Catholics for Renewal

Subtitle

News 2019

A broad and  diverse mix of Local, National and International faith-related News, Information and Opinions. 
     Views expressed are those of the Authors and may or may not always represent those of Catholics For Renewal.
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EDITORIAL
"All we want for Christmas is....."
Extract:
In 2016 Australia’s bishops decided to convene the nation’s 5th Plenary Council, the first since 1937.  In March this year Pope Francis approved their decision, and at Pentecost the preparatory phase of the Council – to be held over two sessions in 2020 and 2021 – was officially launched. Catholics nationwide are being encouraged to consider the key question: “What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?”  Inside that is another key question:      “Will our bishops listen?”            
Full Editorial HERE        Painting: Who's really listening?  Barrington Research Group

    Earlier Editorials Here
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Abuse summit ‘should include’ bishops’ accountability
Extract from CathNews, CNS 15 January 2019
A member of the committee organising Pope Francis’ summit next month on the sexual abuse crisis said the meeting should include discussing ways to hold bishops accountable for handling cases correctly.          Addressing members of the Roman Curia before Christmas, Pope Francis said the February 21-24 meeting of the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences, the heads of the Eastern Catholic churches and leaders of religious orders will reaffirm the Church’s “firm resolve to pursue unstintingly a path of purification”.
In addition, he said, with the help of experts, the meeting will examine “how best to protect children, to avoid these tragedies, to bring healing and restoration to the victims, and to improve the training imparted in seminaries.”          Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, a member of the committee organising the meeting, told Vatican News that in addition to the goals outlined by the Pope, “we want to see how we also can put on the table the question of bishops’ responsibility, so there would be greater clarity about who must do something and who checks if the things the Holy Father and the Church – the dicasteries – have ordered be done are, in effect, done.”         Fr Zollner, president of the Centre for Child Protection at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, said the Pope’s commitment to not undervaluing or covering up any case of abuse will require “a clarification of procedures, which aren’t so clear, especially when we are talking about the co-responsibility of a bishop or a provincial or head of an Eastern church with respect to what others bishops, provincials and superiors are doing.”        And, second, he said, there must be a change of attitude. “The rules, the laws as such, will not change hearts. We see this not only in Europe, but throughout the world. So, we must see how we can reinforce throughout the Church this attitude of openness and attention to the protection of minors because that is the attitude Jesus teaches us.”        Fr Zollner said he hoped the meeting would help everyone in the Church, everywhere in the world, realise “the urgency of making the protection of minors and bringing justice to the victims a priority.”....(more)  Photo: CathNews ACBC .
Pope Francis: a disruptive and prophetic voice
Even with his pontificate on the ropes, the pope continues to challenge the Church and the world
Limited extract from Robert Mickens, Rome, Vatican City, subscription journal La Croix Intermational, 11 January 2019
In his annual address to more than 180 ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, Pope Francis on Jan. 7 warned world leaders against the “resurgence of nationalistic tendencies” that were based on getting “quick partisan consensus” rather than “the patient pursuit of the common good by providing long-term answers” to today’s most vexing issues.       Instead, he called for a return to multinationalism rather than each country going it alone. If nations failed to pull together, he warned, humanity would again find itself on a course similar to that which led to the Second World War.      But just two days after Francis issued his manifesto on multinationalism, which included a call for the strengthening of the United Nations and the European Union, the interior minister and de facto leader of Italy’s ruling coalition was in Warsaw to forge an anti-EU alliance with Poland. It was yet another sign that the pope’s words continue to fall on deaf ears, even on the Italian peninsula that was once a cornerstone of the papacy’s political and moral power.     Iacopo Scaramuzzi, an Italian journalist whose sharp analysis of the Church and the Vatican often does not get the attention it deserves, wrote a brief article in Jesus Magazine just before both these events took place. It was titled “La voce di Bergoglio, profezia nel deserto” (The voice of Bergoglio, prophecy in the desert).     He noted that, since Francis was elected in 2013, ultranationalist leaders have been elected in a number of countries (including Syria, Egypt, Argentina, the United States, Chile, Austria and Brazil) and have maint....(source)
French Church shaken by Cardinal Barbarin's trial
'Justice never consists of redressing an injustice by another injustice,' defense lawyer argues
Limited Extract from Béatrice Bouniol and Céline Hoyeau, Lyon, France, subscription journal La Croix International, 11 January 2019
The trial of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin and five other senior Catholic officials ended in Lyon on Jan. 10 after four days that shook the French Church.    “Thanks to Alexandre [Hezez] for having been the first to lodge a complaint, thanks for having freed the spoken word and for having allowed me to hear Christian [Burdet]. This was overwhelming for me. I am not the same man as I was before. Thanks for having shaken the Church. Changes must be made. This must not stop here.”       These were the serious words spoken by Bishop Emmanuel Gobilliard as he looked into the eyes of François Devaux, a plaintiff and founder of La Parole Libérée (Freed Speech) association, during a break in proceedings.      This short encounter, sought by the auxiliary bishop of Lyon on the morning of Jan. 10, symbolized the shocking effect on the Church of this unprecedented trial, a private prosecution of Cardinal Barbarin and his associates by nine victims of Bernard Preynat, a former scouts’ chaplain accused of sexually abusing more than 70 children from 1970-80.      All who heard the words that have resonated in the courtroom since Jan. 7 have been irrevocably changed by them.....(more).
Pope Francis comes out in support of Macron and Merkel in warning against the resurgence of Nationalism.
Extract from Christopher Lamb, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue website, 10 January 2019    
The Pope said the ‘resurgence of nationalistic tendencies’ is at odds with the ‘vocation’ of international bodies
Pope Francis has warned that a return of 1930s era nationalism and populism is undermining the hard-won peace and international alliances of the post-war period.         The 82-year-old Argentinian Pontiff made his remarks during his annual “state of the world” address to ambassadors accredited to the Vatican representing the 183 states who have diplomatic relations with the Holy See.      During the speech, the Pope referred back to the League of Nations, an international alliance established after the devastation of the First World War but whose failure was down to the growth of ideological nationalism that sparked the Second World War.      In pointed remarks to European leaders, he urged the old continent not to “forget” the benefits that the “friendship and rapprochement” between countries in the post Second World War period, which saw the creation of the European Union.      In 2019, however, the Pope said the “multilateral system” – of which the United Nations and the EU are main players – is once again experiencing difficulty due to the “resurgence of nationalistic tendencies” at odds with the “vocation” of international bodies....(more)
Canon lawyer becomes the first layperson to be appointed as Brisbane archdiocese chancellor
Extract from Mark Bowling, Catholic Leader, 9 January 2019
Newly-appointed Brisbane archdiocese chancellor Pat Mullins says more lay people should step up to take on Church roles.     “It’s a good direction that the Church is going in, I think. It’s the way of the future,” he said.      Uniquely qualified for the role of chancellor, Mr Mullins is believed to be Australia’s only canon lawyer simultaneously practising as a common lawyer.      He becomes the first layman to hold the position in Brisbane, succeeding Fr Adrian Farrelly, chancellor for the past 10 years.     As the Catholic Church in Australia moves towards the Plenary Council 2020, Mr Mullins said it was clear that lay people had a growing part to play in the operation of the Church and its mission.     “Certainly the canon law provides that a lay person can have the office of chancellor,” he said.    “It really plays into the spirit of the Second Vatican Council – the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity – that lay people do have a part in the life of the Church and they certainly should do things that they are fit to do and qualified to do.    “The numbers within the clergy are limited. They have to fulfil their pastoral roles in the parishes and so there are other roles in the administration of the Church that lay people can do and should do because we have to save the priests for their specific role in pastoral work.”....(more).  Photo: Catholic Leader.
A Church within the Church
Behind the new integralism is the old intransigentism
Limited extract from Massimo Faggioli, subscription journal La Croix International, 9 January 2019
At the 1867 universal exposition in Paris, the Papal State chose to be represented by a catacomb. It was a time when the papacy, which had already lost the majority of the Papal State and would also lose Rome in 1870, was apocalyptic about the future of the Church in the modern world.     At the same time, the Catholic laity were entering a new age of mobilization and engagement with that same world, with the encouragement of the Catholic hierarchy, which knew it had lost much of its direct influence on modern society.     Today, during Pope Francis’s pontificate, we see something like the opposite situation: a pope who preaches “the joy of the Gospel” and has little time for nostalgia, and a rising cohort of Catholic intellectuals (a minority in the Church but especially active in the United States) who are looking forward to the 19th century.     The debates in conservative and traditionalist circles in the English-speaking Church — and in the United States particularly — provide a stark contrast to this pontificate’s view of the relationship between the Church and the modern world.     Some....(More). Photo: La Croix International.
World Day of the Sick: Pope calls for a culture of generosity
Extract from Inda Bordoni, Vatican News, Melbourne Catholic, 9 January 2019
Pope Francis says that those who care for the sick and give of themselves with generosity and straightforward love – like St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta - are amongst the Church’s most credible evangelizers.
In his message for the World Day of the Sick, celebrated on 11 February, the Pope focused on Jesus’s words to the Apostles: “You received without payment; give without payment” (Mt 10:8).        Just as life is a gift from God, he said, and cannot be reduced to a personal possession or private property, he said that “caring for the sick requires professionalism, tenderness, straightforward and simple gestures freely given, like a caress that makes others feel loved”.        “Amid today’s culture of waste and indifference”, he said, “gift” is the category best suited to challenging today’s individualism and social fragmentation, while at the same time promoting new relationships and means of cooperation between peoples and cultures.        “Gift” he explained is much more than simply giving presents: it involves the giving of oneself and entails the desire to build a relationship.      “Gift is a reflection of God’s love, which culminates in the Incarnation of the Son and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit”, he said.    The Pope also mentioned dialogue – the premise of gift – that, he said, creates possibilities for human growth and development capable of breaking through established ways of exercising power in society.       Everyone needs care.       Pointing out that each of us “is poor, needy and destitute” needing the care of our parents to survive when we are born and remaining in some way dependent on the help of others at every stage of life, Pope Francis said a frank acknowledgement of our limitations “keeps us humble and spurs us to practice solidarity as an essential virtue in life”.          Urging believers to act responsibly to promote the good, he noted that “Only if we see ourselves, not as a world apart, but in a fraternal relationship with others, can we develop a social practice of solidarity aimed at the common good.” At the same time, he said, no one should be afraid to regard themselves as needy or reliant on others, because individually and by our own efforts we cannot overcome our limitations.....(More)
Reform Begins with Repentance
Extract from John Gehring, Commonweal, 7 January 2019
Confronting the most profound crisis the Catholic Church has faced in centuries, U.S. bishops are meeting for a week-long spiritual retreat at Mundelein Seminary outside of Chicago to grapple with how clergy sexual abuse and a culture of cover-up have damaged their moral credibility. Pope Francis came up with the idea, urging bishops to go on retreat when he met with a delegation from the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops at the Vatican in September. In a sign of how important the pope considers this unusual gathering, he sent Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, to direct it.          I’m not completely unsympathetic to those who argue we could use less prayer and more action from church leaders. Lay Catholics have every right to be angry and impatient with the episcopal malpractice, the sins, and the crimes committed by those who are supposed to be shepherds. I’ve also grown weary of the incompetence, the ugly scapegoating of gay priests, and the tone-deafness of bishops who seem to cast blame on everyone but themselves for the wreckage at their feet. But any authentic reform and renewal, whether personal or institutional, has to start with discernment, repentance, and conversion of heart. Dismantling a clerical culture that leads to abuse of power can’t simply be a technocratic endeavor, a managerial shuffling of the deck. In a lengthy letter he sent to the bishops on retreat, Pope Francis describes a “crisis of credibility,” calls for a “new ecclesial season,” and underscores core themes that have characterized his papacy since the beginning.           A few days of prayer and reflection won’t save the church or magically change bishops, but we could do worse now than beseech the Holy Spirit to set the church on a better course.          “Loss of credibility calls for a specific approach, since it cannot be regained by issuing stern decrees or by simply creating new committees or improving flow charts, as if we were in charge of a department of human resources,” Francis writes. “That kind of vision ends up reducing the mission of the bishop and that of the Church to a mere administrative or organizational function in the ‘evangelization business.’ Let us be clear: many of these things are necessary yet insufficient, since they cannot grasp and deal with reality in its complexity; ultimately, they risk reducing everything to an organizational problem.”            This is quintessential Francis; during his first in-depth interview as pope in 2013, he made the same point to fellow Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro:         “The structural and organizational reforms are secondary—that is, they come afterward. The first reform must be the attitude. The ministers of the Gospel must be people who can warm the hearts of the people, who walk through the dark night with them, who know how to dialogue and to descend themselves into their people’s night, into the darkness, but without getting lost. The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials.”....(more)   Photo: Commonweal  CNS Bob Roller
A response to Paul Collins’ “The real crisis of Australian Catholicism”.
Extract from Brian Coyne. Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue website, 7 January 2019    
Paul Collins’ recent commentary, “The Real Crisis of Australian Catholicism”, raises some contradictory challenges for the future of the Catholic Church in Australia.      It is a massive contradiction that in so many ways the Catholic Church is in such a strong position – for example with the largest, most highly paid workforce it has ever had; with its physical infrastructure larger and possibly better maintained than it has ever been; financially it is probably in the best position it has been in its entire history in this nation – yet, at the parish participation level and regarding vocations, it is in a crisis situation. How do we explain and understand all this?    My sense is that the positive things are the legacy of a range of fortuitous decisions made back in the 1960s and 70s that led to the eventual huge injection of taxpayer funds into the education system, and the health and social welfare systems.          But there has been an accompanying crisis of leadership with the best leaders being either forced out or “seeing the writing on the wall” and leaving voluntarily. Even though the institution today has this massive workforce, they are also effectively gagged from providing effective leadership.          Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have to shoulder a massive amount of the responsibility for this as they tried to impose a certain style on the institution with the sort of leaders they were selecting and promoting. It was just a futile dream that the vision and culture of Polish and Bavarian spirituality forged in the furnace of the totalitarian experiments of Communism and Nazism could be the “saviour” of Catholicism in the rest of the world.          We have this deep culture in the Church that past popes cannot be criticised because that undermines the entire concept of the institution’s “infallibility” in the eyes of those Cardinal Ratzinger labelled the “little people” and “simple people” who need to be “protected from intellectuals” and thinking.  Ninety percent of the adult population in this country who do not think of themselves as either “little” or “simple” have simply disappeared out the door. Getting them back to listening, and participating, is a task that will take centuries if it is possible at all. As the statistics for the exit from participation of young people show, even the brilliant and well-funded Catholic Education system we have in this country today is doing nothing to reverse the decline....(more)
Vatican press office shuffle could mean age of  ‘papal spokesman’ is over
Extract from Charles Collins, Managing Editor, Cruxnow 4 January 2019
...When (Greg) Burke was appointed Lombardi’s deputy in 2015 (he took over the top spot when the Jesuit retired the next year), he was considered the best of both worlds. He had spent years covering Italy and the Vatican for Time and Fox, and since 2012, was the “senior communications advisor” for the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. (No one was quite sure what this position entailed. When asked, Burke usually responded, “Putting out fires.”).        But Burke was not able to put out the fire caused by Pope Francis’s remarks accusing survivors of a Chilean abusive priest of “calumny” when they said a bishop had covered up for their molester. He also could do little to dampen the flames after Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò accused Francis of “rehabilitating” disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick even though Benedict had placed restrictions on him after he was accused of sexual misconduct with seminarians.      Like Lombardi before him, Burke often took the blame for not saying enough or saying the wrong thing as a crisis engulfed the Vatican.     This laying the blame at the press office was usually unfair - the press officer answered to the Secretary of State, and for decades their go to response to scandal has been “no comment.” Press officers around the world will tell you how important it is for them to have access to the head honcho and to be part of the decision-making process. This has not been the case at the Vatican since Navarro-Valls’s relationship with John Paul II.    Both Lombardi and Burke also had to deal with the unique problems posed by Francis, who loves to speak off-the-cuff on controversial subjects, and often does things without even telling his closest advisors, let alone the Vatican press office.    Which is why (Alessandro) Gisotti’s appointment indicates a change in policy, and an effort to take the pressure of being “papal spokesman” from the Press Office.....(More)   Photo: Cruxnow, CNS
German cardinal urges change in tradition ahead of celibacy discussion
Extract from Zita Ballinger Fletcher, Catholic News Service, 4 January 2019
German Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising called for change in long-standing church tradition as the German bishops’ conference prepares for a workshop debate to “review” the issue of celibacy for priests.     In his homily at New Year’s Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady in Munich, Marx said the church must, “in light of the failure” surrounding the clergy sex abuse crisis, modify tradition in response to changing modern times.    “I believe the hour has come to deeply commit ourselves to open the way of the church to renewal and reform,” Marx said, according to a text of the homily posted on the archdiocesan website. “Evolution in society and historical demands have made tasks and urgent need for renewal clear to see.”....(more)
Three anniversaries in 2019 to better understand the Church
The papacy will continue to be one of the most interesting centers of thought and action in this age
Extract from Massimo Faggioli, subscription journal La Croix International, 3 January 2019
There will be a number of important appointments for Pope Francis and the Catholic Church in 2019, beginning with more papal journeys to the peripheries of our world.     The 82-year-old pope will travel to Panama for World Youth Day in January before heading to the mostly Muslim-populated United Arab Emirates and Morocco in February and March. He will then go to the predominantly Orthodox countries of Bulgaria and Macedonia in May.     Also on the papal agenda in the early part of this year is the unprecedented Feb. 21-24 meeting in Rome of the presidents of all the world’s episcopal conferences to discuss the sex abuse crisis. Then next October the pope will convene a special session of the Synod of Bishops to focus on issues facing the Amazon region.     Francis is also expected to issue a new apostolic constitution in the first half of 2019 that will codify what has been a five-year process of reforming the Roman Curia.     And there will likely be some surprises given the turbulent state of the Catholic communion. Tension became evident in 2018 in the United States. For instance, two dozen bishops showed unprecedented and unimaginable support for Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò when he called on Francis to resign. The former papal nuncio to Washington did so last August by issuing a “testimony” while the pope was visiting Ireland.           But now we look ahead way into the future. And one way to do this is to ponder certain milestones of the recent and less recent past. As William Faulkner famously wrote, anniversaries can help us remember that “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.” And this is particularly true for the Catholic Church....(Source). Photo: La Croix International, Wikimedia Commons
Pope Francis takes US bishops to task for cover-up, conflict, division
Extract from Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter, 3 January 2019
In a strongly worded, eight-page letter to U.S. bishops, Pope Francis has rebuked the prelates not only for covering up sexual abuse but for unhealthy conflicts and divisions among themselves, which have "gravely" and "seriously" undercut the church's credibility.       "God's faithful people and the Church's mission continue to suffer greatly as a result of abuses of power and conscience and sexual abuse, and the poor way that they were handled, as well as the pain of seeing an episcopate lacking in unity and concentrated more on pointing fingers than on seeking paths of reconciliation," the pope wrote.      "Clearly, a living fabric has come undone, and we, like weavers, are called to repair it," Francis wrote to the bishops, who are gathered Jan. 2-8 for a week long retreat, which the pope had requested as part of the bishops' response to renewed attention on clergy sexual abuse.      That repair will require humility and service to restore trust, not self-centeredness, competition or "concern with marketing or strategizing to reclaim lost prestige or to seek accolades," the pope wrote.     Since last summer's revelations about alleged misconduct by then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and the subsequent Pennsylvania grand jury report, which detailed decades of alleged abuse by hundreds of priests, the country's bishops have failed to respond as a unified body, and debate in the church has degenerated into typical "culture war" fights.     The pope, citing the words of Jesus to his bickering disciples, makes clear that he believes "it cannot be like that with you," instead calling for a "collegial spiritual fatherhood that does not offer banal responses or act defensively."     "This approach demands of us the decision to abandon a modus operandi of disparaging, discrediting, playing the victim or the scold in our relationships, and instead to make room for the gentle breeze that the Gospel alone can offer," Francis wrote.     "Let us try to break the vicious circle of recrimination, undercutting and discrediting, by avoiding gossip and slander in the pursuit of a path of prayerful and contrite acceptance of our limitations and sins, and the promotion of dialogue, discussion and discernment."....(more)
‘Like Cleaning a Sphinx with a Toothbrush’
Greg Burke Resigns from the Holy See Press Office
Extract from  Paul Moses, Commonweal, 2 January 2019
The abrupt resignation of Greg Burke as director of the Holy See Press Office is one more disturbing sign that the Vatican is not up to the task of responding to the Catholic Church’s crisis over clergy sexual abuse and its cover-up.     Burke, a St. Louis native and an alumnus of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, brought an American way of doing business to a press office that not so long ago closed for the day at 1 o’clock p.m. He helped build what became an impressive presence for the church on social media, adapt the media operation to a twenty-four-hour news cycle, and create a positive image for a new pope.       But the veteran newsman could not push the Vatican bureaucracy into responding quickly and forthrightly to developments in the clergy sexual-abuse scandal, and this clearly frustrated him through much of his tenure as the press office’s director.    In a New Year’s Eve tweet announcing that he and his deputy, the Spanish journalist Paloma Garcia Ovejero, were resigning effective January 1, Burke exited with an expression of affection for Pope Francis but not much else to say other than that the job had been “fascinating.”       In a subsequent tweet, he apparently looked to dispel the notion that he was leaving because of personnel changes above his level in the Vatican communication dicastery, writing, “Just so you know, we had been praying about this decision for months, and we’re very much at peace with it. Grazie!”      “Fascinating” is a gentlemanly usage to describe what it was like to be the public face for the Vatican bureaucracy’s agonizing, incomplete response to fast-breaking international news on the cover-up of clergy sexual abuse. As a former Rome correspondent for Time and Fox News, Burke knows as well as any media professional that it’s important to respond right away to such a damaging situation. Clearly, his hands were often tied....(more)
Why I cannot even think about leaving the Catholic Church
We do not know what kind of Church there will be after this abuse crisis, but we must assume that it will probably get worse before it gets better
Limited extract from Massimo Faggioli, United States, subscription journal La Croix International,  (31 December 2018)
I am one of those Roman Catholics who had never heard or imagined that there were abusive priests sexually preying on children.      Neither could I have imagined a clerical system that protected abusive priests rather than their victims; a system that perpetuated the suffering of those abused.      Before moving to the United States in 2008, I spent more than 30 years of parish life in the mid-sized city of Ferrara in northern Italy. My Catholic experience there had been remarkably healthy and happy, despite the usual tensions with this or that particular priest or bishop.      I started to become aware of the epidemic of sexual abuses committed by clergy only in 2002, thanks to the investigative reporting of the Boston Globe.     Now as the parent of small children who attend a Catholic school in the Philadelphia area (one of the epicenters of the abuse crisis in the USA), I have been further educated about what happened and how to prevent it from happening again.    The sex abuse crisis is the greatest scandal in modern Church history, and we do not know yet what kind of Church will survive this protracted moment of public shame.    This crisis has understandably caused many to question whether they can stay in the Catholic Church. A number of Catholics known for engaging in public issues have written articles to explain why they remain.       No question, it’s becoming harder to justify the reasons why. But despite the shock and disgust over the revelations of historic cases of abuse....(Source) First published 24 Sept. 2018,   Photo La Croix International.
The Real Crisis of Australian Catholicism.
Extract from The Best of 2018:  Paul Collins, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue website, 2 January 2019
It is patently obvious that Australian Catholicism is in crisis. The usual analysis is that this has been caused by the appalling mishandling and cover-up of child sexual abuse and the subsequent investigations of the Royal Commission. However, this is only a partial explanation. Catholicism’s problems have a much longer history and go much deeper. They won’t be solved merely by the application of the recommendations of the Commission. A much more radical root and branch reform is needed.           Yet, despite the abuse crisis, Catholicism is still enormously influential in Australia. In the 2016 census 22.6% of the population (totalling 5,291,834 people) self-reported as Catholic. The church employs more than 230,000 people, making it the biggest private employer in the country, bigger than Wesfarmers and bigger than all the banks put together.      It is a major player in the educational, health, aged care and social service sectors. Since the 1830s and for much of our history, it was Catholicism and the other churches that provided the lion’s share of all these services Government aid and participation was virtually non-existent.     Nowadays the Catholic Church maintains some fifty-two welfare organizations across a range of service provisions: homelessness, refugees, drug, alcohol, gambling, family violence, foster care, disability, counselling, overseas aid and employment. In 2016 the Saint Vincent de Paul Society had 20,736 members and 41,152 volunteers, making it the largest charity in the country providing an enormous range of services. Catholic schools educate some 765,000 students in 1731 primary and secondary schools, or 20.2% of all enrolments. It provides almost a quarter of health and aged care.        The striking thing about all this is that church and state work closely together in the provision of services across all these sectors, with the government providing about seventy percent of funding for all the church’s ministries, except parishes and dioceses. This relationship is unique, with no real parallel anywhere in the world.     But—and this introduces us to the heart of the Catholic crisis—this vast ministerial superstructure is based on increasingly weak ecclesial foundations. The simple fact is that the number of committed Catholics who do the bulk of the church’s work is contracting at an increasing rate. You see this in terms of affiliation with the church. Conscious affiliation, as reflected in the number of self-identifying Catholics in the census, is falling. From a high in 1996 when Catholics made up 27% of the population, in 2011 this had dropped to 25.3% and in 2016 to 22.6%, a drop of 4.4% in twenty years.        You can dig a little deeper and take Mass attendance as a sign of more than nominal commitment. From the 1850s to the 1940s regular Mass attendance sat somewhere between twenty and thirty percent of all Catholics.        Except for the immediate post Second World War period, when an extraordinary 75% of Catholics attended Mass on a weekly basis, affiliation has been steadily decreasing since the late-1960s, so that the 2016 figures show only about nine to ten percent of Catholics attend Mass regularly. Of these, 43% were born overseas and these new arrivals have saved Mass attendance figures from catastrophic decline. Even more worrying is the loss of young people: only 9% of fifteen to twenty-nine-year-olds are regular attendees.....(more)
Abuse expert: Catholic bishops risk losing all credibility
Extract from Michael Hall, Digital Journalist, RadipoNZ,1 January 2019
A leading world expert on clerical child sex abuse told RNZ that if Te Rōpū Tautoko remained top-heavy with Church officials it would "only do the bidding of the bishops" and would have no credibility.      Dr Peter Wilkinson, a former priest who acted as adviser to the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, made his comments after the group was formed last month to provide a co-ordinated response to the commission from all its dioceses, religious orders and institutions in New Zealand.     The seven-person Te Rōpū Tautoko body was announced by the Church hierarchy after the government extended the terms of reference of the Royal Commission's state abuse inquiry in November to include faith-based institutions.    A similar group, the Truth Justice and Healing Council, was established by Australian bishops to do the same job in 2012, when the government across the Tasman announced its own abuse inquiry, which released its findings in December 2017.    That 12-person group was made up three clergy and nine Catholic professionals, including a psychiatrist and a number of academics with expertise and understanding of trauma.    It was chaired by former Supreme Court judge, the Hon Neville Owen. Its chief executive was Dr Francis Sullivan, former secretary general of the Australian Medical Association.    In contrast, Te Rōpū Tautoko is made up of six Church officials, including heads of religious orders in which there have been accusations of covering up abuse, and just one layperson - chairwoman Catherine Fyfe, who specialises in human resources management.     Dr Wilkinson said the Catholic Church now risked losing any credibility it had left if it decided to respond to the Royal Commission in a less-than-genuine manner.    "One thing that the New Zealand hierarchy will have to understand, and quick, is that despite what they may think, they probably have already lost a great deal of their credibility," he said.    "If they try to duck and cover, use the 'bad apples' defence, heap all the blame on their predecessors, insist that it is the media who are the cause of their troubles, or try to obfuscate, they will end up like the bishops here in Australia, who have lost all trust - from ordinary Catholics, from the general public, and from the politicians."     He also warned of dire consequences if the bishops established a body to liaise with the commission that was top heavy with Church officials.     "It will only do the bishops' bidding, it too will have no credibility," he said.     "Whoever is appointed its CEO has to be a person of complete integrity, courageous, and capable to standing up to the bishops.    "This person, and the members of the Council who support that person, must also be persons of courage and integrity."....(More).   Photo: RadioNZ 20190101  Peter Wilkinson.
News 2018 HERE