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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.
Mary Beth Stein shared this prayer with the team:
Holy One, for the longest time we have prayed, "Your kingdom come,"
and often we have wanted it to come in a supernatural way that did not ask too much of us.
We have longed for your reign but imagined it elsewhere,
not recognizing that it truly is a gift you have already given
- - but a gift that calls forth all our own gifts to receive it as fully as you intend.
Let your kingdom come into our hearts and into our hands,
and help us to activate it in our lives through the choices we make and the relationships we enter.
May our own self-transcendence cause us to grow in freedom,
and from the place of freedom may we choose to live in compassion and love.
(Judy Cannato: Field of Compassion: How the New Cosmology is Transforming Spiritual Life, p95.)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Local bishops have an obligation to welcome new movements and communities and guide them, while the groups have an obligation to obey the local bishop and avoid the appearance of setting up a parallel church, said a new Vatican document.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's letter to bishops around the world on "the relationship between hierarchical and charismatic gifts in the life and mission of the church" was released June 14.
The hierarchical gifts -- teaching, sanctifying and governing -- are those conferred with ordination. The charismatic gifts refer to those given by the Holy Spirit to groups or individuals to help them live the faith more intensely and to share the faith with others through missionary activity and acts of charity.
Read Iuvenescit Ecclesia