Support for increasing global access to vaccines welcomed

The Catholic Church has welcomed Australian Government support for international efforts to amend intellectual property rights to ensure more people can access life-saving COVID-19 vaccines.

Representatives of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and other members of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET) met with Trade Minister Dan Tehan this week. They urged Minister Tehan to build support for those efforts at upcoming international meetings.

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Youngest member prepares for historic Plenary Council

by Michael Kenny, Archdiocese of Sydney

A quietly-spoken 20-year-old university student and youth minister from the regional New South Wales city of Orange is set to make history in October as the youngest member of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia.

Matthew Brown is currently in the first year of a double law and international studies degree at the University of Wollongong, but has returned to his home town to prepare for what he believes will be perhaps the greatest challenge he has faced so far in his young life.

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Priest hopes Council will reawaken the baptised

Fr Frank Gordon will serve as a member of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia (photo supplied)

by Neil Helmore and Anne Chellingworth

As the Church in Australia journeys towards the first assembly of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia, the first since 1937, the question asked by many is how the Church has changed since that last gathering.

While he doesn’t remember any specifics about that event 84 years ago, Fr Frank Gordon – one of the oldest members of the upcoming Council – is testament to the changes that have taken place.

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Pope accepts Bishop Saunders’ resignation

On August 28, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop Christopher Saunders as the Bishop of Broome. Bishop Saunders was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Broome in 1976 and was appointed bishop of the diocese in 1995, and ordained Bishop of Broome early the next year.

When announcing the resignation, Pope Francis also appointed Geraldton Bishop Michael Morrissey apostolic administrator of the diocese.

The Diocese of Broome issued a statement to coincide with the resignation, which can be read here.

How Australia made the journey to a plenary council

Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge signs the decree of convocation (Archdiocese of Brisbane photo)

by Archbishop Mark Coleridge

There have been times when I wondered if we would ever make it. But after all the delays and changes of plan, we have come at last to the first assembly of the Plenary Council, which has quite a pre-history.

The bishops took the decision to move to a Plenary Council in 2016, but the roots of that decision reach way back to the early 2000s. It was then that the late Archbishop Philip Wilson proposed that the time was right for the Church in Australia to prepare for some kind of national ecclesial event.

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Statement from the Heart key to Indigenous progress

The core recommendations of the Uluru Statement from the Heart must be implemented if Closing the Gap targets are to be met, according to a key group representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholics.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC) last week published its response to the 2021 Closing the Gap statement and new national agreement. The Council welcomes many of the commitments made in the statement and agreement, but calls for greater action in some areas.

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Increase Afghan intake, Archbishop Coleridge urges PM

The Australian Government should provide at least 20,000 humanitarian places for Afghans in the wake of the Taliban takeover, Australian Catholic Bishop Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge has said.

In a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison last night, Archbishop Coleridge noted there has been “an outpouring of concern for the people of Afghanistan” as that country’s government has collapsed and the Taliban seized control.

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Church joins call for Australian support for Afghans

Taliban fighters stand outside the Interior Ministry in Kabul (Photo: CNS-Reuters)

Catholic and other faith-based groups are joining with refugee advocates in calling on the Australian Government to respond humanely to the crisis unfolding in Afghanistan as the Taliban seizes power.

Several Catholic organisations have signed a Refugee Council of Australia petition that calls for the Australian Government to take seven steps to support people in Afghanistan and Afghan nationals currently in Australia.

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Technology in place for first Plenary Council assembly

Despite large parts of the country being in lockdown, those planning the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia say all is in readiness to deliver the first assembly in October wholly online.

Bishop Shane Mackinlay, the Plenary Council’s vice-president, said the Council journey has adapted to changing circumstances because of COVID-19 – and it is adapting again.

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Census 2021: Why Catholic identity matters

On August 10, Australia will hold its five‐yearly national Census. The Census of Population and Housing, conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), is a “comprehensive snapshot” that reveals the changing economic, social and cultural demographics of the nation.

Religion is a basic variable used in socio-demographic research. A question on a person’s religion has been included in all Australian Censuses, along with questions of country of birth and language spoken at home, because it is an important part of a person’s identity and an indicator of Australia’s cultural diversity.

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Deputy general secretary appointed for Bishops Conference

Jeremy Stuparich, who for 10 years has been the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s public policy director, has been appointed to a new role as the Conference’s deputy general secretary.

Mr Stuparich will retain his public policy responsibilities while working closely with the general secretary, Fr Stephen Hackett MSC, in the new role.

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