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Dear Rene and other co-signatories,
These are important questions you raise (Newsletter, 12 July 2016) that I’ve been trying to get my head around for perhaps a decade or more, even discussing them quite a number of times with Bob Kaiser. In our country (Australia), and in new statistics released today for Germany [LINK], 90% of the adult baptized have ceased participating and listening. They don’t write letters of protest to bishops, or the pope, as they see that exercise as a complete waste of time, energy, even the cost of a postage stamp. It is seen as absolutely futile as they appear to have learned a long time ago that the hierarchy are only listening to a small “remnant element” who want to undo completely the insights of Vatican II. The recent Life-Site video which you may have seen which has been sent to Pope Francis and the 218 active cardinals in the world are the sort of people the rest of us are competing against. If you haven’t seen the video we’ve uploaded a copy of it on catholica
We'd like to explore ways that we might work together to bring about the reform that we are all striving to create. Even though each of our groups have differing missions focused on specific issues, there are certain basic principles that are universal to all of us:
Is there something we could all do to move the People who are the Church out of their pews and into a place where they would begin to speak up?
by Ann Gilroy RSJ
Women Religious welcome any development in Church that responds to women’s repeated call to have an equal share in the decision-making. Pope Francis’s proposal to set up a Commission to study the possibility of having women deacons, while not yet a decision to change a structure, is offering Catholic women a frisson of promise.
The composition of the members of the Commission will be crucial for credibility and for symbolic value. Will it have the usual token couple of women? Will at least half be women? Or even – will the majority be women? Certainly it will not be difficult to find qualified women to serve, as more than one Catholic theologian and scripture scholar has researched in this area in the last decades, including Phyllis Zagano, an internationally renowned academic in the United States, who has published extensively on women deacons. We remember the study of women deacons set up in the 1990s which fizzled out and we will be watching that this new initiative does not meet a similar fate.
by Peter Wilkinson
The Diocese of Melbourne was established in 1847. It became an archdiocese in 1874. To date, it has had 8 archbishops. The first three were Irish: James Goold (1848-1886), Thomas Carr (1886-1917), and Daniel Mannix (1917-1963). The next five have all been Australian-born: Justin Simonds (1963-1967), James Knox (1967-74), Thomas Francis Little (1974-1996), George Pell (1996-2001), and Denis Hart (2001-present). The main task of the Australians has been to embrace and implement the vision of the 2nd Vatican Council. How well they have done that will determine their legacy.
From 1788, when the First Fleet sailed into Botany Bay, until 31 March 2016, seventeen popes have entrusted the pastoral care of Australia’s Catholics to 214 bishops. Until 1976 the popes had also designated Australia a ‘mission’ territory and placed it under the jurisdiction of the Sacred Congregation de Propaganda Fide which largely determined the selection of its bishops.
The first five bishops never set foot on Australian soil. All English, they shepherded from afar, three from London, and two from the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa where, from 1820 to 1832, they tendered their flock in distant New Holland and Van Diemen’s Land via priest delegates.
The selection and appointment in 1832 of Australia’s first resident bishop, English Benedictine John Bede Polding, as Vicar Apostolic of New Holland and Van Diemen’s Land, was the result of long and delicate political and ecclesiastical negotiations between Propaganda, the British Home Secretary, the Vicars Apostolic of the London District and Cape of Good Hope, the English Benedictines, and the senior Catholic clerics in NSW. The process was repeated until English candidates were no longer available and the majority Irish Catholic laity in Australia had made it clear that they wanted Irish bishops.