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NEWS ARCHIVE FOR DECEMBER 2006

   
Jesus not king of Poles, bishops say
Polish bishops have attacked a proposal by conservative political parties in Poland to declare Jesus honorary king of the central European republic.
22 Dec 2006

Hobart Archbishop in Christmas call for "communion of hearts"
In a Christmas message noting continuing hostilities in Iraq, Palestine, Israel and elsewhere, Hobart Archbishop Adrian Doyle has called on Christians to work for "communion of hearts" and to make sacrifices for peace.
22 Dec 2006

Melbourne priest slams year end Catholic Ed appointment
Feisty Melbourne priest Fr Eric Hodgens has accused the Melbourne archdiocese of failing to follow proper process in appointing a new director of Catholic education in the final days of the school year.
22 Dec 2006

Tasmanian ex-priest freed after convictions quashed
Former priest, Roger Michael Bellemore, was freed by a Tasmanian appeal court yesterday which ordered a retrial after quashing his convictions on child sex charges because of "errors and irregularities" at the trial.
22 Dec 2006

Hong Kong cardinal in call to excommunicate China bishops
Frustrated over a recent spate of episcopal ordinations not authorised by the Holy See, Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen has called on Pope Benedict to excommunicate China's state-appointed bishops.
22 Dec 2006

Remember Christ with a crib this Christmas: Benedict
Wishing pilgrims in St Peter's Square "Happy Christmas" in seven languages, Pope Benedict has encouraged Catholics to set up Yuletide cribs as "a simple and eloquent way of remembering Christ".
22 Dec 2006

Feature - Good vibrations
In church towers across Sydney, a small but dedicated band chimes in the Christmas services and rings in the new year. Bellringers are dedicated and disciplined, far from the friars and maiden aunts depicted in comedy cliches. Sydney's 150-odd active ringers are teenagers and retirees, mothers and IT types, who roll up their sleeves for a pursuit that is both aerobic and ascetic. "At the advanced level, it is almost a complete meditation," says Jim Woolford, a bellringer at St Mary's Cathedral - Tim Vaughan
22 Dec 2006

Opinion - Don't put family first this Christmas
Christmas is family time. It is also a time for politicians to practise their pitch in defence of decent Australian families, Australian working families, and family values. We even have a political party called Family First. The party says that it is not explicitly Christian. That is just as well, because the claim made in the name of the party could hardly be less Christian. In Mark's Gospel the greatest single obstacle to faith is to put family first - Fr Andrew Hamilton
22 Dec 2006

Americans clueless about Bethlehem
Most Americans believe that Bethlehem is a town in Israel inhabited by Jews and Muslims - only a fraction realise that it is a mixed Christian-Muslim Palestinian city in the occupied West Bank, a survey shows.
21 Dec 2006

Newcastle offers "Gradpack" to Gen Y graduates
In a novel bid to develop links with Generation Y, Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Michael Malone has written to congratulate Catholic high school graduates on their academic results as part of a "Gradpack" inviting them to find ways to participate in the Church.
21 Dec 2006

Tamworth priest slams "heartless" Council refugee decision
Parish priest of St Nicholas, Tamworth, Fr Richard Gleeson says that the council's decision to stop the NSW city from becoming a resettlement centre for refugees is "heartless".
21 Dec 2006

Beer slab donation not enough to make poverty history
Compared to money spent on Christmas, Caritas Australia chief Jack de Groot says that Australians can do a lot better to alleviate poverty than the $43 average donation - the price of a slab of beer - to development agencies in 2005.
21 Dec 2006

Townsville Church concern over Palm Island decision
Townsville Church leaders are concerned about the impact on Indigenous communities of the decision not to prosecute a Queensland police officer over the death of Palm Island man Mulrunji Doomadgee.
21 Dec 2006

Benedict's AIDS stance pleases UN
A UN adviser says that officials of the international body are very pleased that Pope Benedict has been speaking more about AIDS in his speeches.
21 Dec 2006

Feature - Sadness amid season of joy
Rather than joy, Christmas can be a time of sadness for people who are grieving a loss, according to Josephite Sister Anne Howley, who runs the Brisbane Grief and Bereavement Support Centre on Brisbane's northside. Sr Howley runs a service designed to help people who are struggling with the grief of losing a loved one. "We are fast approaching that time of year, which many hope would go away and they would not have to face it," Sr Howley said.
21 Dec 2006

Opinion - Finding meaning in our disconnected lives
There is now a large body of research from around the world devoted to understanding the factors that contribute to people's sense of happiness. They include a basic level of financial security, good health, sociability, and being married. Interestingly, beyond a basic level, having more money doesn't make us happier. There is also evidence of a correlation between religious beliefs and happiness. What do family, work and religion have in common? A relationship to something outside of, and usually greater than, ourselves - Dr Mark Byrne
21 Dec 2006

Flintstones co-creator dead at 95
Born into a Catholic family in New York's Little Italy in 1911, Joe Barbera, who co-founded the Academy Award-winning Hanna-Barbera cartoon powerhouse, has died at his Studio City, California home.
20 Dec 2006

Manila's dump to host world first environmental church
A parish in the Philippines capital of Manila is constructing a church from recycled materials in the midst of the infamous Smokey Mountain shanty town in what the parish priest describes as the world's first ever environmental church.
20 Dec 2006

Christmas medal for faithful worker
Long serving Australian Catholic Bishops Conference employee, Elisabeth Cowie, has been recognised for her dedication to Australia's clergy with the award of a Papal Medal at a dinner in Canberra this week.
20 Dec 2006

Indian bishop attacked by extremists
Bangalore Archbishop Bernard Moras and two priests were attacked and detained by a mob of alleged Hindu fundamentalists while on a visit to a parish church and school on the outskirts of the southern Indian city.
20 Dec 2006

Vatican needs more women, says Italian professor
"The problem with the church today is the lack of women in positions of responsibility at the Vatican", an Italian professor said at a Rome conference on feminism and the Church.
20 Dec 2006

Church leaders petition Tamworth over refugee decision
Leaders from the Anglican, Catholic and Uniting churches have met with the Tamworth mayor in a bid to convince the council to keep an open mind on the resettlement of refugees after it last week refused to resettle five Sudanese refugee families in the NSW town.
20 Dec 2006

Feature - Jesus' star rises in Jerusalem
The week before Christmas, shoppers at the Happening novelty store in the centre of Jewish West Jerusalem had their pick of Hanukkah cards, toys and menorahs. That's not surprising. But something else is: There was also a good assortment of Christmas tree ornaments, wreaths and Santa hats available in the store's sizeable Christmas section. In recent years, Christmas, which Jewish Israelis all but ignored in the past, has gained a modest foothold in Israel, most notably in Tel Aviv, a city renowned for its openness - Michele Chabin
20 Dec 2006

Opinion - For religion or money? Christ on the big screen
This Christmas, Christ is back. And this time, you can experience the story of his birth as never before. That's the message foretold in New Line Cinema's The Nativity Story. Although the film is supposed to remind us about the humble beginnings of Jesus, the real message behind the most expensive religious movie ever backed by a major motion picture studio is that there are huge profits to be made by producing wholesome films with Christian themes. But are religious-themed movies actually finding more favour with Christian audiences? - Jonathan Jones
20 Dec 2006

Irish doctor incensed over children "inhaling" at church
Irish MP and medical practitioner, Dr Jim McDaid, has again lit a firestorm of debate over his warning of the potential danger for altar servers breathing incense smoke at church services.
19 Dec 2006

Priest guru to continue
Lismore priest Fr Frank Devoy is to continue his mandate as Executive Director of the Australian Council for Clergy Life and Ministry, the Australian bishops have announced.
19 Dec 2006

Christian renaissance coming, predicts French academician
Philosophies and ideologies are almost dead, argues well-known anthropologist René Girard in a newly published book in which the French Academy member predicts a new Christian cultural revolution that will make the Renaissance "seem like nothing".
19 Dec 2006

Christianity at core of EU values, say European bishops
In a paper issued ahead of a forthcoming European Union declaration on common values, the continent's bishops has argued that the institution must be rooted in values that underlie the "transcendental destiny of the human person".
19 Dec 2006

Christianity not driver in cloning vote: Garrett
Religion was not a factor in Peter Garrett's opposition to the recently voted stem cell cloning bill, the Labor Environment spokesman said, with Christianity being a part of his make-up rather than his being driven by it.
19 Dec 2006

Benedict in Iraqi refugee appeal
With an estimated 600,000 Iraqi refugees trapped in Syria, Pope Benedict has launched an appeal to the international community for assistance for those forced to leave their homes as a result of the "dramatic situation" in Iraq.
19 Dec 2006

Feature - An invitation to believe in Santa
The invitation to learn how to believe in Santa again is one of the many challenges of Christmas. And the challenge is not so much to come back to the innocence of a child but to see the knowledge and maturity that we've gained from all our years of learning and experience not as an end but as a stage, a necessary one, on the journey to a still deeper place, wisdom, fuller maturity - Fr Ron Rolheiser
19 Dec 2006

Opinion - The failure of contemporary sacred art
The image of crucified Jesus is one of the oldest Christian symbols that remains in widespread use. The earliest crucifixes were not at all representations of the historical event or reminders of the faith - they were objects of devotion. As such, particular modes of depicting them changed and developed throughout the centuries as the understanding of the faith grew. Relatively recent industrial developments that removed the artisan from the process of craft mean that the crucifix can be produced cheaply and quickly. But one must ask: "At what cost?" - Daniel Balan
19 Dec 2006

Vatican priests to strip for Clericus Cup
The Vatican will field a team in the inaugural 2007 Clericus Cup soccer competition for priests and seminarians launched by an Italian Christian sporting organisation in a bid to promote a sporting culture in the Church.
18 Dec 2006

Kenya bishops tell priests to keep out of politics
Amid fears that Kenya's government is seeking to boost electoral support by appointing clergy to government positions, the country's bishops have issued a five-point decree requiring priests to obtain permission before accepting appointments.
18 Dec 2006

Priest wants "unprecedented" non-profit broadband plan
Jesuit Fr Michael Kelly has called for a non-profit broadband network to help small and poorly funded organisations, especially those in the country, overcome the "digital divide".
18 Dec 2006

Mining to blame for typhoon deaths, Filipino priest says
Landslides caused by mining methods were to blame for the deaths of 13 parishioners at a parish on Rapu Rapu island, Philippines, a local priest says, but a representative of Australian-managed Lafayette Mining has denied the claims.
18 Dec 2006

Canberra state school closures threaten to overwhelm Catholic capacity
Catholic high schools in the ACT are at full capacity, officials say, and would not be able to absorb students from state schools that the ACT government plans to close.
18 Dec 2006

Pope's preacher calls for abuse penitence
Speaking in the presence of the Pope on Friday, the official "preacher of the papal household", Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, has called for the Church to hold a worldwide day of fasting and penitence to ask forgiveness for priest sex abuse.
18 Dec 2006

Feature - Old warriors back to fight new wars
Is the strange resurrection of the Democratic Labor Party in Victoria further evidence of the return of religion, if not sectarianism, as a factor in Australian politics? The voting trend among the new evangelical faithful in the 2004 Federal election seems unlikely to have translated into a resurgence in support for the old Catholic-oriented DLP. Catholics are now fully integrated into the major political parties. Instead, the DLP's reappearance highlights a quirk of the voting system used in state and federal upper houses - Mark Davis
18 Dec 2006

Opinion - The place of Pax in liturgy and life
For the past 40 years, the sign of peace has been a significant part of the Catholic eucharistic celebration, intended to manifest the liturgical assembly's "fraternal communion of love in the Spirit of Jesus Christ". But should it be part of our preparation before receiving Communion, symbolising the need for us to be at peace with one another before we can be at peace with God? Or does Christ's presence among us, following the consecration, enable us to find peace with one another? - Keith F Pecklers
18 Dec 2006

Visions of Jesus inspire Indian boy to create prayer centre
A ten year old boy from a tribal region of India who credits prayer with curing severe pain in his legs and body has launched a prayer centre in his village attracting hundreds of people after receiving what he believes to be visions of Jesus.
15 Dec 2006

Journalist accuses former Burundi president over nuncio murder
A Burundian journalist now in hiding in South Africa has accused a former president and other high ranking officials of the central African nation of masterminding the 2003 assassination of Holy See nuncio, Archbishop Michael Courtney.
15 Dec 2006

No sanctions for Fiji, Archbishop pleads
Fiji Archbishop Petero Mataca has appealed to the international community to either lift or postpone sanctions against the Pacific island nation, saying they may serve to strengthen sympathy for last week's military coup.
15 Dec 2006

Bishop congratulates Anglicans on tough priest screening
Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Julian Porteous has congratulated moves by the Anglican Church to introduce tough psychological tests next year for prospective priests, saying the tests are necessary to weed out potential paedophiles.
15 Dec 2006

Holy See refuses to sign treaty over right to life concerns
The Holy See has announced that it will not sign the landmark UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities because of fears that a clause relating to sexual health and population programs may threaten the right to life of the unborn.
15 Dec 2006

Benedict receives Israeli PM at Vatican
A tax discount for church properties and peace in the Middle East were on the agenda for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Pope Benedict in their first meeting yesterday.
15 Dec 2006

Feature - Elections in Tehran a political test
Today is election day in Iran. Only Muslims vote for a pre-selected list of candidates for the Council of Guardians. Iranians of all faiths will elect their municipal leaders. Local government is very weak, but the vote remains a political test. This explains why the Islamist regime has been weary about it for several weeks leading up to election day. The last municipal elections took place in 2002 and were a stage in the war between conservatives and reformers. Reformers now hope for a similar political breakthrough that might spill over into national politics.
15 Dec 2006

Opinion - Time to shift from entrenched positions on health
The politics of health has changed. It is far less an ideological battlefield between public and private health choices. In the past Labor could rail against a less than convincing Coalition commitment to Medicare. This stance is now hard to sustain. Just as the Coalition rightly moved to embrace Medicare, Labor needs to unequivocally harness the benefits of private health care. People purchase health insurance for assurance. It does not follow that universal public health cover is not supported, but it simply recognises that a mixed public/private system works best - Francis Sullivan
15 Dec 2006

Benedict's Christmas tree breaks record
After a week's delay owing to fog and winds, workers have succeeded in setting up Pope Benedict's Christmas tree - a 33-metre high fir tree from Calabria in Southern Italy - the tallest tree ever at the Vatican.
14 Dec 2006

ACU program gives new meaning to street theatre
Sydney actors who have graduated from the streets and even from prison will next week perform a Michael Gow play in the conclusion to an innovative program co-organised by Australian Catholic University.
14 Dec 2006

Indian Catholics march against church worker murder
Thousands of Catholics rallied in Chennai, India on Sunday in a call for a fair investigation into the murder of a church worker allegedly killed by a right-wing Hindu activist.
14 Dec 2006

Catholic weddings down 60% since 1971: ABS
Catholic weddings declined from 9784 in 1971 to 4075 last year and only 40 per cent of Australians now choose to marry in a religious ceremony, newly released Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show.
14 Dec 2006

Citizenship test harsh, exploitative
Sydney's vicar for immigration has slammed the Government's proposed citizenship test, saying it could "exploit those who are disadvantaged", while the bishops' spokesman on migration issues, Bishop Joseph Grech says Australia's bishops are opposed to the test.
14 Dec 2006

Stop Darfur violence, Holy See tells UN
The Holy See has called on United Nations members to act immediately to stop the horrific violence in Sudan's Darfur region, including killing of children, rape of girls and burning of villages.
14 Dec 2006

Feature - Giving money to the "undeserving poor"
The question of whether to give money to street beggars came up a few months ago on an online parenting community in which I participate. Most of the responses were from people who wrote that they do not give to people on the street. Some couldn't afford to; others didn't trust the recipients to use the money well. They'll spend it on drugs and alcohol. "I almost always give money when asked for it," I wrote in response. But I found my own response unsatisfactory - Naomi Kritzer
14 Dec 2006

Opinion - The bankruptcy of secular religions
Michael Casey, Cardinal George Pell's private secretary, has written an article for the November issue of Quadrant about the paradox of secularisation that, on the one hand, proclaims the end of religion and, on the other, nurtures religion by other names. When we hear Federal politicians in Australia talking about mateship and a fair go as being quintessentially Australian values, we know we are in the realm of secular religion. These are the old gods who now walk the earth in the absence of the iconoclasm of the Church - Peter Sellick
14 Dec 2006

Men live longer on four beers a day, Catholic uni researchers find
Men who drink up to four beers - and women who drink two glasses - per day live longer, a study by researchers at an Italian Catholic university has found.
13 Dec 2006

Bethlehem faces darkest hour, mayor says in Christmas message
The birthplace of Jesus is facing one of the darkest chapters in its history, the Bethlehem mayor has said in a Christmas address, regretting the impact of the separation wall constructed by the Israeli government on the Palestinian town.
13 Dec 2006

Calwell under WWII suspicion over links to Italian priest
ASIO's predecessor agency harboured suspicions about former Labor Party leader Arthur Calwell's loyalties during World War II because of his links with an Italian-born Jesuit priest who was later banned from returning to Australia, a researcher has found.
13 Dec 2006

Caritas backs plan to end Indigenous "health crisis"
"It is a national disgrace that Indigenous Australians suffer life expectancy rates equivalent to those of least developed countries," Caritas chief Jack de Groot said in a call to the Government to aim for health equality within a generation.
13 Dec 2006

Holy See deplores Iran Holocaust conference
The Vatican has deplored Iranian government denials of the Holocaust, reiterating that the memory of that "immense tragedy" should remain as a warning to end conflict and respect the legitimate rights of people.
13 Dec 2006

Echoes of Labor Split in Vic election shock
Steve Bracks' ALP has lost its majority in the Victorian Parliament's upper house after voters handed two seats to the Democratic Labor Party which was founded by a largely Catholic ALP faction following the famous 1955 split.
13 Dec 2006

Feature - Balmain's heavenly cooks
The generous labours of two nuns from a Sydney inner suburb have earned them a reputation as heavenly cooks. I would be hard-pressed to find two more heroic homecooks than Srs Marie McMahon and Mary Constable. The two Good Samaritan nuns, aged 79 and 87 respectively, spend each December making Christmas cakes and goodies, which they distribute to family, friends and neighbours in their Balmain housing commission block. "We came here to be a neighbour to the people," Sr McMahon says. "It is wonderful how many people we meet" - Emily Dunn
13 Dec 2006

Opinion - Religion is back
After a decade of John Howard, who has been attacked for bringing religion into politics, the Labor Party has elected in Kevin Rudd a leader who declares this to be his duty. These are not good days for secularists who aspire to remove the bogy of religion from politics. They are fighting a losing cause. But this would surprise only those who miss the big global trends or who are seriously out of touch. God's comeback is one of the dominant world stories of the past decade - Paul Kelly
13 Dec 2006

John Paul II in French statue controversy
A small French Atlantic town is divided over the erection of a towering bronze statue of the late John Paul II which is claimed by opponents to threaten the nation's separation of church and state.
12 Dec 2006

Mafia-fighting cardinal dies in Sicily
Cardinal Salvatore Pappalardo, the inspirational former archbishop of the Sicilian capital, Palermo, who publicly campaigned against the Mafia for over 25 years, died yesterday at the age of 88.
12 Dec 2006

Mercy Sisters launch Christmas charity gift appeal
On the occasion of the Mercy Sisters Congregation's 175th anniversary, the Australian sisters have issued a Christmas call for support for various Mercy projects around the world.
12 Dec 2006

Catholic dictator dies, state funeral denied
A Chilean Cardinal has led the first of several religious ceremonies planned for General Augusto Pinochet, who died yesterday, but there will be no state funeral for the late Catholic dictator who took power in Chile's own "September 11".
12 Dec 2006

Pastoral issues, divorce at heart of Bishops concerns
Pastoral issues including divorce are among the leading topics dealt with by Australia's bishops who have made public a summary report of decisions taken at their biannual conference that ended in Sydney earlier this month.
12 Dec 2006

War begins with words, warns Lebanese Cardinal
Maronite Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir has warned that insult laden politicians' speeches indicate "that war will soon ignite" in Lebanon, as Pope Benedict renews his call for urgent and just solutions to "this grave moment" in the Middle East.
12 Dec 2006

Feature - Arnhem Land experience touched the spirit
Visiting Arnhem Land changes a person's life. The land is rich with spirit, the rivers tell stories from centuries past, the birds fly with unrestrained grace, and the sunsets powerfully whisper the promise of peace. Several months have passed since my visit to Ngukurr, a remote Aboriginal community in southeast Arnhem Land, but the images from that week are fresh and vibrant in my mind. Shortly after my stay, I found myself back in Sydney trying to get on with life. Returning to such a spiritually destructive place was highly traumatic - Jonathan Hill
12 Dec 2006

Opinion - Bible urinators must be educated, not punished
Three teenage Muslim boys at a Victorian school camp crept out into the night with a Bible, urinated on it, spat on it, and set it on fire. Shock, disgust and outrage have swept the country. But let's step back for a moment. Do you remember what you got up to in your early teens? I do. Today, in many parts of the world there are tensions between Christians and Muslims. Growing up in Ballarat, it was between Catholics and Protestants. Setting off for school, you went armed - with rocks - John Kiely
12 Dec 2006

Basilica burial for Hungarian soccer legend
One of the world's most famous soccer players, Hungarian Ferenc Puskas, who captained the famed Magical Magyars national team in the 1950s, was buried on Saturday in Budapest's St Stephen's Basilica.
11 Dec 2006

German Cardinal's school ban triggers storm
Cologne Cardinal Joachim Meisner has unleashed a fierce debate on religious dialogue after issuing a directive to Catholic schools to stop participating in multi-religious events.
11 Dec 2006

Hypocritical to criticise coup now, Fiji Archbishop tells churches
Writing to a local newspaper, Suva Archbishop Petero Mataca says it is hypocritical for the island nation's Assembly of Christian Churches to criticise the latest coup after it failed to condemn the previous coup in 2000.
11 Dec 2006

Welfare agency lists priorities for 2007 budget
Abolishing full time "work for the dole" and a public inquiry into the housing needs of low-income people are part of Catholic Social Services' wish list for next year's Federal budget.
11 Dec 2006

Adelaide Archdiocese joins fight against Good Friday trading
Adelaide's Msgr David Cappo has joined retail trade unionists in attacking moves by businesses to relax Good Friday trading laws, saying that Church attendances on the day are double normal figures.
11 Dec 2006

Vatican affirms US bishop's excommunication of lay group
The Holy See has upheld a decision taken 12 years ago by Nebraska Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz to excommunicate members of the lay organisation, Call to Action, for "unacceptable" doctrinal and disciplinary positions.
11 Dec 2006

Feature - Sisters at the vanguard of tech revolution
A quick internet search reveals a host of blogs run by sisters, priests and brothers who are as keen to share their insights on the mundane as on the divine. But this isn't a trend Sr Adele Howard of the Mercy Sisters' Fraynework multimedia company wants replicated for her order. The very nature of a religious vocation, she says, is to lead a selfless life - the antithesis of this type of blogging, which inclines to self-indulgence. "I see that as a naive thing to do, to tell the whole world about your inner life," she says - Chantal Rumble
11 Dec 2006

Opinion - What happened to "God's Rottweiler"?
When Benedict XVI stood alongside Istanbul's chief Islamic cleric, Imam Mustafa Cagrici, in the famed Blue Mosque, praying silently in the direction of Mecca, some Catholics were predictably scandalised. One commentator, a member of the Legionaries of Christ, wrote the next day that his in-box was "full of angry" complaints against the Pope. We've reached an interesting moment in Catholic affairs when such complaints could be hurled against the man once known as "God's Rottweiler" for his ferocious defence of the faith. So, what gives? - John L Allen
11 Dec 2006

Catholics defend Santa over blasphemy accusations
Santa is not a "blasphemous counterfeit" God drawing attention to himself, Victoria's Warrnambool Catholics said after a Christian pastor slammed Santa Claus as a distraction from the "true God".
8 Dec 2006

Papal Turkey visit inspires ACU's inter-religious initiative
Representatives of a new inter-religious dialogue centre at the Australian Catholic University has stressed the role of Pope Benedict as an apostle of dialogue and peace in a first visit for the centre to the Muslim-founded Australian Intercultural Society.
8 Dec 2006

Helicopter fans conflict at Byron Bay school
A chartered helicopter landed without authorisation at a Catholic school in Byron Bay yesterday, creating great excitement among the children but raising fears among the parents.
8 Dec 2006

Caritas mobilises over Kenyan floods
Caritas Australia has offered $50,000 towards relief efforts in Kenya following extreme flooding that swept away the homes of 75,000 people in the southern coastal regions of the East African nation.
8 Dec 2006

Youth advocate shares human rights award with broadcaster
Well-known Sydney Catholic priest and social worker, Fr Chris Riley, has been awarded the Human Rights Medal by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, an award shared with ABC broadcaster, Phillip Adams.
8 Dec 2006

Benedict defines three concentric mission circles
Reflecting on his recent trip to Turkey, Pope Benedict has characterised his mission as Pope as forming three concentric circles, beginning with the task of confirming Catholics in the faith, meeting other Christians and addressing non-Christians and the whole of humanity.
8 Dec 2006

Feature - Common belief on climate change
I think this issue of environmental change, and particularly climate change has been highlighted to us all very much this year. I, like many, was sceptical of the figures that were being given, pronouncements of the rate of change and its effect. But as we listened to the scientific arguments, I don't think the churches or anybody interested in the fact that we're stewards of the environment can sit back and not be part of a campaign to try to remedy these problems of climate change - Jim Wallace (interview)
8 Dec 2006

Opinion - Soundtrack for a cultural revolution
Are we in the midst of a cultural revolution? It is indeed an exciting thought, highlighted by the visit of several international personalities this year, that perhaps for the first time since the 1970s, entire generations of young people are beginning to believe that they can change society for the better. It is arguable that with the effects of globalisation, we face more crises now than ever before. Like the 1970s, it seems that music is providing the medium through which these issues are being brought to people's attention - Aaron Mulcair
8 Dec 2006

John XXII lobbied to save Jews, Israeli scholar finds
An Israeli Holocaust scholar has turned up evidence that Vatican diplomat Angelo Roncalli - the future John XXIII - lobbied to save Jews, passing on Auschwitz death camps information to the Vatican and "gently" criticising Pius XII's policies.
7 Dec 2006

Mercy award to Brisbane justice and peace worker
The Mercy Foundation yesterday made its annual social justice award to Peter Arndt of the Brisbane Catholic Justice and Peace Commission in recognition of his work to bring an Indigenous Australian perspective to the Commission's work.
7 Dec 2006

St Paul's tomb unearthed
Vatican Archaeological teams say that they have completed excavation of a sarcophagus at the St Paul Outside the Walls basilica in Rome that is believed to contain the remains of the Apostle Paul.
7 Dec 2006

Avoid credit this Christmas, warns Centacare counsellor
With Australians racking up $15 billion on credit cards over the Christmas shopping period last year, a Sydney Centacare financial counsellor has renewed his warning that families risk financial damage if they pay for Christmas expenses on credit.
7 Dec 2006

Lebanese Maronites call for fresh presidential elections
Maronite bishops yesterday called on the Lebanese parliament to tackle the crisis splitting the nation by placing weapons under the control of security forces and by holding early presidential elections.
7 Dec 2006

Christian opposition fails to stop cloning bill passage
The controversial cloning bill has passed the House of Representatives in a conscience vote last night despite opposition from new Leader of the Opposition, Kevin Rudd, and other prominent Christian MPs.
7 Dec 2006

Feature - Vietnamese are the new Irish in America
If you visit the Divine Word College, a tiny Catholic missionary school in Iowa, the conversations you will hear in its hallways will most likely not be carried out in English. Usually, they are in Vietnamese. So is the music played late at night in the school's cafeteria, when students are hungry for a bite. Vietnamese dominate this seminary. Forty-three out of its 67 students, about 2 out of 3, are Vietnamese. "They are replacing the traditional Irish and Italian immigrants, who once provided a steady supply of priests in the States," says vocation director Len Uhal - Andrew Lam
7 Dec 2006

Opinion - Modern Gnostic morality?
Recently, I have been musing on three unrelated items. On Marcion, a shadowed but seminal figure in the early Church; on unsatisfactory recantations by prominent supporters of the Iraq war; on the claim by a local newspaper that light sentences betray babies killed by their parents. Almost nothing is known about Marcion. So much is attributed to him in early Christianity. But he is of more than theological significance. His thoughts on God recur in the way people now conceive the relationship between the public and private worlds - Fr Andrew Hamilton
7 Dec 2006

Lay Catholic journal to fold
The Online Catholics independent e-journal will cease publication this month after failing to achieve a sustainable subscription level, despite telemarketing in several states.
6 Dec 2006

Widow sues Malaysian govt in battle over Catholic husband's body
A Malaysian woman is taking legal action to recover the body of her deceased husband, who had converted to Islam before eventually becoming a practising Catholic, in order to give him a Christian funeral.
6 Dec 2006

Cardinals meet in Vietnam "turning point"
Four Asian cardinals gathered in Vietnam's capital over the weekend to mark the 500th anniversary of the birth of St Francis Xavier in an event "charged with political significance" as Communist leaders joined worshippers for a commemorative ceremony.
6 Dec 2006

Two years wait for overseas priests, Bishop says
Maitland-Newcastle diocese has established a process of identifying and recruiting suitable overseas priests but it may take up to two years to obtain an immigration visa, Bishop Michael Malone says.
6 Dec 2006

Fiji Archbishop calls on Catholics to fast and pray
Fijian Archbishop Petero Mataca has called on Catholics throughout the Fiji islands to pray and fast over the constitutional crisis and coup presently underway in the Pacific island state.
6 Dec 2006

Late amendment puts cloning bill passage in doubt
A late move by a Liberal backbencher to amend the cloning bill has thrown its passage into doubt while upcoming Labor frontbencher Peter Garrett, a Christian, signals his intention to vote against the bill.
6 Dec 2006

Feature - Chance Seattle encounter led to abortion healing program
In 1997 while visiting a Seattle cathedral, Julie Kelly was taken by a pamphlet entitled "Project Rachel". The name meant nothing to her but the next line - "Healing lives touched by abortion" - stayed with her. At a dinner party Julie spoke to another woman of how she sensed that the church in Seattle was in tune with people's needs, citing Project Rachel as an example. "I could have used that help a long time ago," Julie said. "Me, too," the stranger replied - Tracey Edstein
6 Dec 2006

Opinion - Interesting things about Tonga
Last month's "pro-democracy" rioting in Tonga, added to the current problems in Fiji and elsewhere, raises the fear of more "failed states" arising in the Pacific region, with Australia in the unhappy role of policeman as well as benefactor. Certainly, steps towards political modernisation are needed in Tonga. The present system of government by the king himself, assisted by elected representatives and hereditary "nobles", is verging on feudal. But it's what a good many Tongans apparently like. And if the system works, one might well ask, why change it? - Alan Gill
6 Dec 2006

Disability stories seek to avoid tragedy of exclusion
A newly published book documenting stories of people with disabilities and their families offers an exciting glimmer of "a real jewel in life", Defence Diocese Bishop Max Davis says.
5 Dec 2006

Rosaries off ovaries jibe not vilification, Tribunal rules
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has struck out a claim by a pro-life activist who had argued that T-shirts with the slogan "Mr Abbott, get your rosaries off my ovaries" amounted to religious vilification under state laws.
5 Dec 2006

Faith communities unite on climate change
Representatives of organisations from 16 Australian faith communities will today launch a statement of common belief on climate change in what is described as a world first show of interfaith unity on the issue.
5 Dec 2006

Kung attacks US over loss of "moral credibility"
Receiving a peace prize in Germany for his work in interfaith relations, controversial Swiss theologian Hans Kung has attacked aggressive US war tactics and human rights contraventions as a result of "neo-imperialistic" American policies.
5 Dec 2006

Typhoon Durian environmental "message from God": Filipino Bishop
Philippines bishops' conference president Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said that the disastrous Typhoon Durian that killed 1,000 people was a message from God and a sign of what happens when "natural resources are weakened because of man's negligence".
5 Dec 2006

New Vatican Clergy Cardinal dampens celibacy speculation
Taking up his new post as head of the Congregation for the Clergy, Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes has moved to dampen speculation over his earlier reported comments that "celibacy is a discipline, not a dogma", saying that change is not currently on the agenda.
5 Dec 2006

Feature - Church role in genocide under scrutiny
More than 50 churches in Rwanda have been turned into museums, but instead of viewing artefacts celebrating life, visitors come here to stare at bones. They are the remains of human beings killed during the 1994 genocide. These bone museums are a silent indictment against many Catholic clergymen who were involved in the genocide. Since the genocide, heart-wrenching tales have emerged of how people seeking refuge in churches were handed over to Hutu militias by members of the clergy - Stephanie Nieuwoudt
5 Dec 2006

Opinion - The bad news about unwed mothers
Keisha Castle-Hughes, the 16-year-old unmarried actress who plays the Virgin Mary in the new movie The Nativity Story, is pregnant by her 19-year-old boyfriend. Last week CNN could talk about nothing else: Amazing the coincidence of this woman getting pregnant while playing the role of history's most famous unmarried mother. Apart from the pregnancy having practically nothing in common with Mary's, the media's focus on Castle-Hughes and her ever-growing belly ignores the real story: More American children are being born to unmarried mothers - Dr Christine B Whelan
5 Dec 2006

Jesuits on a winner with woman winemaker
Jesuit-owned Sevenhill Cellars in South Australia's Clare Valley has employed its first female winemaker, Liz Heidenreich, an Anglican who used to work for singer Cliff Richard and who has already won awards for her first wines for her new employer.
4 Dec 2006

Westminster Cardinal and Blair in condom clash
Westminster Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has responded to comments by British Prime Minister Tony Blair apparently attacking the Vatican's condom policy in Africa, saying the continent was awash in condoms with little impact on the rate of infection.
4 Dec 2006

LA Archdiocese settles abuse claims for $A75 million
Los Angeles Archbishop Roger Mahony has announced that his archdiocese has settled 45 sexual abuse claims against clergy for a total of $A75 million - but another 550 claims are still pending.
4 Dec 2006

NSW Parliament gives assent to WYD enabling legislation
In the wake of logistical challenges faced by previous World Youth Day host cities, the NSW parliament has passed a law creating an authority with powers to override existing traffic, environmental and planning measures for the duration of the Sydney 2008 youth gathering.
4 Dec 2006

Bishops seek to reconnect with Catholics
Australia's Catholic bishops have hailed the findings of a specially commissioned research report that identifies reasons for declines in Church attendance over recent decades including abuse scandals, restricted roles for women and a lack of vibrant leadership.
4 Dec 2006

Try Hicks or bring him home, Bishops tell Govt
Describing as "unacceptable" the situation of David Hicks, who has now been imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay for five years, Australia's bishops say that if Hicks has a case to answer he should be tried without further delay.
4 Dec 2006

Feature - Human negligence, not God, behind workplace tragedies
Each week in Australia one construction worker dies on a building site. Every one of these men is someone's son, brother, father, husband and good mate. The tragedy is that each of these deaths is preventable, the result of safety concerns overlooked on the job and of working people put into deadly situations. Andreia Viegas, a parishioner of Christ the King, lost her husband two years ago. "His death robbed me of my best friend and rock of my life," she said - Dan McAloon
4 Dec 2006

Opinion - Benedict's post-secular vision
The papal Turkey visit was not primarily an attempt to pacify relations between Christianity and Islam. Instead, Benedict was there to engage with Islam and Eastern Orthodoxy in the hope of persuading both to join his project of overcoming secularism. The Pope, far from being sectarian, wants to inaugurate a new religious renaissance in Europe that opposes both secular and religious fundamentalism. This apostolic journey was of a piece with the logic of the Regensburg address, rather than a belated act of repentance for it.
4 Dec 2006

Vinnie's yellow supporter quits Wiggles
Citing illness, Greg Page, known to worldwide audiences as the Yellow Wiggle, has left the popular children's band whose members are long-time supporters of the Society of St Vincent de Paul.
1 Dec 2006

Catholic agency in World AIDS Day appeal
In an appeal for World AIDS Day today, Caritas Australia is calling for assistance to provide anti-retroviral drugs for people in developing countries while a Catholic AIDS activist is calling on the Church to do more to assist Australian sufferers.
1 Dec 2006

Chinese Bishop abducted, escapes over illicit ordination
A Chinese Bishop recognised by the Holy See, who was abducted by government officials in an attempt to force him to take part in the illicit ordination of a new bishop, has escaped custody.
1 Dec 2006

Christian schools cry poor
A body representing Christian schools has told a government enquiry into funding for private schools that it is unfair for Catholic schools to receive more money than Christian schools.
1 Dec 2006

Vatican backs reinstatement of Gippsland priest
A Morwell, Victoria priest has won his appeal to the Holy See Congregation for the Clergy against his removal as parish priest by the Bishop of Sale diocese, according to local reports.
1 Dec 2006

Full communion the aim, Patriarch tells Pope
Meeting Benedict XVI in Istanbul, Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew told the Pope that the Catholic and Orthodox churches share an unhesitating desire to restore full communion.
1 Dec 2006

Feature - Just punishment?
Tomorrow marks one year since 25-year-old Melbourne Catholic Van Nguyen was hanged in Singapore for heroin trafficking. Almost three years before the execution, lawyer Julian McMahon walked into the office of an independent filmmakers resource organisation and asked for help to save a man's life. On hearing his story, the group made calls to us, and we decided we would co-write and direct a documentary. Just Punishment, to be broadcast next week, was not an easy film to make and will not be an easy film to watch - Kim Beamish and Shannon Owen
1 Dec 2006

Opinion - Exception to celibacy rule raises interesting questions
In just over one month I will be ordained a Catholic priest. My wife will be in the front row. My oldest son will be an altar server. My daughter and younger sons will present my priestly vestments as part of the ordination rite. Since I was a married Anglican priest when I became a Catholic, the Church allows me to be dispensed from the vow of celibacy. The presence of married clergy through this exception raises some interesting practical, theological and spiritual questions - Dwight Longenecker
1 Dec 2006