A summary of the week’s most important Catholic headlines from Australia, Rome and the World.
June 10, 2015
On the tenth anniversary of Sydney’s ‘Walk With Christ’ procession, around 6000 Catholics gathered in the CBD to celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi.
The procession, which began as a 13th century tradition, had participants carrying banners, singing hymns and praying while they walked from St Patrick’s Church Hill to St Mary’s Cathedral.
The celebration ended with benediction of the Blessed Sacrament in the courtyard of St Mary’s Cathedral.
Catherine Kennedy, director of CREDO, the organisation which runs the event, was deeply moved by the celebration,
“The blessed sacrament exposed is such a wonderful gift to us. We can see him, we can taste him, we can touch him. I feel a real deep presence of the Lord, when he’s with us, exposed, in the monstrance.
When our Lord is taken away I feel a big loss…’Come back Lord!’ I want to say.”
She spoke of the public, even showy nature of the procession,
“It’s great to have a public expression of faith. We pray for the needs of our city and we are a witness to it, as we walk through it. This year there was a huge uptake in the number of people who wanted us to pray for them.”
Charbel Germanos, a parishioner at St Charbel’s in Punchbowl was personally touched by the gathering,
“I’m walking with Christ, it’s my first time. I just can’t wait, I’m really excited, all these Catholics joining together for a common goal, especially in this time of need!
The strength, faith and courage that I experience because of everyone standing together in prayer, is something I’ve never experienced before.”
Dani Lambeth, a parishioner at Maternal Heart of Mary in Lewisham, felt that the symbolism of the procession was important,
“It was not only a powerful religious experience to see the faithful from all across the diocese celebrating the significance of the Eucharist in unison, but also an important cultural symbol, to show that Christianity is well and alive in people’s hearts and minds in an ever more secularised society.”
The public presence of a large number of Catholics in Sydney City, was also important to Simon Rassy, a parishioner at St Charbel’s in Punchbowl,
“I saw a few bystanders who were looking, recording and taking pictures. They may have realised the significance of the Eucharist to us Catholics.
It’s important for Catholics to come together and unite. To show that we have a voice, that we’re a community, and that there are many of us. We’re not in hiding! I’d like people to know that we’re praying for them in love!”
For Catherine Kennedy however, this tenth anniversary of the Walk With Christ procession, is, most importantly, a powerful outreach to a world in turmoil,
“Anyone can come before our Lord in the monstrance and allow him to love them. That’s a marvellous gift, and one I think we need to continue to capture for evangelisation.”
“To be able to be a part of this, part of something that’s growing is really remarkable.
There’s a lot of pain in the world at the moment, seeing people gathered together in prayer is a wonderful balm…”
Photo courtesy of Walk With Christ Sydney.
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May 27, 2015
Meeting the Pope might seem scary, or challenging for some. For Jacqui Remond however, it was a chance to get down to business.
“It was a life changing experience. We were able to present the Pope with a petition that we recently drafted which calls for bold action on Climate change. The Pope signed the petition and we are calling on one million Catholics to do the same.”
Jacqui, the Director of Catholic Earthcare Australia, represented Australia in a delegation of eight countries who gathered as members of the “Global Catholic Climate movement” early this month. The movement exists to help implement a unified Catholic response to Climate change prevention, an expected element of the Pope’s soon to be released encyclical on the subject.
“This first ever ecological encyclical of the Catholic church will actually provide a great stimulus through conversation, and for transformation into action in the world. It’s for business, governments and humankind on earth. It’s really going to be a unified message for humanity across the globe.” Jacqui said.
Catholic Earthcare Australia, the national representative body for the Global Catholic Climate movement, has been working locally to raise awareness of strategies for Catholic Climate policy.
“We’ve invited Catholics throughout the world to join us for a global carbon fast throughout Lent.” This is all a part of a growing, and increasingly urgent feeling that Catholics must act now to prevent the consequences that climate change is having, especially on the poor.
“At this stage we’re sitting at a time where we have a very narrow buffer zone that’s decreasing as time goes on. It’s very urgent that the world agrees on decreasing fossil fuels and taking action that reduces carbon emissions.”
“We’re pretty lucky in Australia in that we’re the first country to set up our own (Catholic) agency on ecology, and there haven’t been that many who’ve followed suit.”
“We’re pioneering in this regard.”
The encyclical is expected to be released in June or July.
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May 14, 2015
Members of the Australian Catholics Bishop Conference this week presented a report on the plight of Arab Christians.
The report, submitted by Archbishops Antoine-Charbel Tarabay, and Robert Rabbat, who are, respectively, heads of the Maronite and Melkite Eparchies of Australia and New Zealand, marks five months since a group of Orthodox, Catholic and Assyrian bishops visited suffering Christians in the Middle East, as part of a ‘Solidarity Mission.’
This bishops visited communities in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
“What happened to the Christians of Iraq under ISIS was totally unexpected. We need to keep our attention on them, their voices cry out. They look to us for mercy and support.” said Archbishop Tarabey.
The Bishop outlined the varied challenges of different Christian communities of the region.
Of Iraqi Christians, he explained, “Being displaced from towns like Irbil and Mosul to Kurdistan, and the borders of Iraq, means they don’t know what’s in store for them, or what will happen next. They don’t know what will happen tomorrow. “
Christians in Syria face a different set of challenges, “Christians are caught in the middle of a fight between the Alawite regime and the rebel fighters, most of whom are Sunni Muslims.”
The fundamental employment challenges that have fuelled the membership of militant Islamist groups was also cited as a problem.
“We’re talking 52% unemployment in Lebanon at the moment, young people who finish University and have no job.”
“When you’re left with nothing in way of employment, young people take other options. They take the worst option, an evil option, to join Islamic State or Hezbollah, and to fight.”
For the bishops involved, the pursuit of peace begins at home.
“The first thing is that we need to be peacemakers here in Australia, among each other, helping Middle Eastern communities, Muslims and Christians, to live in harmony and peace with one another.”
“Secondly, we have to support refugees and the displaced. We will launch an appeal, once a year, to continue to support them and the presence of the church in the Middle East.”
Interested in supporting the plight of Arab Christians? Donate through Caritas Australia now.
Image: Iraqi Christians in prayer via ibtimes.co.uk
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May 6, 2015
This week, clergy, delegates from various parishes, as well as Catholic media representatives and journalists gathered for the Australian Catholic Communications Congress.
The congress, a three day event organised by staff of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, is described as one of the ‘largest triennial gatherings of Australian Catholic media, diocesan communications professionals, secular journalists and parishioners.’
The conference theme, “What is our voice? Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” tackled the challenges of telling important stories in an overcrowded and often superficial media landscape.
The event featured an address from Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (PCCS).
“Our media is directed not just to Catholics, but to all people. They don’t exist only for–or are directed only to–people who already belong to the Church, rather they should also give careful attention to what exists in the soul of man, in his heart, where sometimes there can be distance from God, or many times, a deep nostalgia for God.”
“People no longer pay attention–if they ever did–simply because a church leader is speaking. Unless we engage digital media, we will wind up talking to ourselves.”
Participants also enjoyed a variety of workshops on technical media production skills as well as “Hot Topics” like ‘Euthanasia’ and ‘Migrants and Refugees’.
Speakers challenged the misconceptions and perhaps prejudices of the participants. During the ‘God’s Creation, The Environment’ workshop Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green, of the rural diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes spoke of the need for city dwellers to act more consciously in their use of resources. “We have to convert ourselves ecologically before we convert the world!”
“Rural people are being squeezed by environmental issues” he added.
Selina Hashem, Communications Manager at the Archdiocese of Sydney, challenged the audience’s conceptions during a ‘Religious Tolerance’ workshop.
“Serious Religious Tolerance goes beyond dialogue and into respectful engagement with the other.”
“We need to move away from the term tolerance and into the word dialogue” agreed conference participant Donella Johnston.
The event ended today with a final blessing from Bishop Peter Ingham.
“This conference is a great networking community, an opportunity to hear what other people are doing in their diocese and parishes.”
“Its been marvellously prepared and its filling my mind with things I can take on when I move back into the office” Mrs Johnston said.
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April 29, 2015
Australian politicians and the general public have criticised the Indonesian President’s refusal to show clemency to Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukamaran.
The diplomatic fallout was conveyed by the Australian Government’s recently announced decision to withdraw its ambassador from Indonesia.
MP Chris Hayes, co-chair of the group ‘Australian Parliamentarians against the Death Penalty’ spoke of the legal uncertainties he felt cast doubt on the justice of proceedings.
“In addition to Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukamaran, another casualty here appears to be the rule of law itself”
“The President is required to seek the advice of the Supreme Court of Indonesia on the application of clemency, but the President made a unilateral decision not to receive any application from a drug-related case”
Claims of court bribery were also been made by the former lawyer of the two men, just days before their execution.
MP Chris Hayes spoke of double standards in Indonesian justice,
“The ultimate hypocrisy in all this is that Indonesians have been very forthright in their pursuit of clearance for their own prisoners on death row in other countries. Clearly it smacks of hypocrisy.”
A sense of the ironic was expressed by John Ferguson, National Executive Officer Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, “A penal system that had been so successful was debased when it destroyed them once they were reformed”
“Nothing justifies state sanctioned killing. Nothing justifies taking someone else’s life.”
Mr Ferguson spoke of Pope Francis’ comments on Capital Punishment last month.
“Pope Francis has been very clear about this, saying that it (the death penalty) was contrary to the meaning of divine mercy.”
“He also spoke of the terrible suspense of people who are awaiting execution, which, in the name of correct proceedings tends to last for many years.”
The Catholic Social Justice Council has worked regionally for the abolition of the death penalty.
Image via news.com.au
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April 23, 2015
Members of a group called the ‘Socialist Alternative’ gathered on Tuesday at Sydney University to protest a panel hosted by the Catholic Society of Saint Peter.
Angelica Alvarez, who promoted the Socialist Alternative gathering on Facebook, explains, “Abortion is a fundamental right. There should be no costs, coercion or stigma connected with the decision to have an abortion” on the event page.
Speakers at the event, which was part of the CSSP’s annual ‘Life Week’, included NSW Upper House MP Greg Donnelly, Debbie Garratt, Executive Director of Real Choices Australia and activist Rosina Gordon.
Of the growth of pro-life support services for women, MP Greg Donnelly explained, “These organisations are meeting a need that is deeply human…that is not being met elsewhere and their lives have been changed for the good.”
Life Week has been taking place at Sydney University for over ten years now, and supporters were not put off by the opposition.
“Those kinds of protest demonstrate … a fear that if we talk too much about the potential harm of abortion and other solutions, that we won’t have abortion available…” said Debbie Garrat.
“What abortion has done has not addressed the social, educational or professional issues for women”, she added.
Catholic Society of Saint Peter staff are proud of the annual event. Evangelisation Officer, Tony Mattar, explained “The purpose of Life Week is to engage with students on campus about the teaching of the Catholic Church regarding bioethics.”
“It was a great witness…to see a great number of Catholics who stood in solidarity and were not put off by the protests. It’s a reminder also that although society may have its own view in support of abortion, we as Catholics must always stand up for the truth.”
‘Life Week’ wraps up today. The full schedule of the Catholic Society of Saint Peter is visible online at sydneyunicatholics.org.au
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Dec. 4, 2014
News from around the Catholic world for the week ending 5 December.
LISTEN NOW (9:30 mins)
• Pope Francis wraps up visit to Turkey
• World religious leaders unite to end slavery
• 36 Christians killed in Kenya
• Grand Theft Auto 5 is pulled from shelves as Australian Christian Lobby calls for ban
• Tasmanian Senator calls for legalisation of baby safe havens in Australia.
BOBBIE: Tasmania Labor Senator Helen Polley has renewed calls to introduce baby safe havens to Australia after two babies were found abandoned in as many weeks.
Senator Polley has campaigned for the safe havens for a number of years, but the issue has been brought back to the spotlight after a newborn baby was last month found barely alive in a storm water drain in Sydney’s west. The incident was soon followed by the discovery of another baby buried on a beach under 30 centimeters of sand.
Baby safe havens would provide a mother who is unable to cope with her child the option to hand over child without facing any questioning or incriminations. In a Facebook page set up by Senator Polley she says the safe havens are not meant to be a means to remove responsibility from parents.
“It is about assisting women who are desperate,” the page reads, “women who are not psychologically or emotionally equipped to take care of their babies”.
The safe havens have been rolled out in the United States, Africa, Canada, Japan, China, South Korea, Italy and Germany, among other countries.
Senator Polley has launched a Facebook page and online petition to support the campaign. Visit babysafehavens-senatorhelenpolley.nationbuilder.com to find out more.
Music Credit: Waking Up by Dexter Britain.
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Nov. 27, 2014
Pope Francis addresses European Parliament, Australian Bishops announce delegation to persecuted Christians in the Middle East, Caritas Australia renew calls for end to sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo & more... The post 5 Headlines You May Have Missed (28 November) appeared first on Cradio.
Nov. 20, 2014
News from around the Catholic world for the week ending 21 November.
LISTEN NOW (12:20 mins)
• Vatican hosts landmark interfaith colloquium on the complementarity of man and woman
• An attack on worshippers in Holy Land sparks renewed cries for peace
• Married men may now be ordained priests for Eastern churches in Western countries
• Controversial ‘Zoe’s Law’ Bill lapses without a vote
• Polish Catholic is honoured in Canberra for his bravery during the Holocaust
• Bishop Peter Comensoli appointed to Broken Bay
BOBBIE: A landmark international colloquium has wrapped up this week in Rome, bringing together representatives from 14 religious traditions and 23 countries to discuss the theme ‘the complimentarity of man and woman’.
The Humanum Colloquium was hosted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican from 17-19 November. It featured presentations and witness testimonies from religious leaders and scholars, as well as a series of short films prepared on the topic.
Pope Francis gave the Colloquium’s opening address, emphasising the vital role of family in building healthy societies.
“Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity,” Pope Francis said.
“That is why I stressed in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium that the contribution of marriage to society is “indispensable”; that it “transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple.” (n. 66) And that is why I am grateful to you for your Colloquium’s emphasis on the benefits that marriage can provide to children, the spouses themselves, and to society,” he said.
Former Chief Rabbi of the UK and the Commonwealth Jonathan Sachs also addressed the conference, reflecting on the situation in Britain where soon more than 50% of children will be born outside of marriage.
RABBI SACHS: The result of this has been a measurable rise among young people in eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, suicide attempts and other stress-related symptoms. Three million children are living in Britain, in an affluent society, in this new form of poverty of single parent families, and it’s women who are bearing the burden because they are the heads of 92% of those families. In Britain today, one million children will grow up never knowing or meeting their father…
BOBBIE: Pope Francis also used the opportunity to confirm he will attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia next year.
More on that story via Catholic Vote, news.va, and the Humanum website.
At least four people were killed and six others wounded in an attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem Tuesday morning. Vatican Radio has that report.
VATICAN RADIO: Police say the suspects in the attack were a pair of Palestinians wielding knives and axes, and that they shot and killed the suspected assailants inside the synagogue.
The city of Jerusalem has seen months of tension in the wake of a dispute over access to holy sites – tension that has flared into violence on more than one occasion, including kidnappings and the stabbing of a Jerusalem man this weekend.
Speaking on Monday at the United Nations, UN Assistant Secretary General Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen decried the upsurge in violence.
TOYBERG-FRANDZEN: Of particular concern are attacks against religious sites, also giving how such violence can resonate regionally and beyond.
VATICAN RADIO: The Assistant Secretary General also renewed his calls for a fair and genuine peace agreement as the only way to build just and lasting tranquility and stability in the region.
TOYBERG-FRANDZEN: Returning to negotiations has never been more important. Without a genuine commitment from the parties and an overall improvement in the lives of Palestians, we should anticipate further deterioration of the security situation, and expansion of the current violence.
VATICAN RADIO: Pope Francis has also called repeatedly for all parties to reject the path of violence and to work together to address outstanding issues in mutual respect for people’s legitimate rights and aspirations.
BOBBIE: Married men of the Eastern Catholic churches in the US, Canada and Australia can now be ordained to the Catholic priesthood.
In a decree approved and signed by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, the Vatican has lifted an 84-year ban on married men being ordained to the priesthood in traditionally western countries. Eastern married candidates can now be ordained in their dioceses and exercise pastoral service, though they must first inform their local Latin-rite bishop in writing.
Married men in the Eastern churches traditionally could always be ordained to the priesthood, though once a man is ordained he is not allowed to marry, except in extraordinary circumstances.
The ban in Western countries can be traced back to 1890, when married Ruthenian priests were prohibited from living in the US. To prevent scandal, the Vatican eventually ruled that the Eastern churches could not ordain married men in the countries where their communities form a minority of the Catholic population. In 1930, this was extended to all Eastern-rite priests in the US and Australia. As a result, an estimated 200,000 Ruthenian Catholics became Orthodox.
Fr. Brian Daley, Jesuit and member of the North American Catholic-Orthodox Theological Consultation, said he expects the new development will have a positive impact on ecumenical relations, particularly for Eastern Catholics and Orthodox Christians.
More info at Patheos
You can find Church teaching on priestly celibacy in the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraphs 1579 and 1580.
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Music Credit: Waking Up by Dexter Britain.
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Nov. 13, 2014
News from around the Catholic world for the week ending 14 November.
LISTEN NOW (11:52 mins)
• Pope Francis writes letter to Tony Abbott ahead of G20 Summit
• Australia’s Apostolic Nuncio to take new appointment in Rome
• Kenyan Bishops allege vaccinations are being used to advance the UN’s population control agenda
• Sydney’s new Archbishop installed at St Mary’s Cathedral
• Diocese of Wollongong announces a new initiative for the new evangelisation.
SARAH: Pope Francis has written a letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott this week ahead of the G20 Summit.
The meeting, which brings together heads of government from the group of 20 nations, will commence tomorrow in Brisbane. Pope Francis has urged all those taking part to consider their responsibility to those whose lives rest on their decisions.
Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni has that report.
VATICAN RADIO: In a letter to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott ahead of the group of 20 Summit that opens this weekend in Brisbane, Pope Francis urged leaders not to forget the men, women and children whose lives will be impacted and changed by the decisions they make, and identifying concrete key areas such as malnutrition, unemployment, an increase in exclusion and a tax on the environment as urgent issues to be tackled by the powers that be.
The Pope got into detail reminding them that the whole world is waiting for a coordinated agreement through the UN for a definitive halt to the unjust aggression directed at different religious and ethnic groups in the Middle East. He said there’s a need for education and a heightened awareness that religion may not be exploited as a means of justifying violence. And he appealed for support for refugees and all victims of the current crisis.
Pointing to the abuses in the financial system, such as those transactions that led to the 2008 financial collapse, and to a mentality that sees the maximisation of profits as the final criterion of all economic activity, Pope Francis deplored this kind of mindset in which individuals, he said, are ultimately discarded a mindset that will never achieve justice or peace. It would indeed be regrettable, Pope Francis wrote, if your discussions were to remain purely on the level of declarations of principle.
BOBBIE: You can find the full letter on the Vatican Radio website.
Bishop Peter Ingham has announced a new evangelisation initiative in Sydney’s south-west with television host and evangelist Bruce Downes.
The Bishop of Wollongong, a diocese south of Sydney, announced the collaboration on Tuesday, seeking to reach out to those disconnected from the Catholic Church in Sydney’s Campbelltown area. The initiative will involve weekly prayer and worship events, aimed at forming disciples and directing young people back to their parishes.
Bishop Ingham said that this program [quote]“will not replace a parish community, especially its sacramental life, it is indeed revolutionary within the Catholic Church as a model for outreach and reengagement that aims to draw people into life with Jesus Christ and his Church. My hope is that it will be the first of many such initiatives in dioceses throughout Australia and the rest of the Catholic world,” he said.
Bruce Downes, known as “The Catholic Guy” through his television program on the Australian Christian Channel, has relocated from Western Australia to help set up evangelisation efforts on Australia’s east coast. Mr Downes said that he has been excited about the journey thus far, and what lies ahead in southwestern Sydney.
He said, “It’s only the beginning and we have a lot of work ahead of us, but we are a group of people who are passionate about finding ways to reach others and proclaim God so that their lives would be changed by God’s personal love for them. Many people who attend our events are still on their individual faith journeys back to regular church attendance.”
The Catholic Guy Impact Communities and the Diocese of Wollongong will be partnering with Campbelltown Catholic Club to support and host a number of the evangelisation events, which are set to commence in March 2015.
Details via ACBC Media Blog
Music Credit: Waking Up by Dexter Britain.
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