Pope Francis: “In the Church, women are more important than bishops and priests.”
Don't miss out on our last conversation on this year's topic
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Tuesday, 21 November 2017 at 7:30pm next door to Sunshine Hospital and easily accessible from the Western Ring Road.
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SSM: 'Australians have voted Yes for love and fairness,' says PM Malcolm Turnbull
Extracts from political correspondent Louise Yaxley, ABC News, 15 November 2017
Malcolm Turnbull says it is time for MPs to "get on with it" and make same-sex marriage legal, after the Yes vote "overwhelmingly" won the national postal survey. Almost 80 cent of Australians voted, and 61.6 per cent of respondents said gay and lesbian people should be able to marry. The strongest vote was in the ACT, where 74 per cent of responses were for yes, followed by Victoria with 65 per cent, then Tasmania and WA with 64 per cent. New South Wales had the lowest Yes vote with 58 per cent of people backing change and 42 per cent opposing it. The Prime Minister declared that Australians had "voted Yes for love" and said it was now up to Parliament to "get on with it". "It is up to us here in the Parliament of Australia to get on with it, get on with the job the Australian people have tasked us to do and get this done. This year, before Christmas — that must be our commitment," he said soon after the result was announced.....(more)
Any change to marriage law must include protections for religious freedom
Extract from Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Media and Communications Office, Wednesday 15 November 2017
Today, the results of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey are in: 61.6 per cent of Australians have voted to legalise same-sex marriage with 7.8 million people responding Yes, and 4.9 million voting No. An estimated 79 per cent of Australians took part in the vote. In light of today’s release of the results, Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart released a statement on behalf of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and the Archdiocese of Melbourne. ‘Parliament must work to unify Australians by respecting different views on marriage. The Catholic Church, and many others who sought to retain the definition of marriage as it has been understood for centuries, continues to view marriage as a special union between a woman and a man, which allows for the creation and nurture of children,’ Archbishop Hart said. ‘A change in civil law does not change the Catholic understanding of the nature of marriage. ‘The Catholic Church continues to respect the dignity of LGBTIQ Australians and our ministries will continue to care deeply about the dignity and value of all people we encounter. ‘Parliamentarians must recognise and respect the concerns of the more than 4.8 million Australians who opposed a change to the definition of marriage by putting in place strong conscience and religious freedom protections....(more)
What Makes Australia’s Catholic Bishops Tick?
The Catholic Church is a clerical institution. Bishops are the top rung of the clergy. Where do they come from? What are they like? What is their future? Edited Extract from Eric Hodgens, Pearls and Irritations, John Menadue website, 25 August 2017
Bishops are: A very small proportion worldwide (5,000 out of 1.2 billion Catholics); All powerful in their own diocese; Yet, very constrained by law and custom. Christianity started as a charismatic movement of Jews who were captivated by the preaching and healing of Jesus of Nazareth and looked forward to what Jesus called the kingdom of God. They came to believe that Jesus had been raised from the dead and foreshadowed life for all who believed in him. Faith, therefore, was a personal commitment to Jesus who was, in their view, the promised messiah of Jewish tradition. The movement spread beyond Jewish confines and caught on in Syria, Mesopotamia, Egypt – and even Rome. As it spread, it developed its own organisation much along the lines of a Jewish synagogue. The leaders who emerged were called bishops – literally overseers. Then the emperor Constantine took the movement under his wing, canonised its scriptures and supervised its development from being a charismatic movement to being a religion with doctrines and rules. A fairly simple movement became a state-endorsed, highly organised clerical institution. This made bishops very powerful. What had started as a matter of the heart became one of the head and has stayed that way – up till now. Vatican II began to change the faith balance more in favour of personal encounter than acceptance of teachings; more heart than head; more existentialist than essentialist. After centuries of head over heart, this change of balance has alarmed some Catholics who are more at home with the certainty of propositions than the flux of encounter – especially if they are by nature doctrinaire or ideological..........(more)
Australian church facing biggest crisis in its history, says Brisbane Archbishop
The archbishop said the Church had been 'shaken to the core' by the abuse scandal and today was being called to a 'greater authenticity'. Australian church facing biggest crisis in its history, says Brisbane Archbishop. Extract from Christopher Lamb, The Tablet, 9 October 2017
A leading Australian bishop says the Church in his country is facing the biggest crisis in its history after taking part in talks with the Vatican over how to address the problem. The Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge, who is Vice President of the Australian Bishops’ Conference, told The Tablet that he and fellow bishops were in Rome to discuss the fallout of the clerical sexual abuse crisis, and how the Church will adopt a new approach. This, he says, will look at how to include women in positions of “governance”. High on the agenda at the Vatican summit was Australia’s Royal Commission inquiry into how institutions handled child sexual abuse. This has seen the Catholic Church facing unrelenting criticism for its response to the scandal. The problem has been magnified after the Australian police’s decision to charge Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican treasurer and former Archbishop of Sydney, with historic sexual offences. It was the day after Cardinal Pell appeared for a hearing in Melbourne Magistrates court last Friday, the Vatican issued a statement that an Australian delegation had met with a range of Holy See officials to discuss the “situation” facing the Church. These included Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State and Pope Francis’ number two, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s foreign minister equivalent whose previous job was papal ambassador to Australia. Cardinal Pell has taken a leave of absence from his job as Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy while he seeks to clear his name and the cardinal has firmly denied the charges against him. Archbishop Coleridge said the case was discussed with the Vatican officials but only to provide the Holy See with an insight "into the atmosphere in Australia around this case." In the interview the archbishop said the Church had been “shaken to the core” by the abuse scandal and today was being called to a “greater authenticity”. He explained: “In this, the call of the Royal Commission and the call of Pope Francis converge in what looks to be one of the strange disruptions of the Holy Spirit.” The crisis, Archbishop Coleridge stressed, was “both threat and opportunity” but required the Church to adopt a new approach. To that end the bishops have announced a plenary council to take place in 2020 which will undertake a wide ranging review of it’s mission including how to give more responsibility to lay people. One of the major criticisms of the Australian church has been clericalism, which has seen too much responsibility placed in the hands of priests and bishops. In the interview, the archbishop said that one to be discussed at the plenary council is how to involve women in the running of the Church, and not simply its “management” within which they are already heavily involved. “It’s clear then that the Church here is passing through a time of deep, painful and permanent change – which is why the bishops have decided for a Plenary Council, which was also discussed in our meeting in Rome. The Plenary Council will have to make bold decisions about the future, taking into account the changed and changing facts on the ground,” he said. Below is the full question and answer with Archbishop Coleridge.....(more) Photo: The Tablet
Pope Francis confirms his controversial vision of the family
The pope is broadening his approach to marriage and the family by replacing the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family with an institute focused on implementing "Amoris Laetitia". This is a contentious undertaking, given that his opponents on these topics are as vociferous as ever.
Extract from Nicolas Senèze, Rome, subscription magazine La Croox International, 25 September 2017. In making this decision, Francis knew that he was touching upon the Polish Pope’s legacy with regard to the marriage and the family. The John Paul Institute, founded by John Paul II in 1982 to promote theological research on marriage and the family, had become a conservatory of Wojtylian thought, closed to any other vision of these subjects. Pope Francis has therefore transformed the Institute into the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for the Sciences of Marriage and Family.....(source)
Photo La Croix International, Pope Francis backs the idea that "all families, without distinction, need to be assisted and accompanied to rediscover their historic mission", Archbishop Paglia told the Synod in 2014. / Alessia Giuliani/CPP/Ciric
Müller criticises Francis papacy for lacking theological rigour, and hints at comeback
The cardinal criticised the Latin American approach to theology, in a thinly veiled critique of the Argentinian Pope Müller criticises Francis papacy for lacking theological rigour, and hints at comeback
Extracts from Christopher Lamb , Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet, 20 September 2017
The cardinal criticised the Latin American approach to theology, in a thinly veiled critique of the Argentinian Pope Müller criticises Francis papacy for lacking theological rigour, and hints at comeback. The Vatican’s former doctrine chief has criticised Francis’ papacy for lacking theological rigour, while suggesting he is ready to make a comeback and work in the Roman Curia. During a book presentation in Germany last Friday, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, dismissed from his job by the Pope in July, recalled how the Jesuit Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) told Pope Clement VIII that he did not understand anything about theology.......In Mannheim, the cardinal criticised Latin American approach to theology, in what was a thinly veiled critique of the Argentinian Pope and his theological advisers from the continent. “In Europe, theologians immediately have to have the exact council text ready when words like ‘faith’ or ‘mercy’ are used. This kind of theology with which we are familiar doesn’t exist in Latin America. They are more intuitive there,” Cardinal Muller said during a presentation of his new book 'The Pope - Mission and Task' at the Reiss-Engelholm-Museum at Mannheim. “They look at a text without considering it as part of a whole. We must somehow respect and accept this style. But I nevertheless wish that as far as teaching documents are concerned clear theological preparation must take place.” Müller also stressed that theology was getting a raw deal under this Pope and that the Holy See’s Secretariat of State was now the most important authority in the Vatican. In the past his former department, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had a more authoritative role...(more)
Pope Francis redirects mission of John Paul II institute on marriage, family
Extracts from Gerard O'Connell, The Jesuit Review, 19 September 2017
As a follow-up to the publication of “Amoris Laetitia” and the two synods on the family, Pope Francis has refounded the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, giving it a broader mandate than it originally had to ensure that it does not just focus on moral and sacramental theology, but also takes account of the biblical, dogmatic and historical dimensions, as well as contemporary challenges......While acknowledging that the original institute carried out important work in past decades, Francis said the 2014 and 2015 synods have brought a renewed awareness of “the new pastoral challenges” regarding the family “to which the Christian community is called to respond.” In other words, much has changed in these past 36 years since John Paul II set up the original institute in 1981. While the institute, with its branches in different continents, researched, taught and promoted the teaching on marriage and the family that came out of the 1980 synod, there is a need for this new institute because of the anthropological and cultural changes that have taken place in the world, which “require an analytical and diversified approach, and does not allow us to limit ourselves to practices of pastoral (ministry) and mission that reflect forms and models of the past.” That wider focus and vision of the family is reflected in the mandate for the new institute, which has “Amoris Laetitia” as its lodestar.....“In the clear proposal of remaining faithful to the teaching of Christ, we must, therefore, look with the intelligence of love and with wise realism, at the reality of families today in all of their complexity, in their light and darkness,” the pope wrote....(more)
Papal abuse commission considers restructuring, survivors may lose direct role
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 23 August 2017
Vatican: Pope Francis' commission on clergy sexual abuse is considering whether to restructure itself so that it no longer includes the direct participation of abuse survivors. It is evaluating the possibility of creating instead a separate advisory panel of individuals who have been abused by clergy. A member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors revealed the group's consideration of the idea in an NCR interview Aug. 14, saying that one of the commission's work groups has been tasked with weighing the pros and cons of such a change. The commission appears likely to discuss the possible restructuring at its next plenary meeting in Rome in mid-September, when the original three-year terms of its members are set to expire. "I think that may be a more productive [way] of ensuring the voice of survivors in the work of the commission," Krysten Winter-Green, the commission member, said of the potential change. "I do not know that it's critical that a survivor needs to be actually on the commission." "No decision has been made about this," she stressed, adding: "I think the voice of survivors needs to be heard by this commission. They need to have input into every facet of the operation. How that is accomplished remains to be seen, but it will be accomplished." Consideration of a change in structure for the papal commission comes as the group has in recent months faced public questioning of its effectiveness in stopping future abuse of children and vulnerable people in the Catholic Church. The group now appears to be in the midst of a significant phase of transition....(more)
Marriage equality – some thoughts for the perplexed.
Extract from Paul Collins, Pearls and irritations, John Menadue website, 22 August 2017
Throughout human history all types of arrangements have evolved to nurture children, of which a common form is a reasonably stable relationship between woman and man. Whether or not this was seen as marriage varied widely. So, use of the term “traditional marriage” is a misnomer. What the Catholic hierarchy is presenting as “traditional” is really a romantic, bourgeois understanding of marriage. Over the last five years, the Australian Catholic Church has experienced its worst crisis in its 200-year history. The catastrophic fall-out from the evidence presented at the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Abuse, the charging of “Australia’s most senior Catholic” with historic offenses, the 2.6% drop in the number of Australian Catholics between the 2011 and 2016 Census, the collapse in the number of younger people adhering to or practising Catholicism (among Catholics aged 25 to 34 only 5.4% attend Mass) and the continuing decline of general Mass attendance (it is now down to between 8% to 10%), is all evidence of a profound malaise effecting Catholicism. The church’s proclamation of Christ’s Gospel has taken a series of body blows and Catholic moral authority is in tatters. Have we heard a word from our bishops concerning any of these issues? Certainly, I haven’t, and I listen pretty carefully. Australian Catholics have been totally bereft of leadership on these fundamental moral, spiritual and belief issues. That the church’s witness to Christ has been profoundly compromised seems not to trouble the bishops, at least if you take their public statements into account. Yes, to give them their due, they have been reasonably good on refugees and human trafficking, but beyond that they seemingly have nothing to say...(more)
Archbishops out of step with Catholic community and the Pope
Extract from Terry Laidler, The Age, 21 August 2017
Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne and Archbishop Timothy Costelloe of Perth are at least consistent. For many years, because of their beliefs and their actions in getting parliamentarians to give discrimination exemptions to religions, Catholic institutions have operated on a de facto "don't ask/don't tell" policy in regard to the employment of LGBTI people. Insecurity and apprehension have festered under this veil of secrecy, as they had done for military personnel and others before them. Powerful moment for this politician. A Liberal MP has challenged Christian MPs to devote as much time and energy to getting refugees off Manus Island and Nauru than they do to opposing same sex marriage. But the archbishops' recent warning that if gay marriage is legalised they will fire teachers, nurses and other employees of the Church should they marry their same-sex partner will have sent new chills down the spines of many good people; perhaps they were intended to.....(more)
Extract from Ynot, Catholica Main Forum, 20 August 2017, 20 August 2017
........Greg Craven says that a law requiring a priest to report to police anyone who confessed sexually abusing a child would (a) make it impossible to live fully as a catholic, and (b) make a priest who declares he would rather go to prison guilty of the offence of incitement. Both positions seem to me manifestly false. To the first, the proposed law only affects one who confesses child sexual abuse. For the rest the secrecy of confession stands. The motive for making this one exception is not simply because child abuse is a 'crime' but because the safety of children is of such particular importance and pedophilia is a disease that inflicts such dreadful damage on its victims. Society is trying to become proactive for the safety of children, leaving no stone unturned in its search for effective measures. The proposal does not affect the secrecy of the confessional in practical terms. The claim that this secrecy is either absolute and universal or it doesn't exist at all is a smoke screen. People using the sacrament of confession in the usual way would have no reason to think the priest would not be bound to secrecy as always. As to the second, that to express disagreement with the law is to be automatically guilty of incitement: others will be able to explain this more surely than I, but it seems to me that journalists in particular may publicly declare that they will never divulge their source no matter what - and merely declaring their position does not amount to the crime of incitement. In fact, don't we all protest against some laws from time to time, declaring them to be bad laws? In short, if this proposal is taken up and written into law, "that a priest hearing in confession that this person has sexually abused a child is bound to report this to the police", I would still presume that the secrecy of the confessional would be respected by the priest in every other instance. Hence it would not affect my religious practice in the least.....(more)
Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council Announces Appointment of Plenary Council Facilitator and Facilitation Team
Extract from Media blog, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, 5:30pm Friday 4 August 2017
The Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council today announced the appointment of Ms Lana Turvey-Collins as the Plenary Council Facilitator. She will work in partnership with members of the Formation Team of Catholic Mission, forming a Plenary Council Facilitation Team which will comprise Fr Noel Connolly SSC and Mr Peter Gates, Deputy National Director of Catholic Mission. Ms Turvey-Collins and the Facilitation Team are humbled by the opportunity. “We look forward to collaborating with leaders and their teams across the diverse ministries and works of the Catholic Church and all people in Catholic communities across Australia. Over the coming years, we hope to support local Churches to lead and facilitate authentic and open dialogue about how we are, and how we can be, a community of missionary disciples in Australia. Pope Francis’ writings, teaching and witness are inspiration for us, as he reminds us what Jesus in today’s society looks like.” Plenary Council 2020 and the process of consultation and dialogue is an unprecedented opportunity for the Church in Australia. It’s an opportunity to engage with all Catholics in Australia – those who lead, those who work in Catholic organisations, those who may feel they don’t have a voice, those who feel they are outside the Church and those who show up every Sunday for Mass – a process inclusive of all. It’s about becoming the kind of Australian Catholic community which Pope Francis is calling us to be: “a community of communities…” (EG§28)....(more).
Preparing to be a synodal church in
Extract from Fr Noel Connoly, St Columbans eNews. 18 July 2017. Published originally as an article in The Francis Effect III: Mission of Love and Mercy. Reprinted with permission from the author, the publisher, Catholic Mission & Catholic Religious Australia, and St Columbans eNews. 31 July 2017
The Australian church is about to enter an exciting, challenging and hopefully rewarding three-year process of consultation. Last August Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane announced that the Australian Bishops will convoke a Plenary Council at which “everything is potentially on the radar screen”, and at which a wide representation of the church, lay and clerical, female and male will be present. From now till the Plenary Council there will be a wide consultation of the entire Australian Church so that all voices can be heard. This is going to be a
Archbishop Denis Hart celebrates his Golden Jubilee
Edited Extract from Media and Communications Office, Melbourne Catholic, CAM, Friday 21 July 2017
This weekend Archbishop Denis Hart celebrates his Golden Jubilee, marking the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination. On Saturday morning, he will celebrate a special Mass of Thanksgiving at St Patrick’s Cathedral. In the days leading up to his Jubilee the Archbishop sat down with Shane Healy, archdiocesan Director of Media and Communications to discuss the journey of his life and faith in anticipation of his ordination anniversary. Highlights of the interview include Archbishop Hart describing the challenges and joys of his life as a priest, chaplain, bishop, vicar general, and archbishop as well as events that fostered his faith....Read more and access the video interview (37 minutes).
Bishop gave 'fresh start' to abuser
Extract from CathNews, 12 July 2017
A bishop who later became archbishop of Perth knew a priest had abused boys but gave him "a fresh start" in his diocese, where the offending continued, documents before the child abuse royal commission reveal, reports AAP/News.com.au Fr William Kevin Glover received two warnings under canon law for "immoral and criminal sexual behaviour with boys and adolescents" while in the Marist Fathers - Society of Mary before being sent to Western Australia's Bunbury diocese in 1960. Fr Glover was removed from a Victorian parish and given his first warning in June 1958 over the systematic sexual abuse of adolescent boys, tendered documents released by the child abuse royal commission reveal. "In September of that year a Marist priest working in the parish expressed the view that Fr Glover had been involved with as many as 30 boys over a three-year period," a 1994 Marist Fathers incident report to its insurer stated. Fr Glover was posted to another parish but was removed in July 1959, given another canonical warning and sent to Sydney for treatment at Richmond's St John of God Hospital. He transferred to the Bunbury diocese on a trial basis following an appeal for priests by the bishop, the late Sir Launcelot John Goody, who was archbishop of Perth from 1968 to 1983....(more) Photo: CathNews,
Why I am still a Catholic
Extract from John Menadue, Pearls and Irritations, 7 July 2017
Cardinal John Henry Newman once said that there is nothing as ugly as the Catholic Church yet nothing as beautiful. It is hard to see that beauty at this moment. It is a time for sackcloth and ashes. But I will hang on. Below is an edited and updated article of mine that was first published by David Lovell Publishing in 2003.
G K Chesterton said, ‘I cannot explain why I am a Catholic, because now that I am a Catholic, I cannot imagine myself as anything else’. Personally, I now cannot imagine not being a Catholic either, yet I am more conscious and appreciative of my Methodist upbringing than ever before. As a Catholic, I reckon I am a pretty good Methodist, with a healthy skepticism about authority. And the more I see of the failure of Catholic Bishops the more skeptical of ‘authority ‘I become. Cardinal John Henry Newman described his feelings after joining the Catholic Church: ‘I was not conscious of firmer faith … I had no more fervour, but it was like coming into port after a rough sea’ (Apologia). I have found Newman very convincing and encouraging on many issues of concern to me. He also spoke of the pain he felt after ‘coming into port’ — mistrust and misunderstanding. He wasn’t one of the tribe. His critics suggested that if he could change once, he could change again and rejoin the Church of England. To some Catholic bishops he was much too independent and risky. I have always felt an outsider in the Catholic Church. I am not tribal. But being an ‘outsider’ troubles me not at all. Before I speak of the two main reasons why I am still a Catholic-the Eucharist and Authority -, I would like to give a few impressions as a relative newcomer to the Catholic Church. Newcomers have some disadvantages, but newcomers sometimes see things with clarity and freshness. The Polish have a proverb that the guest to the house sees in one hour what the host fails to see in a lifetime....(more)
Flawed Catholic Church a test for the true believers
Extract from Geraldine Doogue, 3 July 2017, Pearls and irritations, John Menadue website, 3 July 2017 linked here 8 July
The other day a visiting Israeli man bluntly asked me during a small dinner: was I religious? Well, yes, I replied, though not quite in the way I once would have answered. But Cardinal George Pell is not to blame for that. Twenty years ago, I probably would have replied more confidently, as a cradle Catholic approaching her middle years, trying to live a good life and hand on the heritage and traditions to children. Because they matter to me. Indeed, they are part of my fabric. My much-loved and late husband was an atheist, a good man of strong values, not overtly antagonistic to faith like some, but steeped in an anthropological sense of religion being “sophisticated crowd control”, he’d quip. So there was a layered approach to Catholic institutional life in our household. Yet simultaneously within me, oddly, a growing sense of gratitude for being rooted in a belief tradition rather than not having one, even if I rejected parts of it. I realised it had bequeathed me a precious identity security plus an ability to ask deeper questions about meaning, even though I concede that it took years to fully develop that....So how does one synthesise all this? With difficulty. It is a work in progress. I will of course incorporate details of the cardinal’s coming court case but will probably not be blindsided by whatever may emerge, on the upside and the downside. Because as a source of ongoing consolation and meaning, of searching alongside others not merely alone, the broader Catholic Church simply has no peer....(more)
Pope calls on cardinals to 'look at reality' as their mission
Extracts from Nicolas Senèze, Rome, La Croix International, 29 June 2017
At a service for the creation of five new cardinals on Wednesday, Pope Francis called on them “to confront the sins of the world and their consequences for humanity today". He has made an art of linking Gospel texts to current issues.....Thus, despite the pomp of yesterday’s ceremony at St Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis wanted to bring his cardinals back to reality. Jesus, he warned them, “has not called you to become “princes” of the Church, to “sit at his right or at his left". “He calls you to serve like him and with him. To serve the Father and your brothers and sisters,” the pope continued. “He calls you to face the sin of the world and its effects on today’s humanity, as he did himself.” It was a message equally valid for the new cardinals as for the older ones, whom he had characterized a day earlier at a mass celebrating the 25th anniversary of his episcopal ordination as “grandfathers who transmit their dreams to the young people of today"....(more) Photo: La Croix, Vincento Pinto/AFP
Pope and cardinals discuss loosening the strings
Extract from CathNews, CNS, 15 June 2017
Pope Francis and his Council of Cardinals have discussed the possibility of allowing local bishops rather than the Vatican decide on certain matters, including the marriage or priestly ordination of permanent deacons, CNS reports. It is "what the Pope calls a 'healthy decentralisation'," said Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office. Briefing journalists on the council's June 12-14 meeting, Mr Burke said the Cardinals and Francis looked specifically at the possibility of allowing bishops to determine whether a permanent deacon who is widowed can remarry or whether a permanent deacon who is unmarried or widowed can be ordained to the priesthood without having to "wait for a decision to be made in Rome" as is the current rule. Such decisions regarding permanent deacons now are handled at the Vatican Congregation for Clergy, but could pass to the local bishops' conference, Mr Burke told journalists yesterday. The Council of Cardinals advising the Pope on Church governance also discussed proposals to broaden the participation of lay people and members of religious orders in the selection of new bishops. "It is something that already exists, but they want to do it in a more systematic, more extensive way," Mr Burke said.....(more). Photo: CathNews, CNS?Paul Haring.
Vatican releases online questionnaire for youth
Extracts from Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, Crux, 15 June 2017
ROME - To involve young people in preparations for the Synod of Bishops on youth in 2018, the Vatican has released an online questionnaire to better understand the lives, attitudes and concerns of 16- to 29-year-olds around the world. The questionnaire - available in English, Spanish, French and Italian - can be found on the synod’s official site and is open to any young person, regardless of faith or religious belief. The general secretariat of the synod launched the website June 14 to share information about the October 2018 synod on “Young people, faith and vocational discernment” and to link to an online, anonymous survey asking young people about their lives and expectations. The answers to the questionnaire, along with contributions from bishops, bishops’ conferences and other church bodies, “will provide the basis for the drafting of the ‘instrumentum laboris,'” or working document for the assembly, synod officials said in January. Young people from all backgrounds are encouraged to take part in the questionnaire because every young person has “the right to be accompanied without exclusion,” synod officials had said. The list of 53 mostly multiple-choice questions is divided into seven sections: general personal information; attitudes and opinions about oneself and the world; influences and relationships; life choices; religion, faith and the church; internet use; and two final, open-ended questions. The Vatican’s preparation for a synod generally includes developing a questionnaire and soliciting input from bishops’ conferences, dioceses and religious orders. This is the first time the Vatican’s synod organizing body put a questionnaire online and sought direct input from the pub A synod’s preparatory phase seeks to consult of “the entire people of God” to better understand young people’s different situations as synod officials draft the working document. The synod on youth will be looking for ways the church can best and most effectively evangelize young people and help them make life choices corresponding to God’s plan and the good of the person....(more) Photo: Crux, CNS photo/Bob Roller. [Ed: An Australian Catholic Bishops Youth online Survey 2017 has also been prepared (HERE) to contribute towards the Australian bishops submission that will be considered by Pope Francis as part of the General Synod on Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment to be held in Rome in October 2018]
Controversial new appointments as Pontifical Academy for Life widens perspectives
Extracts from Daniele Palmer,The Tablet, 14 June 2017
By nominating members not strictly in line with traditional Church teachings, the Academy is creating a more heterogenous membership. The Pontifical Academy for Life, the Vatican organisation devoted to the study of Catholic bioethics, has appointed new members in what seems both an act of continuation with the past, but also a widening of perspectives.
After a wait of more than six months, the Holy See published its list of the new nominations to the Pontifical Academy for Life. Apart from significantly reducing the number of members of the Academy - which acts as a Vatican think tank on life issues - from 132 to 45, plus five “honorary” members, it has renewed the membership of many previous members. Amongst those who saw their membership renewed are Anthony Colin Fisher, Archbishop of Sydney and the Dutch Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk; Carl Albert Anderson, Supreme Knight of the influential Knights of Columbus - all known for holding more conservative positions........The nomination which has caused the most controversy, however, is that of the English philosopher and moral theologian, Nigel Biggar. An Anglican priest, Biggar is one of several non-Catholic members elected yesterday (13 June) to the Academy. His views on abortion directly contradict the anti-abortion policies not only those of the Church, but also of the Academy’s past members. In 2011, Biggar stated that it is “not clear that a human foetus is the same kind of thing as an adult or a mature human being, and therefore deserves quite the same treatment.” To this effect, he has supported the legalisation of aborting foetuses up until the 18th week. Some have argued that this points to a change in the Academy’s policy line. However, sources close to the Academy’s president, Archbishop Paglia, have said that the nomination of Biggar is indicative not of a substantive change, but of a widening of perspectives. By nominating Biggar, and other members who are not strictly in line with traditional Church teachings, Paglia is seeking to create a more heterogenous membership and set of views. Another nomination that does not sit well with some conservatives is Maurizio Chiodi, lecturer of moral theology at Milan’s seminary. In the past, Chiodi has criticised important passages of “Humanae vitae”, “Donum vitae”, and “Evangelium vitae” - all documents that make up the fundamental pillars of modern Catholic bioethics. The Milanese theologian has also called for more “discernment” on issues relating to contraception, in vitro fertilisation, the question of “gender”, and sexual orientation in the Catholic theology....(more)
Making our parish mission possible: Melbourne clergy conference
Extracts from Media and Communications Office, Melbourne Catholic, Thursday 8 June 2017
‘The parish is not an outdated institution,’ writes Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium, ‘precisely because it possesses great flexibility. It can assume quite different contours depending on the openness and missionary creativity of the pastor and community.’ The Melbourne Clergy Conference explored that flexibility with the theme: The Parish—Our Mission. Held at Peppers The Sands Resort in Torquay, the three-day conference started on Tuesday 6 June. Every church and diocese struggles with its own issues. But the central problem clergy grappled with over the four days was this: How can we move parishes from a routine of maintenance towards embracing the mission of making disciples? And how do we effect that shift? The week’s presenter was Daniel Ang, Director of the Office for Evangelisation in the Catholic Archdiocese of Broken Bay, NSW. What he learnt was the number of people receiving the sacraments in Mass each week shouldn’t be a primary concern. ‘The attendance of Mass doesn’t necessarily mean that someone has a personal relationship with Jesus’ Ang tells Melbourne Catholic. ‘Our call is to make disciples. Unfortunately today we tend to assume that receiving the sacraments will take care of that. But the church teaches that evangelisation, conversion and faith have to come first.’....Throughout the conference, Ang demonstrated an encyclopaedic knowledge of church history. And ultimately a message of hope was held up to the parish, the priests and the church at large. ‘The church has enormous capacity for renewal.’ Each day, clergy have celebrated the Eucharist, presided over by Archbishop Hart, Bishop Mark Edwards, and Bishop Terry Curtain respectively. The conference concludes today with a morning Eucharist, prayer, and a final session on practical steps to nurture renewal and growth in parishes. All to ensure that each—to quote Pope Francis—remained effectively a ‘community of communities, a sanctuary where there the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey....(more) Photo: Melbourne Catholic.
The uncertain future of parish life
Extract from T. Howland Sanks* America, The Jesuit Review, 2 June, U.S. Extracted here 8 June 2017
.....Rethinking Parish Structure: William J. Byron, S. J., reinforces the notion that parish leadership must be shared in his recent book Parish Leadership: Principles and Practices, but he adds that the leadership must integrate Catholic social teaching in the life of the parish for it to be effective. (He also provides an excellent, succinct summary of Catholic social teaching in his second chapter.) For Byron, parish leadership, especially the pastor, must be “servant leadership” rather than the top of a pyramid, as the latter is abnormal and corrupting. A much more comprehensive study of Catholic parishes is Catholic Parishes of the 21st Century by the staff of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), led by Charles E. Zech. Synthesizing data from a number of recent surveys, the authors use the 1989 Notre Dame Study of Catholic Parish Life as a baseline of comparison. Trends that had begun at that time have continued and intensified, but the operative word in both studies is change. Following are the most significant changes in the last 30 years: .....(more). Photo, America the Jesuit Review, CNS photo/Jonathan Francis, Archdiocese of Detroit
*T. Howland Sanks, S.J., is the professor emeritus of theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University.
Court rules against Wilson appeal
Extract from CathNews, 8 June 2017
The NSW Court of Appeal has dismissed a bid by Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson to stop criminal proceedings against him over claims he did not report another priest’s sexual abuse of a young boy, AAP reports. Lawyers for Archbishop Wilson, who has pleaded not guilty to the charge, had argued that his court attendance notice should be quashed or permanently stayed because the charge was not valid. Court of Appeal justices Tom Bathurst, John Basten and Tony Meagher ruled the charge was valid because the offence, allegedly committed in 1971 by the now-dead pedophile priest James Fletcher, was a “serious indictable offence”. Archbishop Wilson’s lawyer told the court: “The appellant is being prosecuted for failing to report information to the police (in essence an allegation) some 28 to 30 years after an alleged conversation that took place in 1976.” Archbishop Wilson is accused of concealing information about Fletcher’s alleged sexual assault of a 10-year-old in the NSW Hunter region town of Maitland. Prosecutors allege that between 2004 and 2006, he failed without reasonable excuse to bring material information to police relating to the alleged indecent assault. A magistrate in February 2016 refused to quash or permanently stay the proceedings. In October, in the NSW Supreme Court, judge Monika Schmidt dismissed the archbishop’s appeal against that decision. On Tuesday, the NSW Court of Appeal dismissed his third attempt to have the proceedings quashed or permanently stayed.....(more)
Schools apologise for abuse
From CathNews, 2 June 2017
Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA) yesterday delivered an apology to former students who were victims of sexual abuse at its schools. The national apology was delivered at the National Arboretum in Canberra during EREA’s National Principals’ Conference and was echoed by Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn, Christopher Prowse. EREA has responsibility for more than 50 Catholic schools and entities, some of which were previously governed by the Christian Brothers. “The National Apology has been made by EREA on behalf of all its schools to the survivors and victims of sexual abuse by members of the religious community and lay staff in those schools,” said EREA Executive Director Wayne Tinsey. Dr Tinsey said EREA had consulted widely on the apology, particularly with survivors, who had contributed to its development, and that the apology had the full support of the Christian Brothers and Archbishop Prowse. “By acknowledging the suffering of survivors in our schools, we hope this apology demonstrates that we have listened to survivors and acted on their views, thoughts, and feelings,” Dr Tinsey said. “It is our hope that this apology will go some way to addressing and healing this long-standing omission and hurt.” Dr Tinsey said EREA realised its apology was just one step in the journey towards healing and the national event also marked the beginning of a series of apologies around Australia with EREA schools and their communities planning their own local ceremonies. Archbishop Prowse, who is overseas attending meetings, asked his Vicar-General, Fr Tony Percy, to read out a statement from him at the EREA Principals’ Conference. “I am profoundly sorry, the Archdiocese is profoundly sorry for what has happened. We ask forgiveness from God, and forgiveness from the survivors,” he said....(more)
The New Zealand Synod 2017
Catholics For Renewal, 31 May 2017
The Catholic Church of New Zealand is closely in touch with the needs of its people, and as far back as 2007 the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference published its first responsive and caring response to Child Sexual Abuse "A Path to Healing - Te Houhanga Rongo". In keeping with the open thinking of Pope Francis the NZ Bishop's Conference has also arranged to hold a Synod "Go you are sent" in September this year. Synod 2017 will be held in Wellington from 15-17 September. The Synod Participation Booklet and related resources are available HERE. The following edited extracts are taken from CathNews NZ and a recent Newsletter of St Mary of the Angels Parish in Wellington relating to the September Synod. The The first two outline Synod arrangements, the third is a prayer for the Synod.
Photo: St Gabriel's Catholic Church Whangaope Harbour NZ 2013, Jacek Drecki, Panoramio Google Maps,
Vale Anthony Foster
Extract from Bishop Vincent Long, Catholic Outlook, 30 May 2017
It is with much sadness that we learned of the sudden death of Anthony Foster in Melbourne over the weekend. Anthony and his wife Chrissie dedicated their lives to seeking justice for victims of child sex abuse. In 2010, when I was still living in Rome, I read the book Hell on the Way to Heaven in which they told the harrowing story of the sexual abuse of their daughters by a Catholic priest. I was deeply moved by their suffering but also inspired by their determination, courage and resilience. Back in Melbourne as an Auxiliary Bishop, I sought them out and eventually met them on a number of occasions. I was kindly received into their home a few times and offered hospitality – a privilege I treasure. Each time we met, the Fosters would share with me their pain and suffering. They would also challenge me to do all I could as a church leader to treat victims and their loved ones with the Christian justice we profess. I was especially touched by Anthony’s empathy – perhaps a virtue he nurtured during his own experience of suffering. At the end of the Royal Commission hearing of the five Metropolitans, the Fosters met with Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP. After he had left the meeting, Anthony became very concerned how deeply affected Archbishop Fisher was. He contacted me and asked if I could check and make sure that the Archbishop was OK. I was only too happy to oblige. I am privileged to have met Anthony and learned much from him. If the Church in Australia is to offer justice and healing for victims and a safer place for children, then it must respect the legacy of people like Anthony Foster. May he rest in peace! Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv. Bishop of Parramatta Image: Catholic Outlook