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15 June 2018

Crux

In the wake of Ireland’s 25 May referendum legalising abortion in the country, the Irish bishops have announced they will establish a new Council for Life next March.

The role of the new institution will be to advise and advocate for the Catholic Church in Ireland on a consistent ethic of life and care for those most at risk.

The Republic of Ireland’s Eighth Amendment - which was passed by referendum in 1983 and gave constitutional protections to the unborn - was overwhelmingly repealed in the 25 May referendum: Over 66 percent of voters supported the measure.

‘‘We wish to acknowledge and pay tribute to all those who campaigned and voted to protect the lives of both mothers and their unborn children in the recent referendum,’ the bishops said in a June 13 statement.

8 June 2018

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

The Catholic Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn Christopher Prowse has expressed shock over the passage of a new child protection law which seeks to force priests to break the seal of confession in cases where child abuse is disclosed.

The change is an expansion of the ACT's current reportable conduct scheme to include religious organisations' 'activities, facilities, programs or services' to report allegations, offences, or convictions related to children to the ACT Ombudsman. This expansion was supported by Archbishop Prowse, who had been calling for the reportable conduct scheme to include parishes and religious organisations for "well over a year."

However, the new law does not provide an exemption for disclosures made in the sacrament of confession, a move that has been criticised as an overreach.

The new law comes into effect on 1 July, but the provision relating to the confessional won't apply until 31 March, 2019 to give Church authorities time to discuss with the Government how it will work.

31 May 2018

UCA News

A group of Philippine legislators filed a bill in the Lower House of Congress on 30 May, seeking to grant Filipino citizenship to an Australian missionary nun who has been ordered to leave the country.

In the explanatory note of the bill, which was filed on the last session day of Congress, the legislators noted that Sister Patricia Fox has served impoverished communities in the country over the past 27 years.

The bill was filed several days after the Philippines' Department of Justice granted a reprieve to the nun, who has been ordered to leave the country for alleged involvement in partisan political activities.

Sister Fox drew the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte after she joined a fact-finding mission that looked into reported human rights abuses in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao.


28 May 2018

America Magazine

Two stories separated by 5,000 miles this weekend reminded us all of how crucial it is for citizens of democracies to avoid complacency in the defence of human rights, particularly the rights of those in greatest peril. They also are a reminder that every generation faces challenges to the dignity of life—and those threats are often tragically familiar.

The first was the unexpected landslide vote on 25 May that repealed the Republic of Ireland’s Eighth Amendment, which guaranteed the right to life of unborn children. By a margin of 2-to-1, the only society left in Europe that prohibited abortion on demand voted to allow it on almost exactly the same terms as everyone else. As the votes were being counted in Ireland, journalist Chris Hayes was reporting on a case from Brownsville, Texas, in which border patrol officers took an 18-month-old baby from his mother at the border in February because she was seeking asylum from violence in her home country; she says in a lawsuit that she has not seen her child for more than a month. The inhumanity of the episode was reinforced by news reports that of the 7,000 undocumented children the federal government has taken into custody, the Office of Refugee Resettlement does not know where 1,475 of them are.


25 May 2018
Catholic News Service

Loving wealth destroys the soul, and cheating people of their just wages and benefits is a mortal sin, Pope Francis said.

Jesus did not mince words when he said, ‘Woe to you who are rich,’ after listing the Beatitudes as written according to St Luke, the pope said in a morning homily.

If anyone today ‘were to preach like that, the newspapers the next day (would say), 'That priest is a communist!' But poverty is at the heart of the Gospel,’ Pope Francis said.

Celebrating Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae 24 May, Pope Francis focused his homily on the day's first reading from the Letter of James (5:1-6) in which the apostle scolds the rich. Not only has their wealth ‘rotted away,’ the decay and corrosion of their material possessions ‘will be a testimony against you’ on judgment day, the passage says.

James criticized employers who withheld wages from their workers, the pope said, and those workers' cries reached the ears of the Lord.


15 May 2018

Crux

In recent months, the Australian Catholic Church has been in the spotlight, primarily due to news that the former Archbishop of Sydney and the pope’s current finance minister, Cardinal George Pell, will stand trial for ‘historical sexual offenses’ amid continuing fallout from the Church’s clerical abuse crisis.

As the Church attempts to change the narrative about its role in public life, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane has been elected as the new head of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference. Serving as his vice-president will be Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney.

Soon after their election, Bishop Richard Umbers, an auxiliary bishop of Sydney, tweeted that with the election of Coleridge and Fisher, the Australian bishops had ‘put forward the two most articulate bishops in the conference.’

In an interview with Crux, Coleridge describes how he intends to navigate the tensions between the Church and various political and ecclesial battles in Australia - and in a way that puts Jesus Christ at the center of his work.

Among other points, Coleridge said it’s critical to pursue dialogue with the Australian government about recent calls to eliminate the seal of the confessional in the wake of the abuse crisis, because the Church has to explain that while cover-ups undeniably happened, the Sacrament of Penance is not ‘the linchpin of a whole culture of secrecy.’


14 May 2018

Crux

Pope Francis said Sunday he’s praying for the Christian community in Indonesia after multiple suicide bombers killed at least 11 people who were participating in religious services.

‘I’m particularly close to the dear people of Indonesia, especially to the Christian community of the city of Surabaya strongly hit by the grave attacks on places of worship,’ the pope said after his weekly Sunday Regina Coeli prayer.

CNN reported that suspected suicide bombers struck three different churches in Indonesia on Sunday morning.

The number of deaths is still uncertain, but at least 11 have been killed in the attacks and scores more injured.


24 May 2018

Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street

Every society has ways of marking out, and sometimes marking, people who are considered a lesser breed.

The Greek word stigma originally referred to the branding of slaves and traitors. In other societies adultery, desertion, Jewish descent, imprisonment, ignorance and other crimes also earned branding or wearing distinctive clothing. The scold's bridle, the scarlet letter, the yellow star, the white feather and the striped uniform are just a few of the ways to exclude people from the benefits of society by marking them as outsiders.

In Australia such external forms of stigmatising are generally seen as a bit crude — though the recent withdrawal of medical benefits from people brought back from Manus Island for treatment shows that crudity and cruelty are alive and well. But the expectation that the state will ensure that the weakest and most disadvantaged in society can live with self-respect has caused problems for governments. They balk at making the wealthy fund their share of that care through higher taxes, but fear the electoral consequences of being seen as heartless.

The solution has been to allow the real value of Newstart and its equivalents to decline. Those whose life is diminished by this deprivation are then stigmatised. That has traditionally been done by straightforward blackguarding. People who are unemployed were called dole-bludgers and refugees called illegals, and accused of ripping off the community. People would then regard as justifiable the hardship imposed on the targeted groups.

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