The Catholic Weekly https://www.catholicweekly.com.au The Church. All of it. Mon, 17 Jun 2019 02:00:25 +0000 en-AU hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.1 Danger: the threats to Australia’s Catholic schools https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/danger-the-threats-to-australias-catholic-schools/ Mon, 17 Jun 2019 02:00:25 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=24149 Australia’s Catholic schools provide huge savings to the nation’s education, yet are facing serious threats At 20 per cent of enrolments across Australia there’s no doubt Catholic schools are popular with parents and their children.  Based on a number of surveys its clear parents are choosing Catholic schools because they see them as providing a […]

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Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP hosts student leaders from Catholic schools to lunch. However Catholic schools are facing increasingly serious threats to their very existence and purpose, writes ACU’s Dr Kevin Donnelly.

Australia’s Catholic schools provide huge savings to the nation’s education, yet are facing serious threats

At 20 per cent of enrolments across Australia there’s no doubt Catholic schools are popular with parents and their children.  Based on a number of surveys its clear parents are choosing Catholic schools because they see them as providing a faith-based education; one that best reflects and supports their values and beliefs.

Such schools are also seen as providing a disciplined classroom environment, an education that addresses the whole child and one that promotes equity and excellence in education.  Australian research shows, when compared to students in government schools, that Catholic schools better promote tolerance and acceptance of different ethnic groups.

Strengthening social capital

Research also shows that Catholic schools are helpful in strengthening what the American academic James Coleman describes as social capital.  This refers to the bonds and relationships that hold communities together and that promote reciprocity and social cohesion.

Research shows that Catholic schools help strengthen social capital –   the bonds and relationships that hold communities together and which promote reciprocity and social cohesion.

Catholic schools are successful in helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds achieve strong academic results as measured by Year 12 results and tertiary entrance.  After entering the workforce, students who attended Catholic schools are also more likely to volunteer and to achieve financial success.

Catholic schools save taxpayer dollars

As noted by recent research carried out by Catholic Schools NSW, the existence of such schools saves state and territory governments millions of dollars each and every year as students who attend such schools do not receive the same level of funding as those in government schools.

The fact that Catholic school parents pay taxes for a system they do not use while also paying schools fees, thus reducing the cost to government, means that instead of being a financial burden Catholic schools represent a financial benefit to taxpayers and governments.

Students from schools founded by the De La Salle Brothers in Sydney gather in St Mary’s Cathedral in May to mark the 300th anniversary of the death of the founder of the Brothers and the educational tradition they have built over three centuries.

Serving those less well off

As argued by Dallas McInerney in a comment piece published in The Australian “Catholic school families, which already contribute to public education through their taxes, cover the additional costs through school fees that would otherwise be borne by government.  Every student attending a Catholic school represents a net saving for government”.

Notwithstanding the success and benefits of Catholic schools, secular critics argue funding to such schools should be reduced, supposedly, as they only serve the wealthy and privileged in society.  Ignored is that the majority of Catholic schools serve low to middle class socioeconomic communities.

The threat of bureaucracy

Another threat to Catholic schools is their ability to remain true to their faith and operate free of intrusive and unwarranted government control and intervention.  In opposition to the concept of subsidiarity, schools are overwhelmed with bureaucratic red tape imposed by state and commonwealth governments.

This command-and control-approach is a feature of governments of all political persuasions and involves tying compliance to funding in areas like national literacy and numeracy testing, teacher accreditation, implementing a national curriculum and making school performance public on the Myschool website.

Officially-imposed blindness

One of the most serious threats to Catholic schools and their ability to remain true to their faith and the Church’s teachings is the state-mandated curriculum; a curriculum that adopts a deeply secular approach to education and that ignores the vital importance of Judeo-Christianity.

One of the most serious threats to Catholic schools … is the state-mandated curriculum

In the national curriculum that includes all subjects and areas of learning from the start of school to year 10 there are literally hundreds of references to Aboriginal history, culture and spiritualty with minimal reference to Christianity and its contribution to Western civilisation and Australian society.

Christianity’s historic role

Ignored is that Christianity underpins our political and legal systems and that much of Western and Australian music, art and literature can only be fully understood and appreciated if one is knowledgeable about the New Testament.

Catholic schools offer a distinctively different alternative to state education, writes ACU’s Dr Kevin Donnelly, one that contributes to the diverse fabric of Australian life.

Also of concern is that much of modern education adopts a postmodern relativistic and subjective view of knowledge, how individuals relate to one another and the world at large.  As a result there are no absolutes or truths as knowledge is simply a social construct reinforcing the power of the ruling class.

The-then Cardinal Ratzinger describes this as a situation where “there are no grounds for our values and no solid proof or argument establishing that any one thing is better or more valid than another”.

Deconstruction rules

According to such a view, the Bible – instead of being the word of God and inherently true – is merely one text among countless others that has to be deconstructed in terms of power relationships  and what has become the new trinity of gender, ethnicity and class.

Proven by the policies taken to the recent election by the Australian Labor Party and the Greens Party, there is also the danger that religious freedom will be lost as Catholic schools will no longer have the right to decide who they enroll, who they employ and what they teach.

there is a distinct possibility that schools will no longer be able to teach according to their religious tenets and beliefs

Especially in the area of gender and sexuality, best illustrated by events in the UK where Christian schools have been penalised for not adopting the state mandated secular view, there is a distinct possibility that schools will no longer be able to teach according to their religious tenets and beliefs.

Related links:

Dr Kevin Donnelly is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Catholic University.

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2019-05-14-13-10-19-NIKON-D5-DSC_9643-850px Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP hosts student leaders from Catholic schools to lunch. However Catholic schools are facing incresingly serious threats to their very existence and purpose, writes ACU's Dr Kevin Donnelly. 2019-05-14-13-19-03-NIKON-D3S-DSC_0664-850px Research shows that Catholic schools help strengthen social capital -   the bonds and relationships that hold communities together and which promote reciprocity and social cohesion. 190521_delasalle_045 Students from schools founded by the De La Salle Brothers in Sydney gather in St Mary's Cathedral in May to mark the 300th anniversary of the founder of the De La Salle Brothers and the educational tradition they have built over three centuries. 2019-05-14-13-19-08-NIKON-D3S-DSC_0665-850px Catholic schools offer a distinctively different alternative to state education, writes ACU's Dr Kevin Donnelly, one that contributes to the diverse fabric of Australian life.
Les Murray the mystic remembered https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/les-murray-the-mystic-remembered/ Fri, 14 Jun 2019 06:26:42 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=24130 Australia’s poet Les Murray was a mystic who regarded all reality as “suffused with the presence of God”, says Fr Paul McCabe.

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Les Murray
Peter Murray reads his father’s poem A Dream of Wearing Shorts in Summer at the state memorial service for Leslie Murray in the NSW State Library on 12 June. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Australia’s poet Les Murray was a mystic who regarded all reality as “suffused with the presence of God”, says Fr Paul McCabe.

The retired priest based in Armidale, who knew Les Murray for about 40 years, was invited to read his eight-stanza Poetry and Religion at his state memorial service at the NSW State Library in Sydney on 12 June. The poet, a convert to Catholicism, died in a nursing home in Taree on April 29, aged 80.

“Much of his work belongs, I believe, to the Christian mystical tradition,” Fr McCabe told the 300-odd guests in the library’s Reading Room. “He himself said that he wrote poetry to explore reality which ultimately mirrors divine truth, and all his work he dedicated ‘to the glory of God’.”

Les Murray mystic
Father Paul McCabe reads Poetry and Religion at the NSW state memorial service for poet Les Murray. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Members of Les Murray’s family attended the service in the library’s Reading Room which began with an audio recording of Murray reading one of his poems, An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow.

Also present were representatives of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and NSW Governor Margaret Beazley attended, as did his literary agent, Margaret Connolly and a number of writers, poets and publishers.

Les Murray’s youngest son, Peter, read one of his father’s poems, The Dream of Wearing Shorts Forever, while another Catholic poet, executive officer (academic) at the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation Stephen McInerney read Equanimity.

The Murray family requested that in lieu of floral tributes, donations be made to the St Vincent de Paul Society’s annual Winter Appeal. Toby O’Connor CEO of the Society of St Vincent de Paul National Council told The Catholic Weekly that he was grateful for the support of the family and Les himself.

“Les Murray was a gifted poet, loved by many people and his work reflected great empathy for ordinary folk,” he said.  “His request for donations to go to the Winter Appeal is a further mark of his affinity with people who need a bit of a hand from time to time.”

Les Murray mystic
Father Paul McCabe. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Fr McCabe, who wrote to Les Murray in the 1980s after reading his verse novel, The Boys Who Stole The Funeral, on a retreat said he didn’t know the poet’s family but had visited Les shortly before he died, and also called his wife Val to offer his condolences.

When working at St Patrick’s College, seminary at Manly during the 1990s, Fr McCabe invited Les to address the students. When he retired, they gave him an autographed copy of Poetry and Religion as his parting gift.

“So when [Margaret Connolly] suggested I read Poetry and Religion at this memorial celebration, I felt it was more than coincidental,” he said.

“It was providential.”

To donate to the Vinnies Winter Appeal visit vinnies.org.au.

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Les Murray the mystic remembered Australia’s poet Les Murray was a mystic who regarded all reality as “suffused with the presence of God”, says Fr Paul McCabe. Les Murray,Mysticism,Poetry,Spirituality,St Vincent de Paul Society Peter-Murray_Les-Murray-Memorial_Portelli_850 Peter Murray reads his father's poem A Dream of Wearing Shorts in Summer at the Les Murray State Memorial in NSW State Library on 12 June. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli Fr-Paul-McCabe_120619_850 Father Paul McCabe reads Poetry and Religion at the NSW state memorial service for poet Les Murray. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli Giovanni Portelli Photography © 2019 Father Paul McCabe. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli
Simcha Fisher: One size fits most https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/simcha-fisher-one-size-fits-most/ Thu, 13 Jun 2019 22:13:21 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=24089 Occasionally, people ask me how I manage to come up with fresh, new topics to write about every week. This is a dangerous question, akin to asking the underpaid chamber maid in your overpriced hotel how she manages to keep the hot tub so sparklingly sanitary. For both questions, the answer is the same, and […]

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Occasionally, people ask me how I manage to come up with fresh, new topics to write about every week. This is a dangerous question, akin to asking the underpaid chamber maid in your overpriced hotel how she manages to keep the hot tub so sparklingly sanitary. For both questions, the answer is the same, and that answer is: Legionnaire’s Disease.

It does so make sense. I’m calling the manager, that’s why.

No, the real truth is, there are only 26 ideas in the world, and writers and speakers and, Mergen* help us, professional thinkers spend almost none of their time in useful mental process and almost of their time changing the filter on the giant invisible pump that circulates those 26 ideas through the collective mind of humanity (and of certain literate cephalopods).

Sometimes they throw a little dye in to fancy things up, like in the river of terrible cities full of terrible Irish people on St. Patrick’s Day; but basically it’s the same stuff, day and in and day out, over and over, swoosh-swoosh-swoosh. I don’t mean a metaphorical filter, either. I can’t go into a lot of detail, but there actually is an actual filter, and let me tell you, it does not smell great. I believe it’s the Netherland’s turn to house it this year. I can say no more.

Well, except this: There used to be 27 ideas, but that last one had to do with Hegel’s notion that the knowing that is characteristic of a particular stage of consciousness is evaluated using the criterion presupposed by consciousness itself; and it was so gummy, it kept jamming up the filter. So we got rid of it. I can say no more.

What I’m trying to tell you is really anybody can write.

It’s mainly a matter of confidence: Unearned self-confidence, paired with a thoroughly earned lack of confidence in your readers. This means you!  And it really is the reader who does the heavy lifting, which is why I’m mailing each and every one of you an adjustable truss to help you get to the end of this paragraph. One size fits most.

But I’ll tell you another secret: Readers may not be aware of how heavily writers rely upon reference books, such as encyclopedias, thesauruses, Wikipedia, Dickeypedia, and of course a rhyming dictionary, which often reveals hidden truths about language through a kind of mystical game of word association which posits that synonyms come in triads, or what Carl Jung used to call “threeness envy.” Nobody knew what he meant by that. He has a really weird accent.

Once you’ve assembled your word-hoard, the next step is to shape it into something coherent, elegant and well-constructed, sort of like slathering flour paste on your papier-mâché dinosaur with the gracefully drooping neck. Never mind that it was a rabbit when you started out. You squeezed it a little too hard when it was still wet, and now it’s a dinosaur. And yes, I saw you eating the paste. We all do it. We just don’t all wipe our hands on our editors afterwards.

Quick check of the word count, and you are almost home free, son! While you’re catching your breath from all this hard work, you can refresh your wits by sprinkling in a footnote** and some Latin abbreviations (e.g. “e.g.”; cf. your mom et al), which always impress readers, except those who know what they’re talking about and can tell that you don’t, ibid your mom.

You can add a concluding paragraph if you like, rounding your essay out nicely in a satisfyingly complete way; but in some circles,*** that’s considered stylistically overplayed, and you can show the reader you trust him to infer his own conclusions by simply

 

____________

____________

*Mergen, Turco-Mongol deity of abundance and wisdom, brother of Ulgan, often depicted holding an arrow and seated on a white horse; dwells in the seventh floor of the sky. Don’t say I never gave you anything.

** or two

***crop circles made by aliens

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Fr John Corrigan: Lessons learned from an exorcism course https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/fr-john-corrigan-lessons-learned-from-an-exorcism-course/ Thu, 13 Jun 2019 00:30:38 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=24037 If you read reports in secular media, you might conclude that the Vatican runs an annual “crash course” on exorcism which certifies 250 or so new exorcists each year. Having just returned from the so-called “Exorcism Course,” I can confirm it is nothing like that. Seven Aussies and two Kiwis attended this year’s course, and […]

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A participant holds a course textbook on exorcism and prayers of liberation.
A participant holds a course textbook on exorcism and prayers of liberation.

If you read reports in secular media, you might conclude that the Vatican runs an annual “crash course” on exorcism which certifies 250 or so new exorcists each year.

Having just returned from the so-called “Exorcism Course,” I can confirm it is nothing like that. Seven Aussies and two Kiwis attended this year’s course, and only one of us was an exorcist — an assignment he received some 40 years ago, quite independent of the Vatican course.

Most of the Australians present were priests like me, less than ten years ordained, who have recognised a deficiency in our priestly training. (In saying that, I don’t mean to criticise our seminary formation. It’s an impossible task, to condense the expanse of the Church’s pastoral wisdom and practice into seven years of study.)

In ordinary parish settings, we have encountered people who are fearful of demonic activity in their lives, and others who are happily and obstinately ensconced in New Age practices.

We all felt that we lacked sufficient means to competently and confidently respond to our people’s needs.

The conference was a great help in resolving a real pastoral deficiency. I highly recommend it to interested priests.

While most participants were priests, there were also many lay faithful. Some were medical professionals: physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists. Some were experts in demonology; others run healing retreats and prayer apostolates.

For the first time, an invitation was extended to Christians from other denominations, which attracted a small number of Anglicans, Episcopalians and Evangelical Protestants.

The conference spanned six days, during which several speakers repeated a warning C.S. Lewis issued in his preface to The Screwtape Letters:

Taking the Devil seriously

There are two equal and opposite errors people make about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.

It was refreshing, to be surrounded by people who take the devil seriously but not sensationally. Discussion was sober and matter-of-fact. We were well equipped to avoid the errors of the materialist and the magician, and think with the mind of the Church.

I think there’s a need — and, I hope, an appetite — for a conference such as this in Australia. Perhaps not annually, but every few years.

The Church’s pastoral practice — even in an area as arcane as deliverance from the demonic — must aspire to the best professional standards: cross-disciplinary approaches; evidence-based practice; peer support; clinical supervision.

A local adaptation of Rome’s exorcism course would help foster that.

In one memorable Q&A session, an audience member queried the efficacy of modern exorcism.

In cases of demonic possession, it typically takes 12 to 18 months for a person to be totally freed. Anecdotal evidence suggests that in earlier times, and especially in the Apostolic Age, cases were resolved in days or hours. “Are our rites less powerful? Are we doing something wrong?”

Italian exorcist Fr Gabriel Amorth conducts an exorcism. Photo: CNS/LD Entertainment
Italian exorcist Fr Gabriel Amorth conducts an exorcism. Photo: CNS/LD Entertainment

The answer was long and exhaustive, delving into the history of the Church’s ritual, and the accuracy of ancient and medieval sources. But the professor concluded with a fascinating observation. “Perhaps it is not our rites which are at fault, but the Church’s faith.”

Pope St John Paul II identifies “a communion of sin,” whereby even the most private and secret sin of an individual “drags down with itself the Church and, in some way, the whole world” (Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 16).

The Church is a communion — for good and ill. Just as our sins impact the Church and the world, so too our faith.

Jesus, you will recall, related his healing ministry to the faith of the people. His miracles in Nazareth were limited due to lack of faith (Mt 13:58; Mk 6:5). He often repeated some variation of, “Your faith has healed you” (Mk 5:34; Mk 10:46; Lk 8:48; Lk 17:19).

A terrible crisis of faith afflicts the modern world. Perhaps we should not be surprised if the process of exorcism takes longer than in ages past. That idea has moved me — and I hope it also inspires you — to make frequent acts of faith every day, chief among them: “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief.”

Related stories:

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Corrigan-060619 A participant holds a course textbook on exorcism and prayers of liberation. Corrigan-1-060619 Italian exorcist Fr Gabriel Amorth conducts an exorcism. Photo: CNS/LD Entertainment
Bishops back gender clarity call https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/bishops-welcome-gender-clarity/ Wed, 12 Jun 2019 23:14:38 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=24059 Catholic bishops have welcomed the Vatican’s recent statement that gender is fixed from birth.

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Gender theory
A teacher at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic School in Henderson, Ky., helps third-grade students with a reading lesson March 28, 2019. PHOTO: CNS/Tyler Orsburn

Vatican document on gender provides “truth and compassion”

Catholic bishops in the US, England and Wales welcomed the Vatican’s statement that gender ideology is opposed to faith and reason, and that Catholic schools and parents must help teach children that gender is fixed from birth.

Bishop Michael Barber, chairman of the US bishops’ Committee for Catholic Education, noted the complexity of the issue. “The clarity of Church teaching, rooted in the equal dignity of men and women as created by God, provides the light of truth and compassion that is most needed in our world today,” Bishop Barber said in a statement released June 11.

The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales also issued a statement praising the document as a complement to its 2018 statement, which expressed concern for the increasing confusion gender ideology was causing.

Transgender Bathroom Sign
A sign protests a US state law prohibiting transgender rest room access in a hotel. PHOTO: CNS/Jonathan Drake, Reuters

The Vatican document resolved the English and Welsh bishops’ concerns and is “a welcome contribution to developing Catholic thought on gender,” said a spokesman for the conference.

In a document published June 10, the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education said the intention behind gender ideology is “laudable” in its concern for fighting discrimination and respecting differences, and that the Catholic Church encourages all to respect and care for those who “live situations of sexual indeterminacy”.

However, the document, “Male and Female He Created Them: Toward a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education,” ultimately concludes that gender is not a personal choice.

In its 2018 document, the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales said: “We recognise that there are people who do not accept their biological sex.

We are concerned about and committed to their pastoral care.

“Through listening to them we seek to understand their experience more deeply and want to accompany them with compassion, emphasising that they are loved by God and valued in their inherent God-given dignity. There is a place of welcome for everyone in the Catholic Church.”

On Twitter, Jesuit Father James Martin, author of “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity,” gave the document conditional praise.

“Overall, it should be praised for inviting listening and dialogue. Yet the dialogue is so far mainly with philosophers and theologians; not with scientists, nor with LGBT people and their families,” he said in a tweet.

Related articles: 

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Gender_110619_CNS_850 A teacher at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic School in Henderson, Ky., helps third-grade students with a reading lesson March 28, 2019. Catholic bishops in the U.S., England and Wales welcomed the Vatican's statement that gender ideology is opposed to faith and reason, and that Catholic schools and parents must help teach children that gender is fixed from birth. PHOTO: CNS/Tyler Orsburn Transgender-Bathroom-Sign_27022017_CNS_850 A sign protests a US state law prohibiting transgender rest room access in a hotel. PHOTO: CNS/Jonathan Drake, Reuters
Monica Doumit: Open courts point to the truth https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/monica-doumit-open-courts-point-to-the-truth/ Wed, 12 Jun 2019 20:30:15 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=24015 As a general rule, Australian courts are committed to the principle of the public administration of justice. This is characterised by proceedings being conducted in courts open to the public including, as an extension this, the reporting of their proceedings in the media. There are, of course, some exceptions to this including in cases affecting […]

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Cardinal George Pell
Cardinal George Pell leaves the Melbourne Magistrates Court 6 October, 2018. PHOTO: CNS/Mark Dadswell, Reuters

As a general rule, Australian courts are committed to the principle of the public administration of justice. This is characterised by proceedings being conducted in courts open to the public including, as an extension this, the reporting of their proceedings in the media.

There are, of course, some exceptions to this including in cases affecting national security or where one or more witnesses are particularly vulnerable, including victims of sexual assault. But usually, courts are open to the public so that we can have confidence in the legal system.

This principle of open justice and the exceptions to it have been a key consideration of the trial, conviction, sentencing and appeal of Cardinal George Pell.

On the one extreme, there was a suppression order over the trial and the conviction, with Australian media not even permitted to report that the trial was occurring, to say nothing of the charges, the evidence, the first trial resulting in a hung jury and then the guilty verdict of the second jury, handed down in December.

On the other extreme, once the suppression order was lifted, we saw wall-to-wall media coverage and the Cardinal’s sentencing screened live on mainstream television.

We heard in confronting detail about the two incidents that led to the Cardinal’s conviction: the sexual abuse of two choir boys in the sacristy of St Patrick’s Cathedral, and a separate groping of one of these same boys about a month later in the corridor near the same sacristy.

Apart from a few notable examples, the media focused on the very graphic details of the crimes and paid scant attention to the defence team’s reply, which was their prerogative, especially following a guilty verdict. Then last week, we saw a two-day appeal livestreamed on the court’s website and the relevant appeal documents available online.

While widespread coverage of court proceedings relating to the Cardinal and, by extension the Church, might make us a little nervous, the principle of the public administration of justice has meant that for the first time, last week, Catholics and others have been able to read and hear the arguments in the Cardinal’s defence directly, and not told through the lens of the mainstream media.

Appeal documents shows how alleged offences could not occur

Judge's gamble

We saw directly in the appeal documents filed by the Cardinal’s lawyers that “over 20 witnesses who had an official role in Sunday Solemn Masses at St Patrick’s at the time” were called to give evidence, including the Master of Ceremonies, the sacristan, adult altar servers, adults in charge of the choir and ex-choirboys, all of whom gave testimony to the effect that the offences alleged did not or could not have occurred.

On top of these, the defence documents reveal that the police spoke to at least another 15 choristers who did not see the two choir boys leave the procession prior to the first alleged incident, nor did they witness the second alleged incident.

Also in the appeal documents, we read that for the first incident to have occurred as alleged, a number of circumstances that would have required at least eight people to simultaneously depart from their usual practice following a Sunday Solemn Mass at the Cathedral over which the Archbishop was presiding.

These included that the Master of Ceremonies would have had to abandon his usual practice of accompanying the Cardinal after Mass until he removed his vestments.

It would have required each of the Dean of the Cathedral, the sacristan and the adult altar servers to alter their usual practice of being in and out of the sacristy after Mass to return books and sacred vessels used in the Mass so as to leave it unattended for the alleged assault to have occurred.

Cardinal Pell would have similarly had to deviate from his usual after-Mass practice of greeting parishioners on the Cathedral steps, even though the incident is alleged to have occurred at one of his very first Masses in the Cathedral as Archbishop.

And the two choir boys would also have had to abandon their usual practice of processing back to the choir rooms following the Mass and attending the scheduled rehearsal.

Perhaps even more unlikely, for the second incident to have occurred, a 6ft4, fully vested Cardinal Pell would have had to have departed from his usual practice (and the usual practice of every presiding Bishop in a liturgy) to remain at the back of the procession, make his way to the middle of a procession of concelebrating priests, acolytes, servers and about 50 choristers, and molest a boy unnoticed by any of those in the procession or anyone else.

While snippets of these may have been in various media reports, they are a striking collection when placed side-by-side as they were in the appeal documents.

The ability to see them and come to a conclusion for ourselves rather than reading media reports is one of the great benefits of an open justice system like we have in Australia.

Related stories:

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121218_Cardinal-Pell_Trial_CNS_850 Cardinal George Pell leaves the Melbourne Magistrates Court 6 October, 2018. PHOTO: CNS/Mark Dadswell, Reuters Doumit-1-100319
Archbishop stands by anti-euthanasia video https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/archbishop-stands-by-anti-euthanasia-video/ Wed, 12 Jun 2019 07:11:23 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=24049 Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP has hit back in defence of anti-euthanasia videos shared on social media by the Sydney Archdiocese after the content was criticised as misleading by a pro-euthanasia group. “It is no surprise that proponents of Victoria’s euthanasia and assisted suicide laws, which come into effect next week, are wanting to shut down […]

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Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP has hit back in defence of anti-euthanasia videos shared on social media by the Sydney Archdiocese after the content was criticised as misleading by a pro-euthanasia group.

“It is no surprise that proponents of Victoria’s euthanasia and assisted suicide laws, which come into effect next week, are wanting to shut down any evidence of the alarming nature of the consequences of the legislation of euthanasia in other countries,” Archbishop Fisher said.

“Just today, one activist organisation demanded we take down the Archdiocese of Sydney videos,” he continued. “But we need to keep raising our voices in defence of the vulnerable, and to share the truth about the consequences of state-sanctioned killing. Now is not the time to be silent, or silenced.”

The initial video was shared on the Archdiocese’s Vimeo account and on Archbishop Anthony Fisher’s Facebook page on 3 June, a couple of weeks ahead of the implementation of voluntary assisted suicide laws in Victoria on 19 June.

It provides statistics from Belgium where euthanasia has been legal since 2002 and states that one person has been euthanised “every three days without their explicit consent” in the Western European country.

It also stipulates that in more the half of assisted suicide cases in Belgium the patient had never expressed a desire for their life to be ended and that the reason given in more than half of cases was that killing the patient was the wish of the family.

We need to keep raising our voices in defence of the vulnerable, and to share the truth about the consequences of state-sanctioned killing

Pro-euthanasia group Go Gentle Australia has called for the video to be taken down and have questioned the accuracy of its content.

“I’m surprised the Church looked up something like this without fact checking,” CEO of Go Gentle Australia, Kiki Paul, told 7NEWS.com.au.

“Terminally ill Australians in the final weeks of life deserve better from the Catholic Church.”

However, a spokeswoman for the Sydney Archdiocese said it absolutely stands by the videos.

“Euthanasia was originally sold to voters in countries such as Belgium as a voluntary option for a narrow group of terminally ill patients, but has resulted in a cascade of deaths where unconscious and non-consenting patients have been killed by doctors,” she said.

“Australians are rightly shocked when they are given the data of euthanasia deaths overseas and they have the right to know the consequences of enacting such legislation.”

Now is not the time to be silent, or silenced

The Archdiocese of Sydney also rejected claims that the study in question referred to palliative sedation and not euthanasia.

It pointed out that the Belgium study classed physician-assisted deaths as those where the death was a “consequence of the use of drugs prescribed, supplied or administered by you or another physician with the explicit intention of hastening the end of life or of enabling the patient to end his or her own life”.

Meanwhile, the World Medical Association Declaration on End-of-Life Medical Care says that “palliative sedation must never be used to intentionally cause a patient’s death or without the agreement of a patient who remains mentally competent”.

“Administering drugs with the explicit intention of hastening the end of life is euthanasia regardless of the spin activist organisations such as Go Gentle Australia wish to put on it,” the Archdiocese’s spokeswoman said.

The video was the first in a series that the Sydney Archdiocese is releasing in order to provide Australians accurate information about the practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide occurring overseas.

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Archbishop stands by anti-euthanasia video Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP has hit back in defence of anti-euthanasia videos shared on social media by the Sydney Archdiocese after the content was criticised as misleading by a pro-euthanasia group. “It is no surprise that proponents of Victoria's euthanasia and assisted suicide laws, which come Assisted Suicide,Euthanasia,euthanasia Euthanasia_850
Meet some of the inspiring Catholics to make Queen’s Birthday list https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/meet-some-of-the-inspiring-catholics-to-make-queens-birthday-list/ Wed, 12 Jun 2019 01:11:17 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=24016 ‘So privileged and grateful’ Dozens of Catholics in Sydney and further afield have been recognised in this year’s Queen’s birthday honours list for their outstanding contributions in areas as diverse as the law, education, health, research, and the Church’s sacramental life. Here are just some of the inspiring Catholics to receive a Queen’s Birthday Honour […]

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‘So privileged and grateful’

Dozens of Catholics in Sydney and further afield have been recognised in this year’s Queen’s birthday honours list for their outstanding contributions in areas as diverse as the law, education, health, research, and the Church’s sacramental life.

Here are just some of the inspiring Catholics to receive a Queen’s Birthday Honour in 2019:

Queen's Birthday Honours
Father Bob Sheridan, parish priest at Sacred Heart parish at Blackheath. PHOTO: Blue Mountains Gazette/Jennie Curtin

Parish priest at Sacred Heart Parish in Blackheath Father Robert (Bob) Sheridan was awarded an Order of Australia (OAM) for service to the Catholic Church. The 86-year-old priest has served the Katoomba and Blackheath parishes for more than a decade after his ordination at the age of 71.

In his former life he was married for 33 years until his wife Dawn, who suffered from schizophrenia, died in 1997.

“I am so privileged and grateful and humbled [about the award],” Fr Bob told The Catholic Weekly. “I had no idea, I thought the grapevine in the parish was working well for me, and then found out everyone kept this from me since last October.

“It’s a small parish and I’ve got a really good team. We’ve got a very informal relationship and it works.”

Fr Bob said he is happiest when he’s giving to others. “Love God and love neighbour, that’s what I do and that sums me up,” he said. “If my health continues to hold up and my mental sharpness is able to carry to load I will continue on to the next three or four years when I will be 90 by then.”

The last 22 years since his wife’s death have unfolded in an “extraordinary way”, he said. “I think the Lord knew exactly what he wanted to happen to me, although [at the time] I didn’t.”

Dominican Sister Patricia Bailey was awarded an Order of Australia (OAM) for her service to education, particularly for deaf and hearing impaired children. The Belfield-based sister told local media she was shocked at news of her honour and “thought it was a joke”.

Queens Birthday Honours
Sr Patricia Bailey OP coaches a hearing-impaired student. PHOTO: Supplied

“I wasn’t sure whether to accept this because there are more deserving people,” she said. “However, if the OAM can give deaf children a bit of a profile, then it will be good.”

Speaking to The Catholic Weekly she said she was passionate about teaching and that “all children who are hearing impaired should be able to have a Catholic education [if their parents’ wish] and be adequately supported by teachers for the deaf”.

Sr Patricia has worked in education for 47 years including 44 devoted to hearing-impaired children. She was a director at Catholic Hearing Impaired Children in Strathfield, and principal at the Catholic Centre for Hearing Impaired at Waratah. Today she teaches hearing impaired children across five Sydney schools including St Brendan’s Catholic Primary School at Bankstown and hopes her award will highlight the need for increased government funding for specialist teaching help.

Queens Birthday Honours
Sr Mary Shanahan. PHOTO: Facebook

Sydney’s Sr Mary Shanahan RSCJ also was awarded an Order of Australia (OAM) for service to tertiary education and as a mentor of young students. The chaplain of Sancta Sophia College at the University of Sydney has served the college in various capacities for more than 60 years.

Professor Neville Owen was appointed to the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to the law, and to the judiciary, to legal education and to the community of Western Australia. Prof Owen was the chair of the Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council. Today he is a member of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Implementation Advisory Group and is also a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

He told The Catholic Weekly that receiving news of his award was as a “sobering experience” but that it was also a great honour and privilege.

“It calls me to reflect on what I’ve done, where I’ve got and perhaps what else I could have done.”

Prof Owen said a highlight of his career was heading the HIH Insurance Royal Commission from 2001-2003. “It was an opportunity which very few judges get which was not only to minister justice but to have an influence in the development of policy, in the area of how business and commerce should operate,” he said.

“And it was an opportunity to talk about the moral underpinning and the necessity of values to be brought to bear in the decision-making process.” The other highlight was chairing the Truth, Justice and Healing Council until its closure in 2018 and his work with the Pontifical Commission, he said.

“I appreciate  being able to make a contribution, small though it may be, to the welfare of people harmed greatly by that tragedy, but also to pave the way for making our institution as safe a place as possibly it can be for children and vulnerable adults,” Prof Owen said.

Oxford University and University of Notre Dame Australia Professor John Finnis, author of Natural Law and Natural Rights, is now a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for eminent service to the law and to education, to legal theory and philosophical enquiry, and as a leading jurist, academic and author.

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Associate Professor Anthony Schembri. PHOTO: Supplied

Associate Professor Anthony Schembri, CEO of St Vincent’s Health Network Sydney, was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his significant service to hospital administration and to medical research.

“I feel incredibly fortunate to have worked with so many talented and caring health workers, researchers and support staff during my career and it’s a wonderful privilege to work with patients and their families each day,” he said.

“But I wouldn’t have ever been able to do what I love without the support and love of family and friends, I am very grateful.

“What’s served my career well has been the dual exposure I’ve been fortunate to have at St Vincent’s and with the Sisters. Firstly to have been here in the early 1990’s as a young social worker, and then to return 20 years later as CEO – this has certainly helped provide me with a unique perspective of how we can genuinely serve our mission of supporting the poor and vulnerable.”

Queens Birthday Honours
ACU’s Associate Professor William Sultmann with his wife Noelene. PHOTO: ACU

Associate Professor William Sultmann, Deputy Dean of Australian Catholic University’s La Salle Academy has been made a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia. Receiving his award for significant service to education, and to the community, he said it was an “honour beyond expectation and received with deep and humble appreciation”.

“It’s a confirmation of many opportunities across four decades of public, private, professional and community service,” said Dr Sultmann.

“It is for service made possible through the grace of God and because others have laid foundations, provided possibilities, been generous with modelling, empowered with trust and provided continuing support.”

NSW Detective Superintendent Gregory Moore from Bourke parish in north-west NSW received an Australian Police Medal (APM) for dedicated service to the people of the state for more than 32 years.

As Commander of the Central North Police District, Detective Moore has implemented programs and strategies which have resulted in improvements in crime reduction and enhanced community engagement in the Indigenous community.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame University Australia was celebrating the seven Australians with connections to the university being named on the list, including Prof Owen and Prof Finnis.

They other five are Adjunct Professor Gabriel Moens (AM) and Bruce Levet (OAM) from the Sydney campus’ School of Law, Dr Clare O’Callaghan (AM) of the Institute for Ethics and Society, Associate Professor Leo Pincsewski (AM) and Dr Geraldine Duncan (OAM) of the School of Medicine in Sydney.

Announcing the inspirational Australians last week, Australian Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove said the “greatest part” of the awards system is that it is open to all.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are from or whether you’re known to millions or just a few,” he said. “If you have constantly put others ahead of yourself, served tirelessly and made a difference you can be nominated and recognised by a grateful nation.”

To nominate someone special for next year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List visit www.gg.gov.au.

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Fr-Bob_Blackheath_Blue-Mountains-Gazette_Jennie-Curtin_850 Father Bob Sheridan, parish priest at Sacred Heart parish at Blackheath. PHOTO: Blue Mountains Gazette/Jennie Curtin patricia-bailey_850 Sr Patricia Bailey OP coaches a hearing-impaired student. PHOTO: Supplied Sr-Mary-Shanahan_850 Sr Mary Shanahan. PHOTO: Facebook Anthony-Schembri_St-Vincents_850 Associate Professor Anthony Schembri. PHOTO: Supplied William-Sultmann_ACU_850 ACU's Associate Professor William Sultmann with his wife Noelene. PHOTO: ACU
EXCLUSIVE: Medics uneasy on ending lives https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/exclusive-medics-uneasy-on-ending-lives/ Wed, 12 Jun 2019 01:11:13 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=24022 Victorian hospitals struggle to find doctors willing to kill patients on eve of assisted suicide law With just a week to go until the implementation of Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017, Melbourne’s largest health care providers were struggling to find specialists willing to administer voluntary assisted suicide and euthanasia. Unlike Victoria’s abortion laws which […]

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A doctor holding a syringe.
Victoria’s new legislation requires two certified doctors to end life.

Victorian hospitals struggle to find doctors willing to kill patients on eve of assisted suicide law

With just a week to go until the implementation of Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017, Melbourne’s largest health care providers were struggling to find specialists willing to administer voluntary assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Unlike Victoria’s abortion laws which force all doctors to cooperate with abortion, the assisted dying legislation provides an ‘opt-in’ mechanism.

Doctors and health care providers can choose from three levels of engagement: the provision of full service including the administering of the lethal 100ml dose (described as Pathway A), partnership and consultation (Pathway B) or the provision of information only (Pathway C).

Across the state, only 89 out of nearly 15,000 general and specialist doctors, have viewed the mandatory training, a six-hour online video training module from Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

However the figure may not be representative. One Melbourne-based oncologist who did not want to be named told The Catholic Weekly: “This does not mean that 89 have completed the training, it only means that 89 have logged into the Department’s website.”

Meanwhile, although not opposed to the provision of assisted suicide, Monash Health, Victoria’s largest public health care provider, has elected to take a “partnership approach” for the time being, meaning that it will not administer assisted suicide due to the lack of uptake on the part of doctors.

Out of Monash’s 2,700 doctors only 15 have so far expressed an interest in being involved. Two qualified doctors are required for the provision of assisted suicide.

In an inter-departmental presentation at the Monash Clayton campus on 23 May staff were told that, “If we do not have a medical practitioner [by the time the legislation comes into force], then we will access the services provided by the Department of Health and Human Services”.

Dr Anjali Dhulia, the Executive Director of Medical Services and Chief Medical Officer of Monash Health, told Monash healthcare doctors and staff that relatively few of their institution’s doctors were expressing interest in providing assisted suicide.

Few healthcare doctors expressed interest in providing assisted suicide

“For most organisations there aren’t a huge number of practitioners saying they would be willing to fill either of these roles, but there are a few,” Dr Dhulia said.

Northern Hospital Epping, a major community hospital with approximately 400 beds serving Melbourne’s northern suburbs, is having trouble providing even B-level engagement.

St Vincent’s Catholic Hospital has declared it will not be providing assisted dying at all. Austin Health, however, an umbrella organisation for four Victorian public healthcare institutions, will fully administer assisted suicide.

The attached Austin Health Pharmacy is the centralised pharmacy authorised to mix and dispense the lethal 100ml dose to end a person’s life.

Austin Health covers the Austin Hospital in Heidelberg, the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital, the Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre in Kew and the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre.

Bendigo’s public hospital, which serves approximately 200,000 people in central regional Victoria, is still endeavouring to provide Level C engagement.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome could be grounds for euthanasia under legal loopholes
Photo: Shutterstock

Another palliative care specialist who did not want to be named told The Catholic Weekly that while there were “a few” palliative specialists in Victoria that would agree to assisted suicide, it is “by no means a consensus”.

“The government has gone with those few people to say this is something that palliative care is on board with, but that’s not my experience,” he said.

He said that among palliative care specialists there was a sense of “apathy”, as the legalisation of assisted suicide had been presented to them as a fait accompli.

Prof Margaret Somerville, Professor of Bioethics at the University of Notre Dame who has followed the global spread of voluntary assisted suicide and euthanasia for four decades, told said the reluctance was not surprising.

“[Doctors] don’t want to be involved in it. It’s totally antithetical to the Hippocratic tradition of medicine,” she said.

Several Victorian doctors and healthcare workers approached by The Catholic Weekly said they believe some doctors agree with assisted suicide in principle but are unwilling to do it in practice.

Related stories:

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Marsh-160619 Victoria’s new legislation requires two certified doctors to end life. shutterstock_85290190 Photo: Shutterstock
Faithful tell Plenary 2020 they want a Christ-centred Church https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/faithful-tell-plenary-2020-they-want-a-christ-centred-church/ Tue, 11 Jun 2019 21:00:21 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=23987 After consulting more than 222,000 of the Catholic faithful on what they think God wants of the Church in Australia, six National Themes have been discerned for consideration by Plenary Council 2020. The Themes show a “clear desire” for a Christ-centred Church, president of the Plenary Council Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, said. “We worked to […]

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Parishioners attend Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Rosemeadow. PHOTO: Dan Hopper

After consulting more than 222,000 of the Catholic faithful on what they think God wants of the Church in Australia, six National Themes have been discerned for consideration by Plenary Council 2020.

The Themes show a “clear desire” for a Christ-centred Church, president of the Plenary Council Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, said.

“We worked to discern what people were yearning for as we move into this next stage of preparing for the Plenary Council,” Archbishop Costelloe said.

“Accordingly, the six National Themes for Discernment flow from that primary goal of being a Christ-centred community of people.”

The voices of the faithful help all of us to understand something of the historical experience and the current reality of the Catholic Church in Australia

From May 2018 to March 2019, more than 222,000 people voiced their views, as the Plenary Council Facilitation Team received 17,500 submissions from individuals and groups.

The question posed to people was, “What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?”

Based on their responses, the six National Themes for Discernment are: Missionary and Evangelising; Inclusive, Participatory and Synodal; Prayerful and Eucharistic; Humble, Healing and Merciful; A Joyful, Hope-Filled and Servant Community; Open to Conversion, Renewal and Reform.

“The National Centre for Pastoral Research was able to pinpoint more than 100 recurring subject areas from those 17,500 submissions,” Archbishop Costelloe said.

“In some ways, those subject areas described what one might call ‘the messy reality’ of Catholic life in Australia today. The voices of the faithful help all of us to understand something of the historical experience and the current reality of the Catholic Church in Australia.”

A Plenary Council discussion group.

Plenary Council Facilitator, Lana Turvey-Collins, said the next stage of preparation for the Council would be a time of prayerful consideration of the major questions raised by the faithful.

“The emergence of the National Themes for Discernment is an important moment in our journey towards the Plenary Council,” Ms Turvey-Collins said. “It is an expression of the sense of the faith from the faithful and, from this, we can proceed in our discernment of what the Spirit is saying to us in Australia.”

The fruits of what is discerned during this time will shape the agenda for the first session of Plenary Council in October 2020

Working groups will be established for each of the six National Themes, she said, and people around the country will be invited to participate in communal Listening and Discernment sessions.

“The fruits of what is discerned during this time will shape the agenda for the first session of Plenary Council in October 2020,” Ms Turvey-Collins said.

Australia’s bishops will “reflect carefully” upon the National Themes later this month, Archbishop Costelloe said, when they gather for a retreat prior to their Ad Limina visit in Rome. He said the bishops will share their reflections and conclusions with Plenary Council’s Facilitation Team and Executive Committee based on their “prayerful discernment and pastoral experience”.

For more info on the Plenary Council: https://plenarycouncil.org.au

Related stories:

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