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


11 March 2016

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

"Every person ought to have the awareness that purchasing is always a moral - and not simply an economic - act." Pope Francis.

Christine Carolan, the Executive Officer of Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH), one of the Slavery-Free Easter Chocolate Campaign members, said buying slavery-free chocolate at Easter gave people a chance to take a stand against human trafficking and slavery. Slavery-free chocolate is chocolate that is free from exploitative labour practices.

ACRATH is asking Australians, particularly in Catholic parishes and schools, in the lead up to Easter to consider what chocolate they buy and eat at Easter. Ms Carolan said many supermarkets in Australia are selling slavery-free chocolate this Easter.

ACRATH reports that much of the chocolate that finds its way into shops and homes in Australia is made from cocoa from plantations in the West Coast of Africa. Presently children as young as 12 years old are the ones picking those cocoa beans in order to make the chocolate eaten by Australians.

Some of these children are trafficked. Most of the children are forced to pick cocoa from an early age for minimal or no wages, for long hours, in dangerous work conditions, without any possibility of attending school.

11 March 2016

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

Catholic and Islamic religious leaders including Bishop Robert Rabbat, Eparch of the Melkite Eparchy of Australia and New Zealand and Bishop Antoine Charbel Tarabay, Maronite Bishop of Australia, met on Saturday 5 March 2016 at Masjid Arrahman, Kingsgrove where they discussed the issue of the proposed redefinition of marriage to allow for same-sex "marriage".

After the meeting concluded, the leaders united to issue a joint statement, which was read by Sheikh Youssef Nabha.

The text of the statement is as follows:

Our love of religious, family, moral and democratic values, prompts us to speak out in defence of society and humanity:

1.  We announce together, as Christians and Muslims, our support for natural marriage between a man and a woman, and our unity in rejecting the same-sex marriage legislation.

2.  A great many Australians, including people of all faiths and of none, oppose the attempts to change the definition of marriage, outlined in the Marriage Act 1961, to allow for same-sex marriage.

4 March 2016

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

Archbishop Anthony Fisher sent his congratulations to three recipients of various Papal honours who were presented with their awards yesterday by Bishop Terry Brady at a small reception in Cathedral House.

"The Honourable Justice François Kunc, Mrs Gemile Mellick and Mr Neville Moses have each made outstanding contributions to the work of the Church within the Archdiocese of Sydney and the broader Australian community", said Archbishop Fisher.

In a statement sent by the Archbishop to the recipients for the occasion, Archbishop Fisher acknowledged the efforts of the recipients which span very different fields of activity and "reflect the broad nature of the Church's engagement and willingness to meet the many needs of our society".

"It is very fitting that these three wonderful Catholic laypeople are being appropriately honoured for their selfless commitment and service.

"They have set fine examples for others and I am pleased to be able to express my sincere gratitude to them through these few words."

4 February 2016

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

Australian Catholic Bishops Delegate for Refugees, Bishop Vincent Long ofm, has called on the Federal Government to act with compassion for those seeking asylum in Australia - especially babies and children.

This follows a High Court ruling, by a 6-1 majority, that Australia's offshore detention centres at Nauru and Manus Island is lawful, clearing the way for the return of approximately 220 asylum seekers to Nauru as well as 37 babies born in Australia.

"Following the High Court decision, the Australian Government's response to people seeking asylum, including babies born in Australia and their parents, should focus on protecting them from harm and respecting their human dignity," said Bishop Long, a former refugee himself.

"I urge the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton to show compassion and mercy towards these families and not act in a way that will cause even more harm than has been done already."

5 February 2016

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

The Archdiocese of Sydney's Justice and Peace Office is calling on Catholics to make a brief submission to the Fair Work Commission on the recommendation from the Productivity Commission to cut Sunday penalty rates.

A December 2015 report from the Productivity Commission recommended cutting the rates of Sunday penalty rates and making them equal to the rates paid on Saturday for those in the hospitality, entertainment, retail, restaurants and cafes industries, where demand is strong on the weekends.

The Commission's reasoning was that a decline in religious observance on Sundays, the increased presence of women in the workplace (with the consequent need for weekend services) and an increase in consumer demand for shopping and recreation services meant that Sundays were no longer considered "special."

The Fair Work Commission will make the final decision on weekend penalty rates, and is seeking submissions from the public by Wednesday, 17 February.

The Justice and Peace Office said that while there is an argument that a reduction in penalty rates will allow for job creation as wage pressure on business is relieved, there is no certainty that any extra profits for business will be re-invested in further jobs.

5 February 2016

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

The Australian Catholic Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life (BCPL) and Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) are calling for a day of prayer, reflection and action against human trafficking on the feast of St Josephine Bakhita on this coming Monday, 8 February 2016.

The Chair of the BCPL is Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney, Bishop Terry Brady.

"In marking the Bakhita Day of prayer and fasting in this Year of Mercy, Australia's Catholics should be mindful of Pope Francis' challenge to us to stop human trafficking. We can all commit to learning more about human trafficking. We can commit to helping victims of human trafficking. And we can commit to tackling the systems that enable human trafficking to flourish", Bishop Brady said.

The feast of St Josephine Bakhita has been chosen because St Bakhita herself experienced kidnapping and slavery in both Sudan and Italy. In her home country of Sudan, St Bakhita was kidnapped by slave traders at the age of seven. She was forced to walk almost 1000 kilometres barefoot and was bought and sold twice during that journey.

Over the next twelve years, Bakhita was sold and resold another three times, and endured beatings and scars so severe that she could not recall her own name.

16 February 2016

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of the Australian Defence Force, Bishop Max Davis, has been found not guilty of all charges and accusations relating to indecent dealings with five students more than 40 years ago.

A jury found Bishop Davis not guilty of six counts of indecent dealings with male children between 1969 and 1972 when he was dormitory master at St Benedict's College in New Norcia, north east of Perth.

When Bishop Davis, 70 was charged two years ago, he stood aside from his duties as Catholic Bishop of the Australian Defence Force.

He has always maintained his innocence.

26 February 2016

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has told a federal government inquiry into surrogacy that both commercial and altruistic surrogacy offends human dignity and that this cannot be overcome by regulation.

The surrogacy inquiry was announced on 2 December 2015, with the House of Representatives' Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs asked to inquire into and report on the regulatory and legislative aspects of international and domestic surrogacy arrangements.

Commercial surrogacy is not permitted in Australia, with the only form of surrogacy being that done for altruistic purposes. This means that intending parents cannot make payments to a surrogate mother outside of reimbursement of expenses.

Around 250 applications for citizenship for children born from surrogate mothers overseas are made each year. Developing countries are popular destinations for those seeking surrogacy-for-payment arrangements, because the costs are much lower than those in countries like the United States (where commercial surrogacy is also legal.) This has led to a situation where women and children have been exploited, the most infamous example being the case of Baby Gammy, who was left behind in Thailand by his biological parents after he was diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

It is consistently argued that these risks are reason for legalising commercial surrogacy in Australia.

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