Oil, published here 18 March 2021
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, to be grateful or give vent to my frustration. This was my honest, mixed reaction with the news that Pope Francis had changed Canon 230 of Canon Law. “Lay people” could now be admitted to ministries of lector (reader) and acolyte (altar server), whereas previously the canon was restricted to “lay men”.            In the wake of Francis’ announcement, I experienced the range of emotions expressed by other Catholic women.          Like me, some women were somewhat bemused, others surprised, not realising that previously women weren’t allowed to fill these roles.         Methinks that these women must have been fortunate to have clergy who had “allowed” them to read and to serve in the sanctuary, not only as cleaners or flower arrangers!            Was this really a giant step for Catholic womankind? “Is it really progress to concede to women functions which they have carried out for decades, even during Masses in St Peter’s, a recognition that no women’s organisation ever asked for?” asked Veteran Catholic journalist Lucetta Scaraffia.          Others were underwhelmed. Former Irish President, Mary McAleese, in typical feisty style, said that the new law was “the polar opposite of earth shattering … It is minimal but welcome all the same, for it is at last an acknowledgement that it was wrong of Pope Paul VI to ban women from the stable lay roles of lector and acolyte which remarkably he did after the Second Vatican Council.” Needless to say, Pope Francis did not go there!.....(more).   Photo: Sister Patty Fawkner SGS Sisters of the Good Samaritan, 18 March 2021

Vatican says yes to gay people, no to blessing gay unions
Extract from Opinion  Piece, Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, National Catholic Reporter, 17 March 2021
Since the Catholic Church forbids celebrating marriage between people of the same sex as a sacrament, some Catholics, and even some bishops, have discussed having a blessing for such couples as an alternative.         On March 15, the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, the chief doctrinal office in the Vatican, responded to queries about this possibility with a firm no. "It is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage," said the congregation.           To sum up, the Vatican is calling on the church to welcome gays "with respect and sensitivity" while at the same time telling priests not to bless their unions.          This fine distinction will make no sense to many American Catholics, especially those who are gay and believe that respecting a person includes accepting their choice of a life partner. In Germany it will put a chill on efforts by the country's Catholic bishops to consult the faithful on a number of topics, including gays, though a multiyear synodal process.          Granted how much Pope Francis talks about the synodal character of the church, it is disappointing to see attempts to short-circuit this process in Germany.          This preemptive strike, however, will not succeed. The discussion will go on, explained Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the German bishops' conference, even as "points of view put forward today by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith must and will naturally find their way into these discussions."            The congregation made clear that Francis "was informed and gave his consent" to publication of the document. My guess is that he was given the document right before he left for Iraq and deferred to the congregation rather than subject the document to a close personal review. It lacks the pastoral sensitivity that has marked his papacy. Too bad he did not set it aside for more thought and consultation.          The congregation sees pastoral and theological problems with blessing gay unions, although it has no problem with blessing gay individuals.....(more)Photo: People with rainbow flags Brandenburg Gate legalization of same-sex marriage Germany Michael Kappeler dpa via AP NCR 2021-317

Space, time, change, reflection: Lent as it should be  
This is going to be a COVID-19 kind of Lent, and that may be one of the best things that ever happens to our spiritual lives.
Extract from Joan Chitister, National Catholic Reporter, 17 March 2021
COVID-19 landed in the middle of our very busy selves and turned them upside down. The question is, is it all bad? The fact is that COVID-19 managed to do for us what we have not been able to do ourselves. For maybe years now.        Here's the box score.           COVID-19 has stopped our fevered running to and fro, back and forth, in life. And it's all been due to no plans of our own. There are simply places we should not go now. Crowds we should not be with. Trips we cannot take; parties we cannot give; routine things, like getting ready to meet a friend at the library — once so automatic we never gave it a thought — that now include things we can't forget any more. As in, get the mask. (No, not that one, the new one with the wire that holds it up.) Wash the hands again. Sit across the table from a friend rather than beside them. All simple things, daily things, normal things that we have to think about differently now. Where'd I put the extra masks? How many passengers can go in the van? What do you mean, the church is closed?           The result of it all, I have discovered, is life-changing. COVID-19 has reduced us to the essence of ourselves. To the bare bones of our lives. The little things — meet that friend, go to that store, work with the dog running circles in the room — have tapped into the core of us, have shown us our own limitations, our own needs, as no "what-shall-I-give-up-for-Lent" game can ever do.           COVID-19 has also taught us a form of patience. When there is no end date to something, our attention shifts to what's going on now, rather than later. Instead of concentrating on how long it will be till we can get to where we really want to go — since we can't go there anyway — we begin to think about what we might do now. But differently. We begin to ask ourselves a whole new set of questions, in fact. As in, what could be good for me to concentrate on now, that I can do alone? Or, what did we learn in the past about how to live when life stalled and felt dull and empty?....(more)    Image:  Lent about honest ourselves growing into Light  Unsplash Dave Hoefler NCR 20210317
Irish bishops announce ‘synodal pathway’ during ‘pivotal time’
Extract from Charles Collins, Managing Editor, Cruxnow, 12 March 2021
The bishops made the announcement at the end of their annual Spring Meeting, which took place virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.          The prelates called it a “pivotal time” for the Church in Ireland, and acknowledged they were “acutely aware of the huge challenges to the faith over the past fifty years from the rapid transformation and secularization of society” on the island.        Ireland's Catholic bishops will embark on synodal pathway for the Church National Synodal Assembly within 5 years.    Once one of the most Catholic nations in Europe, revelations about clerical sexual abuse has left public confidence in the Church at its lowest level in the history of Ireland.          Not only has Mass attendance dropped significantly over the past quarter century, the Irish people have increasingly rejected laws seen as rooted in Catholic teaching.....(more).   Photo: Irish prelates Cathedral of St Mary and St Anne Cillian Kelly CNS Cruxnow 2020112

Parish Climate Action Group

Friday 12 March 2021

Our Mary Mother of the Church Parish put on a wonderful action for the worldwide launch of the Sacred People Sacred Earth campaign on Thursday, 11 March.   It was heart-warming to have about 20 parishioners arrive and gather together as we held up our banner for a half-hour facing the passing traffic outside Mary Immaculate Church, occasionally striking a Tibetan bell used in our Parish Meditation Group.        We then walked to MI school,  holding up the banner and some of us singing – a song for the earth, our common home.  School children at MI rang a bell on our arrival, sounding the alarm for the climate, and they hung the banner on the school fence.        We then moved onto St Bernadette’s where we were again met by students and hung a banner on the fence there.        Did you know they have an exceptional vegie garden there!      We made a video of our action and you can see it HERE .   Watch the 2-minute video through to the end to hear Father Bill speak of how, as a faith community, we are called to be good stewards of the gift of creation that God has given us.       After Masses last weekend, there was a collection for donations for the cost of the banners.  Parishioners donated a total of $506.       That constitutes a substantial amount towards the cost. It’s great to know so many of us care deeply about our stewardship of creation.   Thank you.       There were 135 ‘Sacred People Sacred Earth’ actions in Australia and over 400 events in 43 counties around the world and the launch made the Vatican news. People preached, prayed, chanted, meditated and stood in silent witness.  Bells rang at a number of Cathedrals and churches throughout Australia.         The ARRCC Facebook site has numerous posts of various actions; try looking for #Faiths4Climate or #SacredEarthSacredPeople on social media.      Remember, you can still get onto the ARRCC website, and sign the ‘Sacred People Sacred Earth’ statement which will go to the U.N. meeting on climate in November.

Sister joins teenagers in fight against coal mine
Extract from CathNews, Sight Magazine, SMH, 12 March 2021
Brigidine Sister Brigid Arthur lost faith in Australian politicians a long time ago, making her a natural ally for a group of teenagers calling for action on climate change. Source: Sight Magazine.      Equally fed up with political foot-dragging, the 86-year-old has joined eight students from across Australia in a landmark case seeking to block the expansion of the Whitehaven coal mine in New South Wales.       The case, which was first heard in court last week, argues that Environment Minister Sussan Ley has a duty of care to protect young people from climate change that endangers their future.       If successful, it could make it more difficult for coal mines to be approved in Australia, one of the world’s largest per capita carbon emitters and which is highly reliant on coal exports.               Sr Brigid told the Thomas Reuters Foundation that governments in Australia have for “quite a long time” been “swayed by short-term objectives”, which leaves them unwilling to do anything that is “unpopular but in the long-term good for the country”.         Sr Brigid, who set up the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project charity in 2001, said she did not think twice when lawyers involved in the climate lawsuit asked her to be the litigation guardian for the students, aged 13 to 17, who – as minors – legally required an adult to give instructions on their behalf.....(more) Photo: Sr Brigid Arthur CAPSA, CathNews 20210312
Focus on human relationships needed for aged and mental health care
Extract from Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street, 11 March 2021
Last week two Royal Commissions with overlapping themes delivered their findings. The Federal Government Royal Commission into Aged Care for the ageing was appropriately painstaking and complex. Its findings were also complex, with the two Commissioners differing on central points. Many of the eventual recommendations were also opposed in submissions by Government Departments and the Minister. The findings were received cautiously by the Prime Minister. The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System was shorter and less detailed but no less ambitious. It was accepted enthusiastically in its entirety by the Victorian Premier.       As with all such inquiries the test of their effectiveness depends on how governments act. Past experience offers little confidence. Almost every inquiry has revealed appalling stories of neglect and mistreatment, of underfunding and of demoralised staff. Subsequent inquiries usually show that little has changed. The reason is that people are readily shocked, but their interest is neither sustained enough nor strong enough to accept the fiscal pain necessary for change to take place. Governments therefore talk the talk but rarely walk the walk, fearing that higher taxes will see them being forced to walk the plank at the next election.        This suggests that the precondition of any lasting reform is that the public, including politicians and civil servants, understand both the human reality of mental illness and ageing and what matters in responding to them. Without that understanding any reform is likely to be short-lived and partial.....(more) Photo: Main image: Nurse walking with aged person Cristina Serí Unsplash, Eureka St 20210311
Pope names Sr Nuria Calduch-Benages as secretary of biblical commission
Extract from Crux, 11 March 2021
ROME — Pope Francis has named Sister Nuria Calduch-Benages, an Old Testament scholar and professor at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, to be secretary of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.      The Spanish member of the Missionaries of the Holy Family of Nazareth is the first woman to hold the position, which involves coordinating the work of the 20 biblical scholars from around the world who study topics in Scripture studies and interpretation on behalf of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.      According to the norms of the commission, as revised by St. Paul VI in 1971, the secretary of the Pontifical Biblical Commission also serves as a consultant to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.....(more)  Photo:Sister Nuria Calduch-Benages CNS photo courtesy Pontifical Gregorian University, Crux 20210311
On women’s day, panel push for more laity in positions of power at Vatican
Extract from Elise Ann Allen, senior correspondent,  Crux,  9 March 2021
Speaking during a March 8 panel organized by the Australian Embassy to the Holy See, Sister Nathalie Becquart, Undersecretary to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, said Pope Francis is calling the Church “to recognize the legitimate place of women” at all levels of the Church in order to achieve “greater justice and equality, and he calls the Church to respect women’s rights.”          However, she said the push to include more women in positions of leadership and authority must be done with an emphasis on “greater reciprocity between males and females.”       “Synodality is also about bringing all the voices of the people of God,” she said, voicing hope that this will form part of the discussion during the 2022 Synod of Bishops on Synodality.         Becquart, who is the first woman ever to be appointed to her position, and who consequentially will become the first woman to vote in a synod of bishops during the 2022 gathering, stressed the need for a greater sense of co-responsibility between men and women in the Church.        “Co-responsibility is truly the key to this time of crisis in society and in the Church, not only the crisis of sex abuse and abuses of power, but also the crisis with COVID and difficulties in different countries with political crisis, the economic crisis,” she said, noting that men and women offer different, but equally valuable perspectives to problem solving.....(more).    Photo: Sister Nathalie Becquart AP Photo Alessandra Tarantino Crux 20210309

Australia could learn a thing or two from Indonesia’s personalised approach to aged care
Extract from  Duncan Graham, Pearls & Irritations, Mar 9, 2021
Our street in Indonesia has 70 households. Many are mixed-generation families. With few nursing homes or retirement villages, and those being far away, families have two options: The kids do the caring or employ a carer. Either way, Grandpa or Grandma stays home.         Sawojajar is eight degrees under the Equator and a suburb of Malang, an East Java hilltown nudging one million. Days start with the 4:15 am call to prayer. An hour later as the sun crests the mountains, the street’s five elderly and infirm men are wheeled out of the houses they once lorded and sometimes shuffled into plastic chairs.            There’s no sense of abandonment, more a welcome back. Parked in the shade of mango trees the old fellows expect to finish their days where they’ve lived among familiar faces, sounds, sights and smells. Here they’re obvious to all, spectators of the daily parade yet also participants.        With no public parks or pavement, the bitumen is the community room, an oval, a market, an open-air hall, a thoroughfare. There’s much to hear and see, and not one event has been organized by a social welfare consultant.        A quarter of Australians are reported to be lonely. No similar studies in Indonesia where mental health isn’t a front-page issue, but chances are there’d be only a few suffering solitudes – and certainly not in this street.        Indonesians engage easily with strangers. The watchers outside their wrought-iron fences advise reversing drivers of hazards, direct strangers to the right address, hold parcels for absent residents and act as human CCTVs.....(more)

China to teach ‘masculinity’ education for boys
Extract from CathNews NZ, NBC News, CGTN, 8 March 2021
The Education Ministry of China has published plans to ‘cultivate masculinity’ in schoolboys. The policy has inflamed debate across the country.       The plan follows a warning from one of China’s top political advisers that the nation is experiencing a national “masculinity crisis.”          “Chinese boys have been spoiled by housewives and female teachers,” the adviser, Si Zefu, said in a policy proposal in May. Boys would soon become “delicate, timid and effeminate” unless action was taken, he said.          Addressing the issue is a matter of national security, he wrote. Si warned that the “feminization” of Chinese boys “threatens China’s survival and development.”          Boys in China traditionally are expected to show strong leadership skills, get good grades in math and science and excel in school sports. So wrote Fang Gang, a sociology professor at Beijing Forestry University, about the proposed changes on Jan. 30.       Girls, meanwhile, traditionally are viewed as less intellectual, and they are expected to be less competitive.         “Boys don’t need masculinity education,” said Lü Pin, the founder of China’s largest feminist advocacy media channel, Feminist Voices, which was banned by Chinese censors in 2018.        “The concept of masculinity forces every man to be tough, excluding and harming men with other characteristics,” she said. “It also reinforces men’s hegemony, control and position over women, which goes against gender equality.”....(more)   Photo:Masculinity-in-China CathNews NZ 20210308

NZ Church leaders to give evidence at Royal Commission on Abuse in Care
Extract from CathNews NZ, 8 March 2021
Representatives of Anglican, Catholic, Presbyterian churches and leaders of the Salvation Army will give evidence later this month at the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care.        They will be asked to explain their processes for resolving historic and current abuse claims and to respond to survivors’ evidence.         The Inquiry’s second phase, which is set to run from 15 to 29 March, will focus specifically on the senior clergy’s evidence.         The Inquiry’s first phase was held late last year.            It focused on survivors’ experience in seeking redress for abuse and/or neglect while they were in the care of faith-based institutions.....(more)
At age 102, California deacon’s motto remains ‘never retire’
Extract from CathNews NZ, 8 March 2021
Deacon Albert Graff, who turned 102 on Jan. 23, explains the secret to his longevity in two words: “Never retire.”       An engineer by profession, he had scarcely retired after 25 years at General Atomics when he began his more than 30 years of ministry as a permanent deacon.        “I retired from General Atomics in April of 1983 and was ordained a deacon in May of 1983,” said Deacon Graff, who ministered to the St. James-St. Leo Catholic Community in Solana Beach, 22 miles north of San Diego.         He continued in active ministry well into his 90s, retiring for good only after suffering a stroke five years ago. He still attends Mass at the parish, including Friday school Masses.....(more)

Access to Mary Immaculate

Friday 5 March 2021

The Parish has formally handed over the Mary Immaculate Church site to our building contractors, Raysett Constructions, and work on the site has commenced.

One of the implications of the handover is that we do not have access to the site during the period of the project. Put simply - no one from the Parish (or anyone else) can presume they can enter the property. There are all sorts of legal and contractual reasons for this: not least reasons of safety and insurance cover. Please do not enter the site - even if there is a gate open. Our Project Manager, Pat Kelly, will give regular updates of progress on our redevelopment project in the weekly newsletter.

These access rules will mean that our weekly newsletters can no longer be collected from the front door of Mary Immaculate Church. They will need to be collected from Mother of God or St. Bernadette’s Church, online on our website, or phone the office for a home delivery if you have no transport to our churches.

Plenary Instrumentum Laboris: blissful ignorance is no excuse
Released this week, the Plenary’s starting document addresses realities the Church must face
Extracts from Daniel Ang, The Catholic Weekly, 4 March 2021
With the Plenary Council only seven months away, the Church in Australia looks to its future with recognition of the urgency of renewal. The Instrumentum Laboris or working document released this week underscores distinct dimensions of the Church’s life that cry out for renewal, if not conversion.         In studying the various papers and submissions as a member of the writing group, the call for change in the final document was particularly clear for our parishes and school systems, the spiritual renewal of clergy and families, the protection of life and religious freedom, reform of the practice of governance, and the reinvigoration of co-responsibility in service of the Church’s mission to evangelise, to name just a few.       Charting the future         Of course, the sexual abuse crisis and related failures in governance lend magnitude to this moment as decisions must be made, and will be made, that chart the course of the Church in Australia for some decades to come........A response is necessary       The deliberations that the Instrumentum Laboris will provoke will demand of us all a commitment to the humility of prayer and the active discernment and interpretation of these mixed realities in the light of the Gospel. It also demands on the part of each of us the work of personal conversion, a move from an ethic of self-preservation to the embrace of that genuinely missionary option to which Christ calls each of us as members of His body, renewing the Church by reaching the world as it really is in Him.....(more)     Photo:Holy Spirit CNS, Michael Alexander, Georgia Bulletin, Catholic Weekly 20210304
Cardinal Tobin will assist Pope Francis pick bishops. What does that mean for the U.S. Church
Limited comments based on a report by Colleen Dulle, subscription journal America. The Jesuit Review, 4 February 2021
Through a secretive selection process, Pope Francis's task of selecting bishops will be assisted by Cardinal Tobin and fellow US bishop Cardinal Blase Cupich. Source
The Conscience of the NZ Catholic Church
Extract from CathNews NZ, 4 March 2021
Anne Barrett Doyle is a devoted mother, practicing Catholic, and one of the fiercest crusaders against clergy sex abuse.      Are you Catholic?”        Anne Barrett Doyle smiled at me expectantly with kind, sea-green eyes.        It was months before the pandemic hit, and Barrett Doyle had invited me over to the Boston loft she and her husband moved into after the last of their four kids left for college.        A crucifix hung on the wall, and a Jesus statuette prayed from a wooden desk. Several Bibles lined the bookshelf. We sat side by side on a plush beige couch.       Barrett Doyle, small and soft-spoken, with shoulder-length auburn hair and rosy cheeks, folded her hands politely and crossed her ankles.       As co-director of Bishop Accountability, an archive documenting the sexual abuse problems of the Catholic Church, Barrett Doyle has devoted her life to chronicling the prosecution of priests who have sexually abused and assaulted children and teenagers.       Barrett Doyle is one of just a handful of women fighting to expose clergy predation, both hailed as a hero by survivors and denounced as apostate by some within the Church.       She is also an ardent, unapologetic Catholic.....(more).  Photo: anne-barrett-doyle CathNews NZ 20210304
Towards a Synodal Irish Church
Address of Cardinal Mario Grech to the Bishops of Ireland
Extract from General Secretariat Synod of Bishops, Vatican, Ist published 3 February 2021, reprinted here 4 March 2021
.........In the synodal way lies one of the answers to the question I have been asking. If the church wants to become a missionary church, then it has to be a synodal Church, for synodality is not just a methodological choice, but the mode of being of a church which wants to go out in mission. Indeed, synodality is not only a methodos but an odos, not only a method but a way towards a re-thinking of the Church’s role in contemporary society.         Indeed, synodality is at the way towards a Church which is in a permanent state of a mission. This is clearly articulated by the International Theological Commission in its document, Synodality in the life and mission of the Church. “Making a synodal Church a reality is an indispensable precondition for a new missionary energy that will involve the entire People of God” (9).       The document emphasizes that “Synodality is lived out in the Church in the service of mission. Ecclesia peregrinans natura sua missionaria est; she exists in order to evangelize. The whole People of God is an agent of the proclamation of the Gospel. Every baptized person is called to be a protagonist of mission since we are all missionary disciples.       The Church is called, in synodal synergy, to activate the ministries and charisms present in her life and to listen to the voice of the Spirit, in order to discern the ways of evangelisation” (53). Synodality is the particular style that qualifies the life and mission of the Church, expressing her nature as the People of God journeying together and gathering in assembly, summoned by the Lord Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel.         Synodality ought to be expressed in the Church’s ordinary way of living and working (70 a). Chapter three of the Final document of the Synod on youth elaborates the theme of “missionary synodality” and presents synodality as the key for evangelization. The Synod Fathers clearly state that “Synodality is the method by which the Church can address ancient and new challenges, gathering and bringing into dialogue the gifts of all her members, starting with the young” (Christus Vivit, 144).          As a matter of fact, the goal of a synodal process is to proclaim the Gospel in a given context to meet the particular challenges of the people living in that place.  Thus, it is fundamental for the synodal Church to scrutinize the signs of the times.....(more).  Photo: Irish Catholic Bishops Conference 2019, Vatican 20210203
Panel: Social justice is essential to Black Catholics' faith
Extract from  Madeleine Davison, National Catholic Reporter, 4 March 2021
The vast majority of Black Catholics say fighting racism and sexism is essential to their faith, yet the majority-white churches they often attend are failing to meet their needs, said speakers on a Feb. 25 panel on Black Catholics' faith and religious practices.         "We [Black Catholics] believe on some level that the church needs us sometimes more than we need the church," said Fr. Bryan Massingale, professor of ethics and theology at Fordham University and author of Racial Justice and the Catholic Church, during the panel.        The discussion, "Black Churches, Black Catholics," was hosted by the Fordham University Center on Religion and Culture. Speakers analyzed the results of a nationally-representative survey of more than 8,600 Black adults published in February by the Pew Research Center.        The study, speakers said, is one of the most comprehensive such studies on Black faith and religion in the U.S., allowing researchers to dig into the nuanced beliefs and practices of those in smaller subgroups, including Black Catholics, who make up 6% of the Black population, according to the survey.         Black Catholics are somewhat less religious by some measures than their Black Protestant peers, according to the survey. For instance, Catholics are less likely to say their faith is a very important part of their life and less likely to attend services at least once a year than Protestants, said Kiana Cox, a research associate at Pew who helped conduct the survey, during the panel.      But 82% of Black Catholics say their Blackness is a somewhat or very important part of how they think of themselves, similar to Black Protestants and people of other faiths.          According to the survey, 77% of Black Catholics said opposing racism is "essential" to their faith, and 75% said the same about opposing sexism. Belief in God was essential for 73% of Black Catholics.....(more).     Photo:Black History Month Thanksgiving Mass 2021 Brooklyn NY CNS Gregory A Shemitz NCR 20200304
Ten thousand clerical sex abuse cases in France
Extract from Tom Heneghan, The Tablet, 3 March 2021
At least 10,000 cases of sexual abuse have taken place in the Catholic Church in France since 1950, according to a senior retired judge.   Jean-Marc Sauvé, a respected retired judge who heads the independent commission investigating sexual abuse, confirmed to journalists on Tuesday that it had found “at least 10,000” cases of sexual abuse in the Church since 1950. That was a jump from his announcement last June of “at least 3,000” cases, and he said researchers still had more archives to work through.     He disclosed his latest findings shortly after France’s bishops held an extraordinary plenary assembly by video conference last month to ponder their moral responsibility in the sexual abuse crisis.      Participants said it helped them better understand the abuse scandal and examine what obligation they had for crimes committed decades ago. Church leaders have said victims deserved some financial reparation from them, but left details until later....(more)
German  episcopal Conference selects female theologian as Secretary General
Germany's Catholic bishops have chosen a female theologian and liturgist as the first woman ever to serve as secretary general of their national episcopal conference.
Limited extract from  Christa Pongratz-Lippitt  Subscription Journal La Croix International, 3 March 2021
Beate Gilles, 50, is also the first lay person in the 172-year history of the German Bishops' Conference (DBK) to hold this key post.       She takes over from Jesuit Father Hans Langendörfer who was conference secretary general for 24 years.      Gilles, who is unmarried and has no children, takes up her new duties on July 1.       Her appointment was announced on February 21 at the conclusion of the DBK spring assembly.        A strong sign in favor of women leadership.       Bishop Georg Bätzing, the DBK president, said it was a "strong sign that the bishops are delivering on their commitment to promote women to leading positions in the Church".         Gilles earned a doctorate in theology with a specialization in liturgy. She wrote her doctoral thesis on the broadcasting of religious services.        She has represented the dioceses of Limburg, Mainz and Fulda in Hess Broadcasting (a regional broadcasting corporation of the first German national TV channel ARD) since 2019.        The Cologne native has also headed the department for children, young people and families in Limburg Diocese since 2020.        At her first press conference, Gilles emphasized that for her the German Church and the ongoing German synodal procedure for Church reform would take center stage.....(more).   Photo: Theologian Beate Gilles Diocese Limburg Sec Gen bishops conf Sascha Steinbach  EPA Pool dpa MaxPPP
The Remains of Vatican II
Why is the reception of the council still an issue?
Extract from Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal, 2 March 2021
Pope Francis has said some interesting things about Vatican II in the last several weeks. 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. The alliance of conservative American Catholicism with Trumpism also says something about the reception of Vatican II; the fascination some have for a quasi-Caesarean political leadership is a symptom of the council’s failure in this country. Yet even if this is most evident among the extreme voices on the conservative side of the spectrum, it’s not a uniquely conservative problem. There are broader systemic phenomena in play, which in the last few years have exposed fault lines on the liberal-progressive side as well.......(MORE)
QR Codes and Contact Tracing   (try it here!)

At our recent meeting of the Parish Pastoral Council, we decided that, like most parishes in Melbourne, we will trial the use of QR codes for our contact tracing. Therefore, we are taking up QR codes for Lent. We hope that by Easter the vast majority of those attending Mass will be using the QR code for their contact tracing.

That will greatly simplify how we manage our numbers for the Easter Ceremonies. Therefore, for the first time ever, I’m asking “Bring your smart phone to Mass”. But please turn it off or to silent mode. If QR codes are a mystery to you our ushers will guide you through the process.

Most phones, via their camera, will recognise the code straight away. However, there will be the occasional phone that will need to download the VicGov app for it to work properly (or some other QR "Code Reader". Be patient - we have 40 days to learn.   - Fr Bill Edebohls

The shown QR code (sample only)  takes you to a great place, and can be used to check your system!       - John Costa

Catholic sector urges action following aged care royal commission report
Extract from Melbourne Catholic. 1 March 2021
Catholic Health Australia (CHA) is urging the Morrison Government to not let a once in a generation opportunity presented by the Royal Commission for lasting and meaningful reform pass it by.         CHA, which is the largest grouping of non-government aged care providers, said in its response to the Commission’s final report the Government should concentrate its efforts on four key areas:      Giving families choice and control over the type of care they need, including gradually removing the waiting list for home care packages and ending the rationing of services;         Putting in place more staff and training and paying them properly;          Increased disclosure and transparency that rates performance;   Providing timely access by older people in aged care to the services of the wider health system.          CHA CEO Pat Garcia acknowledged the hard but necessary work undertaken by the Commission and said his members were looking forward to hearing the Government's response in full.           Our members recognise that significant reform is needed to deliver an aged care system that really caters for the needs of older Australians and puts them at the very centre of what we do. They absolutely recognise that they have a role to play in helping and they stand ready to assist the government in the implementation.            'This is a once in a generation opportunity to deliver for our older Australians a future where they have the right information so that they are able to choose the care that best suits them and their needs.         'This is a moment in time and the Morrison Government is uniquely placed to deliver major reforms that will take some years to fully take effect but will deliver a compassionate and consumer-centric system for decades to come.'       'However, if we want high-quality aged care and more better trained and better paid staff looking after our older Australians then we have to pay for it. The Federal Budget in May is a key starting point for the sector but we also need to recognise that it cannot be funded entirely by the Commonwealth alone.'....(more)
Plenary Post: Release of Continuing the Journey, the Working Document (instrumentum laboris) for the Plenary Council.
Extract from Plenary Post, 25 February 2021
There are just 219 days until the opening of the first assembly of the Plenary Council. And while there is a sense of deja vu about that, with significant preparations taking place early last year before the assemblies were delayed by 12 months, there's also renewed energy -- some of which is captured in the stories below.             As you will read, another milestone has been reached, with today's release of Continuing the Journey, the working document -- or instrumentum laboris -- for the Plenary Council. The document draws from the richness of the voices of the People of God, captured during the Listening and Dialogue and Listening and Discernment phases, as well as papal writings, bishops' statements and key documents from within and beyond Church to inform the Plenary Council journey.          In addition to the document itself, a new podcast series featuring interviews with those on the writing team for Continuing the Journey and a reflection guide might be helpful. The reflection guide, which is a continuation of the guides at other stages of this journey, invites people to pray and discern with the document individually or in small groups. Our journey is national, but the local reflection has proven to be a source of great fruit.           There's much more to read about below. Keep an eye out for future editions of Plenary Post on the last Thursday of each month through 2021.......Plenary Post HERE.      Instrumentum Laboris HERE
The Synod of Bishops and all the baptized
Theologian argues for a greater participation of lay people when the Synod of Bishops meets next October in Rome to discuss the nature of "synodality" in the Catholic Church
Limited Extract from  Agnès Desmazières, France, Subscription journal La Croix International, 22 February 2021
The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) was the opportunity for a significant contribution of lay men and women, especially in thinking about the Church's dialogue with the world.         The theme of the next assembly of the Synod of Bishops, "For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission", calls for a renewed participation of the laity.           Pope Francis has insisted on this several times recently and made a strong mark by opening instituted ministries to women.            A synodal Church is a Church in which all the faithful enjoy equal dignity and walk together in communion.               Every baptized person is invited to participate actively and effectively in the common mission of the Church, according to his or her own vocation.          As missionary disciples, all are called to proclaim the Gospel whatever their state in life and, by the same token, to be co-responsible for the Church's destiny along the way.          Therefore, it seems crucial for the future of a Church shaken by crises that the laity be allowed to participate effectively in the next Synod assembly. Naturally, while respecting the particular nature of this synodal institution as being "of bishops".         The recent appointment of a religious sister as under-secretary of the general secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, with the right to vote, gives hope that lay men and women may also have the right to vote in the next assembly.         The exercise of the co-responsibility of the laity is rooted in their dignity as baptized persons.          All vocations are necessary for the Church. All the baptized participate in God's plan and are intended to flourish in relationship -- not in a spirit of competition or a quest for a position of power, but in the service of the Church and of humanity......(source)
Reforming the Church and the Plenary Council
We are not separate people from our world; rather, we are called to engage with it.
Extract from  Terry Kean, Australia, La Croix International, Swag, republished here 22 February 2021
The Catholic Church in Australia had hoped to commence a Plenary Council last October. Unfortunately, it was postponed for at least another year because of COVID-19.         But the issues the Council will have as its focus have probably only become more urgent.       As to how we will regather as a Church, not only in Australia, but across the world, is a question that all of us will find very challenging.           I recently wrote to the committee that is preparing the Instrumentum Laboris -- or working paper -- for the Council. And the following is, more or less, what I shared with them.            I am a diocesan priest nearing retirement after 50 years of parish ministry in Melbourne Archdiocese. I have loved the journey and I am very grateful for the Catholic Church of Melbourne.          However, a deep sadness has grown within me as I see the diminishment of the Church and the increasing numbers of parishioners who do not come to Eucharist. Or if they come, it is more for special occasions.          I have lamented the terrible actions of priests and religious who have abused young people.          And I have also lamented what I see as a growing clericalism with our Church. So many of my priest colleagues lead with power and authority, rather than with empowering and authorizing.         Confident that the Spirit of God will lead the Church to a new story.        In thinking about the Plenary Council, I have to say that I am not confident there will be the great change that I think is necessary for the Church of the future. I fear that our bishops will look to manage rather than imagine a Church of the future.           It seems to me that we will not change much and for that reason I think the Catholic Church --- not only here in Australia, but around the world -- will shatter and from the pieces a new story will begin.                Who knows what that will look like, but I am confident that the Spirit of God will lead the new story wherever it takes us. And I imagine it will be a very different story from what we have experienced in our lifetime.         It is more than likely that the Catholic Church will have a major schism. In some ways this is already happening as more and more people find other ways of expressing their spirituality.         If the institutional Church seeks to control, legislate and manage a difficult situation as it tries to negotiate the views of so-called conservative and liberal Catholics, then I believe the Plenary Council will not achieve much, if anything.       As it stands, the vote rests primarily in the hands of the bishops and there is a serious question as to a governance that so limits the voice of the faithful.      But if the institutional Church seeks to empower the voice of the faithful, and encourages small communities of people to come together, largely making their own way, then the needed reforms may arise. The necessary reforms to empower a priesthood of the people and a more creative and compassionate Church might then be born.....(more).     Photo: La Croix International 20210222
The Church and social justice after Trump
Extract from Bruce Duncan, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue website, 21 February 2021
Church social teaching is strongly opposed to neoliberalism, so how did this opposition become so muted, with prominent Catholic voices and resources captured by neoliberal ideology and money?            The assault on the US Capitol building by Trump supporters trying to overturn the election not only shocked the United States but raises urgent questions for the rest of the world, particularly for the churches, and for Australians too. The mob was shouting to kill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and even Vice-President Mike Pence. The Congress people fled to underground bunkers in fear of their lives.           Clearly Trump exploited the feelings of disadvantage and economic distress of millions of Americans. Elite groups in the US and elsewhere have done spectacularly well from the recent patterns of globalisation, but median wages for white males in the US have barely risen in 60 years and millions of jobs have disappeared overseas.             As the prominent economist Joseph Stiglitz has argued, control over the processes of globalisation has in recent decades been captured by giant corporations and the wealthy elites, hollowing out the US middle class and driving many others into economic stress and poverty. He blames the ideology of ‘market fundamentalism’ or neoliberalism for the extreme and growing inequality. (See his 2018 Globalization and its Discontents Revisited: Anti-Globalization in the Era of Trump).                 Church social teaching is strongly opposed to neoliberalism, so how did this opposition become so muted, with prominent Catholic voices and resources captured by neoliberal ideology and money? And how could such a morally questionable character as Trump attract the votes of so many Christians including some 50% of Catholics?....(more)
New Zealand newborns’ surnames might surprise
Extract from CathNews NZ, 21 February 2021
Few might guess at the 10 most common surnames given to New Zealand’s newborn’s last year.    Our diversity is reflected in these 10 names, according to the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Jeff Montgomery.        The most common surname across New Zealand last year was Singh, with just under 400 babies registered under that name.         That’s about 400 of the over 58,000 babies born last year.          Singh’s led the way for a while now. But where the most common surnames registered in 2019 were Singh, Smith, Kaur, Wilson and Williams, Patel now makes it into the top five instead of Wilson.            There was some regional variation with Patel being the most common family name in Wellington, and Singh in Auckland and Bay of Plenty, while Smith took out top spot in Canterbury, Otago, West Coast and Southland.           Montgomery says the emergence of names such as Singh, Kaur and Patel reflected both immigration and religious affiliation trends.         In addition, he notes some new family names were hyphenated while other parents chose to “create completely new ones.”         Anusha Guler, executive director of the Office of Ethnic Communities points out the diversity reflected in the list.           “The list of the most common surnames for 2020 is yet another indication of Aotearoa New Zealand’s thriving diversity.”     “This is good news, as diversity in our communities helps make New Zealand a more culturally rich, innovative and connected place.”       Most common family names in New Zealand: Singh — 398; Smith — 319;   Kaur — 274;     Patel — 204;   Williams — 198;        Brown — 194;        Wilson — 179;    Taylor — 152;      Thompson — 148;     Anderson — 143    ......(more).    Photo: NZ Babies CathNews NZ 20210221
Religious call for equitable distribution of vaccines
Extract from CathNews, 19 February 2021
Catholic Religious Australia is opposed to the stockpiling of COVID-19 vaccines by wealthy nations and is calling for an equitable distribution of vaccines around the globe, particularly to developing nations.        CRA echoed the concerns of the UNICEF-World Health Organisation, who said on February 10 that more than three quarters of the 128 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered so far have occurred in only 10 countries.        UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore and WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said unequal vaccination rates will allow COVID-19 strains to mutate, prolonging the pandemic, costing further lives and undermining the global economic recovery. They said the “COVID-19 vaccine race, we either win together or lose together.”        CRA president, Br Peter Carroll FMS said, “We must practise fraternity, not only to ensure justice for developing nations, but to truly put an end to the COVID-19 Pandemic, which has exacerbated many pre-existing inequities, both in Australian society and globally.         “We now have a clear choice to either continue down the same path or begin a process of recovery that builds a more just world, starting with the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally.”          CRA executive director said the CRA commended the Morrison Australian Government for making vaccines free for all Australian residents, including those on temporary protection visas and bridging visas and asylum-seekers in detention.       She also praised the financial commitment of the Government to ensure the vaccination of Australia’s neighbours in the Pacific Islands, Timor-Leste and South-East Asia.       CRA supports WHO in its call for wealthy governments to promptly donate any surplus vaccines and to make financial contributions to ensure that vaccines can be safely developed, manufactured and deployed to developing nations.......(more).   Photo: COVID-19 Vaccine CathNews 20210219 UNICEF-WHO said more than three quarters of the 128 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered so far have occurred in only 10 countries (CNS)
Changes to Fair Work Act ‘unfair’
Extract from CathNews, 19 February 2021
Catholic Social Services Australia has joined its voice with the St Vincent de Paul Society, Anglicare and the Australian Council of Trade Unions in opposing proposed changes to the Fair Work Act.       CSSA chief executive officer Ursula Stephens, Vinnies chief executive Toby oConnor, Anglicare’s Kasy Chambers and Michele O’Neil from the ACTU have spent time at Parliament this week outlining their concerns about changes to the Fair Work Act currently being considered.        Dr Stephens said despite the bill to amend the Fair Work Act being subtitled “Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery”, it rests on an assumption that Australia’s economic recovery requires a further degradation of the rights and incomes of working people.       “The view that people who have been left without work due to the impact of the pandemic will be desperate enough to accept a job with lower rates of pay and greater insecurity of income than they had before clearly underpins the proposed amendments to the Fair Work Act contained in the bill,” she said.        “At the heart of the bill are proposed changes to the operation and regulation of enterprise bargaining, as well as proposals for further entrenching casualisation and insecure work into our economy.”        Ms O’Neil said the legislation would see life become harder for millions of workers and prolong what is a very difficult period of many.       Mr oConnor expressed specific concerns about the impact of the pandemic and job insecurity among younger workers, who suffered much worse job losses in the initial months of the pandemic.....(more)        Photo: Toby oConnor Michele O’Neil, Ursula Stephens Kasy Chambers Parliament House Supplied CathNews 20210219
A day in the life of a lay Catholic woman who runs a parish
Extracts from America, the Jesuit Review, 18 February 2021
The day begins with a beautiful sunrise: pinks, purples and blues that help dispel the heaviness of our continued slogging through a Covid-19 world. As we begin to assemble for Mass, everyone comments on what they had seen. Father F says he had reoriented his chair for morning prayer so he could watch the day unfolding. God will not be outdone in generosity.       I serve this community, the Church of St. Vincent DePaul, as a parish life director, a position also known as parish life coordinator, which is a lay leader of a parish under the norms of Canon 517.2: “The diocesan bishop [may decide] that participation in the exercise of the pastoral care of a parish [may be] entrusted to a deacon, to another person who is not a priest or to a community of persons.”         After the first Mass of the day, Terrence and Davion, regulars at the parish, wait at the entrance to ask for help: a grocery store gift card for Terrence and the same, plus a one-day bus pass, for Davion. But Davion had an additional problem: a swollen face and an emergency room report with a prescription for antibiotics. “I don’t know how I am going to pay for this,” he says. “It costs $40.”          We are not exactly sure what Davion’s living arrangements are. I suspect that his one-day bus passes are used not so much to take him from one place to another as they are a way for him to stay safe and out of the cold.        After the first Mass of the day, Terrence and Davion, regulars at the parish, wait at the entrance to ask for help: a grocery store gift card for Terrence and the same, plus a one-day bus pass, for Davion.  But Davion had an additional problem: a swollen face and an emergency room report with a prescription for antibiotics. “I don’t know how I am going to pay for this,” he says. “It costs $40.”         We are not exactly sure what Davion’s living arrangements are. I suspect that his one-day bus passes are used not so much to take him from one place to another as they are a way for him to stay safe and out of the cold.....Eventually, it came to be seen that urban and suburban parishes could be led through this model.  Many priests were retiring from their roles as pastors but still wanted to serve in ministry.  They did not want the headaches of administration nor did they want to be “road warriors,” traveling the highways of the diocese to assist in an ad hoc way with the sacramental life of communities.  Parish life directors could lead parishes in collaboration with these retired priests or priests with a diocesan leadership assignment. Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, Bishop Hubbard’s successor, has continued to make these appointments..........(more).     Photo: America, Screenshot. The Jesuit Review 20210218
Pope’s pick says ‘clericalist mindset is changing
Extract from CathNews, Crux.  12 February 2021
Sr Nathalie Becquart (CNS/Paul Haring)A French sister who could be the first woman to cast a vote in the Synod of Bishops says her appointment as an undersecretary is evidence the “clericalist mindset is changing”.

Sr Nathalie Becquart told journalists on Wednesday that Pope Francis has been underlining the importance of including women in the decision-making processes, helping move the Church from a clericalist attitude towards a more synodal one.          “How can we somehow end with a clerical Church, where there have been abuses, of power and other kind of abuses,” she asked, during a conference transmitted live from Rome via Zoom. “By being like Christ, by being at the service of others and accompanying others.”          The Synod of Bishops is a product of the Second Vatican Council, and since the late 1960s it has been meeting in Rome semi-regularly to discuss a wide array of topics. It serves as an advisory body to the Pope, with no actual decision-making power.          No woman has ever voted in one of these meetings, though they have regularly taken part as observers, advisers, auditors and experts.             Sr Nathalie, appointed by Pope Francis as undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, could become the first woman to cast a vote. Though there’s no written rule that says the undersecretary does vote, it has been the tradition thus far.....(more).  Photo: Sr Nathalie Becquart , CathNews, 20210212 CNS Paul Haring

New Vatican synod undersecretary hopes for more women as Catholic decision-makers
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, Global Sisters report, 10 February 2020
Rome — The first woman selected to serve as an undersecretary for the Vatican's office for the Synod of Bishops said Feb. 10 that she hopes her appointment will help "open up new possibilities" for women in the Catholic Church.         "Co-responsibility is the way we are going to work ahead," said Becquart, speaking at a briefing organized by the International Union of Superiors General, the Rome-based umbrella network of women's religious orders across the world.         The office of the Synod of Bishops is primarily tasked with helping organize synod meetings, which bring hundreds of Catholic bishops to Rome every few years to discuss topics chosen by the pope.          The synod office is led by Cardinal Mario Grech. Francis appointed Becquart and Augustinian Fr. Luis Marín de San Martín to share duties as the department's second-in-command leaders. At the same time, the pope also made San Martín a bishop.         Some have hailed Becquart's appointment to the office as a signal that Francis may choose to make her the first woman to serve as a full voting member at the next Synod of Bishops, scheduled for October 2022.          Although women have been appointed to synods in non-voting capacities as auditors or experts, none has yet served as a full voting member.....(more).
Pope appoints woman Under-Secretary at Synod of Bishops
Pope Francis appoints two new Under-Secretaries to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops: Sr Nathalie Becquart and Fr Luis Marín de San Martín.
By Vatican News staff writer, Vatican News, 6 February 2021
Pope Francis has appointed Sr Nathalie Becquart and Fr Luis Marín de San Martín to be the Under-Secretaries of the Synod of Bishops.         Currently headed by Cardinal Mario Grech, the Synod of Bishops is a permanent institution established by Pope Paul VI in 1965, in response to the desire of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council to keep alive the spirit of collegiality engendered by the conciliar experience.             The appointment of Sr Natalie Becquart is particularly interesting as it is the first time ever a woman has been appointed to this position.               Biography Sr Nathalie Becquart. Nathalie Becquart was born in 1969 in Fontainebleau, France.             She graduated from the HEC school of management with a Master in Management with a specialization in Entrepreneurship in Jouy-en-Josas in 1992, and went on to study philosophy at the Sorbonne University in Paris. Between 1992-1993 she spent her volunteer year in Beirut, Lebanon, working as a Professor of Mathematics and French in a Catholic High School and taking philosophy and theology courses at ISSR-St Joseph Jesuit University of Beirut. This was followed by two years working as a Consultant in a marketing and advertising agency for NGO’s and Christian organizations (EJC consulting) in Paris.          Nathalie Joined the Xaviere sisters, missionaries of Christ-Jesus (Apostolic Congregation of Ignatian Spirituality) in August 1995 and took her final vows in September 2005.         She has since worked in various roles including Spiritual Director for the Ignatian Youth Network in France National Coordinator of the scouting program for youth in poor urban multicultural areas, Scouts de France;  President of the Ignatian association “Life at Sea, entry into prayer”; Director of Campus Ministry in Créteil (University of East Paris) and member of the diocesan office of youth ministry, WYD diocesan coordinator in 2007-2008; Deputy Director of the National Service for the Evangelization of Youth and for Vocations (SNEJV), in charge of university pastoral care, at the French Episcopal Conference;          Director of the National Service for the Evangelization of Youth and for Vocations (SNEJV) at the French Bishop’s conference (Sept. 2012-August 2018 for a 6 years term);  Member of the Bishop’s council of the Diocese of Nanterre France (with Bishop Michel Aupetit, who is now the Archbishop of Paris); Vice-President of the European Vocations Service (CCEE).....(more).     Photo: Fr Luis Marin and Sr Nathalie Becquart, Vatican News

Parish Redevelopment Project - Project Mobilisation

Pat Kelly, Friday 5 February 2021

Raysett Constructions Pty Ltd took possession of the Mary Immaculate site on the 2nd February 2021.  


The first activity has been the erection of protective fencing to the trees. Early works are planned facing Upper Heidelberg Rd. Regular updates will be provided as the project progresses.

Pat Kelly

Catholic youth have a ‘deep yearning for Christ’ says plenary delegate Chris Lee
Extract from David Ryan, Catholic Weekly, 4 February 2021
Chris Lee, Sydney’s youngest plenary delegate receives the light of the Plenary candle from Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP. Aged 27, Mr Lee will share the perspectives and hopes of Catholic youth in the metropolis; perspectives that are yearning for earnest Christian expressions of faith.           Sydney’s youngest Plenary Council delegate.      Sydney’s youngest Plenary Council delegate, Chris Lee, said there is a ‘deep yearning for Christ’ among Australia’s Catholic youth as he shared his experience in youth ministry – a perspective he hopes to voice at the council in October.                    In my role as team leader of Sydney Catholic Youth I’ve been able to work in ministry with a wide array of people from many backgrounds and I’m confident that the Church is in good hands,” said Chris.        "I’m confident that the Church is in good hands”       “Seeing the young people and the fervour of the faith amongst them – they have a deep yearning to know Christ.       “Many are starting to realise that a lot of the desires of their heart will never be met by what society offers, but that Christ is the only one who can fulfil them,” said Chris. Aged just 27, he responded to an invitation to express interest in serving as a delegate to be able to speak for young Australians....(more).  Photo:   Abp Anthony Fisher, Delegate Chris Lee, Photo Giovanni Portelli, Catholic Weekly 202100204
Gay conversion therapy banned in Victoria after marathon debate
Extracts from Sumeyya Ilanbey and Paul Sakkal, The Age, 4 February 10:47pm
Gay conversion therapy has been outlawed in Victoria following a marathon debate in the upper house on Thursday.
The bill passed the Victorian Parliament 27 votes to nine after a 12-hour sitting in the Legislative Council, where Liberal MPs Bev McArthur and Bernie Finn defied their party’s position and crossed the floor to vote against the government’s legislation.       Gay conversion therapy has been outlawed in Victoria following a marathon debate in the upper house on Thursday.         The bill passed the Victorian Parliament 27 votes to nine after a 12-hour sitting in the Legislative Council, where Liberal MPs Bev McArthur and Bernie Finn defied their party’s position and crossed the floor to vote against the government’s legislation.....Justice Department deputy secretary Anna Faithfull said the bill was aimed at criminalising conversations only where a person “[intended] to change or induce that person to change or suppress their sexual orientation or gender identity”.........(more)
Doctors say conversion therapy laws too broad
Extract from CathNews, The Age, 3 February 2021
Doctors and psychiatrists want the Andrews Government to make changes to its plan to ban gay conversion therapy, due to concerns it will discourage some practitioners from treating vulnerable patients.           The Victorian branches of the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists say the proposed legislation is too broad and the sanctions are too severe.           The bill to criminalise gay conversion practices, which will be introduced to the upper house tomorrow, includes penalties of up to 10 years in jail and maximum fines of $10,000 for anyone caught trying to suppress or change someone’s sexuality.        Kerryn Rubin, chair of the college’s Victorian branch, said he feared the bill would potentially harm some of the most vulnerable people in society, who “need more help not less”.       Dr Rubin said the role of a psychiatrist was often to challenge the ideas of their patients and explore the reasons they feel a certain way. He said the draft laws are “too much of a blanket statement” on what is a conversion practice versus exploratory therapies.     The Victorian branch of the AMA has also raised its concerns with the Government but has yet to receive a response.      This comes as faith-based organisations ramped up their opposition to the bill yesterday. More than 75 Christian protesters held a demonstration at Parliament House.....(more).  Photo: Dr Kerryn Rubin feared bill potentially harm vulnerable Bigstock, CathNews 20210203
Lay Catholics demand church rethink ‘outdated’ conversion stance
Extract from The Age, 2 February 2021
Rank-and-file Catholics are throwing their support behind Daniel Andrews’ plan to ban gay conversion practices and demanding the church rethink its “outdated” views on sexuality.       As the Victorian Parliament returned this week to resume debate on the government’s controversial bill, a split has emerged in the Melbourne archdiocese, where Archbishop Peter Comensoli opposes the legislation, while members of his church have strongly rejected his claims that the bill attacks religious freedom.    “The science has changed but the church is still holding onto a false assumption of homosexuality as physically or morally deviant,” said Peter Wilkinson, president of Catholics for Renewal, a group of lay Catholics who are seeking to reform the church after years of abuse scandals.       “It is our hope that the passage of this bill will stir the official Catholic Church to recognise such moves as reflections of the signs of the times, calling upon it to rethink its now-outdated teaching on diverse sexualities.”....(more)
Bishops urge Australia to sign Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
Extract from  Lisa Zengarini, Catholic Voice, 25 January 2021
Catholic Bishops of Australia are calling on the government to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, saying the elimination of nuclear arms would contribute significantly to world peace.              Bishops in Australia have urged the Government to join the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which seeks for the first time to establish a comprehensive ban on the development, testing, production, stockpiling, stationing, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons.          The Treaty was adopted in 2017 and came into force on 22 January. Until now, it has been ratified by 51 States, including the Holy See.         Australia, however, is amongst the countries which haven’t signed it.       In a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Bishop Terry Brady, Delegate for Social Justice in the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC), called on the government to do so, explaining that the elimination of nuclear weapons would be a major step towards creating peace in the world.                “Experience has taught us that the threat of mutual destruction – with the possibility of the total destruction of humankind and our common home – cannot provide a foundation for peace and security in the multipolar world of the twenty-first century,” the prelate writes.        He adds that nuclear weapons “are incapable of addressing terrorism, asymmetrical conflicts, cybersecurity, ecological problems, or poverty.”         Highlighting that any use of nuclear weapons “is clearly immoral as they are inherently indiscriminate and their impact is uncontainable in time and space,” the letter notes that the continued availability of nuclear weapons “poses an unacceptable risk of deliberate or accidental use, and it diverts resources from the things that positively foster peace.”....(more)Photo:  Lanterns with messages of peace at Nagasaki peace park ANSA Catholic Voice 20210125
January 2021, John Costa
January provides an appropriate opportunity for many people, particularly volunteers, to have some rest after a busy year. The News page will be updated but less frequently in January than for the rest of the year - except for any breaking news which, as has been the website custom in our parish for the last 14 years, would be published immediately.
Additional people to be called to Plenary Council
Extract from the Summary Report of the ACBC’s most recent plenary meeting. 29 January 2021
The bishops had previously requested a dispensation from canon law provisions around the number of delegates who “may” be called to a plenary council. The bishops’ request was granted, in part, by the Holy See, and the bishops approved the calling of another 15 delegates for the Council assemblies. Those delegates were chosen from the earlier list of nominees submitted by dioceses and drew from people from diverse areas of the Church, including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, the migrant community and new ecclesial movements.
The previous list included 257, but Bishop O’Kelly will not attend (replaced by new Bishop Kulczycki), Mgr Kevin O’Reilly, Administrator, will not attend (replaced by Bishop Edwards), and Fr Barry Dwyer VG will not attend (replaced by Fr Donald Gunn VG).    The current total appears to be 272.
New Church protocol published for responding to sexual abuse
Extracts from ACBC, Melbourne Catholic, 28 January 2021
A new protocol to be introduced next week provides a framework for Catholic entities across Australia to respond consistently to people raising concerns or allegations of child sexual abuse.          The National Response Protocol, which was adopted by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference at its November 2020 plenary meeting, is the product of two years of work and widespread consultation within and beyond the Church.           That consultation included engagement with victims and survivors and their advocates.              ‘The Church continues to work hard to strengthen the safeguards that have been put in place in recent years,’ Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge said. ‘The adoption and implementation of the National Response Protocol is an important step forward, and we thank those who have brought this thorough process to completion.’          In preparing the National Response Protocol, various state and territory regulatory and legislative requirements, across different sectors and settings, were considered. The NRP sets a ‘national benchmark against which local policies and procedures should be aligned’.        Archbishop Coleridge said that as well as outlining principles and processes for responding to concerns and allegations of abuse, whether historical or contemporary, the protocol also offers guidance on how to engage with those affected by abuse.             ‘Drawing on wisdom from the Royal Commission, from governments and universities, and from the experience of the Church overseas, the new protocol offers a trauma-informed approach to supporting those who have been betrayed in Church settings,’ he said.          ‘The protocol demands an approach from the Church that is compassionate and just. It also insists upon respect for each individual’s personal story and circumstances.’              The implementation of the National Response Protocol from 1 February will mean that Towards Healing and The Melbourne Response will be phased out......More...........The National Response Protocol is available HERE
Bishops urge Australia to sign Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
Extract from  Lisa Zengarini, Catholic Voice, 25 January 2021
Catholic Bishops of Australia are calling on the government to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, saying the elimination of nuclear arms would contribute significantly to world peace.               Bishops in Australia have urged the Government to join the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which seeks for the first time to establish a comprehensive ban on the development, testing, production, stockpiling, stationing, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons.          The Treaty was adopted in 2017 and came into force on 22 January. Until now, it has been ratified by 51 States, including the Holy See.         Australia, however, is amongst the countries which haven’t signed it.       In a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Bishop Terry Brady, Delegate for Social Justice in the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC), called on the government to do so, explaining that the elimination of nuclear weapons would be a major step towards creating peace in the world.               Experience has taught us that the threat of mutual destruction – with the possibility of the total destruction of humankind and our common home – cannot provide a foundation for peace and security in the multipolar world of the twenty-first century,” the prelate writes.        He adds that nuclear weapons “are incapable of addressing terrorism, asymmetrical conflicts, cybersecurity, ecological problems, or poverty.”         Highlighting that any use of nuclear weapons “is clearly immoral as they are inherently indiscriminate and their impact is uncontainable in time and space,” the letter notes that the continued availability of nuclear weapons “poses an unacceptable risk of deliberate or accidental use, and it diverts resources from the things that positively foster peace.”....(more).  Photo:  Lanterns with messages of peace at Nagasaki peace park ANSA Catholic Voice 20210125      ACBC Media Statement HERE
Joe Biden’s Catholicism
Extract from Paul Collins, Pearls and Irritations, John Menadue website, 18 January 2021
Australia. Most of them keep their faith private, but Biden is different; he’s right up-front about his Catholicism. ‘It’s foundational to who he is,’ his long-time friend, Senator Chris Coons of Delaware says.         Coons also says that Biden’s stances on social justice, race, refugee and environmental issues are informed by ‘a deeply rooted sense of fairness’ that he learned from his parents and his Catholic formation. He has profoundly assimilated the Christian sense of the importance of the community over individualism, of putting others before self, and he sees politics in the words of Pope Francis ‘as something more noble than posturing, marketing and social spin.’     As well as the Catholic tradition of social justice, his faith is deeply rooted in the church’s spirituality and practice. He attends Mass every Sunday and quite often on weekdays. He prays regularly, often quotes the bible in political speeches and even publicly bursts into popular hymns, as he did in his November 7, 2020 victory speech when he quoted Michael Joncas’ hymn On Eagle’s Wings. ‘In the last days of the campaign,’ he said, ‘I began thinking about a hymn that means a lot to me and my family, particularly my deceased son Beau. It captures the faith that sustains me and…I hope it can provide some comfort and solace to the…Americans who have lost a loved one through this terrible virus this year.’ He then quoted the first verse:.....(more). Photo: Paul Collins
Archbishop Coleridge: Catholic bishops can’t risk falling back on old tactics of political engagement
Extract from Mark Coleridge, America, The Jesuit Review, 11 January 2021
The way in which Catholic bishops engage with the political process in Western liberal democracies is the fruit of a long and complex history. With the demise of Christendom and the loosening of the bond between throne and altar, popes and bishops have had to reorder their relationships to the secular order.       This has meant a certain detachment from the political process and even a reluctance to be seen interfering in politics. The separation of church and state was a hard-won achievement in the West, and by and large it has worked to the benefit of both. It does not mean total separation, but it does mean that the relationship between the secular and the sacral has changed. This shows itself in the detachment of church leaders from the business of lawmaking and government—except when in the defense of church teachings and interests.       But bishops are quick to speak and act, for instance, on life issues (such as abortion and euthanasia), on religious freedom and on questions having to do with marriage and the family. To those we might add issues of sexuality and gender.  So, too, they are quick to intervene when it comes to Catholic schools, hospitals and welfare agencies. They are also keen to play both sides of the political aisle, in part to foster social amity but also because they know that the electoral wheel turns; if they attach themselves too closely to one side of politics, they will pay a heavy price when the wheel does turn.     As a prudential arrangement, this has worked well enough in most circumstances. But there have been moments in recent history when it has broken down and left the bishops seeming to be impotent bystanders or even unconscious collaborators. Think of Hitler’s Germany, where all accepted norms were cast aside and the beast was unleashed. Papal and episcopal attempts to deal with the beast missed the mark: Something new and different was needed.....(more)  Photo: Trump Supporters prayer outside Capitol 6 January 2020 CNS photo Mike Theiler Reuters America Jesuit Rev 20210111

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

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

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

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

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

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