Articles are reproduced with thanks from the Archdiocesan website, unless otherwise stated.

 


2 May 2018

ACN NEWS

The guns have been silent in Bosnia and Herzegovina for 23 years.

However, according to Bishop Franjo Komarica, the country is like a powder keg.

Head of the diocese of Banja Luka in the northern part of the country, the 72-year-old does not believe in beating about the bush, particularly when the discussion turns to the Catholic Croat minority. He believes that Catholic Croats are still being kept from returning and that they are disadvantaged economically, socially and religiously. He is making serious charges against the governments of Europe: they are turning a blind eye to the religious discrimination. In an interview with Tobias Lehner during a visit to the headquarters of the pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) in Germany, Bishop Komarica discusses why a growing number of Catholics are leaving the country, but how, in spite of everything, the church is living reconciliation.

Tobias Lehner: Bishop Komarica, the Bosnian War officially came to an end in 1995 with the signing of the Dayton Accords. But how are things really?

Bishop Franjo Komarica: The guns may be silent, but the war continues in other arenas. “Controlled chaos” reigns in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is my impression that neither the government nor the international community is interested in building up a constitutional state that guarantees equal rights to all ethnic groups and human rights also for minorities. Bosnia and Herzegovina are effectively still a semi-protectorate of the United Nations. A part of the state authority is exercised by a “High Commissioner” (since 2009, Austrian native Valentin Inzko) but he claims that his hands are tied in terms of the political developments in the country. The country remains divided into three ethnic groups: Croats, Serbs and Bosnians. The smallest of the ethnic groups, the vast majority of Croats are Catholic. They lean more towards Europe. The Serbs, most of them Orthodox, are very much under the influence of Russia. And the Muslim Bosnians are turning more and more towards Turkey and the Islamic world. This gives rise to dangerous centrifugal forces. And that is not only damaging to the country, but also to Europe!


Wednesday 18 April 2018

CruxNow

A lawyer for the most senior Vatican official to be charged in the Catholic Church sex abuse crisis told an Australian court on Tuesday that Cardinal George Pell could have been targeted with false accusations to punish him for the crimes of other clerics.

Defence and prosecution lawyers were making their final submissions in the Melbourne Magistrates Court in a hearing to determine whether the case against Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic was strong enough to warrant a trial by jury.

Magistrate Belinda Wallington will make her ruling on 1 May on whether Pell will stand trial.

Pell, Pope Francis’s former finance minister, was charged last June with sexually abusing multiple people in his Australian home state of Victoria. The details of the allegations against the 76-year-old have yet to be released to the public, though police have described the charges as ‘historical’ sexual assault offenses - meaning the crimes allegedly occurred decades ago.

Defence lawyer Robert Richter told Wallington that complainants might have testified in court last month against the former archbishop of Melbourne and Sydney to punish him for failing to act against abuse within the church.


16 February 2018

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

An investigator and former NSW police detective travels to developing countries to rescue children trafficked into sexual slavery. She spoke to The Catholic Weekly following the commitment by the Archdiocese to stamp out slavery.

Suzanne is someone who willingly descends into the darkest and most depraved places of human society in order to rescue children sold into sexual slavery.

Formerly a NSW police detective, she now works as an international investigator carrying out covert international operations as part of an elite team of trained professionals, to find and save children trafficked into sexual servitude.

She agreed to speak to The Catholic Weekly about her work on the condition that her identity not be revealed.

Child sex trafficking is a much bigger problem than most people realise, she said.


Friday 20 April 2018

St Vincent de Paul Society

The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council in a submission to the Senate Select Committee into the Political Influence of Donations has suggested Parliament remove section 314AEB(1)(a)(ii) entirely from the Commonwealth Electoral Act.

Section 314AEB(1)(a)(ii) was identified by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) as being problematic in 2011 and the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters recommended that the section be deleted.

Instead in September 2017, the section was not deleted but greatly expanded so that it now reads:

‘the public expression of views on an issue that is, or is likely to be, before electors in an election (whether or not a writ has been issued for the election) by any means.’

As a result, the definition of what constitutes political expenditure was greatly expanded and has resulted in the St Vincent de Paul Society (and perhaps another 1,000 charities) being defined as third parties in an election. This change in legislation was slipped through the Parliament at the time because the official explanatory memorandum was misleading and did not fully explain the implications of the change.


7 February 2018

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

The proposed Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill 2017 "could mean five million Catholics would have to go and put themselves on a register," an Australian bishop has warned.

Bishop Robert McGuckin of Toowoomba said the bill "casts the net so wide that it could catch not just bishops but every Catholic."

The Government has proposed the bill in a bid to improve the transparency of activities undertaken in Australia on behalf of foreign nations.

"If Catholics want to speak to their local MP or express some view to their Parliamentarians, they'd have to go on a register, take notes of what they've done and things like that.

"It could also possibly effect operations like Catholic Health Australia or any of our charities," he said.

The legislation could also affect the Church's extensive charitable operations. "It's a lot of red tape for our charities of which the money could be used for the disadvantaged. These funds need to be used for what they're meant for," he said.

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