Plenary Wrap-Up, May meeting of ACBC, 2013

AUSTRALIAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS CONFERENCE
MEETING HELD AT MARY MACKILLOP PLACE, MOUNT STREET, NORTH SYDNEY, NSW 2 – 9 May 2013.

The Mass of the Holy Spirit was concelebrated on Friday 3 May in the chapel of Mary MacKillop Place, North Sydney at 7 am. The President of Conference, Archbishop Denis Hart, was the principal celebrant and preached the homily.
The President welcomed the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Paul Gallagher who was warmly greeted. He concelebrated the opening Mass, met Bishops informally, addressed the Plenary Meeting and participated in a general discussion.

The President welcomed the observers from the Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes (Catholic Religious Australia)

Br. Vince Duggan cfc
Sr. Marion Gambin rsj
Rev. Fr Anthony Banks osa

BISHOPS WHO HAVE DIED SINCE THE LAST PLENARY
Bishop Doug Warren, Emeritus Bishop of Wilcannia-Forbes, 6 February 2013
Bishop William Murray, Emeritus Bishop of Wollongong, 21 April 2013
Bishop Joe O’Connell, Former Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne, 27 April 2013

EPISCOPAL APPOINTMENTS SINCE THE LAST PLENARY
Bishop-elect Antoine Tarabay olm, Bishop of the Maronites, appointed 17 April 2013

ELECTIONS
Bishop Paul Bird CSsR and Monsignor Harry Entwistle were appointed to the Bishops Commission for Mission and Faith Formation (Now Evangelisation).

Election to the Permanent Committee
Archbishop Mark Coleridge
Bishop Peter Ingham
Bishop Eugene Hurley
Bishop Christopher Prowse

SPECIAL SESSIONS

MONSIGNOR JUAN USMA GOMEZ
Monsignor Gomez from the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity addressed the Conference on aspects of Evangelical and Pentecostal Churches and this was followed by questions and discussion.

PROFESSOR MAX BENNETT
Professor Max Bennet, Professor of Neuroscience, Scientific Director of the Brain and Mind Research Institute University of Sydney, presented a session on Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome and its scientific basis and relevance to social behaviour. The presentation was followed by questions and discussion.

SHERRY WEDDELL
Sherry Weddell from the Catherine of Siena Institute addressed the bishops on the theme of intentional discipleship.

DR BOB DIXON
Bob Dixon addressed the bishops on the research projects of the Pastoral Research Office and sought guidance on the publication of research material relating to the beliefs of Mass Attenders. He gave a brief demonstration of the capability of the national mapping project.

ROYAL COMMISSION INTO THE INSTITUTIONAL RESPONSES TO CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
Francis Sullivan, CEO of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council presented an update to the Conference on preparations for the Royal Commission

APOSTLESHIP OF THE SEA
Bishop Peter Stasiuk and Mr Peter Owens lead a discussion on the ministry of the Apostleship of the Sea. The outcome of the discussion is dealt with below as part of the report of the Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life.

WORLD YOUTH DAY
Bishop Fisher led a discussion on aspects of World Youth Day and the National WYD Project. He was accompanied by Philip Ryall from Harvest Pilgrimages and Malcolm Hart the Conference Youth Projects Director.

PASTORAL RESEARCH

Building Stronger Parishes Project
The Office has continued its work on this project, most recently in the parish of Miles (Diocese of Toowoomba) and the parish of Warnervale (Diocese of Broken Bay). Plans are in place to do two rural more parishes in the first half of this year. This will bring the total number of parishes visited to twenty and will complete the field research phase of the project.

National Catholic Census Project
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has been providing parish and diocesan level Census data, which the Office has begun to distribute to diocesan contacts. The Office has also begun to create some standard tables for distribution to contacts, for placing on the website and for inclusion in the E-News Bulletin.

Bishops Commission for Catholic Education

Conference noted the appointment of Mr Gregory Crafter as the chair of the National Catholic Education Commission

NATIONAL CATHOLIC EDUCATION COMMISSION EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Mr Ross Fox will commence as Executive Director of the NCEC in June, 2013.

COMMONWEALTH GOVERNMENT SCHOOLING REFORM

The Government has tabled the Australian Education Bill 2012 and Parliament has begun debate on the Bill. The Bill contains no details on the school funding model the Government plans to introduce from the beginning of 2014. The Government has indicated that it will table amendments to the original Bill once details have been finalised. It is anticipated that amendments to the Bill will include detailed information about state governments’ financial contributions to the new funding arrangements.

Bishops Commission for Church Ministry

WINTER ACCULTURATION PROGRAMME FOR WELCOMING RELIGIOUS AND PRIESTS WHO ARE NEWLY ARRIVED FROM OVERSEAS
A 3rd Program will be offered at St Joseph’s Baulkham Hills 8th – 15th July 2013. Dr Anne Bond rsj can provide more information on 0406 195 861 or annie.bond@stjosephscentre.org.au

AUSTRALIAN CATHOLIC COUNCIL FOR CLERGY LIFE AND MINISTRY (ACCCLM)

Fr. Brian Moloney began his term of office as Director of Clergy Life and Ministry on the 1st January 2013. Since his appointment he has met with a number of regional directors of Clergy Life and Ministry across Australia. Fr Brian has noted the need for a number of dioceses to fill vacancies in diocesan directors.

AUSTRALIAN CATHOLIC COUNCIL FOR LAY PASTORAL MINISTRY (ACCLPM)
The Australian Catholic Council for Lay Pastoral Ministry (ACCLPM) is about to enact the part of their mandate that requires the ACCLPM to support Lay Pastoral Ministers in their service to our Church by developing a network of resource personnel with expertise in spirituality, theology, Scripture, pastoral formation, psychology, anthropology and social analysis. To this end it is seeking information concerning the state of play of lay pastoral ministry in parishes across Australia. A survey will be distributed to all dioceses in order to gather information about what is happening nationally in regards to this important area of Church ministry.

OFFICE FOR THE PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN (OPW)

The OPW hosted an International Women’s Day 2013 Celebration on the 8th March in the garden of the General Secretariat in Canberra to launch the International Women’s Day 2013 Parish Resource which was produced by the Bishops Commission for Church Ministry and the Council for Australian Catholic Women and distributed to all parishes across Australia. This resource is produced and distributed annually and dioceses are encouraged to promote it widely among clergy and other Catholic organisations and agencies.

YOUNG CATHOLIC WOMEN’S INTERFAITH FELLOWSHIP
The current fellowship was officially launched at the Broken Bay Institute on February 22, 2013. The 17 recipients come from 12 dioceses and have enthusiastically begun a formation program which includes Catholic theological studies, interfaith engagement and leadership development.

COUNCIL FOR AUSTRALIAN CATHOLIC WOMEN (CACW)

Six new members have been recently appointed to the CACW to replace a number of out-going members. The new appointments are:

Carmel Suart (Archdiocese of Perth)
Fr David Pascoe (Archdiocese of Brisbane)
Dr. Gemma Tulud Cruz (Archdiocese of Melbourne)
Carol Gan (Diocese of Broken Bay)
Lorraine Barker (Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn)
Dr.Helen Belcher (Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle)

CACW NATIONAL COLLOQUIUM
A CACW National Colloquium Is planned for 16-17 August 2013 to be held at Mary MacKillop Place, North Sydney. Bishops are asked to invite two representatives from their diocese to attend this Colloquium. The theme is Wisdom at the Gate: Radiant and Unfading (Wisdom 6:12-16). The goal of the Colloquium is to discern ways in which the wisdom of women might be better integrated into the life and leadership of the Catholic Church in Australia.

Bishops Commission for Ecumenism and Inter-religious Relations

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES IN AUSTRALIA TRIENNIAL FORUM
The 8th Triennial Forum of the National Council of Church in Australia will be held in Melbourne, 5 – 9 July 2013. The purpose of the forum is to set the directions for the coming triennium.

WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY
The Week of Prayer will be celebrated from Trinity Sunday, 12 May, to Pentecost Sunday 19 May. This year the theme is What does God require of us? (Micah 6: 6-8), with a sub-theme of walking, walking the paths of justice, mercy and humility. This subtheme ties in with the theme of the tenth Assembly of the World Council of Churches to be held in Busan, Korea in 2013: God of life lead us to justice and peace.

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES IN AUSTRALIA
The National Council of Churches in Australia has acknowledged the wonderful contribution of Bishop Michael Putney and member churches are supporting him by their prayer.

RELATIONS WITH JEWS
The members of the Commission met with Mr Jeremy Jones from the Jewish Board of Deputies during the Plenary meeting. The Commission notes that Pope Francis has provided a wonderful example in his frequent reaching out in friendship to the Jewish community of Rome.

Bishops Commission for Health and Community Services

CATHOLIC SOCIAL SERVICES AUSTRALIA (CSSA) BOARD
Under the CSSA Constitution, Board members of Catholic Social Services Australia are appointed by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference upon the recommendation of the Bishops Commission for Health and Community Services. Conference appointed Mr Dominic Kelly to the Board(s) of Catholic Social Services Australia for a three year term.

CATHOLIC SOCIAL SERVICES AUSTRALIA SCHOLARSHIP

In March 2013 CSSA launched its new scholarship scheme to fund research aimed at achieving a fairer, more inclusive Australian society. The Scholarship provides an exclusive opportunity to individual staff, or teams, from member agencies within the CSSA network to apply their knowledge, skills and experience to conduct research in a field that will provide a benefit to CSSA’s vision and goals. The Scholarship is valued at $20,000 and will be awarded every two years with applications being sought by 7 June. The Commission requested Bishops to promote the Scholarship to individuals or agencies within the Catholic social services sector.

GOVERNMENT REFORMS AFFECTING CHARITIES

Following passage of the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission (ACNC) Bill late last year, the new Commission was established on 3 January this year. CSSA was recognised for its contributions to the ACNC process in the government’s decision to appoint Mr Paul O’Callaghan to its ACNC Advisory Board on 19 February.

CATHOLIC HEALTH AUSTRALIA (CHA)

Social Determinants of Health
As reported in November, CHA’s 2011 book Determining the Future: A Fair go and Health for all led to the establishment of a Senate Inquiry into social determinants of health. CHA presented evidence to the Inquiry on 4 December on how social factors such as schooling, welfare programs, income levels, and social interaction influence a person’s health and wellbeing. Martin Laverty chaired the meetings of the Social Determinants of Health Alliance (SDOHA) in Melbourne on 10 December 2012 and Canberra on 7 February 2013, and also chaired the Ministerial launch of the SDOHA which was held in Parliament House on 7 February and attended by the Social Inclusion Minister Mark Butler. The SDOHA website has been established www.socialdeterminants.org.au

Surrogacy
CHA drafted a statement proposed for issue to CHA members operating maternity services on surrogacy, seeking to provide advice on the Church’s position on cooperation with surrogacy agreements. The draft was provided to a number of Catholic bioethicists for comment, and was considered formally by the CHA Bioethics Forum on 7 February 2013. It is proposed the statement will be provided to the Bishop’s Commission for Doctrine and Morals in order for it to obtain a nihil obstat prior to it being circulated to CHA members for adoption.

Anti-discrimination
CHA lodged a submission to the Senate Inquiry reviewing the Government’s proposed anti-discrimination law reforms. The submission was variously viewed by the Aged Care Committee and a select group of Catholic bio-ethicists prior to its lodgement.
Anticipating the possible adopting of the Government’s proposed anti-discrimination law reforms, CHA drafted a statement for the review of the CHA Bioethics Committee on care for people identifying as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or of Indeterminate Sex. Having been endorsed by the Bioethics Forum, it is proposed that the statement be provided to the Bishop’s Commission for Doctrine and Morals in order for it to obtain a nihil obstat.

Bishops Commission for Justice, Ecology and Development

SOCIAL JUSTICE STATEMENT 2013-14 ON WORLD POVERTY
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference approved as the 2013 Social Justice Statement: Lazarus at Our Gate: A critical moment in the fight against world poverty.

CATHOLIC EARTHCARE AUSTRALIA

Major Initiative – ASSISI
Catholic Earthcare now has a cohort of over 70 people who have participated in the 3 day intensive ‘ASSISI Animator Program’ enabling ecological praxis for whole system change to be initiated within Catholic organisations. The ASSISI Initiative is open to all Catholic organisations to engage and Catholic Earthcare is anticipating a renewed response through Pope Francis’ call to ‘Protect Creation’.

Responding to the Murray Darling Basin Plan
Catholic Earthcare is in the process of developing a response to the Federal Governments Murray Darling Basin Plan. The Bishops of the Murray Darling Basin have been invited to respond and suggestions are being synthesized into a short statement. Recommendations to undertake research to engage with people who live in the basin is under development.

CARITAS AUSTRALIA
The Bishops thank CEO of Caritas Australia Jack De Groot for 13 years of wonderful service and wish him well for his future role.

Caritas Vision and Vision Statements

The Commission and the National Council of Caritas Australia adopted statements of Vision and Mission for Caritas Australia which will be made available at www.caritas.org.au

Project Compassion
The campaign was successfully launched throughout Australia and the Commission and National Council expressed thanks to each Bishop and the workers of all dioceses for their energetic endorsement of the campaign throughout. Australia.

Bishops Commission for Liturgy

ROMAN MISSAL (2010) IMPLEMENTATION
The implementation of the revised Roman Missal continues to promote commentaries (a mixture of catechetical, critical and appreciative) in ecclesial circles and through the media. The Commission is still keen to pursue research on the implementation of the Missal texts. Given that responses to the implementation are still somewhat preliminary it was agreed at the National Liturgical Council meeting that it would be beneficial for 2-3 years of time to pass before any survey work is undertaken

Bishops Commission for Evangelisation

The name of the Bishops Commission for Mission and Faith Formation was changed to Bishops Commission for Evangelisation.

NATIONAL OFFICE FOR EVANGELISATION
Following approval by the Plenary in November Mrs Angelica Fricot started with in the role of New Evangelisation Projects Coordinator after Easter.

eBOOK PROJECT
The Communications Office of the Conference commissioned 30 people, including four Bishops, to write chapters for an eBook entitled Word made flesh and shared among us. This eBook is available as a download for iPhone, iPad and Android devices, as well as through a PDF on the ACBC website and available on online bookstores such as Amazon.

Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life

LIFTING AN EXCOMMUNICATION FOR THE SIN OF ABORTION
It has come to the attention of the Commission that there may be uncertainty amongst priests on whether they are free to lift the automatic excommunication imposed for the sin of abortion. The preparation for the Commission of materials to assist priests in dialogue with women who are contemplating having an abortion, or who seek absolution for having an abortion, has brought this issue to light. Conference agreed that all Bishops of Australia formally delegate to their priests the faculty to raise an excommunication for the sin of abortion, and grant absolution for it.

ADVISORY COUNCIL MEMBERSHIP
Since advice provided to the November 2012 Plenary meeting, the Commission has appointed further members to the following Advisory Councils:

Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council
Mr and Mrs Paul and Libby Blom, Brisbane Archdiocese
Mr and Mrs Simon and Cecelia Opum, Perth Archdiocese
Mr and Mrs Chris and Rosina Gordon, Parramatta Diocese.

Australian Catholic Life Council

Mr Anthony Cleary, Catholic Education Office, Sydney Archdiocese.

7TH WORLD CONGRESS OF FAMILIES 15-18 MAY 2013.
This Congress will be the biggest assembly of pro-family speakers ever held in Australia. The theme for the Congress is: ‘Happy Families, Healthy Economy’. The Congress will provide information, motivation and inspiration on the gifts and contributions of the natural family to society. The website for the Congress is: www.wcfsydney2013.org.au.


REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS: ADVOCATING FOR BIPARTISAN SUPPORT FOR THE 20,000 ANNUAL REFUGEE INTAKE TO BE MAINTAINED

Over the last 15 years Australia has resettled around 13,000 refugees and humanitarian entrants each year. After the Expert Panel Report released in August 2012 the current Labor government increased the number available to 20,000. These visas are incredibly valuable providing successful applicants a legal pathway to escape from war-torn countries and to start a new life in Australia. Of the 15 million refugees worldwide only 80,000 will be resettled each year. The Federal Opposition is proposing to reduce the current 20,000 quota back to 13,000 should they win the September election. ACMRO has advocated for many years for this increase to 20,000. Conference approved development by the Australian Catholic Migration and Refugee Office of a media statement by the Bishop Delegate on behalf of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference calling for bipartisan support for the 20,000 refugee intake.

Bishops Commission for Relations with Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday
The Catholic Church in Australia celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday on the first Sunday of July or at a time that provides for a meaningful honouring of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The Commission provides a statement for distribution with other material developed by NATSICC. The statement will also be available on the ACBC website.

Monday 25 November – Friday 29 November