How should we care for migrants and refugees?

Cardinal Peter Turkson

Cardinal Peter Turkson

The care of migrants and refugees coming to Australia is one of the most divisive issues in Australian public debate.

Pastoral care of migrants and refugees will be top of the agenda for the Church in Australia later this year as Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana and Cardinal Orlando Quevedo from the Philippines arrive in Melbourne to give keynote speeches at a national conference on the issue.

The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office, an agency of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, will host this timely conference at the Australian Catholic University, Melbourne Campus, on July 19 and 20.

Cardinal Turkson will deliver a keynote address focusing on his role as Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development within the Roman Curia. The Dicastery is in effect a department to promote the care of vulnerable and marginalised people. The Ghanaian Cardinal will also reflect on his work with Pope Francis. Continue reading

Group of palliative care practitioners speak out against euthanasia & assisted suicide

More than 30 of Australia and New Zealand’s top palliative care practitioners have joined forces to oppose the introduction of euthanasia and physician assisted suicide, describing the practice as “unnecessary and unsafe”.

A letter, authored by Professor Douglas Bridge and co-signed by 32 other palliative care specialists and medical professionals was published in this week’s edition of the Medical Journal of Australia’s MJA InSight.

It was a response to an opinion piece recently published in the MJA by Palliative Care Specialist, Professor Emeritus Ian Maddocks, who asked whether it was time to consider an integration of palliative care, euthanasia, and physician assisted suicide (EPAS).

“As palliative care practitioners, we know this supposed common ground is both a contradiction in terms and contrary to sound medical practice,” the letter from the 33 practitioners says.

“Supporting people when they are dying is utterly different to intentionally causing them to die. What Professor Maddocks calls ‘a single effective intervention’ is in fact an act of killing.” Continue reading

Youth leaders fly to Rome to plan Synod 2018 and World Youth Day 2019

Ashleigh Green

Ashleigh Green

Australian Catholic youth leaders will fly to Rome next month to help plan two major events for young people.

Ashleigh Green, a young woman from the Broken Bay Diocese and Malcolm Hart, Director of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Office for Youth, will head to Rome in the first week of April, to participate at an international meeting about World Youth Day (WYD) and the upcoming Synod on young people.

The five-day gathering will focus on the theme, From Krakow to Panama – The Synod Journeying with Young People. It will include an evaluation of WYD in Krakow during 2016 and will look ahead to WYD in Panama during 2019. Time will be spent on the pastoral and logistical preparations required. Members of both the Polish and Panamanian organising committees will be present.

Ashleigh Green was part of the Diocese of Broken Bay’s WYD pilgrimage to Krakow. Continue reading

Statement from Archbishop Denis Hart, President, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference at the conclusion of case study 50 of the Royal Commission

Archbishop Denis Hart

Archbishop Denis Hart

As the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse concludes its final hearing into the Catholic Church, I acknowledge the cooperation of witnesses, agencies, religious institutes and dioceses across the Church in Australia.

I particularly want to acknowledge the bravery of the survivors of child sexual abuse who have given evidence, not just in case studies involving the Catholic Church, but across the more than 50 case studies so far that have examined the many different institutions throughout Australia.

Over the past three weeks, more than 70 Church leaders and professionals have appeared before the Commissioners sharing expertise, identifying failings and describing best practice for the future of our Church structure, culture and governance.

The final hearing discussed many aspects and characteristics of Church and clergy life including: Canon Law, the confessional, celibacy, clericalism, formation, professional support and supervision.

What we have learnt from our involvement in the Royal Commission case studies and our own work in coming to a better understanding of the many different issues that have contributed to child sexual abuse in the Church will inform our future policies and practices.

The work of the Commission staff and the Commissioners themselves has no doubt been gruelling and challenging and, along with the rest of the Australian community, we owe them a debt of gratitude for their years of service.

I also acknowledge the work of Truth, Justice and Healing Council in responding to the Royal Commission on behalf of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia. Looking ahead, we turn our focus to the newly established Catholic Professional Standards Ltd to ensure child protection standards are set and audited at the highest level.

As the President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference I make this commitment to the survivors of child sexual abuse, the Catholic and broader community: I will do all within my power to ensure the abuse of the past never happens again, that the reforms my fellow bishops and religious leaders have endorsed over the past years will be implemented. I reiterate that the Catholic Church in Australia will continue to support the survivors of child sexual abuse.

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference looks forward to responding to the final report and recommendations to Government from the Hon Justice Peter McClellan AM, Chair of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, due to be presented at the end of this year.

 

Pope Francis appoints Fr Timothy Harris, Sixth Bishop of Townsville

Bishop-Elect Timothy Harris

Bishop-Elect Timothy Harris

The Holy Father has today appointed Fr Timothy Harris, a priest of the Archdiocese of Brisbane, as the sixth Bishop of Townsville.

Bishop-Elect Harris is currently the Parish Priest of Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast.

Speaking about his new appointment, Bishop-Elect Harris said, ‘I’m very conscious that the Diocese of Townsville has been without a bishop for three years. It has been on all of our minds. If the bishop is a sign of unity, which he is, I hope that I can strengthen the unity of the vast Diocese of Townsville and build on the work of Bishop Michael Putney and, since his death, on the efforts of Diocesan Administrator, Fr Mick Lowcock, the Parish Priest of Mount Isa. Continue reading

Human Trafficking – Be Informed about its reality and consequences

St Bakita

St Bakita

On the Feast of St Josephine Bakhita today, 8 February, bishops and religious leaders across Australia support the call from Pope Francis to end the injustice of human trafficking against all people, in particular children.

‘They are children! Not slaves!’ is the theme for Bakhita Day this year. Pope Francis has designated today a world day of prayer, reflection and action against human trafficking.

St Bakhita is the Patron Saint for victims of slavery. The United Nations estimates that one in every three victims of human trafficking is a child. It is estimated that 30 million children have lost their childhood through sexual exploitation over the past 30 years. Annually, millions of children are trafficked into domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, pornography production, forced marriage, illegal adoption, forced labour, and to become child soldiers. Continue reading

Statement from the Truth Justice and Healing Council to the Royal Commission as part of Case Study 50: Catholic Church authorities in Australia

logo-TJHC_200Statement read by Francis Sullivan, CEO, Truth Justice and Healing Council on 6 February 2017

Introduction

Commissioners I make this statement on behalf of the Truth Justice and Healing Council.

When the Truth Justice and Healing Council made its first major submission to this Royal Commission in 2013 it included a nine-point Commitment Statement by the Catholic Church leadership.

This in part said the leaders of the Church in Australia committed themselves to repairing the wrongs of the past, to listening to and hearing survivors, to putting their needs first and to doing everything the Church can to ensure a safer future for children.

Over the past four years, as the Church has been through what many would say has been the most intense and unforgiving examination of almost all aspects of its operations in Australia, the Council has worked hard to hold the Church leadership accountable to these words.

But more than that – to put these words into action.

And having been involved with this Commission from the word go I have seen the Church leadership rise to this challenge. Continue reading

Politicians should respect the right of people of faith to hold a different view on marriage

Parliament House, Canberra

Parliament House, Canberra

All members of religious groups deserve the right to not participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies if they hold a traditional view of marriage, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) said in a submission released this week.

The Australian Senate has established a select committee to examine draft exemptions for ministers of religion, marriage celebrants and religious groups so they do not have to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies, should the law be changed. The Select Committee on Same-Sex Marriage is expected to report on 13 February 2017.

“Changing the definition of marriage would have an impact on all the members of the Catholic Church, but perhaps the most significant impact would be on ordinary parishioners trying to live their Catholic faith in their daily lives,” said Archbishop Anthony Fisher, chair of the ACBC’s Commission for Family, Youth and Life. Continue reading

A Month of Sundays named Australian Film of the Year

Anthony LaPaglia

Anthony LaPaglia (Image Credit, Brisbane Times)

The jury of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting has awarded its annual prize to Matthew Saville’s A MONTH OF SUNDAYS, released April 28, 2016.

This beautiful, gentle Australian film is about a lonely man, Frank, trying to find a fresh purpose in life. One day, he receives a phone call from an elderly widow, Sarah, who carries on a conversation with him as if she is his mother. Sarah’s wrong number leads to a friendship that gives meaning and purpose to Frank’s life in unexpected ways.

The film is a tender, dramatic character study of a man who reaches out to form an attachment to a woman, who becomes the means for his discovering the humanity he thought he had lost. Continue reading

Building for the Liturgy

Fr Stephen Hackett MSC and Mr Harry Stephens

Fr Stephen Hackett MSC and Mr Harry Stephens

A seminar on the relationship between architecture and liturgy in Catholic church design took place at the Secretariat of the Bishops Conference on January 11 and 12.

The two day seminar, ‘Building for the Liturgy’, surveyed the history of church architecture, with particular emphasis on architectural principles and the evolution of the liturgical setting. The Seminar also addressed the challenge of reordering older churches for the celebration of the liturgy today.

The seminar focused on the foundations of Christian architecture, liturgical architecture from the New Testament to the 20th century liturgical movement, the challenge of contemporary architecture for designing churches and liturgical architecture after Vatican II.

IMG_2489

Seminar participants gathered at McGilvray House, ACBC Secretariat, Canberra on January 11

The seminar is an initiative of the National Liturgical Architecture and Art Board, an advisory body to the Bishops Commission for Liturgy. The seminar was led by Fr Stephen Hackett MSC, General Secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, and Mr Harry Stephens, a partner of Sacred Space Architects, designing and consulting on liturgical architecture. 

Bishop of Rockhampton, Most Rev Michael McCarthy joined ten clergy participants for the small group seminar. A number of case studies with particular architectural designs were reviewed during the seminar including, the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres, Chartes, France, St Benedictusberg Abbey, Vaals, Netherlands, St Joseph’s Church, Malvern, Victoria and St John the Baptist Church, Woy Woy, NSW.  Continue reading

Pope Francis appoints Fr Gregory Homeming O.C.D. as sixth Bishop of Lismore

Bishop elect Homeming

Bishop elect Gregory Homeming O.C.D.

Pope Francis has appointed Fr Gregory Homeming O.C.D as the sixth Bishop of Lismore and accepted the resignation of Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett today, 20 December.

Bishop Jarrett has served the Diocese of Lismore for the past 15 years.

Fr Homeming is currently the Regional Vicar of the Discalced Carmelite Friars in Sydney, Australia. Speaking about his appointment today, he said, ‘I am humbled by the news. I knew that I had to say yes after the past 31 years as a Friar. There is a lot that I have to learn. I hope that the people and the priests of the Diocese of Lismore will teach me how to be their bishop.

I have travelled to the Diocese of Lismore many times as Superior of the Discalced Carmelites visiting the Carmelite nuns at Goonellabah, New South Wales’.

Archbishop Denis Hart, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, congratulated Fr Homeming following the announcement. ‘I join the bishops of Australia in rejoicing at the appointment of Fr Homeming as Bishop of Lismore. He brings wide experience as a retreat-giver, spiritual director and leader. His gifts will be a great enrichment to the Church in Australia.’ Continue reading

Archbishop Hart delivers a message for Christmas

Archbishop Denis Hart

Archbishop Denis Hart

Dear Friends,

Christmas is a special time when we remember God’s closeness to us and our responsibility to become peacemakers. In this season of peace and goodwill we see our God, the maker of all things visible and invisible, reduced to the most vulnerable of creatures; another little Middle Eastern boy caught up in homelessness, poverty and a cruel cycle of violence. Yes, our God gave up everything in order to become one with us. You cannot get closer than that! He comes to us, and stays with us, especially in times of difficulty and loneliness. Continue reading