Catholics for Renewal


News 2020, July - December

( News 2020, January to June, HERE )
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.
Signs of the Times - Leading where?

- Full Editorial  HERE
- Limited extract:
The term  'Signs of the Times'  appears self-evident.  But in the context of Church evolution it needs to be properly understood to serve its ecclesial intent.      This is particularly so for the forthcoming 5th Australian Plenary Council, a long overdue opportunity to identify, discern and respond to the signs of the times in our era........Full Editorial HERE
8th Catholics For Renewal  Summary Document: the real meaning of 'Signs of the Times' (Document No. 93   Here)
This is from a set of 8  'Summary Documents'  to help understand some key Church terminologies and principles

Previous Editorial *June 2020) Subsidiarity - extending participation?  HERE
Earlier  Editorials Here
Sr. Elise García is a bridge for sisters, younger and older, as she assumes LCWR presidency
Extract from by Soli Salgado, Global Sosters Report, 13 August 2020
Before she surprised everyone, including herself, by becoming a sister at age 50, Elise García lived a life that, in one sense, closely resembled that of a sister: She was engaged in social justice issues, advocacy and nonprofits and had a keen lifelong concern for the fate of the planet.        But organized religion had been peripheral in her life, as her spirituality in adulthood was more grounded in nature and the cosmos. It wasn't until she met Adrian Dominican sisters in her social justice circles in the 1990s that she began to follow a mysterious call to Catholicism and religious life.        Now, García, 70, is the president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the national organization that represents 80% of women religious in the United States. In the triumvirate presidency, she is joined by past-president Sr. Jayne Helmlinger, a Sister of St. Joseph of Orange, California, and new president-elect Sr. Jane Herb of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Monroe, Michigan, who was elected June 29, ahead of LCWR's annual assembly, held virtually Aug. 12-14.         Today, LCWR leadership overlooks an increasingly multicultural religious landscape. Younger sisters, though fewer in number, are more diverse, equipped and enthusiastic about the potential of their global sisterhood.....(more) Sr Elise García global sisters report 20200813
Endemic secrecy in the Catholic Church
Extract from Francis Sullivan, Pearls & Irritations, 13 August 2020
Throughout the child sexual abuse Royal Commission the inquirers regularly asked why institutions not only tolerated child abusers but actively concealed their crimes. Secrecy was endemic in the culture of these institutions.      Those in positions of power and influence chose to abide by the mainly unspoken rule that scandal had to be avoided and the truth not revealed. When it came to the Catholic Church this overt hypocrisy has undermined the community’s trust and fuelled the increasing cynicism that now confronts its leaders.      For those of us who have worked within the institution and remain loyal to its faith community, living with the culture of secrecy is not new. In many ways it has been ingrained into the clerical/lay divide. From the sacrament of reconciliation to the ‘clerics only’ advisory committees, there has been an aura of secrecy that somehow has been deemed acceptable as part and parcel of Catholic culture.  The assumption was that clerics knew best and would always work in our best interests. Secrecy was too easily confused with confidentiality, as was concealment with prudence. That is why the Catholic community itself has been complicit in perpetuating an opaque culture, where calls for accountability and transparency have been marginalised by those obsessed with control and ‘issues management’.      Frankly it comes as no surprise to find the same secret approach being adopted for the Plenary Council. Take for example the recent concern about the preparation of the official strategic working document for the Plenary Council, Instrumentum laboris.....(more)
Paedophile priest Vincent Gerard Ryan has priestly faculties removed
Extract from Giselle Wakatama ABC Newcastle, 11 August 2020
The notorious paedophile priest Vincent Gerard Ryan will no longer be permitted to celebrate the sacraments or dress as a priest, after a decision to remove his priestly faculties.      The 82-year-old walked free on parole last month; he had served less than half of a three-year sentence relating to two altar boys.      Ryan had previously spent 14 years in prison for abusing more than 30 boys.     The Catholic Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle, Bill Wright, had been pressed to reveal what steps he had taken to ask Pope Francis to remove Ryan from the priesthood.      At the time he was paroled, Ryan was still listed as a priest on the diocese website.        The ABC can reveal that his status has now changed and his faculties have been permanently removed.      Father Vince Ryan standing outside.         Vincent Ryan worked in the Hunter region for decades.(Fairfax Media).      The Catholic Church said faculties were a cleric's authorisation to celebrate the sacraments and act on behalf of the Church.        "A cleric who had no faculties could not carry out any liturgical, sacramental or administrative action on behalf of the Church," it said.     Ryan can no longer dress in clerical garb or identify himself as a priest.       In the ABC's Revelation program, Ryan was seen performing mass in his home.    Survivors were livid, and after the program aired they told the ABC it caused anger and distress..... (more)
Submission to the standing committee on legislation of the parliament of Western Australia into the children and community services amendment bill 2019
Selected Topics: Mandatory reporting of Child Sexual Abuse by Ministers of Religion and Seal of Confession
Extracts from Catholics For Renewal submission on 24 July 2020. Linked here 11 August 2020 
This submission to the Standing Committee on Legislation of the Parliament of Western Australia into the Children  and  Community  Services  Amendment  Bill  2019has  been  prepared  by  Catholics  for Renewal,  a  group  of  committed  Catholic  women  and  men  who  seek  the  renewal  of  the  Catholic Church  so  that  it  follows  Jesus  Christ  more  closely.   Catholics  for  Renewal  was  established  in  2011.   The  names  and  backgrounds  of the  persons  who  prepared  the  submission  are  provided  in Appendix One.  Catholics  for  Renewal  has  examined  the  issues  related  to  child  sexual  abuse  in  the  Catholic  Church over many years and has previously made submissions to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Organisations (2012-13) and the Royal Commission into  Institutional  Responses  to  Child  Sexual  Abuse  (2012-17).   Several  of  its  members  also  gave evidence at the public hearings of both inquiries.In  2019  it  published  its  position  on  similar  matters  it  wants  the  forthcoming  Plenary  Council  of  the Catholic  Church  in  Australia  to  attend  to  in Getting  Back  on  Mission:  Reforming  Our  Church Together.      Among these is the Recommendation (4.7):  ..that, as there is a critical need to ensure that child sexual abusers are not left unidentified and at large in the community, the Plenary Council should carefully examine the seal of  confession as it currently operates in the First Rite, with a view to..................Catholics for Renewal fully supports Recommendations 7.3 and 7.4 of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse  and the arguments supporting them...........(MORE)                                                                      Link to all submissions (HERE)
Women priests are possible, says new Vatican finance council member
Extract from Katholische Nachrichten-Agentur, National Catholic Reporter, 10 Aug 2020
BONN, Germany — Law professor Charlotte Kreuter-Kirchhof, recently appointed by Pope Francis as a member of the high-level group that oversees the Vatican's finances, said Aug. 10 that she regards it possible that women could serve as priests in the Catholic Church and in top roles within the Vatican bureaucracy.        "In my view very much is possible in this area," she told catholic website in an interview. "But there are heated debates going on in the church about this at the moment."       A Duesseldorf-based professor, Kreuter-Kirchhof is one of six women that Francis named as members of the Vatican's Council for the Economy on Aug. 6. Francis created the group in 2014 to supervise the financial activities of both the Vatican city-state and the offices of the Holy See.          The council had previously included solely men.       Kreuter-Kirchhof, who is also chairwoman of the Hildegardis Association, which supports women in academic education and job training, said in the interview she saw encouraging signs of women's leadership in the German church.      "In many dioceses women are taking on central leadership tasks and making a substantial contribution to the future viability of our church," she said.       Kreuter-Kirchhof described the new appointment to the Council for the Economy as a "clear sign of the desired cooperation between bishops, priests and laypeople and of the cooperation between men and women." The council membership reflects a togetherness that is preparing the church for the future, she said.....(more)

Re: The Next Pope: the Office of Peter and a Church in Mission. George Weigel

Extract from Letter, Rose Marie Crowe, 9 August 2020

George Weigel, in his new book, The Next Pope: the Office of Peter and a Church in Mission, purports to outline the tenor of the next pontificate, effectively dismissing the validity of our present pope, Francis, who, Weigel hints, is hostage to something he labels pejoratively as ‘Catholicism Lite’. Curiously, he proposes as a template the tactics of evangelicals and fundamentalists who maintain “clarity of teaching and strong moral expectations”.  In reality, these groups espouse the literal interpretation of the Bible and derive their ethos from the most punitive verses in Scripture, applying them to justify the condemnation of others.          Weigel equates truth with doctrine and mercy with the “purification” of those who “acknowledge that they have squandered their human dignity.” Though he cites the parable of the Prodigal Son to support this theory, he misses the central message of the parable: that the Father runs to meet his son, embraces him and celebrates his return without requiring that he debase himself. It is a story of unconditional love—Justice Lite, surely?.........(more)

Hiroshima atomic bomb memories still fresh for Japanese war bride of WWII digger
Extract from ABC News, 7 August 2020
Takako Watts remembers washing her newborn sister's nappies in Kure hospital when suddenly the windows smashed.        The then-12-year-old came to learn it was caused by the shockwave from the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, 20 kilometres away.         Although it happened 75 years ago, Ms Watts, who is now known as Cherry and lives in Murwillumbah in northern NSW, remembers as if it was yesterday.           "I started seeing all these people with burns coming into the hospital. I thought it was the end of the world," she said.        She remembers leaving the hospital with her mother and sister and seeing the devastation from the bomb.         "All the buildings were smashed to the ground with dead bodies underneath and a massive fire was burning throughout the city.           "We could smell the burning of flesh for days. It was horrible."       Before World War II, Ms Watts had lived a happy childhood; her parents were wealthy and had provided a stable environment for their children.       But that came to an abrupt end.      Kure, Japan's largest naval base and arsenal at the time, was constantly attacked by American bombers, with the family taking refuge in the side of a mountain where caves had been built.         "It was scary being in the cave at night because it was so dark. I would constantly pray to God to stop the war," Ms Watts said......(more) Photo: Takako (Cherry) married Bill Watts before settling in NSW  (Supplied) ABC News 20200807
Pope sends special message to the people of Japan
Extract from CathNews, Vatican News, 7 August 2020
Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the people of Japan yesterday to mark the 75th anniversary yesterday of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima.          In a message sent to the Governor of the Hiroshima Prefecture, Hidehiko Yusaki, the Pope offered his “cordial greetings to the organisers and participants in the seventy-fifth solemn anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, and in a special way to the hibakusha survivors of the original tragedy”.          The Pope also recalled that he was able to reflect on “the destruction of human life and property” at the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima and at Hypocentre Park in Nagasaki during his Apostolic Visit to the two cities in November 2019.        Recalling his message at Hiroshima, Pope Francis said that “the use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral”.           In Australia, a coalition of religious organisations and faith groups have signed an open letter in support of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, according to the Missionary Sisters of Service website.       The open letter was organised by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons to mark the 75th anniversary of the bombings.        Among the many Catholic signatories to the letter were Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Stancea Vichie of the Missionary Sisters of Service, Sr Monica Cavanagh of the Sisters of Saint Joseph and Br Peter Carroll of Catholic Religious Australia......(more)    Photo: Pope Francis at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial in 2019 (CNS/Paul Haring)
Catholics for Renewal endorses Columban Call for Abolition of Nuclear Weapons
Media Release, Catholics for Renewal,  6 August 2020
Thursday 6th August and Sunday 9 August 2020 mark the 75th anniversary of the bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic weapons. The destruction of human life and dwellings was horrific. Pope Francis, on his visit to both cities in 2019, pleaded for the world to understand that “the possession of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction is not the answer to the longings of the human heart for security, peace and stability”.               In its submission to the Plenary Council, Catholics for Renewal identified the ‘nuclear threat’ as one of the most significant signs of the times. The Catholic Church in Australia has not made a clear, forceful and principled statement on the elimination of nuclear weapons since 1985.             On 3 August the Society of St Columban, whose missionary members have been working in Japan since 1948, just three years after the atomic attack, published a powerful and prophetic Message of Peace and Nonviolence calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons, their production, possession, testing and use. Catholics for Renewal unequivocally endorses this message which we re-publish below.               We also pray that the hierarchy and forthcoming Plenary Council of the Catholic Church in Australia will speak to our nation and its leaders with clarity and wisdom urging a total ban on the development, possession and use of nuclear weapons here and throughout the world.           "Columban Message of Peace and Nonviolence -  On the 75th anniversary of the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki"    HERE          Photo: John Costa, Hiroshima 2015  
A breach of faith with many thousands of Catholics.
Extract from John Warhurst, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue website,  6 August 2020
Leading church renewal group, Concerned Catholics Canberra Goulburn, has called on Australian Catholic bishops to release an essential document for consultation with the broader Catholic community before the bishops finalise it and send it to Rome ahead of the historic Plenary Council.     The Plenary Council announced last week that work recently began on the development of the instrumentum laboris, the strategic working document central to the Plenary Council process. It relies heavily on the first two preparatory phases of the Council journey: Listening and Dialogue and Listening and Discernment.               It is striking that nowhere in the media release is there mention of any participation by the wider Catholic community in the preparation of this working document. And there’s no indication that the bishops will take the Catholic community into its confidence before or after the working document is presented to the ACBC.       The absence of transparency in the drafting of the document at this critical point in the Plenary Council process is deeply concerning.        I raised these concerns in a letter to the Plenary Council Chair, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe last week, noting that such secrecy is a breach of faith with the many thousands of Catholics who have invested heavily in time and effort, through discussion, meetings, submissions and prayerful discernment in the Plenary Council process so far.                It is essential for the integrity of the Plenary Council that a draft of the working document be published and made widely available prior to its consideration by the ACBC in November....(more)
Pope Francis appoints 6 women (and a U.S. cardinal) to Vatican economic council
Extract from Gerard O’Connell America - The Jesuit Review, 6 August 2020
Pope Francis has appointed seven highly qualified lay persons—six of them women—and six cardinals, including Joseph Tobin of Newark, N.J., to the board of the Vatican’s Council for the Economy.        The pope first established the Council for the Economy together with the Secretariat for the Economy on Feb. 24, 2014, when he issued the decree, “Fidelis dispensator et Prudens” (“Faithful and prudent administrator”), which created a new coordinating agency for the economic and administrative affairs of the Holy See and the Vatican City State.        He then tasked the council with “oversight for the administrative and financial structures and activities of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, the institutions linked to the Holy See, and the Vatican City State.” The council was to be composed of 15 members, eight chosen from among the cardinals and bishops to reflect the universality of the church and seven “lay experts of various nationalities with recognized professional financial competence.” He appointed Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Germany as coordinator of the council, and he retains that position.         Pope Francis has appointed six cardinals, including Joseph Tobin of Newark, N.J., and seven highly qualified lay persons—six of them women—to the board of the Vatican’s Council for the Economy.          Today the pope renewed the membership of the council by appointing six cardinals for the full five-year term: Péter Erdő (Hungary), Odilo Pedro Scherer (Brazil), Gérald Cyprien Lacroix (Canada), Joseph William Tobin (Newark), Anders Arborelius (Sweden) and Giuseppe Petrocchi (Italy). He has retained Cardinal Wilfrid Napier Fox (now 79), who was a member of the council during the past five-year term, for one more year. (Cardinals have to retire from all offices on reaching the age of 80.)        It is significant, however, that Pope Francis has appointed six lay women to the council and only one lay man. It is a further indication of his determination to give more responsibility to women in the Vatican in positions that do not require ordination. There was no woman on the council during the past five-year term.        All of the women are Europeans: two each from Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom. They all have first-class credentials and distinguished careers, as evidenced by the brief biographical notes provided by the Vatican when it announced the new membership of the council on Aug. 6. .....(more)
Concerned Catholics Canberra Goulburn urge bishops to release essential document
Extract from Media release,Concerned Catholics Canberra Goulburn, 3 August 2020
Leading church renewal group, Concerned Catholics Canberra Goulburn, has called on Australian Catholic bishops to release an essential document for consultation with the broader Catholic community before the bishops finalise it.        The strategic Working Document, which is central to the Plenary Council process is due to be sent to Rome at the end of the year.         The Plenary Council announced this week that work recently began on the development of the instrumentum laboris, with the document drawing heavily on the first two preparatory phases of the Council journey: Listening and Dialogue and Listening and Discernment.       But Concerned Catholics Canberra Goulburn Chair, Professor John Warhurst AO, has written to Plenary Council Chair, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, critical of the absence of transparency in the drafting of the document.       ‘Such secrecy is a breach of faith with the many thousands of Catholics who have invested heavily in time and effort, through discussion, meetings, submissions and prayerful discernment in the Plenary Council process so far,’ Professor Warhurst said.         ‘It is essential for the integrity of the Plenary Council that a draft of the Working Document be published and made widely available prior to its consideration by the ACBC in November.....(more)
Pope Francis appoints new Bishop of Port Pirie
Extract from  Media Release, Gavin Abraham, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, 1 August 2020
Pope Francis has this evening appointed Fr Karol Kulczycki SDS, the former head of the Salvatorians in Australia, as the new bishop of the Diocese of Port Pirie in regional South Australia.         Fr Kulczycki was born in Poland in 1966, ordained to the priesthood in Trzebinia in 1994 and is currently based in Poland. He spent 21 years serving the Church in Western Australia, including in parish ministry, as vocations director and as a college chaplain. In February 2018, while still serving in Australia, Fr Kulczycki was elected vice-provincial of the Polish province of the Society of the Divine Saviour – widely known as the Salvatorians.           Two-and-a-half years on, Pope Francis has appointed him Bishop of Port Pirie. “Just a few weeks ago I had an interview for our Salvatorian newsletter and was asked how and where I see myself in 10 or 20 years. I replied that I would be where God sent me. I did not expect that God would act so quickly in my life,” Fr Kulczycki said. “God is working in mysterious ways in my life. Firstly, calling me unexpectedly to religious and priestly life; secondly, directing my heart to serve him in Australia and now serving him and his people in Port Pirie Diocese.”                Fr Kulczycki will become the 12th Bishop of Port Pirie – including the bishops who led what was from 1887 until 1951 the Diocese of Port Augusta. He succeeds Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ, who has been Bishop of Port Pirie since 2009. Bishop O’Kelly also served as apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Adelaide for almost two years.......(more)
Reflections on sixty years as a priest .
Layout-edited extract from Eric Hodgens, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue Website, 31 July 2020
The more reflective component of the Church is crying out for imaginative leadership on the ministry crisis and institutional re-organisation. But episcopal conferences seem paralysed.      Ordained in 1960 my major anniversaries synced with the decades. I published a Golden Anniversary Reflection in 2010.               It characterised the decades as: *The awakening 60s;  *The exciting 70s;  *The suspicious 80s;    *The depressing 90s and    *The imploding noughties.      Now at my diamond anniversary I have added      *the Counter-intuitive Teens.         This decade has been notable for unexpected disruptions and reversals both good and bad but all remarkable.           First there was the election of Pope Francis. This brought a reversal of the 45 years of Restorationist policy under JPII and Benedict. Francis brought a pastoral mind and style of conversation which broke the formal kabuki-style image of the papacy.   People heard the Jesus message in story and image as Jesus told it. Francis wanted to replace a self-referential church with one that looked outward and dealt with reality as it is. His vision was to replace a juridical institution with a pastoral community of service. His way to get there was synodal – with everyone equally walking the Way together.          This disrupted the whole Roman administration and the episcopacy around the world. They were the pope’s pretorian guard – but now, the pope wanted them to change tack. Some were delighted. More were alarmed. The culture wars had been going on for decades, but now the leaders of the right swung into action with passive and overt resistance. Francis, though less familiar with Vatican politics, was the experienced veteran of South American intrigue. He skilfully made progress against opposing winds and gradually built up his own team. The opposition continues but Francis, following his own mantras, is still ahead.         After years in pastoral leadership and administration, he had developed four rules of thumb:  *Unity is more important than conflict.   *The whole is more important than the part.   * Time is more important than space – gently, gently.        *Reality is more important than the idea.        He is not an ideologue. Pastoral experience has softened rigidity and dogmatism. He has no time for the hard right, nor for the hard left. Reality is more important than the idea. Restorationism is over.....(MORE)
Working Document Next Step on Plenary Council Journey
Extract from Gavin Abraham, Media release, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, 30 July 2020
The working document – or instrumentum laboris – for the Plenary Council will provide a constant reminder of the need for deep and ongoing discernment of God’s will for the Church, the Council’s president has said.     Work recently began on the development of the instrumentum laboris, with the document drawing heavily on the first two preparatory phases of the Council journey: Listening and Dialogue and Listening and Discernment.      The voices of more than 220,000 people across the country, as well as discernment and writing papers on each of the six National Themes for Discernment, are being considered alongside Church teaching, Scripture, papal documents and a range of other sources – within and beyond the Church –  in preparing the instrumentum laboris.     Plenary Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB pointed to a national review of parish and diocesan governance, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the COVID-19 pandemic as some of those sources.......(MORE)
New Closing the Gap deal ‘to move country in new direction’
Extract from CathNews, ABC News, 30 July 2020
Australia will commit to reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rates, suicides and child removals under a historic Closing the Gap agreement to be unveiled by the Prime Minister today.           All state and territory governments have signed up to 16 targets as part of the national agreement, which Indigenous groups say will “move the country in a new direction” to substantially improve life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.       The deal follows years of failure to meet most of the previous Closing the Gap targets, set in 2008. But Indigenous organisations say their direct involvement in negotiating and implementing the new agreement should prove a key difference this time around.     The ABC understands the new agreement will also aim to move hundreds of Indigenous adults and children out of prison within a decade.....(more)  CathNews 20200730 Bigstock
Free-thinking French Jesuit theologian dies at age 104
Joseph Moingt SJ explored and questioned the Christian faith, authoring books right up to the end of his long life
Limited extract from Bruno Bouvet and Claire Lesegretain, subscription journal La Croix International, 29 July 2020.
France.  Father Joseph Moingt was already 103 years old when he wrote L'esprit du christianisme ("The Spirit of Christianity"), which the book's publisher defined as the French Jesuit's personal testimony.        Written in an unprecedented first-person style, the work summarizes the questions of a theologian's life.       Freedom was always the key word for Moingt who died on July 28 at the age of 104.         This held true even if it meant questioning dogmas and developing theses that contributed to reflections that were rarely unanimous.       "Each one of us will find in these pages a reason (or several) to be questioned, displaced and/or shocked," wrote Élodie Maurot in a review of Moingt's last book for La Croix.  "We can therefore discuss this work, criticize it, amend it and extend it, but it would be wrong to split it up or to ignore it, because few theologians make the voice of the God who 'has so loved the world' (John 3:16) heard so clearly," Maurot declared.....(source).   Photo: Joseph Moingt SJ Wilfried Guyot CIRIC La Croix International 20200729
Nuns, priests, bishops protest Duterte government
State of the Nation address provides opportunity for visibility of dissent
Extract from Ma. Ceres P. Doyo, Global Sisters Report, 28 Jul 2020
Manila, Philippines — Nuns, priests and bishops in the Philippines issued protest calls in the run up to and during President Rodrigo Duterte's fifth State of the Nation address, delivered July 27 at the House of Representatives in Quezon City, Metro Manila.       Despite warnings about the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, nuns wearing face masks and face shields joined morning protest activities on University Avenue at the main campus of the University of the Philippines in Quezon City. The stretch branches off from the 18-lane Commonwealth Avenue that leads to the House of Representatives building, which was off-limits to the public. The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported a crowd of about 2,000.       To make their presence known, nuns wearing face masks and face shields carried the streamer of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP). Elsewhere in Metro Manila, other groups of nuns staged their own protests. The Missionary Benedictine Sisters who run St. Scholastica's College in the City of Manila went out to the streets to stage a short program......(MORE)
The church needs women cardinals
Ordination does not equal competency for leadership
Extract from James F. Keenan, National Catholic Reporter, 28 July 2020
Last week, La Croix and The Tablet both reported on an interview with the president of the French bishops' conference, Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort. During the interview, he envisioned that "the Holy See will one day be led by the Pope surrounded by a college of cardinals in which there would be women."         The Rheims archbishop's musings reminded me of many years ago when I was much younger, and older Catholics were first daring to discuss the ordination of women.          Invariably the debates about the probability of ordained women surrendered to the question of whether such ordination was possible. Here arguments against the possibility were raised by invoking pervasive misogyny, local cultures, theology, canon law, the Bible and even the intentionality of Jesus at the last supper!               After exhausting a host of objections to the possible, invariably a senior in the room would suggest, "Why not make women cardinals?" This often prompted quizzical stares from mostly everyone, but the clever proponent would remind them that until recently there were, indeed, lay cardinals. "They didn't have to be ordained," the proponent would expertly conclude.....(more).   Photo: NCR 20200728 CNS Reuters Claudio Peri  
AOC the future of the Catholic Church
Extract from Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter, 27 July 2020
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's stunning speech on the House floor last week has been called "a comeback for the ages," "the most important feminist speech in a generation" and "a lesson in sexism and decency."     I just call it "truth."       Responding to an incident on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in which Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida verbally assaulted her — including calling her a "f---ing bitch" — Ocasio-Cortez noted that "this is not new, and that is the problem."       "This issue is not about one incident," she said. "It is cultural. It is a culture of lack of impunity, of accepting of violence and violent language against women, and an entire structure of power that supports that."        As I listened to her 10-minute address on the House floor, I was struck by how often it referenced Catholic values.        Ocasio-Cortez repeatedly railed against the "dehumanizing" of others and instead called for treating people with dignity and respect. These are themes often repeated by Pope Francis, who has  specifically cautioned about gossip and urged the use of respectful language, saying "it is possible to kill someone with the tongue."       The Democratic congresswoman who represents New York's 14th District also universalized the need to treat all people with dignity and respect, noting that Yoho's behavior gave "permission to other men to do that to his daughters."       "I'm here to say that is not acceptable," she said........(More) 
Poland to quit treaty on violence against women, minister says
Extract from Reuters, The Age, 26 July 2020
Warsaw: Poland will take steps next week to withdraw from a European treaty on violence against women, which the right-wing cabinet says violates parents' rights by requiring schools to teach children about gender, the justice minister said on Saturday....(more)
A Church That Is Poor?
Money, Sectarianism, & Catholic Tradition
Extract from Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal, 24 July 2020
What to make of the fact that the Catholic Church received $1.4 billion from the U.S. government’s Paycheck Protection Program? The remarks from Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, seem to suffice. As he put it in a statement, the “Catholic Church” in this case encompasses the hundreds of individual Catholic dioceses, parishes, schools, social-service agencies, and other organizations that collectively employ thousands of people, and so is not prohibited from receiving taxpayer-backed federal aid. “The Paycheck Protection Program was designed to protect the jobs of Americans from all walks of life, regardless of whether they work for for-profit or non-profit employers, faith-based or secular,” his statement read in part. A range of Catholic media outlets have made the same observation, and it seems clear there is less to this “story” than meets the eye.         Yet at the same time, we should remain mindful about the constitutional and political issues concerning the relationship between Church and state, and the continued need for financial accountability and transparency in light of the links between the sexual-abuse crisis and financial mismanagement in Catholic institutions. It seems that some of the objection to PPP funding for the Church arises from the belief that the money could be used to pay settlements and legal costs associated with sex-abuse cases and other scandals. And this unfortunately speaks to the level of regard many people have for the Catholic Church today.....(more)     Photo:Commomweal 20200724 CNS Alessandro Garofalo Reuters
Not worth the paper it's written on
New instruction on Catholic parishes is latest proof that it will be hard to wrest control from the clericalists
Limited extract from Robert Mickens, Subscription journal La Croix International, 24 July 2020
Vatican City. The Congregation for the Clergy caused a bit a surprise and a whole lot of consternation earlier this week when it issued a new document on "the pastoral conversion of the parish community at the service of the Church's evangelizing mission".         There had been no inkling that any such thing was even in the works, let alone that an important Vatican text would be released in the middle of summer while Pope Francis was still on his stay-at-home, month-long holidays.           "The document deals with the theme of the pastoral care of parish communities, the various clerical and lay ministries, with a view to greater co-responsibility of all the baptized," the congregation said in a press communiqué on July 20, the day the text was released.        It is in the form of an "instruction", which is something Roman congregations issue to explain or clarify ecumenical (and general) council documents or papal decrees. The pope must approve the publication of instructions, which Francis did in this case.                Move along, nothing new here…       And that's what must be so bewildering for many people. While this new document begins promisingly with the fresh and creative language the Jesuit pope employs with such courage and foresight in his 2013 apostolic exhortation, Evangelii gaudium, the text quickly hits the proverbial canonical speed bump.         Instead.....(more). Photo: La Croix International 20200724          [Ed: See related News Item below "The Pastoral Conversion...", 20 July]
Pope Francis makes bishops accountable for cover-ups
Edited Extract from Kieran Tapsell, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue website, 24 July 2020
On 16 July 2020, the Vatican published a manual for dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse against Church personnel. It marks a significant change in culture expressed in canon law for the last 100 years where the Church was more concerned about providing immunity for clergy child sex perpetrators than it was for the welfare of their victims.      In 2014, two United Nations Committees, for the Rights of the Child, and against Torture, criticized the Vatican for the pontifical secret imposed over allegations of child sexual abuse and for not changing canon law to require Church authorities to report such allegations to the police. The Vatican’s response was that the Church would obey civil reporting laws, but it was otherwise not its responsibility to report – it was up to the victims, even if they were children or those intellectually incapable of reporting.       The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse had found in its 2017 Final Report that the pontifical secret still applied where there were no applicable civil reporting laws, and recommended its abolition. Within Australia at the time, only New South Wales and Victoria had comprehensive reporting laws. Once the other States and Territories adopted the Royal Commission’s recommendation that they pass similar laws, canon law required bishops in those places to report abuse to the civil authorities.        In February 2019, Pope Francis held a summit meeting on child sexual abuse at the Vatican with the heads of national Catholic Bishops’ Conferences. Three prominent speakers, Cardinal Marx, Professor Linda Gishoni and Archbishop Scicluna criticized the pontifical secret. It was widely expected that Pope Francis would abolish it, and would impose mandatory reporting to the civil authorities under canon law, as demanded by the two United Nations Committees.....(more)
French women challenge Catholic hierarchy to open up male-only ministries
Seven women apply publicly for various Church positions -- including bishop, nuncio, parish priest, deacon, preacher...
Limited extract from Héloïse de Neuville and Xavier Le Normand, subscription journal La Croix International, 23 July 2020.
France. The date was not chosen by accident.    On July 22 -- the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, "Apostle of the Apostles" -- seven Catholic women in France decided to run for Church offices linked to ordination (bishop, parish priest, deacon, nuncio...).     The initiative comes after lay theologian Anne Soupa publicly put her name forward on May 25 as a candidate to be the next Archbishop of Lyon.           But this latest move goes even further than the 73-year-old Soupa's manifesto, which did not call for access to the ordained ministry for women.      "Noting that two popes had declared the issue of women's access to....(source).   Photo: La Croix Int 20200723 Corinne Simon Ciiric
Learn who you are in the eyes of God: Bishop Mark Edwards farewells Melbourne
Extract from Communications Office, Melbourne Catholic, 21 July 2020
This Wednesday, Bishop Mark Edwards OMI will be installed as the sixth bishop of the Diocese of Wagga Wagga, NSW. Before leaving Melbourne, Melbourne Catholic caught up with Bishop Mark for a conversation and walk through the Fitzroy Gardens, where he reflected on what he’ll miss most about “home”, his thoughts on the Plenary Council and how passing on the faith is all about telling stories...(more including video farewells by Bishop Mark and Abp Peter Comensoli   HERE)
Bishop McElroy's hopeful vision for a church transformed
Extract from Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter, 20 July 2020
.......It was McElroy's discussion of this "moment of societal crisis," however, that makes his homily especially worthy of widespread consideration. A kind of "state of the local church" reflection, it has wide applicability for the rest of the country.         First, he notes that "the pandemic has transformed the landscape of our ecclesial life in ways that will permanently change the nature of pastoral action and evangelization. Patterns of parish life that have sustained community and the proclamation of the Gospel for decades have been ruptured by the isolation of these months and the atomization of all social life that we have witnessed. There is a great danger that that pandemic is creating a culture of increased disengagement within the life of the Church that will persist long after a vaccination is found."           For the church, the words "sustained community" are especially important. Communities do not self-sustain on autopilot. They need to be tended and nurtured, and the methods the church in the U.S. has adopted have wilted in the heat caused by this virus.          McElroy then looks at the national focus on racial issues, "The issues of race and nationality, the rights of immigrants and the imperative for authentic solidarity in society and our Church that have surfaced in these past months are also a turning point, not an episode," he said. "We are in the midst of a profound social renewal in which the meaning of equality in our nation is in these days being irrevocably changed for the better."      I want to share the bishop's confidence that we are in a moment of "profound social renewal" and that things are changing "for the better." I worry that the righteous anger at the persistence of racial injustice has spent itself on symbols and semiotics. The murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor demand more than statements and empty pedestals.       "Finally, and most profoundly, the pandemic has destroyed our individual and collective feelings of security on every level — personal health, financial security, safety, and relationships," McElroy continued. "We have come face to face with the existential reality that we are not in control and that the security we had treasured and presumed is an illusion."         McElroy said that these three ruptures — "the disruption of ecclesial life, the overpowering recognition that we do not live in a society of authentic solidarity, and the devastating assault that the pandemic has visited upon our false sense and sources of security" — force the recognition that our ecclesial structures will not be recovered so much as they will be transformed, of necessity......(more)
The pastoral conversion of the Parish community in the service of the evangelising mission of the Church
Extract from Instruction. Holy See Press Office, 20 July 2020
1. The ecclesiological reflection of the Second Vatican Council, together with the considerable social and cultural changes of recent decades, has resulted in various Particular Churches having to reorganise the manner in which the pastoral care of Parish communities are assigned.       This has made it possible to initiate new experiences, enhancing the dimension of communion and implementing, under the guidance of pastors, a harmonious synthesis of charisms and vocations at the service of the proclamation of the Gospel, which better corresponds to the demands of evangelisation today.                Pope Francis, at the beginning of his Petrine ministry, recalled the importance of “creativity”, meaning thereby “seeking new ways”, that is “seeking how best to proclaim the Gospel”; in respect of this, the Holy Father concluded by saying, “the Church, and also the Code of Canon Law, gives us innumerable possibilities, much freedom to seek these things”.
2. The situations outlined in the following Instruction, represent a valuable opportunity for pastoral conversion that is essentially missionary. Parish communities will find herein a call to go out of themselves, offering instruments for reform, even structural, in a spirit of communion and collaboration, of encounter and closeness, of mercy and solicitude for the proclamation of the Gospel......(more)
Catholic bishops urged to get serious and appoint a woman as co-chair of Plenary summit
Extract from Media Release, Australian Coalition for Catholic Church Reform (ACCR), 20 July 2020
Australia's Catholic bishops must appoint a woman as co-chairperson of the church Plenary Council if they wish the summit meeting to be taken seriously, the Australian Catholic Coalition on Church Reform has declared.        After a Zoom meeting attended by over 100 church reform advocates representing thousands of Catholics from around Australia and New Zealand on 16 July, co-chairs Andrea Dean and John Warhurst said there was overwhelming support for recognition of women's leadership in the church. This is fundamental to the reform of church governance.         ‘Women play a leading role in the day-to-day support of Catholic Church liturgies and in running its health, education and social services, but are excluded by church law from executive governance.  For there not to be a woman chair of the Plenary and for women not to have equal representation in the preparation of discussion documents for the Plenary would expose the Plenary as an anachronism with compromised credibility and relevance for the Australian community,’ Ms Dean and Professor Warhurst said.        ‘A woman co-chair is a matter of justice.  If the bishops were to reject this move, then it would be incumbent upon them to explain clearly why more than half of the active faithful should be excluded from leadership of the Plenary. Exclusion of women in this way would be a powerful symbol of business as usual.        ‘This issue is a matter of urgency given the bishops intend to submit the ‘Instrumentum Laboris’, the key document that will determine the Plenary agenda, to the Vatican for approval this September. Why are they rushing this? The Plenary has been deferred for 12 months. When would this have been done if the PC had not been deferred from this October?       ‘There also needs to be clarity in the agenda concerning priority for other necessary reforms including the establishment of Diocesan Pastoral Councils and Assemblies before the Plenary.’...........(more)
Mandatory reporting under canon law: It finally happened, but only just
Extract from James, Catholica, Saturday 18 July 2020
In 2014, two United Nations Committees demanded that the Vatican get rid of the pontifical secret and impose mandatory reporting of all child sexual abuse to the civil authorities. Inquiries in the United States, Ireland and Australia were highly critical of it. Francis finally gave into the pressure and abolished it in December 2019, but still resisted mandatory reporting unless the civil law required it. Many civil laws including in most Australian States didn’t have comprehensive reporting laws. The problem with this is that he could never make Bishops accountable under canon law for cover ups. He used the feeble excuse that there were repressive regimes in the world. There are, but every coherent legal system in the world deals with that kind of problem with exceptions and the Code of Canon Law has 1,300 exceptions to its universal laws. Well, finally he has at least done something. Bishops are required to report where there is a risk to the survivor or other children, not by a change in the law but by a requirement in a practice manual, which is probably enough to make a bishop accountable for a cover up. Bishops can be held accountable under canon law for negligence in office, and the standard of care required is to report where the welfare of children is at risk, as prescribed in the manual.            The manual indicates an interesting change of culture because canon law for at least 100 years was more concerned about protecting abusive priests than the welfare of children. Even the "repressive regimes" was based on concern about priests and not about children. In 2002 in the United States and 2010 elsewhere, when the Vatican required bishops to comply with civil reporting laws, it was obvious that the cultural concern of the Vatican was not the welfare of children, but the the protection of bishops and cardinals from going to jail for obeying the pontifical secret and not reporting.....(more)
Leadership Roundtable calls for new financial standards for church
Extract from Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter, 17 July 20020
A new report by Leadership Roundtable recommends establishing national standards for financial management for dioceses across the United States, along with an annual, publicly shared audit of financial policies and practices. It also calls for the church to invest in more training and support for young adults interested in ministry.       The proposal is modeled after the "Dallas Charter," which was implemented by the U.S. bishops in 2002 and established national protocols for child protection and would be codified in the church's canon law. The Leadership Roundtable is an organization devoted to promoting best management practices in the church.      "We Are the Body of Christ: Creating a Culture of Co-Responsible Leadership" is the result of a two-day gathering hosted in February in Washington. The conference brought together more than 260 individuals from around the globe, with keynote remarks delivered by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, papal nuncio to the U.S.; St. Joseph Sr. Carol Zinn, executive director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious; and Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington, among others.      Released on July 16, the 29-page report also urges the Vatican to host a meeting of the presidents of bishops' conferences from around the globe to focus on financial management, modeled after the February 2019 meeting that brought together the heads of every bishops' conference from around the world to address the clergy sexual abuse crisis....(more)
The Nonviolent Feminist
Extract from J A Dick, Another Voice, 17 July 2020
A feminist is someone who supports equal rights for women: someone who believes that women should have the same political, religious, social, and economic rights as men. It has absolutely nothing to do with putting down men in order to elevate the status of women.        Despite the strongly negative understanding of women and women’s rights in his day, the historical Jesus refused to treat women as inferior to men in any way. In his prophetic speech and action, Jesus — Yeshua — was a feminist.         Earlier it was perhaps better but, by the time of Jesus, religious attitudes and behavior toward women had drastically changed. In theory, women were held in high regard by first-century Jewish society, but in practice, this was not always true. First century Jewish culture was strongly patriarchal; and women in Palestine, suffered various forms of ingrained prejudice against them.The daily prayers of Jewish men, for example, included this refrain: “Praised be God that he has not created me a woman.”         The woman’s place was to be in the home: to bear children and to rear them. Men were not even to acknowledge and greet women in public. Some Jewish writers like the Jewish philosopher Philo (20 BCE – 50 CE),  taught that women should never even leave their homes, except to go to the synagogue. Women, back then, had a very restricted position. They had little access to property or inheritance, except through a male relative. Any money a woman earned belonged to her husband. Men could legally divorce a woman for just about any reason, simply by handing her a writ of divorce. A woman, however, could not divorce her husband.        In the Temple in Jerusalem, women were restricted to the outer forecourt, the “women’s court,” which was five steps below the court for men. In synagogues women were separated from the men and not permitted to read aloud. They were also not allowed to bear witness in a religious court.       All four Gospels, however, portray Jesus as boldly moving beyond the religious and cultural misogyny of his days. There are many examples, but here are three sets I like to stress:....(more)  Image: Another Voice 20200717
German archdiocese plans to cut parishes from 1,000 to 40
Extract from Catholic News Agency (CNA) Staff, 16 Jul 16, 2020
A German archdiocese is pressing ahead with plans to dramatically reduce the number of its parishes despite the Vatican’s decision to block a similar plan in another diocese.  CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German language news partner, reported July 15 that Archbishop Stephan Burger intends to turn the archdiocese’s 1,000 parishes into 40 mega parishes.    In a July 14 letter to archdiocesan staff, Burger described the proposal as an “adequate response to the challenges facing our archdiocese.”        He said: “At the moment, I see no reason to make any changes to the objectives and the main features of the project.”             The Archdiocese of Freiburg, which has almost 1,000 priests and serves 1.8 million Catholics, is located in the state of Baden-Württemberg in southwest Germany. According to official statistics published in June, 22,287 people formally left the Church in the archdiocese in 2019.        The reorganization project, known as “Church Development 2030,” is currently being discussed in deaneries. Their feedback will result in a second draft. After further discussion, a final decision will be taken on the program by the end of the year.        The Vatican intervened last month to stop the Diocese of Trier, located in the west of Germany near the border with Luxembourg, from merging its 887 parishes into 35 larger parishes, following a three-year diocesan synod.       The diocese said that two Vatican departments -- the Congregation for Clergy and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts -- had raised concerns about “the role of the pastor in the leadership team of the parish, the service of other priests, the conception of the parish bodies, the size of the future parishes and the speed of implementation.”         Trier diocese is now working on a new plan to address the Vatican’s objections. ....(more).  Photo: Archbishop Stephan Burger Archdiocese of Freiburg CNA 201700716
Knockers or Rockers of the Barque of Peter?
Extract from Trish Hindmarsh, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue Website, 15 July 2020
Let’s not entirely knock the six Theme Papers from the Plenary Council Writing Groups.        Short-comings? Of course.     Are they a faithful representation of the sensus fidelium expressed through the 220,000 participants in the Plenary lead up? Yes, and no. Could other, more competent people had been working on them? No doubt.    Are humans capable of reaching genuine consensus when confronted with a variety of worldviews, back ground experience and formation? Hopefully, but only with difficulty, patience, prayer, study and dollops of respectful listening.   I came to some sharp realization of all this as a member of the Writing Group for the theme, ‘Conversion, Renewal and Reform’.       It was challenging for me to work at a deep level with Catholics from totally different faith experiences … converts too young to be steeped in Vatican 2, knowing nothing from lived experience of those hope-filled years after the Council when the Adelaide Diocese set up its Diocesan Pastoral Council;      the Australian Justice and Peace Commission was founded; the laity hungered for formation; the liturgy took on renewed life and immediacy; prophetic voices were being heard from the basic Christian communities in Latin America;   the religious orders were refounding themselves in response to the call to go out to the peripheries with Good News to the poor; ecumenism and inter-faith dialogue were flourishing.       We older, Vatican 2 Catholics in the group were among ‘newer’, youthful and fresh-faced Catholics for whom the Theology of the Body, loyalty to the tradition and its authority and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament are compelling fundamentals of Catholic culture. We did share common ground… a desire to listen to the Spirit; the power of prayer and the grace of the sacraments; a love for Christ; hope for a faith-filled future for our children … During the months of work and reflection, we also came to consensus regarding how critical to God’s mission are ecological conversion; openness to our First Peoples and their wisdom; reformed governance structures for a renewed, ‘synodal’ church; and recognition of how antithetical to the conversion, renewal and reform of the church are the structural ‘sins’ of clericalism and the exclusion of women.      The alternative to patient, respectful dialogue, to negotiated pathways through discernment, is factionalism, isolated self-righteousness, echo-chambers where the ‘friend of my friend is my friend and the enemy of my friend is my enemy’.    If we insist only on reinforcing our own position, without a willingness to sit together in our parishes, dioceses, homes and local cafes, engaged in fellowship and dialogue, face-to-face or online, difficult, tedious and utterly frustrating as that can be, we are left with division and dead ends. Ultimately a failure to engage in respectful, skilled processes of dialogue and negotiation leads to the sort of sabre rattling that we are seeing, terrifyingly, right now in our nation and across our planet.      The world needs the church to model a better way to go about the human business of peaceful coexistence, seeking alternatives to conflict and war.....(more)
German bishops split over plans to cut number of seminaries
Steady decline in number of priesthood candidates has bishops re-thinking current structure
Limited extract from Gwénaëlle Deboutte, subscription journal La Croix International, 14 July 2020
Berlin. In Germany, a working group of the German Bishops' Conference has proposed to concentrate formation in a smaller number of dioceses.        "The number of candidates for the Catholic priesthood has gone from 594 in 2011 to 211 at present," said Heinrich Timmerevers, Bishop of Dresden-Meissen.        Because of this steady decline, the Germany's Catholic bishops over the past several years have been considering how they might streamline the formation of future priests.       Three seminaries and nine teaching locations.  Timmerevers, 67, co-chairs the German Bishops' Conference (DBK) working group on the issue. And on June 23 that body presented a proposal....(source).  Photo:  Photo:  La Croix Int 20200714 Sven Hoppe  DPA MAXPPP
Bishops and branch stacking: the second oldest profession
Extract from David Timbs, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue Website, 13 July 2020
Branch stacking scandals are not new to Australian politics of whatever colour. Nor is the phenomenon new to the Catholic Church. In fact, the caper originated within Jesus’ inner circle and it hasn’t let up since.        The gold standard was set by the mother of James and John, two of Jesus’ first followers. On her knees she begged Jesus to grant her sons promotion to the top spots in the coming Reign of God (Mt 20: 20-28). Jesus declined the request but that setback never inhibited many of her sons’ successors down the ages transforming ecclesiastical branch stacking into an art form.       Occasionally upright men have issued cautionary reminders that appointments to positions of authority should be validated by the consent of the people. Hippolytus, Bishop of Rome (215 CE), proclaimed: “Let the bishop be ordained after he has been chosen by all the people”. Pope Leo I affirmed the same principle: “Let him who is to preside over all be elected by all”. And in 1054 CE, French Cardinal Humbert roundly condemned those clerics aspiring to episcopal office without reference to those who are the reason for the episcopate in the first place: “…. anyone who is consecrated as a bishop is first to be elected by the clergy then requested by the people and finally consecrated by the bishops with the approval of the Metropolitan archbishop….. Anyone who has been consecrated without conforming to all three rules is not to be regarded as a true, undoubted, established bishop nor counted among the bishops canonically created and appointed.”          In Australia, episcopal branch stacking in the Catholic Church began well before the early English Benedictine bishops, Polding and Vaughan, had completed their service. It was spearheaded by the ultramontane tragic, Cardinal Paul Cullen (1803-1878), Archbishop of Dublin. From the 1850s his influence in Rome enabled 12 of his personal relatives and former students to gain appointments to Australian bishoprics. His greatest success, in 1884, was the appointment of his nephew, Patrick Francis Moran, as first Irish Archbishop (later Cardinal) of Sydney. By 1885, 21 of the 33 men appointed to Australian bishoprics were Irish.......(more)    Photo:
A reformed Roman Curia and a new batch of cardinals
Strange as it sounds, there's word the new constitution is signed and the rings have been ordered
Limited extract from Robert Mickens, subscription journal La Croix International, 10 July 2020
Vatican City.   It is perhaps the most ambitious project of the current pontificate: attempting to truly reform the mentality and structures of the Catholic Church's central – and, up until Francis arrived, centralizing– bureaucracy known as the Roman Curia.         Exactly one month after his election in March 2013, the Argentine pope established the "Council of Cardinals".        Originally made up of eight and then nine senior churchman from different parts of the world, the members of this C-9 were given the task of helping Francis in his governance of the Universal Church.      They were also given the very specific project of drawing up a plan to reform the curia by revising the apostolic constitution Pastor Bonus, which currently regulates this Vatican structure.      A draft of the new constitution was completed over a year ago, but the pope wanted to give national episcopal conferences, select heads of religious orders and certain theologians the opportunity to offer more suggestions.       Early in the year there was talk that the final document would be released on the Feast of the Chair of St Peter in February or, at latest, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul at the end of June.       Praedicate Evangelium has already been signed.        But then the pandemic hit and the remnant of the C-9, now reduced to just six cardinal-members, cancelled its last three meetings.       So is the project on hold? Not according to a source at the Vatican who claimed the new constitution, Praedicate Evangelium, is done and Pope Francis has already signed it.      It appears the text is currently being carefully translated into the major languages. And once that is done, it will be officially published.       Naturally, this would be extremely out of the ordinary. The middle of Roman summer is not usually the time for launching major Vatican documents or important events. But this is not an ordinary pontificate.         No matter....(source)  Photo: La Croix International 20200711
Formation must also focus on human aspects of priestly life
Extract from CathNews, Australian Catholics,  10 July 2020
Catholic Professional Standards Limited held the first session of its online Seminary Formation and Safeguarding Seminar last Friday in Melbourne, which included a keynote address from Fr Zollner for seminarians and others involved in forming people for religious life.       The Head of the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Fr Zollner spoke of a recent study on priestly formation by Sr Anna Mary Thumma, which highlighted how both those in formation, and those doing formation, believe there is inadequate focus on the human aspects of priestly life.      “My own experience tells me that we really focus much in formation on questions of faith and theology – and this is certainly one key area – but we focus much less on relational, emotional and other issues that also need to be addressed,” he said.      He asked formators to consider how many priests leave the priesthood because of crises of faith or theology-related issues, as compared to those who leave because of issues around human relationships and sexuality.       “I’m a university professor, so I have nothing against intellectual formation. But when we look into the real needs and the real challenges that priests live up to, my question is whether pastoral, spiritual and the human formation needs much more attention given to them,” he said.      One of the issues is that priests in formation may not trust formators enough to come forward to them about their anxieties and problems in these areas because they’re worried about being sent away.     “They try to go underwater from the day of their entrance in seminary and they dive through for five or eight or whatever years, trying to be as calm and trying to not to show any signs of disturbance or trouble or questions,” Fr Zollner said. “The fear is that they will be thrown out of the seminary, so they become what I would call “submarines”.      Similarly, bishops and formators might themselves be hesitant to initiate these conversations for fear of losing people from the priesthood, he said....(more).  
Zooming in on Church reform across two countries
Extract from CathNews, The Southern Cross, 2 July 2020
Catholics from reform groups across Australia and New Zealand met via Zoom last month to discuss the Plenary Council and Church governance.     Participants representing 17 reform groups and other invitees joined the forum of the Australian Coalition for Catholic Church Reform (ACCCR) to discuss the way ahead for Church decision making, especially in the lead up to the Plenary Council, which is now scheduled for October 2021.      Presentations included overviews of the Plenary Council process to date, reviews of the six official discernment papers meant to shape the Plenary Council agenda, and the Implementation Advisory Group’s recent governance report, "The Light from the Southern Cross".      Speaking shortly after the forum, ACCCR Convener, Peter Johnstone, said that the coalition was increasingly harnessing the energy for renewal Australia-wide.     “Catholics want a Church that lives and models the teachings of Jesus,” he said. “We believe that this is the most representative meeting of Catholic reform groups ever held in Australia.    “We were pleased to also have New Zealand Catholics share their views.      “Catholics are insisting that the now deferred Plenary Council, when it does meet, addresses the real issues of a debilitated Church and failed Church leadership.....(more)
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP reappointed to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Extract from Benjamin Conolly, The Catholic Weekly, 2 July 2020
Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP to a second five-year term on the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The CDF is the top Vatican body for promulgating and defending Catholic doctrine.  Appointment to the CDF, which the Archbishop has held since 2015, is an acknowledgement of an individual’s deep proficiency and expertise in the Catholic faith.       The position also recognises Archbishop Fisher’s expertise in fields such as bioethics where, even as a priest, he was widely regarded as one of Australia’s top experts.      In 2019 the Archbishop was also appointed to the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and serves as a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.....(more)

( News 2020, January to June, HERE )