"A Church for All: A Guide to the Australian Plenary Council...and Beyond"
Sr Joan Chittister & ACCCR - Details HERE
Francis’ year: keeping pace with the Pope
Limited extract from Christopher Lamb, Subscription journal, The Tablet, 17 December 2021
From the start of his papacy, the ‘outsider Pope’ has made clear the direction in which he would like to take the Church. This year has seen Francis, who is 85 on 17 December, put his foot on the accelerator. At the beginning of 2021, I wrote that as Pope Francis was seeking to press ahead with his reforms, he was showing no sign of slowing down. This year, Francis has not simply kept up the pace of change – he has moved into top gear. The Pope seems determined not to waste what he sees as a critical, epoch-shifting, kairos moment to reshape the Church for the twenty-first century. The last 12 months have been a whirlwind of activity, with Francis opening the most ambitious Catholic renewal process in six decades; making a historic visit to Iraq; giving the green light for an unprecedented corruption trial in the Vatican; and continuing to offer bold leadership on the migrants’ crisis, climate change and social justice. There are no signs that the Pope intends to stand down......(Source). Photo: Pope Francis Cyprus CNS, Paul Haring, The Tablet 20211216
Synod cannot avoid hot-button issues, say 'Women in Synodality' panelists
Extract from Christopher White, Global Sisters Report, Managing Editor, National Catholic Reporter, 16 December 2021
Rome — If the Vatican's global synod process is to succeed, discussion of hot-button topics such as women's ordination and women deacons cannot be silenced, according to the head of an umbrella organization representing some 600,000 religious sisters from around the world. "We have to also allow the topics that people want to talk about to be named," said Loreto Sr. Patricia Murray on Dec. 16, specifically citing questions surrounding women in the priesthood and the diaconate. Murray, who is executive secretary of the International Union of Superiors General, recalled that Pope Francis has previously authorized two commissions to study the issue of women deacons and said the two-year process for the Synod of Bishops on synodality, which was launched in October, must facilitate discussion on issues where some church leaders would rather avoid debate. Her remarks came during a discussion on "Women in Synodality," co-hosted by Australian Ambassador to the Holy See Chiara Porro, the Jesuit-run journal La Civiltà Cattolica and Georgetown University. While the traditional organizational structure of the Catholic Church is that of an all-male Catholic hierarchy, the two-hour conversation on Thursday aimed to amplify the voices of Catholic women from across the globe, with panelists from Africa, Australia and Europe. In response to Murray's comments, Xavière Missionary Sr. Nathalie Becquart, who is undersecretary for the Vatican's office of the Synod of Bishops, said that the church "cannot be synodal" if it dictates in advance "how each topic will be addressed." Instead, she said the process requires "deep listening" and "mutual listening." Following the official launch of the synod in October, dioceses around the world are currently undergoing a "listening" stage, meant as a consultation with the entire church and even those outside of it. While quoting Francis' mantra that the synod is not a "parliamentary process," Becquart said that the listening stage requires hearing the voices of everyone and the issues that are raised should be reflected in the summary document produced in the process. Dutch theologian Myriam Wijlens, who is a professor of canon law at the University of Erfurt in Germany and a consultor to the Synod of Bishops, said that one of the fruits of the Second Vatican Council means that the church is not just "a top-down model anymore."...(more). Photo: Women in Synodality Forum Panelists Synod of Bishops, process and womens views on Hot Button topics, GSR photo Christopher Whiten NCR 16 Dec 2021
New Zealand abuse report says Church hasn’t taken ‘sufficient steps’ to address problem
Extract from Charles Collins, Managing Editor, Crux, 16 December 2021
A new report on sexual abuse in New Zealand says abuse in religious settings often causes “particular harm” to victims. The report quoted Thomas Doyle, a former Catholic priest and a leading expert in abuse in the Catholic Church, who called it “soul murder.” The report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care – titled He Purapura Ora, he Māra Tipu; from Redress to Puretumu — was tabled in New Zealand’s parliament on Dec. 15. The document makes recommendations on how survivors of abuse in state and faith-based care should be listened to and how they should be compensated. The three religious denominations covered in the report were the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, and the Salvation Army. The Royal Commission was set up by the government but was completely independent from the government and the religious groups involved. The main period of investigation was 1950 to 1999, although it had the discretion to consider incidents from before and after this time period in order to inform its recommendations. The report noted that survivors who experience religious or spiritual abuse “can have a shaken sense or complete loss of faith and spirituality – things that are sometimes central to the survivor’s sense of identity prior to the abuse.” “They may stop participating in religious observances and practices all together. This can contribute to an intense sense of loss of the spiritual dimension of identity, which previously provided a source of strength, support and meaning,” the report said, adding the trauma of the abuse could cause victims to not be able to attend weddings, funerals, baptisms or other family gatherings if those events take place in a religious setting.....(more). Photo: Cardinal John Dew, New Zealand Royal Commission on Abuse in Care. The royal commission directed that no attendees at public hearings should wear religious attire or uniforms, as that could be triggering for abuse survivors. CNS screenshot NZ Catholic, Crux 16 December 2021
When synodality confronts hierarchy
Extract from John Warhurst, Eureka Street, 14 December 2021
What an extraordinary coincidence of synodal events the Church in Australia is currently undertaking. The intersessional period between the two Assemblies of the Fifth Plenary Council is underway and the First Assembly Proposals from Small Groups and Individual Members has just been published. At the same time, we are called to participate in the consultation process with the entire Church for the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on Synodality. Australian Catholics have been invited to link the two occasions by responding to the First Assembly Proposals through the Synod of Bishops consultation process. Synodality is at the heart of both events. Archbishop Timothy Costelloe’s presidential message accompanying the First Assembly Proposals document included the reflection that: ‘It has been a journey of listening, dialogue and discernment which has provided the opportunity for all of us to explore the practice of ‘synodality’ and learn by doing’. Not only was synodality embraced by the Assembly, but a specific agenda question (No. 13) asked: ‘How might the People of God, lay and ordained, women and men, approach governance in the spirit of synodality and co-responsibility for more effective proclamation of the Gospel?’ The Individual Reflection Guide issued by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) for the Synod of Bishops consultation states that ‘Pope Francis is calling the Church to practice synodality, that is listening to-and hearing-one another in all facets of Church life.’ We are invited to participate in the consultation process to reflect on the three dimensions of a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission. However, synodality confronts the traditional practice of hierarchy within the church. When the ACBC responded last December to The Light from the Southern Cross report, which promoted synodality and co-responsible governance, it re-stated its position that hierarchy was embedded in the church’s approach to governance. This immediately set up a potential tension between episcopal authority and participation in governance by the People of God. The official reflection guide further explores this tension, while flatly asserting that ‘A synodal church is a participatory and co-responsible church’. The exploration poses some questions which are both philosophical and practical. The headings are Authority and Participation; Discerning and Deciding. The questions are more thoughtful and probing than the PC Agenda Questions.........(more). Photo: John Warhurst
Let the Holy Spirit surprise you, Bishop Chow (Hong Kong Bishop Elect) says
Extract from Catholic Outlook (source, Hong Kong Sunday Examiner) 9 December 2021
When Pope Francis, a Jesuit, was elected pope in 2013, the Church witnessed a new vitality and hope. What can we expect from Bishop Stephen Chow Sau-yan, also a Jesuit? The answer was quick: “I am not Francis!” Bishop Chow sat over a cup of coffee to chat with the diocesan newspapers—the Sunday Examiner and the Kung Kao Po, a couple of weeks before his episcopal ordination and installation as the ninth bishop of Hong Kong. Bishop Chow acknowledged the common factor that he shares with the pope: “As Jesuits, one of our General Chapters gave great importance to spiritual conversation and discernment in communion—communion not just among the Jesuits, but we have to discern with non-Jesuits in mission and our lay-partners in mission. I think that is an important way for a bishop. And I don’t believe in running the diocese like a corporation with big strategic plans. We have to listen to different sectors, especially laypeople. They have a voice to represent. And this is what the pope means by Synodality. Francis is very much a Jesuit!” When queried about what changes he expected in his life as a bishop, he laughed: “I am not a bishop yet, so I don’t know!” With the pope’s call for synodality in the life of the Church, Bishop Chow hopes we will listen to one another and discern together for the mission. “If you are serious about Vatican II, people of God as the body of Christ, you cannot walk away from the call for synodality. Francis is pushing us to live the Vatican II,” he observed. The bishop further explained that “any changes could cause some amount of confusion and disturbances to the status quo. But if you do not go through those disturbances, how do you grow? Even in growing up [of a person], there is pain. When a person enters puberty, there are a lot of changes. Does anyone want to stop puberty so that you do not change? So also with the Church, we need to grow and therefore, those uncertainties are not always a bad thing.” He said, “We should always ask: what do you want to see in the future—a divided Church and divided world, or do we want everyone to be winners? The big problem the world faces today is that we are stuck in ideologies. Ideologies kill because the very definition of ideology is ‘I am right, and you are wrong.’ There is no dialogue. We need to learn to discern together. Discernment is a gift of the Holy Spirit. But today, not many people believe in the Holy Spirit! We are often over-dependent on ourselves; our convictions. They are not bad, but we need to open ourselves to be different and to be surprised by the Holy Spirit.”.....(more)
Pope tells Catholics to celebrate, welcome diversity
Extract from CathNews, CNS, 3 December 2021
The Church is a mosaic of different rites and cultures and must show the world the beauty of welcoming all people as brothers and sisters, Pope Francis told the Catholics of Cyprus. Beginning his December 2-4 visit to the island with a meeting with bishops, priests and religious rather than with government officials, the Pope highlighted the religious value of welcoming and diversity in a nation struggling with migration. Cyprus has a large Orthodox majority, but also centuries-old communities of Maronite and Latin-rite Catholics. On the flight from Rome to Larnaca, a city on the sea about 30 miles from Nicosia, Pope Francis told reporters, “It will be a beautiful trip, but we will touch some wounds.” One of those wounds — the fact that for more than 40 years the island has been divided between the mostly Greek Cypriot south and the mostly Turkish Cypriot north — explained why the Pope landed in Larnaca. The Nicosia airport is now mainly the headquarters of the United Nations peacekeeping force that patrols the “green line” between the north and south. Meeting with the bishops, priests, religious and seminarians in the Maronite Cathedral, Pope Francis said: “The Church, as catholic, universal, is an open space in which all are welcomed and gathered together by God’s mercy and invitation to love. Walls do not and should not exist in the Catholic Church. For the Church is a common home, a place of relationships and of coexistence in diversity.”....(more)
Without change Church’s mission is at risk, Plenary reformers say
Extract from Adam Wesselinoff, Catholic Weekly, 2 December 2021
The Catholic Church’s clerical leadership, norms of governance, language and tradition have been raised as areas of potential reform at a significant post-Plenary convocation. The third convocation of the “Future of Catholicism in Australia” series, held on 18 November, was organised by the Australasian Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (ACCCR) to reflect on the first session of the Plenary Council. Nine speakers offered assessments ranging in tone from constructive proposals and expressions of hope, to out-and-out opprobrium about the “institutional church”. The discussion across the evening focused predominantly on participants’ frustrations that the first Plenary session did not facilitate thorough and concrete proposals for church governance reform which they see as necessary. This reform was viewed as necessary by participants because the Church’s traditional structures were seen as an impediment to its mission. Former Royal Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald said that during his tenure at the child abuse Royal Commission “it became clearer to me that perhaps the church, the institutional church, was now at a serious point of actually failing or impeding the ability of people to come to God”. He described the Plenary process as a struggle against fear, “the great disenabler in life”, which he attributed to a “bloc” of conservatives acting “from an ideological position, who wish to resist change”. The Plenary risked becoming a squandered opportunity and the Church a “laggard” if reform was not grasped, Fitzgerald added. A similar view was put by Francis Sullivan, Chair of Catholic Social Services Australia and former CEO of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council. “We were supposed to be a deep listening Church. This Plenary Council is not about the Bishops, it’s about us,” Sullivan said. The Catholic Church’s clerical leadership, norms of governance, language and tradition have been raised as areas of potential reform at a significant post-Plenary convocation. ..........(more). Photo: Francis Sullivan, Chair Catholic Social Services Australia, Catholic Weekly 20211202
Catholic Social Services Victoria: Stop kicking the kids down the road
Extract from CSSV, Catholic Outlook, Diocese of Parramatta, 25 November 2021.
"A society is fruitful when it is able to generate processes of inclusion and integration, of caring and trying to create opportunities and alternatives that can offer new possibilities to the young, to build a future through community, education and employment” — Pope Francis, World Youth Day 2019, speaking at Las Garzas de Pacora Juvenile Detention Centre
Re “Job laws unfair: faith leaders” (The Age, 17/11). The Catholic bishops of Victoria are determined to ensure that discrimination – particularly against LGBITQ+ persons – is an integral part of their church policies and practices. The Second Vatican Council, the highest authority on Catholic teaching, took a different position.
In its 1965 Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World, it stated that “with respect to the fundamental rights of the person, every type of discrimination, whether social or cultural, whether based on sex, race, colour, social condition, language, or religion, is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God’s intent”.
Fundamental personal rights are still not being fully honoured in Victoria, but with its Equal Opportunity (Religious Exceptions) Amendment Bill 2021, the government is working to remedy that. Sadly it is facing opposition from those who are meant to be proclaiming and building the Kingdom of God, the hallmarks of which are love, justice, freedom and equality.
the bishops want to promote a truly Catholic ethos in their schools and
other organisations, and honour the fundamental personal rights of all
citizens in Victoria, they should lay down their arms in opposing this
bill, abandon their crusade to maintain discriminatory exceptions and
accept that the Way of the Gospel is not the path of discrimination. Source: The Age
Dr Peter Wilkinson, Catholics for Renewal, Lower Templestowe
Traditionalist bishop in Liechtenstein rebuffs the pope and the synodal process
The controversial Archbishop Wolfgang Haas says his "small" diocese doesn't need the pope's so-called "synodal process"
Limited Extract from subscriptional journal La Croix International, 21 October 2021
Archbishop Wolfgang Haas, a traditionalist prelate who heads the Principality of Lichtenstein's sole diocese, has refused to implement the synodal process that Pope Francis has instructed to be carried out in all local Churches around the globe. All Catholic dioceses were expected to open a local consultation last Sunday to prepare for the Synod of Bishops' next general assembly on synodality. The aim is to include the voices of all the baptized and promote a "more open" Church. But Archbishop Haas, who is notorious for taking controversial positions, announced last Friday that the Archdiocese of Vaduz – which is the only Catholic circumscription or diocese in Lichtenstein – would not be participating in the exercise. "A so-called 'synodal process'". "The pope has launched a so-called 'synodal process'," Haas said mockingly in a statement posted on the archdiocese's website. The 73-year-old archbishop claimed the process risked creating an "ideological division" in the Church. He also said synodal reflection was unnecessary in the archdiocese. German-speaking Lichtenstein is squeezed between Austria and Switzerland and is Europe's fourth-smallest country. According to the latest Vatican statistics, roughly 74% of the principality's 38,000 inhabitants are Catholic. Archbishop Haas said the synodal procedure would be "complex and even somewhat complicated" for such a "small" diocese that only has 10 parishes......(more). Photo: Archbishop Wolfgang Haas, REUTERS, La Croix International, 20211021
Bishops Conference publishes inaugural annual report
Extract from CathNews, ACBC Media Blog, 21 October 2021
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has published its inaugural annual report, outlining the key activities undertaken by the various parts of the Bishops Conference. The idea of publishing an annual report emerged from a desire to inform the Catholic community and wider society about how the Bishops Conference supports the mission of the Church in Australia. It also responds to the call for greater transparency within Catholic organisations. The first annual report covers work during 2020. Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge, in the report’s foreword, said it reveals the breadth of the activities of the Conference. “If you read this report with the eyes of faith, you will see that the bishops, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, are grappling with a wide range of issues and problems at a time when the Church in this country cannot simply take the future for granted,” he wrote. Archbishop Coleridge said brief reports after its biannual plenary meeting gave “the smallest tip of the iceberg” of what the Bishops Conference does. “What you find in these pages shows more of the iceberg, but a great deal still remains below the surface,” he wrote........(more). Image: ACBC
Is it time to re-think seminaries?
We need seminaries to be places that train new generations of clergy to be servant leaders who can pastor — not rule over — the faithful
Extract from Gideon Goosen, Australia, National Catholic Reporter. 25 September 2021
The Catholic Church in Australia has reached a critical point in its journey where a total re-generation of the church is required. The findings of the sexual abuse of children in the Church has been the main catalyst, documented in the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The Final Report identified clericalism as a significant contributor to abuse across religious institutions Australia-wide. Clericalism is rooted in a theological belief that the clergy are different to the laity, having undergone an 'ontological change' at ordination (a change to the very nature of their being on receiving Holy Orders) and feeds the notion that the clergy may not be challenged. And according to the report, the culture of clericalism is on the rise in seminaries in Australia. According to the report, 'Clericalism is the idealisation of the priesthood, and by extension, the idealisation of the Catholic Church. Clericalism is linked to a sense of entitlement, superiority and exclusion, and abuse of power.' A person suffering from clericalism sees himself as special, superior to others and worthy of greater respect. This could lead to arrogance and the belittling of others. Lay people can also be guilty of clericalism if they support this attitude.....(more). Photo:Seminaries-is-it-time-to-re-think NCR 20210925