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.
Editorial      Francis on Women: The Need for Discernment
The history of women in the Catholic Church has long been a one of misogyny. Scripture is clear that this sin did not start with Jesus of Nazareth, nor his apostles and early disciples, who were both women and men.         Regrettably, Jesus’ relationships with women came to be ignored or misrepresented; why and how is for another day. Right now we have a Jesuit pontiff who, in an October message, calls for engagement in the Ignatian practice of prayerful discernment on the ‘proper place of women in the Church’. Such discernment requires that we become aware of the movements in our hearts, understand where they come from, and either accept or reject them.      First, we need to recognise that prayerful discernment cannot discern God’s will for women if it is based on a theologically flawed understanding of women........Full Editorial HERE
Previous Editorial September 2020    Mandatory Reporting;  Know the Dioceses.    HERE
Earlier  Editorials Here
Books: Friendly guide to the Birth of Jesus. Mary L. Coloe
The birth of Jesus is one of the best-known stories in the Gospels, and yet often people do not think about or read the text as adults. They carry with them childhood memories that may be inaccurate, according to the text, and miss the deep theological purpose of these two narratives.....   Details HERE
Synodality in a socially distanced world
The road to Synod 2022 in Rome runs through Australia and Germany
Limited extract from Massimo Faggioli, US, subscription journal La Croix International, 29 October 2020
Preparing an assembly of the international Synod of Bishops is a complex operation.         That's especially the case under Pope Francis, for whom such gatherings are not just for show. And it is proving particularly difficult to plan for the next general assembly, which is slated for October 2022 in Rome and will focus on the very theme of synodality.        Preparations for this assembly are crucial, especially because – in this case – the medium really is the message. But the planning is taking place in the midst of something like an institutional paralysis, if not in Rome, then at least in many local churches.         It is hard to imagine the world returning to its normal pattern of meetings and international travel before the second semester of 2021. Airlines executives even warn that it's not likely to be until 2024 when we are back to some sort of pre-COVID situation.        This has created a paradox in the current pontificate – how to reconcile the pope's idea of synodality as a people walking together in the Church with the anti-pandemic measures of mandatory distancing, quarantine and isolation.      During a speech in October 2015, which could be considered the "magna carta" of ecclesial synodality, Francis described the synodal Church as being "like a standard lifted up among the nations".       A still-unfolding story in various phases.      But it has become more difficult to imagine how to actually be a synodal Church, in the seven or so months since he announced the theme of the 2022 Synod assembly......(source)Photo: Bishops XVI Ordinary Meeting Synod Bishops October 201 EPA ETTORE FERRARI MaxPPP La Croix Int 20201029
Catholics, Jews meet online for interfaith dialogue
Extract from CathNews, Australian Jewish News, 29 October 2020
Members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry met online for their 22nd annual “Conversation” last week.    The Catholic delegation was led by Bathurst Bishop Michael McKenna, the chair of the Bishops Commission for Christian Unity and Interreligious Dialogue, while the Jewish delegation was chaired by Jeremy Jones, former president of the ECAJ, who is the director of international and community affairs at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council.         Mr Jones told the meeting that this year’s Conversation marked the 55th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the Vatican document that “heralded a dramatically different relationship between Catholics and Jews, which has led to the flourishing of dialogue and cooperation”.         Issues discussed included the transmission of faith, timeless messages which transcend temporal circumstances, what it means to choose life, challenges which are specific to women and men respectively and universal messages from specific teachings.....(more).  Photo: Bigstock CathNews 20201029
"Take fresh courage" a good Plenary Council exhortation
Extract from by Marion Gambin RSJ, Plenary Post, Edition 29, October 29, 2020
Greetings to all of you in these days of finding our way into the light from the dark COVID months of uncertainty as together we face the challenge to hold on to the God of hope.        In an October CathNews item, I was delighted to read of Pope Francis’ foreword to a recent publication in which he encourages laity to "take a step forward" in carrying out the Church’s mission. He goes on to say that “The time is now. The mission of the laity is not a privilege of a few, and it involves total dedication." Further on, he calls us, as he has so many times, to be "a more synodal and outgoing Church".                 These words of Pope Francis resonated with me because in the past two months the Facilitation Team has met several times with the Plenary Council Local Coordinators Network from across Australia. It has been such a privilege to engage in conversation with them about how the Plenary Council journey continues to unfold in their local diocese. These 65 coordinators have been working away at the "grassroots" to encourage the participation of all in our discernment journey towards the first Council assembly and beyond. In this edition of the Plenary Post you will be able to read of many "good news stories" that the local coordinators have shared with us.        Meanwhile, the Facilitation Team has also been connecting with the instrumentum laboris (working paper) writing team as a draft of this document continues to take shape and we move towards another milestone in the Plenary Council journey. As well as this, the Facilitation Team has recently been engaged in generating a list of possible facilitators who will have a significant role at the two assemblies as they use their skills to work with the delegates in the discernment process.          With that in mind, if you haven’t yet taken up the opportunity to use the guide for reflecting on the six Thematic Discernment papers, I encourage you to do so. (from: Plenary Post, Edition 29, 2020)
Australian bishops get it right on mental health
Extract from Daniel P Horan, National Catholic Reporter (US), 28 Oct  2020
While the American hierarchy continues to lose its collective moral authority in the public square with increasingly narrow and often partisan interests, other conferences of bishops around the globe are taking important steps to address what Vatican II called the "griefs and anxieties" of the people in their communities. A great example of this is the recent document by the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference titled "To Live Life to the Full: Mental Health in Australia Today," published in August as the focus of their annual social justice statement.....The document's directness, honesty and humility make an important contribution to the de-stigmatizing of mental illness and models for Catholics — and all people of goodwill — a way of discussing, sharing and responding to the needs of sufferers without shame. The significance of this cannot be understated.         As Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge states in the document's forward, "People experiencing mental ill health are not some 'other' people, they are 'us.' ........(more)
Francis Sullivan appointed chair of Catholic Social Services Australia
Extract from Melbourne Catholic, ACBC 27 October 2020
Francis Sullivan has been elected the new chair of Catholic Social Services Australia Ltd during the first meeting of the entity since its recent consolidation.        Mr Sullivan has held a number of significant roles within and beyond the Catholic Church, including as chief executive officer of Catholic Health Australia and as secretary general of the Australian Medical Association. As CEO of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council, he led the Catholic Church’s engagement with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.      He is currently the executive chair of the board at Mater Group, which comprises several hospitals, health centres, an education provider and a research institute.      Mr Sullivan takes over the role from Maria Harries, who had served as chair of Catholic Social Services Australia for the past seven years.       Paying tribute to Dr Harries, Mr Sullivan said ‘Catholic Social Services Australia has been led with great commitment and determination in recent years, and I know her legacy in this organisation is profound’.       ‘What I can promise is that I will bring a similar passion for the Church’s outreach to the people our social service agencies support and for whom CSSA advocates,’ he said.      ‘The rich Catholic understanding of the dignity of every person, the preferential option for the poor and the pursuit of the common good will continue to motivate the work of the CSSA board.’....(more)
Will I go back to Mass?
Now that the lockdown has eased and public worship is resuming, a prominent Catholic in Australia wonders if it's really worth going back to church
Limited extract from Chris Sodoti, Australia, subscription journal La Croix International, 27 October 2020
For almost 70 years I went to Mass virtually every Sunday. The only times I can remember when I didn't were when I was in a conservative Islamic country where churches were either non-existent or very hard to find.        All that changed in March, when the COVID-19 lockdown closed churches in Sydney. I haven't been inside a church since then.         Now they are open again and the number allowed to attend makes returning possible. So, after more than seven months, I am confronted with the question: Will I go back to Mass?         The first thing I need to say is that my absence seems to have made no difference to God whatsoever. God is neither happier nor sadder that I haven't been there. I acknowledge that I have been going for years and years for my own sake, not for God's.         The second question, therefore, is what has been the effect on me of going?       I firmly believe that I need to worship God as part of a worshipping community. The problem is that the experience of worshipping in community is so bad.....(Source)
Including women in the Catholic Church
Extract from Marilyn Hatton, Eureka Street, 27 October 2020
Phyllis Zagano’s latest book Women: Icons of Christ is a must read for all who desire equality for women in our world and an inclusive practice of Catholic faith. The critical issue Zagano presents in this book is that ordaining women to the deaconate is a not a new or forbidden act in Catholic history but rather a return to a practice that endured for hundreds of years.             Zagano is Senior Research Associate in Residence and Adjunct Professor of Religion at Hofstra University, New York. Her scholarship on women and the deaconate is well-known and she is a respected contributor to international forums.         From the new testament onwards Zagano shows that women were active members of the evolving Christian community, consistent with the culture and custom of the time, they were ordained in the same way as their male counterparts by the laying on of hands and calling the Holy Spirit. They ministered to people through baptism, teaching catechism, providing altar service, spiritual direction, confession, and anointing the sick until the twelfth century.         With her usual rigorous scholarship Zagano cites literary, historical and epigraphical evidence that indicate the presence of women in the deaconate. She identifies how the clerical culture of the Catholic church developed from Christ’s time on, revealing how the appalling vilification of women increased to the extent that the clerical culture had snuffed out women’s voices and leadership in sacramental ministry by the twelfth century. Women deacons in western Christianity were barred from even entering the sanctuary and handling sacred vessels.          This clerical culture, which Pope Francis calls ‘a cancer in our midst’, continues to destroy our church’s ability to bring Christ’s message of love and justice to our world. It impacts destructively on all women but particularly on women and children in countries whose governments have poor human rights records that do not recognise women’s equality.....(more).   Photo: women icons of christ Phyllis Zagano Eureka Street 20201027
Spiritual director of Medjugorje visionaries excommunicated
The Vatican has excommunicated Tomislav Vlasic, a former Croatian Franciscan it had already thrown out of the priesthood
Limited extract from Subscription journal, La Croix International, 26 October 2020
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has excommunicated Tomislav Vlasic, a former Franciscan from Croatia who had been spiritual director of the alleged visionaries of the Virgin Mary at Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina.          The news was made public on October 23 by the Diocese of Brescia, a diocese in northern Italy where Vlasic had been giving conferences and providing priestly service to various groups for years.         He had previously provided spiritual guidance to the so-called visionaries of Medjugorje since 1981 when they first claimed to witness apparitions.              Officials at the Vatican's doctrinal office had already stopped Vlasic's activities in 2008 by putting him under house arrest in the Franciscan convent in L'Aquila (in Abruzzo, Italy) for refusing to cooperate with them.        The CDF had conducted a months-long investigation into the former friar "for spreading dubious doctrine, manipulation of consciences, suspicious mysticism, disobedience to legitimate orders".        A document signed at the time by then-CDF prefect, the late Cardinal William Levada, also accused Vlasic of adultery, since the priest had had a child with a woman in 1987.                In March 2009, by a decree of Benedict XVI, the priest had been reduced to the lay state after having asked to be released from his priestly obligations following an investigation by the CDF.               He was also relieved of his religious vows and excluded from the Franciscan Order.....(Source).  Photo: Our Lady of Medjugorje Bosnia Herzegovina Photo FEHIM DEMIR/EPA La Croix Int 20201026
Pope Francis and the Nation-State: Fratelli Tutti as Critique of Radical Orthodoxy
Responding to: Fratelli Tutti and the Future of the Catholic Church
Extract from Massimo Faggioli, Berkley Forum, Berkley Center, 26 October 2020
One name that we find in Fratelli Tutti—as well as in the speech that Pope Francis delivered to Congress on September 24, 2015—is Martin Luther King, Jr. The latest papal encyclical does not name politicians and is shy about mentioning examples of political holiness, especially Catholic examples. But Fratelli Tutti is not shy about addressing and naming social and political issues: nationalism, populism, colonization, and slavery. It offers a proposal on how to build human fraternity: social love, political love, subsidiarity, solidarity, and citizenship.        The concept of citizenship, in particular, is interesting because it reveals an interesting take by Francis on one of the issues debated in Catholicism, especially English-speaking Catholicism, during the last few years: the nation-state. The role of the nation-state is mentioned several times in Fratelli Tutti. Paragraph 132, for example, talks about the necessity of a common effort in the international community when dealing with movements of migration. And paragraph 153 defends states that often find themselves at the mercy of more powerful countries and large businesses.        Several paragraphs in chapter five, “A Better Kind of Politics,” talk about the nation-state. Early in the chapter, Francis laments the fact that “the twenty-first century ‘is witnessing a weakening of the power of nation states, chiefly because the economic and financial sectors, being transnational, tend to prevail over the political. Given this situation, it is essential to devise stronger and more efficiently organized international institutions, with functionaries who are appointed fairly by agreement among national governments, and empowered to impose sanctions’” (no. 172)......(More).
Pope Francis names 13 new cardinals
Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington will become the United States' first-ever Black cardinal; Archbishop Antoine Kambanda of Kigali, the first from Rwanda
Limited extract from Subscription journal, La Croix International, 26 October 2020
Pope Francis has named 13 men who will become cardinals at a Vatican ceremony at the end of November.     And among the nine of them who are under 80 years of age and eligible to vote in a conclave to elect his successor is Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington, who will become the United States' first-ever Black cardinal.       Pope Francis also named Archbishop Antoine Kambanda of Kigali, making him the first Rwandan to be named cardinal.       In all, Pope Francis chose as cardinal electors two officials of the Roman Curia and bishops from Italy, Rwanda, the Philippines, Chile and Brunei.        He also named four other men who are already 80 years of age or older in recognition for their long service to the Church.....(Source)
Blessed Carlo Acutis watched ‘Pokémon.’ That’s my kind of saint.
Acutis’s beatification is a beacon to all those who live their lives, for better or for worse, increasingly online.
Extract from Mike Seay, America The Jesuit Review, 24 October 2020
Before I began preparing for the sacrament of confirmation, I had no strong connection to the saints. They seemed lofty and inaccessible—locked away behind a stained glass window, hanging high above my adolescent head. Their job was to be saints, my job was to be me.    I never had any sense of a call to saintliness, and I never deeply considered the possibility that living saints walked among us.       When I had to choose a patron saint for my confirmation, the list of saints I knew much about was short.  I had not yet been educated by the Jesuits, so saints from the Society of Jesus were still unfamiliar. I had a vague idea of who Joan of Arc was. In the end, after less than thorough research, I chose St. Nicholas.  He was the most familiar saint, though mainly through the commodified, secular version who runs a magical toy empire and sponsors Coca-Cola. Reading up on him in Wikipedia, I was inspired by his spirit of secret charity. I was touched by the image of St. Nicholas anonymously leaving coins for those in need.               My choice of St. Nicholas was sincere, but I did not feel particularly connected to him. The idea that a saint could be interested in anything other than standing still and looking holy in a piece of art was foreign to me. What would have happened if I had encountered a saint I could connect to?  Might I have had a better sense of how to live a Christ-like life?              Enter Blessed Carlo Acutis. Acutis died of leukemia in 2006 at the age of 15, but not before he had the chance to make an impact on this world. The Italian teenager was an example of holiness to those around him, and he used his computer skills to create an online database documenting eucharistic miracles.  On Oct. 10 of this year, his beatification Mass was held in the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy...........(more)      Photo: Blessed Carlo Acutis CNS photo courtesy Sainthood Cause of Carlo Acutis America Jes rev 20201024
New era for Catholic education in Melbourne
Extracts from Communications Office, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, 22 October 2020
Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools Ltd (MACS) has been established to assume the governance and operation of Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Melbourne, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli says.             The change in governance arrangements will see all 293 schools owned by the Archdiocese, its parishes or associations of parishes in the Archdiocese of Melbourne transferred to MACS, which will be responsible for the governance and operation of the schools.          ‘Building on the significant legacy of parish priest led and governed schools, MACS will usher in a new era for Catholic education in the Archdiocese’, Archbishop Peter said.         ‘Education is integral to the mission of the Catholic Church to proclaim the Good News, and Catholic schooling forms our young people so they may be equipped with the knowledge, skills and hope to live meaningful lives and enrich the world around them.       ‘The establishment of MACS is a necessary and constructive change to the operations for schools that not only reflects community expectations about the operations of schools, but keeps our Christ-centred mission at the heart of all we do in Catholic education.’       A Steering Committee was established in November 2019 to consider changes in governance for Melbourne Catholic schools. The Steering Committee has overseen 11 months of significant consultation and deliberation which has culminated in today’s announcement, Archbishop Peter said.         Archbishop Peter has appointed Mr Gerard Dalbosco as the inaugural Chair of MACS to lead this historic new path for Catholic education in Melbourne.....(more).  Photo: St Peters Sunshine, Melbourne Catholic 20201022

Pope Francis declares support for same-sex civil unions for the first time as pope
Extract from Michael J. O’Loughlin October, A,erica, The Jesuit Review, 21 October 2020
Gay couples deserve legal protections for their relationships, Pope Francis said in a new documentary. Also in the film, which premiered in Rome on Oct. 21, less than two weeks before the U.S. presidential election, the pope condemns the Trump administration’s child separation policy at the U.S.-Mexico border, which he calls “cruelty of the highest form.”         The filmmaker, Evgeny Afineevsky, asked Pope Francis during an interview for the documentary about the place of L.G.B.T. Catholics in the church. Francis reemphasized his belief that L.G.B.T. people should be made to feel welcome in the church.
“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family,” the pope said. “They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable because of it.”        But Francis said for the first time as pope that gay couples deserve legal recognition for their relationships.    Before he was elected pope, Francis served as archbishop of Buenos Aires, and in that role, he advocated for same-sex civil unions in an attempt to block a same-sex marriage law. Argentina legalized same-sex marriage in 2010, which then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio called a “destructive attack on God’s plan.” But in meetings with other Argentine bishops, Cardinal Bergoglio urged them to support civil unions as a way to keep marriage distinctly heterosexual. Bishops rejected the idea, but an L.G.B.T. activist in Argentina said the cardinal called him to say he personally supported the idea of civil unions. The comments in this new documentary represent his most public declaration of support for same-sex unions since becoming pope.....(More)

The parish: to grieve or enter new life
Instead of giving up on the classic parish, let's reinvigorate it for radical discipleship
Limited extract from Justin Stanwix", Australia, Subscription journal La Croix International, 20 October 2020
Eric Hodgens recently painted a pandemic lament of the "grieving parish" – an institution on its knees.          His article was not a maudlin piece of despondent personal opinion, but a reasoned expression of realism and sadness about what has occurred and how some see the outcome of isolation.          Undoubtedly, the global closure of our churches, lockout from the House of God, silence in our prayer spaces and exclusion from the source and summit of the Christian life have been a trial for the living communion of the faithful.       The People of God have a deeply ingrained need to worship God – in communion, in church – together.  Not a casual occurrence or practice reliant on mere habit but a deep longing in the souls of women and men to worship their God.        The appearance of the streamed Mass as a daily or weekly alternative suited many and for some continues to do so.         But for most it is not the sacrifice of the Mass and has little connection with the people's celebration of the sacred mystery that they offer, together, in person – a living Mass and privileged reception of Holy Communion, in true communion.        Has the parish as we've long known it "run its course"?             But the deep question posed is whether the institutional parish "has run its course".       There is no doubt things are different. There seems unanimity on a global scale that some old ways have gone and will never be the same.               If the Christian spark is not extinguished what then is the new form? .....(Source)  Photo: La Croix International 20201020
* Justin Stanwix is a deacon in Wollongong Diocese. He is passionate about Parish and full, conscious and active participation in the liturgy.
'Fratelli Tutti': Papal dreams or Vatican diversion?
Extract from Ilia Delio, Global sisters report. 19 Oct. 2020
On Oct. 3, the feast of the transitus of St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis signed his new encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, on social order and universal brotherhood. As in his previous encyclical, "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home," the pope calls attention to the world's problems, the radical disparity between rich and poor, the bloated consumer culture that is enhancing global warming, and the rampant individualism associated with excess wealth. The encyclical aims to promote a universal movement toward fraternity and social friendship grounded in compassionate love, following the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37).       Who could argue against the valiant efforts of a world leader trying to restore a sense of moral goodness and rightness in the world? Indeed, my purpose is not to belie the pope, whose heart seems to be in the right place; however, it is to call attention to the deeper problem underlying the world's problems, namely, the evaporation of religion.        On this note, the pope's encyclical is alarming. Jesus of Nazareth admonished his disciples not to take the splinter out of their brother's eye without first removing the plank from their own eye (Matthew 7:3-5). This admonition bears reflection in light of the pope's advice to the world.       St. Clare of Assisi, who was the spiritual partner of Francis of Assisi and known as the strongest stone of the whole Franciscan movement, wrote to her sisters: "We must be mirrors and examples to one another so that we may be mirrors and examples to the world."      If we preach the Gospel ideals of Jesus, then we must first be willing to put them into practice. After all, if we want the world to overcome its addiction to power, money and progress, then we must be willing to disengage ourselves from these things, for where else shall the world find its image?         Francis of Assisi was aware that to live a God-filled life he would have to undergo conversion of heart. All the great world religions promote some type of self-discipline in order to reflect divinity. Each religion, in its own way, realizes that we do not change the world, we change ourselves and the way we see the world. A changed life changes the world. This is the essence of Francis of Assisi....(more).  Photo: St Peters at night Unsplash Matthew Waring globalsisters report 20201019

Appreciating and discovering hope in Pope Francis' 3rd Encyclical Fratelli Tutti: Seeking the common Good
John Costa, 16 October 2020
When human values around the world become increasingly diluted and polarised both by extreme 'Left wing' and extreme 'Right wing' politics, it's very timely to receive Pope Francis' 3rd encyclical Fratelli Tutti: Seeking the Common Good.  For all peoples of the world regardless of beliefs trying to make sense of increasing conflict and confusion and looking for ways to move collectively towards something more morally and humanly based amidst the realities around us this encyclical offers a hopeful way forward.           We can immediately start reading Fratelli Tutti as it's very accessible, however a little prior background reading can provide further context and fuller sense of its direction.          I can suggest two background papers on the encyclical as a helpful lead-in.       The first 'Saving liberalism from itself'  is by Jesuit Damian Howard SJ and can be accessed HERE , from Thinking Faith.   The Second, 'Pope Francis’s new encyclical On Human Fraternity and Social Friendship' is by Fr Bruce Duncan and can be accessed HERE from Peals & Irritations.                Finally the (3rd) Encyclical Fratelli Tutti  itself (with Index added) can be accessed HERE.        The two prior Encyclicals of Pope Francis are Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith, June 2013), and Laudato si (On Care For Our Common Home, May 2015).          The Cardijn Institute and Social Policy Connections invite you to a (free) Zoom Seminar on Fratelli Tutti  by Fr Bruce Duncan & Danusia Kaska on Thursday 22 October from 7:30 - 8:30 pm. Details and registration above or HERE

Columnist deeply wrong on Hiroshima
Extract from Christian Bergmann, Catholic Weekly, 16 October 2020
I didn’t live through the Second World War. I don’t know what it was like. I can’t even begin to imagine the gravity involved in making the kinds of decisions that would affect entire countries, to the point of even irrevocably impairing them.       If I was in the shoes of President Harry Truman, would I have done any differently? Would I have decided to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?        I don’t know. But what I can say with confidence is that, were my conscience formed according to Catholic moral principles, there would be no doubt in my mind that dropping those bombs would be unquestionably evil and in no way permitted by anything in the Catholic moral tradition.       The only question left would be whether to listen to this conscience.         I raise this point because I recently read George Weigel’s limp defence of Truman’s decision in First Things.          I call the defence limp for two reasons.        Firstly, because the moral argument boils down, at the end of the day, to one simple point: the decision saved lives. Incalculable lives.        Maybe many more lives than would have been saved by taking other routes of action.          Secondly, because even though he acknowledges it is almost impossible to defend the decision according to traditional just war reasoning, and the moral norms of Veritatis Splendor, his only counterpoint is that those norms had been broken long before anyway.            By the end of the article, it seems as though Weigel has stared down the entire tradition of Catholic moral thought and said, ‘But he’s not Hitler’. As if that is a sufficient moral thought process.            Weigel isn’t the only Catholic who holds this defence of the bombings. I have heard many faithful and devout Catholics, as morally uncompromising as they come, treat the bombings in the same way.       It was a necessary evil, they’ll say (suddenly finding that language acceptable). The innocent lives were ‘collateral damage’. I find this sudden shift in morals bewildering.        The Catholic Church has expended immense amounts of energy combating diverse forms of moral relativism – whether in blatant or more ‘situation-ethic’ guises – because we believe that regardless of the situation, we can and should make moral judgments about what is right and wrong that are universal and objective and binding, that no circumstance can alter....(More).  Photo:Hiroshima 1945
Pope Francis’s new encyclical On Human Fraternity and Social Friendship
Extract from Bruce Duncan, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue website, 15 October 2020
The new social encyclical of Pope Francis not only renews his strong critique of ‘neoliberal’ forms of capitalism which result in growing and extreme inequality but is a plea for a return to the ideals of fraternity and solidarity, invoking the humanist ideals of France’s ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’.       When one part of society exploits all that the world has to offer, acting as if the poor did not exist, there will eventually be consequences. Sooner or later, ignoring the existence and rights of others will erupt in some form of violence, often when least expected. Liberty, equality and fraternity can remain lofty ideals unless they apply to everyone.’.           Francis does not speak as a politician of course, but highlights the social implications of the Gospel parable of the Good Samaritan, fleshing out the values needed for enhanced human solidarity. It is a message that people of all religions, and everyone of good will, including those who are not at all religious, could endorse. The implications are immense for believers, insisting on practical solidarity with everyone, especially strangers or foreigners.      The Pope wrote that ‘by acknowledging the dignity of each human person, we can contribute to the rebirth of a universal aspiration to fraternity. Fraternity between all men and women… Let us dream, then, as a single human family, as fellow travellers sharing the same flesh, as children of the same earth which is our common home, each of us bringing the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all.’    Not a rewrite of Laudato Si’....(more). 
Women who ‘applied’ to be clergy say Vatican envoy is ‘open-minded
Extract from Elise Ann Allen, Snr Correspondent, Crux Now, 15 October 2020
ROME – Seven women who recently turned in résumés at the Vatican embassy to France for ecclesial jobs open only to men were shocked not only when they got a response, but were offered one-on-one private meetings with Vatican’s nuncio to the country, Archbishop Celestino Migliore.        These meetings took place between Sept. 14 and Oct. 2.         Several of the women came out of their conversation describing it not only as “cordial” and pleasant, but praising Migliore – a longtime Vatican diplomat who from 2002-2010 served as the Vatican’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations – as kind, as an attentive listener, and as someone who is well-informed.     Claire Conan-Vrinat, who applied to be a deaconess and who met with Migliore Sept. 28, told Crux that she found in the nuncio “an open mind and a sincere listening to my observations and suggestions.”         Without going into details, she said the conversation “was active, interesting” and even “spiritual.”        Similarly, Hélène Pichon, who applied to be a Vatican ambassador herself and who met with Migliore Oct. 1, said he was “very courteous and kind” and was “definitely very, very open and very attentive.”        “He had done his research as well in terms of who we were individually,” she said, recalling how he knew who she was, was familiar with a book she had written and also knew about her work as director of institutional relations at the Center for Study and Strategic Prospective (CEPS).         Both Pichon and Conan-Vrinat said their conversations, while private, were only the beginning, and said Migliore indicated there could be more meetings in the future......(more) Photo: Toutes Apotres Yong Chim CuxNow 20201015
Let's not return to policing theologians
Extract from Editorial, National Catholic Reporter, 15 October 2020
If fidelity oaths seem like something out of the Crusades, contemporary Catholics might be surprised to hear that the Vatican is still requiring some theologians and pastors to sign them.       The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has said that Redemptorist Fr. Tony Flannery must affirm the church's official positions on male-only priesthood, LGBTQ relationships, civil unions and gender identity. If the Irish priest does not sign the four fidelity oaths, his suspension from the priesthood will remain indefinite, according to a letter from the doctrinal congregation. If he does sign the oaths, he also will be required to not speak publicly about matters in the oaths.        Flannery, a popular Irish writer and retreat giver, was removed from public ministry in 2012 primarily over his support for women's ordination. He told NCR that he cannot in good conscience sign the oaths, and expects this may be "the end of the road" for him in terms of public ministry.       Can we say: We've seen this movie before, and we didn't like it the first time?        In previous decades, under Pope John Paul II, a number of theologians, writers and teachers found themselves on the receiving end of investigations of their work under then-head of the doctrinal congregation, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI — a process that was too often mimicked by bishops on the national level.                   In the 1980s, theologians were so concerned about academic freedom and unfair treatment by church leaders that the Catholic Theological Society of America and the Canon Law Society came together to create "Doctrinal Responsibilities: Procedures for Promoting Cooperation and Resolving Disputes Between Bishops and Theologians," which emphasized dialogue that respected the rights and responsibilities of both bishops and theologians.     This latest move against Flannery has some theologians worried the church may be returning to a "law enforcement paradigm" that they had assumed had ended under the Francis papacy....(more).  Photo: Dome Unsplash  Ilnur-kalimullin NCR 20201015
Polarization and Public Morality
Extract from J.A.Dick, Another Voice, Being a Theologian, 15 October 2020
There is no debate today….When I think about today’s extreme polarization in US society, however, I become concerned about public morality. It has nothing per se to do with being a Republican or a Democrat, or being left or right of center. It has everything to do, however, with our survival.          Public morality – what some call civic virtue — refers to ethical standards for public behavior. The survival of democracy depends on it. A democracy is a social system in which citizens are bound to fellow citizens, with each individual bearing social as well as personal responsibilities. Public morality governs everyday life: the decisions we make, how we treat ourselves and others, and what we think about the world — about nature, business, culture, religion, family life, and so on. Openness is essential as well as serious reflection and engagement.       Without a healthy public morality, democracy collapses into either chaos or authoritarian dictatorship.       Those dangers are very real today. Public morality is often cast aside in authoritarian dictatorships because social order is maintained not by adherence to shared public values but by fidelity to the dictates and wishes of the authoritarian leader. Authoritarian leaders like chaotic situations in which people living in fear can be kept obedient and dependent on the leader.      In a healthy democracy there are certain generally held moral principles. Key primary values, for example, are that murder is immoral, theft is immoral, harming innocent people is immoral, and lying is immoral. When these immoral actions are turned into social virtues or social normalities, society is in trouble. Think about contemporary militia and vigilante groups.....(more)
The Beginning of the End?
Extract from Paul Collins,Pearls & Irritatios, John Menadue website, 13 October 2020
Is Pope Francis running out of steam? Will we ever see an end to Vatican financial scandals? And where is George in all of this?       There’s an old Roman proverb, Morto un papa, se ne fa un altro. ‘When a pope dies, they make another one.’ You can’t blame them for their unsentimental bluntness about the papacy. The Romans had to live with it, economically and politically, for 1700 years.          Even before a pope dies or resigns there’s a psychological moment when the ecclesiastical system begins to prepare for the next papacy. According to distinguished church historian, Alberto Melloni, the pandemic marks that moment for 83-year-old Pope Francis’ papacy. ‘In every papacy,’ Melloni says, ‘there’s a historic point after which the final phase begins.’ Historically, the average length of a papacy is about 7.8 years and Francis has been pope for exactly 7.8 years this month.        Recently two books, both entitled The Next Pope, have been published by ultra-conservative commentators George Weigel and Edward Pentin. Both clearly aim to persuade the cardinals to elect someone very different to Francis. Their prognoses are irrelevant, but it’s significant that they’re talking about the next pope.
I’m not saying Francis is going to resign or die very soon; it’s just that something’s happened to him as a second wave of Coronavirus looms, with Italy with 60,000 active cases in early-October and with face masks and social distancing now mandatory in Rome.         No longer in contact with large groups of people and unable to travel, Francis seems to have turned in on himself. Until recently he’s encouraged people to observe COVID-19 protocols. But the small groups of people now meeting him show pictures of him without a mask, standing close to people and physically greeting them. Given his age, that’s risky.      Vatican specialist, Robert Mickens, puts it another way: ‘Francis has appeared at different times in the past several weeks as someone who doesn’t seem the least bit concerned that he may be torpedoing whatever is left of his pontificate.’ This is illustrated by his passivity in the face of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith—the former Roman Inquisition’s—demand for the imposition of a ‘loyalty oath’ on progressive Irish priest, Tony Flannery, as well as its recent blunt declaration that euthanasia is an ‘intrinsically evil act’, without any consideration of personal, pastoral, or medical circumstances.       This shows that Francis is not reining-in Vatican bureaucrats, who take every chance they can to assert their power. Many of them are profoundly opposed to Francis’ emphasis on a more pastoral ethos in Catholicism and are only too happy to undermine his agenda by articulating a counter narrative of moral rigidity.....(more)
How can we still be universal? The pope's new encyclical on human fraternity offers to a way out of selfish individualism
Limited extract from  Isabelle de Gaulmyn, subscription Journal La Croix Int. 10 October 2020
Some coincidences make sense...Pope Francis published his encyclical Fratelli tutti just weeks before the American elections. Of course, he didn't write it for that; this text is not in any way an anti-Trump polemic. But just the same...The electoral campaign on the other side of the Atlantic is, like a distorted mirror, projecting back to us here in Europe the image of a democracy on the verge of collapse.                We see many taking refuge in a cynical "every man for himself" attitude, of a fractured society, polarized via social media, where hatred seems to prevail over reason.        And then there's the pope, a religious leader, who finds courage -- or recklessness? -- to still believe in fraternity? It is as if he is out of time.        Indeed, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of communism, a triumphant liberalism placed the most extreme form of individualism on a pedestal.      This has provoked a disintegration of the sense of the collective good and of what brings us together. It has transformed our societies into a sum of narrow forms of communitarianism, leaving the field open to populist demagoguery, or even desperate violence.      "In a society without transcendence, the denial of human universalism in favor of a multiplicity of closed communities contains a seed of death for democracy," worried the French historian Jacques Julliard in a recent article in Le Figaro.     He was referring to Alex de Tocqueville, for which there can be no functioning democracy without a religion to provide a common framework. In our secularized societies, what can replace God in this role? he wondered. Paradoxically, it is precisely a man of religion who comes to him with the answer....(source).   Source: Pope Francis signs 3rd encyclical Fratelli tutti EOA EFE Vatican Media Handout Max PPP La Croix Int 2020101
German churches to continue talks on shared Communion
Extract from CathNews, Crux, 9 October 2020
The German Catholic bishops’ conference and the council of the Evangelical Church in Germany plan to continue their discussions about shared Communion.              German Catholic and Protestant theologians and bishops had published an appraisal of the topic in May, and it was scheduled to be discussed at the German bishops’ plenary assembly in Fulda at the end of September.    However, on September 18, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith voiced strong objections to the appraisal, saying that differences between Catholics and Protestants in the understanding of the Eucharist and the ministry were “still so grave” that they ruled out the attendance of at each other’s services, German news agency KNA reported.      On October 6, leaders of both churches identified questions that “still need to be clarified” and addressed by Catholic and Protestant sides in different ways, KNA reported.     “For the Catholic Church, the open questions are so weighty that it does not feel able to allow mutual participation in general before they are clarified, especially since the question of the unity of the Catholic Church is affected here as well,” said the statement from the church leaders.     Germany has many mixed marriages — Catholic and Protestant — and the issue of being able to receive Communion at each other’s churches has long been an issue of concern.....(more).   Photo: CNS Harald Oppitz KNA CathNews 20201009
Pope and Warren Buffett see eye to eye on free markets
Extract from CathNews NZm Thursday 8 October 2020
Pope Francis and Warren Buffett both blame free market policies for rising inequality.         In his latest encyclical (Fratelli Tutti), Francis points out “The marketplace, by itself, cannot resolve every problem, however much we are asked to believe this dogma of neo-liberal faith.         “Neo-liberalism simply reproduces itself by resorting to the magic theories of ‘spillover’ or ‘trickle’ — without using the name — as the only solution to societal problems.”       The “trickle-down economics” Francis was referencing refers to the idea that as the rich accumulate wealth, money will automatically flow into the pockets of poor people.      The pandemic’s fallout, including massive unemployment spikes around the world, are evidence that “not everything can be resolved by market freedom,” Francis continues in his encyclical.     Unfettered capitalism, he says, doesn’t work.      Francis’s analysis is similar to Buffett’s. The Omaha, Nebraska billionaire investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway said in a Yahoo Finance interview earlier this year:   “There’s no question that capitalism, as it gets more advanced, will widen the gap between the people that have market skills, whatever that market demands, and others, unless government does something in between.     “It isn’t some diabolical plot or anything.     “It’s because of the market system.”      Buffett (who is known as the ‘Sage of Omaha’) suggested two ways to tackle the issue.     Firstly, there should be a more generous earned-income tax credit to reduce working people’s tax burden, while ultra-wealthy people should pay steeper taxes.     Buffett plans to give more than 99 percent of his wealth to philanthropy.       He has repeatedly called on politicians to hike taxes on the super-rich. Existing laws allow him to pay a lower rate than his secretary.....(more)
Vatican’s top diplomat defends China deal
Extract from CathNews, Crux, 8 October 2020
Despite criticism of a 2018 deal with China over the appointment of bishops, a senior Vatican diplomat is optimistic the accord will be renewed. Source: Crux.
 Had Rome not granted Beijing a significant role in choosing bishops, said British Archbishop Paul Gallagher, “We would have found ourselves – not immediately, but 10 years down the line – with very few bishops, if any, still in communion with the pope.”          “If we don’t begin now, that’s the future,” he said.         Archbishop Gallagher is the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States and a former apostolic nuncio to Australia. He confirmed the Vatican has proposed a two-year extension of the deal. The terms of the accord have not been made public since it’s a provisional agreement rather than a formal treaty. He said the Vatican does not yet have a response from Beijing, and that if no answer is received by the end of the month, then the deal expires.       “It would mean it wasn’t renewed,” he said, but implied the Vatican has reason to believe its proposal will be accepted: “You dip your toes in the water before you jump in,” he said.       “We’re optimistic the Chinese authorities will wish to continue the dialogue with the Holy See within the agreed terms of the accord, and we move forward,” he said, adding that under the right conditions, it would be “desirable” for the deal eventually to be made permanent......(Source).  Photo: ACBC CathNews 8 October 2020
Coronavirus pandemic puts huge financial strain on Vatican
Offices have been ordered to take cost-cutting measures, but Pope Francis forbids them from laying off employees
Limited Extract from Loup Besmond de Senneville, La Croix International, 7 October 2020
......In an unprecedented exercise of transparency, the Vatican last week presented its economic balance sheet for 2019. Yet it is towards the results for 2020 that all eyes have already turned.         For here, as everywhere else around the globe, the financial crisis has weakened the world's smallest state. It is a fragility that has fueled growing concern about the size of the envelope allocated each year to the Roman Curia.         Expenses in 2019 for the Catholic Church's central bureaucracy amounted to 318 million euros. But there were 307 million euros in revenues, leaving an 11 million euro shortfall.          100 million euro deficit foreseen for 2020             While the Vatican has not published precise figures, the crisis has in fact undermined three of its important sources of funding -- the museums (which have seen a drastic fall in the number of visitors), donations from the faithful (18% of the Curia's budget in 2019) and financial income (21%).           "There is no doubt that there is a clear decrease in income, which obliges us to reduce expenses and to be very careful about the evolution of liquid assets," said Bishop Nunzio Galantino, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), the Curia's budget management body.          He told La Croix he did not have figures on how much revenue the museums have lost, but admitted that they were "considerable".         "As for Peter's Pence, it's too early to talk about it," the bishop continued, referring to the annual collection from among the world's Catholics......(source). Photo: St Peters Square deserted on April 10 LA Presse Panoramic Bestimage La Croix Int 20201007
Teetering on the Edge
A year after the Amazon Synod, the crisis continues
Limited extract from  Bryan P. Galligan SJ, Subscription journal La Croix International, 7 October 2020
The Amazon Synod's final document and Pope Francis's post-synodal exhortation Querida Amazonia both describe a social and environmental crisis of historic proportions, a crisis Francis portrays as "provoking a cry that rises up to heaven."       This crisis now threatens the Amazon region with ecocide and ethnic cleansing, and—because of the role the Amazon rainforest plays in regulating global climate patterns—it also threatens the planet as a whole.      Yet the synod's urgent message was largely drowned out in the United States by ideological controversies about the ordination of (married) viri probati, the value of inculturation, and racist accusations of idolatry.      A year later, the "dramatic state of destruction" to which the synod's final document refers has only gotten worse, and Catholics in the Global North still seem none the wiser.       Many of the Amazon region's poorest residents live in rural communities and informal settlements. Development of the region has led to economic growth in recent years, but there is little evidence that living conditions are improving.     Food security remains a persistent problem; workers in extractive industries are exposed to diseases like malaria and rabies; and there is a severe lack of health and sanitation infrastructure.       The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated many of these preexisting problems, and indigenous communities have been hit the hardest.          Celia Xakriaba, a Brazilian indigenous leader and activist, has described the public-health risk indigenous communities are facing as one of extermination......(source)   Photo: Brazilian indigenous tribe 2018 Brasilia Photo EPA MAXPPP La Croix Int 20201007
Five keys to understanding the encyclical "Fratelli tutti"
"Fratelli tutti" calls for fraternity and "social friendship"; this relatively long magisterial document is a summary of Pope Francis's thoughts
Limited Extract from Xavier Le Normand , Subscription Journal La Croiox International, 5 October 2020,
1. A sombre observation.  The new magisterial document from Pope Francis -- the encyclical Fratelli tutti -- opens with a rather bleak assessment of the current state of the world.         The pope makes no secret of this. The first chapter is titled "Dark Clouds over a Closed World" and the first section is called, "Shattered Dreams".        "Our own days, however, seem to be showing signs of a certain regression," the pope warns.       "Nowadays, what do certain words like democracy, freedom, justice or unity really mean? They have been bent and shaped to serve as tools for domination, as meaningless tags that can be used to justify any action," he notes.        Francis says today's world is experiencing a period of inward-looking and xenophobia. And he laments that the first victims of this are the poor.      2. A cry of alarm against demagogic populism.       "Closed populist groups distort the word 'people', since they are not talking about a true people," the pope writes in the encyclical.        He then goes on to denounce the "unhealthy" and "irresponsible" populism of some political leaders.        "At other times, they seek popularity by appealing to the basest and most selfish inclinations of certain sectors of the population," he states.        This does not mean that Francis, a follower of "the theology of the people", disqualifies the people, a word which appears 95 times in the new encyclical.      In number 182, he affirms that "each of us is fully a person when we are part of a people".
3. Social friendship ......(more).   Photo: Riccardo Antimiani ELA La Croix Int 20201005
Pope releases new encyclical, Fratelli tutti: On Fraternity and Social Friendship
Extract from Communicationsa Officem Melbourne Catholic, 4 October 2020
Pope Francis has written his third encyclical entitled Fratelli tutti (On Fraternity and Social Friendship), which he addresses to all people of goodwill and offers as a proposal for a way of life 'marked by the flavour of the Gospel’.       While the pope's second encyclical, Laudato Si' (On care for our common home), focused on our relationship with the natural world, Fratelli tutti focuses on our relationships with each other.     The document's release coincides with the conclusion of this year’s Season of Creation, and during this time of pandemic is offered as a contribution to ‘the rebirth of a universal aspiration to fraternity by acknowledging the dignity of each and every human person’. (FT 8).       Following the release of the new encyclical, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli encouraged the faithful to read the pope's words: 'Situated as we are in the latter stages of this Pandemic, Fratelli tutti offers much that we might embrace as we determine who we are as people of God in Melbourne, and how we might emerge from this time of exile to go on mission into the world with the beating heart of Jesus.     I urge everyone to read it, and to then return to it with time and space to draw more deeply into the riches within.'....(more - including video by Arbishop Peter Comensoli)
Pope Francis wants Catholics to dare to dream of a better way of doing politics
With the much-anticipated release of Pope Francis’s new encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti” on Oct. 4, Catholic Christians would do well to revisit his critique of false realism and false nostalgia, and his call for the church to foster a political attitude of faithful and daring dreaming.
Extract from David Albertson, Jason Blakely, America, The Jesuit Review, 1 October 2020
Politically, the United States is facing a crisis of the real. Yes, we confront political realities of an urgency and scale not witnessed in more than a generation—from ecological death and pandemic to the rise of authoritarian nationalism and militarized violence against Black citizens. In the midst of these calamities, millions of Americans struggle to discern real news from fake, science from conspiracy theory, political wisdom from magical thinking. As reality grows more and more menacing, fewer Americans are in touch with it. Politicians indulge nostalgic fantasies to distract our attention and shift the blame.          But we also face a crisis of the real in a very different sense. Namely, the politics presented for decades by serious politicos and wonks as the only “realistic” way forward seems with every passing day more unsustainable. Our entire way of life seems at once unchangeable and yet in need of radical intervention, lest we continue the downward spiral.         This paradoxical predicament was trenchantly observed by the British theorist Mark Fisher over a decade ago in his book Capitalist Realism. Fisher defines “capitalist realism” as “the widespread sense that not only is capitalism the only viable political and economic system, but also that it is now impossible even to imagine a coherent alternative.” Yet Fisher also suggests that the very crises generated by capitalism—if discerned properly—might awaken us from the trance. Once the realist fantasy is dispelled, the political imagination will be free to dream of quite different futures.        This problem of imagining more hopeful futures amid a self-destructive, unrealistic “realism” provides a key to unlocking the politics of Pope Francis, whose pastoral letters and encyclicals have stirred confusion and controversy among conservatives and liberals alike. Unlike Marxists including Fisher, Pope Francis embraces a utopianism that is not grounded in violent struggle but in a deeply Christological hope for the transformation of people and communities—from the bottom up. With the much-anticipated release of Pope Francis’s new encyclical “Fratelli Tutti” on Oct. 4, Catholic Christians would do well to revisit his critique of false realism and false nostalgia, and his call for the church to foster a political attitude of faithful and daring dreaming.         Unrealistic Realisms.....(more)   Photo: CNS Paul Haring America Jesuit Review 20201001
Before release of encyclical 'Fratelli tutti', pope draws a sketch of post-COVID world
Francis has used his Wednesday general audience the past several weeks to offer his vision of creating a better world after the pandemic
Limited extract from Loup Besmond de Senneville, subscription journal La Croix International, 30 September 2020
Pope Francis these past two months has been trying to answer a thorny question that all of humanity must grapple with as it seeks to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic: how do we build a better, post-COVID world?        The pope has offered a nine-week cycle of catechesis -- beginning in August -- to gradually unfold his thoughts on the way out of the crisis.        During his weekly audiences, first recorded in the library and then held in the extraordinary setting of the San Damaso Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, Francis has made clear his conviction that the pandemic provides historic opportunity to change the world.       This is a conviction that should also be well reflected in his future encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, which will be released next Sunday (October 4).            "We come out better or we come out worse"      The Bishop of Rome has often repeated that it is certainly not a question of rebuilding the world afterwards by reproducing the world of before.       "The pandemic is a crisis, and we don't come out of a crisis the same way: we come out better or we come out worse," he has repeated throughout his speeches.        "After the crisis, will we continue with this economic system of social injustice and disregard for the environment, creation and our common home? Let's think about it," he has said.       But how is this to be done?       The pope says it is by relaying on "certain fundamental social principles. This is so as to heal both the world of the pandemic as well as the "wider social pathologies" that have emerged as a result of this crisis.           "We must cure a great virus, that of social injustice, inequality of opportunity, marginalization and lack of protection for the vulnerable," Francis has insisted.        The former Archbishop of Buenos Aires believes that "faith, hope and love necessarily lead us towards this preference for the most needy"....(source)
Church's legal defence 'dismantled' after sex abuse pay-off thrown out
Extracts from Tom Cowie, The Age, 1 October 2020
Hundreds of sexual abuse victims who received meagre sums of money from the Catholic Church in exchange for their silence could now seek larger compensation payouts after a judge overturned one survivor's settlement with the church. The man, a former altar boy known as WCB, was paid $32,500 in 1996 by the church after he was repeatedly sexually abused by Warragul priest Daniel Hourigan.    On Wednesday, the Supreme Court overturned the deed of release in a landmark ruling, removing the legal barriers for WCB to sue the Catholic Church for damages.      Justice Andrew Keogh described the abuse as "horrendous" and said the evidence supported a "significant assessment of damages" for WCB.      "The settlement sum represents very modest and heavily discounted compensation for the loss and damage suffered by the plaintiff as a consequence of the abuse," he said.       Last year, the state government passed a law allowing courts to set aside a past deed of release or court judgment relating to child abuse.       It is estimated that more than 500 victims signed similar deeds of release, often for small financial payouts, under the Catholic Church’s controversial "Melbourne Response".......In a statement provided by his lawyers, WCB said that he “had no choice" about taking the deal offered by the church.       "I had to accept what seemed like a terrible settlement. The church had all the power – I had none," he said.               "It really wasn’t a legal claim, it was more like asking for charity. I had to take what was offered....(more)
Grieving for the lost parish
The church as institution is in trouble but not the Church as the People of God
Limited extract from Eric Hodgens, Subscription journal La Croix International 30 September 2020
Some Church groups are pressing for a post-pandemic opening up, others, who have already opened up, are sounding a lament as they find it is not business as usual. There are signs of grieving for the parish – an institution on its knees.          World War II changed Western history. The post-war Catholic parish was an institutional wonder. It took off with the baby boom, reached its peak in the 1980s, started its decline in the 1990s and may well be mortally wounded by the COVID-19 epidemic in the 2020s.      The parish of my wartime infancy appeared timeless. It was an identifiable part of the wider culture but, for Catholics, it was a mainstay of life. Baptisms, marriages and funerals happened there. Most Catholics started formal schooling there.       That is where you ritualised being a Catholic. Lifelong personal and family friends were made. It had its social oddities such as not eating meat on Friday, the practice of confession and regular Sunday Mass. Adherence was tribal.        Post-war reconstruction for Catholics brought new vitality to the parish. With population growth came new parishes and schools.         The baby boom brought not only a large new generation of members but increased vitality and vision to the whole of society. The times – they were a changin.        Vatican II was in tune with that change.        The fortress church lowered its drawbridge and out streamed the People of God on a march towards establishing a new Kingdom of God – a new world order marked by identification with the hopes and joys, the griefs and anxieties of all, mutual respect, the discarding of bygone enmities, diminished sectarianism an improved life for everybody and a fairer society.       Parishes implemented that new vision. The laity moved into active mode. There were youth groups, senior citizens groups, social justice groups, parent groups, social groups sporting groups.        And all had their formal coming together in the parish liturgy which, while led by clergy, was no longer a clerical preserve, and was in a language all could embrace and understand.       Lay action and leadership became a top policy in the renewed Church – especially with the youth. The Young Christian Worker movement (YCW) formed a whole generation to see, judge and act. Loads of young priests who were mentors of this movement.       The parish was a scene of action and vitality.        But an undertow was forming under this enthusiasm.....(source) Photo:Parish La Croix International 20200930
Cafeteria anti-Catholicism: Trump, the Vatican and China
Limited extract from Massino Faggioli, Subscription journal La Croix International 30 September 2020
The US presidential campaign seems at times to have become an almost intra-Catholic affair, especially after President Donald Trump nominated a Catholic to be the next Justice on the Supreme Court.         If confirmed, Amy Coney Barrett would be the sixth of the nine justices who are members of the Catholic Church. A seventh justice, Neil Gorsuch, was baptized and raised Catholic.        Barrett's nomination shows that Trump's administration and campaign team have a Catholic agenda.        It is aimed at capitalizing on the antipathy that sectors of the United States, including among vocal and influential Catholics, have shown towards Pope Francis since the beginning of this pontificate in 2013.        Trump's Catholic agenda is a domestic strategy with an international dimension.              Mike Pompeo attacks the Vatican's policy on China.           The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets top Vatican officials this week in Rome – Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See's Secretary of State; and British Archbishop Paul Gallagher who, as deputy Secretary for Relations with States, is Pompeo's counterpart.           One person Pompeo will not meet when he goes to the Vatican is Pope Francis.             The pope must avoid any appearance that he is being used for political purposes just a few weeks before a presidential election. But he must also avoid being entangled in the serious crisis in the transatlantic relations that have to do with China.....(source).   Photo:La Croix Int 20200930
French Catholics want open talks with bishops in run-up to next Vatican Synod
Catholic organization calls on French bishops to include lay people in preparations for the Synod on Synodality, set for 2022 in Rome
Limited extract from Claire Lesegretain, Subscription journal La Croix International 28 September 2020
France.  The Catholic Conference of the French-speaking Baptized (CCBF), a group founded in 2009 to promote the voice of the laity within the Church, has called on the bishops of France to open a dialogue with all Catholics as they prepare for the next assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome.         How can we think of a Church of France that is entirely synodal yet only speaks to the 1.8% of regular practitioners? That was the main issue at the CCBF's first meeting of 2020, which took place on September 26 in a suburb of Paris.          Because of ongoing measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, only about 60 people turned out for this first session, compared to 230 last year.         The second session will take place between now and the end of the year and will discuss "the lockdown and liturgy" and "abuse in the Church, the damage of clericalism".          Although the crowd at the first session was much smaller than hoped, dozens of others followed on YouTube. Five different speakers held conferences that explored ways to open up avenues for the future.          The German synodal path:  Among them were Julia Knop and Dorothea Sattler, two German theologians who are involved in the current "synodal path" of the Church in Germany.         They explained to what extent this "path" could contribute to the universal Church since "it allows the exercise of a form of synodality not yet provided for in canon law".       Knop noted that the Church in Germany has significant resources at its disposal (the rate of practice remains at 10%) with "lay people accustomed to democratic participation and interdisciplinary dialogue."       But she admitted that such a synodal way seems difficult to envisage in France because of secularization and the absence of an official, united body of the laity (such as the Central Committee of German Catholics or ZdK)....(source)   
Plenary Council 2021/2022
Talk Theology: A Journey of Discernment
Extract from a paper by Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, Plenary Post Edition 28, 30 September 2020
As I reflect on the extraordinary level of engagement with the work of the Plenary Council so far, it seems very clear to me that there is a hunger for change in the Church. If Cardinal [John Henry] Newman is correct, this hunger is really a desire for the Spirit to be alive and active in the Church today.       It will be the task of the Plenary Council to discern which of the changes being called for in the Church really are legitimate developments and further “uncoverings” of the depths of the faith of the Church, and which instead are not in harmony with God’s intention in bringing the Church into being. This is a delicate and sensitive task, especially given the level of hope and expectation that the work of the Plenary Council has generated among the People of God in Australia.        The sincerity, the deep yearning and, yes, the pain and distress evident in so many of the contributions to the Council so far should not and must not be disregarded or minimised. The Spirit of God is undoubtedly speaking in and through these voices.       The invitation of the Plenary Council is to listen to what the Spirit is saying. The Council will be a success if we do indeed listen to the voice of the Spirit speaking in and to the Church over the last 2,000 years and remain faithful to our determination not to lose anything of the giftedness of the Spirit’s guidance over that time.         If we fail to do so then we will not be the Church that God has created and is calling us to be. We will not be the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of those who have gone before us, and which we have received from them through the work of the Holy Spirit........Link to Abp Costelloe full paper HERE      Link to Plenary Post  HERE 
Why is Australia’s Cardinal Pell returning to Rome?
Extract from Gerard O'Connell, America. The Jesuit Review, 29 September 2020
Cardinal George Pell returns to the Vatican on Sept. 30 and is likely to remain there at least until June 8, when he turns 80. His long-term plan, however, is to return to Sydney, Australia, according to a source close to the cardinal, who asked not to be identified.         “His return to Rome has been planned for the last three months. It was not a sudden decision,” the source said. He made clear the cardinal’s return was in no way linked to Cardinal Angelo Becciu’s recent renunciation, as suggested by Italian and other media in reports that recalled how the two had clashed strongly over the reform of Vatican finances. Cardinal Becciu had blocked some of Cardinal Pell’s initiatives.       Some media even suggested that Francis had asked Cardinal Pell to return to Rome, but there is no evidence for this assertion. In fact, shortly after his acquittal and release from prison, Cardinal Pell had told Sky News Australia last April that “I think I might go to Rome for a while.”        Cardinal Pell’s return was in no way linked to Cardinal Angelo Becciu’s recent renunciation, as suggested by Italian and other media in reports that recalled how the two had clashed strongly over the reform of Vatican finances.           Pope Francis will receive Cardinal Pell in audience in due course, sources told America. Although the two differ significantly on some theological questions and on the vision of the church, Francis has always stood by him in these years when the pope saw that Cardinal Pell was already being judged guilty by much of the media. Francis insisted on Cardinal Pell’s right to be presumed innocent—“in dubio pro reo”—until the judicial process had reached its completion.       After his release from prison in April, Cardinal Pell “received encouragement” from some high-level Vatican officials “to return to Rome,” the source said.....(more)  Photo: CNS Screen grab America Jesuit Review 10100929
Trump announces Judge Amy Coney Barrett as US Supreme Court nominee
Extracts from  Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service, National Catholic Reporter, 26 September 2020
Washington — Eight days after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President Donald Trump announced Sept. 26 that Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a judge on the Chicago-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, is his nominee to fill that seat.       The president said he was honored to nominate Barrett whom he described as "one of the nation's most gifted legal minds" to the court and praised her for her loyalty to the Constitution.      This should be a "straightforward and prompt confirmation," he added before a small crowd seated in the White House Rose Garden. "The stakes are incredibly high," he added.......The news drew immediate reaction from both sides of the political spectrum and Catholics were similarly vocal in either support or alarm over Trump's nominee choice.       Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote, an independent political advocacy group, said in a Sept. 26 statement ahead of Trump's formal announcement: "Catholics are thrilled with the expected nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett and believe she represents the best choice to protect the rule of law and our constitutional rights." He added that she "deserves a speedy confirmation process and a Senate vote as soon as possible."            Catholics expressing concern about Trump's pick stressed unease with her stance on a number of issues. For example, John Gehring, the Catholic program director for Faith in Public Life, a Washington-based advocacy group, said in a Sept. 26 tweet: "Being 'pro-life' isn't a single issue. Many Catholic voters are worried that Amy Coney Barrett could undermine health care access, workers rights', environmental protections and other moral issues central to church teaching.".......(more)  Photo:  CNS Carlos Barria, Reuters NCR Online 20200926
Putting lower value on older lives  unethical
Extract from CathNews, 25 September 2020
Commentary on the pandemic that suggests some lives are worth more than others is troubling, write St Vincent’s Health Australia’s Toby Hall and Dr Daniel Fleming. Source: Sydney Morning Herald.              At the weekend The Age published an article by the University of Melbourne’s vice-chancellor, Professor Duncan Maskell, asking Victorians to wrestle with uncomfortable questions about our future. He called on us to be ready to make tough calls, and to accept the unavoidable reality of mortality.        No problems there. Any community with a grain of wisdom goes through that process. But at the centre of his approach, Maskell suggests a way of thinking that we should all find troubling.       He asks: “What is the value of a 90-year-old’s life versus the value of the continuing livelihood and happiness of a 25-year-old?”       His view appears to be that in a future pandemic, authorities should apply a “quality-adjusted life year” model to help them chart a way forward.       This approach would say the 25-year-old's life is of much higher value than that of the 90-year-old. This is because a life nearer its end is allocated less QALYs than a healthy life closer to its beginning.       Such a model would provide a justification for accepting risk – even mortality – for the 90-year-old and prioritising the 25-year-old because the latter's life is valued more...(more) Photo: COVID different value in different people CNS Benoit Tessier Reuters CathNews 20200925

The first virtual Nuns on the Bus tour begins, highlighting voting rights, poverty and pro-life policies
Extract from Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter Project, 24 September 2020
Saying they could not stay silent, the Nuns on the Bus began their virtual tour of the country Sept. 23 with a range of speakers talking about the need for a government that serves everyone.            The online event by Catholic social justice lobby Network featured House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Cory Booker as well as several activists and clergy from various religious denominations.           Social Service Sr. Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, began the event by noting it was being held in the shadow of more than 200,000 deaths caused by COVID-19 and the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.            She added that the kickoff also began as President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr were honored at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast.         "Our politicians are once again attempting to wrangle Catholics with the all-too-flawed, narrow and politically opportunistic view of our faith," Campbell said. "We need to be multi-issue voters in our complex reality."....(more) Photo: Nancy Pelosi virtual 2020 Nuns on Bus kickoff Netwok Screenshot Globa Sisters Report 20200923

People leaving Church in 'droves' warns McAleese
by Ruth Gledhill , Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet, 24 September 2020
Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland, has warned that people are leaving the Catholic Church “in droves”, tired of “little old men” who continue to “beat the drum of obedience”.        Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour today, former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, whose book Here's the Story: A Memoir is published today, said: “I am a person of faith but I am also a person with a thinking brain.”         Describing the hierarchy of the Church as a small, self-serving hermetically-sealed group of men, she reminded listeners that she was actually banned from speaking at a conference on women at the Vatican, an exclusion that occurred during the papacy of Pope Francis. Both his predecessors had welcomed her to the Vatican.        McAleese, a licensed canon lawyer as well as a civil lawyer, who has spoken out frequently against misogyny in the Church, admitted that nothing she had ever said had changed anything.       “I am ignored completely by the Church's hierarchy. Utterly, absolutely ignored. But that's ok because they're only a tiny proportion of the Church. They're desperately powerful, yes, and they make the rules, yes, but the Church is 1.2 billion people which is why I stay.”       She said the Church is the biggest NGO in the world, hugely influential and a permanent representative at the UN. “No other faith system has that power and influence in the world.”       She said she remained in the Church in the hope that one day, her “tiny little voice” will permeate upwards, along with that of many others who are speaking out.....(more) Photo:Mary McAleese, Ruth GledhillThe Tablet 20200924
There will be no return to a pre-COVID world; it has changed forever
Extract from Peter Comensoli, Opinion Piece, The Age, 23 September 2020
Victorians have been in exile from the homeland of our humanity for six months now. Throughout this exile, hope has been hard to come by as fear, fatigue and frustration have taken hold. Now, a way out of captivity has been set before us.          Every Victorian has an interest in the government’s road map towards a "COVID-normal" destination. But what do we actually want that destination to look like, and how might it shape the road ahead?       People of faith have deep resources to share here. While the voice of religious communities has gone largely unheeded in recent years, at this time of great fear it turns out religious people are motivated by something positive and inspirational. In the middle of lockdown, and cut off from all kinds of human sources of inspiration, people of faith draw on something that does not depend entirely on other people.     It might be unfashionable to say, but God has been helpful to lots of Victorians in 2020.       All God’s people – whether believers or not – are my friends and fellow pilgrims on the journey ahead. From my Christian faith, this is a road that offers a horizon of hope and wellness. Some friends on this road have been lonely and isolated this year.         Some of them have had a hard time stuck in high-rise public housing. Some have faced death and sickness apart from loved ones, and cried at a funeral without the tender presence of their nearest and dearest. Talking with our friends on the phone and via Zoom has been helpful. But all of them tell me that it’s God who has made all the difference.....(more) Photo: COVID Keep Calm Mask The Age 20200923 Getty
Suspended Irish priest Tony Flannery calls Vatican inquiry ‘unjust’
Extract from Gerard O’Connell. America The Jesuit Review, 22 September 2020
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has formally requested that the Rev. Tony Flannery, a well-known Irish Redemptorist suspended in May 2012, sign a statement affirming his acceptance of church teaching, as formulated by the C.D.F., on homosexuality, civil unions between persons of the same sex, the admission of women to the priesthood and “gender theory.” His signature on the C.D.F. document would allow him to return to public ministry.       He declined to sign the document and made the C.D.F. letter public on Sept. 16. He described the process that brought him to this point as “unjust,” saying he had “no chance to defend myself, no appeal system, no direct communication, judgment passed and sentence decided before I even knew what was happening.”        “Maybe I am deceiving myself,” he said to America by email, “but I believe I can do more for the church by exposing in every way I can the unjust process, rather than trying to get Francis to wave a wand and return me to the ministry.”.....(more).   Photo: The Jesuit Review
Gay children are 'children of God', Pope tells parents
Extract from Christopher Lamb, The Tablet, 18 September 2020
Pope Francis has told the parents of gay children that God loves them “as they are” because they are “the children of God”.      His remarks came following the Wednesday General Audience where he had a brief meeting with members of an Italian group Tenda di Gionata (Jonathan’s Tent), which supports the parents of LGBT children.       According to reports of the encounter, Francis said "God loves your children as they are." He also said: "The Pope loves your children as they are, because they are children of God."       Mara Grassi, the vice-president of the support group, relayed details of what the Pope said following the audience, and that she had presented Francis with a book Genitori Fortunati (Blessed Parents). A copy of the book will soon be available in English.       Speaking to Avvenire, the newspaper owned by the Italian Bishops’ Conference, she said: “I explained [to the Pope] that we consider ourselves lucky because we have been forced to change the way we have always looked at our children.                She added: “What we now have is a new gaze that has allowed us to see the beauty and love of God in them. We want to create a bridge with the Church... so that the Church too can change its gaze towards our children, no longer excluding them but welcoming them fully.”       Francis’ remarks are consistent with what he said in 2018 to Juan Carlos Cruz, a survivor of clerical sexual abuse and who at that time had spent several days with the Pope.      “He told me, ‘Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like this and loves you like this and I don’t care. The Pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are’,” Cruz recalled.....(more) 
A cardinal says he's open to women's ordination; a priest who did so remains suspended
Irish Redemptorist Tony Flannery says he's been given the change to recant
Limited extract from Robert Mickens, subscription journal La Croix International, 18 September 2020
Vatican City. One of world's most influential cardinals recently admitted that he is "open" to the idea of ordaining women to the Catholic priesthood.  "I am not saying that women have to become priests; I just don't know. But I'm open to it," said Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich SJ in an interview published September 13 on the website of KNA, the German Catholic news agency.         Hollerich is a high-profile cardinal with international stature due to his position as president of the Commission of the Episcopal Conferences of the European Union (COMECE). He's also archbishop of his native Luxembourg.         So his views matter.          But just a few days after he commented on women priests, Tony Flannery – the Irish Redemptorist who was suspended from priestly ministry in 2012, primarily for his support of women's ordination – revealed that the Vatican had sent him a series of doctrinal proposals in July (via his superior general) to which he would have to "submit" as a first step towards "a gradual readmission" to public ministry.         One wonders if the men at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) are going to press Pope Francis to have Cardinal Hollerich recant and force him to sign a fidelity oath similar to the one placed before Father Flannery.       They'd better move quickly. In just a few weeks the 62-year-old Jesuit will mark the first anniversary of getting his red hat.       Or what about those German bishops who have also called for open discussion on ordaining women to the priesthood? There are several of them.        Some, like Bishop Gebhard Fürst of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, have long stated their support for women's ordination. And recently more have joined him, including the president of the German episcopal conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg.        Is the pope going try to muzzle them, too? Would he suspend them?         Rethinking Church teaching on human sexuality.          It's important to remember that Tony Flannery's case goes back to 2012 when Benedict XVI was still pope and the late Cardinal William Levada was the CDF prefect.........(source).  Photo:  Card Jean-Claude Hollerich SJ Photo Andrew Medichini AP and Irish Redemptorist Tony Flannery Photo Twitter. La Croix 20200919  
Bishop condemns human rights abuses in Philippines
Extract from CathNews, Catholic Outlook, 18 September 2020
Parramatta Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv. has expressed his solidarity with people in the Philippines in their struggle for human rights. Source: Catholic Outlook.             Bishop Long, chair of Bishops Commission for Social Justice – Mission and Service, took part in the “Church People's Prophetic Voices against State Terrorism in the Philippines” online forum on Wednesday. The forum aimed to highlight the response of Christians in the Philippines to the escalating attacks on human rights defenders and activists.          Bishop Long said he joined other Christian leaders in “condemning acts of violence and terror that have escalated in intensity and frequency”.        “These acts are even more deplorable when committed by the government institutions such as the police and the military, which are supposed to protect and defend the people.”         Bishop Long said under the Duterte Government’s war against drugs “a spate of extrajudicial killings has continued unabated, causing a reign of terror in many communities”.       “It is alarming that the poor are most vulnerable to the loss of life, as well as the destruction, violation and suppression of their rights. The government’s claim of ensuring and protecting those who have less in life appears to be merely a lip service when the state itself violates and disregards the rights of the poor. It seems like this is not so much a war against drugs but rather a war against the workers, farmers and the marginalised in society.”        Bishop Long also spoke of the ongoing persecution of people defending human rights in the Philippines, particularly noting Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, Bishop Teodoro Bacani Jr and Bishop Honesto Ongtioco who face sedition charges....(more)  Photo: Parramatta Diocese CathNews 20200918
Edmund Rice supports push for Pacific synod
Extract from CathNews, 18 September 2020
Catholic human rights organisation the Edmund Rice Centre has applauded statements made by Australia’s new Ambassador to the Vatican supporting the push for a synod for the Pacific region.       Ambassador Chiara Porro met Pope Francis last month to present her credentials as Australia’s representative to the Holy See. In an interview with Vatican TV news agency Rome Reports, Ms Porro supported the call from Catholic leaders in Oceania for a synod in the region.       “One idea that I’ve been discussing with a few people is potentially pushing for a synod on the Pacific down the track – something along those lines because of the climate change issue, the anniversary of Laudato Si’ and also the fact it is one of the frontier regions that Pope Francis is so focused on,” Ms Porro said.       Corinne Fagueret, coordinator of the Pacific Calling Partnership (PCP), an initiative of the Edmund Rice Centre for Justice & Community Education, said it was encouraging Australia’s representative to the Holy See was "raising the calls and concerns of Pacific leaders outside of our region”....(more) Photo: Chiara Porro Rome Reports
Vatican tells Irish priest Flannery to sign fidelity oaths, or remain suspended
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 17 Sep 2020
A popular Irish priest suspended from public ministry in 2012 primarily over his support for women's ordination is now being threatened by the Vatican that his suspension will remain indefinite unless he signs four strict oaths of fidelity to Catholic teachings.         Redemptorist Fr. Tony Flannery revealed to NCR Sept. 15 that he had received a letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith over the summer. It asks him to affirm the church's official positions on a male-only priesthood, gay relationships, civil unions and gender identity.        The document, sent on congregational letterhead and signed by the office's second-in-command, Archbishop Giacomo Morandi, informs the Redemptorist leadership in Rome that Flannery "should not return to public ministry" if the priest does not sign the four attached oaths.       Flannery told NCR he believes he cannot sign the materials in good conscience, and expects this may be "the end of the road" for him in terms of public ministry.      "To sign that document would be utterly ridiculous for me," said the priest. "That document is so far removed from where I am at now, and it is phrased in such a way that there is no possibility of dialogue of any nature."      Flannery is a popular Irish writer, retreat giver and, formerly, pastor. He was removed from public ministry in February 2012 after the Vatican congregation expressed concern over a number of columns he had written for Reality, a Redemptorist-run magazine in Ireland.      The priest's continued suspension appears at odds with Pope Francis' frequent calls for a church that is more open to dialogue and debate. During the four Synods of Bishops Francis has hosted over his seven-year papacy, for example, the pontiff has frequently exhorted the prelates attending those events that no topic should be off the table.        The first oath Flannery is asked to sign concerns women's ordination. The text presents a "doctrinal proposition" that "a baptized male alone receives sacred ordination validly." It then asks the priest to sign that he has decided to "submit" to that proposition.....(more).  Photo: Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith NCR photo Joshua J. McElwee 20200917
Melbournians suffering from 'deprivation in sacramental life’
Extract from CathNews, Melbourne Catholic,  17 September 2020
Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli has written to clergy and faithful in the Melbourne Archdiocese, acknowledging the many challenges facing the Catholic community during Victoria’s extended COVID-19 lockdown.               The pastoral letter follows last week’s overturning of restrictions on spiritual ministry to the sick and the dying.         “Throughout the pandemic, I have been advocating directly with the Government, reminding authorities continually of our respectful compliance with each stage of restrictions, and seeking a fair consideration in what is permitted,” Archbishop Comensoli said.         He said it was essential that the Government "does not treat faith communities as an afterthought to the opening up of other sectors. Our churches are locations for communities of care and essential service, and must be treated fairly and reasonably”.           In the letter, Archbishop Comensoli acknowledged the “profound loss” the Melbourne faithful are suffering from the “deprivation in sacramental life” since churches were first closed in March.       He said the “sense of estrangement from the Eucharist has been a particular struggle for Catholics. He gave particular acknowledgement to “countless Catholic families” who are “awaiting Baptism, Reconciliation, Holy Communion and Confirmation for their children. Adults, too, have longed to be received into the life of the Church”.   “We shall be exploring possibilities such as outdoor liturgies in parish and school settings to facilitate these crucial events of grace and welcome,” Archbishop Comensoli said.....(more)    Photo: Melbourne Catholic, CathNews 202009017
US study a snapshot of teenage faith
Teen’s commitment roughly half of their parents’
Extract from Catholic Weekly' 17 September 2020
A Pew Research Center study released in September shows that teens’ religious practice is the United States is less than that of their parents. The lessened observance cuts across all denominational lines.             And religious practice by adults, the study noted, has itself declined in recent decades.     One key finding of the report is that 43 per cent of parents said religion is “very important in their lives,” and that, of teens ages 13-17, only 24 per cent feel the same.      Surveys were taken of 1,811 adults who had given Pew permission for one of their teen children to later take the same survey. The surveys were conducted in April-June 2019, long before the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.          “it’s hard to process what the statistics are saying with what we’re witnessing”.               But Christina Lamas, executive director of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, told Catholic News Service that she finds it hard to square the figures in the Pew report with what she sees at her organisation’s biennial conventions in Indianapolis.      “When you’re able to witness the fire and engagement of 20,000 young people … who are sharing on social media about their relationship with God, it’s hard to process what the statistics are saying with what we’re witnessing,” Ms Lamas said.        She took some comfort in one finding from Pew than 47 per cent of Hispanic teens identify as Catholic.            “Faith is very much embedded into the culture of the community,” Ms Lamas said. “In Hispanic families, God and religious practices are lived out daily. It’s part of who the individual is, not separate. I can see why the specifics are higher among Hispanic families, absolutely.”     Still, she is cognisant of societal forces that can erode strength in Catholic belief and practice. NFCYM has had in its toolbox for the past 15 years an initiative called Strong Catholic Families, designed to combat secularising influences.     Lamas said NFCYM collaborated with the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership, the National Catholic Educational Association and the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers in revisions to the program a few years ago.....(more) 
Maitland-Newcastle Diocesan Synod calls for reforms
Extract from CathNews, MN news, 17 September 2020
The call for reform of diocesan and parish governance at the first session of the Maitland-Newcastle Diocesan Synod will strongly influence planning for future sessions.        A Governance Focus Group is evaluating diocesan governance structures and processes and will prepare documents and recommendations for the next Synod session in 2021.          It is one of several working groups preparing documents for the Diocesan Synod’s 2021 sessions and is made up of clergy, senior diocesan staff and lay members.          Lawrie Hallinan, chair of the Synod’s Governance Focus Group said the group had embraced the recently released national report on diocesan and parish governance, The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia.         This report was recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.       “The concerns and hopes expressed at our Diocesan Synod are echoed in many of the themes and recommendations of The Light from the Southern Cross report,” Mr Hallinan said.        “Some of the report’s recommendations are already established practice in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese, such as a functioning diocesan pastoral council (locally known as the Council for Mission) and a publicly available annual report (including financial report).”         Mr Hallinan said the focus group was grateful for the report’s theological explanations of governance, which emphasise all the baptised fulfilling their right and responsibility as missionary disciples.       The Maitland-Newcastle Diocesan Synod will take place over three sessions. The first session was in November 2019, with further sessions planned for May and November 2021...(more)    Photo: MNnewsToday
Synodality at the crossroads
Pope Francis's powerful gestures are urgently in need of a theological language
Extract from Massimo Faggioli, La Croix International, 16 September 2020
United States. Rarely does a journal article offer an X-ray of a particular moment in a pontificate, providing such depth and detail that it remains essential to understanding how a pope perceives his ministry in the life of the Church.       But that's exactly what happened in September 2013 when Antonio Spadaro, editor of La Civiltà Cattolica, published his blockbuster interview with Pope Francis.           It happened again earlier this month when the Italian Jesuit published another article in the venerable journal explaining his confrere's style of papal governance.        The most recent piece is especially important because of what the Jesuit pope says in his own words.         The pope says the driving force of his pontificate is not institutional reform.         The pontificate is far from over, but this is a delicate moment of passage to understand what type of reform Francis can realistically expect to achieve within a timeframe that can be measured historically, rather than in geological eras.         The Civiltà Cattolica article responds to a number of essays published in the last few months – one of them my own here – that analyzed the repercussions of the pope's interpretation of the 2019 Synod in the exhortation Querida Amazonia.        They pointed out the gap between the proposals for institutional reform approved by the Synod (viri probati, ministries for women) and the non-reception of these proposals by Francis in his post-synodal exhortation.....(More)
'Church setback over confession in WA'
Extract from Marilyn Rodrigues, Catholic weekly, 16 September 2020
Both major parties to support law affecting sacrament.     A push to force priests to report information on child sexual abuse gained during confession looks likely to continue in Western Australia despite a parliamentary committee’s recommendation that it would be an ineffective measure against abuse.      The recommendation was made in a report by the Standing Committee on Legislation on the Children and Community Services Amendment Bill 2019, which passed the state’s Legislative Assembly in May and will be considered by the upper house.       In its current form, the bill is in line with WA’s Premier Mark McGowan and Minister for Child Protection Simone McGurk’s commitment to require priests to break the sacrament’s absolute confidentiality in known or suspected cases of child sexual abuse.      The five-member WA committee recommended last week that “ministers of religion be excused from criminal responsibility [of mandatory reporting] only when the grounds of their belief is based solely on information disclosed during religious confession.”       But Liberal Opposition Leader Liza Harvey said on 15 September that her party had decided against supporting the recommendation.....(more)
Appointment of bishops: the Vatican and China to renew their agreement
ANALYSIS: China and the Vatican have agreed to extend the historic agreement reached in 2018 for another two years
Limited Extract from Loup Besmond de Senneville, subscription journal La Croix International 16 September 2020
Two years ago, it was hailed as a historic agreement. And it was.  After almost 70 years without diplomatic relations, the two-year agreement China and the Holy See, signed on September 22, 2018, on the appointment of bishops was widely welcomed.    But the content of this text has always been kept secret and is due to expire in a few days. Until now, it was not clear whether it would be renewed.            But La Croix has learned from a source close to the negotiators, who insisted on total anonymity, that the agreement will be extended for another two years under the same terms as the one signed in 2018.              The very renewal of the Sino-Vatican is itself an event.      While the question of the appointment of bishops may seem technical, what is at stake in the eyes of Rome is nothing less than the unity of Chinese Catholics and the avoidance of a possible schism.      This is in a country where the Communist authorities have been appointing the bishops they wish for decades and without Rome's approval, while "clandestine" bishops loyal to the pope were being ordained at the same time.      On two different occasions -- in 2016 and 2018 -- the authorities challenged the Holy See by appointing about 40 bishops independently.       These were massive appointments that would have anchored the Chinese Church's separation from Rome, and would have made it difficult for them to be recognized later.        What is known about the terms of the current agreement is that the pope has the last word on episcopal appointments -- that is, a kind of right of veto -- while Rome commits to no longer appointing clandestine bishops without Beijing's agreement....(source). 
COMECE president all praise for German Catholic Church's Synodal Path
Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich mentioned role of women in the Church as the most important question in the reform debate
Limited extract from subscription journal La Croix International staff, 14 September 2020
COMECE president all praise for German Catholic Church's Synodal Path.        The EU bishops' president said he very appreciative of the German Catholic Church's Synodal Path and that this process could be an inspiration for the Church in Europe.       The Synodal Path reform project in Germany is viewed "with great respect because one is daring to ask very big questions," Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, president of the European Union Bishops' Commission COMECE, told Germany's Catholic News Agency (KNA).      The process was launched on Dec. 1 and over the next two years some 230 bishops and lay delegates will engage in dialogue around four main themes — power in the Church, priestly celibacy, the place of women and sexuality.     Cardinal Hollerich particularly mentioned the role of women in the Church as the most important question in the reform debate.       "I am not saying that they have to become priests; I simply don't know that. But I am open towards that. It is clear however that the current situation does not suffice. One must see and realize that women have a say in the Church", he said.      He praised the Synodal Path for being a path "of which you don't always know where it leads. One takes steps and together seeks out the next one."       He said the local churches in Europe "often think too nationally, focused on the situation in their respective countries. We need to engage more with each other."        The Catholic Church in Germany has begun its Synodal Path in an atmosphere of free and respectful dialogue. It held its first plenary assembly from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2 in Frankfurt.       German Catholics who are delegates for the Synodal Path have held their latest plenary assembly in several different cities across the country.....(source)
New poll: 36 percent of young Catholics say they will attend Mass less often after pandemic
Extract from Mark M. Gray, America. The Jesuit Review, 14 September 2020
Not many young adult Catholics are tuning into Masses on television or online, according to a survey conducted in July and August by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. A more troubling finding is that 36 percent said they plan to attend Mass less frequently when stay-at-home orders related to the Covid-19 pandemic end and churches fully reopen.           Only 25 percent said they participated in Mass online or on television during the pandemic “somewhat” or “very” often.       Another 51 percent say they will return to their normal pattern of attendance after the pandemic, and 14 percent said they plan to go to Mass more often.        More than one-third of young Catholics said they would attend Mass less frequently even after the pandemic.        We surveyed 2,214 self-identified Catholics between the ages of 18 and 35; only 25 percent said they participated in Mass online or on television during the pandemic “somewhat” or “very” often. (The CARA poll has a margin of error of 3.6 points.) Another 22 percent said they watched Mass “a little,” and 54 percent said they had not watched at all.         This breakdown looks somewhat like actual Mass attendance before the pandemic, when 13 percent of Catholics said they attended Mass weekly, another 20 percent attended at least once a month, and 67 percent attended no more than a few times a year. Sixty-three percent of young adult Catholics who used to attend Mass weekly said they now watch Mass on television or online “somewhat” or “very often,” as did 36 percent of those who attended Mass at least once a month before the pandemic. Of those who used to attend no more than a few times a year, 13 percent said they watch Mass on television or online “somewhat” or “very” often.          Most young Catholics said they have not watched Mass online or on television during the pandemic.         The respondents saying that they plan to attend Mass less often in the future cut across all categories of prior attendance. Of the weekly attenders, 31 percent said they will be attending Mass less often when things return to normal, compared with 42 percent of monthly attenders and 35 percent of those who used to attend a few times a year or less often.....(More).
Catholics push for more asylum-seeker support
Extract from CathNews, 10 September 2020
Catholic organisations have joined a campaign calling on the Morrison Government to extend support to asylum-seeker families adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Source: Jesuit Refugee Service Australia.       The Refugee Council of Australia’s Nobody Left Behind campaign this year has the theme No Child Left Behind. Jesuit Refugee Service Australia, together with Catholic partners including the Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum, Vinnies NSW, the House of Welcome, the Sydney Archdiocese Justice and Peace Office, Parramatta Diocese and Catholic schools around the country will this week acknowledge, pray for and act in solidarity with families seeking asylum and their children.        There are approximately 16,000 children and young people seeking asylum in Australia.         The impacts of COVID-19 have been particularly tough for people seeking asylum. Many have experienced job losses but have not had access to any form of ongoing government financial support.      “Today, many hundreds of children seeking asylum are wholly reliant on JRS Australia’s food bank to eat healthy, nutritious meals. A significant number also depend on emergency relief payments to pay rent or buy life-saving medications,” JRS Australia said in a website statement on the campaign.     “Children need love, care, safety, and education, not the stress of wondering where their next meal will come from or whether they will be homeless.     “Join us in calling on the federal Government to extend ongoing financial support to the thousands of children seeking asylum who cannot leave Australia and need security.” .....(more).  Image: children and young people seeking asylum in Australia JRS Australia CathNews 20200910
Factions and ginger groups within the church
Extract from John Warhurst, Eureka Street, 10 September 2020       
Knowing full well of the conservative-moderate split within the party and of the fractious relationship within the party between Turnbull and Tony Abbott, the Liberal Party delegates fell about laughing.       The laughter was derisory. Facts can’t be papered over by sweet talk.       The same is true of the church in Australia today. This fact of life must be spoken about openly in the lead up to the Plenary Council assemblies. What is happening at the moment is that certain bishops are condemning members of the church renewal movement as pressure groups pushing an agenda, while ignoring the well-known fact that groups with other agendas are widespread within the church.        Condemnation of the renewal movement is a clear attempt to shut down legitimate engagement and debate from some quarters while allowing jockeying, factional politics and agenda-pushing by other conservative groups, including certain bishops, certain Catholic media and other groups embedded in the hierarchical structure of the church.        My impression is that bishops prefer to deal with individuals. Catholics who organise themselves independently of official church structures to advance church renewal are frequently treated with suspicion by the hierarchy.      Trying to shut down the renewal movement is not the work of the Holy Spirit. If it continues it will make for a very lop-sided Plenary Council. No amount of prayer and discernment will overcome a stacked assembly.        The renewal movement is large and growing numerically and in regional diversity. It has engaged with the Plenary Council through submissions and public discussions from the very beginning. It has also tried, collectively and individually, to engage with bishops and other church leaders.....(more) Photo: St Patricks Cathedra Parramatta Leela kajonkij Getty Eureka Street 202009010
Holy See response to Child Sexual Abuse Royal Commission: another example of clericalist obstinance
Extract from Des Cahill and Peter Wilkinson, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue Public Policy Journal. 10 September 2020
It is almost three years since the Royal Commission inquiring into child sexual abuse recommended that the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) request from the Holy See responses on 14 matters. The Holy See responded in February 2020 with ‘observations’. Seven months later the ACBC has forwarded them to the Commonwealth Attorney-General and made them public.        The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is widely regarded as the most thorough and most credible assessment of clerical sexual abuse of children within the Catholic Church. Its 17 volumes of evidence and recommendations, set out in 7,400+ pages, is the most detailed and comprehensive of any inquiry – church-sponsored or state-sponsored – anywhere in the world.          Among its many recommendations on the Catholic Church in its December 2017 Final Report were 14 specifically addressed to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC), urging them to engage with the Holy See on a range of matters relating to the universal law and practice of the Catholic Church. The ACBC referred the recommendations to the Holy See in August 2018, but only now, two years later, has the ACBC made the Holy See’s response public.         In February 2020 the Holy See issued an undated, unsigned, sans letterhead document with a set of ‘observations’ on all matters in the 14 recommendations. In theological terms ‘observations’ would have to rank very low in the order of church teaching or papal magisterium. In fact, it could be argued that they lack the level of gravitas and authoritative response that the recommendations from a Royal Commission Report deserve and warrant.        But what should be made of these observations that the ACBC has been sitting on for the past 7 months and discussing in secret? Are they so astonishing or controversial that the ACBC has felt compelled to keep them secret from the Commonwealth Government who funded the Royal Commission to the tune of around $500 million, and from the Australian public whose taxes paid for the inquiry? Or has the ACBC just been engaging in yet another of its ‘delay and straight-bat’ plays?.....(more)
Queensland passes law to jail priests for not reporting confessions of child sexual abuse
Extrtact from Mark Bowling, Catholic Leader, 8 September 2020
Priests in Queensland will be forced to break the seal of confession to report child sex abuse to police.        New laws passed through Queensland Parliament on Tuesday, September 8 mean religious institutions and their members are no longer able to use the sanctity of the confessional as a defence or excuse in child sex abuse matters.       The laws passed with support from both major parties, and despite strong opposition from the Catholic Church.        The new laws arose as a result of recommendations from the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse, and failure to comply will carry a three year jail sentence.       Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge has maintained the Church commitment to the protection of children, however breaking the confessional seal would “not make a difference to the safety of young people”.       In a formal submission to a parliamentary inquiry, Archbishop Coleridge  explained that stripping Catholics of the seal made priests “less a servant of God than an agent of the state”.      He said the proposed legislation raised “major questions about religious freedom” and was based on a “poor knowledge of how the sacrament actually works in practice”.      Archbishop Coleridge said the seal “enables the penitent to speak openly before God, to stand open and honest before God, to hide nothing from the God who sees all and forgives all.”         However, Police Minister Mark Ryan maintains the laws will ensure better protection for vulnerable children.      “The requirement and quite frankly the moral obligation to report concerning behaviours towards everyone applies to everyone in this community,” he said.       “No one group or occupation is being singled out.      “Child protection is everyone’s responsibility.”....(more)
Pope reveals why he said 'no' to married priests
Extract from Christopher Lamb, The Tablet, 4 September 2020
Pope Francis decided against giving the green light to married priests after the Amazon synod because he was concerned the debate militated against true discernment.     The pope felt that the discernment became impossible because debate became a parliamentary-style battle between different sides.      He has revealed his thoughts in a note in which the 83-year-old Jesuit Pope also emphasises that the “synod is not over”, calling on the Church to “continue walking together”. These and other comments suggest the door is not closed on future reforms.      In a personal note shared with the Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica, Francis says that during last year's synod there was “a rich discussion…a well-founded discussion, but no discernment”.      The Pope continues: “We must understand that the synod is more than a parliament, and in this specific case, it could not escape this dynamic. On this subject it was a rich, productive and even necessary parliament; but no more than that. For me, this was decisive in the final discernment.”      A majority of bishops attending the October 2019 synod gathering voted in favour of ordaining married men as priests for remote parts of the Amazon rainforest, where communities are unable to celebrate the sacraments regularly. But sources inside the synod say the proposal was strongly resisted by senior prelates in the Roman Curia who succeeded in blocking any immediate change....(more)
Holy See offers observations on inquiry’s recommendations
Extract from CathNews, 4 September 2020
The royal commission proposed that the Bishops Conference engage with the Holy See on those recommendations because they relate to universal Church law or practice. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin confirmed that the recommendations, and the entire final report of the royal commission, were studied closely by several Vatican dicasteries.         The Holy See reiterated its commitment to child protection, and its desire to “spare no effort … in collaborating with civil authorities to pursue every avenue to end the scourge of sexual abuse”.         “The Pope has sought to promote reform and vigilance at all levels within the Church and to encourage the efforts of local Churches in the same direction,” the response said.          “That commitment has led to the adoption, both by the Holy See and by Dioceses, Episcopal Conferences and Religious Institutes, of a wide range of measures, designed to ensure a proper response to such cases, including at the canonical level, as well as encouraging cooperation with civil authorities, both domestic and international.”        Many of the royal commission’s recommendations have already been addressed by the Holy See, including some of the matters related to priestly formation and the appointment of bishops. Others, such as having local tribunals to manage disciplinary cases, are still under consideration because they are part of a broader revision of Church laws that will be applicable worldwide.       Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge said the commitment to child safety that underpins the Holy See’s observations is one the Church in Australia shares......(more)   Photo: CathNews 20200904
Forget millennials. How will churches reach Generation Z?
Extract from CathNews NZ, 3 September 2020
For the last decade, church experts have been wrestling over the best ways to reach and retain “millennials,” which is a phrase the describes individuals born from the early 1980s through the mid-1990s.          Data shows that many millennials leave the church during their college years, and some never return.        The fastest-growing religious identifier among this generation is “spiritual but not religious.”              
    But as millennials age, get married, and start families, they are no longer the only “young people” that churches must consider.        A new cohort has risen: “Generation Z” or individuals born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s.       Generation Z diverges from millennials in many ways and presents unique challenges and opportunities for churches who hope to capture their attention.                 For this reason, I decided to speak with Pastor James Emery White about his new book, “Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World.”         Here we discuss what sets these young people apart from their elders and what he believes it means for modern ministry, evangelism, and apologetics.        What do you mean when you say that the church is at the beginning of a ‘seventh age?’       White: During my studies at Oxford, I was introduced to the writings of a Catholic historian named Christopher Dawson.       He had an intriguing thesis he introduced just after WWII that I have come to appreciate: that the history of the Christian church can be divided into segments of 300-400 years, and that each of these “ages” began — and then ended — in crisis.        The nature of each crisis was the same: intense attack by new challenges, if not enemies, from within and from without the church. .......(More)       .Photo:   CathNews NZ 20200903
Pope Francis: We need to get serious about climate change and unfair economic systems
Extract from Bruce Duncan, Pearls & Irritations, John Mendaue website, 2 September 2020
Here in Australia, we need to make a bigger contribution to the fight, given our abundant resources and expertise.       Pope Francis has repeatedly challenged us to “make some noise” about the issues of climate change, poverty and extreme inequality. He summarised his concerns in his social encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home’, which he signed on Pentecost Sunday, March 24, 2015.             This is not just any other document from the Pope. It is his signature document about how faith should be mobilising our hearts and energies to tackle these imminent threats to the wellbeing of hundreds of millions of people and even endangering the very life-support systems that sustain humankind and all God’s creatures.          Francis is in no doubt about the “catastrophic” threats from climate change, and he reflects the overwhelming views of climate scientists. Laudato Si’ was launched in Rome on June 18, 2015, by one of the world’s most eminent climate scientists, Professor Schellnhuber, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.              In writing this document, Francis drew from his personal involvement tackling issues of poverty and injustice in Argentina. In it he showed he is listening intently to leading scientists and economists about what needs to be done to ensure a better life for all people.       Hence he released Laudato Si’ to bolster international support for the UN Paris Climate Conference held in December 2015, and to encourage all nations to endorse the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Soon after he spoke to the UN General Assembly on September 25, 2015 in New York, 193 member states voted to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.      Keep the action going from Laudato Si’....(more)
Read something spiritually nourishing: Message from Archbishop Comensoli
Extract from Communications Office CAM Wednesday 2 September 2020
In his latest video message, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli welcomes the new season of spring as recognition of 'the hope that the Lord has for each one of us.' He also invites everyone to take up the chance to read something new: 'Make it something spiritually nourishing ... something that can bring the Gospel alive in your life.'....(HERE)   Image: 20200902 CAM
Response to the stimulus papers prepared by writing teams for the national plenary council
Extract from Vivien Williams, 2 September 2020
Introduction:  I have worked – and continue to minister – across the church in a breadth of ministries.  When the opportunity came to present a submission to the NPC I did so keenly – as one of the People of God, as a member of a renewal group, as a friend assisting others whose parishes offered no preparation, as a facilitator of parish groups, endeavouring to discern local responses.            Consequently I have been long awaiting the papers which will inform the next steps of NPC preparation.        In observing the exacting process by which members of writing teams were chosen, I expected a highly competent, enlightening and enlivening result, with appreciation of the breadth of good current theology, pastoral initiatives, resources and networking already happening across the church and society.      I expected clearly expressed documents, and prioritising of specific issues to be taken forward, including those needing further reflection, blocks etc.            I found them often unwieldy to read and digest, with only glimpses of capturing the breath of God’s enlivening Spirit. Some seemed to be a cobbling together of ideas, uncritically presented, with little evident weighting.         I appreciate that writing teams have attempted to take seriously many of the diverse ideas raised in submissions and imagine that within each team the diverse approaches may have been challenging, but feel disappointed at the following: 1 The 6 thematic areas:.....(full paper Here)   Photo:  Vivien Williams
Putting Children First: Child Protection Week 2020
Extract from Communications Office CAM Wednesday 2 September 2020
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Child Protection Week (6-12 September). The theme for 2020, 'Putting Children First', was chosen by the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) and underscores the need to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of children in all aspects of our community and family life.      The occasion is of great significance for the Catholic Church in Australia as it emphasises the need for a continuous commitment to effectively safeguard children, young people, and vulnerable adults.       Partnered with the commitment to safeguard those most at risk, the Church also acknowledges the devastating harm caused by the sexual abuse of children by priests, religious and lay people within Catholic settings.      ‘Although the Pandemic has changed the way we are all living and working, it doesn’t change what is most important,’ said Archbishop Peter A Comensoli.     ‘For Christians, the Lord Jesus shows us that at all times, the most vulnerable among us are those requiring our greatest care. Our priority is to ensure the safety and the protection of children at all times.    I am sad and angered that the Church has not always been a place that has put children first. We continue to address the horror of abuse, and I will continue to meet with survivors of abuse, hearing and trusting them, and helping our Church be continually converted.’     In the lead up to and during Child Protection Week, the Professional Standards Unit of the Archdiocese will be offering some resources to ensure all of our local parishes and ministries can become places that support children and young people, and their right to be safe and feel safe.....(more)
New Plenary Council Timeline
From Plenary Post 27, Friday 27 August 2020
With all the date changes that have taken place with the rescheduling of the Plenary assemblies, a new timeline has been developed to help people understand the next couple of years of the Council journey.......Timeline   HERE
Growing Voices Displace Indifference
Catholics For Renewal, 27 August 2020
Pope Francis echoes similar thoughts expressed throughout history when he said*    "....The challenge of reality also requires the capacity for dialogue, to build bridges instead of walls."            Regular Mass attendance by Catholics has declined from 74% of all Australian Catholics in 1954 to 11.8% in 2016.    However more than 200,000 responded to the invitation by bishops to make submissions to the Australian Plenary Council process.           In the same context a number of parishes are currently exploring means for collective renewal-dialogue across parishes via discussions and Newsletters, also shared through a common website which has been established - Sense of the Faithful.  Adding to voices there are currently also 19 members of the Australasian Catholic Coalition for Church Reform - ACCCR.          Preparation for the Australian Plenary Council (2021/2022) provides important opportunities, both for bringing about some immediate reforms in the Australian Catholic Church  as well as other substantial reforms through the Council itself, subject to an adequate Plenary Agenda.
*[Pope Francis video message to the 5th Festival of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Nov. 29, 2015]
Archbishops, vaccines and COVID-19
Extract from Paul Collins, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue Website, 26 August 2020
The recent letter of the Sydney-based Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox archbishops on the ethics of the Oxford University COVID-19 vaccine has left many believers and the general community gobsmacked.               Sometimes it’s hard to be publicly known as a Catholic; you can feel such a fool. Just now I’m experiencing that feeling with Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher nailing his colours to the mast of his colleagues, Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies and Greek Orthodox Archbishop Makarios. All three claim that the vaccine that the federal government favours, the AstraZeneca/Oxford University COVID-19 product, uses a cell line (HEK-293) that is cultured from a previously aborted foetus, and that it is thus doubtfully ethical.        According to the archbishops, another problem is that of the 29 vaccines ‘already in clinical evaluation, the Commonwealth has thrown its lot in with one that some … find morally problematical’. They are also worried that if ‘the vaccine is adopted for use in Australia, it will be “as near as mandatory as possible”.’ They don’t acknowledge that Scott Morrison has already retreated from that hard-line stance.      Whatever about the views of Makarios and Davies, it’s the stance of Anthony Fisher that concerns me as a Catholic. Why? Because he is presented and presents himself in public as a spokesman for Catholicism, essentially claiming that his stance is church doctrine to be accepted by all Catholics. But many Catholics would argue that his pronouncements have ignored a basic Catholic moral principle, the principle of double effect (PDE).       This principle is not exclusive to Catholics, but is used widely in the community to make ethical decisions about complex medical and other issues. In other words, Fisher’s stance doesn’t represent the mainstream Catholic moral tradition and is merely opinion with which most Catholics disagree.....(more)
German bishops say talks with Rome on parish document must include laity
Extract from Crux, Catholic News Service, 25 August 2020
Germany — The German bishops plan to seek talks with the Vatican about its instruction on parish reforms in the Catholic Church.      The German Catholic news agency KNA reported the bishops said they want lay Catholics to be involved in the discussion. The bishops’ conference made the announcement after a meeting of its 27-member Permanent Council.      The announcement said the president of the bishops’ conference, Bishop Georg Batzing, would accept an offer for talks recently conveyed by Cardinal Beniamino Stella, head of the Vatican Congregation for Clergy.     Batzing will suggest to the congregation that the discussion be held with the leaders of the synodal path reform project because the Vatican instruction addressed bishops, priests, deacons and laypeople alike, the bishops said.                The synodal path is an effort by the bishops’ conference and Central Committee of German Catholics to restore trust following a September 2018 church-commissioned report that detailed thousands of cases of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy over six decades....(more)
Australia appoints new ambassador to the Holy See
Extract from CathNews, ACBC Media Blog,  25 August 2020
Australia’s bishops have welcomed the appointment of Chiara Porro as the new residential ambassador to the Holy See.            Ms Porro has worked within the Department of Foreign Affairs for most of the past dozen years, including in overseas postings in India and New Caledonia. She has also served in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.       Ms Porro becomes the fourth Rome-based Australian ambassador to the Holy See, following former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer, prominent Sydney barrister John McCarthy QC and career diplomat Melissa Hitchman.       “The Government’s decision to appoint another residential ambassador is welcome and will help consolidate the Australian presence in the offices of the Holy See and in Rome more generally,” said Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.       “Ambassador Porro will bring to the role substantial experience as a career diplomat and also an intimate knowledge of Italian culture and language, which will serve her well.      “The Australian bishops look forward to meeting the new ambassador and working closely with her on matters of mutual concern.”      Ms Porro, in a message on the website of the Australian Embassy to the Holy See, noted several milestones that will take place during her time in Rome.       “During my mandate, we will be celebrating 50 years of Australia-Holy See diplomatic relations – an important milestone, built on the very strong and robust people to people links we share,” she wrote.       “This year we will also celebrate the 10th anniversary of the canonisation of Mary MacKillop, Australia’s first canonised saint and a remarkable woman who encapsulates the true spirit of Australia.”        Ms Porro will present her credentials to Pope Francis on Thursday....(more)    Photo:  Chiara Porro (LinkedIn)
Looking to future governance of our Church
Extract from Frank Brennan, Jesuit priest and human rights lawyer, on the webinar, La Croix International, 24 August 2020
During the week, I participated in a Webinar entitled 'The Light from The Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia'. Zoom conferences and webinars are now a common place for those of us enduring pandemic lockdowns.           This Webinar was run out of the offices of a large law firm in Sydney.          The proceedings were chaired by the distinguished Australian broadcaster, Geraldine Doogue. More than 150 committed Catholics tuned in. There was quite a buzz to the proceedings. And most of the time, the technology worked well.         Geraldine introduced the keynote presenter, Francois Kunc, who is a judge of the New South Wales Supreme Court.          He had the unenviable task of providing a 15-minute overview of the 208-page report containing 86 recommendations for improved governance of the Catholic Church in Australia. I was one of nine responders.          The other responders included three of the key authors who were part of the seven-member Governance Review Project Team commissioned to provide this report to the Church's Implementation Advisory Group which had been set up by our bishops after the royal commission.         Another responder was one of the theological advisers to the review team.         The discussion was lively, informed, and respectful. Men and women were at the table in equal numbers. Appropriately, the laity heavily outnumbered the clergy.        But something wasn't quite right.        There was no bishop on the panel. We were told that invitations had been extended, but to no avail. Like most things in the Church, there's probably a back story.        But I was left thinking that a discussion about co-responsible governance in the Catholic Church could well do with a couple of bishops at the table.        Most of us who spoke would have been in our 60s. When looking to future governance of our church, it's probably best to start as we'd want to finish. If co-responsibility is to work, bishops and young people will need to be at the table......(more)
Pope Francis has questions: Most popes have answers
Extract from Bishop Peter Cullinane, Bishop Emeritus, Diocese of Palmerston North, CathNews NZ, 24 August 2020
.........Some of Pope Francis’ critics like to contrast him with Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. But they conveniently overlook that Pope Francis is building on what Pope St John Paul II had already taught.          It was John Paul who said “the Church’s teaching authority is at the service of conscience”; in other words, it upholds the sovereignty of conscience, it doesn’t render conscience superfluous.               It was also Pope John Paul II who taught what he called “the law of gradualness”; this means recognizing that people’s ability to fully comply with the moral law develops gradually; for some faster, for some more slowly.         This is why Pope Francis often speaks of taking people where they “are at” – not starting from where they should be, but from where they are – and accompanying them on the journey to where they should be.      And while on the journey, they are not sinning if they doing the best they can for now, and praying for better.       So when Pope Francis asks whether Eucharist is for people not yet fully complying with the moral law – who would if they could – he is not questioning the Church’s teaching, but simply taking account of gradualness in their ability to comply fully, and asking whether Eucharist is only for those who already comply fully, or also for those who are trying to get there.       It is rather Pope Francis’ critics who question, and even reject, Church teachings – especially people who are protecting their own business or ideological interests.       Some of them even say: ‘the Church’s job is to save souls; people’s social and economic lives are none of the Church’s business’.        Here too, Pope Francis’ teaching is in line with the teaching of his predecessors.       His critics are also very selective in what they accept from the social encyclicals of Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI.  Perhaps it is the gospel itself that they need to look at more closely.      When it comes to the tone of their criticisms, sadly, the bitterness, divisiveness, deceptiveness and scapegoating are all tell-tale signs that their agenda are not from the Holy Spirit.       There is another spirit at work. The same gospel we heard says the gates of the underworld will not prevail.  But they will try!      Take this as a sure guide:  wherever evil is at work, sooner or later it over-reaches, can’t hide its ugly face, and discredits itself.        That’s why Pope Francis doesn’t always bother to respond to his critics.  But he prays for them.         Many are good people, sometimes troubled people, but people in need of compassion. ...(more)
Consumatum est: is the Australian Catholic church finished?
Extract from Garry Everett, Pearls & Irritations, John Menadue website, 23 August 2020

Can we save Jesus from the Church?

Consumatum est was reportedly, the last expression of Christ on the Cross— “it is finished”. The same expression could be applied today to the Catholic Church in Australia as we know it.             This is a hard truth to accept, and an even greater challenge ”to practise resurrection”. How do we imagine a new Church in Australia for our times? Has the Church become incapable of sensing its own reality?             Many books and articles have been written about a future Church. Journalists, scholars, and arm-chair critics have contributed. Much of these contributions has been helpful. However, I suspect that too little attention has been paid to the words of a former teacher of mine: “90% of solving a problem is to be found in properly understanding the problem“.              I am not a sociologist, nor an anthropologist, but I wish I were. Even being a novelist would help. At present I am reading a novel in which Faith, in the guise of the Abbess of the convent, is challenged by science, in the guise of a medical examiner. They see the problem, two suspicious deaths , differently. The reader is forced to wonder whether they can understand each other and work together to solve the problem.              In one sense, the problems of today’s Church in Australia cannot be solved just by looking inwards. A heart surgeon is as much concerned about the state of the artery, as he or she is concerned about the obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption and lack of exercise, of the patient. The artery and those other aspects of the body have to function together for the heart to be effective.           Years ago, the World Council of Churches used to proclaim: “The world sets the agenda for the Church”.  In essence, the reason for a church to exist, is to be on mission to its world. If you don’t understand your world, then you definitely will not be able to shape your mission effectively. This is good sociology as well as wise theology.....(more)

Church Governance
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Media Release, Saturday 22 August 2020

One of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was that the Catholic Church in Australia conduct a review of diocesan and parish governance and management. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia accepted that recommendation and the Implementation Advisory Group was tasked with conducting and presenting that review.

The Implementation Advisory Group established the Governance Review Project Team to lead the review. The GRPT presented a version of the report to the Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia in May 2020. That version, which was not the final version, was leaked and published.

That version was subsequently amended, making a number of corrections and clarifications. The final version of the report, entitled The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia, was presented to the Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia in mid-August 2020. The report was published online on August 21, 2020, along with an accompanying Reading Guide.

Click here to access a Reading Guide, which people are encouraged to read before the report.

Click here to access The Light from the Southern Cross.

Click here to read a joint media release from the Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia.

Scripture and papal leadership inspire retreat for creation
Extract from Media Blog, ACBC, 21 August 2020
Catholics in Australia are being encouraged to participate in a first-of-its-kind week-long retreat in preparation for the ecumenical celebration of the World Day of Prayer for Creation on September 1.            The “7 Days of Creation Reflection-Retreat” has been prepared by Columban priest Fr Charles Rue, whose ministry has for many years had a focus on the Catholic understanding of care for the environment.           Fr Rue said the retreat is inspired by the leadership of recent popes, who have proclaimed the message of caring for God’s creation.       “Pope John Paul II in 1990 named environmental care as integral to Catholic faith and named St Francis of Assisi as the patron of ecological conversion,” he noted.        “Pope Benedict XVI reinforced this Catholic vocation. Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ detailed the call to See, Judge, Act on care for our common home. Hear the twin cry of the poor and the cry of the earth.       “For the Church in Australia, the establishment of Catholic Earthcare back in 2003 was an important initiative and one that has helped foster a broader understanding of this issue across the country.”       Fr Rue said the retreat was designed to lead people up to the World Day of Prayer for Creation, so they are encouraged to start it on Tuesday, August 25. However, it could be prayed at any time during the September “Season of Creation”, which runs from September 1 until St Francis’ feast day on October 4.....(more)
Pope Francis has promised to pray for a nun and the transgender women the nun is helping.
Extract from CathNews NZ, 20 August 2020
Discalced Carmelite nun Mónica Astorga Cremona wrote to Pope Francis telling him about the inauguration of a new housing complex she has established to help transgender women living in poverty.           The new 12-studio apartment complex in Neuquén, Argentina, is part of a permanent housing solution for about twelve people between the ages of 40-70.          The pope, who is an old friend of Cremona, replied to her letter saying “God who did not go to the seminary or study theology will repay you abundantly” for the work you have done.          He told her he is praying for her and the transgender women she is assisting, adding, “Don’t forget to pray for me. May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin guide you.”....(more) CathNews NZ 20200820
Ireland, More new bishops than priests to be ordained this year amid vocations crisis
Extract from Sarah McDonald,  Independent, Ireland, 18 August 2020
Statement of the Pastors’ Initiative Austria on the “Instruction on the Pastoral Conversion of Parishes at the Service of missionary mission of the Church”.          Association of Catholic Priests, Ireland, 13 August 2020            The Instruction offers only a rudimentary analysis of the changed social and church situation, in order then to demand canonical regulations, which already at the time of their adoption 40 years ago were no longer up to date and in part have lagged behind Vatican II. With missionary zeal it is underlined that parish councils only have an advisory function, that all unordained persons are forbidden to preach during the celebration of Mass and a collegial leadership of priests and laypersons is forbidden.        If we were to lead our parishes with this exhorted monarchical clericalism we would be losing those Christians who are jointly responsible and who are the salt and the light of a parish that is turned towards the people. The Instruction conjures up a situation in which bishops and priests, out of pastoral need, are driven to “insubordination”. So the letter is based on not taking the situation seriously and dividing the bishops, priests and parishes.      The great illusion of the Instruction is to think that the Church can speak of a missionary approach today, without, as church leadership themselves accepting the fundamental values of modern society and of the Gospel, such as participation and the equal dignity of every person to realise themselves. (cf. Letter to the Galatians 3:26: For all of you through faith are sons and daughters of God in Christ Jesus). We also see that through the exaltation of the priesthood that God, Jesus Christ and the work of the Spirit are pushed out of the centre of church life......(more)
New Zealand women support Anne Soupa's petition to become Archbishop of Lyon
Their mission is to promote the inclusion of women in leadership of the Catholic Church
Extract from La Croix International staff  (with CathNews New Zealand)  New Zealand. 14 August 2020
Several New Zealand women have signed a 17,000+ person petition joining Anne Soupa's campaign to become the next Archbishop of Lyon.     Calling themselves 'Be the Change', the group of men and women say their mission is to promote the inclusion of women in leadership of the Catholic Church.        "As a sign of our support for Soupa, we are delighted to put our names to a global petition supporting Soupa's campaign," Jo Ayers of 'Be the Change' told CathNews.       As well as signing the petition, the group also wrote to Soupa.       "We are delighted to learn that you have applied for the position of Archbishop of Lyon. We think you would be an Archbishop with a fresh approach," 'Be the Change' wrote.      "If canon law does not allow a woman Archbishop, we support changes to canon law."       "We feel you have the knowledge and experience to become Archbishop of Lyon," they wrote.       'Be the Change' was delighted to receive a prompt response from Soupa.       "I have not embarked on this enterprise in a spirit of provocation, but to offer my hand to a Church which is imprisoned in a false sense of loyalty to the past.       "I wish candidates would stand all over the place, to show that women are there, ready and able, with a faith in their hearts that would move mountains," wrote Soupa.       The 73-year-old journalist and biblical scholar, one of France's best known activists for a greater role for women in the Catholic Church, sent a letter to the papal nuncio in Paris on May 25 stating her desire to head the ancient diocese.       She included a detailed cover letter and her curriculum vitae......(more) Photo: Anne Soupa  Corinne Simon CIRIC La Croix Int 20200814
Vatican finances must run with integrity, says new council member
Extract from Christopher Lamb, The Tablet, 14 August 2020
Pope Francis recently broke a Vatican glass ceiling by appointing six women to serve on the board overseeing the Holy See’s finances.       Reforming the chaotic, and sometimes opaque, money management practices of the Vatican has been a priority for the Francis pontificate, but one that has been hampered by infighting, resistance to change and suspect transactions.       Among those chosen to sit on the Holy See’s Council for the Economy is Leslie Ferrar, a business leader with formidable experience and someone who, crucially, shares the Pope’s desire to ensure the Holy See’s finances are handled with honesty and transparency.        In an interview with The Tablet, Ms Ferrar says the route to credibility will be found through integrity, transparency, and a clear set of values that everyone can operate under. She offers a simple test.       “If you were talking to a judge in court would you be able to explain what you had done and not be embarrassed?” she tells me.       The same rule can be adapted to a Church setting.        “Is what you are doing a sin? If it’s a sin then you shouldn’t be doing it. I think helping people understand what a sin is, rather than it just being okay…is what we need to do,” the new council member explains.        Ms Ferrar spent almost 30 years as a partner at KPMG, one of the “big four” accounting firms, before becoming treasurer to the Prince of Wales. She holds a series of non-executive posts including as a member of the audit and risk committee at HMRC, the UK tax authority.....(more)  Photo: Pope apppoints 6 women to Vatican Council for Economy Vatican Media CPP IPA Niklestome Media PA Inages The Tablet 20200814
German-speaking bishops criticise Vatican parish instruction
Posted by Enda on Catholica from Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, from The Tablet, 15 August 2020
The Vatican instruction, The pastoral conversion of the parish community in the service of the evangelising mission of the Church, of 20 July continues to be hotly debated in the German-speaking countries.         In Switzerland, it has been sharply criticised by the Bishop of Basel, Felix Gmür: “That the Vatican sees the parish solely concentrated on the parish priest does not reflect our reality. It is, moreover, a theologically deficient and too constricted a view,” Gmür wrote in a letter to church employees in his diocese. The Vatican Instruction left the “stale impression” that in the final instance the Vatican was only interested in the “predominance of the clergy”.    Parishes would continue to be led by leadership teams in his diocese and lay leaders would continue to be addressed as such, Gmür underlined. Parish communities had to be organised democratically in Switzerland, moreover, he recalled, otherwise they were not publicly recognised by the state.              “As bishop I will not allow myself to be paralysed or blocked by these restrictive orders as much of the instruction is pretty far removed from reality,” Bishop Gerhard Feige of Magdeburg in former eastern Germany emphasised. “This is particularly so in our extreme diaspora situation, a situation which Rome obviously has not the vaguest idea about, as there are no positive solutions whatsoever for the drastic shortage of priests in the instruction,” Feige wrote in his letter to the faithful....(Catholica source)
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 )