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


18 March 2015

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

Archbishop Phil Wilson of Adelaide has said he will vigorously defend his innocence and vowed to clear his name after being charged by NSW police with concealing a serious offence regarding clerical child sexual abuse in the Hunter region nearly 30 years ago.

Archbishop Wilson said in a written statement; "I am disappointed to have been notified by the NSW Police that it has decided to file a charge in respect of this matter.

"The suggestion appears to be that I failed to bring to the attention of police a conversation I am alleged to have had in 1976, when I was a junior priest, that a now deceased priest had abused a child.

"From the time this was first brought to my attention last year, I have completely denied the allegation. I intend to vigorously defend my innocence through the judicial system."

The charge relates to James Patrick Fletcher, a priest who was convicted of molesting an altar boy in the early 1990s but died in prison in 2006. However more recent police investigations found Fletcher's offending dated back to the 1970s in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese.

11 March 2015

Aid to the Church in Need

'Three policemen tried to drag me away. But I resisted. Then half a dozen of them lifted me up—with one even choking me by the neck—and put me in the police bus.' His priestly garb gave Fr Dennis George little protection he said when retelling his story to the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need on Thursday 5 March.

The offense of Father George, a priest of the Archdiocese of New Delhi, was his attempt to join a demonstration on 5 February against the desecration and attacks on five Catholic churches in the Indian capital as well as months of Hindu harassment of Christians throughout the country.

The unrest did prod India’s political leader into action. 'My government will not allow any religious group, belonging to the majority or the minority, to incite hatred against others, overtly or covertly,' declared Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday 17 February.

'Mine will be a government that gives equal respect to all religions,' Modi said on 17 February, while presiding over celebrations here to honor India’s two new saints, Chavara Elias Kuriakose and Sister Euphrasia, who had been canonized last November at the Vatican.

11 March 2015

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

The court of public opinion will decide if Australia has breached human rights conventions and damaged its global reputation following the release this week of a UN Report.

The UN Report on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment has already sparked heated debate amongst politicians and activists.

Professor Spencer Zifak, Professor of Law at the Australian Catholic University and expert on International Human Rights Law says despite the lack of penalties for Convention breaches Australia's reputation will be damaged.

However Report critics say it is based on submissions of lobby groups and human rights activists and further independent investigation was required.

The Report which was presented to the UN Human Rights Council on Monday 9 March, investigated 200 allegations of torture and abuse in 68 countries. Four of these involved Australia's asylum seeker policies and took issue with children being held in immigration detention, the holding of asylum seekers off shore and subject to dangerous and violent conditions, and the recent amendments to Australia's Maritime powers which allow the arbitrary detention and refugee determinations to be carried out at sea with no access to lawyers, and have tightening controls on the issuing of visas on the basis of character and risk assessments.

5 March 2015

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

The integration of Canon Law into undergraduate studies provides invaluable insights for future legal practitioners, says Professor Michael Quinlan, Dean of the School of Law at the University of Notre Dame Sydney.

Students at Notre Dame's School of Law are able to study Canon Law as an Elective Law Unit during the final years of their study for a Bachelor of Laws or a Bachelor of Laws/ Bachelor of Arts double degree which leads to a better understanding of how different legal systems operate, and how the Catholic faith has played a significant role in the development of Australia's own civil law, Professor Quinlan says.

Offered by Notre Dame at its Sydney Campus, the Canon Law Unit of Study provides students with an introduction to the internal laws governing the Catholic Church as specified in the Code of Canon Law promulgated by St John Paul II in 1983, and explores the role this plays in today's civil law.

18 February 2015

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

The Independent Education Union secretary, John Quessy claims thousands of teachers at Catholic schools are "outraged" by a clause requiring them to be supportive of the mission, teachings and values of the Church as part of the Enterprise Agreement currently being negotiated with the NSW Catholic Commission of Employment Relations (CCER).

"What employers are proposing is entirely consistent with arrangements that are already in place," says Anthony Farley CCER's Executive Director, pointing out similar arrangements already exist through a range of policies as well as letters of that do exactly what is now being proposed be included in the 2015 Enterprise Agreement.

"What we have done is create one agreement for the 11 Dioceses in NSW and the ACT, bringing a number of different industrial instruments into one," he says and admits he is at a loss to understand why the clause relating to the Catholic ethos and Church values and teachings has suddenly been singled out as an issue by the Union.

Not only are staff at Catholic schools asked to respect and support the Church's mission, but this support is required by all those employed at Catholic agencies, hospitals, charities and institutions.

"Not being a Catholic does not mean you cannot be supportive of Catholic values. We have 20,000 staff in our schools in NSW and the ACT who come from a wide range of backgrounds, political views and other religious faiths, or in some cases no faith at all," CCER's Executive Director says.

5 February 2015

By Catherine Sheehan, Media and Communications

This Saturday evening, 7 February, a prayer vigil will be held at St Patrick’s Cathedral in East Melbourne, for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, two Australians currently facing the death penalty in Indonesia.

The two members of the so-called ‘Bali Nine’ drug-smuggling ring, arrested in 2005 and sentenced to death in 2006, are facing imminent execution via firing squad.

It was announced yesterday that the Denpasar District Court in Indonesia has refused the pair’s final appeal for clemency. It is expected their execution will take place within a month. (The Australian, 5 February 2015)

The prayer vigil has been organised by the Office for Justice and Peace, of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, in conjunction with Mercy Campaign, an online campaign which is petitioning for an end to the death penalty.

The Catholic Church teaches that all human life is sacred as God has created all people in his image. Therefore the God-given dignity of each person must be respected (Catechism of the Catholic Church: 357, 1929). This inherent dignity is present at all stages of life from conception until natural death, and even when a person has committed a terrible crime.

The Church also emphasises the mercy of Jesus Christ who said ‘blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.’ (Matthew 5:7). Christ also said to those who wanted to stone to death a woman guilty of adultery, ‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ (John 8:7) The Church proclaims that justice must always be tempered with mercy.

4 February 2015

Catholic News Service

After decades of debate within the church, Pope Francis formally recognized that Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero was killed ‘in hatred of the faith’ and not for purely political reasons.

Pope Francis signed the decree on Tuesday 3 February, recognising as martyrdom the assassination of Archbishop Romero in a San Salvador hospital chapel as he celebrated Mass on 24 March 1980.

The decree clears the way for the beatification of Archbishop Romero. The postulator or chief promoter of his sainthood cause, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, was scheduled to brief the press on Wednesday 4 February.

Archbishop Romero's sainthood cause was opened at the Vatican in 1993, but was delayed for years as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith studied his writings, amid wider debate over whether he had been killed for his faith or for taking political positions against the Salvadoran government and the death squads operating in his country.

As head of the San Salvadoran Archdiocese from 1977 until his death, Archbishop Romero's preaching grew increasingly strident in defence of the country's poor and oppressed.

30 January 2015

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Sexual Abuse today released its 300-page paper on redress and civil litigation.

Chair of the Royal Commission, Hon Justice Peter McClellan AM, launched the consultation paper in Sydney.

The first part of the paper deals with equality issues amongst survivors. The paper also notes that any scheme would need to have three main elements:

• a direct personal response by the institution (if the survivors wishes), which would include an apology, an opportunity for the survivors to meet with a senior representative of the institution and an assurance as to steps taken to protect against future abuse
• access to therapeutic counselling and psychological care
• monetary payment

The paper also provides guidelines on principles for an effective direct personal response which the Commission has identified through its meetings with almost 3000 survivors.

The paper also notes three possible options for providing redress:

• institutional schemes
• a national scheme or
• separate state and territory schemes

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