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

 

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.

21 December 2015

Vatican Radio

FOR THE FIRST TIME since the Second Vatican Council changed Christian teachings toward Judaism and the Jewish people 50 years ago, a group of Orthodox rabbis have issued a public statement advocating partnership with Christians and appreciating the religious value of Christianity.

Published on the website of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC) in Israel, ‘To Do the Will of Our Father in Heaven: Toward a Partnership between Jews and Christians’ is signed by over 25 prominent Orthodox rabbis in Israel, the United States and Europe, and calls for cooperation between Jews and Christians to address the moral and religious challenges of our times. The proclamation’s authors are inviting fellow Orthodox rabbis to join in signing the statement.

‘The real importance of this Orthodox statement is that it calls for fraternal partnership between Jewish and Christian religious leaders, while also acknowledging the positive theological status of the Christian faith. Jews and Christians must be in the forefront of teaching basic moral values to the world,’ said Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, one of the statement’s initiators, and founder of CJCUC, member of the Israeli Rabbinate and the Chief Rabbi of Efrat. While not a direct response to the Church’s 1965 ‘Nostra Aetate,’ ‘To Do the Will of Our Father in Heaven’ was clearly influenced by Christianity’s new affirmation of the eternity of the Jewish covenant and the respect that Christian leaders have demonstrated toward Judaism and Jews in contemporary dialogues and religious encounters.

13 December 2015

CLARIFICATION REGARDING CARDINAL GEORGE PELL’S APPLICATION TO ROYAL COMMISSION.

Spokesperson for Cardinal Pell, Rome.

IT HAS BECOME important to clarify some points around the reporting of Cardinal Pell's ill health and his unsuccessful application on Friday to give evidence to the Royal Commission by video link.

1. Cardinal Pell's lawyers tendered evidence from his doctors that it is not safe for him to undertake long haul flights at this time. The Royal Commission reviewed this medical evidence and accepted it as grounds for deferring Cardinal Pell's attendance until February. The Commission also required this personal information to be treated as confidential. Reports referring to "alleged illness" or casting doubt on the authenticity of the evidence of Cardinal Pell's long-standing heart condition are misleading and mischievous.

2. Some reports have claimed that that Cardinal Pell is too sick to give evidence. In fact, his doctors have advised him only that it is unsafe to undertake long haul flights. As a consequence a trip to attend a speaking event in Florida in January has also been cancelled. Otherwise he continues to be able to carry out his duties in the Vatican and to undertake a normal day's activities. His health issues do not preclude him giving evidence by video link, and Cardinal Pell did not wish to delay his evidence or the work of the Royal Commission. This is why he applied for permission to attend the hearing by video link on Friday.

27 November 2015

OPENING STATEMENT given by ACBC Public Policy Director, Jeremy Stuparich, to a public hearing of the Australian Parliament's Human Rights Subcommittee inquiry on Australian advocacy for abolition of the death penalty on 27 November 2015.

I appreciate the invitation from the Committee to speak with you today about efforts to end the death penalty internationally. Australia's Catholic bishops oppose the death penalty and want to see it abolished everywhere.

The bishops welcome the Committee’s inquiry in this area because they want to understand how they can more effectively contribute to the goal of ending capital punishment worldwide.

The death penalty can in Australia be seen as an issue remote from our lives, but earlier this year, the bishops were active not only in lobbying for clemency for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran but also importantly in prayer vigils on their behalf. The executions of these two young men reminded Australians of the pain and sadness that accompanies all judicial killings around the globe.

23 November 2015

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH’s Truth Justice and Healing Council has released guidelines for how Church authorities should respond when claims of child sexual abuse are made against them.

The guidelines, which have been endorsed by the Church leadership, will come into effect from 1 January 2016 and are designed to promote justice and consistency in the way the Church handles child sexual abuse claims and conduct litigation when taken to court.

They also include a requirement for Church dioceses or religious orders to assist a claimant to identify the correct defendant to respond to legal proceedings.

The CEO of the Truth Justice and Healing Council, Francis Sullivan, said the community expects the Catholic Church to have a compassionate and consistent approach towards survivors of child sexual abuse, including when they take legal action.

‘These guidelines provide a framework for Church authorities to do the right thing in court and ease the trauma of litigation for survivors,’ he said.

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