Category Archives: Special interest

Aussie Bishop attends assembly of European Bishops Conferences

Bishop McGuckin addressing the European Bishops.

Bishop McGuckin addressing the European Bishops.

As Vice-President of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO), I represented FCBCO at the Plenary Assembly of Council of the Conferences of the European Bishops (CCEE) which was held in the Principality of Monaco, 6-9 October 2016.

Unlike our Plenary Assemblies, on the whole it was mainly the Presidents of European Bishops Conferences that are involved in the Plenaries. Even then the number at the Assembly was approximately 80.

Various reports were given and tabled at the meeting: Migrants and refugees; family and gender ideology; Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe.

Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomes gave a report on behalf of the Latin American Conferences. There were also reports from Africa and Asia. I gave a report for Oceania. Continue reading

Breathing with two lungs, the Ecumenical journey of the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches

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Prof Philipp Renczes

On 1 November 2016, the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches will host a special address by Professor Philipp Renczes, a Jesuit priest from Germany. Entitled, ‘Breathing with two lungs: The Ecumenical journey of the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches, in particular with the Antiochan Orthodox and the Oriental Churches’.

All are welcome to attend this special event hosted by the Australian Catholic Bishops Commission for Ecumenism and Inter-religious Relations (BCEIR) and the Conference of Bishops and Representatives of the Middle Eastern Apostolic Churches in Australia and New Zealand. It will take place at the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of St Thomas the Apostle, Bossley Park, NSW, commencing at 7.30pm.

Fr. Renczes was born on March 15, 1964 in Stuttgart. He is Professor of Dogmatic and Patristic Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University and Visiting Professor of Patristics at the “Augustinianum” and at the Pontifical Oriental Institute; Director of the Cardinal Bea Centre for Judaic Studies and Head of the Department of Patristic Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University. Continue reading

30th Anniversary of JPII’s Visit to Alice Springs

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JPII took a large gum branch, reached into a clay coolamon & blessed the crowd

November 2016 marks 30 years since (now Saint) Pope John Paul II issued his ground breaking address to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Blatherskite Park, Alice Springs.

On 29 November 1986, the Holy Father told the indigenous community, “Your culture, which shows the lasting genius and dignity of your race, must not be allowed to disappear. Do not think that your gifts are worth so little that you should no longer bother to maintain them. Share them with each other and teach them to your children. Your songs, your stories, your paintings, your dances, your languages, must never be lost”. Continue reading

Raiders make it all the way to the Vatican

James Parker, Archbisop V & Mons Woods.

James Parker, Cardinal Ravasi & Mons Woods with the Raiders jersey

Monsignor John Woods, Priest of St Christopher’s Cathedral, Canberra and Chaplain to the Canberra Raiders rugby team, attended the inaugural Sport at the Service of Humanity conference at the Vatican in October.

The conference was the first global conference on faith and sport, with the Vatican hosting representatives from across the world to affirm the power of sport for human good.

The purpose of the Conference was to unite people from every faith, nationality and culture through sport, in a common goal: To help the ones who need it most, especially the marginalised and the disadvantaged, and to encourage everyone to develop their life skills, character, values, and enjoyment of life itself, through sport.

Mons Woods’ experience will inform the Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life who are in the process of establishing a working group to articulate a framework for a future Advisory Group on Sport & Health within the Bishops Conference. Continue reading

Guidance on burials and conserving ashes in the case of cremation

Waverley Cemetery, Bronte, Sydney

Waverley Cemetery, Bronte, Sydney

The Australian Catholic Bishops welcome a new document from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published today, 25 October 2016, regarding burying the deceased and conserving ashes when cremation is chosen.

Titled, ‘Ad resurgendum cum Christo’ meaning ‘To rise with Christ’, the document provides details about the doctrinal and pastoral reasons for choosing a burial. It also explains what is appropriate when conserving ashes in the case of cremation.

The Congregation highlighted that the contents of the document, ‘To rise with Christ’, are intended as a point of reference for the Church.

Archbishop Denis Hart, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said, “The new instruction, ‘To rise with Christ’, affirms what the Church has always held with regard to cremation, reverence for the human remains in the body or in the ashes and the following burial”. Continue reading

Fr Bedi Asmon SVD using music for mission in Brazil

Fr Bedi Asmon SVD using music for mission at Brazil's Evangeliza Feira.

Fr Bedi Asmon SVD using music for mission at Brazil’s Evangeliza Feira.

Fr Bernadinus (Bedi) Asmon SVD, a young missionary from Indonesia, who undertook his formation in Australia, is now living and ministering in Brazil where he has discovered that music is the common language with the people he serves.

Fr Bedi, who spent five years studying in Australia, before his final vows and ordination in 2014, has been in Brazil since March 2015.

In that time, he has lived in a few different communities, including some very poor regions, and he is now busy learning Portuguese and working in a parish in the city of Feira de Santana, the second biggest city in the state of Bahia.

“The death rate here due to violence is very high, around 5-8 people per week, and many of the victims are young people,” he says. Continue reading

Diocesan Youth Ministry Coordinators gather as a community

youth-ministers_200The Australian Network of Diocesan Youth Ministry Coordinators (ANDYMC) was established in 1998 to support and advocate for the specific needs of Diocesan Youth Ministry and those ministering within it. Close to 20 years later the network works throughout the year to share ideas, resources and formation opportunities with its members.

Once a year ANDYMC gathers as a community specifically to share our joys and challenges of youth ministry, to collaborate on fresh initiatives and participate in professional development. Continue reading

Anglican and Roman Catholic Dialogue flourishes during Canterbury-Rome Pilgrimage

Bishop delegates for Australia, Catholic Archbishop Christopher Prowse, with Anglican Bishop of Wangaratta, John Parkes. Joint letter by Archbishop Christopher Prowse, Catholic Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn and Bishop John Parkes, Anglican Bishop of Wangaratta (pictured on the left).

Representing the Anglican and Roman Catholic communities of Australia, we have returned recently from our anniversary pilgrimage in Canterbury (England) and Rome (Italy). It has been 50 years now since Archbishop Michael Ramsay and Pope Paul VI met to begin formally, the worldwide Anglican/Roman Catholic ecumenical dialogue.

Together with 38 Anglican and Catholic Bishops from 19 countries, we reviewed the progress on the pilgrimage to unity so far. The mood has changed from optimism that organic unity was imminent, to a more realistic assessment. Serious obstacles have arisen on matters pertaining to the ordination of women, and human sexuality. Friendships between our communities have continued to mature in the midst of these complex issues. Continue reading

23rd Annual International Law & Religion Symposium discussing Religious Rights in a Pluralistic World

religious-freedom-imageAddress delivered on 4th October 2016 at the Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA on the conference theme: Religious Rights in a Pluralistic World

Firstly, thanks very much to Brigham Young University for organising this wonderful conference and for bringing us all together.

Australia is a pluralist society. We are blessed with freedom, a stable system of government and a rich mix of ethnic, racial and religious groups. But inherent in a pluralist society are different views and beliefs and the challenge of how to accommodate those different perspectives.

The Catholic Church in Australia is an established part of the community, with a quarter of Australians identifying as Catholic, with one in five Australian students attending Catholic schools and Catholic hospitals providing about ten percent of healthcare services across the nation. Continue reading

Finding compassion through the lens of Mercy

screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-9-04-35-am_200Archbishop Mark Coleridge, speaking at Australia’s largest Catholic eConference this week, said the time of Christendom is over, and the Catholic Church must recognise its real credential is in Mercy.

Calling for Pope Francis’ Jubilee Year of Mercy to be enacted as a verb, Archbishop Coleridge said the Pope’s vision gives birth to action within the Church and across the global community.

“When I speak about the covenant of God, it is a community of Mercy in a merciless world. Find the hungry one, the thirsty one, the naked one, the sick one, the one who is infinitely strange and the one who is seemingly imprisoned by the power of death. Look at the Crucified and understand what you see,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

Captivating the eConference audience for over 4 hours, Archbishop Coleridge, along with renowned Catholic scholar, Sr Veronica Lawson and, President of the Refugee Council of Australia, Mr Phil Glendenning spoke compellingly about the plight of the 65 million people displaced around the world. Continue reading

Ms Michele Castagna OAM, Rest in Peace

Michele Castagna

Michele Castagna

Ms Michele Castagna OAM died peacefully on Saturday morning, 17 September 2016, in the presence of her family at home in Alice Springs. 

Michele was appointed Chairperson of the Australian Catholic Disability Council in 2006 and worked tirelessly in the role promoting the full participation of people with disability and their families. Michele guided the Council with wisdom and tenacity until she stepped down in 2015.

Serving on the Council for 14 years, Michele had over twenty years practical experience and knowledge in community work, community development and service delivery, including fifteen years working in the area of multiculturalism.

Always an active member of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart parish in Alice Springs. Michele was a member of the choir and other ministries within the parish. Due to Michele’s advocacy within the parish, it became an accessible place of worship.

We pray for the repose of her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God. May she rest in peace. Amen. Continue reading

Finding the Silver Bullet for Evangelisation

Bishop Nicholas Hudson

Bishop Nicholas Hudson

Interview with Bishop Nicholas Hudson, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, on Friday 2 September during the Proclaim 2016, national conference on evangelisation.

‘Are you going to give us a silver bullet for evangelisation?’ Bishop Nicholas Hudson, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, was asked on the journey from Sydney airport to the Diocese of Broken Bay for the Proclaim 2016, national conference on evangelisation.

He quickly responded, ‘there is no silver bullet, it’s going to be different in every parish and every local community’. Interestingly, the question stayed with him and ‘I’ve found myself thinking, there is one silver bullet and that is to just start doing it’.

‘Sometimes there is scope for reflection and being strategic that’s the reason why we are all gathered here for Proclaim 2016. We know that Pope Francis has a vision and there is a phrase, “Vision without strategy is hallucination”. That is how Pope Francis sees it and when he says that he dreams of a missionary option for the Church, what he means is that we need to do a lot of rethinking.

Bishop Comensoli leading morning prayer during Proclaim 2016

Bishop Comensoli leads morning prayer during Proclaim 2016

‘We need to rethink our strategies, our methods and our structures in order to be more evangelising but the way we become more evangelising is just by getting on with it.

The Proclaim conference was hosted by the Diocese of Broken Bay in partnership with the Australian Catholic Bishops Commission for Evangelisation.

Bishop Hudson’s address at the Proclaim conference focused on parishes becoming oases of mercy. ‘I learnt from my Dad when I was six years old, he used to take me out to visit the neighbours who were elderly or alone. He wasn’t self-consciously teaching me to make our family or our parish an oasis of mercy, but I realised that he was for those vulnerable people around us, an oasis of mercy.

‘He would say to me, Nick, let’s go and see Bob, next door, or we would drop off a shepherd’s pie to Mr Flood every Saturday. It was a way of showing mercy. So I believe that parishes need believe in being oasis of mercy, by simply showing mercy to their neighbours. The clue is to simply ask, who is my neighbour? And if you ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in the response, you can’t but become more evangelising.’ Continue reading