Church communications in a digital environment

Bishop Comensoli

Bishop Peter Comensoli, Bishops Delegate for Media.

There really is something special about Rome. I was recently there (again!) for the Professional Seminar for Church Communications Offices, offered biennially by the University of Santa Croce, who offers a very substantial communications and media academic program.

Like any trip to Rome for a bishop, such occasions also offer the opportunity to ‘do some business’, which I duly did – catching up with friends, having a few meetings on the side, and especially this year, passing through the Holy Door of Mercy at St Peter’s Basilica. Che bella, Roma!

I was attending the Seminar in my capacity as the episcopal delegate on social communications for the Bishops’ Commission for Evangelisation (having recently succeeded Bishop Peter Ingham in the role – from ‘Pete’ to ‘re-Pete’!) My own Comms Director at Broken Bay, Annie Carrett, encouraged me to attend, having herself attended one of the past seminars and found the networking among fellow professionals particularly good. (I should add that Annie wasn’t so happy that I travelled alone!) Continue reading

A pilgrimage from outback diocese to the city of mercy

Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green osppe

Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green osppe

In less than seven weeks, Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green osppe will lead a pilgrimage to Poland with forty young adults from his Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes.

The youth of Wilcannia-Forbes diocese will visit religiously significant sites throughout Poland including the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, looked after by the Order of Saint Paul of the First Hermit.

‘I am really excited about the prospect of leading a World Youth Day Pilgrimage to Poland,’ Bishop Macbeth-Green told the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference recently. ‘I have never been to a World Youth Day and it is something I always wanted to do.’

Bishop Macbeth-Green is one of 19 Australian bishops travelling to World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland from 25 – 31 July 2016.

‘Being a Bishop of an “outback diocese”, I am looking forward to taking my young people to experience the profound faith of the Polish people and to have their own faith strengthened and encouraged by the witness of so many other young people with the same faith in Jesus, lived vibrantly.’ Continue reading

Church supporting family life with paid parental leave

Church supporting family life with paid parental leave The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference congratulates the Archdiocese of Chicago on its announcement on 19 May that it will offer its employees 12 weeks paid parental leave.

Since 23 September 2008, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has been offering its staff 14 weeks of paid parental leave. A key policy of the Church is supporting parents and creating a family friendly workplace.

In addition to any employer funded parental leave, Australia’s government paid parental leave scheme offers up to 18 weeks of parental leave paid at the national minimum wage.

The Archdiocese of Chicago is innovative in its entitlements given the fact that the United States government considers parental leave to be a benefit that an employer may or may not offer to its employees. Continue reading

From wandering to journeying, thoughts on a Synodal Church

Fr Shane Mackinlay and Archbishop Mark Coleridge.

Fr Shane Mackinlay, Master of CTC and Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Vice-President of ACBC. Photo: Peter Byrne, Archdiocese of Melbourne.

From the time of his election, Pope Francis’ presence has invited the Church to move on in ways we didn’t quite see coming, Archbishop Mark Coleridge said as he delivered the Knox Public Lecture in Melbourne on 16 May 2016.

Hosted by the Catholic Theological College (CTC), a college of the University of Divinity, the Knox Public Lecture is given annually to honour the founder of CTC, James Robert Cardinal Knox, the fifth Archbishop of Melbourne.

‘This became still clearer when not long after his election he decided to convene not one but two Synods of Bishops on the theme of marriage and the family. We’d been having Synods for almost fifty years since the Council, but we’d never had two Synods twelve months apart like this. Continue reading

Voice for the voiceless: A statement by the Catholic Bishops of Australia on the election

Election Statement titleAustralia’s Catholic bishops have called for the voices of the thrown-away people to be heard in the long federal election campaign. The bishops today issued a statement on the 2016 Federal Election, addressed to Catholics and all people of goodwill.

“During the long election campaign there will be much talk about the economy and the need for good economic management at a time of some uncertainty”, the Bishops said. “Both sides of politics will state their economic credentials in a bid to win power.

“The economy of course is important and there does need to be sound management. But, as Pope Francis has pointed out, there is also a danger that the economy can become a kind of false god to which even human beings have to be sacrificed. Continue reading

“Hands of Mercy” – Song for the Year of Mercy

ACBA_Mercy Banner 200 x 200 pxThe Senior Choir at St Bernard’s Catholic Primary School, Berowra Heights, Sydney, has presented a new song called “Hands of Mercy” which has been sung at school Masses, and will feature as part of a special Year of Mercy Mass.

Written by Patricia Smith, Music Co-ordinator at Ku-ring-gai Chase Parish in the Diocese of Broken Bay, the song combines lyrics and meaningful actions to help young people participate in the Jubilee Year and understand what mercy means in everyday life and how to bring mercy to others. We can use our ‘hands of mercy’ to give life and love: to bring welcome, forgiveness, comfort, care, and healing; to give, share, and encourage. Continue reading

President of ACBC celebrates 75th birthday

IMG_5731_thumbOn Monday 16 May, Archbishop Denis Hart, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference turned 75 years old.

A birthday celebration took place at the Bishops Conference Secretariat offices in Canberra on Wednesday 18 May during a gathering for morning tea.

Archbishop Denis Hart

Archbishop Denis Hart

Staff at the Secretariat also welcomed Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Vice-President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. The two archbishops enjoyed a morning coffee with staff before attending various meetings in Canberra.

Staff wished Archbishop Hart a very happy birthday and that the year ahead may be filled with good health and happiness. The President was also assured of support and prayers from the Secretariat.

A Prayer for the Election

Hands folded in prayer. Instagram effect. Focus on thumbs.

Holy God, at the dawn of time you fashioned the world and set it on its course. In the fullness of time your Son took flesh and sowed the seeds of a new order, and day by day your Spirit works to bring to birth your realm of mercy, justice and peace.

We give you thanks for Australia, the Great South Land of the Holy Spirit. In this Spirit we pray for our land and all its people as the nation prepares to elect a new Federal Parliament.

We pray for the women and men who have offered themselves as candidates for public office. May those who are elected set their hearts always on honourable service and the common good.

We pray for the citizens of this much-blessed country, that they may take up their responsibility to vote with wisdom and freedom, and choose what is best for the whole community. Continue reading

Bishops welcome appointment of Ambassador to the Holy See

The bishops of Australia warmly welcome the appointment of Ms Melissa Hitchman as Australia’s next Ambassador to the Holy See in Rome.

The Hon Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs, made the announcement on 5 May last. Ms Hitchman is the third person to be appointed Ambassador following the appointment of the Hon Tim Fischer AC, who served in the role from 2009 to 2012. He was succeeded by John McCarthy KCSG, from 2012 to 2016.

President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Denis Hart said, ‘the bishops of Australia congratulated Ms Hitchman on her appointment and look forward to working with the new Ambassador who brings a wealth of experience to the role. Continue reading

To the ends of the earth

Bishop of Toowoomba, Robert McGuckin

Bishop of Toowoomba, Robert McGuckin

On Sunday 8 May, Bishop Robert McGuckin celebrated Mass in St Mary MacKillop Chapel, North Sydney, with his brother bishops during the plenary meeting of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. 

Below is the homily Bishop McGuckin preached celebrating the Feast of the Ascension and World Communications Sunday. 

A number of times in the past weeks we have heard Jesus telling his followers that He was going to the Father and the Holy Spirit would come upon them.

The followers of Jesus, we are told in the Acts of the Apostles, would be his witnesses throughout Judea and Samaria and indeed to the ends of the earth.

Some years ago I was at an overseas conference, where the President of one of the Pontifical Councils, the Venezuelan Cardinal, Castillo Lara, gave a wonderful address on the spirit of law empowering all of us to engage in ministry and be involved in ministry. Afterwards I suggested to him that he should also come to Australia and deliver the same message. In a very delightful way he said to me, but Australia it is the end of the earth. (He very much meant this in a geographical manner, from where he usually resided in Rome). Continue reading

New publication to assist Latin clergy

Eastern Catholic Churches in Australia book coverHow do the Eastern Catholic Churches in Australia differ from the Latin Catholic Church and where do they exist?

These are just some of the questions addressed in a new publication about the Eastern Catholic Churches in Australia.

A simple 15-page booklet has been produced to assist priests and deacons of the Latin Catholic Church in their parish pastoral ministry.

As a result of religious persecution, war and political unrest, there has been an unprecedented emigration of Eastern Catholics from their countries of origin.

This has created a situation globally where Eastern Churches have become a minority group struggling to maintain their faith and traditions.

The twenty-three Eastern Catholic autonomous Churches are bound by The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

The document was prepared by Bishop Robert McGuckin, Chairman of the Bishops Commission for Canon Law and Professor Ian Waters, Senior Lecturer in Moral Theology and Canon Law at the Catholic Theological College, University of Divinity, Melbourne.

Beginning with some historical background about the term Eastern Churches and the notion and nature of a Church and a Rite, the booklet uses simple language to describe the similarities and differences between the Eastern and Latin rites.

‘Eastern Churches refers to the Churches that developed in the eastern half of the Roman Empire, and those outside the Empire dependent on them.’

‘Some (but not all) non-Catholic Eastern Churches are called Orthodox Churches.’

‘The Eastern or Oriental Churches are not a strict unity, but a number of individual Churches.’

The publication includes a section on the pastoral care of Eastern Catholics in Australia; for those who have an eparchy established, for those who have no eparchy but there is a priest present from an Eastern Church and for those who don’t have a bishop or priest present from their Eastern Church.

Guidance about ‘sacramental interecclesial legislation’ is also provided along with the instruction that no distinction is to be made between Latin Catholic children and Eastern Catholic children when considering entry into Latin Catholic Parish Schools.

The booklet can be download from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference website.