Catholics for Renewal prepared an Open Letter to the Catholic Bishops of Australia in consultation with many Catholics strongly committed to the teachings of Jesus and their Church. People of the Church, including our bishops, have been distressed by the increasing failings of our Church, particularly in the context of the evidence before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Catholics have been and remain invited to consider and sign the Open Letter to the
Bishops of Australia in the Open Letter page of this website.The Open Letter provides an opportunity,
consistent with the Church’s Code of Canon Law, for the faithful - lay
people, religious, priests, all members of the Church - to seek renewal
of the Church. A Report sent to the bishops of Australia on the Open Letter on 2nd May has also been published on the Open Letter page.
Forthcoming Lectures (Full details on the Events Page)
NEW EVENT SIP - Integrity In Public Office - Is It Possible In The Age Of Spin?
Wednesday 7 June, 8pm, Pumphouse Hotel, 125 Nicholson Street Fitzroy,
Helder Camara Public Lecture. The Opal & the Pearl: Two kinds of perfection. Exploring a Christian spirituality for our times
Thursday 18 May, 5pm - 6.30pm Newman College, Melbourne University (See Report on this event below, Friday 19 May)
Marist Underground Cathedrals. A Spirituality for the 21st Century, 30 May, 6-7pm, Christ Theatre, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne (and other Cities, Dates and Times around Australia)
Report to the Bishops of Australia on an Open Letter from Catholics of Australia
Thursday 4 May, 2017
Catholics For Renewal submitted a Report on the Open Letter to all the Australian bishops during the evening of Tuesday 2nd May, with signatures up to that date to enable its consideration at the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. The Conference plenary session meets 4 - 11 May 2017. We also published the Report to bishops on this Website today where it is available for download (HERE). Thanks to all who have considered and signed the Open Letter and particular thanks to all the PPs, assistant priests and other parish people who have organised the completion and return of HARD COPY signatures. A number of priests showed considerable commitment to ensuring that their parishioners were made aware of the Open Letter and given the opportunity to consider it. Please post any outstanding forms as addressed on the form, or email them to [email protected] We have advised the bishops that we will be continuing to accept written signatures and online signatures and comments, and that we will further advise them of details to keep them informed on thinking of Australian faithful. The Open Letter remains available for consideration, online signing and optional inclusion of comments HERE.
Parish responds to Pope's call
Extract from CathNews, 2 May 2017
Inspired by Pope Francis's call for parishes across the world to take in asylum-seekers, one group is celebrating a year in operation, Melbourne Catholic reports. Encouraged by parish priest Fr Dennis Rochford, St Bridgid's Greythorn parishioner Robert Stewart approached his fellow churchgoers 18 months ago, asking how they could best respond to the Pope's request. Thirty people put their names down to be involved in what would emerge as St Bridget’s Refugee Action Group, now a partnership between St Bridget’s and St Dominic’s in Camberwell, to provide secure accommodation and support to an asylum seeker family. The group is now celebrating one year in operation. Sr Brigid Arthur from the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project educated the group on refugee and asylum-seeker issues and various categories of need, which refocused the group’s efforts on asylum-seekers. Sally-Anne Petrie from CatholicCare’s Asylum Seeker Support Program offered training and input to develop the group’s guiding principles. Xavier College in Kew offered its hall for a fundraising event in which over $16,000 was raised. The funds allowed St Bridget’s to partner with St Dominic’s in sharing the cost of a rental property in Box Hill, which has been home to an asylum-seeker family for nearly 12 months....(more) Photo: Cathnews, Bigstock photo
Indian Catholics frustrated over clergy sex abuse cases
Extract from Jose Kavi, National Catholic Reporter, 1 May 2017
New Delhi: A rash of recent alleged sex abuse cases involving Catholic priests in Southern India have left Christians distraught and frustrated over the local church's lack of response. More than 100 theologians, women religious, priests and feminists have written to India's bishops to demand they react quickly in accordance with the pope's call to end such transgressions. "We are trying every way to get the bishops to act. We thought this is a good opportunity," says Virginia Saldanha, a theologian who was part of the team that drafted the March 22 letter to the bishops. Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, another theologian who coordinated the letter's drafting, says the Feb. 28 arrest of a Catholic priest who allegedly raped and impregnated a young teenage girl in his parish in Kerala state spurred them to go to church authorities. Police apprehended Fr. Robin Vadakkumcherry, 48, of the Mananthavady Diocese while he was trying to flee the country after the alleged crimes. Vadakkumcherry is now in jail awaiting trial, police said. Fr. Thomas Therakam, another priest from the diocese, and five nuns were charged for allegedly helping Vadakkumcherry cover up the scandal. The six religious, along with a few alleged lay accomplices, went into hiding to evade arrest but later surrendered to authorities and are now out on bail. The case outraged members of several Catholic religious and justice groups. They wrote to Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, saying they were "deeply concerned about the integrity and mission of the Indian Church."....(more) Photo: NCR, CNS/Anto Ankara
Catholic theology owes John Noonan a debt of gratitude
Extract from Fr. Charles E. Curran, National Catholic Reporter, 2017
The opening sentence of The New York Times' obituary of Judge John Noonan provides an excellent illustration of what a topic sentence should be. "John T. Noonan Jr., a federal judge and polymath who defied ideological pigeonholing on profound issues like assisted suicide, the death penalty, civil liberties and illegal immigration" died on April 17 at age 90. As a judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for 30 years, Noonan wrote 10,080 opinions. As a polymath, his primary area of academic interest was history, but his subjects included jurisprudence, philosophy, theology and canon law. Few people have ever achieved such academic prominence in so many different fields...... In his doctoral dissertation at Catholic University on usury, he was totally engaged in this important issue of the development of moral teaching on the issue of usury (a loan) over an 800-year period. This story was one of basis principles, response to changing circumstances, fine legal lines, and close legal reasoning — the work of human beings adopting a moral rule to changing circumstances. This study helped to distinguish a variable rule from underlying values, thus explaining how change occurred. After his study at Catholic University, he went back to Harvard for his law degree. An important aspect in his historical study of usury was the familiarity he acquired with the major figures in Catholic moral theological tradition. It prepared him for much of his future work in moral theology, especially in his subsequent work on contraception. Noonan's working on a historical study of contraception became known and he was appointed as a historical consultant to the papal commission on birth control. At its fourth session in 1964, he gave a two-hour summary of his work. In 1965, the Belknap Press of Harvard University Press published his 651-page Contraception: A History of Its Treatment by Catholic Theologians and Canonists. From this in-depth study, Noonan concluded that the Catholic teaching insisted on five important values — procreation, education, life, personality and love. "About these realities a wall had been built; the wall could be removed when it became a prison rather than a bulwark." As a careful historian, Noonan came to a conclusion that was quite modest. There was, however, no doubt where Noonan himself stood on the issue. After the issuance of the encyclical Humanae Vitae in 1968, I was the leader and spokesperson for the group of originally 87 Catholic scholars who concluded in a public statement that one could be a good Roman Catholic and still disagree in theory and in practice with the noninfallible teaching regarding contraception. Later that day, after releasing the statement, I talked to all the American lay members of the papal birth control commission, who all agreed to support the statement in light of their own competencies.....(more). Photo: NCR file photo
Most Australian Catholics have long been aware that the structures of their Church are autocratic; most were brought up accepting that Church decision making is unaccountable and often secretive, that bishops are remote from their people in their decision making, and that the views of laypersons count for little, particularly if they are women. In more recent times, Catholics have increasingly questioned this dysfunctional governance; many have walked away and many have witnessed their children walking away. The widespread disillusionment of Catholics has peaked with the revelations emerging from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The Royal Commission faced the question asked by many Catholics: How could the leadership of the Church behave in this way whilst continuing to espouse and teach the values of Jesus and the Gospel? Catholics are demanding reform. An Open Letter to the Australian Catholic bishops has now been launched, offering Catholics the opportunity to support the urgent reform of their Church in Australia and universally, asking their bishops: ‘Please Listen and Act Now’ (link here – http://www.catholicsforrenewal.org/open-letter).
Chrism Mass: Archbishop Coleridge says God “will not fail” to raise men for the priesthood despite Royal Commission sorrow
Extracts from Emilie Ng , The Catholic Leader, 11 April 2017
Priestly vocations might be fewer in number and “chastened” by the Royal Commission’s hearings into abuse in the Catholic Church but “the gift of priesthood will remain”, Archbishop Mark Coleridge said. The Archbishop reiterated the anointed call of men to the priesthood during the Chrism Mass at St Stephen’s Cathedral on April 6, where priests of Brisbane archdiocese renewed their vows publicly and oils used throughout the liturgical year were blessed. The Mass coincided with the final day of the annual Convocation of Priests, where recommendations following the Royal Commission’s final hearing into the Catholic Church response to sexual abuse were discussed, including clericalism as a primary cause of abuse. Archbishop Coleridge used his homily to explain a concept questioned by the Royal Commission, notably the profound ontological change that occurred in men ordained to the priesthood. “It’s worth asking tonight what the Church was trying to say in speaking of ontological change in those ordained,” he said. “It was an attempt to speak of the priesthood in a radical way, as something beyond the merely functional. “When a man is ordained he is radically configured to Christ, the High Priest and Good Shepherd. This in turn changes the pattern of his relationships with other people. Those relationships become radically different because he’s ordained.” In this way, a man called to the priesthood was “set apart” from other ministries in the Church. “Now it’s true that no one in the Church is superior to anyone else; in that sense we are all of us, the baptised, equal before God,” Archbishop Coleridge said. “But equal doesn’t mean the same – the fact that some of us are bishops, priests or deacons doesn’t make us in any way superior, but nor does it make us the same. ....... “Unintentionally the Royal Commission echoed at Pope Francis who, speaking from a very different angle, has left no doubt that clericalism is a disease in the Church that needs to be treated and treated without delay,” the Archbishop said. But when the Pope spoke of clericalism, he was referring to a priesthood that “is geared to power rather than service”....(more) Photo: The Catholic Leader, Alan Edgecomb
Calvary cross a symbol of lament
Extract from CathNews, 6 April 2017
A Liturgy of Lament and Hope in response to child sexual abuse within the Church was held at St Christopher's Cathedral in Canberra on Tuesday night, Catholic Voice reports. "We have come here tonight from pain and disillusionment, from anger and confusion, from sadness, looking for hope. We come together for one thing only: to raise our hearts and voices and very bodies to God, in the hope that the very act of raising them in lament yet in faith, they may be touched in their brokenness, and know the transforming and surpassing power of God’s love." With this invocation, the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn conducted the liturgy, attended by approximately 200 people with a number of priests, deacons and religious present. Archbishop Christopher Prowse led the liturgy which came about in response to the recent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, some of which happened at the hands of Catholic Clergy and lay people.....(more) Photo CathNews, Catholic Voice
Australian Catholic bishops must lead 'urgent delegation' to see Pope Francis, say church reformers
Extracts from Joanne McCarthy, Newcastle Herald, 3 Apr 2017
Australia's bishops must lead an “urgent delegation” to Pope Francis seeking changes to some of the church’s most fundamental views on women, celibacy, governance and the handling of child sex cases, according to Australia’s peak Catholic reform group in a call to arms to Catholics across the country. In an open letter sent to all parishes, Catholics for Renewal has urged bishops and archbishops not to “defer to the Holy See”, or wait for Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommendations, before acting on serious issues that contributed to the child sexual abuse crisis. Catholics for Renewal president and former senior Australian Government bureaucrat, Peter Johnstone OAM, said bishops needed to urge Pope Francis to require mandatory reporting of all child sexual allegations to police and immediately appoint women to the church’s highest ranks. “The appointment of women would be revolutionary, but I would argue the Pope could do that tomorrow and that would be a catalyst for forcing ultra-conservative bishops to realise they’ve got no choice but to get on board,” Mr Johnstone said. The push for an Australian delegation to the Vatican comes only days after the church’s most prominent spokesman throughout the royal commission hearings, Francis Sullivan, returned from Rome to say he was “astounded by the resistance in some quarters of the church” to address the child sexual abuse crisis. Catholic parishioners were asked to support renewal within the church by signing the open letter to Australia’s most senior clergy, in a campaign that will run until May. It was released on Friday as the royal commission ended its 57th and final public hearing. Mr Johnstone said revelations from the royal commission had demonstrated the clear need for change within many institutions, but “the big question is: are Catholics ready and determined enough to reclaim their church?” "The appointment of women would be revolutionary, but I would argue the Pope could do that tomorrow and that would be a catalyst for forcing ultra-conservative bishops to realise they’ve got no choice but to get on board. - Catholics for Renewal president Peter Johnstone." All Australian parish priests and pastoral councils were asked to make a copy of the letter to bishops available in churches from Sunday. Mr Johnstone said the call for Australian bishops and archbishops to directly challenge Pope Francis on fundamental church teachings might be perceived as a “revolutionary step”, but was "simply in accordance with Christ’s teachings”. “I don’t think the act itself would be revolutionary because it is very much within the provisions of canon law for bishops to have that close relationship with the Pope and to give honest advice to him. The church needs to start practising the teachings of Jesus,” Mr Johnstone said. It had been a “great failure” that bishops in the past had been unwilling to give “honest advice” to Popes on the subject of child sexual abuse, he said. “We believe what we’ve suggested in the open letter are reasonable but necessary steps for responsible bishops to take immediately, and it can be done, and to apply the sort of pressure that might in fact help the Pope. Bishops need to support doing what is essentially necessary for the church.” Mr Johnstone’s group told Catholic parishioners it believed an Australian delegation would be welcomed by Pope Francis as he seeks renewal in the church. “All the actions proposed are within the authority of the Australian bishops who are able to give some hope to the church by acting now. The Open Letter asks our bishops to lead the reform of our Church now, acting promptly and decisively,” the letter said......In a statement on Monday Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president, Archbishop Denis Hart, said: “Many important issues for the life and renewal of the Church are currently being addressed in a systematic way by bishops in their dioceses, and by the national Bishops’ Conference. Some have been mentioned by Catholics for Renewal.”....(more) Photo: Newcastle Herald
Pope Francis appoints Fr Ken Howell an Auxiliary Bishop of Brisbane
Extract from Media and Communications, Melbourne Catholic, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, 30 March 2017
The Holy Father has appointed Fr Kenneth Michael Howell as an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Brisbane. The announcement was made at noon Rome time today. The Auxiliary Bishop-Elect will serve alongside Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge. On behalf of the Australian Bishops, Archbishop Denis Hart welcomed the appointment, ‘Father Howell has shown gifted service as Liturgist, Cathedral Administrator and Pastor, having recently overseen the construction and completion of the new Mary, Mother of Mercy Church in the Parish of Burleigh Heads. Fr Howell’s gifts, knowledge and love of people will make him a welcome and respected member of the Bishops Conference, where I’ve no doubt he will provide generous service.’...The Bishop-Elect has been a long-standing member of the Council of Priests and Chairman from 2008 to 2013. He is also a member of the Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission, which he currently chairs. The Holy Father has also accepted the resignation of Bishop Joseph Oudeman, O.F.M. Cap as Auxiliary Bishop of Brisbane. Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge said today, ‘we thank Bishop Joseph for his years of episcopal service in the Archdiocese. We pray that his years of retirement will be fruitful and peaceful. May the Lord grant him good health and the reward of a faithful servant’. The Ordination of Bishop-Elect Howell will take place on 14 June 2017 at St Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane....(more) Photo: CAM, Emilie Ng, the Catholic Leader
Investigation accuses 25 French bishops of hiding abuse
Extract from Tom Heneghan, The Tablet, 29 March 2017
The French Bishops’ Conference spokesman has expressed his profound shame after a television documentary accused 25 bishops — five of them still in office — of shielding 32 priests guilty of sexual abuse from justice and moving them around France and other countries to keep their past out of the spotlight. Conference president Archbishop Georges Pontier disputed some details of the broadcast on France 2 public television but admitted past errors and insisted the Church now put the interests of abuse victims first. The 21 March broadcast by the news magazine Cash Investigation added new details to the debate about clerical sexual abuse in France, where the bishops’ conference recently said nine priests and deacons were in prison and 26 under investigation for sexual abuse. Based on a year-long inquiry with the news website Mediapart, it examined abuse cases going back to the 1960s and said half of the 32 abusers were active after 2000, the year when the French bishops first agreed to tighten their anti-paedophilia guidelines. The resulting database listed 339 victims and showed 228 of them had been under 15 and only 165 cases were reported to civil authorities. The programme also tracked the transfer of alleged abusers within France and abroad, especially to posts in Africa. “I feel a profound sense of shame, humility and determination, because I am well aware that we have made mistakes,” bishops’ conference spokesman Mgr Olivier Ribadeau Dumas told AFP news agency. Archbishop Pontier insisted the broadcast highlighted errors of the past but told La Provence newspaper: “We have evolved, even if this has not be fast enough.”....(more)
Outdated model for preparing priests needs major overhaul
"Whenever Pope Francis has talked about the selection and training of Catholic priests he has given every indication that he knows there are serious problems."
Extract from, Robert Mickens, Rome. Subscription Journal La Croix International, 24 March 2017
It is such a serious problem that, according to one noted Church historian, not even Pope Francis dares to speak about it. It’s the outdated model of Catholic priesthood and, even more significantly, how candidates for the ordained ministry are selected and prepared for service among the People of God. Professor Alberto Melloni of the John XXII Foundation for Religious Sciences (Bologna, Italy) recently pointed out that the archetype of today’s priest dates back to over 400 years ago and the reforms stemming from the Council of Trent (1545-1563)....(source)
Pope Francis' fourth anniversary: the centrality of mercy
Extract from Michael Sean Waters, National Catholic Reporter, 8 March 2018
.....In his focus on mercy, Pope Francis is not merely calling attention to a theological virtue we should practice. This is not about ethics only. It goes deeper. It is a quintessential example of ressourcement theology, which proposed a return to the sources, that was so central to the Second Vatican Council. The aggiornamento, or bringing up to date, that the Council took as its mission was not a mere indulgence of modernity, but an engagement with modernity, and an engagement based on a retrieval of the sources of Christian life rooted in the Scriptures and the early Church Fathers. It specifically aimed to question the cultural encrustations that had once revealed and explicated those sources, but now stood in the way.....(more)
International Women's day - What Islam really says about women
Alaa Murabit, TED talks, YouTube, 8 March 2017
Any day would be a good day to view this 12 minute TED talk "What Islam really says about women", but it's especially appropriate on International Women's day, and applies to many religions, including our own. Alaa Murabit's family moved from Canada to Libya when she was 15. Before, she’d felt equal to her brothers, but in this new environment she sensed big prohibitions on what she could accomplish. As a proud Muslim woman, she wondered: was this really religious doctrine? With humor, passion and a refreshingly rebellious spirit, she shares how she discovered examples of female leaders from across the history of her faith — and how she launched a campaign to fight for women's rights using verses directly from the Koran.
How clergy became scapegoats of the sex abuse crisis in the Anglican Church
Extract from Muriel Porter! The Conversation, 7 March 2017
As the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse hearings have made abundantly clear, Christian churches in this country scapegoated the victims of clergy abuse for decades in an attempt to protect their reputation. That was at best deluded, and at worst evil. Some parts of the Anglican Church of Australia were complicit in this appalling behaviour until the levels of abuse came to light in the late 1990s. Since then, the Anglican Church has directed enormous energy into establishing procedures to ensure that abuse was a thing of the past, and that churches would be safe places for all children and vulnerable people. In the process, however, in a frantic effort to restore the church’s damaged reputation by demonstrating it is “tough on (sexual) crime”, it has created another group of scapegoats – its own clergy. This may seem a harsh assessment, and one that will not be popular with abuse survivors. Survivors have often been so scarred by their abuse that they have no sympathy at all for the clergy as a class. Nevertheless, as I write in my new book, absurdly severe restrictions are now being imposed on the private lives of all Anglican clergy because the abuse crisis has opened the door to opportunistic interventions by puritan elements in the church. Always eager to impose rigid rules on all sexual behaviour, in this febrile climate no one dare challenge their demands. The clergy have become the new scapegoats.....(more) Muriel Cooper os Honorary Research Fellow, Trinity College Theological School, University of Divinity.
Pat Power. The Royal Commission and the need for reform.
Extract from Pearls and Irritations, John Menadue website, 1 March 2017
Despite all the warnings, I don’t know of anyone who has not been shocked by what has emerged from the Royal Commission. For twenty years or more, we have heard accounts of abuse, sometimes very close to home. But somehow the magnitude of it all has been almost beyond comprehension. Often when I meet Catholics who are no longer practising their faith, they say to me without bitterness “I have not left the Catholic Church, the Church has left me.” While I have always felt I understood what those friends were saying, it is even more obvious to me now. So often because of a culture of secrecy or shame they have carried guilt for what have been the gravely sinful and criminal actions of those they should have been able to trust. It is not surprising that a number of those lives have ended in suicide......In my twenty six years as auxiliary bishop and in the nearly five years since my retirement, I have listened to many heart-wrenching stories of abuse. I never cease to be moved by these personal conversations, trying always to listen from the heart, but knowing that actions speak louder than words. Most of all, I try to a “companion on the journey”, helping the person concerned to find peace and to achieve whatever outcomes they are seeking. I hope through my own integrity and willingness to listen, they will have a very different experience of Church to what they previously negatively encountered. I should add as well, that invariably I have been in great admiration of the courage, goodness and holiness of the people who have shared their often tragic stories with me. It has taken the adverse publicity of the Royal Commission to make many in the Church leadership to look to those reforms which have been crying out for implementation for many years. Radical changes are needed at all levels....(more)
Royal Commission final week of 'wrap-up' Hearings.
Friday 17 February 2017
Amongst others, listed witnesses for the final week of wrap-up Hearings for Royal Commission Case Study 50 - The Catholic Church - include Archbishops Denis Hart, Anthony Fisher, Mark Coleridge, Timothy Costelloe SDB and Philip Wilson. Hearings are streamed live and daily transcripts are available from the The Royal Commission website. The Commission will deliver its Recommendations in December.
Royal Commission wrap up may be painful
Extracts from CathNews, The Catholic Weekly, 2 February 2017
On February 6, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will commence Case Study 50, otherwise known as the "Catholic wrap up", writes Monica Doumit at The Catholic Weekly. Scheduled to run for three weeks, the hearing is intended to look at factors which might have contributed to the abuse crisis in the Church, and to our response to the crisis. The three weeks allocated to the Church is the same amount of time which has been allocated to wrap up all other institutions, government and non-government, combined. This series of wrap-up hearings will complete around four years of public hearings for the royal commission, and it will be the last major news we will hear of the commission until it releases its final report, which is due to Parliament on December 15......Some of the topics which will be raised include the culture of the Church generally, its governance, including Canon Law, the role of the Vatican and the bishops, its doctrine and practices, including the Sacrament of Confession and discipline of mandatory celibacy, and the selection and formation of candidates for the priesthood. There's no point in mincing words, it will be an unprecedented public shaming of the Church and much of it will be well-deserved.....(more) Photo, CathNews, The Catholic Weekly.
Why Pope Francis is right to revisit the new Mass translation
Extract from Michael G. Ryan. America the Jesuit Review, 30 January, 2017
Recent news out of Rome that Pope Francis has given his blessing to a commission to study “Liturgiam Authenticam,” the controversial 2001 document behind the English translation of the Roman Missal, was surely music to the ears of many who love the church’s liturgy and to just about everyone who loves the English language. Seven years ago, I did my best to see that the translation got a test run before being mandated for general use. But, as the saying goes, timing is everything. Had Francis been elected just a few years earlier, it is likely that “Liturgiam Authenticam” would have died in committee. At this point, I am not sure who to feel sorrier for: those members of the International Committee for English in the Liturgy, who, back in 1998, offered a worthy translation—the fruit of 17 years painstaking labor—only to have it unceremoniously consigned to oblivion by Vatican officials, or the faithful of the English-speaking world who have had to struggle since 2011 with a wooden, woefully inadequate, theologically limited Missal that is low on poetry, if high on precision.....(more)
Maitland-Newcastle creates child protection advisory council
Extract from CathNews, 27 January 2017
Role of women a priority for Irish bishops during Vatican talks
Extract from Cathnews, 25 January 2017
The Irish bishops are finishing their first Ad Limina visit to Rome in 10 years, and one topic was mentioned in every meeting they had with Vatican departments: the role of women in the Church, reports the Catholic News Agency. “I would say I don't think there was any congregation that we didn't mention it,” Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick told CNA. He called the attention being given to women and their role “one of the signs of the times”. The Holy Spirit “is saying something,” Bishop Leahy said, adding that what exactly the Holy Spirit wants is “the big question for us all", but one area that keeps coming up is engaging women more in decision-making processes....(more)
Priest sues diocese alleging persecution for reporting abuse
Extract from Terry Spencer, Associated Press, Crux, 12 January 2017
WEST PALM BEACH - A Catholic priest filed suit Wednesday against his former diocese, saying that the bishop pushed him aside and lied about him because he called law enforcement after another priest showed child pornography to a teenage boy and cooperated with the investigation. Father John Gallagher said that Bishop Gerald Barbarito of the Palm Beach Diocese forced him from the church where he worked and publicly called him a liar after he refused to cover up for the other priest. Joseph Palimattom was convicted of showing obscene material to a minor, spent six months in jail and was deported home to India. Gallagher told The Associated Press that his case shows the church has not reformed as promised after it became public knowledge that church leaders had covered up sexual abuse by priests for decades around the world. “Any priest could be in this situation,” Gallagher said. “Any priest in this situation should know that if it happened to them, they will not get the support of the church. You will be ostracized.” The lawsuit does not seek a specific amount, but Gallagher’s attorney Ted Babbitt said he will seek enough to cover Gallagher’s lost salary and benefits plus punitive damages for his lost reputation....(more)
Mulling the practical pros and cons of married priests
Extracts from Fr Dwight Longenecker, contributor, Crux, 5 January 2017
There are plenty of historical and theological arguments for and against married priests, but few stop to consider the practical pros and cons. Yet Catholicism already has married priests, and here one of them shares his experience. Should the Catholic Church have married priests? Many people are surprised to find that the Catholic Church already has, and I’m one of them. In the early 1980s, Pope St. John Paul II established the Pastoral Provision, allowing married men who had been ordained in the Anglican or Lutheran churches (and were subsequently received into full communion with the Catholic Church) to receive a dispensation from the vow of celibacy allowing them to be ordained as Catholic priests. The dispensation from the vow of celibacy is permitted because celibacy for priests is a discipline of the Church, not a doctrine. Doctrines cannot be altered. Disciplines can. I received my dispensation from Pope Benedict XVI and, with my wife Alison and our four children in attendance, was ordained in 2006. I served first as a high school chaplain and assistant priest in a parish. I was then asked to be the administrator of a small parish. After ten years serving as a married Catholic priest, I can report on the practical pros and cons.......But that’s just my opinion. The decision itself is above my pay grade....(more). Photo: Crux, Longenecker
Pope kicks off new year renewing ‘zero tolerance’ policy on abuse
Extract from Elise Harris, Crux, CNS, 2 January 2017
ROME - In a letter sent to bishops around the world for the feast of the Holy Innocents, Pope Francis lamented the many children who suffer from war, slavery and various forms of abuse, including within the Church. The Church not only hears the “cries of pain” of her children who suffer from war, slavery and malnutrition, he said, but she also weeps “because she recognizes the sins of some of her members: the sufferings, the experiences and the pain of minors who were abused sexually by priests.” “It is a sin that shames us. Persons responsible for the protection of those children destroyed their dignity. We regret this deeply and we beg forgiveness.” Francis condemned the sin “of failing to help,” of “covering up and denial” and the sin of “the abuse of power” that happened in many cases. In celebrating the Feast of the Holy Innocents, Pope Francis asked his brother bishops to renew “our complete commitment to ensuring that these atrocities will no longer take place in our midst.” “Let us find the courage needed to take all necessary measures and to protect in every way the lives of our children, so that such crimes may never be repeated. In this area, let us adhere, clearly and faithfully, to zero tolerance.”....(more), Crux, AP Photo/Andrew Medichini.