Missionaries of Mercy Lenten message

Greek crossDear Friends,

This Lent, 2016, we are in the midst of a special Jubilee Year of Mercy. Pope Francis is calling each of us to deepen our baptismal vocation. We are being sent forth to be ‘missionaries of mercy’ in a world which desperately needs the Good News of the Gospel.

As we enter into this special Jubilee, let us first ponder the Word of God, so as to become credible and joyful witnesses.

Two parables are especially worthy of our reflection – The Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan. Continue reading

Archbishop says, change begins in the heart during Project Compassion

Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn, Christopher Prowse & Caritas Diocesan Engagement Coordinator Lulu Mitshabu

Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn, Christopher Prowse & Caritas Diocesan Engagement Coordinator Lulu Mitshabu

On Shrove Tuesday, 9 February 2016, Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn, Christopher Prowse, enjoyed some freshly made pancakes while launching Project Compassion at the Secretariat of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC).

The Archbishop was joined in the ACBC garden by students and staff from across the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn who will participate in Project Compassion, one of Australia’s largest humanitarian fundraising raising campaigns during the six weeks of Lent. This year marks 50 years of Project Compassion and the theme is, Learning more, creating change. Continue reading

Doney’s story – Learning more, creating change Project Compassion - First Sunday of Lent

Doney with her husband Nedson who is a tailor

Doney with her husband Nedson who is a tailor

Doney (pronounced door-nee) is a quiet and humble woman, but thanks to an innovative program supported by Caritas Australia, she’s creating big changes, in her life, and in her village. Doney beams when she talks about how much her life has changed in the last five years.

“My life has been transformed,” she smiles. “I am now more knowledgeable on a number of issues and I have a vision.”

Located in East Africa, Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. Over half the population is living below the poverty line, with more than 80% of people living in rural communities, and relying on farming small plots of land to produce adequate food to live on.

In Doney’s remote village in the Blantyre region, her family have often gone months without enough food. Yet, when Caritas Australia and the local Caritas, called CADECOM (the Catholic Development Commission in Malawi), began a program in Doney’s village, they didn’t simply see poverty, isolation and food shortage, they saw potential. Continue reading

Is Sanctuary the Way to Go?

cropped detention facilityIn response to the decision of the High Court that it is legal to send and detain asylum seekers in off-shore detention places, some Christian Communities have offered the right of sanctuary in their churches, as a solution to prevent these people from being sent to Nauru.

As an immediate response I wish to say that this is a very generous offer. It shows the care and concern these Christian Communities have towards those most in need and suffering persecution. This has been met with the support from many people who are appalled and shamed by the High Court decision.

It is sad, though, that since the announcement by the Anglican Dean of Brisbane the Reverend Dr Peter Catt, attention has drastically shifted to focus on the offer of sanctuary rather than the situation of asylum seekers or refugee claimants themselves. Continue reading

New members of Youth Council commissioned

Bishop Edwards commissions Cassandra Bull

Bishop Edwards commissions Cassandra Bull

On Friday 5 February 2016, six new members of the Australian Catholic Youth Council were commissioned during a Mass at Mary MacKillop Place, North Sydney.

Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne, Mark Edwards OMI, commissioned the new members: Patrick Langrell, Mitch Firth, Cassandra Bull, Alex Pace, Shawn Torbay and David Cloran. Each one will serve a three year term on the Youth Council.

During the commissioning service, Bishop Edwards explained that ‘as a member of the Australian Catholic Youth Council, the goals of the Australian Vision for Catholic Youth Ministry lie at the heart of all your work’.  Continue reading

Consider purchasing Easter chocolate slavery free

slavery free chocolate ‘Every person ought to have the awareness that purchasing is always a moral, and not simply an economic, act’, Pope Francis said last year. This ‘awareness’ is never more relevant than when buying chocolate writes Rosie Hoban from Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH).

As consumers we have lots of chocolate choices, but the most compelling choice is whether we buy chocolate that is slavery-free or not. The flavours and brands are less important.

This Easter Australians will spend almost $2 billion on chocolate. That’s a staggering amount. Much of the chocolate is produced using cocoa beans picked by children in West Africa. The International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) estimates that there are about 1.5 million children working in the cocoa sector in West Africa, many of whom have been enslaved, or forced to work in exploitative conditions. Continue reading

“Am I a Spiritual Person?”

Bishop Ingham delivering his Easter message - video still

Bishop Ingham delivering his Easter message (video still)

Bishop Peter Ingham’s Lenten Message for 2016 encourages us to embrace the spiritual life this Lent, which is not for the faint-hearted!

Bishop Ingham’s message begins:

“When we hear stories of the Prophet Isaiah, we don’t often realise he was a well-bred young man, with every advantage in life, destined to serve in the Royal Court and aiming for a life of culture, luxury and power – that was until he had a religious experience of God calling him to something deeper and he knew his life could never be the same again! He became a changed person, giving up his privileged life to become a fiery prophet for God.” Continue reading

Media Statement from Bishop Vincent Long ofm conv, Australian Catholic Bishops Delegate for Refugees regarding the High Court’s decision on offshore processing

Detention Centre

Detention Centre

“Following the High Court decision, the Australian Government’s response to people seeking asylum, including babies born in Australia and their parents, should focus on protecting them from harm and respecting their human dignity.”

“I urge the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton to show compassion and mercy towards these families and not act in a way that will cause even more harm than has been done already.”

“The Catholic Church is prepared to collaborate with other community organisations to provide support for asylum seekers.”

“I urge the Australian Government to ensure that no child is subject to an unsafe and harmful environment and that no-one is returned to where they may face physical, psychological and sexual violence and harm.”

“The Catholic Church opposes mandatory detention and offshore detention because these policy responses do not respect the dignity of people seeking our help. Continue reading

International Eucharistic Congress, Cebu – From Eucharist to Mission

Bishop Kennedy with Chris Smyth & Alan Bowyer, Directors of Education in the Dioceses of Armidale and Wagga Wagga.

Bishop Kennedy with Chris Smyth & Alan Bowyer, Directors of Education in the Dioceses of Armidale and Wagga Wagga.

It would be easy to reduce the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC2016), held in Cebu Philippines from 24 – 31 January, to a series of statistics.

Attendance figures such as 350,000 at the opening Mass at Plaza Independencia, 1.5 million people participating in the Eucharistic Procession, 5,000 First Communicants including over 400 street kids, 1000 additional police, 3 platoons of the Regional Public Safety Battalion, 12,000 registered delegates plus volunteers, exhibitors, food providers, ushers, transport and so on.

For the 50 plus delegates from Australia privileged to attend this Congress, the impact on our lives has been immediate and we hope long lasting too. As we have immersed ourselves in the various talks, Eucharistic and cultural celebrations, we have been awestruck at the public expressions of the Catholic faith.

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Integrity demands doing right, Nuncio tells legal profession

Apostolic Nuncio celebrates Red Mass

Apostolic Nuncio celebrates Red Mass

Homily by Archbishop Yllana, Apostolic Nuncio to Australia, during the Red Mass in St Mary’s Cathedral on 1st February 2016.

Brothers and Sisters all in Christ Jesus,

The words of Scripture we have just heard from Luke’s gospel describe the mission of Jesus. This is the mission of the Church and the vocation of every Christian – to bring liberty to captives, to set the downtrodden free, and proclaim the good news that God is love.

In the time we have this morning I can only offer a few brief thoughts on how these texts can guide you in your important task in the coming year.

You are called, the prophet Isaiah says, to act with wisdom and insight, to judge the wretched with integrity, with equity to give a verdict for the poor. Continue reading

Archbishop Prowse speaks to parliamentarians about “the Golden Rule”

ACBC-09MAY14-182

Archbishop Prowse

The Catholic Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn, Christopher Prowse, delivered a Homily at Wesley Uniting Church, Forrest, on Tuesday 2 February 2016, marking the Opening of the Federal Parliamentary Year.

In attendance were the Prime Minister, Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP and the Opposition Leader, Hon Bill Shorten MP.

Archbishop Prowse spoke about “the Golden Rule” which states, “In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you”.

“In a world of galloping diversity, to find the gold nugget of a universal solidarity ethic, is indeed, a Eureka moment!” the Archbishop said. Continue reading

Celebrating 20 Years of the Pastoral Research Office

Dr Bob Dixon

Dr Bob Dixon

On 29 January 2016, the Pastoral Research Office (PRO) celebrates its 20th anniversary since the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference established it in 1996.

Initially called the Pastoral Projects Office, the focus was to carry out two major research projects: to acquire, analyse and distribute data on the Catholic population from the Australian Census to parishes, dioceses and Catholic agencies; and to coordinate the participation of the Catholic Church in the National Church Life Survey.

The first staff member of the office was Dr Robert (Bob) Dixon. Then General Secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Fr Michael McKenna, now the Bishop of Bathurst, appointed him as Project Officer to carry out research that was envisaged to take three years to complete. However, the remit of the Office increased and its role became an integral function of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. Dr Dixon, who later became the foundation Director of the Pastoral Research Office, completed a PhD while directing the Conference’s research activities.

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