Catholic News - Catholic Telecommunications, a devision of Catholic Resources
 

NEWS ARCHIVE FOR DECEMBER 2004

   
Feature - Walk through Bethlehem, in suburban Melbourne
Nativity scenes were always a highlight of Virgilio Marciano's childhood in his birth country of Italy. After moving to Australia more than 35 years ago, he decided to create a focal point for the community during the festive season in his new home city.
24 Dec 2004

Opinion - The earthiness of the nativity
Jesus' birth is placed inside a stable because, among other things, barns don't look like cathedrals and animals don't smell like incense. There's a brute earthiness to a barn, smells you don't get in church. Everyone struggles with this. Conservatives are forever wanting to make Jesus' actual physical birth a miraculous event. Liberals don't fare much better. They're forever trying to turn the event of Jesus' birth into something more symbolic than physical (which then, like the conservatives' miracle, doesn't have any real blood). - Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI
24 Dec 2004

Latin American bishops urge caution on free trade agreements
El Salvador's ratification of the Central American Free Trade Agreement has once again thrown the spotlight on economic integration efforts in Latin America and raised concerns about the possible impact of free trade pacts on poor people in the region.
24 Dec 2004

ACU appoints prominent lay theologian
The Australian Catholic University has appointed Dr Neil Ormerod to the position of Professor of Theology and Head of the Sub-Faculty of Philosophy and Theology, to be based at its Strathfield Campus in Sydney.
24 Dec 2004

Meeting of Bishops' taskforce on pastoral responses to abortion
The Taskforce on Pastoral Responses to Abortion, established by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, held its inaugural meeting in Sydney on Monday.
24 Dec 2004

Christmas Mass to reach 72 countries
Midnight Mass from St Peter's Basilica, and the Pope's Urbi et Orbi message at midday Rome time, will be televised live to 72 different countries, including Australia.
24 Dec 2004

Leaders proclaim true meaning of Christmas
Sydney's Archbishop, Cardinal George Pell, has said that the message of Christmas, more than its symbols of decorations and carols, holds out hope of better times to come for broken families, lonely suburbanites and even religious cynics.
24 Dec 2004

Fears for Bakhtiyaris' safety after deportation
As immigration officials last night confirmed the Bakhtiyari family will be deported after Christmas, Phil Glendinning of the Edmund Rice Centre said his organisation has evidence that other asylum seekers deported to Syria and Pakistan have been arrested.
24 Dec 2004

Feature - Christmas with the grandparents
We try to make it a happy time for our little one,' said Mary, as she geared up for Christmas. It's the natural goal of every Mum and Dad at this time of year, except the 'parents' of this 'little one', an 11 year-old, are the grandparents. Mary and Jack are the full-time carers of Jessica because her 33 year-old mother is unable to fulfil the role.
23 Dec 2004

Opinion - Scrooge winning the day against Christmas
The extremes that other religions employ to preserve their cultural heritage is matched in Christianity only by its extreme death wish. Until recently, banning Christmas symbols has been so culturally offensive that fictional Christophobes entered the English language for their infamy. Ebenezer Scrooge declared: "Every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly in his heart." - columnist Anthony Browne
23 Dec 2004

Little-known cafe above St Peter's Basilica
Italy's Il Giornale newspaper has highlighted the existence of a cafe - a typical Italian establishment called a 'bar' that also serves gelato - perched on the roof of St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.
23 Dec 2004

Priest pays tribute to shark victim
Adelaide Sacred Heart College chaplain, Passionist Fr Mark Cooper, told the congregation at yesterday's memorial service for former student and shark attack victim Nick Peterson, that the loss of Nick is "something we can't begin to understand".
23 Dec 2004

Site of Jesus' Cana miracle said to be found
Among the roots of ancient olive trees, archaeologists have found pieces of large stone jars of the type the Gospel says Jesus used when he turned water into wine at a Jewish wedding in the Galilee village of Cana.
23 Dec 2004

German theology professor affirms Bethlehem angels existence
A New Testament professor at Heidelberg Universitiy has hit out at fellow scholars who pour scorn on the existence of angels, insisting that the Gospel accounts of angels "stand up to verifiable judicial evidence".
23 Dec 2004

Red carpet for Christmas "drifter" massgoers
Brisbane's Archbishop John Bathersby has expressed his determination to give a warm welcome to the large numbers of irregular worshippers who attend only Christmas (and perhaps Easter) services.
23 Dec 2004

Brigidine says Bakhtiyari family 'victims of cruel deed'
Sr Brigid Arthur, the nun who escorted Woomera detention centre escapees Alamdar and Muntazer Bakhtiyari to the British consulate in Collins Street to seek political asylum in 2002, has described the imminent deportation of the Bakhtiyari asylum seeker family as a tough pre-Christmas blow.
23 Dec 2004

Feature - Hope for the long haul
It is in the believer's DNA to come to this point each year -- no matter how many times expectations have been dashed in the past -- with a sense of anticipation and of hope. Not of hope easily earned or hope that is short-lived. True hope, perhaps the virtue with the lowest profile, is an expensive virtue; it comes at its best with great outlays of faith and of love. It is through those last two that we begin to understand hope in the long haul, hope in that existence beyond the travails of the day.
21 Dec 2004

Opinion - We need virtues, not just values
Virtues are the good habits out of which character is formed. Because character is closely linked with personality, a virtuous person will seek to do good even against temptations to do otherwise - and often at a cost. Virtues tie us to the goals of a practice (be it education, the law, love or friendship) so that we embrace them as our own. - Chris McGillion
21 Dec 2004

World day of prayer for peace in Holy Land
The Catholic bishops of northern Africa and the Arabic world have declared today a special day of prayer for reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.
21 Dec 2004

Suffering pope relies on God and collaborators
At the end of a year marked by increasing physical suffering, Pope John Paul II said he relies more and more on the help of God and on his collaborators to fulfill his mission in the church and the world.
21 Dec 2004

Approval given for first Australian Catholic crematorium
THE NSW Parliament has approved a Bill which will permit the first Catholic crematorium in Australia to be built at the Catholic Cemetery at Rookwood.
21 Dec 2004

Disillusioned priests speak out
Two Victorian Catholic priests have called the church's leadership dictatorial, remote and lacking in compassion.
21 Dec 2004

NZ refuses Bakhtiyari pleas
New Zealand has refused to offer refuge to Australia's highest-profile asylum seekers, the Bakhtiari family, who are facing imminent deportation.
21 Dec 2004

Bishop calls Australia to ratify Kyoto
Australia should ratify the Kyoto Protocol, says Catholic Earthcare chairman, Bishop Christopher Toohey, to stand in solidarity with the 150 countries which have agreed to abide by the United Nations' global warming agreement.
21 Dec 2004

Feature - Darfur - tinderbox of war, dread and very little hope
Darfur is a place where war is experienced with unforgiving immediacy in areas within minutes from population centers that otherwise appear calm. It is also a place where the displaced now feel trapped in camps they fear to leave. On the dry and bracingly hot and sunny days of December, these camp residents longingly see the hills where they once farmed, raised families and buried their kin.
21 Dec 2004

Opinion - Christmas hospitality
Many people who are not part of the regular Sunday worshipping community attend Mass at Christmas. We can view this phenomenon in one of two ways: as an annoyance because these 'hardy annuals' fill up the parking area and sit in 'our' pew, or as an opportunity to reach out to those outside our normal parish circle. A parish can help make Christmas visitors feel welcome and included by having hospitality ministers at the church doors to greet people as they arrive, providing service sheets for those who are unfamiliar with the Mass, rehearsing the sung responses before Mass begins, and handing out leaflets to visitors with information about regular parish activities, services and contact people. - Education Officer Elizabeth Harrington
21 Dec 2004

US theologian calls for 'seamless garment' approach to life issues
Notre Dame theology professor Fr Richard McBrien has attacked bishops who hold a pro-life position on selective issues, claiming that they negate the importance of other concerns such as capital punishment, just war, or social justice.
21 Dec 2004

Late-term abortions increasing
Melbourne's Mercy Hospital clinical director for obstetric and maternity services has confirmed reports that more women are having late-term abortions in Victoria because of psychological distress and reluctance to give birth to babies with abnormalities.
21 Dec 2004

Pope explains symbolism of Christmas tree
During his Angelus audience oN Sunday, Pope John Paul II discussed the symbolism of the Christmas season, focusing on the Christmas tree as "an ancient custom that exalts the value of life".
21 Dec 2004

Report says miracles could be removed from sainthood requirements
The London Times is reporting that Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone of Genoa disclosed that Cardinal Ratzinger has presented a formula to Pope John Paul II for the abolition of the the "miracle clause".
21 Dec 2004

Headmaster blasts 'totalitarian' act on family
The headmaster of Australia's most well known asylum seekers, the Bakhtiyari brothers, has criticised the sudden removal of their family from their home at the weekend as similar to that of a totalitarian regime.
21 Dec 2004

Council urges Govt to 'come to table' on Timor Sea
The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council (ACSJC) has called on the Australian Government to do all in its power to ensure East Timor has early access to revenues from the oil and gas resources of the Timor Sea.
21 Dec 2004

Feature - EarthSong Project's wake-up call
Pope John Paul II has said: "An education in ecological responsibility is urgent". Melbounre Brigidine Sister Anne Boyd's desire to find divinity in the earth started to take form in 1993 when she heard physicist and psychologist, Diarmud O'Murchu speak. Over the next nine years, her desire to grasp ecology/spirituality developed, and the EarthSong project was eventually born. Anne says we must commit to pull back from our existing way of thinking, or "we will bring about the extinction of ourselves".
20 Dec 2004

Opinion - Labor ignores religion at its peril
Prime Minister John Howard has wished recipients of his cards a "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year" while Opposition Leader Mark Latham has offered only "Seasons Greetings". The implication is that Labor is not happy to be seen as pro-Christian. However Labor's Kevin Rudd is concerned that the ALP's failure to make itself sympathetic to Christian groups before the Federal Election cost it votes in marginal seats. During the last parliamentary sitting he called a meeting in his office to discuss Labor and religion. The meeting was packed. It's strange that it took so long for Labor to notice what has been happening in suburbia. For a decade or more, religion has been making a comeback. - Anne Henderson, deputy director, The Sydney Institute.
20 Dec 2004

Survey exposes TV's negative depiction of religion
Network television's depictions of religion are "overwhelmingly" negative, despite 90% of the American public professing a belief in God, according to a study released last week by the Parents Television Council.
20 Dec 2004

French Catholics denounce Mary books
The Church in France has stood up for the Virgin Mary by denouncing two new books that question whether she was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus Christ.
20 Dec 2004

Charles de Foucault heading for beatification
The Vatican will today advance the causes of several candidates for beatification and canonization, including Charles de Foucauld and Cardinal Clemens August von Galen.
20 Dec 2004

Nativity ban sparks city protest
Melbourne's Catholic Youth Ministry is organising a CBD street protest tomorrow to highlight the perceived reality that "Christ" has been left out of "Christmas".
20 Dec 2004

New Apostolic Nuncio for Australia
The Holy See has announced that US-born Archbishop Ambrose B. De Paoli, Apostolic Nuncio to Japan, is to be the new Apostolic Nuncio to Australia.
20 Dec 2004

Students rally behind detained Bakhtiyari family
Students from Adelaide's St Ignatius College have begged the Federal Government to show compassion after two classmates were returned to immigration custody with their family at the weekend.
20 Dec 2004

Feature - Chaplains' challenge to sensitise military to human rights
"Where were the chaplains at Abu Ghraib? If they had had chaplains, we probably wouldn't have had that happen." The rules of armed conflict are geared toward protecting noncombatants. Human rights abuses occur when soldiers use "more force than necessary" to accomplish their mission, according to UN military human rights trainer Major Tony Raimundo. "Each unit has the good people and the not-so-good people. That's the human condition."
17 Dec 2004

Opinion - Jesus' dysfunctional family tree
The Canaanite woman Tamar, who seduced her father-in-law and did not follow her Jewish faith, was part of Jesus' lineage. Scripture scholar Raymond Brown says the fact that Jesus had many disreputable ancestors tells us that God writes straight with crooked lines, that we shouldn't accept an overly-idealised Jesus Christ, and that our own lives, even if they are marked by weakness and insignificance, are important too in continuing the story of the incarnation. - Fr Ron Rolheiser
17 Dec 2004

Religion, ethics 'essential values for young people' across Asia
An interreligious conference at Bangkok's Israeli Embassy thhis week has stressed the importance of religion and ethics in the everyday life of students from different religious backgrounds in all Asian countries.
17 Dec 2004

Tasmanian CEO eyes schools expansion
Soaring demand has prompted a feasibility study for a Year 7-10 Catholic secondary school in the Kingston area of Hobart.
17 Dec 2004

National religious orders Conference for NZ
Some 330 men and women from religious congregations around New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific will gather in Wellington for four days next month for the country's first-ever national conference of religious orders.
17 Dec 2004

Vatican delegation astonished by cancellation of meeting with Israel
Vatican delegation members were astonished on Wednesday when a meeting with the Israeli Foreign Ministry aimed at finalising taxation issues was cancelled hours before the meeting was to take place.
17 Dec 2004

Tasmanian Archbishop's plea to accept Monsignor's guilt
Hobart's Archbishop Adrian Doyle has released a statement stressing that while Monsignor Philip Green will not be serving a prison sentence for sex abuse, Catholics must be careful not to minimise the seriousness of what has happened.
17 Dec 2004

Pope's Peace Day message that violence can't solve problems
Pope John Paul II has said in his message for World Peace Day 2005 that continuing tension and bloodshed in Iraq, the Holy Land and Africa are proof that war and retaliation cannot bring peace.
17 Dec 2004

Feature - Theologian calls for "Political Holiness"
Calling for a form of liberative spirituality, which he terms as "Political Holiness," Edward Schillebeeckx underscores the importance of social engagement in the light of the principles of the Kingdom of God. Political Holiness, he emphasizes, is the new and relevant form of love of neighbour in the face of the manifold inequalities and social injustices in the global community. This vision is attributed to the initiatives of "the God who is mindful of humanity."
15 Dec 2004

Opinion - Religious literacy: why not a national inquiry?
Federal Minister for Education Dr Brendan Nelson recently announced the setting up of a national inquiry into the way reading is being taught in Australian primary schools. Perhaps the Catholic Church should take a leaf out of Dr Nelson's book, with the launching of its own national inquiry into the religious literacy and practice levels among Catholics and how any deficiencies might be remedied. While knowledge of the faith does not guarantee practice, it is a good start.
15 Dec 2004

Cardinal Castrillón says priests not masters of the faithful
People today seek one thing from a priest: to encounter Christ, contemplating in him the face of God, says Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, during a Vatican videoconference.
15 Dec 2004

Parents pick private schools religiously
THE two Rs - religion and reputation - are the magnets pulling parents to private schools according to an Australia-wide survey of 1500 people.
15 Dec 2004

Call for canonisation for Archbishop Fulton Sheen
The cause for sainthood for the most popular TV bishop in the United States got a significant push on Monday when hundreds gathered for the a Mass to mark the 25th anniversary of the death of Archbishop Fulton Sheen.
15 Dec 2004

Pope receives Christmas tree during general audience
Pope John Paul II received a Christmas tree from the Archbishop and faithful of the autonomous Italian province of Trento yesterday during his weekly General Audience in which he said that the long-awaited for Messiah is the source of hope for the poor and oppressed.
15 Dec 2004

24 Sydney parishes to be twinned
Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, is urging priests to continue to be involved in discussions on the twinning of parishes so that new pastoral plans can be implemented as opportunities arise.
15 Dec 2004

Cardinal says terrorists deserve no sympathy
"Only by cutting off the support of terrorists and starving them of the oxygen of sympathy will extremism be defeated forever," says the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell.
15 Dec 2004

Feature - Caritas supporters buy 8000 goats for Christmas
Poor families throughout the world really will know it's Christmas this year as the Catholic communities around Great Britain have already bought gifts worth over half a million pounds. Following the launch of UK Caritas organisation CAFOD's World Gifts catalogue just five weeks ago, parishes, schools and individuals have been inspired by the idea of buying someone a goat or even a latrine for Christmas instead of the usual bubble bath or pair of socks.
14 Dec 2004

Opinion - When giving is selfish…
Christmas is a time when churches and charities urge us to think of those less fortunate than ourselves. It is a time for showing compassion for people we don't know, as well as for those we do. Genuine compassion is a core Christian virtue. It is celebrated in the parable of the Good Samaritan who quietly offered help to an enemy stranger in need. But there is a crucial difference between this sort of practical compassion and the mawkish sentimentality which is becoming more common in our culture today.
14 Dec 2004

Sister is nun the richer
A Catholic sister in Scotland scooped a £69,000 prize from a budget airline - but is nun the richer because she immediately gave it all away. Sister Kathleen Murphy, 50, was awarded the windfall by being the 100millionth passenger to fly with Ryanair.
14 Dec 2004

Vatican meeting for circus workers
The 7th International Congress for the Pastoral Care of Circus and Fairs professionals is studying how parishes can give support the faithful who work in the entertainment world.
14 Dec 2004

Iraqi tells Pope that Christians will be defended
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari (Pictured) told John Paul II that his government is committed to defending the Mideast nation's Christians, targets of terrorist attacks in recent months. Zebari met the Pope today in audience and afterward conferred with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, according to Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls.
14 Dec 2004

Community to pray for Palm Island reconciliation
The Catholic Church joined the Indigenous community in prayers for reconciliation in Townsville, in north Queensland, last night. The Eucharist for Reconciliation was prompted by the unrest on Palm Island, off Townsville. Bishop Michael Putney held the service at St Theresa's Church at Garbutt.
14 Dec 2004

Catholic body calls for work and family balance
Further award provisions should be introduced to support workers in balancing their employment and family commitments, the Catholic Church's employment relations body has told the Family Provisions Test Case.
14 Dec 2004

Bishops, Orders welcome Children in Care report
The Australian Catholic Bishops and the Leaders of Religious Institutes yesterday welcomed the Report of the Senate Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care. In a combined statement, they renewed the apology to first made in the 1996 document, Towards Healing.
14 Dec 2004

Feature - Christmas carols from East Timor
The Mary MacKillop Institute of East Timorese Studies celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2004. A key aspect of its work has been assisting the Catholic Church in East Timor in literacy education, particularly through the Tetum language. To raise funds for St Cecilia's Choir in Dili, the Mary MacKillop Institute has produced a Christmas CD. Seven of the carols are well-known, such as "Silent Night" and "Noel, Noel", and are all sung in Tetun.
14 Dec 2004

Opinion - Vulnerability of the post-Christian generation
Friends took their young son to see the Myer Christmas windows. He was engrossed by the story of The Polar Express - a story he knows well. But the nativity tableau was quite new to him. Our secular society's addiction to consumerism, gambling and large-scale debt often leads to disillusionment, and people long for a spiritual dimension and are easy prey for fundamentalist Christian groups. With no religious background to provide the tools for discernment, these people are readily swayed by the clear certainties and the harsh take-it-or-leave-it morality. - Religion writer Muriel Porter
14 Dec 2004

US Catholic author praises Wiggles' Jesus songs
Leading Catholic author Amy Welborn has praised Australia's Wiggles children's entertainment act for performing songs that mention Jesus in their Christmas special.
14 Dec 2004

Kolkata main street renamed Mother Teresa Road
The main street of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), formerly known as Park Street, has now officially been renamed "Mother Teresa Road".
14 Dec 2004

Reluctant Jesuits admit lay co-workers a blessing
The Jesuits' international leader Fr Peter-Hans Kolvenbach has told a Sydney Assembly of Australian members of the Order that their "reluctant" enlisting of lay workers in their ministry has enriched its mission, and that lay involvement will become more integral as Jesuit numbers continue to decline.
14 Dec 2004

Brisbane Catholics urged to boycott shops on Boxing Day
Brisbane's Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has welcomed the Queensland Government's decision to prevent major retail outlets in many parts of South-East Queensland from trading on Boxing Day.
14 Dec 2004

Tight security in Indonesia for Christmas
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has instructed Police Chief Gen. Dai Bachtiar and Senior Minister for Security, Laws, and Political Affairs Adm (ret) Widodo AS to tighten security in churches across the country ahead of Christmas and New Year.
14 Dec 2004

Pedophile priest may face more charges
A decision is expected this week on whether convicted Melbourne pedophile priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale will face more sex abuse charges relating to a further nine people.
14 Dec 2004

Feature - No-nonsense nun behind the Vatican website
Sr Judith Zoebelein, a 55 year old nun from New York City, is a self-taught computer expert, who was asked to create the Vatican's website singlehandedly back in 1995. Currently technicians are at work installing 50 new servers expanding current capacity more than tenfold. Sr Judith says her task here is to guarantee that the "sacredness of the Church" is not in any way jeopardised by modern technology. The three main servers have been named after the archangels Gabriel, Michael and Raphael. "We needed the extra protection of the archangels," she said.
13 Dec 2004

Opinion - Body worship
Liturgy consists of more than words and music. Gesture, posture and movement are also important elements of ritual worship. Five different whole-of-body positions are adopted at various times in the liturgy: standing, sitting, kneeling, walking and, occasionally, prostration. Liturgical body language unifies the assembly and communicates respect for the liturgy, the community, for God. Through our gestures we are totally involved - body, mind and spirit - in the act of worship. - Education Officer Elizabeth Harrington
13 Dec 2004

De La Salle Brother hails success of SMS truant monitoring
Sydney's De La Salle Bankstown Principal, Br Ambrose Payne, has said the number of unexplained student absences has dropped by half within two weeks of the installation of a system of sending mobile phone text messages to parents of absent students.
13 Dec 2004

Group says civil unions OK a "sad day" for NZ
While official Catholic Church reaction is yet to be reported, Catholic news services are quoting Family Life International's assessment that last week's Parliamentary Decision in Wellington "makes an absolute mockery of due democratic process and will have many negative implications for future generations".
13 Dec 2004

Vinnies swamped by families struggling with Christmas expense
Staff at the St Vincent de Paul Society in South Australia are fielding up to 100 calls a day from cash-strapped families seeking help in the lead up to Christmas.
13 Dec 2004

Pope defends crib as "part of our culture"
Pope John Paul II strongly defended the Christian tradition of erecting cribs in schools and public places, describing it as "part of our culture".
13 Dec 2004

Survey links happiness with Christianity
Christians are happier than atheists, and more generous, according to new findings from the National Church Life Survey titled Spirituality and Wellbeing.
13 Dec 2004

Bishop's increased concern over Baxter situation
Bishops' Committee for Migrants and Refugees Chairman Bishop Joseph Grech has expressed sorrow and concern at the current situation at South Australia's Baxter Immigration Detention Centre.
13 Dec 2004

Feature - Commitment and passion of Schoolies volunteers
Youth ministries co-ordinator David McGovern said the decision to send a team to Schoolies on the Gold Coast year was vindicated by the number of schoolies they were able to engage with. "In my first night with the street van patrol we returned eight schoolies to their accommodation, gave out hundreds of cups of water and simply spoke to many more young people," he said. "Clearly the schoolies appreciate the level of commitment and passion that many volunteers bring to the entire end of year experience." David said an unexpected spin-off from the week was the number of schoolies who expressed a desire to return to the event in future years as volunteers.
10 Dec 2004

Opinion - Name the emotion and healing begins
I entered a religious order at age 17. We were understandably restless, jumping out of our skins, but that was never talked about, never admitted. An old priest visited us one day, took one look at us and said: "You're restless, aren't you?" We were too pious to admit it. "Good!" he continued, "You should be jumping out of your skin! It isn't natural for young people to be cut off like this, but don't worry about it. His simple, honest naming of what we were feeling introduced us to ourselves. We were still restless, but now we felt better. A symptom suffers less when it knows where it belongs. - Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI
10 Dec 2004

Persecution today for 'mad monk' Abbott
Pro-abortion protestors plan a demonstration at 10:00 am this morning outside the Manly, Sydney, office of Federal Health Minister and outspoken Catholic politician Tony Abbott.
10 Dec 2004

Melbourne, Brisbane Archdioceses planning for future
In separate announcements, the Archbishops of Melbourne and Brisbane have indicated that they are working on the future shape of parish and Archdiocesan structures.
10 Dec 2004

Pope says respect cultural difference, but don't forget universal values
Pope John Paul II has said Christians must help migrants integrate into society while at the same time "firmly maintaining the heritage of universal and inalienable values".
10 Dec 2004

Diocese considers private-sector funding for schools
Wollongong Catholic Education Office Schools Director Greg Whitby has said that population growth in South-West Sydney will require a minimum of four Catholic primary schools and two high schools, and it is possible private-sector funding could be sought.
10 Dec 2004

Suspended sentence for Tasmanian monsignor
Monsignor Philip Green, who was removed from active ministry last year after allegations of inappropriate behaviour, has been given a suspended three-month jail sentence on condition he behaves for two years.
10 Dec 2004

Hicks and Habib focus of bishop's Human Rights Day message
Bishop Christopher Saunders of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council (ACSJC) has issued a Human Rights Day call on the Federal Government to act now to secure justice for two Australians who have been detained for over three years in US interrogation facilities.
10 Dec 2004

Feature - Little rebel on long trip to sainthood
A feisty religious rebel who took on Rome and inspired a congregation of nuns to dedicate their lives to the poor could join Mary MacKillop as Australia's next candidate for sainthood. Eileen O'Connor, founder of the Our Lady's Nurses for the Poor at Coogee in Sydney, have kept her application quiet but a biography out today describes a first-hand account of how a statue of the Virgin Mary came to life in her presence, her visions of Jesus and the Virgin, and the near-pristine state of her body 16 years after it was buried.
9 Dec 2004

Opinion - Muslims love Mary and the baby Jesus too
As it turns out, multicultural Sydney just loves Christmas. Bankstown's Centro shopping centre, smack bang in one of the most multicultural areas of Australia, happens to boast one of the city's most lavish Christmas displays. "We love to see Christians celebrating Christmas," said Keysar Trad, the president of the Lakemba-based Lebanese Muslim Association. "We love Christ and Mary." - columnist Miranda Devine
9 Dec 2004

Church reaction to 'Nativity' featuring Kylie and the Beckhams
Church leaders in the UK united yesterday to condemn a Christmas Nativity tableau depicting soccer star David Beckham as Joseph and his pop singer wife Victoria as the Virgin Mary.
9 Dec 2004

Pell blesses new residential aged care community
Holy Spirit Croydon, a new 127 place residential aged care community in Sydney's inner west, was officially opened yesterday by Premier Bob Carr, NSW Health Minister Morris Iemma and blessed by His Eminence George Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sydney.
9 Dec 2004

Townsville bishop to join hundreds at protest rally
Up to 800 people including Catholic Bishop Michael Putney and other church leaders are expected to march through the streets of Townsville today to protest against Aboriginal deaths in custody and call for equity, truth and justice.
9 Dec 2004

Pope keeps up Immaculate Conception Feast Spanish Steps tradition
Waving from his white popemobile, Pope John Paul II blessed shoppers and tourists at the foot of Rome's Spanish Steps yesterday as he began his Christmas schedule with a traditional visit to the popular piazza.
9 Dec 2004

Pope concern for Iraqi Christians after two terror attacks
Pope John Paul II has expressed his concern for Christians in Iraq after terrorists made fresh attacks on two Christian sites in the northern city of Mosul.
9 Dec 2004

Asian religious leaders say terrorism is anti-religious
Religious leaders from the Asia-Pacific region said in a joint statement at the end of this week's Yogyakarta meeting that inter-faith dialogue must be strengthened and fundamentalist groups condemned as an obstacle to peace.
9 Dec 2004

Feature - Australia's devotion to Mary Immaculate
It is 1854. The scene is the Vatican. Together are 110 prelates gathered by pontificial command in Rome to conduct "final discussions on the case for the Immaculate Conception". Of these, Archbishop Polding of Sydney is one. But the Benedictines and clergy of Sydney had to await the archbishop's arrival home on 26 January 1856, to learn the happy news.
8 Dec 2004

Opinion - Doctors' wives' tales
Doctors' wives - Coalition voters who believe Australia's treatment of asylum seekers and participation in the war on Iraq to be morally abhorrent - became notorious during the recent Federal Election campaign. It is a disconcerting fact of life that people who take unpopular moral positions are marginalised. But after we recover from the disconcertment, the interesting question is what we make of being marginalised. Or, for religious people, what God makes of it. - Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ, United Faculty of Theology, Melbourne
8 Dec 2004

Palestinian Christians fear future as an Islamic state
While getting ready for Christmas with a little bit more hope than years past, Palestinian Christians have an increasing fear that "Palestine might become an Islamic state", according to the Rome-based AsiaNews agency.
8 Dec 2004

Commission supports Palm Island Community
Brisbane's Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has issued a statement of support for the family of the Indigenous man who recently died in custody on Palm Island in northern Queensland.
8 Dec 2004

Vatican uses anniversary to promote role of family
The Holy See used Monday's 10th anniversary of the International Year of the Family to stress before the United Nations that the family is the fundamental unit of society, and it must be protected because of its indispensable contribution to society's security and development.
8 Dec 2004

US couple launches action against Queensland cult leader
A wealthy US couple has launched legal action against alleged Magnificat Meal Movement (MMM) "cult" leader Debra Geileskey for refusing to repay a $600,000 property loan.
8 Dec 2004

Vatican publishes expanded calendar of saints
Three years after finishing the massive project of updating and correcting the book-length calendar of Catholic saints, the Vatican has published an even bigger, more accurate version.
8 Dec 2004

Church celebrating today's 150th anniversary of Marian dogma
Pope John Paul II urged the faithful to make special preparation for today's feast of the Immaculate Conception, as the Church celebrates the 150th anniversary of the formal definition of the dogma.
8 Dec 2004

Feature - ACU National and CEO help Sudanese refugees
As refugee children from war-torn parts of The Sudan continue to arrive in NSW schools, the Australian Catholic University has stepped in to tailor teacher training for adult Sudanese refugees, to help ease the children's transition to Australian schools and life, as well as enhance the adults' employment prospects.
7 Dec 2004

Opinion - The Christian compulsion to care for the outsider
Compassion and concern for the alien is mentioned 36 times in the Old Testament, more than any other social matter. It is asserted more strongly than any other Jewish law, whether it be the Sabbath, dietary laws, or attending the tabernacle of the temple. Caring for the alien, the person that is different, the outsider, is a core social part of what we believe as Christians. - John Menadue, former diplomat and chair of online journal NewMatilda.com, launching 'A Fair Go in an Age of Terror'
7 Dec 2004

Melbourne bishop regrets politically-correct Christmas downgrade
Auxiliary Bishop Christopher Prowse has said that the tendency to remove the religious aspects of Christmas is a growing but regrettable trend.
7 Dec 2004

Bishops to research disconnected Catholics
Meeting in Sydney, Australia's Catholic bishops have approved a new research project that aims to find out more about the reasons why people are ceasing to attend Mass.
7 Dec 2004

NSW bishop apologises over abuse
Bishop Michael Malone of the regional Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle has apologised to the victims of a priest who was yesterday convicted of child sex abuse.
7 Dec 2004

Pope tells Catholics to follow Church teaching in public life
Pope John Paul II said US bishops need to remind lay Catholics of their duty to follow authoritative church teachings, whether in private life or in social roles.
7 Dec 2004

Bishop's pre-emptive strike against workers' rights rollback
Parramatta's Bishop Kevin Manning is reportedly sending a "pre-emptive message" to the Government that it has a responsibility to care for the vulnerable and protect the rights of workers.
7 Dec 2004

Downer urges pulpit war against terror
Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has told more than 120 religious leaders at the inter-faith meeting in Indonesia that the war on terror will fail if it is not pursued in pulpits, mosques, synagogues and temples.
7 Dec 2004

Feature - Signs of past, hope for the future
My wife, Severina, saw East Timor after leaving years ago the worst of a series of very real threats. We travelled with one of the two bishops of East Timor, Dom Basilio do Nascimento, a member of Severina's family, and with Teresa, Severina's sister from Portugal. The media had affirmed that this was the newest of nations and the poorest in Asia. I saw the culture and worship of the people over this brief stay and felt that beneath the smiles of their existence was an endurance, watching and waiting for change and wondering how to cope with it.
6 Dec 2004

Opinion - Rethinking family Christmas traditions
We speak of Christmas as a season of joy and peace. But the reality is that sometimes stress and friction reign in family life as the festive season approaches. Our Christmas traditions had been handed down by previous generations and we remembered these family 'giants' by doing things the way they 'ought' to be done.
6 Dec 2004

One million devotees flock to St Francis Xavier's remains
About one million pilgrims have travelled to the western Indian state of Goa to see the remains of a 16th Century Spanish saint, Francis Xavier, whose feast day was observed on Friday.
6 Dec 2004

Caritas appeals for Philippine typhoon victims
Caritas Internationalis has launched a $A156,457 appeal in the wake of four typhoons and tropical storms that ripped through the Philippines late last month.
6 Dec 2004

Brisbane archbishop condemns 'spying' in church
Archbishop John Bathersby has said that taking notes during a service with the intention of using that material to complain about what was taking place is disrespectful.
6 Dec 2004

NZ Bishops' last-ditch bid to block gay union Bill
The Catholic Church yesterday made an 11th-hour attempt to block the Civil Union Bill, which is due to be put to a final vote in Parliament this week.
6 Dec 2004

Church set to mark 150th anniversary of Immaculate Conception dogma
Pope John Paul II is leading celebrations for Wednesday's 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the Immaculate Conception dogma, which include a four-day international congress, a commemorative liturgy involving Pope John Paul II, and a special "Concert for Immaculate Mary" in the Vatican's audience hall.
6 Dec 2004

Australian speaks on Religious Freedom at Vatican conference
Australian Jesuit, Father Daniel Madigan, described religious freedom as intrinsically connected to all other human rights at a US Embassy-sponsored conference at the Vatican.
6 Dec 2004

Feature - The subversive French tradition of santons
Santons are, literally, little saints. Part of a typical French Nöel crèche (Christmas Nativity scene), santons come in work clothes to visit the Holy Family. They were a way of bringing religion home and keeping it alive in the wake of the French Revolution of 1789. When churches were being sacked, looted and closed, and Christmas Midnight Mass and outdoor Nativity scenes were banned, ordinary people began setting up crèches in their own homes.
3 Dec 2004

Opinion - Lighting advent candle is about hope, not optimism
To light an Advent candle is to say that God is still Lord of this world, and all will be well, despite the gloom of the evening news. Teilhard de Chardin once said: "If we blow up the world by nuclear bombs, that will set things back some millions of years, but eventually what Christ promised will come about, not because I wish it, but because God has promised it and, in the resurrection, God has shown that God is powerful enough to deliver on that promise." - Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI
3 Dec 2004

Changed times in the business of religion
About three-quarters of adult Australians say they are affiliated to a religion, compared with a world average of 86%, according to data published in a feature article in Business Review Weekly (also known as BRW).
3 Dec 2004

Caritas expresses solidarity with Palestinian people
Caritas Internationalis issued a statement calling international leaders to a renewed commitment to the Middle East Peace Roadmap, on the occasion of Monday's International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
3 Dec 2004

US organises conference to lobby Vatican on religious freedom
The United States Embassy to the Holy See is behind a conference titled Religious Freedom: The Cornerstone of Human Dignity, which opens today at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University.
3 Dec 2004

Pope endorses world ban on landmines
In a message delivered yesterday to an international landmines conference in Nairobi, Pope John Paul II challenged all nations to join in the Ottawa Convention, which was adopted in 1997 with the aim of the complete elimination of landmines.
3 Dec 2004

Centacare warns low-income families on credit card trap
The overuse of credit cards at Christmas will drive low to middle income families to financial ruin, according to Centacare Sydney financial counsellor David Bell.
3 Dec 2004

Pell weighs in on 'politically correct' baptisms
Cardinal George Pell has backed the Brisbane Archbishop John Bathersby's firm stand against so-called renegade priests who performed "invalid" baptisms using politically correct language.
3 Dec 2004

Feature - Christian martial arts against society's ills
'Taekwondo for Christ', based in India, blends evangelisation and the martial art of taekwondo to fight social problems. The goal is "to unearth youth's athletic talents and help them glorify God through them," said the group's founder. The Korean martial art is popular among young people in India's North-East, a region plagued with drug and alcohol abuse as well as interethnic violence.
2 Dec 2004

Opinion - Liturgical New Year
This week is the first week of the Church's new year, also known as Year A in the three-year lectionary cycle. In the earliest days of Christianity there was a weekly cycle based on the community's practice of assembling for the Eucharist on every Lord's Day, Sunday. But just as all cultures shape a yearly cycle of anniversaries and commemorations to solidify their identity and purpose, the followers of Christ gradually developed an annual cycle of feasts and seasons. - Education Officer Elizabeth Harrington / Liturgy Lines
2 Dec 2004

ACU commended for project to boost numeracy of disadvantaged children
An Australian Catholic University research project designed to improve the numeracy skills of disadvantaged children has gained an honourable mention in the 2004 Business/Higher Education Round Table (B-HERT) awards for Best Research and Development Collaboration.
2 Dec 2004

Italian Cardinal worried about Godless China, but Islam not a problem
Cardinal Camillo Ruini has said that the Church has more cause for concern about civilisations such as China, in which religion plays a minor role and faith in a personal God is absent.
2 Dec 2004

NZ Bishops threaten Govt on gay union Bill
New Zealand's Catholic bishops have mounted a challenge to MPs supporting the country's Civil Union Bill, with a veiled warning of consequences at the ballot box.
2 Dec 2004

Catholic Health welcomes breakthrough for retirement villages
Catholic Health Australia has reacted positively to new legislation that recognises accommodation, accommodation services and meals should be GST-free if the provider is a charitable organisation.
2 Dec 2004

Priest says democratic society does not suit 'dysfunctional' Church
The South Brisbane parish priest at the centre of the controversy over invalid baptism has described the Church as dysfunctional, meaning that it has trouble relating to democracy because it is not a democracy itself.
2 Dec 2004

Clergy Commission head says priest drought overstated
Fr Peter Brock, executive officer of the National Commission for Clergy, Life and Ministry, has said that this week's suggestion that the priesthood faces extinction, is premature.
2 Dec 2004

Feature - Man of the people
The Northern Territory's Administrator Ted Egan has also been a singer, author, crocodile hunter, footy player, stockman, and member of the Order of Australia. Speaking Tiwi was especially helpful to Ted in his role as captain of St Mary's football team. The team, consisting mainly of indigenous players, commenced in 1951 at the suggestion of the then Bishop of Darwin, John O'Loughlin. A keen footballer, Ted was already playing for another team at a local Catholic school.
31 Dec 2004

Opinion - Free speech will out the truth
The importance of teaching and pastoral leadership lies in the need to enlarge narrow minds to believe more fully, and constricted hearts to live more generously by faith. When tinny ideas have license to speak themselves, they may initially be attractive. But their deficiencies soon appear when set against something better. When they are suppressed, they seem daring and attractive. When we restrict and control conversation in the community, we communicate anxiety and timidity. We may attract those who seek security, but it is not the Gospel of freedom that we commend. - Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ
31 Dec 2004

Baby Jesus let back into Sydney store
A fast food chain yesterday admitted it was overzealous in its pursuit of political correctness when it banned one of its Sydney stores from displaying a traditional Christmas nativity scene.
31 Dec 2004

Pope praise for Legionaries of Christ
In a week of liturgies, meetings and official documents, Pope John Paul II and Vatican offices have spotlighted the growing influence of the Legionaries of Christ and the associated movement, Regnum Christi.
31 Dec 2004

Cardinal lashes anti-family ideology
Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, has criticised "an ideology hostile to the family [that] is spreading in some parliaments not only in Europe, but in America too."
31 Dec 2004

Brisbane Archbishop comments on baptism words controversy
Archbishop John Bathersby has said that using the "correct" formulas is necessary for priests and congregations to remain in communion with a local diocese and with the universal Catholic Church.
31 Dec 2004

Priest shortage puts Mass under cloud
Melbourne will soon have insufficient Catholic priests to conduct Sunday Masses, according to advice from priest-statistician Eric Hodgens published today in The Age and Online Catholics.
31 Dec 2004

Priest says AIDS fight must tackle 'sex object' culture
A Jesuit priest who is a member of the Federal Government's Ministerial Advisory Committee on AIDS, Sexual Health and Hepatitis has said it is culture, not condoms, that should occupy the minds of seeking a solution to AIDS.
31 Dec 2004