Catholics for Renewal


Old News 2016

Ireland. Accused priests must benefit from presumption of innocence
Extract from CathNews, 30 June 2016

The Irish Church has updated its child protection guidelines to ensure that public announcements concerning accused priests should emphasise the presumption of innocence, The Irish Times reports.    The guidelines published this week by  the Church's National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC) also emphasise that in such cases, while parishioners cannot be told everything, "what they are told should be the truth."      The guidelines also advise that when an accusepriest dies before an investigation has concluded, "careful thought should be given by the Church authority to the way the requiem liturgy and internment is conducted. Publicly praising the respondent's qualities as a priest could have a seriously detrimental impact on complainants."           The inviolability of the confessional is reiterated. While "all suspicions, concerns and allegations of child abuse must be reported to the statutory authorities," they state that "there is one exception to this rule." That is "if abuse is disclosed during the Sacrament of Reconciliation."         They continue that "the maintenance of trust in the Sacrament of Reconciliation requires the guarantee of absolute  confidentiality, allowing for no exceptions. This is known as the Seal of Confession and guarantees to the penitent that anything revealed to the confessor will not be divulged to anyone else."......(more)

St. Pius X society abandons unification, claims Francis spreading errors
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 29 June 2016

Rome: A traditionalist group of Catholic bishops and priests that has been separated from the wider church for decades appears to have abandoned efforts to reunite with Rome, releasing a statement Wednesday that claims Pope Francis is encouraging the spreading of errors in church teaching.       The Society of St. Pius X, founded by the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1970 mainly in opposition to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, says now it "does not primarily seek a canonical recognition" from the Vatican for its continuing activities.             The society also says there is a "great and painful confusion that currently reigns in the Church" that "requires the denunciation of errors that have made their way into it and are unfortunately encouraged by a large number of pastors, including the Pope himself."     The statement, released on the society's website, seems to eliminate chances that the group might reunite withRome. Popes have tried to repair relations over four decades.           Pope Benedict XVI made the most effort to reunite with the group, lifting the excommunications of four of their bishops in 2009. Those efforts ultimately failed when Bishop Bernard Fellay, their current superior general, rejected a doctrinal statement drafted by the Vatican for the group to sign.....(more)

Emotional responses as Catholic Church representative faces community meeting over Royal Commission
Extract from Larissa Romensky, ABC News, 28 June 2018

There were emotional reactions last night as a Catholic Church representative met with members of the Bendigo community to answer questions about the church's history of child sexual abuse.        CEO of the Catholic Church's Truth, Justice and Healing Council, Francis Sullivan, was faced with a crowd of people with mixed emotions including pain and anger and said the depth of feeling was not over from one night's meeting.     Acknowledging it has taken a long time for church leaders to admit, acknowledge failure and ultimately lead in a responsible and moral way with regards to child sexual abuse, he said that at least with the Royal Commission "people [were] fronting up and telling the truth".           "This issue and the church's history is very confronting and shameful, and Catholics carry that shame whether they're practicing or grew up Catholic," he said.   He said there were many people in the room who found it personallyupsetting.    "Unfortunately for most people they live these silent desperate lives, most people don't tell anyone," he said.     "There's so much anger and rage, and it goes deep.      Following the recommendation of the Royal Commission Mr Sullivan would like to see Catholics take responsibility for the Catholic Church.   "This isn't up to a bishop, this is up to the Catholic community saying we don't want our church behaving this way we want people to feel included," he said.     He said most people that had been abused usually asked for two things: to be believed and the need to belong in the community, not the Catholic Church.   "Like everybody else, not walking around with some label on their head," he said......(more) Photo: ABC Compass.

Cardinal Marx: Society must create structures to respect gay rights
Extract from Sarah MacDonald, National Catholic Reporter, 28 June 2016

Dublin: German Cardinal Reinhard Marx wants the church to do more than apologize to gay people -- a statement Pope Francis affirmed June 26. He said society must create structures to respect their rights, like civil unions, and the church should "not to be against them."      He also told NCR that the reforms Francis wants to make at the Vatican depend on "a new relationship between lay people and clerics, that is clear" and suggested that this is taking place.    Marx made his comments to journalists in Dublin, where he had delivered a keynote address at the conference "The Role of the Church in a Pluralist Society: Good Riddance or Good Influence?" hosted by the Loyola Institute in Trinity College.     Marx, who is president of the German bishops' conference and a member of the pope's advisory council of nine cardinals, called on not just the church to apologize to gays and lesbians, but society as a whole, which he said was implicated in this "terrible scandal."     "The history of homosexuals in our society is a very bad history because we have done a lot to marginalize them. It is not so long ago and so as church and as society we have to say sorry."         The 62-year-old cardinal archbishop of Munich and Freising reiterated his view, expressed at the first Synod of Bishops on the Family in 2014, that, "You cannot say that a long-term relationship between a man and a man, who are faithful, is nothing. That it has no worth." He admitted his views had shocked some at the synod.    Referring to the passing of legislation in Germany recognizing civil partnerships, he urged the church "not to be against them".    He said the state had to make arrangements for homosexuals so that their rights are recognized as equal but he also suggested that marriage is something different. So far, there has been no move in Germany to permit gay partners to marry.....(more)  Photo NCR,  (CNS/Dermot Roantree, Irish Jesuit Communications),
Kansas City bishop apologizes for 'betrayal' of sexual abuse
Extract from Sally Morrow Religion News Service, National Catholic Reporter, 27 June 2016

A single chime rang out after each abuse victim's statement was read over the speakers at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Kansas City, a solemn echo to enduring pain.     It was a simple, symbolic gesture but one that had an almost inexpressible resonance for those who had been abused, and for many Catholics in a diocese so identified with clergy abuse that its last bishop was forced to resign.    "The pain was so intense, I did not want to live," said one person in testimony from victims that was read out during the special liturgy of penitence on Sunday, June 26.     At the "Service of Lament" other readers voiced similar messages of pain, and also accusations at the church itself:     "When I was brave enough to tell you the truth, you chose to side with my abuser."  And: "I had faith in my God, but you betrayed my faith."    Bishop James Johnston Jr., head of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese since last November, was forthright in acknowledging those charges:     "I am here to confess, apologize and repent for the sins of those who held the sacred trust of the church, and betrayed that trust," Johnston said as dozens of priests from around the diocese, all wearing purple stoles symbolizing penance, stood around the altar and prayed for the healing of children sexually abused by priests.     The bishop's apology was directed toward not only survivors of abuse, but also their families, the community and innocent priests in the diocese who have been affected by the scandal. About 450 lay people attended the service......(more)  Photo: NCR, (RNS/Sally Morrow).
Pope welcomes new French ambassador to Holy See
Extract from CathNews, 24 June 2016

Pope Francis has welcomed France's new ambassador to the Vatican, two months after Paris abandoned its attempt to have a gay Catholic installed in the post, reports AFP in Seven News. Philippe Zeller, a 63-year-old father of two, presented the Pontiff with his credentials yesterday as he took up a position that had been left vacant for 18 months amid a diplomatic stand-off between France's Socialist government and the Holy See.     French President Francois Hollande named Laurent Stefanini to the post in January 2015 only to be discreetly informed that he would not be accepted.....(more)
Why the best chance to end the abuse crisis rests with you
Extracts from Nicole Sotelo, National Catholic Reporter, 23 June 2016

Currently, little is being done to hold bishops accountable when it comes to their negligence in handling abuse cases. So it should be no surprise that U.S. Catholics across generations gave Pope Francis only a 54 percent approval rating of "excellent" or "good" when asked how they would evaluate his performance in addressing the sex abuse crisis.     While Catholics gave Pope Francis better marks than his predecessor, he still falls short when you compare his 54 percent approval rating on sex abuse with his 81 percent rating at "spreading Catholic faith."      Catholics of all ages know that it is past time for bishops to be held accountable for the cover-up, but the Vatican has only forced a handful of bishops to resign. Of most concern, however, are those bishops that remain undisciplined or new bishops who have the potential to cover up abuse in the future. Who will stop them?..........Earlier this month Pope Francis issued a motu proprio that clarifies existing church law regarding the removal of bishops. While bishops have always been subject to appointment or removal by the pope, this new law specifies that a bishop's negligence over sex abuse cases in the church could lead to his removal from office.      I would like to think that the Vatican's recently clarified policy would prompt immediate action when it is implemented in September, but based on the Pope's track record, I am skeptical that it will be universally enforced........From calling abuse survivors and their allies "dumb" to supporting children's corporeal punishment, the pope has a long way to go before he can be considered a child advocate, let alone a leader who holds his officials accountable for their crimes.       Without someone to hold them accountable, most guilty bishops remain or die in office. While the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People calls for "fraternal correction" between bishops, there is no documented case of its use that has led to a guilty bishop's removal.......(more)

Photo:  NCR, CNS/David McNew, Reuters

It may be time to rethink papal infallibility
Extract from Bill Tammeus, National Catholic Reporter, 22 June 2016

The idea of papal infallibility has both baffled and amused Protestants at least since the First Vatican Council formally adopted the idea nearly 150 years ago (though the notion existed informally before that).     I have heard Protestants insist that it means one or more of these ideas: The Catholic church believes it is right about everything; every word the pope says is infallible; whoever is pope is sinless; and no Catholic can tell a lie. Well, wait. I've never heard the last claim, though because of the wild confusion about infallibility among Protestants (to say nothing of many Catholics), it wouldn't surprise me if somewhere someone did believe that.    Even when Protestants understand that papal infallibility is limited to the extraordinarily rare times a pontiff speaks ex cathedra about matters of faith and doctrine, there remains in the Protestant mind (if there is such a thing) a deep suspicion that the infallibility idea is simply arrogant nonsense.      It's Protestants, after all, who often emphasize human sinfulness and fallibility, sometimes dragging out the Apostle Paul as a witness by quoting Romans 3:23, "... all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." If Paul is right, why does any pope imagine he's exempt?    Because of the challenging work of theologian Hans Küng and others, the idea of papal infallibility is at least provisionally being reconsidered in certain corners of the Catholic church, not without the tacit approval of Pope Francis himself..............(more)
French Bishops call for a true democratic debate
'The role of bishops is to set an ideal'
Extract from Nicolas Senèze, Global Pulse, 22 June 2016

France. In the run-up to a busy election year, the bishops of France published a long text yesterday cautioning against a “sort of hysteria in public affairs” and offered avenues of reflection along the lines laid down by Pope Francis.                  It is an unusually bold text that the Permanent Council of the Bishop’s Conference of France (CEF) made public yesterday, less than one year before presidential and legislative elections, and with primary debates already well underway.      They begin with a prior observation: that of a “discredited” and “powerless” democratic process which leads to a “society of violence” where “individual interests and pressure groups get in the habit of using their means of coercion to force political representatives to satisfy their demands.”                  The bishops caution against “the excess of overly circumstantial laws,” “denying the democratic process to obtain by force, or even by violence, what has not been attained at the ballot box,” the “media game that shines the spotlight on controversy and denunciation, focusing the public’s attention on personal conflicts and individual ambitions.”         In short, “role-playing in which the stakes are presented as mere pretexts” which “do not favor peaceful conflict resolution, but lead to invective, contributing to the development of a sort of hysteria in public affairs.”          Alongside their harsh observations, the bishops of France also offer elements of reflection “in light of our convictions rooted in the Christian faith and in the texts published by Pope Francis.”........(more)

Why would anybody not want a sweet Vatican gig?
Extract from John L. Allen Jr, Editor, Crux, 20 June 2016

From the outside it might seem counter-intuitive that any Catholic bishop or priest wouldn't want a Vatican job, but there are at least five good reasons why many actually don't. As a result, popes have to consider not just who has the competence, but who's prepared personally and emotionally to give it their best.   When Pope Francis’s “C-9” council of cardinal advisers got together last month, among the topics of discussion were two new super-departments in the Vatican the council has recommended and which Francis has decided to create: One for “Charity, Justice and Peace,” and another for “Laity, Family and Life.”       Rome being Rome, a hot topic of conversation around town since talk of the new departments first surfaced has been, “Who’s in line to run these outfits?” The presumption is that either position is fairly desirable, since it means heading a department with considerable personnel, authority and visibility. Though it isn’t written down anyplace, the assumption is also that if whoever is tapped isn’t already a cardinal, he’ll be made one as a condition of the new post.   From the outside, it may seem that any Catholic cleric in his right mind would want the job.      When you’re fairly far up the ladder, like an archbishop or cardinal, a Vatican gig is undeniably a pretty sweet deal: You get a healthy monthly stipend, generally a great apartment in prime Roman real estate, the best tables at all the restaurants in town, and you’re treated like a celebrity everywhere you go...........In truth, there are at least five good   reasons why a Catholic priest or bishop might not recoil from a Vatican position, quite apart from a pietistic sense of personal unworthiness......(more)  Photo: Crux. Eric Vandeville/GAMMA      

A new appearance and reality in today’s church
Pope Francis' view of marriage is not liberal, it is just not impervious to human experience
Extracts from Massimo Faggioli, Global Pulse, 21 June 2016

Vatican City. Pope Francis is surprisingly candid in denouncing things that Catholics do in the name of their faith just to keep up appearances.               He did so again most recently with a new document on ecclesial movements and in remarks on marriage. In both instances he demonstrated a refreshingly direct contact with reality, which only highlighted just how much the institutional Church remains in a state of denial.       The first news of the week was that, after more than three years of silence, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) had finally published a new document. It is a letter directly inspired by Pope Francis called, Iuvenescit Ecclesia. It represents a policy change and a step towards a new relationship between ecclesial movements and bishops in discerning the role these movements and associations play in the Church through a particular charism.     The official launch of the letter at Vatican press conference on June 14 was somewhat anticlimactic, however, given that the presenters were all representative of the status quo...................Those earlier pontificates viewed modernity in such a negative light that they welcomed whatever could shake up the Church in the battle against secularism and help Catholicism reclaim lost territory. This meant embracing and granting special freedom – from bishops, not from the Vatican – to movements and associations and their expressions of the ecclesiology of Vatican II...........................Francis’ view of the ecclesial movements is not institutionalist, just prudent in light of the incidents and scandals of the last few years (which I have studied in my books Sorting Out Catholicism  and The Rising Laity).    And his view of marriage is not liberal, it is just not impervious to human experience. Using a sacrament to keep up appearances (whether they be personal, social or ecclesial) is not in line with the pope’s notion of Church. The problem is that he and many of his brother bishops do not agree on the definition of appearance and reality in today’s world and Church.............(more)  Photo Global Pulse, CNA
Pope to last Plenary of Council for Laity
Extracted 21 June 2016 from Vatican Radio report  of 17 June 2016

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis wants to see the laity more and more involved in the Church’s mission to evangelize in light of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.  The Pope made that affirmation in an address Friday to participants of the last Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Laity ahead of the reform process that will bundle the department together with the Council for the Family and the Academy for Life.................The Council was set up after the Second Vatican Council with the blessings of Pope Paul VI...................The Pope recalled the many fruits born over the last 50 years in the context of the laity: World Youth Day, "providential gesture of St. John Paul II", the appearance of new lay associations and the growing role of women in the Church:...................."We can say, therefore, that the mandate you have received from the Council was precisely to 'push' the lay faithful to get more and more involved and, better at it, in the evangelizing mission of the Church, not as 'delegates' of the hierarchy, but because [the lay] apostolate [means] 'participation in the salvific mission of the Church, to which all are disciples of the Lord through Baptism and Confirmation'. It is Baptism that makes every lay faithful a missionary disciple of the Lord, salt of the earth, light of the world, yeast that transforms reality from within.               New challenges require reform, sign of renewed confidence in laity.           In light of the progress made thus far, the Pope then said "it is time to look again to the future with hope." The reality, he noted, brings new challenges and the idea to amalgamate the dicastery for the Laity with the Pontifical Council for the Family and with the Academy for Life came about in response to the need to reform the Holy See’s Curial offices.         "I invite you to welcome this reform, which will see you involved, as a sign of appreciation and esteem for the work you do, and as a sign of renewed confidence in the vocation and mission of the laity in the Church today,”  the Pope said .............."We need lay people who take risks, who dirty their hands, who are not afraid to make mistakes,” he continued.  “We need lay people with vision of the future, not [preoccupied] with the little things of life. And I said to the young people: we need lay people with the flavor of life’s experiences, who are animated by dreams. ".......(more)    Photo: Vatican Radio,EPA 

The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics calls on Pope Francis to condemn all LGBTQI Hate Violence   Extract from Fernando Gonzales, GNRC, 19 June 2016
While welcoming the Vatican’s condemnation of the Orlando shooting as a “terrible and absurd violence” and a “manifestation of homicidal folly and senseless hatred”, the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics (GNRC) calls on Pope Francis to join his many bishops around the world and also condemn the LGBTQI hate dimension of this Florida tragedy.      As noted by a growing number of bishops in the United States, Europe, Asia, the Americas and Oceania, President Barack Obama and other world leaders, this massacre was also a crime of hate against gay and lesbian people.        Sadly, the continuing comments of some other Catholic cardinals and bishops supporting discrimination against LGBTQI people in the Catholic Church and in legislation, encourages and empowers hatred and violence.       Jesus, and the Gospel values, condemn violence and discrimination. We would welcome Pope Francis joining President Obama and other world leaders in condemning discrimination and violence against gay and lesbian people.     As a people of faith, committed to Gospel values, the Catholic church should be at the forefront of condemning homophobic and transphobic violence as well as unjust laws......(more) 
Pope calls bishops' negligence a crime: this is important
Extract from Thomas P. Doyle, National Catholic Reporter,  17 June 2016

When it comes to holding bishops and religious superiors responsible for the cover up of clergy sex abuse, Pope Francis' June 4 apostolic letter on ecclesial accountability is not only a distinct improvement over the proposal made a year ago to establish a tribunal to hold bishops accountable, it is possibly the most positive and hopeful signal to come out of the Vatican to date.           Canon lawyer Kurt Martens -- among others -- told NCR, "Everyone seems to be excited about the new [aposotlic letter] but there is really no change." However, there is something breaking with this pronouncement -- the official recognition by the church's highest authority of hierarchical negligence in dealing with sex abuse by clerics. It is not only acknowledged but named as a crime.         The apostolic letter, or motu proprio known by its Italian title, Come una madre amorevole ("As a loving mother"), has some remarkable positive points that deserve mention:.......(more)

Bishop Vincent Long installed as Bishop of Parramatta
Extract from Cathnews, 17 June 2016

A Liturgical Reception and Solemn Mass of Installation celebrated the appointment of Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM ConV as the fourth Bishop of Parramatta at St Patrick’s Cathedral last night.         The Mass was concelebrated by the Most Reverend Anthony Fisher OP, Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Reverend Adolfo Tito Yllana, Apostolic Nuncio to Australia, the archbishops and bishops of Australia, clergy of the Diocese of Parramatta and visiting clergy, a statement from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said.       Prayers of the faithful were read in Malayalam, Arabic, Auslan, Cantonese, Spanish and Polish representing the ethnic diversity across the diocese.     In his homily, Bishop Long said: "I am about to be cast into the deep interior of Western Sydney all the way to the beautiful Blue Mountains and the fertile plains of the Hawkesbury River.     "It is home to 330,000 Catholics in an area of 1,050,000 people." He told clergy and parishioners that "after 19 months without a bishop, you have been given one in the person of a Vietnamese-Australian and a former boat person. Perhaps, you can add my appointment to the list of surprises that Pope Francis has done.     "Here in Sydney’s West, I am told, asylum-seekers and youth radicalisation are politically charged issues. As a former boat person, I have a certain kinship to those who are alienated and marginalised. As your bishop, I am committed to be a bridge-builder...........(more)   Photo: Cathnews

Pope Francis says ‘clarity of doctrine’ not enough on the family
Extract from Vatican Correspondent  Inés San Martín, Crux, 16 June 2016

ROME- Pope Francis in Thursday offered a “readers guide” of sorts to the two-fold Synod of Bishops on the Family and the document he penned as a conclusion to the 2014-2015 meeting, Amoris Laetitia, warning against the temptation of following a “separatist logic” to dominate Catholic attitudes about diverse family situations.        Speaking to participants of a pastoral conference of the Diocese of Rome on the family, Francis offered some of the key “ideas/tensions” that arose along the way in the synod process. His goal, he said, was to help those present understand the “spirit reflected in the exhortation,” Amoris Laetitia.       As he defined it, the document was meant to be a tool for the participants’ reflections and dialogue during the convention so they could “encourage and assist” families in their “difficulties.”      In his remarks on Thursday, at Rome’s St. John Latheran Basilica, Francis gave three Biblical images to present his ideas.      The first was that of Moses in front of the burning bush, when God directs him to take off his sandals, “for the place where you stand is holy ground.”     According to Francis, the ground the synod of bishops covered wasn’t “any” ground, nor “any situation:” “We had before us the real faces of so many families. I learned that, in some groups, prior to starting the work, the Synod Fathers shared their family’s reality.”       During the two gatherings, one which took place in October 2014 and the second during the same month in 2015, bishops from all over the world traveled to Rome, where they had daily meetings.      “This putting a face to the issues - so to speak - required (and requires) a climate of respect that can help us to listen to what God is saying to us within our situations,” he said. “Not a diplomatic respect or a politically correct one.”     Putting a face to the issues discussed, he said, “protects us from turning faith into an ideology through nicely landscaped systems which ignore [God’s] grace.”     The second biblical image Francis presented was that of the Pharisee who, in his prayer, thanked God for not being like other people, “robbers, evildoers, adulterers, or even like this tax collector..............(more)
'Friendly letter' from Vatican asks another US congregation for clarification
Extract from  Dawn Araujo-Hawkins, National Catholic Reporter, 15 June 2016

Global Sisters Report has identified another of the 15 communities of U.S. Catholic sisters being asked to provide the Vatican with further clarification in the aftermath of a controversial investigation: The apostolic visitation was announced in 2009, and a final report of the six-year process was released in December 2014.      Sr. Teri Hadro, president of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, said her community received a letter from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in early April asking the sisters for written response to the office's continued concern over the order's "public dissent of Church teaching.".....(more)

San Diego bishop: mass shooting a call to Catholics to combat anti-gay prejudice

Extract from Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter, 14 June 2016

The mass shooting in Orlando represents "a wound to our society," as well as "a call for us as Catholics to combat ever more vigorously the anti-gay prejudice which exists in our Catholic community and in our country,” said San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy in a statement posted Monday on the diocesan website........"Once again our nation has been murderously rent by hatred and violence, rooted in a counterfeit notion of religious faith and magnified by our gun culture. The shootings in Orlando are a wound to our entire society, and this time the LGBT community has been specifically targeted and victimized," said the statement......"It is all too easy when faced with such wanton slaughter and human suffering to reach for a solution which is itself founded in hatred, prejudice and recrimination........"But our Catholic faith demands that we reject such a pathway and embrace with ever greater strength the solidarity of all
people who stand as the one family of the God who is Father of us all.....(more) 

Who was Mary Magdalene, ‘prostitute’, ‘sinner’, ‘apostle of the apostles’?
First to encounter the Risen Christ yet named ‘penitent’ until 1969

Soline Humbert, Published 22 July 2014 in The Irish Times, Extracted here 13 June 2016

In a recent letter to The IrishTimes on the subject of mother-and-baby homes, Dr Mary Mullaney wrote: “I visited the chapel [of Seán Ross Abbey] where the girls would have prayed daily.Over the altar is a stained-glass image of Mary Magdalene, the prostitute and sinner. But who was the real sinner?”            Indeed,who is the sinner? Today, July 22nd, is the feast day of Mary of Magdala, St Mary Magdalene. She is mentioned in all four canonical Gospels as discovering the empty tomb on her own or with other women disciples.            John’s Gospel also shows the Risen Christ sending Mary of Magdala to announce the good news of his resurrection to the other disciples (John 20: 10 to 18). Because of this, the early church called her “the apostle to the apostles”.         However, gradually and for a variety of reasons, the memory of Mary Magdalene changed in the western church,and became distorted from that of a faithful disciple and first witness of the resurrection to that of a repentant prostitute and public sinner......
Vatican scraps external audit plan but says committed to transparency
Extract fom Phikip Pullella, Vatican City, 10 June 2016
The Vatican on Friday scrapped a plan for a major international accounting firm to carry out its first full external audit but insisted the change would not affect its drive for financial transparency.         The Vatican, which is a sovereign state, said in a statement that the work would instead be done by its own Auditor General with assistance from Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC).      The Vatican suspended an audit by PwC in April, saying it wanted to review several key clauses.      Friday's statement said a new agreement had been reached with PwC that conformed with Vatican law and was more adaptable to the Vatican's needs.      The original contract, reportedly worth $3 million, was negotiated by the Secretariat of the Economy, the department headed by Australian Cardinal George Pell.     The Vatican's Secretariat of State later suspended the contract, saying it did not comply with laws of the city-state that said the work should be done by the Auditor General, a new position created by Pope Francis last year.      Friday's statement said this is "normally the case for every sovereign state."     It said the April suspension was not "attributable to the desire of one or more entities of the Holy See to hinder reforms" and that the Vatican's commitment to an audit "has been, and remains, a priority".      Since the election of Pope Francis in March 2013, the Vatican has enacted major reforms to bring it into line with international accounting standards.      But the PwC episode pointed to a power clash between Pell's department, which signed the contract, and the Secretariat of State, which ordered it suspended and re-negotiated.      In April, Pell's office said it was "surprised" by the suspension of the contract.       Pell's defenders say he is forging ahead with transparency  at the Vatican after decades of murky finances, while his critics have accused him of doing so in a bullying manner.......(more) Photo: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi    

NCR Editorial: New law for bishops raises many questions
Extract from National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff, 10 June 2016

Editorial:     In recent decades, the Vatican apparatus has found the means to reach deep into the ranks of the faithful to banish, condemn, excommunicate and otherwise impose disciplines on those who advanced a discordant idea or advocated for the wrong cause or dared to question the exclusion of women from any meaningful level of decision-making within the church.      Yet, more than 30 years after the first national exposé of the sex abuse crisis ran in the pages of NCR, we are still waiting for a clear, transparent and workable system for getting rid of bishops who ignore, abet or cover up crimes against the community's children or fail to abide by rudimentary cautions and procedures for accountability.     We hope the latest iteration of Vatican determination to hold members of the hierarchy accountable, Pope Francis' newly promulgated universal law, will finally address that long-standing deficiency.     Unfortunately, the motu proprio with which we were presented June 4 raises many questions..........(more)

‘Let’s all stop idolizing priests’
An abuse victim makes a case for changing the way we view the clergy
Extract from Anonymous, France, Global Pulse,9 June 2016
                                                                              .......Everything considered, it is no accident that I chose the consecrated life, which frames priesthood in a communitarian setting. I am a brother before being a father, and I believe firmly in the “sacrament of brotherhood” marching towards God. As a young priest, today I am discovering the joys of ministry. Since my ordination, I can see people look at me differently.         In certain contexts, people show me deference -  a sort of respect linked more to my vocation than to my person. And this sometimes indicates that I am expected to play a role very different from the one for which I was ordained priest. I am not perfect or holy because I am a priest, but I am called to holiness like each and every one of us.              It is precisely because there is such a general call to holiness that we need priests. We must stop idolizing priests as beings that float above the mortal sphere, detached from the many vicissitudes of existence such as error and doubt. Yes, we must love priests, but we must not idolize an image that we have of them.        This clericalism which venerates an image of a priest more than it loves the priests themselves, is not only the result of a traditional upbringing, it penetrates our minds to their very core. I will add this: ordination does not make me an ideal manager, being a priest does not make me indispensable at every parish meeting because priesthood has not imbued me with inherent knowledge, enabling me to always make the right decision and to get everyone to agree.  That is a totally childish relationship to have with priests, and I believe that the dirty business that is coming to the fore, stirring up discomfort, must bring into question this attitude which is not right concerning members of the clergy.         That said, I do not wish to divert attention from bishops’ errors of governance, nor call for a general suspicion of priests, but simply to point out if we are to denounce the “system”, those who do not wear the clerical collar must be involved in the questioning.......(more)
Image, Global Pulse,
Faith and reason not at odds, says engineer who became priest
Extract from Cathnews, Billy Hallowell, The Blaze, 8 June 2016

A former engineer-turned-priest, who is married with children, recently explained his fascinating path from the sciences to the pulpit, saying he sees “no contradiction” between “faith and reason,” reports The Blaze.       “I’ve always been interested in science, even as a kid. So, that has always been a part of me,” American Fr Nick Marziani, author of the book Holy Fool, Holy Father, told The Church Boys podcast.       “I always found a fascinating correlation between the two. They are two different ways of thinking about reality, science and faith . . . there’s no contradiction.”      He continued, “I love the interplay between faith and reason.”       But it’s not just Fr Marziani's professional background that distinguishes him from most of his peers in the priesthood.     He is also a married father of three and a grandfather of seven who was an Episcopal priest before leaving the Church in 2006 and turning to Catholicism, becoming a priest in 2012......(more)

Women deacons and the shortcomings of history
Finding continuity with the past is not as simple as it seems

Extract from Massimo Faggioli, Unite States, Global Pulse, 7 June 2016
One of the biggest questions surrounding the "Francis revolution" concern
s the issue of women in the church.           Many Catholics in certain parts of the world believe this is the litmus test of Catholic Church reform. Since Pope Francis agreed several weeks ago to create a commission to study the history of women deacons, a new discussion has begun on an issue that many feared had been closed forever by John Paul II.           Francis made the announcement on May 12 in response to a question asked during an audience with some 900 leaders of the world's congregations of Catholic women religious. It was an impromptu answer and, therefore, it is difficult to say what will come of such a study commission. Much will depend on the commission's composition and its agenda.          In my opinion, if it is just a commission to investigate the history of women deacons, advocates of the female diaconate should not expect important developments. The enthusiasm that followed the announcement demonstrates a naive belief that finding or even agreeing on the historical evidence of the existence of women deacons in early church history can solve the issue. But this kind of appeal to history is rarely conclusive in theological debates and can easily backfire. It could become the progressive version of traditionalism in the sense of legitimating something in the church only because it is not new...........(more)  Photo. Global Pulse, Shutterstock  Note: For details of 21 July Massimo Foggioli evening in Melbourne see Events page
Pope's move to oust bishops negligent on sexual abuse gets mixed reviews
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 6 June 2016

Rome. Pope Francis' move to grant several Vatican offices authority to initiate removal of Catholic bishops negligent in their response to clergy sexual abuse has drawn mixed reviews from canon lawyers and survivors' advocates, who say the pontiff's action may not go far enough in stemming the abuse crisis.     The experts are expressing confusion over why the pontiff chose not to go forward with a proposal from his Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors for a new tribunal tasked specifically with judging bishops in their handling of sexual abuse and instead directed four existing Vatican congregations to take on the work.....(more)

Failures at the college of cardinals
How long will out-of-touch curialists and cowed bishops impose idiocy on the church?
Extracts from William Grimm, Global Pulse, 6 June 2016

The ability, or even tendency, to make stupid remarks is not, at least officially, a prerequisite for being made a curial cardinal. But neither does it seem to hurt the odds of one's wearing a red biretta around Rome.        In 2011, a Spanish bishop claimed that Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, then head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, had declared that the United Nations was conspiring to make half the world's population homosexual over the next 20 years. Like the U.N. quest for world peace, health and education, if such a program indeed exists it seems to be behind schedule.         A more recent asinine declaration by a cardinal comes from Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments. Repeating a call he has made many times, in a recent interview the cardinal said he wants priests to face east when celebrating the liturgy.    In my childhood parish in New York City, built long before Vatican II, facing east would have entailed the clergy and congregation turning 90 degrees to the left toward the side wall of the building, since the altar was at the south end of the structure. The plot of land on which it stood allowed for no other layout. In fact, because of the layout of streets in New York, most sanctuaries are at either the north or south end of churches. Even churches with an east-west layout often have the sanctuary at the west end......What we need is a bishop or conference of bishops willing to point out these facts and then declare that when pastoral need dictates it, either of those versions can be used in conjunction with or in place of the current Roman Missal version.       Are such bishops out there, or are we doomed to live with functionaries who defer to and condone red-capped idiocy?.....(more) Photo Global, Pulse, CNS/Bob Roller
.   Father William Grimm, MM, is publisher of and is based in Tokyo.
More Catholic priests opt for traditional uniform as public statement of faith
Extracts from Jordan Baker, The Sunday Telegraph, 5 June 2016

.........The newly ordained priest doesn’t have to wear the long, black robe and white clerical collar. Most parish priests don’t and haven’t for decades.       But Fr Hamilton is one of a growing number of young priests embracing traditional dress as a public statement of their faith.     The issue can be a divisive one, with some regarding the vestments as dragging the Church into the past.    Fr Hamilton, 41, an Irish-born former senior manager at Deutsche Bank who entered the seminary in his mid-30s, has spent the past year as a deacon at a Lane Cove parish. He wears his cassock everywhere.    “People who don’t know me, who aren’t Catholic, come up and talk to me if they have problems,” he said. “They recognise someone they can talk to.       “It says the Catholic Church is still here in Sydney, and it’s still open for business. The cassock is very thin fabric.   “It’s super-light. It’s way more comfortable than a pair of trousers and a shirt and clerical collar. I wear board shorts underneath. With long socks.”.  After the Second Vatican Council in the mid-1960s, priests and nuns were encouraged to ditch their cassocks and habits and dress more like members of their flock. Priests who kept wearing them tended to belong to religious orders, such as the Dominicans.      But in recent years, there has been a trend — particularly among young recruits — to reclaim their vestments as an expression of their faith.......(more)   Photo: The Sunday Telegraph
Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Rev. Anthony Fisher OP (centre) with newly ordained men of the cloth Fr Joseph Hamilton and Fr Daniele Russo  
The new tribunal : More smoke and mirrors.
Extracts from James, Catholica Forum, June 05, 2016

If canon law is to remain a coherent legal system, there is no way in which the vast majority of bishops can be removed for the cover up, because in doing so, they were complying with the pontifical secret imposed since 1974 on all allegations of child sexual abuse by clergy. The rule of law requires people to be punished for breaching the law, not for complying with it.      On the other hand, in 2002, canon law for the United States was changed to allow and require reporting to the civil authorities where there were civil reporting laws. Two bishops, Finn and Nienstedt have been prosecuted by State authorities for failing to comply with such reporting laws. In the process they were also in breach of the 2002 amendment to canon law which required them to comply with such civil laws. Had they not resigned, they could have been prosecuted by the new tribunal........If the new tribunal can prosecute bishops for failing to carry out a preliminary inquiry, then it can and should also prosecute them for failing to observe other requirements of Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela. One of those requirements is to observe the pontifical secret under Secreta Continere, which has no exception for reporting to the police............I’m afraid Francis still does not get it. If he is serious about doing something about child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, he is going to have to abolish the pontifical secret for child sexual abuse and to impose mandatory reporting to the civil authorities, a request that has been made not only by two United Nations Committees, but by the Catholic Bishops Conferences of Ireland, England and Wales, the United States and Australia from 1996 onwards. Otherwise, this is just more smoke and mirrors.....(more)
Francis gives Vatican authority to initiate removal of bishops negligent on sexual abuse
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 4 June 2016
Introduction by Catholics For Renewal Here
NCR Extract:
Rome. Pope Francis has signed a new universal law for the global Catholic church specifying that a bishop's negligence in response to clergy sexual abuse can lead to his removal from office.    The law also empowers several Vatican dicasteries to investigate such bishops and initiate processes of removal, subject to final papal approval.     The move, made by the pontiff in a formal document known as a motu proprio on Saturday, appears to represent a significant moment in the worldwide church's decades-long clergy sexual abuse crisis.     In case after case in the past, the Vatican and church officials would dig in to protect bishops even when there was substantial documented evidence of negligence on their behalf. Now, the pope has formally mandated that the church's offices in Rome must prosecute bishops who fail in protecting children.    "Canon law already foresees the possibility of removal from the ecclesial office 'for grave causes,'" Francis states in a short preamble to the new law, given the Italian name Come una madre amorevole ("Like a loving mother.")     Check out all the great products NCR has to offer! Visit our online store now.      "With the following letter I intend to specify that among those 'grave causes' is included negligence of bishops in the exercise of their office, particularly relative to cases of sexual abuse against minors and vulnerable adults," he continues......(more)
Pope Defines Process for Removing Bishops for Negligence in Abuse Cases
Extract from America the National Catholic Review, 4 June 2015
Introduction by Catholics For Renewal Here
NCR Extract:
Pope Francis has issued a very important decree regarding the accountability of bishops, which makes it possible now to remove diocesan bishops for neglecting their duties, in particular in regard to protecting minors and vulnerable adults from sexual abuse.      The decree comes in the form of an Apostolic Letter motu proprio released by the Vatican on June 4, responding to the many calls to hold bishops fully accountable for failing to act to protect children and vulnerable adults. With this decree Francis addresses that problem head on.    In it, Francis recalls that already “canon law provides the possibility of removal from ecclesiastic office ‘for grave reasons’” and this applies also to “diocesan bishops, eparchs and those who are equivalent to them in law.”    In the decree, Francis said that he intended “to specify that among those ‘grave reasons’ is included the negligence of bishops in the exercise of their office, in particular in relation to the cases of sexual abuse committed on minors and vulnerable adults,” explaining that this had been envisaged by earlier decrees on this matter. He mentioned the motu proprio issued by John Paul II in 2001 (Sanctorum Sanctitatis Tutela) and the amendments to this by Benedict XVI in 2010.....(more)

An Evening with Massimo Faggioli on
“The Catholic Church and Francis in the International Situation Today” -  21 July 2016

From St Carthages, Melbourne,   3 July 2015

A great topic. Massimo is being brought to Australia by the NCP for their conference next month and It's believed that this will be his only public appearance in Melbourne.  A crowd is anticipated. As the advert claims, Professor Massimo Faggioli is now regarded as one of the most significant commentators on the Catholic Church in the Post Vatican II era.  (see Events page)

Francis to priests: Get your hands dirty; people aren't just 'cases'
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, The Francis Chronicles, National Catholic Reporter, 2 June 2016

Rome. Pope Francis has exhorted Catholic priests not to see people who approach them for spiritual help merely as "cases" to be handled but to instead enter into the complications of people's lives, unafraid of being drawn in to unclear  or messy situations.       In a series of three reflections Thursday for thousands of priests in Rome for celebrations surrounding the ongoing Jubilee year of mercy, the pontiff said simply: "Mercy gets its hands dirty."             The pope said he had heard many clergy say "very clerical" things in describing people's situations to others such as saying "I have found this case," as if to indicate: "I won't touch it, I won't dirty my hands. I'll make a 'clean' pastoral work."          "Mercy touches, it gets involved, it gets caught up with others, it gets personal," Francis told the priests. "It does not approach 'cases' but persons and their pain."        "Mercy exceeds justice; it brings knowledge and compassion; it leads to involvement," the pope continued. "By the dignity it brings, mercy raises up the one over whom another has stooped to bring help. The one who shows mercy and the one to whom mercy is shown become equals."         The pontiff was speaking Thursday in three separate reflections to priests gathered in retreat at three different Rome basilicas -- St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul's Outside the Walls.....(more)

Detroit 'Synod 16'
Extract from Most Rev. Allen H. Vigneron, Archbishop of Detroit, Archdiocese of Detroit, 2 June 2016

“Synods are by God’s grace something powerful in the life of the Church, a way to grow together. Our community will come together in the midst of the Holy Spirit to discern where He seems to take us in order to re-evangelize ourselves and our culture. By listening to what the members say in the synod, I will be able to discern and ratify the work of the Holy Spirit, and it will be a time of great grace.”.....(more)

Prelate against Communion for remarried to lead US committee
Extract from CathNews, The Catholic Herals, 2 June 2016

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia has been named as chairman of the committee of US bishops working on the implementation of Amoris Laetitia, according to a tweet from a senior Vatican correspondent.      Confirmation of the news, by Francis Rocca of the Wall Street Journal,would send a signal on the question of admitting divorced and remarried people to Communion.    Archbishop Chaput has said that to do so, except when the divorced and remarried live “as brother and sister,” would be “departing from Catholic teaching.”    In a 2015 article for First Things magazine, the Archbishop wrote: “The Church has always insisted on the necessity of repentance for serious sins as a condition for receiving the Eucharist. Confession and genuine repentance – which includes a turning away from sin – must precede Communion.”   Archbishop Chaput said that the Church does not want to “punish” or “exclude” divorced and remarried couples. “But neither can the Church ignore the Word of God on the permanence of marriage, nor mitigate the consequences of the choices that grown people freely make. She cannot confirm human beings in patterns of behaviour that separate them from God.......(more) Photo 0206withchaput_25434artthumb

Spanish cardinal attacked over speech on family
Extract from CathNews, Crux, 2 June 2016

A Spanish cardinal is under fire for issuing warnings about a “gay empire” and denouncing the perils of “gender theory” in a recent homily, with pro-LGBT associations threatening to sue him for being homophobic, reports Crux.          Spain, generally considered one of the most gay-friendly nations, has had anti-discrimination laws, including penalties for “hate speech,” since 1996.        Defenders of Cardinal Antonio Cañizares of Valencia, however, are quoting Pope Francis’ latest document on the family, which also defends traditional marriage and criticises gender theory, with the unspoken implication apparently being that if the Spanish prelate is “homophobic,” then so is the Pope.      Cardinal Cañizares, who formerly served as the Vatican’s top official for Catholic liturgy, delivered a homily on May 13 at the local Catholic university for the closing Mass of the school year at the John Paul II Institute, dedicated to the family.    In his remarks, titled In defence and support of the family, Cardinal Cañizares said “the future of society is played out.....(more)  photo:Crux
Church official says Vatican took years to act on abuse charges
Extracts from Austen Ivereigh, Senior Crux Contributor 2 June 2016

A document obtained by Crux, related to accusations of sexual and other forms of abuse against the founder of a powerful Catholic lay movement in Peru, suggests that the Vatican was informed of the charges as early as May 2011 but essentially took no action for four years......In response to a Crux request for comment, the Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said the delay was due to “the complexity and diversity of positions and interpretations” regarding the accusations against Figari, as well as legal issues..........(more)

Chaput to chair U.S. bishops' working group on Amoris Laetitia implementation
Extract from Brian Rowe, National Catholic Reporter, 1 June 2016

Adding to a reputation as the U.S. bishops' family-life point man, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput has been named head of a working group aimed at implementing Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation on the family.        Chaput was selected by Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to coordinate "an informal working group" of five bishops assigned the task of "furthering the reception and implementation" of Amoris Laetitia across U.S. dioceses.....(more)

Campaigners for women's ordination have unprecedented meeting with Vatican representative
Extract from Christopher Lamb in Rome, The Tablet, 1 June 2016

The group has been given official permission to hold a public demonstration in the gardens of Castel Sant’AngeloCampaigners for women's ordination have unprecedented meeting with Vatican representative Campaigners calling for women priests are meeting in Rome this week where they have launched a poster campaign drawing attention to their cause and where they will participate in their first ever official public demonstration.     Women’s Ordination Worldwide, which this year marks its 20th anniversary, wants to re-open dialogue in the Church in spite of Pope John Paul II’s ruling that the matter should not be discussed.      Despite the ruling, since 2002, around 150 women have been “ordained” and all of them have been excommunicated as a result.        Yesterday evening two of them had an unprecedented meeting with an official from the Vatican Secretariat of State who agreed to give a petition to the Pope calling for the excommunications to be lifted, and who, according to the women, listened to “our heartfelt plea for women priests in our Church”.      Female ordination is prohibited in the Catholic Church on the grounds that Christ chose only male disciples and only a male priest can act “in persona Christi” (in the person of Christ).        Fr Tony Flannery, the Irish edemptorist priest who was suspended from public ministry by the Vatican due, in part, to his views in favour of female ordination, said the ‘in persona Christi’ argument was like suggesting the “earth is flat”.     Speaking during a panel discussion at the Casa Internazionale delle donne Fr Flannery stressed that women were able to represent the person of Christ.      Also speaking during the discussion today was Dr Marinella Perroni, a theologian at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum (an educational institute of the Catholic Church) in Rome, who told the gathering that John Paul II’s edict had led to a “paralysis”and meant some professors had been denounced by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for raising the topic......(more)
Who would want to be a bishop?
Extracts from Association of Catholic priests, Ireland, 30 May 2016

Who would want to be a bishop? Plenty it would seem, as there is very little evidence to suggest that dioceses remain permanently vacant because of a lack of candidates. Candidates, yes. Suitable candidates, well that’s another question, as it goes without saying that those who regard themselves as suitable and willing are probably the worst possible choice in the long run.       That’s not to say too that, like the famous Mr Hacker in ‘Yes, Prime Minister’, there aren’t plenty of candidates who spend almost every waking hour carefully placing themselves in pole position for any episcopal vacancy..........So who would want to be a bishop? Well, a few of us might even at this late hour be prepared, for the good of the Church and reluctantly, of course, to accept high office though in advanced years, as Archbishop Joe Cassidy used to say, the colour purple does very little for the complexion. So if the nuncio is really, really stuck, I have a few in mind who would loosen things up a bit..........Published response: John, 1 June 2016 "This piece is not without wit. However, the real issue should not be who wants to be a bishop. The real issue should be what kind of person should be a bishop and how should he be selected.......(more)

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Plenary Meeting 5-12 May 2016, Summary
The full Plenary Forum Summary may be accessed is available here
The following selected items Extracted on 27 May 2016 from ACBC Media Release, CathNews
Message to the Holy Father. The bishops of Australia wrote to the Holy Father expressing gratitude for the post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, The Joy of Love: On Love in the Family. The bishops thanked the Holy Father for the priority given to rediscovering the authentic collegiality of the bishops and the synodality of the whole Church. They noted that many of them are looking forward to gathering with the Holy Father at Krakow, Poland in July for World Youth Day....................Elections Archbishop Denis Hart was elected President of Conference for a third term and Archbishop Mark Coleridge was elected Vice-President. There were also elections to the Permanent Committee: Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, Archbishop Philip Wilson, and Bishop Vincent Long van Nguyen OFMConv. The following members, elected in 2015, will continue their membership: Archbishop Christopher Prowse, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP and Bishop Eugene Hurley.................Amoris Laetitia, Apostolic Exhortation A wide-ranging discussion took place about the post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia. Archbishop Coleridge led the discussion following his attendance at the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2016. He highlighted that Pope Francis speaks with the authority of the Petrine Office while his style was to be present as a bishop among bishops. The exhortation highlights that Pope Francis is more concerned about creating spaces than dominating processes. Archbishop Coleridge described the two synods on the family, the jubilee Year of Mercy and the exhortation Amoris Laetitia as being part of a synodal journey to which Pope Francis has called the whole Church.  The full Plenary Forum Summary may be accessed is available here
How a paedophile priest hid in plain sight
Extract from Chris Vedelago, Beau Donnelly, Cameron Houston, The Age, 27 May 2016

The departure of Father Joseph Doyle from Our Lady of Lourdes church was announced without warning during one Sunday Mass in late 2005.......The Archdiocese has declined to explain why it made the decision to not tell the Bayswater parish about the real circumstances of Doyle's departure in 2005.     "I deeply regret and sincerely apologise that parishioners were not informed," Archbishop Hart said in a written statement to Fairfax Media......(more)

Lawyers say Minnesota archdiocese hiding $1 billion in assets
Extract from Steve Karnowski, Crux, 25 May 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Attorneys on Tuesday accused a Minnesota archdiocese of sheltering more than $1 billion in assets to avoid big payouts to abuse survivors as part of the church’s bankruptcy case.    They say the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has some $1.7 billion in assets — far more than the $49 million it lists in a filing this week. In court papers, they accuse the archdiocese of vastly undervaluing assets such as the St. Paul Cathedral and tucking money away in other corporations to shield it from creditors.    Jeff Anderson, an attorney for hundreds of people claiming sexual abuse by priests, said the local church had schemed to defraud creditors and deny fair resolution of claims.    “They are underrepresenting their ability to pay by about 99 percent,” Anderson said. “It has been a scheme and a scam that has served them in the past.”    Anderson is a Minneapolis-based attorney who’s long specialized in sexual abuse lawsuits against the Catholic Church. He launched his first case in 1983, won his his first jury award in 1990, and is believed to have secured settlements worth hundreds of millions of dollars.    Archbishop Bernard Hebda issued a statement saying the archdiocese has been fully cooperating in the bankruptcy case and has disclosed all its assets. He said he welcomed “the scrutiny of the court and all others involved.”......(more)

Archbishop Hart announces new appointments
Extracts from Media and Communications Office, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, Monday 23 May 2016

IN LIGHT of Bishop Vincent Long’s recent appointment as Bishop of Parramatta,  Archbishop Denis Hart has made two new appointments. Fr Joe Caddy has been appointed to the position of Episcopal Vicar for Social Services in the Archdiocese of Melbourne. In his new role Fr Caddy will represent Archbishop Hart in matters relating to social services and welfare......Fr Caddy will assume his new role on 1 June 2016...........  Archbishop Hart has also appointed Bishop Terry Curtin, who is Auxiliary Bishop to the Northern Region of the Melbourne Archdiocese, as Chair of Catholic Education Commission Victoria and he will commence in the role from 16 June 2016......(more)  Photo:Fiona Basile, CAM
Leader of global sisters' group envisions Catholic nuns serving as deacons
Extract from Joshua J McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 23 May 2016

Rome:  Catholic sisters could be of greater service to the church in various parts of the world were they able to "go a step further" and be ordained as deacons, says the leader of the global network of some 500,000 Catholic women religious.     "Very often in different parts of the world we are doing most of the work that needs to be done," said Sr. Carmen Sammut, president of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG).   "We are living very much in the periphery ... and priests are very rare in some of the places," said Sammut, speaking in a GSR/NCR interview Friday. "There are services that we can give to the church, especially to the peripheral church where we are, which would be opened if we were women deacons.".....(more)

Irish Bishops meet with Association of Catholic Priests
Extracted 23 May 2016 from: The future of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Association of Catholic Priests, 19 May 2016

......Dermot Lane, on behalf of the ACP, made a submission about the critical situation facing the Catholic Church in Ireland.     He listed the many problems we faced; decline in practice, decline in vocations, etc. and suggested that people were asking “what’s the plan to deal with the crisis?”     The Church was at a cross-roads, he said, and we could get stuck at the cross-roads unless we decided to respond proactively. He suggested that as a Church we needed to initiate a process in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council and in the spirit of Pope Francis who was a beacon of hope and possibility.     Whatever we decide to do, he argued, should include three strategies:   (i) to realistically ascertain what the present situation is by gathering precise data on the present situation, the resources available to us and what needed to be prioritised;    (ii) to train lay men and women for ministry;     (iii) to underline the importance of bishops, priests and people working together.   The proposal of the ACP is that a National Synod be organised that would move from discussion and consultation at parish level to diocesan level to national level. The ACP is ready and willing to further this proposal through ongoing engagement with the Bishops’ Councils for the Clergy, for Faith Renewal and Faith Development, and for Liturgy......(more)

It's time to be honest about Pope Francis and women
Extractc from Jamie Mason, National Catholic Reporter, 19 May 2016

........The glimmer of hope came, of course, when Francis agreed to launch a commission to study the role of women deacons in the early church. The idea of a commission was suggested to the pope by a group of women religious during their annual International Union of Superiors General (UISG) meeting.         Hours later, just about everyone saw some version of a headline declaring that the pope was considering ordaining women deacons.      Unfortunately, few people had the time to read the full story behind the headline. And even fewer people had time to read Francis' complete response to the sisters' question about women deacons. (You can find it here in Italian and English.) If they had, they would have heard the pope reassert all of the theological ideas that prevent women from any form of equality in the Roman Catholic church.     Here are a few choice quotes from Francis' conversation with the UISG (with additional commentary from me):        Because women look at life through their own eyes and we men cannot look at it in this way. The way of viewing a problem, of seeing things, is different in a woman compared to a man. They must be complementary, and in consultations it is important that there are women.           Here, the pope, for the umpteenth time, declares his unwavering belief in complementarity, the idea that, by creating male and female bodies differently, God shows us that God intends for men and women to have separate roles and purposes in the church and in the family.           Francis then reinforced the ban on women homilists and women priests, saying:       There is no problem for a woman -- religious or lay -- to preach in the Liturgy of the Word... . But at the Eucharistic Celebration there is a liturgical-dogmatic problem, because it is one celebration -- the Liturgy of the Word and the Eucharistic Liturgy, there is unity between them -- and He Who presides is Jesus Christ. The priest or bishop who presides does so in the person of Jesus Christ. It is a theological-liturgical reality. In that situation, since women are not ordained, they cannot preside.         In other words, in any liturgy where the Eucharist will be consecrated, a woman's body renders her illegitimate to speak the words of a homily......(more)
    Photo NCR, (CNS/Paul Haring)
‘Theodora the Bishop’: Pope Francis and Women Deacons
Extracted 18 May 2016 from Paul Collins, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue Website, 17 May 2016

.............It is clear from recent historical work that the meaning of ordination has changed. For instance, the evidence is overwhelming that as late as the tenth century women acted in roles that would now be confined to male priests. Gary Macy has shown conclusively that female abbesses were ordained into their role and exercised priestly functions. Macy says that according to the understanding of the time abbesses ‘were just as truly ordained as any bishop, priest or deacon.’      The implication of this is that the meaning of ordination has changed. If so, then it can change again. So John Paul II’s 1994 Apostolic  Letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis (OS) that the church doesn’t have authority to ordain women to the priesthood can’t be said to be ‘infallible’, despite this being re-enforced by then-Cardinal Ratzinger that this teaching had been ‘set forth infallibly by the ordinary magisterium.’...........(more)

Cardinal Burke warns of ‘betrayal of truth,’ even by bishops
Extract from Crux staff, Crux, Wednesday 18 May 2016

Quoting a late Jesuit catechetical writer, American Cardinal Raymond Burke said that Catholicism is facing “the worst crisis in its entire history,” due in part to a “betrayal of truth by those who claim to follow Christ and to be members of the Church,” and has warned faithful Catholics to prepare for “martyrdom.”      Burke made the comments at a “Rome Life Forum” on May 7 sponsored by Voice of the Family, a lay initiative made up of pro-life and pro-family Catholic groups. It played an active role during two Synods of Bishops convened by Pope Francis in 2014 and 2015 in defending traditional positions on marriage and family matters.......(more)
Service, not power, is the true Christian path, pope says
Extract from Junno Arocho Esteves, Crux, Catholic News Service. 17 May 2016

VATICAN CITY — Those who seek only power and greatness, especially within the church, follow a different path than Jesus, who told his disciples to serve and not to be served, Pope Francis said in a morning homily.     Preaching May 17 during Mass in his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the pope said Jesus speaks a language of humiliation, death and redemption, while others “speak the language of climbers” who only thinking of rising to the top of the heap.   “The greatest is the one who serves the most, the one who is always at the service of others, not the ones who boast, who seek power, money, vanity and pride,” he said, according to Vatican Radio......(more)
Choosing Melbourne’s next Archbishop – How it should occur, and why this is important
Extract from Spirituality In The  Pub Flyer, 17 May 2016
Presentation by Dr Peter Wilkinson on Wednesday 1 June, 8:00pm Pumphouse Hotel, Nicholson Street Fitzroy, Melbourne 

Archbishop Hart’s due date to tender his resignation fell due on 16th May, due to his age. The Papal Nuncio is no doubt already looking for names of a successor, but a result may take some time. Lobbying has occurred for the laity to play a part, but how likely is this? And what are the facts describing the state of health of the Melbourne Archdiocese that awaits the successor?  Presenter Dr.Peter Wilkinson is a former Columban missionary priest who ministered in Australia and South Korea. After relinquishing his clerical ministry in 1976, he has worked in Multicultural Affairs, and lectured in Missiology at Yarra Theological Union, among other areas, and has a strong voice in reform of the Church. He has also managed his own company, being awarded in 2002 the Centenary medal for his advocacy for small business. For details see events page or Flyer Here.
Presentation available for download: 'The Synod on the Family - the start of major reform?’      Peter Johnstone, President, Catholics for Renewal Inc.Tuesday 17 May 2016
This presentation was given on 4 May  2016 to a Spirituality In The Pub gathering at The Pumphouse hotel in Fitzroy, Melbourne, for the SIP Group of St Carthage's Parkville, and may be downloaded HERE, or as item. 52 on the Documents page HERE
3 ways Pope Francis’ opening on women deacons can change Catholicism
Extract from David Gibson, Religion News Service, 17 May 2016

(RNS) When Pope Francis suddenly agreed, during an off-the-cuff chat last week with nuns gathered in Rome, to explore the idea of ordaining women as deacons he touched off what has by now become a typical Francis-like media storm:     Some conservatives ran around with their hair on fire, deploring Francis’ willingness to open controversial debates and to take steps down what they saw as a slippery slope to ordaining women as priests, while some liberals did a happy dance over Francis’ willingness to open controversial debates and take steps toward what they saw as reforms that could elevate the role of women.    A day later, on Friday (May 13), the Vatican stepped in with a fire hose to douse the wilder speculations and reiterated that Francis had not said women could be ordained deacons or that this could lead to ordaining women as priests. He simply agreed to set up a commission to find better answers to what has been a long-standing and important question for theologians, scholars and church historians.      But whatever does come out of this potentially historic opening — and the outcomes range widely, from maintaining the status quo to actually ordaining women as deacons — the move will have at least three other concrete effects that could be just as important.............(more) 
Archbishop Mark Coleridge delivers the annual Knox Lecture in Melbourne
Exracts from Catholic  Archdiocese of Melbourne Media and Communications Office, Tuesday 17 May 2016

...........The archbishop chose as his theme for this year’s Lecture, ‘From Wandering to Journeying: Thoughts on a Synodal Church’.           As the Archbishop pointed out, journey and pilgrimage are important themes in Scripture and throughout Christianity, starting from the fourth chapter of Genesis, in which Cain, having killed his brother, finds himself wandering in the land of Nod (that is, the biblical Nod, a term actually meaning wandering).     Using the pivotal Second Vatican Council of the 1960s as his benchmark, the archbishop delineated the way in which the Church has moved forward in recent times, and the development from a static sense of the Church to a sense now of a more dynamic Church, a pilgrim people.      Vatican II, said the archbishop, offered a background for considering Pope Francis’ election in 2013, his decision to convene two Synods in 2014 and 2015, his proclamation of the Year of Mercy in 2016 and his recent publication of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia – seeing all these as part of a process which is far from over.     ‘The journey is Abrahamic,’ said His Grace, ‘because no-one, not even the Pope, knows exactly where the journey is heading.’ The journey continues in these times, he said, with much greater emphasis on the synodal nature of the Church under Pope Francis.     Archbishop Coleridge stated in no uncertain terms that the underlying issue now is the Church’s engagement with contemporary culture, something Pope Paul VI described in 1975 as ‘undoubtedly the drama of our times.’     Since then, said the archbishop, we have seen an even greater divergence between what the Church believes and teaches and what the wider culture believes and does.      This gives a context and a momentum for the recent proposal of the Australian Bishops to move towards a Plenary Council of Australian bishops, which will be held in 2020, the first such council since the 1930s. Archbishop Coleridge sees this process of preparation for the Council, and its subsequent implementation as part of the same process, a process which seeks to make the Church more genuinely synodal in the way foreseen by Vatican II and treated more explicitly by Pope Francis.     As well, he stated, it will provide a pathway forward for the ‘wandering’ Church, so that she embraces her flock fully, on the ground, in the reality of their lives, and so ultimately, instead of wandering, will embark on a ‘journey’, with a real destination in view.    But we are not there yet, cautioned the archbishop. His Grace urged his audience to be attentive to Pope Francis’ post-synodal Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia’. There, he stated, we will discover that Francis stands wholly in line with John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The style and language of each are different, but the deep point, the critical point, is that Francis’ voice and all the other voices become one.......(more)
Pope Francis' social activism has long roots
Extracted 17 May from Bruce Duncan, Eureka  Street, 15 May 2016

It is unlikely Pope Francis would be waving the flag of social justice so boldly on the world stage had Pope Leo XIII not written his famous manifesto, Rerum Novarum, On the Condition of the Working Class, 125 years ago.           Francis is expanding on what Leo called for in 1891: fair wages for working people; a more equitable distribution of wealth and ownership; support for trade unions so workers could bargain with employers with a degree of equality and power; recognition of the right to strike to defend essential rights; the State to regulate working conditions and the economy to protect workers and the common good; and establishing a system of arbitration and conciliation to mediate between employers and employees.        Leo attacked the greed of 'unchecked competition' that reduced workers to 'a yoke little better than slavery itself'. He defended the right to property, but urged the State 'to induce as many as possible of the people to become owners' so working people to have a larger share in the distribution of wealth.      Such criteria remain vital even in Australia, but much more so, as Francis insists, in countries struggling to achieve decent living standards for their people.......(more - including comments). Cartoon, Eureka Street (Chris Johnson), 

Christianity not a colonial enterprise
Guillaume Goubert and Sébastien Maillard of 'La Croix' interview Pope Francis
Extract from Guillaume Goubet and Sébastien Maillard, Global Pulse, 17 May 2016

Vatican City. In your speeches in Europe, you refer to the "roots" of the continent without ever describing them as Christian. Rather, you define "European identity" as "dynamic and multicultural."        In your view, is the expression "Christian roots" inappropriate for Europe?          Pope Francis: We need to speak of roots in the plural because there are so many. In this sense, when I hear talk of the Christian roots of Europe, I sometimes dread the tone, which can seem triumphalist or even vengeful. It then takes on colonialist overtones. John Paul II, however, spoke about it in a tranquil manner.     Yes, Europe has Christian roots and it is Christianity's responsibility to water those roots. But this must be done in a spirit of service as in the washing of the feet. Christianity's duty to Europe is one of service. As Erich Przywara, the great master of Romano Guardini and Hans Urs von Balthasar, teaches us, Christianity's contribution to a culture is that of Christ in the washing of the feet. In other words, service and the gift of life. It must not become a colonial enterprise.....(more)
The Three Positions (And Now Four) On Amoris Laetitia
Edited Extract from Letters from the Journal of Robert Moynihan, Inside The Vatican, 16 May 2016

The text below is extracted from the Editorial in the May edition of Inside the Vatican, which is just out.
The cover of this May issue (left) deals with the struggle of Cardinal George Pell to reform the finances of the Church and the Vatican, under the title “Mission Impossible?”                 The Editorial argues that three main positions on the teaching in the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia have emerged since the text was made public in Rome on April 8, and lists the three positions...................Following the Editorial is a new article, just out today, which offers a 4th category of interpretation that is worth considering. It come in an article by Italian Vaticanist Sandro Magister, picking up on a text by French Dominican Fr. Thomas Michelet, who teaches at the Angelicum in Rome.          Fr. Michelet’s 4th position is.............(more)

Bishops don’t always have to agree with Francis to back him
Extracts from John L. Allen Jr. Editor, National Catholic Reporter, 16 May 2016

These days, when the classic Catholic parlor game of deciding who in the Vatican is for the pope and who’s against him gets underway, German Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller often figures near the top of most lists for the latter camp.               Prefect of the Vatican’s powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and thus an indirect heir to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became Pope Benedict XVI, Müller is perceived as a doctrinal conservative often struggling to hold the line against the more revolutionary tendencies unleashed under Pope Francis.           There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. Müller, for instance, is a close friend of Gustavo Gutierrez and a supporter of a moderate form of liberation theology. In general, however, he’s not seen as an especially “Francis” kind of guy, often perceived as representing the traditional yin to the pope’s maverick yang.                 To hear Müller himself tell it, however, that’s just plain bunk.................It’s natural to ask if Müller is perhaps slightly exaggerating his own role in crafting Francis’ spontaneous, shoot-from-the-hip style. It’s also possible to wonder if Müller’s insistence that what we have is a “positive” pope, not an “ambiguous” one, is to some extent a PR exercise calculated to calm anxious conservatives.          Nonetheless, Müller’s robust defense of the pope in Madrid does confirm one key point about reaction to Francis, both within the Vatican and among many Catholic bishops around the world.          Speaking to many prelates these days, especially those of a more conservative bent, you can often find a degree of ambivalence on certain points – whether Francis’ eco-encyclical Laudato Si’, for example, was too uncritical in embracing the agenda of the secular environmental movement, or whether his cautious opening to Communion for the divorced and remarried in Amoris Laetitia may lend itself to abuse.      If you phrase the question, however, as whether those prelates would like to roll the clock back to March 12, 2013, before Francis was elected, and see things turn out differently, a solid majority will say “no,” and mean it.          In the main, that’s because many agree with Müller, that whatever its downside, this pope’s “charisma” has reduced hostility towards the Church in many sectors of the culture, including the press, and thereby created some breathing room for Catholicism to go about its business without the same constant fear of assault.             In effect, it allows Church leaders to catch their breath, to take a break from always putting out fires, and to ponder what comes next.           The next time, therefore, the “blues v. grays” exercise heats up about which bishops are with the pope and which are against him, this is a point worth recalling: At the end of the day, you don’t have to be with Francis on everything to regard him, net-net, as a blessing.......(more) Photo: NCR,  
 (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Election statement: Bishops call for support of marriage, family
Extract from CathNews, 16 May 2016

Australia’s Bishops have urged political leaders to value traditional marriage and family in an election statement that calls for the voices of the "thrown-away people" to be heard in the 2016 election campaign.      The Bishops today issued a statement on the election, saying there is "a danger that the economy can become a kind of false god to which even human beings have to be sacrificed.     “This leads to what the Pope has called the throwaway culture - a culture of over-consumption where all kinds of things are thrown away, wasted, even human beings.     “But it is not just individual people who are thrown away. The same can happen to the environment, both social and natural. At the heart of a healthy social environment there is marriage and the family.......(more) 

Pope did not say he would ordain women deacons, says Vatican
Extract from CathNews, Catholic News Service, 16 May 2016

Pope Francis "did not say he intends to introduce a diaconal ordination for women," and he certainly did not speak about the ordination of women priests, according to Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi SJ, reports the Catholic News Service.        On Thursday Pope Francis met members of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), the leadership group for superiors of women's orders and accepted a proposal that he establish a commission to study the role of New Testament deaconesses and the possibility of women serving as deacons.           After some news outlets reported the Pope was considering ordaining women deacons and comments were made about women deacons leading to women priests, Fr Lombardi issued a clarification on Friday.           He insisted "it is wrong to reduce all the important things the Pope said to the religious women to just this question.".......(more)  Photo: Cathnews 

Order in the court: ‘VatiLeaks’ trial reflects unique legal process
Extract from Junno Arocho Esteves, Crux, Catholic News Service, 14 May 2016

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In the latest twist in the ongoing “Vatileaks 2.0” trial on Saturday, the court held that the testimony of three potentially blockbuster witnesses would not be heard after all, because Vatican criminal law doesn’t obligate public officials to be deposed.      A lawyer representing one of the defendants had hoped to hear from Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State; Spanish Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major; and Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, responsible for Pope Francis’ personal charitable activity.      In a Saturday hearing, however, the court noted that all three had requested to be excused under the terms of an article of the Vatican’s criminal procedure that states: “Public officials cannot be required to be deposed about that which was confided to them for reasons of office, except in cases in which the law expressly requires them to inform the public authorities.”      For his part, Parolin added that he doesn’t know anything about the subject on which he had been called to testify, which is the relationship between two of the defendants — Italian PR expert Francesca Chaouqui and Spanish Monsignor Lucio Ángel Vallejo Balda.     The outcome was a reminder that Vatican trials are a unique kind of legal drama......(more) Photo: 00b63aabf4c7c35c156aafc3fc70f619-717x450 (CNS/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
Archbishop announces new appointments for Western and Eastern regions
Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne,  Media and Communications Office, 13 May 2016

The appointment of Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv. as Bishop of Parramatta has had flow on effects for the Western and Eastern regions of Melbourne.     Archbishop Denis Hart has appointed Bishop Mark Edwards OMI as Auxiliary Bishop of the Western Region as of 16 June, filling the void left by Bishop Long’s departure. Until this new appointment, Bishop Mark has been the Auxiliary Bishop for the Eastern Region.     Vicar General Monsignor Greg Bennet has been appointed by Archbishop Hart as the Episcopal Vicar for the Eastern Region. Mgr Bennet will take up this additional role also on 16 June, the date of Bishop Long’s installation in Parramatta......(more)  Photo, CAM,

Francis' female deacon commission brings hope, caution
Extract from Traci Badalucco and Elizabeth A. Elliott National Catholic Reporter, 12 May 2016 (updated 13 May)

Pope Francis' announcement Thursday to create a commission to examine the history of female deacons in the Catholic church has left many longtime advocates with a sense of hope, joy and drive moving forward in their efforts to enhance female leadership in the church.......(more)

German cardinal says 'unauthorized people' in Rome veto bishop nominations
Extract from Catholic News Service, 5 May 2016

BONN, Germany (CNS) -- A German cardinal said names of candidates submitted to the Vatican as potential bishops are being vetoed by "unauthorized people" in Rome.              "In the name of the law, these unlawful outside influences must be set aside and a proper voice given to those who'll be living with the chosen candidate," said Cardinal Karl Lehmann of Mainz, who was president of the German bishops' conference from 1987 to 2008.     "If there really is something against a candidate, then the nuncio or Rome must talk about it with the cathedral chapter. Rome cannot just reject names without any comment," he said.          The cardinal made his criticisms in a German-language book, published by Freiburg-based Herder-Verlag. Extracts were published May 3 by the German Catholic news agency, KNA.               Cardinal Lehmann said "unauthorized people" were interfering in episcopal nominations "also today, unfortunately, under the pontificate of Pope Francis." .....(more)
Are the Australian Bishops now considering a Synod?
Edited Extracts from Peter Wilkinson, Catholica, 4 May 2016, (following an Introduction by Brian Coyne)

..........On Monday 16 May 2106 +Coleridge will present the Knox Lecture in Melbourne on the theme "From Wandering to Journeying: Thoughts on a Synodal Church" [See notice below] where I would expect him to say some more about the possible 5th Australian Plenary Synod.         I wrote an article titled "Is it time for a National Council of the Australian Catholic Church?" which was published in The Swag in 2012 [Vol. 20 No 2, Winter 2012] and stated: There are two occasions when a plenary council would appear useful or necessary: 1) when there is need to prepare a pastoral plan; and 2) when a crisis emerges. Both occasions are now present." catholica republished the article in July 2013.     Following the publication of the article, Catholics for Renewal, made a formal submission to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, urging the bishops to seriously consider convening a Plenary Council (of Synod) in 2015 to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the closing of Vatican II. Catholics for Renewal also had a meeting in 2012 with ACBC President, Archbishop Denis Hart, and ACBC Secretary, Fr Brian Lucas, to discuss the submission. The outcome of the meeting and the submission was a decision by the ACBC that such a synod 'was not opportune'.........Clearly, from Archbishop Coleridge's recent article, the Australian bishops have been having second thoughts and re-'pondering' the idea. In fact, it now seems that they have discerned that such a synod may be, in fact, 'opportune'. While there is no statement or media release about such a synod on the ACBC website, notices in several Melbourne parish bulletins last Sunday have contained this text: "This gives a context for the recent proposal of the Australian Bishops to move towards a Plenary Council for Australia in 2020, seeing the preparation for the Council, its celebration and implementation as part of the same process, which seeks to make the Church more genuinely synodal in the way foreseen by Vatican II and treated more explicitly by Pope Francis." .........(more)
Bishop Vincent Long Appointed Bishop of Parramatta
Extract from Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, 5 May 2016

Pope Francis has announced today the appointment as the fourth Bishop of Parramatta, the Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen, O.F.M. Conv., who has been until now an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Melbourne.     Archbishop Denis Hart, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference welcomed the appointment, ‘after distinguished leadership in the Conventual Franciscans, Bishop Vincent Long van Nguyen has been Auxiliary Bishop in Melbourne since 2011, working as a gifted and compassionate pastor, Episcopal Vicar and Chair of the Victorian Catholic Education Commission’.    ‘We joyfully welcome his appointment as Bishop of Parramatta, knowing that his Christ-like gifts and simplicity will serve the people of his new diocese so well.’    ‘I feel a sense of responsibility and honour to be appointed to the Diocese of Parramatta. I accepted the appointment by Pope Francis with humility,’ Bishop Long said following the announcement.    ‘This appointment comes with great care for the people of Parramatta and for the Church locally. My immediate priority is to get to know the clergy and the people across the diocese.     ‘Coming to Australia by boat as a refugee from Vietnam, I found myself a newcomer in Melbourne. I now consider myself a newcomer to the Diocese of Parramatta. I know I’ll be enriched by the many cultures that make up Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains.......(more)  Photo: ACBC
Trusted papal aide says woman could be Vatican’s ‘Prime Minister’
Extract from Ines San Martin, Vatican correspondent, Crux, 4 May 2016

ROME— Probably the most trusted adviser to Pope Francis, and a man who holds the position traditionally considered the Vatican’s “Prime Minister,” said Tuesday that in his view there’s no reason a woman one day couldn’t have his job.      “A woman could become Secretary of State, in the sense that the role of the Secretary of State is evidently not bound to the sacraments or the priesthood,” Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin said in a brief session with reporters on Tuesday.     “In any case, I repeat, let’s look at the path that has been traveled, and the Lord will tell us how far we can go,” he said.      Parolin was speaking during the presentation of an overhaul of a special section of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, dedicated to women.,,,,(more)
New Vatican magazine criticises Church for 'ignoring role of women'
Extract from Christopher Lamb in Rome, The Tablet, 3 May 2016

The magazine, which launched today, started as a monthly section in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.     The Church has ignored the female contribution to Catholic culture in recent years, according to an editorial in a new women’s magazine published by the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper.      Lucetta Scaraffia, the co-ordinator of Women-Church-World, the new monthly magazine published by L’Osservatore Romano, said that a “hidden revolution” had taken place during the last century with women making an increasingly important contribution to the intellectual life of Catholicism.      But this, she explained, had been “almost ignored” by the Church even though it had intensified in the years following the Second Vatican Council when more and more women started to study theology.     The new monthly magazine launched today by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See’s Secretary of State whose department oversees the newspaper, started as a monthly section in L’Osservatore Romano. It's first edition features articles by Elisabeth Parmenthier, a Lutheran pastor who writes on ecumenism, and an analysis by Debora Tonelli, an Italian political philosopher, on the biblical figure of Deborah, the only female judge mentioned in scripture.......(more)

Temporary slowdown of Website Updates
Friday 29 April 2016

As our volunteer website manager will be overseas until 14 May website updates will be limited until then, dependent on free time and communication access in remote areas

Study guide for 'Amoris Laetitia'
From Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter,21 April. Extracted here 28 April 2016     
                        When I received a copy of Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, I had to do an "all-nighter" reading of it so I could write a column to be posted when the embargo expired at 6 a.m. Eastern time. That is not how you should read the exhortation. Rather, you want to take your time, as I did in reading it the second time.              Like his earlier writings, this exhortation, "The Joy of Love," is written in a personal, pastoral style and is accessible to most readers. It is not an academic tome, but it is long -- 260 pages. It would be best to read it a chapter at a time rather than all at once as I was forced to do.            This document cries for discussion in families, parishes, and schools. There is no need for people to wait while the bishops and pastors organize a response to the document. Anyone can download the exhortation, call their family and friends and say, "Let's read and discuss the exhortation." Anyone part of a book club can recommend that the exhortation be their next selection.              To assist you in your reading, I have drawn up a list of study questions that will be helpful for individual reading or group discussions. The numbers in parentheses refer to paragraphs in the exhortation......(more

One third of churches across north Wales to close
Extract from CathNews, The Catholic Herald, 27 April 2016

The Bishop of Wrexham has said that the closure of a third of all churches across north Wales is a “huge opportunity for renewal,” reports The Catholic Herald.        In a pastoral letter to the diocese, Bp Peter Brignall announced that he plans to shut 22 out of the 62 churches by 2020.      “To some it will be shocking, to others not radical enough; to some it will come as a relief, to others a disappointment or even a scandal; to us all it will be a challenge, but I firmly believe also a huge opportunity for renewal.     “It will mean pastors and communities will have to look afresh at how we live parish life, how the Catholic Church in north Wales is profoundly missionary.”........ (more)

People in Presbyterian pews have a voice and a vote
Extract from Bill Tammeus, National Catholic Reporter, 27 April 2016

Like other mainline Protestant churches, the Presbyterian Church (USA), of which my congregation is a member, has experienced shrinkage and divisive controversy in recent decades.      But one thing has remained constant, and that is that we have a representative form of church governance. People in the pews have a voice and a vote.      I’m not suggesting that the Catholic church adopt this polity and deconstruct its considerably more hierarchical system. Rather, I just want to describe our system to you who are Catholic to see if you find anything attractive about it, anything you might want to advocate be implemented for Catholicism.      I was thinking about all this recently as I was looking over the Presbyterian church’s website about our upcoming General Assembly, which will meet for a week starting June 18 in Portland, Ore. This will be our 222nd General Assembly (national governing body). We’ve been at this a while.      But let’s back up a bit.....(more)   Photo:

Pope Francis may be on verge of deal with traditionalists
Extract from Anian Christoph Wimmer, Crux, Catholic News Agency April 27, 2016

Pope Francis may soon offer the Society of Saint Pius X regular canonical status within the Catholic Church without requiring acceptance of certain texts of the Second Vatican Council with which they disagree, a prerequisite that heretofore had been seen as a deal-breaker for the traditionalists.    It also appears the society may itself be poised to take such a historic step, urging that “perhaps only Pope Francis is able to take this step, given his unpredictability and improvisation”, according to an internal Society of St. Pius X document that was leaked to the press in recent weeks.    The Society of St. Pius X is a breakaway group founded by the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who objected to some of the reforms that followed the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), including the introduction of a new Mass in vernacular languages and the broad expansion of ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue.     The memo, titled “Considerations on the Church and the position of the Society of Saint Pius X in it”, outlines six reasons why the group should accept an offer of regularization by Pope Francis, provided “an appropriate ecclesial structure” is ensured. It also addresses possible objections raised against such a move.   “It seems the time to normalize the situation of the society has come,” the memo reads....(more) Photo: Crux, (CNS/Paul Haring) 

Francis: Spirit works in laypeople, 'is not property of the hierarchy'
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 26 April 2016

Vatican City: Pope Francis has again sharply denounced the culture of clericalism among priests in the Catholic church, calling it "one of the greatest deformations" that must be confronted by the global faith community and saying it helps "diminish and undervalue" the contributions that laypeople make.      The pontiff has also strongly reaffirmed the right of laypeople to make decisions in their lives, saying that priests must trust that the Holy Spirit is working in them and that the Spirit "is not only the 'property' of the ecclesial hierarchy."      In a letter to Cardinal Marc Ouellet in his role as the head of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, released by the Vatican Tuesday,       Francis says he wants to speak to the members of the commission about how to better serve what he terms "the Holy Faithful People of God."       "Evoking the Holy Faithful People of God is to evoke that horizon which we are invited to look at and reflect upon," states the pope. "It is the Holy Faithful People of God that as pastors we are continually invited to look to, to protect, to accompany, to sustain and to serve."     "A father cannot imagine himself without his children," he continues. "He can be a great worker, professional, spouse, friend but what makes him a father has a face: they are his children."....(more)

Surprisingly tough times for Church liberals in the Francis era
Edited Extract from CathNews, John Allen, Crux,  22 April 2016

The unexpected resignation of the head of the Catholic News Service suggests it may become harder for liberals, even the moderate type, to survive on the Church’s payroll in the Pope Francis era, writes John Allen.        Some Catholics cheered last week, while others were either depressed or outraged, when news broke that Tony Spence, the head of the Catholic News Service since 2004, had resigned.     The move followed a controversy over three tweets he posted about religious freedom bills, which critics saw as promoting a pro-LGBT agenda.    CNS is the official news agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Mr Spence told media outlets he was informed on Wednesday, April 13, by general secretary Mgr Brian Bransfield, that he had “lost the confidence” of the Conference.........(more)

Milan official: Divorced, remarried ask for Communion
Edited Extract from Cath News, Catholic Herald,  22 April 2016

Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, The Joy of Love, has begun to change attitudes to Communion in the Archdiocese of Milan, according to a senior official, reports The Catholic Herald.     In an article for the Milan Archdiocese website, Mgr Fausto Gilardi, who is in charge of Confession at Milan Cathedral, says that there has been a growing “demand” in the diocese from the divorced and remarried for absolution and Communion.....(more)   Photo: Cathnews, Milan Cathedral

The Holy See has suspended an external audit of Vatican finances by global accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), reports Global Pulse.
Extract from CathNews, Crux, 22 April 2016

On April 12, Italian Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu sent a letter to all Vatican entities informing them that an audit being performed by PwC has been "suspended immediately," and that any letters of authorisation those entities have already issued to permit the transmission of financial data to PwC are to be revoked, Crux reports.    The Vatican had revealed that in December 2015 the firm had been contracted on the advice of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy.
         According to sources cited by Crux, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin raised concerns regarding the nature of the contract that was signed with PwC rather than the basic desirability of greater transparency.     These concerns included contract provisions allowing PwC to disseminate financial information about the Vatican internally, and possibly with external agents with whom the firm collaborates, Crux reports.      Others, however, believe the move reflects Vatican dissatisfaction with Australian Cardinal George Pell, the Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, who will reach the mandatory retirement age of 75 in June this year......(more)

Requested Considerations in Selecting the Next Bishop of the Arlington, VA Diocese.                       From Catholics of the Arlington Diocese,
Extract from Association of US Catholic Priests, 21 April 2016

Arlington Catholics seek lay participation in selecting their next bishop, believing that the next Bishop of Arlington should be a person who embodies the criteria laid out by Pope Francis. The criteria include being a “pastor close to the people” and not having “the psychology of ‘Princes.’” Go to the requested selection criteria here.    Link to the Association of US Catholic Priests here
Study guide for 'Amoris Laetitia'
Extract from Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter, 21 April 2016
When I received a copy of Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, I had to do an "all-nighter" reading of it so I could write a column to be posted when the embargo expired at 6 a.m. Eastern time. That is not how you should read the exhortation. Rather, you want to take your time, as I did in reading it the second time.      Like his earlier writings, this exhortation, "The Joy of Love," is written in a personal, pastoral style and is accessible to most readers. It is not an academic tome, but it is long -- 260 pages. It would be best to read it a chapter at a time rather than all at once as I was forced to do.      This document cries for discussion in families, parishes, and schools. There is no need for people to wait while the bishops and pastors organize a response to the document. Anyone can download the exhortation, call their family and friends and say, "Let's read and discuss the exhortation." Anyone part of a book club can recommend that the exhortation be their next selection.      To assist you in your reading, I have drawn up a list of study questions that will be helpful for individual reading or group discussions. The numbers in parentheses refer to paragraphs in the exhortation.........(more)
Reactions to 'Amoris Laetitia': A leap or baby step?
Extract from Tom Roberts, NCR Staff, National Catholic Reporter, 21 April 2016

Pope Francis may be calling for a decentralized church, but it is clear from the reaction to his latest document that the buck still stops at the top. Amoris Laetitia, after all, is titled an "exhortation of the Holy Father," and he is the sole recipient of the praise, the hope, the disappointment, the anger (and any trace of ambivalence one might encounter) that the document inspires.         Gauging from a nonscientific sampling of theologians, pastoral practitioners, academics, clerics, nuns, men, women, married and single, it is easy to conclude that a broad middle exists in the reaction to Francis' exhortation, with a great deal of goodwill and encouragement taken from the document. In many instances, people welcomed a distinct change in tone and pastoral direction from papal documents of the recent past.             The greatest disappointment and the most severe critique came either from the far right, among those who feel the pope is somehow compromising true Catholicism with his encouragement of tolerance and mercy, or on the other side of the spectrum, from those who feel the document does little to move the needle in practical ways for the divorced and remarried and for those advocating for greater acceptance of gays in the church....(more)
An appeal to the Catholic Church to recommit to the centrality of Gospel nonviolence
From Pax Christi International, Extracted and edited 21 April 2016

The following statement (extract) was affirmed by the participants of the Nonviolence and Just Peace gathering held in Rome, 11-13 April 2016. The gathering was co-convened by Pax Christi International, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, UISG/USG and many other international Catholic organisations.                As Christians committed to a more just and peaceful world we are called to take a clear stand for creative and active nonviolence and against all forms of violence. With this conviction, and in recognition of the Jubilee Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis, people from many countries gathered at the Nonviolence and Just Peace Conference sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Pax Christi International on April 11-13, 2016 in Rome.                  Our assembly, people of God from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania included lay people, theologians, members of religious congregations, priests, and bishops. Many of us live in communities experiencing violence and oppression. All of us are practitioners of justice and peace. We are grateful for the message to our conference from Pope Francis: “your thoughts on revitalizing the tools of nonviolence, and of active nonviolence in particular, will be a needed and positive contribution”....................... In every age, the Holy Spirit graces the Church with the wisdom to respond to the challenges of its time. In response to what is a global epidemic of violence, which Pope Francis has labeled a “world war in installments”, we are being called to invoke, pray over, teach and take decisive action. With our communities and organizations, we look forward to continue collaborating with the Holy See and the global Church to advance Gospel nonviolence..............
Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith must end medieval practices, Pope urged by accused
Extract from Sarah Mac Donald, The Tablet, 20 April 2016
Investigation of accusations should be reformed and anonymous denunciations ended, high-profile signatories insist.          Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith must end medieval practices, Pope urged by accused
.          An international group of bishops, nuns, priests and lay people, who have all been investigated by Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, have written to Pope Francis calling for a reform of the investigation process and specifically an end to anonymous denunciations.          The 15 who signed the letter include Bishops Patrick Power and William Morris of Australia, the well-known American moral theologian, Fr Charles Curran, BBC radio presenter, Fr Brian Darcy as well as Fr Roy Bourgeois, the Maryknoll priest excommunicated for his involvement in the ordination of a woman in 2008.       In their letter to the Pope, which was also sent to the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the group warn that as the CDF acts as "investigator, accuser, judge and jury" the process cannot offer justice. The process is outdated and follows the "absolutism of sixteenth and seventeenth century Europe" as a model, the signatories said.            They suggest a new set of procedures that would require greater transparency and accountability while imposing a strict time limit on any investigation and direct personal face-to-face communication between the accused and the Vatican congregation. One of the signatories, Australian historian and author Paul Collins, said that the current process makes no presumption of innocence and those accused are never told who has accused them nor who is judging them. "They don't even know who their defence counsel is. They are usually never given a chance to defend themselves verbally and in person. Letters go unanswered for months or are 'lost'," he criticised.....(more)  Photo: The Tablet
Limerick Diocese Synod ….. a real marker, but the journey goes on
Extract from A
ssociation of Catholic Priests (ACP) Ireland
1. Summary by Catholics For Renewal, Sunday 17 April 2016                                                                  The following is an extract from the Report of a groundbreaking diocesan synod in Limerick, Ireland, where the laity had a vote and issues such as gender equity, women priests, celibacy, the treatment of people in second relationships, involvement in the appointment of bishops, the new translation of the liturgy were seriously addressed.
 2. Extract  from Ainead Ní Mhuirthile, Association of Catholic Priests Ireland, 11 April 2016           Well, as a Synod delegate, I am just gathering my thoughts today following the conclusion last night of the 3-day Synod event in Limerick. It will take some time to assimilate all that’s happened over the course of the weekend and indeed over the 18 months of the preparatory journey that led up to it. But I think I can safely say that it was a hugely significant moment in the life of the Church in Ireland. And I don’t just mean historically, in terms of its being the first Diocesan Synod to be held in the country for the last 50 years.      So what stands out in the immediate aftermath?           Firstly, the aspect of inclusivity. It was after all remarkable to be in a formally convened/convoked Diocesan Synod where laity, priests and bishop were all  gathered together to try to discern a way forward for the Church. That was a landmark occasion for all of us, I think........................(more)
Pope Francis' magnificent aid to discernment
The Apostolic Exhortation 'Amoris Laetitia' marks a change in the Church’s discourse
From Sébastien Maillard published 11/04/2016 in Global Pulse. Edited Extract here 16 April 2016

Rather than seeking to arbitrate doctrinal debates, Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation issues a practical, very Ignatian invitation to discernment. Yet, since not everyone is a Jesuit, how will it be possible in practice to generalize the practice of discernment?      Cardinal Christophe Schönborn: "Each individual needs to discern what he or she should or should not do. Discernment is the very basis of human action. It is obligatory for all of us. Parents must discern for their children as well as in their own life as a couple. A couple involved in a new (second) union need to discern together whether they wish to undertake a path of faith to discern God’s will for them, based on where they have arrived with their conscience, how they have experienced the consequences of their separation, how they have dealt with their children."     The process of discernment is assisted by the Church, through faith and through prayer. It enables people to develop a mature personality. It does not mean forming automatons conditioned by the exterior, remotely controlled, but persons who have matured through their friendship with Christ.    With this exhortation, the pope has provided a magnificent pedagogical and spiritual tool for exercising discernment. He offers a helping hand to all those who are in difficulty.     How “to integrate everyone,” as the pope desires, without twisting doctrine?     Cardinal Schönborn: "The great joy that this exhortation brings me resides in the fact that it finds a coherent way to go beyond the artificial and sharp division between those involved in ‘regular’ and ‘irregular’ situations.".......... (more)
French Church reinforces its action against pedophilia
The French bishops have created a new independent advisory commission
Extract from Nicolas Senèze, Global Pulse, 14 April 2016

France. “Our duty of care is primordial,” says Archbishop Georges Pontier of Marseille, president of the French Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CEF), summarizing the message that the nation’s prelates wish to convey regarding the issue of pedophilia in the Church.       In fact, work is already well under way, having been first launched in 2000. However, the revelation of new cases, particularly in the Diocese of Lyon in recent weeks, has underlined the need for a renewed effort.     “We have come to the realization that we need to go further,” Bishop Stanislas Lalanne of Pontoise, leader of the monitoring group created by the bishops on this issue, recognized soberly......(more)

Catholic News Service editor asked to resign
Extract from Dennis Cody, National Catholic Review, 14 April 2016

Washington. Tony Spence, director and editor-in-chief of Catholic News Service since 2004, unexpectedly resigned from that position Wednesday at the request of a U.S. bishops' conference official.     In recent days Spence had been attacked by conservative Catholic blogs for tweets he had posted about controversial religious freedom bills in North Carolina and Georgia. These sites accused Spence of "promoting the LGBT agenda."      "The far right blogsphere and their troops started coming after me again and it was too much for the USCCB," Spence told NCR in an interview Thursday.             "The secretary general [of the U.S. bishops' conference] asked for my resignation, because the conference had lost confidence in my ability to lead CNS," Spence told NCR.           The abruptness of Spence's departure was surprising and those who know him say Spence feels "shattered."         Catholic News Service is an office of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Spence was a member of the conference senior staff. Though part of the bishops' conference, the news service is financially self-supporting.......(more)

The ecclesiology behind 'Amoris Laetitia'
'The Church’s way has always been the way of Jesus, the way of mercy and reinstatement'

Extract from Massimo Faggioli, Global Pulse, Reprinted with permission from Global Pulse, 14 April 2016
Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on love in the family, Amoris Laetitia, is a landmark document in the history of modern papal teaching in how it approaches the hot-button issues of marriage and s
exuality and, even more so, in its vision of the Church.                It marks a further development in his ecclesiology; that is, his theology of the Church.            First of all, the ecclesiology that underpins Amoris Laetitia is collegial and synodal.         Francis quotes his first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, seventeen times. He cites the Second Vatican Council’s constitution on the Church in the modern world, Gaudium et Spes, another nineteen times.        And then he makes reference to en different documents issued from just as many bishops’ conferences from around the world. This is all consistent with the 79-year-old pope’s already well-known ecclesiological method.                     But what’s new in this exhortation is the extensive use Francis makes of the documents that the Synod of Bishops produced at their assemblies in 2014 and 2015. He quotes from those texts 136 times. Previous popes also quoted synod documents. But those papers did not come from a “synodal process” such as the one Francis opened up with two distinct gatherings at the distance of twelve months apart, both distinguished by real freedom of debate.                    Moreover, this pope’s ecclesiology is not limited to episcopal collegiality alone, but seeks to expand the notion of synodality beyond just the formal gathering of bishops in the Synod proper. This entails a radical new understanding of the role of the Bishop of Rome, as he suggests in the opening lines of the exhortation:                    "I would make it clear that not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium.    “Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it” (AL, 3).     Second, Amoris Laetitia’s ecclesiology is historical and existential ...............(More)  Photo: Global Pulse, Lauren Cater/CNA
Council of Cardinals discuss new Vatican organizational chart, selection of bishops
Edited extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 13 April 2016

Vatican City.            The nine cardinals advising Pope Francis on reforming the Catholic church's central bureaucracy have begun to organize a general overview for the full restructuring of what is commonly called the Roman Curia, the Vatican’s main spokesman said Wednesday.                 Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi said the cardinals are now putting together their thoughts after doing an office-by-office review of the Vatican bureaucracy in hopes of creating a new general constitution outlining a reimagined curial organizational structure.                 The cardinals are working “to construct the advice the council will give to the pope in view of the new constitution,” said Lombardi.     The Council has been meeting with the pope in Rome Monday through Wednesday for the 14th of its in-person meetings......... Lombardi said the group had finalized pending plans for the creation of two new Vatican offices, and had also discussed the way in which Catholic bishops are chosen for positions leading dioceses around the world.The nine cardinals advising Pope Francis on reforming the Catholic church's central bureaucracy have begun to organize a general overview for the full restructuring of what is commonly called the Roman Curia, the Vatican’s main spokesman said Wednesday.      Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi said the cardinals are now putting together their thoughts after doing an office-by-office review of the Vatican bureaucracy in hopes of creating a new general constitution outlining a reimagined curial organizational structure.     Lombardi said the group had finalized pending plans for the creation of two new Vatican offices, and had also discussed the way in which Catholic bishops are chosen for positions leading dioceses around the world......(more)

Archbishop: We must stay in touch with messy reality of marriage
Extracts from CathNews, The Australian, Monday 11 April 2016

The Joy of Love insists we have to deal always with the facts, however messy they may be. We have to be in touch with the reality of marriage and the family, writes Mark Coleridge, the Archbishop of Brisbane.         From the moment of his election Francis has been a Pope of surprises. One of the surprises of this old man has been his energy. It has been astonishing, and part of the energy has been literary — as we see in his latest production, published yesterday, The Joy of Love: On Love in the Family.          In it, the Pope wants to gather up and move forward the work of the Synod of Bishops held in Rome in 2014 and last year. The decision to hold the two synods on the theme of marriage and the family was a surprise. But it was shrewd strategy from a Pope who is nothing if not a strategist.          What Francis was saying to the Catholic Church was that a synod wasn’t just a one-off event; it’s an ongoing journey, which is what the word synod means. In The Joy of Love Francis doesn’t claim to be the final word settling every controversial question. Nor does he claim to offer a comprehensive pastoral plan to be implemented around the planet. His claims are more modest, and for that reason more compelling. He wants this text to be another step on the way; not a final product but another part of the process.................................. Of course he says the Church must speak the truth. But that isn’t enough. If that’s all we do, then we run the risk of turning the great truths of Christianity into stones that we hurl at those we want to condemn. We also need to walk with people, all kinds of people, especially those who are struggling in their marriage or family life. It’s what Christianity has to offer in an often merciless world.              To walk with people, whoever they are, means to enter into dialogue with them. That means we listen to people, whoever they may be and however far they may fall short of the ideal. For Francis, the ideal does matter; the vision must be kept clearly focused. But if we speak only of it, then we can drift off into some abstract noosphere that doesn’t breathe the air of reality...... (more)

Bishop Mulkearns won't be interred in Ballarat Cathedral crypt
Extract from CathNews, Melbournecatholic, 11 April 2016

A private funeral Mass will be held today in the Nazareth House Nursing Home chapel for Bishop Ronald Mulkearns.         Bishop Mulkearns will be the first Ballarat bishop not to be interred in the crypt of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Ballarat.    The Vicar-General of Ballarat, Justin Driscoll, said it was not appropriate to grant retired Bishop Mulkearns a position inside the Cathedral, in light of the revelations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.           Instead, a private funeral Mass will be held today in the Nazareth House Nursing Home chapel in Ballarat. The current Bishop of Ballarat, Paul Bird, said the small gathering would be for family and close friends.          During his time as bishop, numerous paedophile priests were moved across the region while they were abusing children.              Retired Bishop Mulkearns made key testimony in February at the Royal Commission via videolink from the nursing home where he had lived.       His admission that he could not remember much of what had taken place during his time as bishop caused much pain to those hoping for a full and frank exploration into the actions of paedophile members of the Church.....(more)
Kieran Tapsell. Bishop Ronald Mulkearns: Blaming the Foot Soldier
Extract from Pearls & Irritations,  published 7/04.2015 on John Menadue website, 11 April 2016   

The “Nuremberg defence” takes its name from the claim by Nazi officials at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal that they should be acquitted because they were following “superior orders”. In one of the most significant judgments in international law, the Nuremberg Tribunal held that following superior orders in the case of crimes against humanity is no defence, although it may be a factor in determining the appropriate punishment...................Bishop Ronald Mulkearns, both before and after his death on 4 April 2016, has been the object of sustained criticism for the cover up of clergy sexual crimes against children that occurred during his time as bishop of Ballarat from 1971 to 1997. His successors in the Ballarat diocese, Bishops Connors and Bird accused him of “effectively facilitating child sexual abuse” and making “terrible mistakes”.            On Good Friday, former Bishop Geoffrey Robinson said on ABC radio that in the 1980s he considered Mulkearns to be one of “the most forward looking and caring bishops”, and he found it difficult to understand how he had acted as he did.       Ronald Mulkearns was a canon lawyer with a doctorate in canon law, and was one of the founders of the Canon Law Society of Australia and New Zealand, and the first chairman of the Special Issues Committee set up by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference to find a better way of dealing with child sexual abuse by priests and religious. Anyone with that kind of background takes his canon law seriously. In 1971, when he was consecrated bishop, he had taken an oath to obey all ecclesiastical laws......(more)
Life beyond Pope Francis
Extracts from Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street, 10 April

As Pope Francis begins his fourth year in office, questions are inevitably raised, as to whether the changes that he has brought to the Catholic Church will last beyond his time in office. For some the questioning is hopeful; for others, it is anxious             For others the question is trivial. The Pope has shown no interest in changing the things that for them matter: clerical celibacy, the exclusion of women from ordained ministry, and church teaching on homosexuality and contraception, for example.                 They see the changes he has introduced as largely cosmetic and homiletic, a matter of style not substance.     Whatever of that, most Catholics have experienced the change he has brought as considerable. Through his actions and words he has embodied a church that seeks its centre at the edge by going out to nonbelievers and to Catholics estranged from their church.                 He has lived simply, used liturgical symbols to underline compassion to asylum seekers and deployed the bully pulpit to discourage clericalism, careerism and judgmentalism among the clergy. He has put emphasis on welcoming people with divergent views rather than condemning their views. He has invited exchange of views on church discipline, and generally encouraged a more informal church.       These changes go deeper than style. They involve a re-imagining of Catholic faith and life that places at the centre of the church's attention the persons and world to which it reaches out, not institutional needs or the security of the community. That underlies the emphasis on not judging and giving priority to persons in adapting law, language and ritual. This shift comes out of a distinctive imagining of faith.................The future of Francis' vision of faith will depend less on what is done in Rome than in what is done in personal lives and in communities. If he receives only applause but not imitation, the catchcries associates with him will eventually be seen to serve a comfortable and self-focused agenda. In time they will yield to other more radical and demanding imaginings of faith and church life...........(more)  
Kieran Tapsell. Cardinal Barbarin and accountability.
Extract from Pearls & Irritations,  John Menadue website, 9 April 2016    
Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon is currently being investigated by French police for failing to report sexual offences against children by some of his priests.      It is alleged that he knew about allegations against them in 2007 and 2009. Despite his denials of any wrongdoing, there have been calls for his resignation.     On Good Friday, retired auxiliary Bishop Geoffrey Robinson of Sydney, Australia, called on Pope Francis to request the resignation of every bishop who has failed to properly address cases of child sexual abuse.    It is unlikely that Pope Francis will agree, because it would undermine the integrity of the Church’s canon law as a coherent legal system......(more) 
Publication of  Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation - The Joy of Love  (Amoris Laetitia)  and a summary
Friday 8 April 2016
The complete document (263 pages) may be sourced from the Vatican Here
A summary document (7 pages) as published on Vatican Radio may be sourced Here
What Is Francis Saying with 'Amoris Laetitia'?
Extract from Massimo Faggioli,Commonweal, 8 April 2016

Amoris Laetitia, the fruit of the long “synodal process” that unfolded between 2014 and 2015, is in keeping with what we’ve come to understand as Pope Francis’s pastoral and nonacademic style. The exhortation draws from his previous catechesis and that of John Paul II, as well as from the documents of bishops’ conferences around the world. And, at 52,500 words, it is very long. But how does the document actually address the at-times contentiously debated issues that arose in the course of the two synod gatherings in Rome?       If there’s an interpretative key, it’s this statement that appears early on in the text: “I would make it clear that not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium. Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it.” Yet Amoris Laetitia is a carefully constructed document that will give none of the most vocal factions on opposing sides of an issue any reason to claim “victory” or “defeat.”............ (more)

Journey implied in ‘Amoris Laetitia’ may never be over
Extract from David Gibson, Religion News Service, Crux, 8 April 2016

VATICAN CITY (RNS) The wide-ranging papal document on the Catholic Church and modern-day families that the Vatican released on Friday was expected to be the culmination of a two-year gantlet of unusually frank discussions — a chance for Pope Francis to finally settle the fierce debates, and even dark warnings of schism, that his effort to open dialogue on contentious topics had unleashed.             With so much at stake, various camps were eager to parse every phrase to see if they had won, or lost, on a particular point and, as expected, the verdict on the document, a 263-page papal exhortation, titled “Amoris Laetitia,” or “The Joy of Love,” was mixed.       The hopes of some in the liberal camp that the pontiff might soften Catholic doctrine on marriage and divorce, or somehow signal an approval of same-sex unions, were always unrealistic; indeed, many progressives expressed disappointment in the exhortation even as Francis’ stress on pastoral flexibility over theological rigidity signaled a fundamental reorientation of Catholicism away from a rule-based focus.    That reaffirmation of long-standing doctrine on marriage was at least some consolation to the vocal number of conservatives who long feared the kind of unambiguous changes that the progressives hoped for, though many winced at several other elements, such as the openings Francis left for the divorced and remarried to take Communion.      But the larger reality conveyed by the document — and one that could unsettle Catholic traditionalists more than anything — is that the pope clearly wants the debates over church teachings and pastoral practices to continue and, perhaps, to continue to evolve..........(more) 

Francis' exhortation a radical shift to see grace in imperfection, without fearing moral confusion
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 8 April 2016

Vatican City:   In a radical departure from recent pastoral practice, Pope Francis has asked the world's Catholic clergy to let their lives become "wonderfully complicated" by embracing God's grace at work in the difficult and sometimes unconventional situations families and marriages face -- even at risk of obscuring doctrinal norms.           The pontiff has also called on bishops and priests globally to set aside fears of risking moral confusion, saying they must avoid a tendency to a "cold bureaucratic morality" and shift away from evaluating peoples' moral status based on rigid canonical regulations.       In a substantial and already hotly debated document addressing church teaching on family life, Francis says that Catholic bishops and priests can no longer make blanket moral determinations about so-called "irregular" situations such as divorce and remarriage.          Writing in his new apostolic exhortation, titled Amoris Laetitia ('The Joy of Love'), the pope strongly advocates for the worth of the traditional, life-long Christian marriage but speaks respectfully of nearly all models of family life......(more)
Reactions to pope's reflection on family life
Extract from Staff National Catholic Reporter & Cathy Lynn Grossman, Religion News Service,  8 April 2016

Applause, dismay, confusion over pope's words:  Pope Francis' "Joy of Love", a massive document released April 8 that wraps unchanged doctrine on marriage, divorce, and LGBT life in gentle terms, is getting a mixed reaction from U.S. Catholics.      It brought joy to conservative Christians who feared Francis would tamper with dogma, but less love from liberals who had hoped for a change in practices, not simply in tone. Statements flooded out from both directions. A sampling...................(more)
Top Ten Takeaways from “Amoris Laetitia”
Extract from James Martin S.J. America, The National Catholic Review, Friday 8 April 2016

Pope Francis’s groundbreaking new document “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”) asks the church to meet people where they are, to consider the complexities of people’s lives and to respect people’s consciences when it comes to moral decisions. The apostolic exhortation is mainly a document that reflects on family life and encourages families. But it is also the pope’s reminder that the church should avoid simply judging people and imposing rules on them without considering their struggles.            Using insights from the Synod of Bishops on the Family and from bishops’ conferences from around the world, Pope Francis affirms church teaching on family life and marriage, but strongly emphasizes the role of personal conscience and pastoral discernment. He urges the church to appreciate the context of people’s lives when helping them make good decisions.  The goal is to help families—in fact, everyone—experience God’s love and know that they are welcome members of the church. All this may require what the pope calls “new pastoral methods” (199).      Here are ten things to know about the pope’s groundbreaking new document...........(more)

'Amoris Laetitia,' start with chapter 4
Edited Extracts from Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter, 8 April 2106

If you are a layperson and want to read the pope’s apostolic exhortation on the family, skip the first three chapters and start with chapter 4. If you are a priest, moral theologian, or divorced Catholic, read chapter 8.             The 263-page exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”) was released at noon today at the Vatican.....................This is a papal document well worth the time to read and reflect on. Parts are dull; parts inspire and delight; parts will give hope; and parts will infuriate. If it brings the conversation about families out of the synodal hall and down to the parish and families themselves, then it will be a success........(more).     [Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese is a senior analyst for NCR and author of Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church.]

'Amoris Laetitia:' Francis challenges the church
Extract from Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter, 8 April 2016

At times we find it hard to make room for God’s unconditional love in our pastoral activity. We put so many conditions on mercy that we empty it of its con­crete meaning and real significance. That is the worst way of watering down the Gospel.” Thus, Pope Francis in his new apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. (Paragraph 311.) Here, and throughout the text, Pope Francis confronts the charge that any kind of change amounts to a capitulation to the culture, a watering down of Catholic doctrine, and turns the charge on its head. He reminds the whole Church that this great enterprise of evangelization and theology and pastoral accompaniment must flow from the root of the Christian Gospel, and not let any theological or cultural or canonical encrustations frustrate the Church from its primary mission of announcing that Gospel, most especially to the poor and the marginalized, the Gospel of Mercy.                From start to finish, Pope Francis challenges the Church to do more than simply repeat the Catechism and harangue the fallen. Some on the left will complain that he did not “change the rules” but Pope Francis is calling for something more radical than changing from rigid, conservative rules to lax, liberal ones: That would still keep the discussion about rules, as if the Virgin Mary had given birth to a code of canon law......(more)

Out today: Amoris Laetitia, Pope's hope for greater inclusion
Edited Extract from CathNews, National Catholic Reporter,  Friday 8 April 2016

moris Laetitia, the Pope's apostolic exhortation in response to the Synod on the family, will be released today (at 11 am) in Rome (7pm AEST). A Vatican reading guide sent to bishops says the Pontiff wants the Church to adopt a new stance of inclusion towards society.                NCR Online: The guide explains that Francis "encourages not just a 'renewal' but even more, a real 'conversion' of language."                   "The Gospel must not be merely theoretical, not detached from people's real lives," states the guide. "To talk about the family and to families, the challenge is not to change doctrine but to inculturate the general principles in ways that they can be understood and practiced."                      "Our language should encourage and reassure every positive step taken by every real family," it continues.       Here are six features to look for in the document...............(more)
Pope’s exhortation will focus on ‘dialogue’, says Vatican
Extract from Catholic Herald UK, 6 April 2016

Pope Francis’s document on the family, published on Friday, will be a call to dialogue, according to a Vatican “reading guide” sent to bishops around the world.              The apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, follows two synods on the family. It is expected to discuss the question of whether divorced and remarried couples should be invited to take communion.       The reading guide, issued by the Vatican’s office for the Synod of Bishops, says that the exhortation will be “first and foremost a pastoral document”.    The document, which has been obtained by the National Catholic Reporter and Italian news sources, says: “To talk about the family and to families, the challenge is not to change doctrine but to inculturate the general principles in ways that they can be understood and practiced.”       In one of several references to “dialogue”, the document says: “The Pope’s vision of society is inclusive. Such inclusion involves the effort to accept diversity, to dialogue with those who think differently, to encourage the participation of those with different abilities.”........(more) 
Photo: catholicherald uk
Vatican guide says Francis' family document puts doctrine 'at service of pastoral mission'
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 6 April 2016
Vatican guide says Francis' family document puts doctrine 'at service of pastoral mis
Vatican City:  A Vatican reading guide sent to Catholic bishops globally ahead of the release of Pope Francis' widely anticipated document on family life says the pontiff wants the church to adopt a new stance of inclusion towards society and to ensure its doctrines are "at the service of the pastoral mission."          The guide -- sent by the Vatican's office for the Synod of Bishops in preparation for Friday’s release of "Amoris Laetitia; On Love in the Family" -- explains that Francis "encourages not just a 'renewal' but even more, a real 'conversion' of language."       "The Gospel must not be merely theoretical, not detached from people's real lives," states the guide. "To talk about the family and to families, the challenge is not to change doctrine but to inculturate the general principles in ways that they can be understood and practiced."           "Our language should encourage and reassure every positive step taken by every real family," it continues.                          Amoris Laetitia, which in Latin means "The Joy of Love," is a document written by the pope following two back-to-back meetings of Catholic bishops at the Vatican in 2014 and 2015 on issues of family life.           The meetings, known as Synods, are known to have focused on sometimes controversial issues like divorce and remarriage and same-sex marriage. The new document, known formally as an apostolic exhortation, is being hotly anticipated for what Francis may say about the meetings and what decisions he might make on tough issues.           The Vatican reading guide came to bishops alongside a letter signed by Cardinal Lorenzo Baldiserri, the head of the Vatican Synod office. The cardinal’s letter tells bishops that the exhortation is "first and foremost a pastoral teaching."........(more)
In meeting with Fellay, Pope Francis shows double standard in the 'culture of encounter'
Extract from Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter, 6 April 2016

Earlier this week, NCR's Joshua J. McElwee reported that, on April 1, Pope Francis met with Bishop Bernard Fellay, the Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X. Founded in 1970 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the Society widely rejects the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.      According to the society's website, the "false teachings" of Vatican II include the Council's exhortations on religious liberty, ecumenism, liturgical reforms, collegiality and what they call the "modernist" idea that "that the human conscience is the supreme arbiter of good and evil for each individual." The society is an ardent defender of the Tridentine Mass (Fellay's liturgical dress rivals any garb donned by Cardinal Raymond Burke) and believes passionately in the supremacy of the Roman Catholic church over all other religions.    In 1988, Lefebvre decided, against orders of then-Pope John Paul II, to consecrate four new bishops. Lefebvre consecrated these men out of concern that, in the event of his death, there would be no truly orthodox bishops to ordain new priests for the society. St. John Paul II in turn excommunicated Lefebvre and his four newly minted bishops, including Fellay.    In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI lifted those excommunications in an attempt to repair relations with the group. But his efforts to bring the Society back into the fold eventually broke down.    By meeting with Fellay this past weekend, Pope Francis has taken a new step toward returning the Society of St. Pius X into full Communion with the Roman Catholic church.......................If Francis can offer a forty-minute, private meeting to a formerly excommunicated bishop who has been performing the sacraments illicitly for decades and who believes that the Catholic church is laced with false teachings, why can't the pope also extend the same invitation to Catholic theologians, ethicists, and lay ministers who challenge the church's teaching on women's ordination, the use of contraception, and the full inclusion of LGBTQ persons?...(MORE)

A Listening Church
Extract from Frances Forde Plude, America, The National Catholic Review, April 6 2016
How does the center of institutional authority—in the Catholic Church, the papacy and the Vatican—allow dialogue within a global, decentralized, talk-back culture? The answer is: with great difficulty.       Pope Francis’ open and friendly communication style has stirred interest globally, especially among communication-study specialists. Much attention has been focused on his personal style in communications, but he is also developing and implementing a new style of communications within the church itself. When the pope urged candid discussions at the recent assemblies of the Synod of Bishops on the family, it was interesting to see how this worked and where it proved challenging among church leaders.                    There were two types of challenges visible in the synod: negotiating the content divisions—the arguments over the theological material at hand and the decisions to be made—and dealing with the processes set up to facilitate healthy dialogue. While the discussions over content, especially about Communion for the divorced and remarried, received the most global media attention, the way the dialogue itself worked was at least as fascinating. This is not surprising, because process issues are basic to facilitating fruitful dialogue. Much valuable theory and practice already exist to aid the institution in establishing authentic dialogue. But the system resists.    The issue is this: How does a tradition of centralized hierarchy interact with and communicate effectively in a decentralized digital world? ......(more)  Photo America:The National Catholic Review
Statement from Bishop Paul Bird following the death of Bishop Ronald Mulkearns
Monday 4 Apri1 2016

Bishop Ronald Mulkearns died this morning (Monday, 4 April) in Nazareth House Nursing Home, Ballarat, aged 85. ??Bishop Mulkearns was the bishop of Ballarat from 1971 till 1997. Those who knew him personally will remember a man who was dedicated in his service over those years and, indeed, over the sixty years he served as a priest. At the same time, Bishop Mulkearns himself acknowledged that he had made some tragic mistakes during his time as bishop. He expressed his sorrow for these mistakes in the evidence he gave to the Royal Commission in February. ??The Royal Commission had foreshadowed a further hearing of evidence from Bishop Mulkearns. His death means that the Royal Commission and survivors will not be able to hear any further evidence that he might have given and this will be a disappointment to them.

Bishop Ron Mulkearns
Extracts from recent article by Michael Morwood, 4 April 2016
Ron Mulkearns is my cousin. I was the deacon at his episcopal consecration in late 1968 and his first ordinant to priesthood in May, 1969.
In the regrettable situation in which my cousin finds himself as he nears death I want to stand with him and honour him while also wanting to stand compassionately, sorrowfully and respectfully with people who have been hurt by his decisions and actions in the Ballarat sexual abuse scandal.
My cousin is and always has been a thoroughly decent man. There is not an ounce of evil intent in him. I do not wish to excuse any of his decisions and actions that have caused immense pain to so many people, but I do want to expose the great injustice and hypocrisy that is being cloaked over as this and other cases of bishops handling sexual abuse are investigated……………I believe that the Catholic Church in its governing processes is as totalitarian as any system of governance can be. Its control over thought and behavior is exceptional.  I’m also well aware that every person is responsible for his or her actions. And while it’s no excuse to say “They made me do it,” there is at times and in some situations reason to pause, to consider another side of the story and not to dump harsh judgment on someone who is basically decent and make him the scapegoat for everything that went wrong.

Statement from Bishop Paul Bird following the death of Bishop Ronald Mulkearns
Monday 4 Apri1 2016

Bishop Ronald Mulkearns died this morning (Monday, 4 April) in Nazareth House Nursing Home, Ballarat, aged 85. ??Bishop Mulkearns was the bishop of Ballarat from 1971 till 1997. Those who knew him personally will remember a man who was dedicated in his service over those years and, indeed, over the sixty years he served as a priest. At the same time, Bishop Mulkearns himself acknowledged that he had made some tragic mistakes during his time as bishop. He expressed his sorrow for these mistakes in the evidence he gave to the Royal Commission in February. ??The Royal Commission had foreshadowed a further hearing of evidence from Bishop Mulkearns. His death means that the Royal Commission and survivors will not be able to hear any further evidence that he might have given and this will be a disappointment to them.

Bishop Ron Mulkearns
Extracts from recent article by Michael Morwood, 4 April 2016
Ron Mulkearns is my cousin. I was the deacon at his episcopal consecration in late 1968 and his first ordinant to priesthood in May, 1969.
In the regrettable situation in which my cousin finds himself as he nears death I want to stand with him and honour him while also wanting to stand compassionately, sorrowfully and respectfully with people who have been hurt by his decisions and actions in the Ballarat sexual abuse scandal.
My cousin is and always has been a thoroughly decent man. There is not an ounce of evil intent in him. I do not wish to excuse any of his decisions and actions that have caused immense pain to so many people, but I do want to expose the great injustice and hypocrisy that is being cloaked over as this and other cases of bishops handling sexual abuse are investigated……………I believe that the Catholic Church in its governing processes is as totalitarian as any system of governance can be. Its control over thought and behavior is exceptional.  I’m also well aware that every person is responsible for his or her actions. And while it’s no excuse to say “They made me do it,” there is at times and in some situations reason to pause, to consider another side of the story and not to dump harsh judgment on someone who is basically decent and make him the scapegoat for everything that went wrong.

The fact is that you do not become a bishop in the Roman Catholic Church without, in many cases, leaving your intellectual integrity at the door when you sign on for the task. 

Cardinal insists Papal text will be on marriage, not divorce
Extract from CathNews, Crux,  6 April 2016

Cardinal Tim Dolan is concerned that the Pope's forthcoming document on the family will focus on marriage and not divorce. "The most urgent mandate for the Church is to reclaim the nobility of the sacrament of marriage."       Four days ahead of the release of Pope Francis’ keenly anticipated document on the family, in which he’s expected to address the hotly debated question of Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, Cardinal Dolan is urging the Catholic world to keep its eyes on the prize........“When you have a Church that says that family is actually the reflection of the life of the Holy Trinity, when you have a Church that says that the love expressed between a man and a woman in marriage is a reflection of God’s passion and eternal life, that’s magic,” he said, but “most people don’t hear that, most people don’t believe that.”....(more) 
Six things to look for in 'Amoris Laetitia'
Extracts from Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter, 5 April 2016

Amoris Laetitia, the much anticipated apostolic exhortation written by Pope Francis in response to the synod on the family, will be released Friday morning. The Latin title translates in English as “The Joy of Love.”        Here are six things to look for when the exhortation is published.      First, remember that most Catholics live in the global South, so what does this document say to them? Is the exhortation concerned only about European and North American issues, or does it have something to say to the millions of Catholics in the South.     In Africa, for example, the church has been struggling to figure out how to mesh the sacramental life of the church, especially marriage, with African traditions.   Thus, while the West, following Roman law, sees marriage as a legal contract between a man and a woman that takes place when the words of consent are spoken, in Africa, marriage is often an agreement involving two families that takes place gradually over time. There is no magic moment.    Since Francis is the first pope from the global South, you can be certain that the people of the South were in his thoughts as he wrote the exhortation.............Don’t be surprised if all predictions are wrong.........(more)
The Exhortation Expectations Game
Extract from Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal, 5 April 2016

Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’s post-synod apostolic exhortation, will be released this Friday, and the secrecy surrounding it is greater than usual. No doubt this is partly because of the sensitiveness of the issues involved, but it's also likely because the Vatican wants to guard against a leak like the one that allowed early publication of Laudato si' last June. Still, this hasn’t discouraged a pre-publication exercise in managing (or spinning) expectations.         Amoris Laetitia will plainly be a hugely important document on family and marriage, a substantial update of John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio (1981). And that explains the interest and commentary preceding it. Consider interviews given this week to Crux’s John Allen by two of the most visible prelates in the United States, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C. Each reveals something about the relationship between the American church and this pontificate.     Cardinal Dolan’s comments on the exhortation are illustrative of the worries some have about the “Francis effect” on American Catholicism. He sounds in some ways like the successor to the late Cardinal Francis George of Chicago in how he expresses surprise and qualms at just what Pope Francis is doing. He gives the pontiff the benefit of the doubt perhaps—but little else.....(more)

Statement from Bishop Paul Bird following the death of Bishop Ronald Mulkearns
Monday 4 Apri1 2016

Bishop Ronald Mulkearns died this morning (Monday, 4 April) in Nazareth House Nursing Home, Ballarat, aged 85. ??Bishop Mulkearns was the bishop of Ballarat from 1971 till 1997. Those who knew him personally will remember a man who was dedicated in his service over those years and, indeed, over the sixty years he served as a priest. At the same time, Bishop Mulkearns himself acknowledged that he had made some tragic mistakes during his time as bishop. He expressed his sorrow for these mistakes in the evidence he gave to the Royal Commission in February. ??The Royal Commission had foreshadowed a further hearing of evidence from Bishop Mulkearns. His death means that the Royal Commission and survivors will not be able to hear any further evidence that he might have given and this will be a disappointment to them.

Bishop Ron Mulkearns
Extracts from recent article by Michael Morwood, 4 April 2016
Ron Mulkearns is my cousin. I was the deacon at his episcopal consecration in late 1968 and his first ordinant to priesthood in May, 1969.
In the regrettable situation in which my cousin finds himself as he nears death I want to stand with him and honour him while also wanting to stand compassionately, sorrowfully and respectfully with people who have been hurt by his decisions and actions in the Ballarat sexual abuse scandal.
My cousin is and always has been a thoroughly decent man. There is not an ounce of evil intent in him. I do not wish to excuse any of his decisions and actions that have caused immense pain to so many people, but I do want to expose the great injustice and hypocrisy that is being cloaked over as this and other cases of bishops handling sexual abuse are investigated……………I believe that the Catholic Church in its governing processes is as totalitarian as any system of governance can be. Its control over thought and behavior is exceptional.  I’m also well aware that every person is responsible for his or her actions. And while it’s no excuse to say “They made me do it,” there is at times and in some situations reason to pause, to consider another side of the story and not to dump harsh judgment on someone who is basically decent and make him the scapegoat for everything that went wrong.

The fact is that you do not become a bishop in the Roman Catholic Church without, in many cases, leaving your intellectual integrity at the door when you sign on for the task. 

Statement from Bishop Paul Bird following the death of Bishop Ronald Mulkearns                              Bishop Paul Bird, Melbourne Catholic, Monday 4 Apri1 2016                                                                              Bishop Ronald Mulkearns died this morning (Monday, 4 April) in Nazareth House Nursing Home, Ballarat, aged 85. Bishop Mulkearns was the bishop of Ballarat from 1971 till 1997. Those who knew him personally will remember a man who was dedicated in his service over those years and, indeed, over the sixty years he served as a priest. At the same time, Bishop Mulkearns himself acknowledged that he had made some tragic mistakes during his time as bishop. He expressed his sorrow for these mistakes in the evidence he gave to the Royal Commission in February. The Royal Commission had foreshadowed a further hearing of evidence from Bishop Mulkearns. His death means that the Royal Commission and survivors will not be able to hear any further evidence that he might have given and this will be a disappointment to them..............(link to source). Photo: Melbourne Catholic

Bishop Ron Mulkearns                                                                                                                                     Extracts from recent article by Michael Morwood, 4 April 2016                                                                             Ron Mulkearns is my cousin. I was the deacon at his episcopal consecration in late 1968 and his first ordinant to priesthood in May, 1969.                In the regrettable situation in which my cousin finds himself as he nears death I want to stand with him and honour him while also wanting to stand compassionately, sorrowfully and respectfully with people who have been hurt by his decisions and actions in the Ballarat sexual abuse scandal.                My cousin is and always has been a thoroughly decent man. There is not an ounce of evil intent in him. I do not wish to excuse any of his decisions and actions that have caused immense pain to so many people, but I do want to expose the great injustice and hypocrisy that is being cloaked over as this and other cases of bishops handling sexual abuse are investigated……….….…I believe that the Catholic Church in its governing processes is as totalitarian as any system of governance can be. Its control over thought and behavior is exceptional.  I’m also well aware that every person is responsible for his or her actions. And while it’s no excuse to say “They made me do it,” there is at times and in some situations reason to pause, to consider another side of the story and not to dump harsh judgment on someone who is basically decent and make him the scapegoat for everything that went wrong.          The fact is that you do not become a bishop in the Roman Catholic Church without, in many cases, leaving your intellectual integrity at the door when you sign on for the task..................(more)

Why social media will shape ‘Vatican III’
Extracts from Archbishop Mark Coleridge, 31 March 2016

Early in 2015 I was elected to represent the Australian bishops at the second of the two Synods on marriage and the family. Before I left for Rome, I was asked if I’d be willing to do a blog during the Synod.            I replied that I wasn’t much good at that sort of thing but that I’d give it a go. I doubted that I’d keep it going through the three weeks, in part because I know how busy Synods can become.                 When I got to Rome, I found that writing the blog posts fitted well with the rhythm of the Synod day. I could do them either early in the morning before Mass or after lunch before returning to work. As the Synod wore on, I came to see that writing the blog was a way for me to focus my thoughts and feelings in the whirl of an intense and complex process.           I wrote the posts quickly with little revision, leaving the communications people back in Brisbane to correct what needed correction.             I thought I was doing the blog just to keep some folks back home in the loop, which struck me as a good thing to do. The Synod might be “of bishops” but it couldn’t be just “for bishops”. Others had to be part of the journey somehow.             What I didn’t expect was that the blog would get so big; in fact it went global. I didn’t see that coming and I didn’t understand it at the time. I still don’t understand it fully. But what I can see is that the blog gave a lot of people – even some journalists – a sense of what the Synod was actually like from within....................As I see it now, the line between Synod and blog is blurred; and there’s a theological point to this. In the Synod process, the line of demarcation between the bishops and the rest of the Church has blurred, and social media has been a big part of that. The same sort of thing has been evident in the conflicts in the Middle East. Social media is an essential part of the phenomenon; to a large degree it’s what drives the conflicts, or even makes them possible.                      I’ve been thinking about this and asking what it might mean for the national ecclesial assembly – perhaps a Plenary Council – that the Australian bishops are pondering at the moment.           I also find myself wondering what the next ecumenical council will look like, especially now that there are twice as many bishops in the world as there were at Vatican II. The digital world, and social media in particular, will have to be part of the council’s workings.....(more)
    Photo: Crux
Francis' widely anticipated document on family life to be published April 8
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 31 March 2016

Vatican City:  Pope Francis’ widely anticipated document on Catholic family life -- which may touch on sometimes controversial issues like divorce and remarriage and same-sex marriage -- will be released on April 8, the Vatican has announced.     The document, the result of two back-to-back meetings of global Catholic bishops at the Vatican in 2014 and 2015, will be titled “Amoris laetitia, On Love in the Family.” The Latin title translates in English as “The Joy of Love.”     It will be presented at a press conference April 8 by Cardinals Lorenzo Baldisseri and Christoph Schonborn, alongside Italian lay people Francesco and Giuseppina Miano.           The document follows two church gatherings known as Synods of Bishops. Baldisseri leads the Vatican office for the Synod.............(more)
What Will Pope Francis Say in His Apostolic Exhortation on the Family?
Extracts from Pat Marrin, Focus E-news,  Future Church, March 2016

Sources say Pope Francis signed the 200 plus page post-synodal apostolic exhortation on March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph but it is being translated into other languages (from Italian) before its release.  Reports say it will be published on April 8, 2016 at 11:30am (Rome time) and that Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna who was part of the German language group that offered a form of the “Internal Forum” as a way to bring divorced and remarried Catholics back into the fold, will present it.   Other expected participants at the press conference are: Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops;  Professor Francesco Miano, lecturer in moral philosophy at the University of Rome at Tor Vergata, and his wife, Professor Giuseppina De Simone in Miano, lecturer in philosophy at the Theological Faculty of Southern Italy in Naples.   The event will be live-streamed on Vatican Radio..................Journalist Gerald O’Connell makes some predictions about what will be in Francis’ post-synodal apostolic exhortation......(more)

CSSV welcomes Royal Commission family violence report
Extract from Cathnews, 31 March 2016

Catholic Social Services Victoria has welcomed the report of the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence, the first in Australia to consider the issue.       Yesterday the Royal Commission released its report and recommendations, after a 13-month inquiry. The Royal Commission has recommended a whole of community, and bipartisan whole of government response. There are 227 specific recommendations,       "The Premier, Daniel Andrews MP, has pledged to implement every recommendation. We welcome this commitment and applaud his leadership on this issue," said CSSV President Denis Fitzgerald in a statement yesterday.     "The breadth and depth of change needed and the funding required is significant. This may take some years (and electoral cycles), but if the commitment of the Victorian community and political leaders stays strong, we can continue to build momentum towards a violence free Victoria."      The recommendations include........(more)
Vatican confirms investigation into financing of Cardinal Bertone's apartment
Extracts from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 31 March 2016

Vatican City:   The Vatican has opened an investigation into the financing of the restoration of former Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone’s large apartment, targeting two former executives at a children’s hospital owned by the city-state for possible redirection of funds towards the project.     Gregory Burke, the deputy director of the Vatican press office, told reporters in a short briefing Thursday that the cardinal himself was not under investigation but that two former officials of the Bambino Gesu Hospital in Rome are...........Thursday’s confirmation follows reports in Italian press that the two executives were being investigated for the use of some 400,000 Euro towards restoration of Bertone’s apartment, based on reporting done by journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi in his November 2015 book Avarizia (“Avarice”).     While Bertone has not admitted any guilt in the matter, he made a large donation of 150,000 Euro to the hospital last December after the book’s publishing in a bid to make amends......(more)

Onus on governments over abuse liability laws: TJH Council
Extract from CathNews, Wednesday 30 March 2016

The Truth, Justice and Healing Council said it was up to governments to pass laws to force institutions to be financially liable for sexual abuse, reports the ABC.           The Council's CEO, Francis Sullivan, was responding to a claim by an abuse victim that a religious order in Victoria has tried to avoid paying adequate compensation.           Survivor Ron Kochskamper said the Christian Brothers St Alipius Boys School in Ballarat had nominated its former principal Robert Best, who was jailed in 2011 for his crimes against boys, as the defendant to be sued for negligence on their behalf.                  Mr Kochskamper's lawyer, Vivian Waller, said the Christian Brothers would not back Best with their assets.......(more)  Photo: Cathnews 
What Will Francis Say?
Extracts from Vatican Dispatch, Gerard O'Connell, America - the National Catholic Review, 29 February 2016

In the first two months of 2016, Pope Francis made front-page news worldwide by his meeting with the president of Iran, his decision to participate in the Lutheran-Catholic commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, his Asia Times interview on China, the historic encounter with the Patriarch of Moscow and his stunning visit to Mexico.        In March, he is sure to be in the news again when the Vatican releases his apostolic exhortation on the family. The target date for publication is March 19, the third anniversary of the inauguration of his Petrine ministry and the feast of St. Joseph.       In writing the exhortation, Francis drew on the work of the Synod of Bishops’ meetings on the family in 2014 and 2015 and especially the final report from last October’s assembly. The discussions at the meetings and the final report covered a vast area, extending from the very different socioeconomic, cultural, religious and interreligious situations in which families live to the serious challenges they face. Those range from extreme poverty, armed conflict, migration, secularization and ideological colonization to young people’s fear of entering lifelong commitments, polygamy, cohabitation, openness to having children, single-parent families, the breakup of marriages and the consequences of this for children and the passing on of the faith.               The final report in 2015 reaffirmed traditional church teaching on marriage and the family and highlighted the need to give greater attention to preparing couples for marriage and to the pastoral care of families. Significantly, however, it closed no doors to the development of new pastoral approaches to complex marriage situations, including those of divorced and remarried Catholics (whether they may receive Communion, for example), and to the issue of homosexuality and the family...............What then can we expect in the exhortation? The text is still secret, but one can predict some things. ..........(more)

The Passion of the Bureaucrats                                                                                                                Review of two related books, Tim Parks. London Review of Books, 29 March 2016
The books are 'Avarizia: Le Carte che Svelano. Ricchezza, Scandali e Segreti della Chiesa di Francesco' by Emiliano Fittipaldi, and 'Merchants in the Temple: Inside Pope Francis’s Secret Battle against Corruption in the Vatican' by Gianluigi Nuzzi, translated by Michael Moore. The reviews are linked to the website's Book reviews page Here.

A guide to decoding Catholic reaction to Pope Francis
Extract from John L. Allan Jnr, Crux, 27 March 2016

ROME – For more than a quarter-century, from 1978 to 2005, St. John Paul II was one of the most popular figures in the world, with high poll numbers and adoring crowds. To this day, his funeral Mass eleven years ago is considered the most-watched broadcast event in the history of television.         Yet as is always the case with strong leaders, he was also sometimes polarizing inside the institution he led.        In particular, more liberal Catholics often charged that too much power accumulated in the Vatican on John Paul’s watch, and that the Church had become too rigid and dogmatic. Yet because it’s buried deep in Catholic DNA to hesitate to criticize a pope outright, a sort of lexicon developed to allow people to make these points in oblique fashion.        If you heard a given theologian or bishop talk about the importance of “collegiality,” for instance – referring to the idea that all the bishops should govern the Church together as a college, rather than an absolute monarch in Rome – it often meant they were on the liberal side of arguments about John Paul II. The same went for calls for the Church to be more “pastoral,” usually meaning not quite so stringent about doctrine and discipline.        Today, we have a similar dynamic with Pope Francis: He’s massively popular around the world, but somewhat divisive inside the Church itself. In his case, it’s often more conservative Catholics who find themselves ambivalent...........(more)    Photo: Crux, (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia) 

Pope urges Christians on Holy Saturday to ‘break open tombs’
Extract from Innes San Martin, Vatican Correspondent, Crux, 26 March 2016

ROME — Pope Francis on Holy Saturday underlined several of the key themes of his papacy, calling on Christians to leave their self-centeredness behind and warning that the Holy Spirit is not a magic worker who removes evil “with a magic wand.”        “We, like Peter and the women, cannot discover life by being sad, bereft of hope,” Francis said, referring to a passage from the Gospel which tells the story of Jesus’ resurrection appearances to Peter and several female disciples.     “Let us not stay imprisoned within ourselves, but let us break open our sealed tombs to the Lord so that he may enter and grant us life,” he said on Saturday, as he was presiding over the Easter Vigil in Rome’s St. Peter’s Basilica.    In effect, the line was an Easter version of the same call Francis has been issuing to Christians from the beginning to stop being obsessed with themselves and to focus on others, often expressed in his insistence that the Church “get out of the sacristy and into the street.”....(more)

Justice for Worldwide Survivors of Clerical Child Sex Abuse
Extracts from Press Release, Brendan Butler, We are Church, Ireland, 25 March 2016

Today, Good Friday, members of  ‘We are Church Ireland‘ staged a dramatic presentation on Grafton Street, Dublin 2, calling for  ‘Justice for Worldwide Survivors of Clerical Child Sex Abuse‘ and for members of the Catholic Hierarchy involved in the cover-up of these heinous crimes through not reporting them to the civil authorities, to be brought to justice both in the Civil and Church courts.There is ambivalence and no clear direction from the Vatican on the reporting of clerical child sex abuse to civil authorities worldwide...............A training course organised by The Vatican Congregation for Bishops for newly appointed Catholic bishops from around the world held in September 2015, was told that they had no obligation to report abuse charges to civil law enforcement agencies. The Pontifical commission for the Protection of Minors set up by Pope Francis in 2014 had not been invited by the organising Congregation of Bishops to address the new bishops with their alternate view that all bishops had a moral and religious responsibility to report all child sexual abuse charges to the civil authorities........‘Pope Francis must lift this maintenance of the veil of secrecy and the ambivalence surrounding this crime of clerical child sex abuse by demanding that all Catholic Church authorities must be held accountable and irrespective of circumstances must report all clerics accused of clerical child sex abuse to the civil authorities’ stated Brendan Butler, We are Church 

Bishop: Irish hierarchy should reach out to priests like Fr. Tony Flannery
Extract from Sarah Mac Donald, National Catholic Reporter, 23 March 2016

Dublin, Ireland: For the first time, an Irish bishop has indicated it is time for the Irish hierarchy to reach out to priests like well-known Redemptorist Fr. Tony Flannery, who was censured by the Vatican in 2012.      Speaking to NCR at a conference on mercy in Dublin, Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry admitted that unless the bishops are seen to be "willing to go way beyond our comfort zone then people will say you are just a group looking after yourselves."     Asked about the plight of Flannery and other Irish priests censured by the Vatican, he responded, "We have to be constantly reaching out -- that is the job of followers of Christ. What form that will take as regards to the individuals you talk about is another thing."    He also referred to Pope Francis' comments that the church must be seen to be building bridges rather than building walls.     "We can never retreat behind walls," McKeown said, adding that this applied to dealings with people who have been abused by the church in the past, priests who have left ministry and priests who have been censured in one way or another.............The Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland, of which Flannery is a co-founder, has, on a number of occasions, raised the fact that the Irish bishops have not intervened in the case of Flannery and has failed to meet with ACP leadership, which represents over 1,000 Irish priest members.......(more)  Photo: Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry

Photo: Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry

 Pope finalises sensitive document on the family
Extract from National Catholic Reporter, 22 March 2016

On Saturday, Pope Francis finalised a highly-anticipated teaching document on family issues that has been 18 months in the making.
- Washington Post/Crux: Francis has a reputation for opening the Church’s doors when it comes to concepts of family. The next few weeks may clarify just how far he intends to open them.         The document on the family isn’t expected to be released for a few weeks, but pundits, priests, and laypeople will be flipping through furiously as soon as possible to see how Francis proposes bringing more fully into Church life Catholics who are LBGT, divorced-and-remarried, or cohabiting outside marriage.       Based on recent hints dropped by the Pope and other top advisers, Church-watchers believe Francis will attempt the papal version of skating’s triple-axle: not changing orthodox doctrine on anything, but altering practice and rules enough to give different types of families new affirmation that they are a legitimate part of the Church.....(more) Photo: Cathnews, The 2014 Synod

The 3rd International Conference of Priest Movements and Reform Organizations in Chicago          Tuesday 22 March 2016
For details of this significant event, background information by David Timbs, or to register, visit the  Events page. It's from October 17-20 in Chicago, IL, USA

Canon Law on Child Sexual Abuse Throughout The Ages
Kieran Tapsell, Republished here with permission from the Author, 21 March 2016
Extract and link to full document:

In 2014 two senior members of the Marist and Christian Brothers in Australia told Justice McLellan, the Chair of the Child Sexual Abuse Royal Commission that in the 1980s the brothers would not have regarded touching a student’s genitals as a crime but only a “moral failure”. McLellan asked Br Shanahan.
Q.   Can you explain how the Orders would have brought themselves intellectually to that position, describing it only as a moral failure and not a criminal offence?  How would they have arrived at that position?
A.   No, I can't explain it.
This paper is an attempt to explain it: how bishops, priests and religious all over the world came to regard the sexual abuse of children, not as crimes punishable by the State, but as moral failures that should be dealt with by treatment, and by dismissal from the priesthood or religious life only as a last resort. The explanation lies in a gradual but radical change of culture within the Catholic Church that took place in the latter part of the 19th century that can be traced through changes in canon law....(read paper here or in Documents)

Victims tell their stories to Australia's royal commission on child sexual abuse
Extract from Chris McGillon, National Catholic Reporter, 21 March 2016

.........With the media reporting on the work of the (Royal) commission on a regular -- often daily -- basis, there is a community impact as well. Few people can now claim ignorance of the nature and long-term consequences of child abuse. This has already contributed to a new culture of openness about abuse replacing the old culture of secrecy and denial.      The commission has also shown just how extensive the incidence of child abuse was in the past. It has investigated allegations of abuse in the context of churches, yeshivas, yoga ashrams, performing arts centers, swimming clubs, government-run youth training camps, the criminal justice system, elite private schools, the Boy Scouts, and health care providers.      The obvious lesson learned is that, at a societal level, there has been far too little appreciation of the impact of lifelong suffering on the victims and far too much confidence in children’s resilience when they are abused.     The Catholic church, however, can take little comfort from the knowledge that it is hardly alone in shouldering a shameful past. Almost one in every three institutions so far examined in private sessions of the commission has been Catholic, and about one-third of all public sessions have involved Catholic dioceses, parishes, schools or other organizations.......(more)
Also See 'Comments', including this one from Joan Seymour, 22 March 2016
"I'm with Catholics for Renewal when they call for radical changes to the Church's governance structures and practices. I don't think I'll live to see these changes, but if the Church is to survive, they must happen. I don't agree that the reason for the Royal Commission's slow pace is the Catholic Church dragging its feet. The Commission is proceeding at pretty much the pace it mapped out for itself at the beginning. It's slow because it has to hear so much evidence from so many people who were involved with so many different institutions. They are a small handful of people who are doing an amazing job - and it seems to me the Australian Bishops are trying to co-operate as well as they can."

Vatican accountability tribunal stuck in neutral 
Extract from CathNews, 18 March 2016
Francis’s proposed tribunal to judge bishops who covered up for paedophile priests has stalled, reports AP in Crux.       The Pope's most significant sex abuse-related initiative to date is a victim of a premature roll-out, unresolved legal and administrative questions, and resistance both inside and outside of the Holy See, Church officials and canon lawyers say.    The surprise proposal made headlines when it was announced last June as the first major initiative of Francis’ sex abuse advisory commission. A Vatican communique said Francis and his nine cardinal advisers had unanimously agreed to create a new judicial section within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to handle “abuse of office” cases against bishops accused of failing to protect their flocks from paedophiles.     But the proposal immediately raised red flags to canon lawyers and Vatican officials alike............(more)  Image:CardinalOMalley - Cathnews,

Priests told to 'follow conscience' on feet washing
Extract from CathNews, The Catholic Herald, 18 March 2016

Priests are not obliged to wash the feet of women during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper
on Holy Thursday, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments has said, reports The Catholic Herald.     Cardinal Robert Sarah told reporters in Rome last month that a priest “has to decide in accord with his own conscience, and according to the purpose for which the Lord instituted this feast”.     Cardinal Sarah’s comments follow a decree issued by Pope Francis which revises the rules for the traditional foot-washing ritual on Holy Thursday, extending the rite to
include women and young girls....(more)   Image: Cardinal Sarah

San Francisco priest: Clericalist attitude evident in some priests of all generations
Peter Feuerherd.Mar. 17, 2016. Extracts from Fr Mark Doherty, National Catholic Reporter

...........Clericalism has many poses or manifestations. Careerism (of which Pope Francis has often spoken) is a symptom of a clericalist attitude evident in some priests of all generations.     Among some baby-boomer priests and priests of the preceding generation we have seen a spirit of presumption in connection with the teachings of the church and the celebration of sacred rites. The sacrament of holy orders does not confer on a man the prerogative to alter the sacramental rites of the church, especially in their essential formulas. How often have we seen certain priests take great liberties with the Mass, including changing or creating out of whole cloth the eucharistic prayer? The baptized have a right to experience and participate in the rites of the church as the church wishes them to be celebrated...........With respect to priests of my generation, there are some who evidence a spirit of condescension towards the laity. Priests are called to shepherd the People of God, but the mission of building the kingdom is a collaborative work, one in which laymen and women play an essential, not an accidental role.    Some priests of a younger generation neglect to adequately acknowledge and encourage a collaborative spirit. The baptized have a right to assume their share of the work and be valued for the unique contributions they make in the apostolate. Everyone loses when the spirit of collaboration is stifled. In addition, the lack of tact, sensitivity and generous interpretation of another's intentions that some younger priests evidence in their interaction with the laity betrays the presence of the spirit of condescension.    Upon arriving in a parish, for example, a priest has to appreciate the way liturgies have been celebrated there for many years. He cannot come in like a Tasmanian devil and change the way things have been done for a long time. Of course, if there are grave abuses taking place, these need to be addressed promptly, but otherwise the priest ought to strive first to understand and appreciate how the people in his parish have experienced the presence of the Lord before he seeks to make some gradual adjustments......(more) Photo: Fr Mark Doherty, NCR      
At 3-year mark, Francis is a both/and pope in an either/or world
Extract from John Allen Jr, Associate Editor, Crux, 13 April 2016

ROME — Pope Francis on Sunday marks the third anniversary of his election in March 2013, and even after 36 months it’s striking how much of an enigma he remains. Several big-picture questions, which one might have thought would be resolved by now, remain hotly debated.    Is he a liberal or a conservative?     Is he the laid-back figure of “Who am I to judge?” or the Bible-thumping moralist of “The Devil is on the prowl?”
    Is the humble, simple exterior the real man, or is there a master strategist underneath?     Is he a reformer, meaning a gradual change agent, or a revolutionary?          One understands why an argument continues, because there’s abundant evidence to support almost any conclusion one wishes to draw.     Is it possible, however, that the correct answer has been staring us in the face all along, and the fact that it is often tough to grasp says more about our polarized culture than about the pope?     Spoiler alert: Based on everything we’ve seen and heard, it seems clear that the right response is, “Both......(more)

The rise and rise of an orthodox cardinal
Extracts from CathNews, Catholic Herald (UK), 11 March 2016

African Cardinal Robert Sarah has become a standard bearer for orthodoxy in an era of flux, and is attracting plenty of attention for his stance, reports The Catholic Herald.   It is often said that once a new Pope has emerged on to the loggia of St Peter’s, the Cardinals’ thoughts turn almost immediately to the question of his successor. Pope Francis, although about to turn 80 at the end of this year, does not seem ready to run out of steam.   Despite having part of a lung missing, he seems undiminished by a daunting schedule which he seems to relish. This, along with his obvious pleasure in his role, means that it is difficult to take quite seriously his own speculation that his papacy will be a short one. Nonetheless, nobody should be surprised that there is already much speculation about the identity of his successor.      Among the names being talked about is that of one cardinal elevated to the Sacred College by Benedict XVI, who is increasingly admired by those who wish to consolidate the legacy of the Pope Emeritus.....(more) Photo: CathNews, Catholic Herald  (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)  

Document awaited from predictably unpredictable pope
Extract from Joshua McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 10 March 2016

Vatican City: Within a few weeks, Pope Francis is expected to release a new document on Catholic family life that may touch upon controversial topics like divorce and remarriage and same-sex marriage.    Francis stirred up much debate and anticipation by calling back-to-back Synods of Bishops in 2014 and 2015 on the topic of family life. Preparation for those worldwide meetings of bishops included diocesan consultations with lay and ordained experts and, in some places, open surveys of the faithful about the state of family life.         At the close of the October 2015 synod in Rome, some 270 bishops issued a lengthy document, meant to advise Francis. That document notably recommended a significant softening of the church's practice toward those who have divorced and remarried.                    Now, with most signs pointing to the end of March, the pope is expected to issue an apostolic exhortation on the synod. It should sum up the debates and decisions of the closely watched synod meetings, but, as with anything from the predictably unpredictable Argentine pope, it is unknown what direction Francis will take in his writing.        He could simply restate what the bishops said in October in their 94-paragraph final document, adding details here or there, but not touching on controversial topics too closely.    Or he could do what he did with the discussions from the 2012 synod on new evangelization, tossing aside the synod fathers' concerns to write his own manifesto, 2013's Evangelii Gaudium ("The Joy of the Gospel").      One of the participants of last year's synod said that while he does not expect the exhortation to be a "bombshell" document, that "doesn't mean it has to be bland or beside the point."     "I expect the papal document to be a typical Bergoglio combination of challenge and encouragement," said Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, Australia, using Francis' family name. "This pope has a strange ability to say things which can be quite searing but end up being heartening.".....(more)

Kieran Tapsell. Cardinal Pell and the Church’s “Omerta”
Extract from Pearls and irritations, John Menadue website, 10 March 2016

Cardinal George Pell must now be regretting not having come back to Australia to give his evidence to the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in the relatively small town of Ballarat in the State of Victoria. By claiming that his medical condition did not allow him to travel, and offering to give video evidence in Rome, he has turned his performance in the witness box into a media feast that otherwise might have gone unnoticed in the international press......(more)

Archbishop of Canberra announces new safeguards body
Extract from CathNews, 10 March 2016

The Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn, Christopher Prowse, has announced the establishment of a new body to handle sexual abuse complaints within the Archdiocese.      Announcing the Institute for Professional Standards and Safeguarding (IPSS) yesterday, Archbishop Prowse said: “I have instigated and aim to fully implement a governance structure that brings our survivors of sex abuse from the margins into the centre of our pastoral response.     “This is a most challenging time for us all, especially over recent weeks. The Royal Commission has uncovered afresh the pain and deep wounds of survivors and their families and friends.”     Archbishop Prowse said "the real heroes arising from this darkness are the survivors themselves. Some survivors have spoken most positively of Church officials once the abuse was reported.”        But, he added, “too many, regrettably, have spoken of being confronted by a brutal and defensive Church governance structure that refused to take responsibility.....(more) Photo: cathnews'

Theologian urges Pope to address question of infallibility
Extract from Cathnews, 10 March 2016

Hans Küng, the priest and Swiss theologian, has written an appeal to Pope Francis to permit a debate about Papal infallibility. The text is being released simultaneously by the National Catholic Reporter and The Tablet.    The fifth volume of his complete works, titled Infallibility, has become available from its German publishing house. In connection with the release of Infallibility, Fr Küng has written the following “urgent appeal to Pope Francis to permit an open and impartial discussion on infallibility of pope and bishops.”    "It is hardly conceivable that Pope Francis would strive to define papal infallibility as Pius IX did by all means necessary, whether good or less good, in the 19th century.    "It is also inconceivable that Francis would be interested in infallibly defining Marian dogmas as Pius XII did. It would, however, be far easier to imagine Pope Francis smilingly telling students, “Io non sono infallibile” — “I am not infallible” — as Pope John XXIII did in his time. When he saw how surprised the students were, John added, “I am only infallible when I speak ex cathedra, but that is something I will never do.”.....(morePhoto:Cathnews

Sydney’s oldest priest dies at 99
Extracts from CathNews, 10 March 2016

Sydney’s oldest priest has died at the age of 99, after an extraordinary 75 years of priesthood, reports The Catholic Weekly.  Fr Frank Martin died on Monday at Sutherland Hospital.    He was honoured last October with a papal honour, the Croce pro Ecclesia et Pontiface, for his “outstanding and very long and lasting devotion to the priesthood and to the archdiocese of Sydney.”........Fr Frank had entered the seminary at St Columba’s College, Springwood, at 15. After further studies at St Patrick’s College, Manly, he was ordained by Cardinal Norman Gilroy in 1940......(morePhoto: Cathnews

Women share struggles at Vatican event, skirting issues of ordination, governance
Extracts from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter,9 March 2016

A dozen women from around the world shared compelling and sometimes harrowing stories of their struggles for peace, education and equality during a Vatican event Tuesday, with some calling for better representation and women's leadership at the highest levels of the Catholic church.              The event, organized as an opportunity for women to share their voices from the center of the church bureaucracy on International Women's Day, was careful however to skirt the issue of women's governance in the Catholic community, choosing to speak instead of women's capabilities to share leadership.    In fact, one of the most prominent speakers at the third annual Voices of Faith event said that the focus of conversations about women's roles in the church around questions of ordination is "unfortunate" because it causes suspicion when any issue relating to women is raised in church circles.    Carolyn Woo, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, said that when women speak there is a lingering question: "Is this a slippery slope so that everything women want is eventually to the priesthood?"........Woo also called for an expansion of papal teaching toward women, noting that several recent pontiffs, including Pope Francis, have praised what they have called the "feminine genius.".......(more)

Let’s drop the obsession with criticism of Pope Francis
Extract from John L. Allen Jr. Associate Editor Crux, 9 March 2016

On Monday night I was in the diocese of New Ulm, Minnesota, to give the annual Bishop Raymond Lucker lecture. Lucker served as the bishop there for a quarter-century, from 1976 to 2000, and is remembered in New Ulm primarily as a caring pastor who loved his people and his place.    Nationally, however, Lucker is also remembered as a progressive who sometimes broke ranks with Pope John Paul II during the 1980s and 1990s, including over birth control and the ordination of women. He also criticized John Paul II’s decision to publish a universal catechism, seeing it as unnecessary and overly centralizing.     That legacy comes to mind in light of one of the most persistent narratives about Pope Francis, which is likely to get a new lease on life this week as we approach the third anniversary of his election on Sunday.   In a word, that narrative is “blowback.”             Because Francis is popularly seen as a progressive-minded maverick, there’s a deeply ingrained belief that he must be making conservative bishops angry, both in the Vatican and around the world, and that some of those perceived enemies must be maneuvering to undercut him.        That narrative was reinforced this week with news that an official Catholic newspaper linked to Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City has taken the pope to the woodshed, suggesting in an editorial last Sunday that the pontiff’s criticism of Mexican bishops during his recent trip to the country for sometimes acting like “princes” was unwarranted, and that the pope was the victim of “bad advice.”....(more) Photo: Crux

If Cardinal Pell survives, will his past trump his present?
Extract from By John L. Allen Jr.Associate Editor, Crux, 4 March 2016

After a bruising week of testimony by Cardinal George Pell before an Australian Royal Commission examining his record on child sexual abuse cases, the 74-year-old prelate may have given Pope Francis enough reason to justify keeping him around in the Vatican, both because of the lack of any new “smoking gun” revelation and also by pledging his support for anti-abuse efforts.     If so, the urgent question will be whether Pell’s past will trump his present — meaning whether he’ll still have the papal backing he needs to finish the work of bringing transparency, accountability, and integrity to Vatican finances, which is the central reason Francis brought him to Rome two years ago.      Pell, the Vatican’s top financial officer, was giving testimony about his response to abuse cases in the city of Ballarat, where his priestly career began and which has been an epicenter of Australia’s abuse scandals, and also about his time as archbishop of Melbourne from 1996 to 2001. He appeared via a video link from Rome, after a heart condition made the long flight home inadvisable.    The four-day hearing was not a walk in the park, and Pell undeniably took some hits.         Over and over, he insisted he was not aware of what he conceded was a “world of crimes and cover-ups” regarding pedophile priests, that he, too, had been deceived, and that at most he was guilty of being insufficiently curious. Those claims strained credibility for many Australian observers, including his chief interrogator, who described them as “implausible.”      A columnist in the Sydney Morning Herald wrote Friday that “two George Pells” fought for control of the history books during the testimony, and “one lost.” Some survivors who were on hand to hear Pell’s testimony protested on Thursday that anyone watching had been “deceived and lied to.”      Yet against all odds, there are five ways in which Pell actually may emerge in a stronger position from this experience......(more)

Vatican newspaper essays say women should preach at Mass
Extract from CathNews, Religion News Service, 3 March 2016

A series of essays in the semi-official Vatican newspaper is urging the Church to allow women to preach from the pulpit at Mass, a role that has been reserved almost exclusively to the all-male priesthood for nearly 800 years.     “This topic is a delicate one, but I believe it is urgent that we address it,” Enzo Bianchi, leader of an ecumenical religious community in northern Italy and a popular Catholic commentator, wrote in L’Osservatore Romano.     “Certainly for faithful lay people in general, but above all for women, this would constitute a fundamental change in their participation in church life,” said Mr Bianchi, who called such a move a “decisive path” for responding to widespread calls — including by Pope Francis — to find ways to give women a greater role in the church........If it happened, such a change would be a controversial shift.       In the early 13th century, as part of the movement toward consolidating church power in the papacy and the clergy, Pope Gregory IX effectively barred lay people — both men and women — from preaching, especially on theological or doctrinal matters that were considered the province of educated clerics.....(more)

Catholic Priest says Royal Commission wouldn't exist if people fulfilled their pastoral duty
Extract from ABC 7:30 report transcript, 3 March 2016

Catholic, Father Kevin Dillon says that after watching the evidence from Cardinal George Pell at the Royal Commission this week, he doesn't think many people fulfilled their pastoral duty.....
LEIGH SALES: Many Catholics have been gutted by this week's reminder of the Church's past failures and some are concerned that the lessons haven't been fully learned. One of those is Father Kevin Dillon. He's been very vocal in his criticism of his peers. He's the parish priest of St Mary of the Angels in Geelong.
Father Dillon, thank you very much for joining us. What have been your thoughts listening to Cardinal Pell's testimony this week?                   KEVIN DILLON, CATHOLIC PRIEST: I suppose, Leigh, during the week the things that have stood out for me have been I suppos
e key words used in the testimony presented. Things like "deception", "cover-ups", "crimes", "being misled" - those sort of things have stood out. And to me it's the hallmarks of - well, sadly, a church that is in very deep trouble. Because either those remarks are accurate, in which case so many people are culpable along the way in something that would be bad enough if it was to do with finance, but it's far worse when it's to do with human beings and their lives. And if those remarks are inaccurate and unfair and unwarranted, well they're coming from Australia's most senior Catholic. So either way, it's a matter of grave concern I think to everyone who loves the Church, let alone those of us who work in the Church on a daily basis......(more)

Cardinal Pell, Safe Schools and the personhood of children
Extract from Moira Rayner, Eureka Street, 3 March 2016

A feeding frenzy is afoot over the review of Safe Schools. This minimally funded public program is designed to prevent bullying in schools, which is notoriously severe for kids whose sexual orientation or identity makes them easy meat for sorting out hierarchies of informal power in the playground.         We learn that the PM caved in when a 'concerned Christian' MP started reading out detailed from a non-Safe School website about genital tucking, representing the program as perversely sexual propaganda.     Clammy hands are already at work on the completely unrelated plebiscite on same sex marriage after the expected Coalition win in this year's federal election.        Last Monday's Q&A revealed how spokesmen for Christians feel that both are insidious challenges to the family, mother-baby bonding, and the appalling liberalisation of anti-homosexual and discriminatory criminal and civil laws.    Coincidentally poor old George Pell is under attack for failing to observe that his Ballarat colleagues were prolifically enabling Ridsdale and other pedophiles to sexually abuse little boys — though it seems Bishop Mulkearn thought it was about 'homosexuality', not pederasty.       The prurient desire to control the sexual interests of others on the one hand, and on the other the gross failures by institutions to protect vulnerable children in their care, are sadly linked to an unwillingness to face the truth about human sexuality. It's easier to judge, than to seek to understand......(more)

Cardinal George Pell tells royal commission he was 'deceived in a world of crime and cover-ups'
Extract from ABC News, 2 March 2016

Cardinal George Pell has told the child abuse royal commission he was deceived in a world of crime and cover-ups by people who did not want the status quo disturbed.      Australia's most senior Catholic claimed he was not briefed properly or adequately by the Catholic Education Office and Archbishop about abuse in Ballarat and Melbourne.     Giving evidence from Rome's Hotel Quirinale for a third day, Cardinal Pell told the commission he believed the information was kept from him because he would have acted on it.     "They realised very clearly I was not cut from the same cloth," he told the inquiry.    "They [Catholic Education Office] would have been fearful ... that I would have asked all sorts of inconvenient questions if I'd been better briefed."     Counsel assisting the inquiry dismissed this explanation as implausible.     Cardinal Pell recounted events involving accused paedophile Father Peter Searson, who pulled a handgun on parishioners and stabbed a bird with a screwdriver in front of children.    The inquiry was told Searson, who was accused of sexually abusing children from the 1970s to the 1990s, also held a knife to a young girl's chest and told her: "If you move, this will go through you".    Cardinal Pell said he had no recollection of a meeting in which a list of complaints made by children was raised that included fear of sexual abuse, Searson hitting children and concerns he was dangerous.....(more)

Cardinal didn't have 'much interest' in claims about Ridsdale
Extract from CathNews, Thew Sydney Morning Herald, 2 March 2016

Cardinal George Pell faces the Royal Commission again today from Rome, after yesterday saying that he did not have "much interest" in complaints about paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale. "It's a sad story and it wasn't of much interest to me," he said.     Cardinal Pell said that complaints about Ridsdale did not reach his ears as he was busy running the Institute of Catholic Education, which had 2000 students.        "It's not a small job," he told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse related to Ballarat Diocese and Melbourne Archdiocese via video link from the Hotel Quirinale in Rome.  "I certainly wasn't plugged into life at the Diocese."     The Royal Commission was told the then-Bishop of Ballarat, Ronald Mulkearns, and other senior clergy, had received multiple complaints about Ridsdale, including that he was living with a 14-year-old boy while in Mortlake, Victoria, and had abused children across a number of parishes.     Royal Commission chairman, Justice Peter McClellan, asked Cardinal Pell: "Given the nature of the allegations and given the number of people that we can assume have knowledge of them, it might be surprising that you didn't hear any rumour at all?    Cardinal Pell responded: "Not necessarily, given the work I was doing."     The Cardinal then said he didn't have "much interest" in complaints about Ridsdale. "I didn't know whether it was common knowledge or whether it wasn't," he said. "It's a sad story and it wasn't of much interest to me.".....(more)

Principal resists pressure to leave Safe School coalition
Extract from CathNews 2 March 2016

The Victorian principal of one of only two Catholic schools to support the controversial Safe Schools coalition is refusing to bow to pressure to leave the group, reports the Herald Sun.      Paul Tobias, the head of St Joseph’s in Geelong, has written to both state and federal Education ministers backing funding of the program but advocating some changes, including less focus on the specifics of different sexualities.      He said the main aim of the anti-bullying program should be to encourage tolerance and respect of diversity, but it may have become sidetracked.      “I wonder sometimes as a consequence of trying to address and understand everyone on the LGBTI spectrum, and provide specific information about each, that the coalition provides critics with the perception that the original purpose of safe schools is being hijacked,” he wrote.     He said he was not using the entire curriculum but used it as a reference point for his school’s anti-homophobic bullying work.     The school is one of only two of Victoria’s 493 Catholic schools, and 1728 Australia-wide, that are members of the under siege coalition, whose program includes teaching children the meaning of terms such as “queer’’, “pansexual’’, “sister girl’’ and “trans guy”.....(more)  Photo: Cathnews.

Pell jeered as he denies knowledge of abuse allegations
Extract from Rod McQuirk, Associated Press, Crux, 1 March 2016

CANBERRA, Australia — Interrupted by jeers from observers, one of Pope Francis’ top advisers on Tuesday denied an accusation that his testimony to an inquiry into child sex abuse was an attempt to deflect blame for the Catholic Church transferring Australia’s worst pedophile priest from parish to parish.    Australian Cardinal George Pell was a priest in the 1970s in the town of Ballarat where he advised Bishop Ronald Mulkearns about the placement of priests within the diocese.     Pell, now the pope’s top financial adviser, told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that he had no idea that priest Gerald Ridsdale was repeatedly transferred by the bishop for more than a decade because of pedophile accusations.    Pell rejected an accusation made by the lead counsel assisting the commission, Gail Furness, that his answers were designed to remove his own responsibility for Ridsdale’s crimes.     “My answers were designed to answer your questions accurately and completely,” Pell told the Sydney inquiry via videolink from a Rome hotel.    Asked if he accepted any responsibility for Ridsdale’s repeated transfers within the Ballarat diocese, Pell replied: “No, I don’t.”....(more)

Cardinal Pell dismisses claims he knew about abuse as ‘nonsense'
Extract from Catholic Herald (UK) 1 March 2016

The cardinal told an Australian commission he had been 'kept in the dark' about the crimes of Gerald Ridsdale.    Cardinal George Pell has told the Australian commission on child abuse that it is “nonsense” to suggest he knew about an abusive priest.      On the second day of his video testimony to the commission, counsel Gail Furness told the cardinal it was “implausible” that he had been ignorant of offences committed by Gerald Ridsdale, a former priest who committed more than 130 offences against young boys while working as a chaplain at Ballarat’s St Alipius school.     Cardinal Pell replied, “That is complete nonsense”, before adding that other clerics, notably Bishop Ronald Mulkearns and Mgr Leo Fiscalini, had kept him “in the dark”.    Cardinal Pell was on a committee with Bishop Mulkearns and Mgr Fiscalini which in 1982 approved of Ridsdale being moved to a different parish, after which the priest continued to abuse children. Cardinal Pell says he did not know Ridsdale’s previous record.    The cardinal suggested that Bishop Mulkearns realised “that I didn’t know and he did not want me to share in his culpability.”      Commissioner Peter McClellan expressed scepticism about Cardinal Pell’s claims, asking: “It is surprising, isn’t it, that a bishop and a senior cleric who joined with you in a committee to advise in relation to appointments would deceive a member of that committee?”     Cardinal Pell agreed: “It is surprising.”     The cardinal strongly criticised Bishop Mulkearns’s response to abuse allegations.     “I would have to say that I can’t nominate another bishop whose actions are so grave and inexplicable,” he said......(more) Photo: Catholic herald  

 George Pell sticks to his story over the serial abuse of Gerald Ridsdale
Extracts from Christopher Lamb in Rome, The Tablet, 1 March 2016

Cardinal tells commission that he has the full backing of Pope Francis
In Spotlight, the Oscar winning film into the sexual abuse cover up in the Archdiocese of Boston, there is a memorable line from one of the victims: "If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse them."      So it seemed in the appalling case of Gerald Ridsdale who abused children as he moved from parish to parish in the Diocese of Ballarat, located near to Melbourne, Australia. At one point the former, who was convicted of 54 child sex offences, had a 14-year-old boy living with him in the presbytery.     Last night one of Ballarat’s most prominent sons, Cardinal George Pell, was pressed repeatedly on what he knew about Ridsdale’s offending by Australia’s royal commission into institutional responses to sexual abuse.     Cardinal Pell once shared a presbytery with Ridsdale and has always maintained he did not know about any offending. Last night he stuck to his guns despite the claim that it was "common knowledge".      During the period under examination, the 1970s and 80s, the cardinal served as one of the bishop’s advisers - a member of the college of consulters - and was episcopal vicar for education. He also attended a 1982 meeting of the consulters where it was agreed to move Ridsdale to another parish although Pell said abuse concerns were never mentioned then.       If on Monday he showed humility by admitting the Church's "enormous mistakes", last night Pell was more assertive. The cardinal walked into Albergo Quirinale, where he is giving evidence to the commission via video link, looking upbeat and announcing: "I have the full backing of the Pope". Earlier in the day he had seen Francis for a meeting.            Victims watching the testimony were not happy with Pell’s evidence describing it as a "performance". Among them watching it are the nephew of Ridsdale and Paul Levey, who was the boy who lived in the presbytery with the abusive priest.      What really upset some of them, however, was the cardinal’s remark to the commission about the Ridsdale matter: "It's a sad story and it wasn't of much interest to me."      This gets to the heart of what is being examined. Pell might not have known about abuse, but did he want to know? There is a fine line between ignorance and wilful blindness...........(more)

Cardinal: Church made 'enormous mistakes' and 'let people down'
Extract from CathNews, ABC,  1 March 2016

Cardinal George Pell faces the royal commission again today from Rome, but yesterday during four hours of evidence, he admitted the Church had made "enormous mistakes" and "let people down" in its handling of child sexual abuse by priests.      Giving evidence yesterday morning via video link from the Hotel Quirinale in Rome, Cardinal Pell told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse related to Ballarat Diocese and Melbourne Archdiocese that he was "not here to defend the indefensible," and admitted children at the time were unlikely to be believed if they had come forward with allegations of abuse.    When asked if the general attitude of the Church was to not believe a child, he said it "certainly was much, much more difficult for the child to be believed then ... the predisposition was not to believe."     "... Too many of them certainly were dismissed and sometimes they were dismissed in absolutely scandalous circumstances," he said.     "They were very, very, very plausible allegations made by responsible people that were not followed up sufficiently."       Cardinal Pell also said the instinct was to protect the Church in response to allegations. "At that stage, the instinct was more to protect the institution, the community of the Church, from shame," he said......(more)

Child sex abuse drama wins Oscar for Best Film
Extracts from CathNews, The Catholic Herald, 1 March 2016

One of the producers of Spotlight, which won the Oscar for best picture at yesterday's Academy Awards, used his acceptance speech to call on Pope Francis and the Vatican to protect children from abuse and “restore the faith.”   Spotlight, which tells the story of The Boston Globe's investigation into the cover-up of clerical abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston, also won the award for best original screenplay at the ceremony at the Dolby Theatre, in Hollywood.    In his acceptance speech, producer Michael Sugar said that Spotlight “gave a voice to survivors (of abuse)”.    “This Oscar amplifies that voice,” he said. “We hope it will become a choir that will resonate all the way to the Vatican.    Pope Francis, it’s time to protect the children and restore the faith.”........In an interview with The Catholic Herald in January, Ms McCarthy said he did not want Spotlight to “sensationalise” the subject of clerical abuse or demonise the Church.      “It’s a sensitive issue and part of our approach was to not sensationalise or be gratuitous,” she said......(more)   Photo: Cathnews,

Report: Priests abused hundreds of kids in Altoona-Johnstown Diocese
Extract from Catholic News Service, National Catholic Reporter, 1 March 2016

At least 50 priests or religious leaders were involved in the abuse of hundreds of kids, and diocesan leaders systematically concealed the abuse to protect the church's image, according to a grand jury report released Tuesday by Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane.      The report identifies priests and other leaders by name and details incidents going back to the 1970s. Kane said that much of the evidence revealed in the report came from secret archives maintained by the diocese that was only available to the bishops who led the diocese over the decades.    Victims also testified to the grand jury, which was convened by Kane in early 2014 after local law enforcement officials and district attorneys of several counties approached her office with information about the abuse.    Kane said during a 75-minute press briefing that the investigation was continuing. She said that the actions of law enforcement also are part of the investigation.....(more)

For ‘Mercy Friday’ initiative, Pope visits young drug addicts at rehab centre
Extract fron Catholic Herald Tribune (UK)

In the second of his ‘Mercy Friday’ gestures, Pope Francis spent two hours with a group of young adults at a Catholic-run residential drug rehabilitation centre.     To the complete surprise of the 55 residents, Pope Francis showed up in his compact Ford Escort at the San Carlo Community on February 26 with just a driver. Archbishop Rino Fisichella, organiser of the Vatican’s Year of Mercy events, arrived separately at the community outside of Rome near Castel Gandolfo.         “We were speechless when we saw the car with the Pope enter our community where every day our young people fight their battle to return to life,” said Roberto Mineo, president of the Italian Solidarity Centre, which runs the facility.      “The Pope, like a caring father, spent a long time which each person, listening to their stories and embracing them one by one. Some of the young people showed him photos of their families, their children, and the Pope had a word of hope and a blessing for each of them.”.....(more)  Photo: Catholic Herald Tribune,

ACU celebrates International Women's Day
Extracts from CathNews, 1 March 2016

CEOs, community leaders and award winners headline the influential speakers at the 2016 Australian Catholic University International Women’s Day events next Tuesday, as the university celebrates women who make a difference.      A high-calibre list of speakers will tell their inspiring and unique stories, led by health and beauty industry leader Pippa Hallas, CEO of Ella Bache; Melina Marchetta, award-winning author of the novel Looking for Alibrandi; and Gemma Rygate, CEO of The Centre for Volunteering.    Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Anne Cummins, and Associate Vice-Chancellor (NSW/ACT) Professor Marea Nicholson will host the breakfast at ACU’s North Sydney campus.    Professor Cummins said these events were a fantastic opportunity to bring together past students from all walks of life for a conversation about "women who make a difference"......(more)  Photo CathNews,  

Church removes ribbons from Loud Fence
Extract from Matthew Dixon,The Courier (Ballarat), 26 February 2016

RIBBONS tied to the front gates of St Patrick’s Cathedral  in Melbourne as part of the Loud Fence Movement have been removed overnight.    The Ballarat movement which has gone global, involves tying bright ribbons outside institutions to end the decades of silence surrounding child sexual abuse.    However, colourful ribbons tied last night at the front of St Patrick’s Cathedral are no longer present as of this morning.     The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne confirmed to The Courier the ribbons had been removed as it was against its policy to have anything tied to the fence.                    “We were not trying to be antagonistic, it is just our policy,” archdiocese media and communications director Shane Healy said.            Mr Healy said many of the people involved with the church were not aware of what the Loud Fence movement was and what it represented.     Loud Fence creator Maureen Hatcher said she believed it may have been a case of whoever removed the ribbons not fully understanding their purpose...............“They might not know what they (the ribbons) represent at all or they might think that they represent that abuse happened there and they don’t want their building scarred.              “But it isn't about that, it is about showing support for the survivors. That is the bottom line, it is about showing support for the survivors and the victims and their families, that is all it is about.”.....(more) Photo: 

Bishop Mulkearns apologises for Ballarat abuse
Extract from CathNews, 26 February 2016

The former Bishop of Ballarat, Ronald Mulkearns, has told the Royal Commission he is not sure if he knew child abuse was a crime during his time in charge of the Ballarat diocese, but he knew it was wrong, reports the ABC.      Bishop Mulkearns made his much-anticipated appearance at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse via videolink from the nursing home in which he now lives. Until now Bishop Mulkearns had been excused from giving evidence because he was too sick.     Asked if he referred paedophile Gerald Ridsdale for help because he knew he was abusing children, he said yes.     Bishop Mulkearns told the hearing he never asked priests directly if they were abusers but instead got reports from psychologists.       He conceded the only reason he sent priests for treatment was because he believed they had been offending.     "I didn't really know what to do or how to do it," he said.         He apologised yesterday for the way he handled complaints of abuse in his Diocese.    He told the Commission he retired in 1997 because he did not feel he was "handling himself very well."     "There were problems with the priests in the diocese and I didn't seem to be handling them as well as I should have," he said.    "And I'd like to say, if I may, that I'm terribly sorry that I didn't do things differently in that time.".....(more)

Francis' challenge to bishops
Extracts from Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter, 25 February 2016

Pope Francis is known for preaching the compassion and mercy of God, but he can be pretty tough on priests and bishops. Like Jesus with the religious leaders of his time (scribes and Pharisees), Pope Francis does not pull his punches.     Francis has now given major speeches to bishops in Brazil, Korea, Mexico, Italy, and the United States. Comparing and contrasting what the pope said to the U.S. bishops with what he said to other bishops gives us a better understanding of his pastoral vision...........Words of praise from the pope are common in addresses to bishops, as are his concern for immigrants, the poor, and the marginalized. But his praise of the U.S. church's work in education contrasts with his call for Brazilian and Korean bishops to do more.      And only to the U.S. bishops did Francis mention victims of abuse. He has been criticized for not being stronger with bishops on this. However, in his press conference on the way back to Rome from Mexico, he unambiguously said, "A bishop who moves a priest to a different parish if he detects a case of pedophilia is without conscience and the best thing for him to do would be to resign."         After words of praise and appreciation to the American bishops, the pope exhorted them to be "pastors with undivided hearts and selfless devotion." He urged them to find their identity "in constant prayer, in preaching [Acts 6:4] and in shepherding the flock" entrusted to their care.     They should not preach "complicated doctrines," but joyfully proclaim "Christ who died and rose for our sake." He said the same thing to the Italian bishops.      This is a common theme of Francis. For example, to the bishops of Brazil he said, "Perhaps we have reduced our way of speaking about mystery to rational explanations; but for ordinary people the mystery enters through the heart." He frowns on homilies that are "simply moralizing, detached, abstract."      To the Italian bishops he compared this to Gnosticism, which "brings us to trust in logical and clear reasoning ... which however loses the tenderness of the flesh of the brother."      Francis told the American bishops "to flee the temptation of narcissism, which blinds the eyes of the shepherd, makes his voice unrecognizable and his actions fruitless.".....(more)


Three faith communities come together at Tri-Faith Campus in Omaha
Extracts from Elizabeth A Elliott, National Catholic Reporter, 24 February 2016

Omaha, Neb. It started with a conversation about parking lots.     Rabbi Aryeh Azriel, a senior rabbi at Temple Israel, a Reform Jewish congregation, was speaking to Bob Freeman, past president of Temple Israel, about building a new place. They both remarked how nice it was to share parking lots with a Methodist church and an Omaha theater on High Holy Days.      They planned to relocate to West Omaha and contacted Dr. Syed Mohiuddin, president of the American Muslim Institute, whose group was also relocating. The conversation moved from sharing parking lots to wondering about a campus where three communities -- Temple Israel, along with Muslim and Christian houses of worship -- would share what is now known as the Tri-Faith campus.     Temple Israel, the American Muslim Institute and the Episcopal diocese of Nebraska purchased the land in December 2011. A founding partner, the Episcopal diocese transitioned the partnership to Countryside Community Church, a United Church of Christ congregation, in April 2015................. "The idea is to create a space in between that will engage all of the faith communities into work, social justice projects, celebrations and holidays."..............."There is nothing like this in the whole world. This is the first of its kind," added Mohiuddin. "It will provide a message that we can live together, that we can be neighbors and we can share our paths, our dreams, and our hopes and not fear each other. I think it is the fear of the unknown, which creates our problems......(more)  Photo: NCR

Prelates urge inquiry into leaked investigation of Cardinal
Extract from CathNews, 22 February 2016

Church hierarchs have condemned the leaking of claims from within Victoria Police suggesting Cardinal George Pell is being investigated over allegations of historical child sex abuse, asserting it's part of a campaign to destroy his reputation ahead of the Ballarat hearings of the royal commission which start today.    On Saturday, the Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, called for a public inquiry into who leaked the information. His strongly-worded statement said: "The leaked allegations, coming at the end of a week in which Cardinal Pell was publicly denigrated and a week before he appears at the Royal Commission, appear designed to do maximum damage to Cardinal Pell and undermine the work of the Royal Commission...Cardinal Pell, like all Australian citizens, is entitled to have these principles apply to him. I support calls for an independent investigation into the source of the leaks."    Cardinal Pell issued a statement vehemently denying the claims. "The allegations are without foundation and utterly false. It is outrageous that these allegations have been brought to the Cardinal's attention through a media leak. These undetailed allegations have not been raised with the Cardinal by the police and the false claims investigated by Justice Southwell have been ignored by the police for over 15 years, despite the very transparent way they were dealt with by the Cardinal and the Catholic Church......(more)

Melbourne priest will no longer celebrate Mass at school
Extract frrom CathNews, 22 February 2016

Victorian priest Fr John Walshe will no longer say Mass at a Melbourne primary school following a protest campaign by parents, reports The Age.    A school newsletter from St John Vianney's Primary School in Parkdale last week informed parents that associate priest, Fr Ramsay Williams, would celebrate school Mass for the present.    Fr Walshe declined to comment on the change. The Archdiocese of Melbourne was contacted for comment.    Earlier this month, more than 40 parents removed their children from school Mass celebrated fortnightly by Fr Walshe. They were calling for his resignation.    The protest came after Fr Walshe gave evidence at the royal commission in December about his recollection of a 1993 phone call between Cardinal George Pell and a child abuse victim.    Shortly afterwards, it emerged Fr Walshe had some years earlier been accused of abusing a teenage seminarian in the early 1980s after the pair had been drinking together.    Fr Walshe has always denied the accusation. However, in 2012, the Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, apologised to the former seminarian for the "wrongs and hurt" he suffered at the hands of Fr Walshe. The accuser also received $75,000 in compensation.....(more)

 Pope signals openness to birth control for Zika virus
Extract from CathNews, 19 February 2016

Pope Francis has appeared to signal an openness to birth control to prevent infection, while strongly rejecting abortion as a solution to the Zika virus now sweeping across Latin America and elsewhere, reports Crux.     In remarks to reporters on his way back to Rome from Mexico, the Pope cited a decision by Pope Paul VI in the early 1960s to allow nuns in the Congo to take contraceptives to avoid pregnancy due to rape.     Avoiding a pregnancy under such circumstances, Francis said, “is not an absolute evil”. However, he did not say specifically that he would approve contraception in the fight against Zika.     On the Catholic response to the Zika virus, native to Africa and Asia but with outbreaks now prevalent in Catholic-heavy South and Central America, the Pontiff clearly ruled out abortion as a solution.    But he seemed to leave the door open as to whether the traditional Catholic principle of the “lesser of two evils” could apply to the use of contraception       The Zika virus, transmitted by a mosquito, has mild symptoms in adults, but is believed to cause microcephaly (abnormal smallness of the head) in babies when a pregnant woman is infected......(more)   Photo: MedicineNet

Internal forum for divorced Catholics: Back to the future
Extract from Thomas Reese, National Catholic Re[porter, 18 February 2016  
                                              The papal apostolic exhortation in response to the Synod of Bishops on the family is expected to have some reference to the "internal forum" as a solution to the pastoral problems of divorced and remarried Catholics.     How to deal with divorced and remarried Catholics was one of the most divisive issues at the synod, which took place in October 2014 and October 2015. Cardinal Walter Kasper had recommended following the practice of the orthodox churches, which recognize only one valid sacramental marriage but allow for the divorced to be civilly married and readmitted to Communion after a penitential process.      Many bishops at the synod objected that this was contrary to the teachings of Jesus and the tradition of the Catholic church. The only way to deal with divorced Catholics, they said, was through a judicial process that concluded in an annulment -- a judgment that the original marriage was invalid. With an annulment, the parties could marry in the Catholic church.        In church law a bishop is the chief judge for any legal case in his diocese, although ordinarily he delegates that authority to his appointed members of the diocesan tribunal.               At the October 2014 synod, the synodal fathers overwhelmingly agreed that the annulment process should be simplified, and Pope Francis moved quickly on this by eliminating the mandatory appeal of annulment decisions and even instituting a "streamlined" process that could go directly to the bishop without a trial, "where the alleged nullity of marriage is supported by particularly clear arguments" (Motu proprio Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus).......(more)

TJHC: Important now Pell's evidence be heard effectively
Extract from CathNews, 18 February 2016

Many people would like to see Cardinal George Pell give evidence in person to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse at the hearing in Ballarat, says the Truth Justice and Healing Council. But...            "It has always been our preference that Cardinal Pell give his evidence in person but his medical condition means this cannot happen," the Council's CEO Francis Sullivan says.     "What is most important now is that the Commission hears his evidence in the most effective and timely way possible so that this case study can be finalised, that the Commission can make findings and that abuse survivors can, hopefully, move forward with their lives."     Sex abuse victims have exceeded their crowd-based fundraising target to travel to Rome to see Cardinal Pell give evidence to the Royal Commission but are still waiting for the Commission to decide if they will be allowed to attend.      The GoFundMe campaign had raised more than $125,000 by yesterday afternoon, surpassing its $55,000 goal for a group of survivors to travel to Italy later this month. Whether or not they go depends on the Rome venue being open to the public.        From Rome overnight, the Cardinal's office issued a statment (full text below). In it, he restates his willingness to give evidence.....(more)

Cardinal Pell says David Cameron has adopted a ‘poisonous form of radical moral liberalism’
Extract from CatholicHerald (UK), 18 February 2016

Cardinal says decision to legalise same-sex marriage reveals British Prime Minister's 'confusion'.    Vatican Cardinal George Pell has accused British Prime Minister David Cameron of adopting a “poisonous form of radical moral liberalism”.      Writing in a foreword to The Nation that Forgot God, a collection of essays edited by Sir Edward Leigh MP and Alex Haydon, the cardinal criticises Cameron’s push to legalise same-sex marriage in 2014.      “Cameron has been formed by, or at least adopted, that poisonous form of radical moral liberalism which has sapped the religious vitality of many Christian communities as it endorsed the weaknesses and mistakes damaging, and even destroying, the family,” he writes.     “His confusion is typical of many Christians. It does not speak well of those Christian leaders who never lifted a finger to resist these siren voices.”    The cardinal, who is prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy, emphasises that he does not think that the Prime Minister is intentionally setting out to undermine Christianity. He writes: “In the words of Pope Francis, commenting on the move to introduce same-sex marriage in his own native country, ‘Let’s not be naive: this isn’t a simple political fight, it’s an attempt to destroy God’s plan’.    “I don’t mean to say that the prime minister is consciously setting out to do this. On the contrary, taking into account his many positive references to Christianity and, indeed to Our Lord Himself, he seems to believe he is actually co-operating with God’s plan by introducing this law......(more)

Abuse expert: Bishops must watch 'Spotlight,' learn reporting is key
Extract from Carol Glatz,  Catholic News Service, National Catholic Reporter, 17 February 2016

Rome: Every bishop and cardinal must watch the film "Spotlight," so they realize reporting abuse -- not silence -- will save the church, said the Vatican's former chief prosecutor of clerical sex abuse cases.       The film underlines the key problem of "omerta" or a code of silence, said Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna of Malta, according to the Italian daily La Repubblica Feb. 17.       "The movie shows how the instinct -- that unfortunately was present in the church -- to protect a reputation was completely wrong," he said after a showing of the film in Valletta, Malta.        "All bishops and cardinals must see this film," he said, "because they must understand that it is reporting that will save the church, not 'omerta.'"       The archbishop, 56, is the head of a board within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that deals with appeals filed by clergy accused of abuse. Before he was named an auxiliary bishop in Malta in 2012, Scicluna spent 10 years as promoter of justice at the doctrinal congregation, handling accusations of clerical sex abuse......(more)

President of papal commission on sex abuse reminds clergy of obligation to report crimes
Extract from  Megan Cornwell. The Tablet, 16 February 2016

The statement is in response to allegations in the media about a Vatican training course for new bishops President of papal commission on sex abuse reminds clergy of obligation to report crimes         The president of the commission established by Pope Francis to advise him on child sex abuse in the Church has released a statement stressing the “moral and ethical responsibility” of clergy to report all suspected cases of abuse to the police.           The statement issued on Monday on behalf of the commission and all its members came in response to media allegations that a Vatican training course for new Catholic bishops featured a speech informing clergy they had no such obligation.           A
French Monsignor and psychologist, Fr Tony Anatrella, allegedly told newly-ordained bishops in September 2015 that under Church law they were not required to report sex abuse of minors to public authorities, and that it was the decision of victims and their families.         The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, led by Cardinal Seán O’Malley, released a strongly worded statement refuting this: “We, the President and the Members of the Commission, wish to affirm that our obligations under civil law must certainly be followed, but even beyond these civil requirements, we all have a moral and ethical responsibility to report suspected abuse to the civil authorities who are charged with
protecting our society.”......(more)  Photo: The Tablet,

Ballarat bishop agrees to be sued for historic sex abuse claims in lieu of dead predecessor
Extracts from Charlotte King, ABC News, Wednesday 17 February 2016

A Catholic bishop in regional Victoria has agreed to be sued for sex abuse claims dating back to the 1960s, standing in the place of his long-dead predecessor........His stance means victims can bring the Ballarat diocese to court over the actions of the previous bishop who is alleged to have presided over child sex abuse.     On January 1 a new set of guidelines came into effect, agreed to by the nation's 33 Catholic dioceses, and hundreds of religious orders.    They oblige all Church authorities to provide an entity for victims to sue, such as a trustee, even where the person responsible for overseeing the alleged abuse has since died.   In Ballarat, current bishop Paul Bird has volunteered to put
himself forward as the defendant.    "In some way, the bishop carries the history of the community with them," Bishop Bird said.    "And so if the community, in a way, is going to address the history, they can do that in the most direct way, through the bishop at the time."    Bishop Bird's diocese has perhaps the worst record of clergy child abuse in the country, and the notorious paedophile priest Gerard Ridsdale is responsible for much of it.     Bishop Bird's stance means Ridsdale's early victims, abused when the former bishop James O'Collins was in charge up until 1971, can now sue the diocese.     "I've inherited the history of the community, for good and for ill, and therefore should be ready to address that history in so far as it needs to be addressed," Bishop Bird said.     "In some cases these may be covered by insurance, in other cases it would be the diocese itself that would have to meet any costs........(more)  Photo:  ABC News  

Faith, hope and secularity: Ireland on brink of change as church power wanes                                     Ireland goes to the polls an increasingly liberal country – yet religion’s place in state education is staving off the decline of the Catholic church
Extract from The Guardian, Wednesday 17 February 2016

..............Ireland’s last census, in 2011, showed a big rise in the numbers of non-Catholics. Although those identifying themselves as Catholic were still the vast majority of the 4.5m population, more than 6% – 277,000 people – described themselves as atheist, agnostic, lapsed or of “no religion”. The number was an increase of almost 50% since the previous census in 2006; the next census, due in April, is expected to show an even bigger rise.      Migration has also led to significant increases in the numbers identifying as Muslim, Orthodox, Pentecostal, Hindu and Buddhist.      Ireland’s shifting demographics, religious beliefs and social attitudes have major implications for the Catholic church and the state, which have been intertwined since Ireland was partitioned and the south won independence from Britain in 1922. The church’s unyielding views on marriage, divorce, baptism, contraception, abortion and homosexuality are increasingly being challenged or simply ignored.     Yet as the power of the pulpit wanes, particularly with the millennial generation, Catholic influence on the state endures. Despite an astonishing 62% vote in favour of same-sex marriage last May, making Ireland the first country in the world to endorse marriage equality through a referendum, the church still holds sway in spheres such as education and reproductive rights.     Ireland goes to the polls on 26 February in an election dominated by the economy and crime. But candidates are also facing questions about religious education and the prospects of a referendum to repeal the near-universal ban on abortion......(more)

Vertical Management – Horizontal Leadership
Extract from J.A.Dick, Another Voice (Reflections about contemporary Christian belief and Practice), 15 February 2016

Some accidents of history distort Christian behavior for a very long time. The only way to resolve the problem is to enact a program of serious institutional enlightenment and structural change.       Even in these days of the “Francis effect,” the institutional church is still very much a vertical management pyramid. People at the top protect themselves, protect their friends, make decisions with little or no consultation, and fear and denigrate change-makers. It happens each day of every week. Much of it often goes unreported. A lot of people don’t want to rock the boat, especially when the captain gets positive international press reviews.        We inherited the vertical management church from Imperial Rome. Certainly not from Jesus of Nazareth. Christianity is not about power over people but about empowering people....................(more)

Abuse survivor on Vatican committee accuses Roman Curia of blocking reforms
Extract from David V Barrett, Catholic Herald (UK), Monday, 15 Feb 2016

Marie Collins said the Curia has shown 'great resistance' to proposals made by the the Vatican’s Commission for the Protection of Minors    The Curia is blocking improvements in the handling of abuse cases, according to a member of the Vatican’s Commission for the Protection of Minors.     Marie Collins, who was abused when she was 13 by the chaplain at Dublin’s Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin in 1960, has been a member of the abuse commission for two years.    In an interview with the Irish Times, she has expressed her frustration that little is being done by the Curia to push through proposals made by the commission, despite Pope Francis’s support for action.    A Vatican tribunal was set up last year to hold bishops to account on the handling of abuse cases, but Collins says it’s implementation has been slow to materialise.    “We as a commission put forward the proposal. It went to the Council of Cardinals, they approved it. It went forward to the Pope. He approved it. It was announced in the press, then it went to be implemented and that’s where the brick wall is. The implementation is the problem,” Collins said...........She said she had “made my concerns known to the Pope, very recently. I am waiting to see what comes of it”...........(more)   Photo: Catholic Herald  

Kieran Tapsell. Pope Francis Continues the Policy of Cover Up
Extract from Kieran Tapsell,  Pearls & irritations, John Menadue website, 14 February 2016

.........The recent announcement by the Vatican that bishops are “not necessarily” responsible for reporting allegations of child sexual abuse to the police, and that only victims or their families should decide on reporting, is not surprising, and it is misleading. Bishops are not given any option – they are forbidden to report these allegations under Art.30 of Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela, because the pontifical secret is imposed on them by Art 1(4) of the 1974 Instruction of Pope Paul VI, Secreta Continere. The pontifical secret is a permanent silence that even binds those who accidentally come across the information gathered in the Church’s internal inquiries. A dispensation was given in 2010 to allow reporting where there is a civil law requiring it, but very few jurisdictions have comprehensive reporting laws to cover all cases of child sexual abuse (only New South Wales and Victoria have them in Australia).                      In response to the Vatican announcement, Francis Sullivan said that bishops are “morally obliged” to report information to prevent the risk of further abuse. Few would disagree with him, but the Vatican does. Bishops on ordination swear an oath to obey “all ecclesiastical laws”, not Francis Sullivan’s opinion of their moral obligations. Secreta Continere even purports to take away a bishop’s conscience – keeping the secret is his conscience................(more)    

TJH Council: Bishops morally obliged to report sexual abuse
Extract from Cathnews 12 February 2016

Australian bishops and religious leaders are morally obliged to do everything they can to ensure police are aware of incidents of child sex abuse, the Truth, Justice and Healing Council affirmed yesterday.        Francis Sullivan, CEO of the Council, made the statement yesterday following the publication of an article in Crux magazine and the Guardian.    The articles say that the Vatican is telling newly appointed bishops that it is “not necessarily” their duty to report accusations of clerical child abuse and that only victims or their families should make the decision to report abuse to police.             A document that spells out how senior clergy members ought to deal with allegations of abuse, recently released by the Vatican, emphasised that, though they must be aware of local laws, bishops’ only duty was to address such allegations internally.    “According to the state of civil laws of each country where reporting is obligatory, it is not necessarily the duty of the bishop to report suspects to authorities, the police or state prosecutors in the moment when they are made aware of crimes or sinful deeds,” the training document states.              The training  guidelines were written by a controversial French Monsignor and psychotherapist, Tony Anatrella, who serves as a consultant to the Pontifical Council for the Family. The Vatican released the guidelines – which are part of a broader training program for newly named bishops – at a press conference earlier this month and is now seeking feedback.   Details of the Church’s policy were first reported in a column by a veteran Vaticanista, John Allen, associate editor of Crux.    The Truth, Justice and Healing Council has called for a national provision in criminal law to oblige reporting......(more)   Photo: Cathnews

Archbishop cancels MP's lecture over same-sex marriage views
Extract Cathnews, 12 February 2016

The Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, has intervened to cancel a planned keynote speech at a Church-sponsored conference by independent MP Cathy McGowan due to her support for same-sex marriage, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.     Ms McGowan, the MP for Indi in Victoria’s northeast, was booked last November to give the Mary MacKillop Oration at a Catholic Social Services Victoria conference later this month.     Her appearance was cancelled at Archbishop Hart’s instruction on the grounds her views were contrary to Church teachings. She has been replaced by barrister Julian McMahon, the 2016 Victorian of the year.    Ms McGowan, who was a co-sponsor of a marriage equality bill introduced into Parliament last year, and describes herself as a practising Catholic, said the decision to revoke her invitation was “very sad” and seemed at odds with Pope      Francis’ view the Church’s doors should be open to discussing issues.    Her speech was not on marriage, but on the importance of giving the underprivileged and marginalised a voice and access to those in power.    “I’m really disappointed the bishop’s intervened,” she said.......(morePhoto: Cathnews

Parents pull kids out of Mass in second protest against priest
Extract from CathNews, 11 February 2016

More than 40 parents pulled their children out of an Ash Wednesday Mass at a Melbourne school yesterday in a protest directed at their parish priest, reports The Age. The protesting parents from St John Vianney’s Primary School in Parkdale are calling for the resignation of Fr John Walshe. The move comes after Fr Walshe gave evidence at the Royal Commission in December about his recollection of a 1993 phone call between Cardinal George Pell and a child abuse victim. Shortly afterwards, it emerged Fr Walshe had some years earlier been accused of abusing a teenage seminarian in the early 1980s after the pair had been drinking together. Fr Walshe has always denied the accusation. However, in 2012, the Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, apologised to the former seminarian for the "wrongs and hurt" he suffered at the hands of Fr Walshe. The accuser also received $75,000 in compensation. The protesting group of St John Vianney parents collected their children before Mass at 11.30am, and dropped them back at school after 1pm.....(more)

Catholic bishops not obliged to report clerical child abuse, Vatican says
Extract from  Stephanie Kirchgaessner (in Rome), The Guardian, 11 February 2016

Vatican guide says ‘not necessarily’ bishop’s duty to report suspects to police despite Pope Francis’s vows to redress Catholic church’s legacy of child abuse       A US cardinal, Bernard Law, in 2005. Law was forced to resign over sexual abuse scandals in his Boston archdiocese. The Catholic church is telling newly appointed bishops that it is “not necessarily” their duty to report accusations of clerical child abuse and that only victims or their families should make the decision to report abuse to police. A document that spells out how senior clergy members ought to deal with allegations of abuse, which was recently released by the Vatican, emphasised that, though they must be aware of local laws, bishops’ only duty was to address such allegations internally.       “According to the state of civil laws of each country where reporting is obligatory, it is not necessarily the duty of the bishop to report suspects to authorities, the police or state prosecutors in the moment when they are made aware of crimes or sinful deeds,” the training document states............The training guidelines were written by a controversial French monsignor and psychotherapist, Tony Anatrella, who serves as a consultant to the Pontifical Council for the Family. The Vatican released the guidelines – which are part of a broader training programme for newly named bishops – at a press conference earlier this month and is now seeking feedback.           Details of the Catholic church’s policy were first reported in a column by a veteran Vatican journalist, John Allen, associate editor of the Catholic news site,     Allen noted that a special commission created by Pope Francis, the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, had appeared to play no role in the training programme, even though it is supposed to be developing “best practices” to prevent and deal with clerical abuse.        Indeed, a church official familiar with the commission on abuse said it was the committee’s position that reporting abuse to civil authorities was a “moral obligation, whether the civil law requires it or not”. The official said the committee would be involved in future training efforts......(morePhoto. The Guardian, Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty. Cardinal Bernard Law, who was forced to resign over sexual abuse scandals in his Boston archdiocese, where 150 priests were accused of molesting children.

Abuse commission member responds to Saunders controversy
Extract from CathNews, 11 February 2016

One of the members of Pope Francis’ commission on issues of clergy sexual abuse has responded to the controversy sparked by the group’s decision to ask another of its members to take a leave of absence from their work, reports NCR Online.    Marie Collins, an Irish abuse survivor who is one of the 17 members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, wrote yesterday in a statement for NCR that the leave of absence request arose after a “difference in understanding of the mission and the powers” of the group.     The decision taken by the group, she states, was to ask fellow member Peter Saunders to “take leave of absence to decide how he could contribute to the Commission.”    Collins also strongly refutes allegations made by other abuse survivors that members of the commission believe the sexual abuse crisis has ended and is “behind us already.”    “This is not true,” she writes. “It’s for the very reason that it is NOT behind us that the Commission members are working so hard to change things.”.....(more) Photo: Cathnews

Pope invites divorced, remarried to Vatican audience
Extract from CathNews, 10 February 2016

Pope Francis has invited a group of divorced and remarried believers to a private audience, in the lead-up to the release of a major document on Communion, reports Crux.     While the outreach certainly confirms Pope Francis’ interest in better pastoral care for divorced  Catholics who have remarried outside the Church, it doesn’t quite tip his hand in terms of which way he may be leaning on the Communion debate.    The Pope invited a diocesan group in Italy that started a program to reach out to those who are in what the Church calls “irregular unions.” A date has not been set......(more) Photo: Cathnews

Confusion over abuse commissioner's status
Extract from CathNews, NCR, 10 February 2016

The clergy sexual abuse survivor said to be taking "a leave of absence"  from Pope Francis' special commission to confront the abuse crisis says he did not accept such a leave and is now seeking a meeting with the Pontiff.     "I have not left and I am not leaving my position on the commission," said British children's advocate Peter Saunders. "I was appointed by His Holiness Pope Francis and I will only talk to him about my position."      Saunders was speaking in a press briefing in Rome on Saturday after the Vatican released a statement that day saying "it was decided" by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors that he would be taking a leave from his position as one of its 17 members.    A statement released by the Vatican on Monday at the end of the biannual meeting made no mention of its decision on Saturday that Peter Saunders would take a “leave of absence.”      The final statement by the papal commission on Monday instead cited progress on a range of issues and reiterated that its chief task is establishing policies that churches around the world should follow to protect children.    Saunders, founder of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood in Britain, has frequently been critical of the Vatican’s handling of clerical abuse and the apparent slow working pace of the commission, which was created by Pope Francis nearly two years ago......(more) Photo: Cathnews 

The Catholic Church supports Premier Andrews’ offer
Extract from Media and Communications Office, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, Tuesday 9 February 2016

The Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart has today thrown his support behind Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews in a bid to allow 267 asylum seekers to stay in Australia.    A High Court ruling last week allows the Federal Government to return these people – including 37 babies born in Australia - to Nauru however there is growing momentum to convince the Government that they be permitted to remain in Australia.    Archbishop Hart says ‘the Catholic Church in Victoria through a number of its social service organisations and healthcare providers is working collaboratively in the hope that its combined resources can be of benefit to those affected by last week’s decision’.    He says St Vincent’s Health (SVHA), Jesuit Social Services and Catholic Care are already working together to develop a new accommodation and support option for refugees......(more) Photo CAM

Woman to lead theological-pastoral aspect of Vatican communications
Extract from Catholic News Service, CNS,  9 February 2016

The director of the new theological-pastoral department of the Vatican Secretariat for Communications is Natasa Govekar, a theologian who specializes in the communication of faith through images. The Vatican announced Pope Francis' nomination of Govekar, a Slovenian, Feb. 9. At the same time, the pope named Francesco Masci, a 37-year-old official at the Vatican Internet Office, to direct the secretariat's technical office. The communications secretariat was established by Pope Francis to coordinate and streamline Vatican communications. The organizational structure also is expected to include an editorial department, but that director has yet to be named.

Chicago may close 100 Parishes                                                                                                              Extract from staff of Global Pulse, 9 February 2016
The Archdiocese of Chicago could close as many as 100 parishes by 2030 under a comprehensive review announced by Archbishop Blase Cupich. According to the Chicago Tribune, Archbishop Cupich announced the review process to priests at a series of meetings held over the past few weeks, Crux reports. He warned them that financial and personnel projections over the next 15 years make the status quo unsustainable. While the archdiocese currently has 700 priests and 351 parishes, only 240 priests are estimated to be available for parish ministry by 2030. About 10 new priests are ordained each year. Ageing infrastructure and a looming priest shortage mean that the archdiocese risks spreading its resources too thinly, Archbishop Cupich said. Writing in the archdiocesan paper, Catholic New World, Archbishop Cupich called on Chicago Catholics to "dream big" as well as to face up to these "realities".....(more - global pulse is a subscription service)  Photo: Global Pulse 

Francis: Confessors should never judge; 'club of judgment' won't bring sheep back
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee. National Catholic Reporter, 9 February, 2016

Pope Francis has asked the special group of priests he will commission to hear confessions during the ongoing Jubilee Year of Mercy to never judge those who confess their sins, but to embrace them as if putting a coat on someone in need.      In an audience Tuesday with the priests who will be serving as "Missionaries of Mercy" during the Holy Year, the pontiff also succinctly laid out anew his vision of re-evangelization in the 21st century.         "It is not ... with the club of judgment that we will bring back the lost sheep to the fold, but with the holiness of life that is the principle of renewal and reform in the church," the pope told the priests.      "Holiness is nourished by love and knows how to bring upon itself the weight of those who are weaker," he said. "A missionary of mercy takes the sinner on his shoulders, and consoles him or her with the power of compassion.".....(more)

Royal Commission: Cardinal George Pell to give evidence by video link
Extract from Rachel Browne, The Age, 8 February 2016

Cardinal George Pell will not return to Australia to give evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse despite abuse victims' calls for him to appear in person. Commission chairman Peter McClellan​ ruled that while it would be preferable for the  Vatican-based cardinal to appear in person, he accepted medical evidence that a long-haul flight posed a serious health threat to the 74-year-old. A hearing held in Sydney on Monday was told Cardinal Pell suffered from a number of heart troubles....(more)

What new Catholic bishops are, and aren’t, being told on sex abuse
Extract from John Allen jnr, Associate Editor, Crux, 7 February 2016

Given what a cancer the clerical sexual abuse scandals have been for the Catholic Church, one would imagine the Vatican would want new bishops to get a state-of-the-art presentation on best practices in terms of preventing such meltdowns in the future.             The Vatican has been running just such a training course since 2001 for newly appointed bishops around the world, and almost 30 percent of the Catholic prelates in the world today have taken it.     It’s more than a bit surprising, therefore, to discover that at least last year, the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the body created by Pope Francis to identify “best practices” in the fight against child abuse, was not involved in the training.     What’s the point of creating a commission to promote best practices, and putting one of the Church’s most credible leaders on the abuse issue, Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, in charge of it, and yet not having it address the new leaders who will have to implement those practices?         On Monday, the top official at the Congregation for Bishops, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, outlined the papers presented during the most recent course, saying he wanted to invite “suggestions for improving the experience.”     Traditionally, bishops have three key tasks: sanctifying, teaching, and governing. New bishops need to hear something about each, but on governance, a preeminent place clearly should go to the fight against child sexual abuse. Ouellet acknowledged it, listing “prevention of abuses” among key challenges      In that light, it’s worth reviewing what new bishops were, and weren’t, told.......(more)     Photo: Crux.

It's Nothing Personal - The History of Papal Infallibility
Extracts from George Wilson SJ*,  Commonweal, 4 February 2016
he notion of papal infallibility enjoys an unhappy distinction. One of the most widely known memes of the last one-hundred-and-fifty years, it is also one of the most utterly misunderstood. The media’s reporting of two recent events illustrates the issue..............It would be irresponsible to end this reflection without confronting a final question: What allowed the muddling of a very precisely crafted definition? How did the syndrome of creeping infallibility come to work its mischief in secular society and indeed within the consciousness of the faithful?           To blame it all on power-hungry hierarchs would be too easy; nor can we lay responsibility solely at the feet of poor catechesis.       That lets you and me off the hook. The truth is that the church is a single co-creating body of teachers and the taught; even the most effective catechesis comes up against the collective psyche of those being instructed. The caricature of papal infallibility clearly has exerted a certain attraction on the minds of the faithful, appealing to an understandable but spiritually unhealthy susceptibility at work in every last one of us. We allow the boundaries of the definition to be extended—and thus perpetuate the  travesty—because we lust for a kind of certitude that is unavailable to us as finite creatures. We all want to see as God sees. And yet the one infallibly true thing is that we walk not by sight, but by faith.....(more)     Image: Commonweal,    *George Wilson, SJ, is a retired ecclesiologist living in Cincinnati.

Australian bishops encourage Catholics to watch Oscar-nominated film on sex abuse
Extracts from Mark Brolly, The Tablet, 2 February 2016

Spotlight makes uncomfortable viewing but is an opportunity to re-double efforts to support victims
Australian bishops encourage Catholics to watch Oscar-nominated film on sex abuse.  Two Australian bishops have encouraged Catholics to see the film Spotlight, while warning it makes uncomfortable viewing.       Archbishop Timothy Costelloe of Perth said the film about The Boston Globe's uncovering of sex abuse in the Catholic Church in Boston Archdiocese "is an opportunity for all of us in the Church to acknowledge the extent to which some of our brothers and sisters, including our leaders, have failed so badly, also here in Australia, to be the signs and bearers of God's love and compassion they were expected, and appointed, to be.     "More importantly it can be an opportunity to re-double our efforts to assist those who have been the victims, and now survivors, of this terrible abuse and for whom the screening of this movie might well open up painful wounds. And it must reinforce our shared determination to make our parishes and other institutions and agencies places of absolute safety for our children and young people."     Archbishop Costelloe said survivors had lost so much, "including perhaps your faith in the Church". "Please do not give up on God."    "The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse continues its vital work of investigating this terrible scourge which is, to our great shame as a nation, far more widespread in institutional settings than any of us have previously realised," he said.       Bishop Peter Ingham of Wollongong expressed his hope that the film would promote dialogue in the Church, families and wider society about the protection of children and vulnerable people in all situations.....(more)

Review of the film "Spotlight"
Extracts from Rev Dr Richard Leonard SJ, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, January 2016

This is one of the angriest films you will ever see. In the Bible we hear about righteous anger, where God or humanity realises something is so wrong and sinful that ‘holy anger’ is the first and right response. At its best in the scriptures this anger leads to justice, making things right. Spotlight is an occasion for holy, righteous anger and every adult Catholic should see it. Not because it is easy watching, but because it is necessary watching. The time to look away has gone. The first meaning of this film’s title refers to the team of award-winning investigative journalists at The Boston Globe. In the late 1990s they become aware of a number of Catholic priests who have been accused of child sexual abuse. In the early days of their investigation they unearth evidence that the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has gone to extraordinary lengths to cover up the activities of these paedophile priests, and silence victims through payoffs, legal threats and personal intimidation.......... In 2011 Boston’s Cardinal O’Malley made public the full list of offending clergy: 159.........................Why go and see this very tough and demanding film? Because victims and their families deserve it............May it make us as “mad as hell” and not “take this anymore” and enable that holy, righteous anger to demand complete openness, transparency and honesty from our own community. That might just be the start of bringing God’s justice and healing to survivors...........Whether we like it or not, now we are all in the spotlight – and there is nowhere to hide......(more

Synod document to be released in March
Extracts from CathNews, 29 January 2016

Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on family life following last year’s Synod will be published in March, says the President of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family.    In an interview with the Portuguese Catholic agency Ecclesia, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia said that the Pope will release the document in March, and that it will “show that the Church is close to families in all stages of their lives.” “I am convinced that the Apostolic Exhortation will be a hymn to love, to a love that will care for the well-being of children, that is open to wounded families who need strength, that wants to be close to the elder, a love that the whole of humanity needs,” Archbishop Paglia said. The Italian archbishop is leading a week-long conference for the Catholic clergy of Portugal’s Southern ecclesiastic provinces under the title Family: Centrality, Renewal and Continuity The apostolic exhortation will be the conclusion of a multi-year synod process. In 2014 the Vatican hosted an Extraordinary Synod which was in preparation for the October 2015 Ordinary Synod. An estimated 190 bishops from around the world participated in each gathering      The synods were surrounded by controversy, with hot-button topics of ministry to homosexuals and the divorced-and-remarried dominating media coverage.    Discussion in the Synod hall also touched on such issues as marriage preparation, pornography, and domestic violence and abuse. The apostolic exhortation is expected to be based on the final report from the Synod, which was released on October 24......(more)  Photo: Cathnews

No decision on Cardinal Pell's fitness to return for RC
Extract from CathNews,29 January 2016

There has been no decision made on whether Cardinal Pell will be well enough to return ahead of his scheduled appearance at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse next month - Nine News/Guardian. Other appearances have been affected by the Cardinal’s health. This week he will address a philanthropic Catholic organisation’s Miami symposium via video link, with his office saying he was not well enough to make the trip to the United States. Last month, Cardinal Pell cancelled his flights just days before he was due to appear in Ballarat, citing ill-health as the reason. The sitting was deferred until February, so that Cardinal Pell could attend when his health had improved. The Royal Commission will hold a directions hearing in Sydney on February 5 to determine whether the Cardinal will be well enough to travel to Australia.....(more)

Conservatives resist pressure to include women in foot-washing
Extract from Cathnews, 28 January 2016

The decision by Pope Francis to allow women to participate in the Lenten foot-washing rite has inflamed the so-called liturgy wars, and appears to be the latest in the conservatives’ dissatisfaction with the Pontiff, reports Crux.       Reaction was fast and furious from some Latin Mass enthusiasts and people disenchanted with liturgical changes arising from Vatican II.    Pope Francis himself has already included women in the ritual, which is based on the story of Jesus washing the feet of his 12 apostles, every year since his 2013 election as pope.   As some noted last Thursday, the situation boils down to the Pope: “They criticised @Pontifex for breaking the rules when he washed women’s feet. So he changed the rules,” tweeted prominent commentator Austen Ivereigh.    But this change shouldn’t cause major waves in the United States, as many bishops here have permitted priests to include women in the service for decades, and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops gave the practice its tacit approval in 1987.    Not all bishops have permitted the practice, however. Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin, for example, continued to prohibit women from being part of the ritual – until yesterday......(more)    Photo: Cathnews

Archbishop backs Catholic school for letting girl bring same sex partner to prom
Extract from  Mark Brolly, The Tablet, 27 January 2016

Melbourne's senior Catholic urges 'sensitivity' and 'respect' over gay relationships at start of school prom season. Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne has urged Catholic schools to be sensitive and respectful to students who wish to bring a same-sex date to school formal events.  The Age newspaper in Melbourne reported on 22 January about a previously unreported case at the oldest girls’ secondary college in Victoria, the Academy of Mary Immaculate in Fitzroy, where a student started an online petition after she was told by the co-ordinator for Year 12 (the final year of secondary school) that she couldn't bring a female partner to the school formal.   In response to questions from the paper, Archbishop Hart said: "These are quite often emotional situations and it's very important that we always have respect for the dignity of the human being involved.   "Students in a secondary school are growing up and in developmental stages where relationships are more like strong friendships and are not usually permanent, they are not in a situation where they are committing.   "The Catholic Church respects any relationship but always sticks quite firmly with its teaching that a relationship in the eyes of the church is heterosexual, between a male and female, and that is something we would always stand by."    The petition received 1,250 signatures and hundreds of supportive comments, the paper said, prompting the school to change its stance to allow her to bring a female partner......(more)  Photo: The Tablet,

Irish American Cardinal Raymond Burke blames women for church’s problems
Extract from Dara Kelly, irishcentral, 27 January 2016

The crisis in Catholicism apparently has one source: women. According to Cardinal Raymond Burke, since the 1960’s women have “feminized” the church and discouraged “manly” men from participating in clerical life.    Burke, 66, the firebrand conservative who was recently demoted by Pope Francis to the ceremonial post as patron of the Order of Malta, pointed to the introduction of altar girls as an example.   Serving mass is a “manly” job argues the Irish American Cardinal, and so the participation of women and girls in the daily life of the church has had a chilling effect that has led to a drop in morale and priestly vocations.   "Young boys don't want to do things with girls. It's just natural," Burke, a Wisconsin native with Tipperary roots, told a group called The New Emangelization (a conservative organization that exists to put the “man” back in evangelization).   "It requires a certain manly discipline to serve as an altar boy in service at the side of priest, and most priests have their first deep experiences of the liturgy as altar boys.”    "If we are not training young men as altar boys, giving them an experience of serving God in the liturgy, we should not be surprised that vocations have fallen dramatically," he said.    So it’s not the international abuse crisis that has most led men to reconsider joining the church, it’s girl cooties. And feminism, of course.   “The radical feminism which has assaulted the Church and society since the 1960s has left men very marginalized,” said the Cardinal, a member of one of the oldest and most enduring men’s groups on earth.   “Apart from the priest, the sanctuary has become full of women. The activities in the parish and even the liturgy have been influenced by women and have become so feminine in many places that men do not want to get involved."   Not only do boys not want to share altar time with the girls, they resent how much better girls do their jobs apparently.   "The girls were also very good at altar service. So many boys drifted away over time. I want to emphasize that the practice of having exclusively boys as altar servers has nothing to do with inequality of women in the Church."....(more)

Pope to celebrate service for Protestant Reformation in home of Lutheran communion
Extract from Sean Smith, The Tablet, 25 January 2016

Pope Francis will join leaders of the Lutheran community in Lund in Sweden later this year for a joint commemoration of the start of the Reformation, the Vatican announced today.    The event in the city where the Lutheran World Federation was founded in 1947 will start a year of events to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.   The one-day event will include a common worship service in Lund cathedral based on a Catholic-Lutheran Common Prayer liturgical guide, published earlier this month by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Lutheran World Federation.    The commemoration in Lund follows on directly from the publication in 2013 of a joint document entitled ‘From Conflict to Communion’, which focuses on the themes of thanksgiving, repentance and commitment to common witness.   While asking for forgiveness for the divisions of past centuries, it  also seeks to showcase the gifts of the Reformation and celebrate the way Catholics and Lutherans around the world work together on issues of common concern.....(more)  Photo: The Tablet

Joy and Hope - Pilgrim, Priest and Bishop - Pat Power
Extracts from flyer on new book published by  David Lovell Publishing, 14 January 2015

When Pat Power retired as Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn in 2012, there was an outpouring of tributes to him and his time as Archbishop. A moving selection of these can be found on the archdiocesan website. Confrere Archbishop Frank Carroll said he was ‘a man of conviction and courage who has publicly espoused many a cause, particularly when injustice, disadvantage and discrimination were at stake. From this not only Catholic people but many in the wider community have found someone to speak for them and have drawn hope and strength from his support.’............When he was appointed bishop in 1986, he says, ‘many of the people closest to me told me not to turn away from being my real self. That advice in some ways was easy enough to adopt because I was in my home diocese,and, surrounded by family and good friends, there were plenty of people to remind me of my humble origins if I became too big for my boots.’    Pat Power sees himself as part of the pilgrim church, ‘a people on the move, with a sense of adventure, supporting and encouraging one another, sometimes getting a bit lost or bloodied, sometimes questioning the path they have taken, but ultimately believing that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.’.........The journey of this book shows the missionary heart of Pat Power. He did not retreat into his own security or opt for rigidity or defensiveness, but got his feet soiled in the mud of the street by walking as a pilgrim with his sisters and brothers, hand in hand in the journey of life. He gave them a voice that was filled with hope, and shared their tears and joys as he walked and celebrated with Flyer here for further description an