Bishops Conference supports efforts to abolish the death penalty worldwide

Senator Anne McEwen deputy chair human rights subcommittee

Senator Anne McEwen deputy chair human rights subcommittee

Opening statement given by ACBC Public Policy Director, Jeremy Stuparich, to a public hearing of the Australian Parliament’s Human Rights Subcommittee inquiry on Australian advocacy for abolition of the death penalty.

27 November 2015

I appreciate the invitation from the Committee to speak with you today about efforts to end the death penalty internationally.

Australia’s Catholic bishops oppose the death penalty and want to see it abolished everywhere.

The bishops welcome the Committee’s inquiry in this area because they want to understand how they can more effectively contribute to the goal of ending capital punishment worldwide.

The death penalty can in Australia be seen as an issue remote from our lives, but earlier this year, the bishops were active not only in lobbying for clemency for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran but also importantly in prayer vigils on their behalf. The executions of these two young men reminded Australians of the pain and sadness that accompanies all judicial killings around the globe. Continue reading

Dialogue between Jewish and Catholic leaders

Jewish and Catholic leaders gathered at Mary MacKillop Place, North Sydney.

Jewish and Catholic leaders gathered at Mary MacKillop Place, North Sydney.

For the 18th time over many years, the Australian Catholic Bishops Commission for Ecumenism and Inter religious Relations and Australian Jewish leaders met for talks on Wednesday 25 November 2015.

The talks took place while the Australian Catholic Bishops gathered for their plenary meeting at Mary MacKillop Place, North Sydney from 23 – 27 November 2015.

Archbishop Christopher Prowse, Chairman of the Bishops Commission for Ecumenism and Inter religious Relations, said, ‘There is a great fraternity amongst us. We share our faith on various levels and there is respect and friendship between the Jewish and Catholic leaders.

‘We discussed the area of religious intolerance in our world today and in particular in Australia,’ Archbishop Prowse added.




Brian Lawrence receives Papal Knight from Apostolic Nuncio

Papal Nuncio Archbishop Yllana, Brian and Elizabeth Lawrence and Bishop Foley.

Papal Nuncio Archbishop Yllana, Brian and Elizabeth Proust and Bishop Foley.

On behalf of Pope Francis, the Apostolic Nuncio to Australia Archbishop Yllana presented a Knighthood of the Order of Pope Saint Sylvester to Brian Lawrence, Chair of the Australian Catholic Council for Employment Relations, for his nine-year commitment to the work of the Council.

Archbishop Yllana presented the Order during the Australian bishops plenary meeting at Mary MacKillop Place, North Sydney, on Tuesday 24 November 2015.

The Papal Nuncio said, ‘Pope Francis, Supreme Pontiff, received the petition considering the growth and the good of the church, has granted Brian Lawrence of the Diocese of Cairns, to be a Knight of the Order of Pope Saint Sylvester, declared in Rome on the 18 August 2015’.

Continue reading

Fr Stephen Hackett MSC appointed new General Secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

Fr Stephen Hackett MSC

Fr Stephen Hackett MSC

Fr Stephen Hackett, a priest of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, has been appointed the new General Secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

The Australian bishops announced the decision during their plenary meeting at Mary MacKillop Place, Sydney on Tuesday 24 November 2015.

Fr Hackett, who is currently parish priest in Tasmania, will commence his new role in early 2016 following the appointment of Fr Brian Lucas as National Director of Catholic Mission. Fr Lucas has been General Secretary since August 2002.

Congratulating Fr Hackett on his appointment, Archbishop Denis Hart, President, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, said, ‘The Australian bishops searched the length and breath of the country to appoint a priest who would manage and lead the Conference and the General Secretariat staff with a depth of administrative and pastoral experience. Continue reading

Catholic Church calls for global action at climate talks in Paris

dreamstime_l_14455714Despite the tragic events that took place over weekend, France has announced that it will go ahead with the COP 21 Climate Summit later this month.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls told TF1 television that the climate conference “will be held because it’s an essential meeting for humanity”. He said the summit would also be an opportunity for world leaders to show their solidarity with France after the attacks.

From November 30, governments of more than 190 nations will gather at these talks in Paris to try and reach a new binding global agreement on climate change.

The negotiations are critical, as the decisions made by world leaders could very well determine the future of life on this planet. Without a united global agreement to keep temperature rise below 2°C, global emissions will continue to grow. In fact, the recent IPCC report notes that if global emissions continue to grow at the same level, global temperatures will rise between 3.7 to 4.8 °C above preindustrial levels by 2100. This would be catastrophic for the climate, human society and for our planet. Continue reading

Australia’s largest Catholic magazine to provide in-depth coverage of the Year of Mercy in 2016

AC1511_CV4web‘The Year of Mercy is a vital moment in the life of the Catholic Church’ – Australian Catholics editor Michael McVeigh.

Australia’s largest Catholic publication, Australian Catholics magazine, is publishing a series of five special editions next year to help Catholic schools and parishes journey with Pope Francis through the Year of Mercy.

‘We wanted to provide communities with a way to bring the Year of Mercy home to families – to help deepen people’s understanding of the concept, and see how it can invigorate their life and faith’, said Australian Catholics editor, Michael McVeigh.

McVeigh said while Australian Catholics has covered many different themes in the past, this is the first time the magazine has devoted an entire year to a single topic.

‘The Synod on the Family showed just how important it is to engage families in the life of the Church, and we believe the Year of Mercy is an opportunity to bring faith to life for families’, said McVeigh.

The series will begin with an edition focusing of our own personal experiences of mercy through the sacrament of reconciliation, and will continue with editions exploring mercy in relationships, social justice and the Catholic Church, as well as a special youth edition. Continue reading

Family Tax Benefits under attack: legislation before parliament would have a major impact on the living standards of families

Senate Committee room

Senate Committee room

19 November 2015, opening statement from Brian Lawrence, chairman, Australian Catholic Council for Employment Relations

Senate Community Affairs Committee hearing into the Social Services legislation Amendment (Family Payments Structural reform and participation Measures) Bill 2015

Note: Brian Lawrence appeared before the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee at 11.20am, Thursday, 19 November 2015

I would like to thank the Committee for inviting me to appear here today to speak about this important Bill, a Bill which, if enacted, would have a major impact on the living standards of low and middle income families.

The submission filed on behalf of the Australian Catholic Council for Employment Relations is in opposition to the Bill.

The Government’s financial impact statement for this legislation shows that the legislation is intended to save $4.84 billion dollars over the first three years of its operation. These proposed cuts will fall on about two and a half million Australian families. All families with children would suffer substantial cuts in their incomes. All children would be worse off, save for those who are less than 12 months old. Continue reading

Australian Catholic Bishops express deep sympathies for victims of terrorist attacks in Paris

French flagThe Australian Catholic Bishops have expressed their deep sympathies for the hundreds of innocent people killed and maimed in the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

President of Conference, Archbishop Denis Hart said, “We offer our prayers and condolences to the victims of these horrendous attacks. Like all Australians, we join in solidarity with the people of France and share in the hope that the perpetrators and their networks will be swiftly brought to justice.

“Our shock and sadness draws us close to the victims and their families. As we mourn for them and their loved ones, we must affirm that feelings of grief and compassion are a sign of a fundamental goodness in humanity that cannot be defeated by evil. Continue reading

Complaint lodged with Anti-Discrimination Commissioner to be investigated

image DMWMArchbishop of Hobart, The Most Reverend Julian Porteous DD, has received notification from the Office of the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner that a complaint made about him has been viewed as a possible breach of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 (Tas).

The complaint concerns the distribution of a statement by the Australian Catholic Bishops,’Don’t Mess with Marriage’ to all Catholic schools in Tasmania. The Australian Bishops as author of the booklet has also been named as a respondent.

“In distributing the Pastoral Letter, ‘Don’t Mess With Marriage, my aim was to assist the Catholic community in understanding the teaching of the Catholic Church, at a time when debate on this matter was widespread within the community,” Archbishop Porteous said.

“The intention was to inform the debate as leader of the Catholic Church in Tasmania, to ensure the Catholic community understood where we stand on the issue of marriage.

“It was not my intention to offend, rather, it was and is, to express the teaching of the Catholic Church. I regret if offence has been taken by individuals, and will work with the Commission to resolve this matter,” said Archbishop Porteous.

Archbishop Porteous and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference have been given 21 days to respond to the finding of the Commission.

Media queries, please contact Mark Franklin on 03-6208 6231.

Fellowship Poem

Pictured (l-r): Fellowship participants Moira Byrne and Kirby Heath

Pictured (l-r): Fellowship participants Moira Byrne and Kirby Heath

Look around and what do you see?
Are there plenty of women next to thee?
Do they encourage and inspire you?
What a pity there are so few.
Who guide and nurture, shape and lead.
Don’t you think this is something we need?

Meanwhile media tells the stories
That have not shown the Church’s glories.
Numbers in the Church are falling
So let’s appeal to women’s calling.

Interfaith study, friends and fun –
It’s OK, you don’t have to be a nun!
The Fellowship will provide
Women with the skills to guide.

And so our important vision
Is to find support to help us with this mission.
Mentoring, finance or prayer
We’d really appreciate your help to get us there!

So donate what you can to the Fellowship Program
Because the future waits for no man!


By Moira Byrne and Kirby Heath,
Young Catholic Women’s Fellowship Participants 2015

‘Dying with dignity’ is just a lie

Euthanasia op-ed Bp ComensoliThis opinion piece was first published by the Daily Telegraph.

“DYING with dignity” is a euphemism. It purports to say something ennobling; it means something entirely menacing. ‘‘Dying with dignity’’ is dishonest. It claims to be telling a truth, but it is instead spreading a falsehood.

It reduces people who are dying to nothing more than the pain and suffering associated with their dying.

Language matters in the question of whether or not to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide in Australia.

Adopting emotive slogans to bolster one’s own position, while belittling the reasoning of your opponent, might pass as acceptable in political electioneering but it is not a ploy that should determine debate over the life and death of fellow human beings, our neighbours.

The Judeo-Christian tradition has always claimed that every person is made in the image and likeness of God. This is, of course, a declaration of belief but it is equally a statement of reasoned argument. Continue reading

Family tax benefit cuts discriminate against children with two parents

dreamstime_l_49009770Couple-parent families, especially those on low incomes, will bear the burden of Labor’s decision to support some of the Government cuts to Family Tax Benefit Part B (FTB B).

The Chief Executive of Catholic Social Services Australia, Marcelle Mogg, said the Coalition and Labor should not be taking FTB B from low and middle income families with school age children.

“Cuts to FTB B should not discriminate against children who have two parents with a single income, in favour of sole parent families or grandparent carers,” said Ms Mogg.

“The issue here is children living in poverty. Whether the child has one or two parents should not be the basis for discrimination. We must support low income families if we are to secure a better future for their children.

“The cuts mean single breadwinner families with the youngest child aged 13 years or older would be worse off by more than $54 a week. Continue reading