Looking into the Face of Homelessness Catholic Social Justice Series Paper #80


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The 2011 Census showed there were more than 105,000 people living in Australia who were homeless. Anecdotal evidence suggests that number is growing rapidly. Thankfully, many agencies of the Catholic Church are working to assist people who are homeless, but a lot more needs to be done.

Homelessness, and the people affected by it, are the subject of the latest publication from the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council in collaboration with Catholic Social Services Australia.

The paper, The Human Face of Homelessness, is by Liz de Chastel and Frank Brennan SJ AO, respectively the Director of Social Policy and the CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia. It is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the issue and to bring about change.

People become homeless for a variety of reasons, including insecure and low-paid employment, the high cost of housing and general living expenses, poor mental health and domestic violence. Without a place to call home, people will struggle to work, support their families and contribute to society.

The authors look at people who experience homelessness, at its causes, and at what the Catholic Church is doing to alleviate it. The paper also examines the Church’s social teaching as it relates to homelessness. It suggests more ways in which governments and the Church can help people who are homeless.

The Chairman of the ACSJC, Bishop Vincent Long, says in the foreword:

‘The figure on a street corner huddled on a bench or in a doorway – even in the doorway of a church – is a daily rebuke to us as followers of Christ in a rich society. Yet, as this paper reminds us, the face of homelessness is not just that of the woman or man sleeping rough. Homeless people find themselves in run-down, exploitative boarding houses, or sleeping in cars, or trekking from house to house of friends or family in the hope that there will be a spare bed, a couch or a bit of floor to sleep on for a week or a night.’

Bishop Long says Jesus ‘spent his life seeking out and ministering to the excluded and rootless, and reminded us constantly that our obligation is first of all to them’.

The paper is available for $7.50 from the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council: www.socialjustice.catholic.org.au/publications/series-papers.


High Accolades for Catholic Press and Media Australasian Catholic Press Awards for Excellence 2017


Melbourne Catholic, published by the Archdiocese of Melbourne, was announced winner of the 2017 Bishop Philip Kennedy Memorial Award for Overall Excellence presented at the recent Australasian Catholic Press Association (ACPA) Awards held in Auckland. Best newspaper was won by The Catholic Leader (Archdiocese of Brisbane), and best online publication was About Catholic Schools, published by Sydney Catholic Schools. The aim of the ACPA Awards is to encourage and reward excellence in the field of Catholic publishing and media.
For winning citations Read more >

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In a wonderful acknowledgement of excellence, the Archdiocese of Perth publications The eRecord and The Record Magazine were honoured with the prestigious 2017 Gutenberg Award at the recent Australasian Religious Press Association (ARPA) Annual Conference

Read more here

Statement from Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB Chair, Bishops Commission for Catholic Education

Untitled design (7)As Chair of the Australian Catholic Bishops Commission for Education, I made the following statement on Friday in response to a request from Fairfax Media for comment on issues in relation to the same-sex marriage debate as it may impact on Catholic schools.

The full text of the statement is reproduced here.

      Catholic schools are committed to being welcoming and inclusive communities for students, families and staff. They are          operated under the auspices of the Catholic Church in Australia and seek to provide a quality              education within the context of the Catholic faith. An essential element of that faith is the Church’s      teachings about marriage.

     Families who choose a Catholic education for their children understand that Catholic schools              always seek to be expressions of this Catholic world view and that their children will be educated        within a Catholic framework.

     Those who seek employment in Catholic schools also understand the nature of Catholic schools as       faith-based schools. In accepting a role in a Catholic school staff will recognise their responsibility      to conduct themselves in such a way as not to undermine the fundamental ethos of the school.            Like all other employers, the Catholic Church should be able to ensure its values are upheld by            those who choose to work for the organisation.

The statement does not, either explicitly or implicitly, propose or suggest that, to quote one of the headlines on this matter, someone who enters into a same-sex marriage will be “married Sunday, fired Monday”.

Individual Catholic Bishops will, in consultation with their Directors of Catholic Education and other advisers in their own jurisdictions, make decisions about how to manage any issues which may arise, should the legal definition of marriage be changed to include same-sex couples.

Normally such issues would be addressed, in the first instance, in discussions between the staff member concerned and the local leadership of the school. The aim would be to discover a way forward for the school and the staff member that preserves the Catholic ethos of the school. And always, of course, the well-being of the students who attend the school, and the families who choose a Catholic Education for their children, will be paramount. Young people and their families are, after all, the reason for the school’s existence in the first place.

I join all those people who are pleading for a measured, mature and sensitive community debate as the nation prepares for the postal vote on proposed changes to the legal definition of marriage.

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB
Catholic Archbishop of Perth

Migrant and Refugee Sunday 27 August 2017


FacebookBy Fr Maurizio Pettenà
National Director, Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office

Next week the Catholic Church in Australia will be celebrating the contribution Migrants have made in our communities. This week-long celebration culminates with Migrant and Refugee Sunday, on 27 August 2017.

Each year the Universal Church commemorates the contribution migrants have made to our communities. The Catholic Bishops of Australia have selected the last Sunday in August each year to be the date where Masses are celebrated for the enrichment these communities have provided in the Church.

Every year, for over 100 years, the Holy Father has chosen a theme to be the focal point during these celebrations. For 2017, the message for the 103rd World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis chose the theme, “Child Migrants, the Vulnerable and the Voiceless”.

Pope Francis draws our attention to the needs of child migrants globally. He encourages by pointing out that, “Each person is precious; persons are more important than things, and the worth of an institution is measured by the way it treats the life and dignity of human beings, particularly when they are vulnerable, as in the case of child migrants.”

In Australia, schools and parishes have many successful programs that have assisted in the integration of migrants. The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (ACMRO) has produced a Migrant Kit, a parish and school resource to assist in the celebrations. Contained are stories of resilience and success in the integration of migrant communities in Australia. Copies of the kit have been sent to schools and dioceses, and electronic copies are available for download on the ACMRO website, www.acmro.catholic.org.au.

As part of the week-long celebrations, the ACMRO and Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, have organised a free public lecture on “Freedom of Religion in a Multi-religious Society: the Contribution of Migration”, at the Philippa Brazill Lecture Theatre, ground floor, Daniel Mannix Building, 8-18 Brunswick St, Fitzroy Vic. at 7:00pm.

Statement from the President of the Conference

“Confession in the Catholic Church is a spiritual encounter with God through the priest.  It is a fundamental part of the freedom of religion, and it is recognised in the Law of Australia and many other countries.  It must remain so here in Australia.  Outside of this all offences against children must be reported to the authorities, and we are absolutely committed to doing so.”

Archbishop Denis J Hart
Archbishop of Melbourne – President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

Archbishop Denis Hart

Archbishop Denis Hart








Homelessness Week 7-13 August

Media Release from Most Rev Terence Brady
Chairman, Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life

On any given night in Australia 1 in 200 people are homeless.

While the media storm continue Untitled design (6)around the tent city in Martin Place in Sydney, Homelessness Australia has revealed startling statistics around the rise in the hidden forms of homelessness, such as sleeping in cars and couch surfing.

The rate of homelessness in Australia has been increasing and extends beyond our major cities to rural and regional Australia.  Day-to-day stresses on families and individuals such as insecure and low-paid employment, high costs of housing and general living costs, mental health and domestic violence contribute to homelessness.

Many individuals and families, for a variety of reasons, find themselves homeless and rely on increasingly stretched support services to assist them find a secure place to call home.  However, without a secure and affordable place to call home, other stresses in the lives of individuals and families cannot be addressed.

Catholic Social Teaching, based on the dignity of the human being, asserts that everyone deserves respect and protection – everyone has the right to food and shelter.

Homelessness is not just a housing problem, it has many drivers and causes including the shortage of affordable housing, long-term unemployment, mental health issues, substance abuse, and family and relationship breakdown.  Among women, domestic and family violence is the main reason.

The Catholic Church in Australia has been involved in helping people who are homeless for many years and will continue to support people to overcome terrible disadvantage.

Manus Island Refugee Death

Media Release from Most Rev Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv
Bishop Delegate for Migrants and Refugees

bishop-Long“It is with sadness that we have heard of yet another death of a refugee on Manus Island. This death could have been prevented. The Australian Government has been removing support services on Manus Island since the announcement of the closure of the detention centre.”

“Those in the care of the Australian Government whilst in offshore processing, who have come to Australia for safety and a better life, deserve more.”

“I urge the Australian Government to provide support services for those who are on Manus Island, awaiting a resolution to their current situation. The Australian Government needs to listen to the concerns of these people and treat them with dignity.”

“People seeking asylum are currently some of the most vulnerable members of our global community. It is imperative that they are treated humanely and with dignity. These people must be provided with options for settlement in safe countries free from further persecution.”

“I urge the Australian Government, to be committed to its international obligations, and continue its work within the region and with non-government organisations to ensure the safety of those seeking asylum.”

“Whilst it is important to prevent the loss of life at sea, it is equally important to provide adequate care for those in offshore detention. The Australian Government needs to provide adequate amenities, and provide quick resettlement options.”

“I urge the Australian Government, to provide adequate amenities to those on Manus Island, and to endorse programs that both protect lives at sea and in its care.”

Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council Announces Appointment of Plenary Council Facilitator and Facilitation Team

LT 200x200The Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council today announced the appointment of Ms Lana Turvey-Collins as the Plenary Council Facilitator.  She will work in partnership with members of the Formation Team of Catholic Mission, forming a Plenary Council Facilitation Team which will comprise Fr Noel Connolly SSC and Mr Peter Gates, Deputy National Director of Catholic Mission.

Ms Turvey-Collins and the Facilitation Team are humbled by the opportunity.  “We look forward to collaborating with leaders and their teams across the diverse ministries and works of the Catholic Church and all people in Catholic communities across Australia.  Over the coming years, we hope to support local Churches to lead and facilitate authentic and open dialogue about how we are, and how we can be, a community of missionary disciples in Australia.  Pope Francis’ writings, teaching and witness are inspiration for us, as he reminds us what Jesus in today’s society looks like.”

Plenary Council 2020 and the process of consultation and dialogue is an unprecedented opportunity for the Church in Australia.  It’s an opportunity to engage with all Catholics in Australia – those who lead, those who work in Catholic organisations, those who may feel they don’t have a voice, those who feel they are outside the Church and those who show up every Sunday for Mass – a process inclusive of all.  It’s about becoming the kind of Australian Catholic community which Pope Francis is calling us to be: “a community of communities…” (EG§28).

After considerable deliberation, the Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council made the decision to move away from the more typical Executive Secretary position, which had been previously advertised, and have instead appointed a Facilitator and engaged a Facilitation Team which will be better equipped to respond to the realities of preparing for and celebrating the Plenary Council.

Ms Turvey-Collins has a wealth of experience in senior leadership, strategic planning, facilitation and stakeholder engagement. She has been seconded from Catholic Mission, where she has been leading the mission formation team and adult formation program.  She brings to this role a passion for God’s mission and believes there is great strength and wisdom in the diversity of the Australian Catholic community.

The Bishops Commission welcomes Lana Turvey-Collins to this new role and asks that you pray for her, the Facilitation Team and the Executive Committee as preparation for the Plenary Council 2020 gathers pace.

Call for Australia to ensure safety of those seeking asylum in our region Media Statement from Most Rev Terence Brady, Chairman, Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

Bishop Terence Brady“Mr Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, yesterday made the statement that, ‘Australia’s policy of offshore processing in Papua New Guinea and Nauru…has caused extensive, avoidable suffering for far too long.’”

“Those remaining in offshore processing in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, attempting to come to Australia for safety and a better life, deserve better.”

“People seeking asylum are often vulnerable members of our global community. It is imperative that they are treated humanely with options for settlement in safe countries and where no one is sent to a country or place where they may face further persecution.”

“Australia, if it is to be committed to its international obligations, must work with countries in the region and non-government organisations to ensure the safety of those seeking asylum in our region.”

“Whilst it is important to prevent the loss of life at sea, it is equally important to provide adequate care for those in offshore detention. Australia needs to take responsibility for those in offshore detention and provide them adequate amenities, and provide quick resettlement options.”

“I urge the Australian Government, to assist in the quick resettlement of those in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, provide options for families to reunite, and to endorse programs that both protect lives at sea and in its care.”

For media enquiries, please contact Fr Maurizio Pettenà, National Director ACMRO, on info@acmro.catholic.org.au

 For the UNHCR media release, http://www.unhcr.org/en-au/news/press/2017/7/597217484/unhcr-chief-filippo-grandi-calls-australia-end-harmful-practice-offshore.html


Catholic news looks to the future with new ideas, fresh faces, informed support

200_CNCathnews, Australia’s leading faith-based website, has a new home and a new independent editorial board to lead it into the future, following recent changes to its operations.

The changes at Church Resources in September 2016 included the withdrawal from management of CathNews, and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s subsequent divestment of the Church Resources operation, heralded the changes for CathNews.

During a thorough consultation process, three options were considered, including ceasing publication; outsourcing to an external contractor; and finally, transferring operations to the ACBC Communications Office, with the latter option being accepted by the Bishops across Australia.

CathNews will now be managed in collaboration with a new external advisory board that has been established to provide oversight of the publication, under the governance of the ACBC’s Bishops Commission for Administration and Information.

The board members who will serve a term of three years are : Australian Catholic University’s Research Ethics Manager, Susanna Gorman; Archdiocese of Perth Communications Manager, Jamie O’Brien; Australian Catholic Media Council Chair, Debra Vermeer; Good Samaritan Sister, Patty Fawkner; and Financial Administrator of the Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn, Helen Delahunty. Continue reading

Parishes encouraged to celebrate the Feast of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop

Mary_McKillop_Med_Res-298x300_200The Council for Australian Catholic Women urges parishes and groups to celebrate the feast of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop (1842–1909) on August 8 this year.

As a significant Australian woman, the Council would like to see the inspiration of Mary MacKillop alive.

The Chair of the Council for Australian Catholic Women, Mrs Lyn Horner said, “St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Australia’s first saint, lived her faith in very practical ways. She relied on God to provide what was needed while she reached out to neglected children, the elderly, the poor and women in need. She is remembered and loved for her contribution to Catholic education across Australia and New Zealand.

St Mary of the Cross MacKillop exhibited courage, trust, openness and deep faith through many trials. I hope that all Australian Catholics, especially women, will continue to be challenged and encouraged by Mary’s way of life.” Continue reading

Sourcing bread and wine for the Mass, bishops reminded of their duty

bigstock-Hands-Of-The-Pope-Celebrated-T-151787903_200The Bishops of Australia received a reminder this week, 8 July, from the Vatican about their responsibility to verify those who provide the bread and wine for the celebration of Mass.

The letter was issued to all bishops around the world from Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

Cardinal Sarah wrote that until recent times, many religious communities took responsibility for “baking the bread and making the wine for the celebration of the Eucharist. Today, however, these materials are also sold in supermarkets and other stores and even over the internet”.

Eucharistic bread and wine

Eucharistic bread and wine

In order to remove any doubt about the “validity of the matter for the Eucharist”, the Dicastery suggested that the bishop should designate “a competent authority in actually guaranteeing the genuineness of the Eucharistic matter by producers as well as those responsible for its distribution and sale”.

It suggested that the bishops conference could mandate one or more religious congregations or another body capable of carrying out “the necessary checks on production, conservation and sale of the Eucharistic bread and wine in a given country and other countries to which they are exported”. Continue reading