Where are we now?

“The Year of our Lord 1962 was a year of American resolve. Russian orbiting, European union and Chinese war.

“In a tense yet hope-filled time, these were the events that dominated conversation and invited history's scrutiny. But history has a long eye, and it is quite possible that in her vision 1962's most fateful rendezvous took place in the world's most famous church--having lived for years in men's hearts and minds.

“That event was the beginning of a revolution in Christianity … It began on Oct. 11 in Rome and was the work of the man of the year, Pope John XXIII, who, by convening the Ecumenical Council called Vatican II, set in motion ideas and forces that will affect not merely Roman Catholics, not only Christians, but the whole world's ever-expanding population long after Cuba is once again libre and India is free of attack...”

So began a TIME Magazine article of January 4, 1963.  The first session of Vatican II was over, having finished on December 8, 1962, and plans were underway for the sessions scheduled in 1963.  Before that could happen, Pope John XXIII would die on June 3, 1963, and Cardinal Montini, of Milan, would become Pope Paul VI on June 21, declaring in one of his first papal acts that the ecumenical council would continue.

John, the servant of the servants of God, had opened the Council on October 11, 1962, in a public session which included the 2908 Council Fathers as well as representatives of 86 governments and international bodies.

Following a Mass, the Pope read an address to the assembled bishops entitled Gaudet Mater Ecclesia ("Mother Church Rejoices" in Italian).

In the speech, he rejected the thoughts of "prophets of doom who are always forecasting disaster" in the world and in the future of the Church.

Pope John stressed the pastoral, not doctrinal, nature of the Council: The Church did not need to repeat or reformulate existing doctrines and dogmata but rather had to teach Christ's message in light of the modern world's ever-changing trends.

He exhorted the Council Fathers "to use the medicine of mercy rather than the weapons of severity" in the documents they would produce.

The Time article continued:

“However soon or late that humble life may end, the world will not be able to ignore or forget the forces that Pope John has unleashed. The importance of the council that he called is already clear…

“To a Christianity deeply bothered by the world's condition, Pope John XXIII has brought something more than a simple feeling of good will: a renewed sense of the optimism at the heart of the Christian message, "We are much too pessimistic and not joyful enough," complains Swiss Theologian Karl Barth, who calls for a "theology of freedom that looks ahead and strives forward" to suit the nearly apocalyptic seriousness of our time."

“Says Pope John: "Men have come and gone, but I always remained an optimist, because that is my nature, even when I hear near me deep concern over the fate of mankind."

“To the world at large, John has given what neither science nor diplomat can provide: a sense of its unity as the human family. That sense is at the core of the Christian tradition, whose God lives in history and invites the family of man to help him form it. If the invitation goes begging in a world besieged by tension and seduced by its own accomplishments, Christianity must share the blame.

“Pope John believes that man should be saved where he is, not where he ought to be. By bringing Christianity to a new conformation with the world and salving the wounds that have torn it for centuries, the Pope has helped vastly to recapture the Christian sense of family.

“For in a time of apocalyptic seriousness, man has realized more than ever that he does not live by bread alone.  

“Nor by guns.”

Forty-four years later, has the world changed very much?  What has happened to the freshness that was to blow through the open window of the Church?

Readers might like to share their recollections of the hopes and the fears of what, in the early 1960’s, was shaping up to be a revolution in the Catholic world, that would overflow into the world at large.  What happened to the revolution? Have we lost the optimism of John?  How can it be reclaimed?  Where is our joy?

Blessings on a revolutionary week.

Penny Edman.



Throughout the month, the Pope's general prayer intention is: "That all those who are baptized may mature in their faith and manifest it through clear, coherent and courageous choices in life."  The Pope's missionary prayer intention is: "That the celebration of World Mission Day may everywhere increase the spirit of missionary animation and cooperation."

Until 14 Mental Health Week

TODAY  Anniversary of the opening of Vatican II by Pope John XXIII, in 1962

Jesuit Jubilee Lecture series 2006, Changing shapes of faithfulness on the 21st century, with Maryanne Confoy rsc, sponsored by Jesuit Theological College and Newman College; the Oratory, Newman College, Parkville (Melbourne); 7.30 for 8pm

Professor Dean Hoge, American sociologist, guest speaker at Catalyst for Renewal dinner, The Pumphouse Hotel, Fitzroy; 6.30pm

Climate Change Conference:  Our responsibility to sustain God’s earth, hosted by Catholic Education Office, Archdiocese of Perth; from 8am

FOI public forum - Knowledge is Power Freedom of Information in NSW: Why isn't it working? Speakers include journalist Wendy Bacon, FOI expert Peter Timmons and from the Save Barrington Tops Group, Ann Smith; Jubilee Room, Parliament House, Macquarie St, Sydney; 12.45 for 1pm.  (information: 02 9230 3549)

12 Rerum Novarum Lecture 2006Stewardship: Handling God’s creation responsibly, Bishop Christopher Toohey (Wilcannia-Forbes) presented by the Melbourne Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace; Cardinal Knox Centre, Albert Street, East Melbourne; 6.30 for 7pm  (cost: $10/concessions)  further information: Mark Clarke 03 9926 5710 or justice@melbourne.catholic.org.au

Public lecture: Future Church, fewer priests: options for mission, with Professor Dean Hoge; Room 10B Blackfriars Building ACU Canberra; 5.30pm

13 Climate Change Conference, presented by the Melbourne Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace, in association with Catholic Earthcare Australia; Olympic Room, Melbourne Cricket Ground; 9am-4.30pm (registration: $75)  further information: Shaun Cannon 03 9926 5709 or scannon@melbourne.catholic.org.au;

registration: Christine Wade 03 9287 5566 or office@css.org.au

13-15 Seven: A Balance in Life weekend for young Christian adults, inspired by Bishop Geoffrey Robinson’s talk, Things I have learnt about life and the seven aspects of a balanced life – physical, emotional, social, artistic, intellectual, moral and spiritual, Elanora Conference Centre, Elanora Heights, NSW.  Cost $130. further information:  Helen  0400 940 036 or alkerhelen@yahoo.com.au

14 Earth Healing Fair, Four Winds, Ocean View; 10am -3 pm (www.earthlink.org.au)

Aquinas Retreat Day facilitated by Marie Biddle rsj and Michael Whelan sm; Marist Centre, Hunters Hill; 9.30am-3.30pm.   cost: $20.  byo lunch.

CPRT Women’s Spirituality Forum workshop:  Finding our voices, with Trisha Watts, singer, song writer, recording artist; Holy Convent Anglican Church, Cook, ACT; 9.30am-5pm  (cost $50.  information: 02 6296 4046 / 0417 042 349)

A Women’s Singing Circle, with Trisha Watts (as above) 7-9.30pm (cost: $15)

14-15 Conscience needs courage!Australian Reforming Catholics annual conference, Dougherty Community Centre, Chatswood, NSW.  Registrations close, September 30. (further information, John Buggy  02 9451 8393 or jbuggy@ozemail.com.au)

15 5th anniversary of the sinking of the Siev X (353 people were drowned when the refugee boat sank)

Siev X memorial service, Weston park, Yarralumla, ACT; 2pm

15-17 Micah Challenge Australia national gathering, Canberra

15-21 Anti-poverty Week

16 Stand Up campaign, Queen Victoria Park, Brisbane; 1-2pm

for youth adults: Contemporary Women of Faith, led by Marie Biddle rsj, Croydon; 7.30-9.30pm (further information: croyhod@bigpond.net.au or 02 9747 4199)

World Food Day

17 International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

2006 Victor J. Couch lecture:  Get ready for young adult Catholics, with Professor Dean Hoge, ACU North Sydney campus; 7pm

Seminar, Discipleship - Faith Come Alive! with John Thornhill sm, North Harbour Parish Centre, 2 King Street Manly Vale; 7-9pm. (bookings, Cheryl Martin at The Broken Bay Institute 9473 4570)

2006 (5th) Common Wealth for the Common Good address, From boiled lollies to shared responsibilities, Graeme Mundine, Executive Officer of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission (NATSIEC), TLC Building, Peel Street, South Brisbane.  Co-hosted by the Brisbane Catholic Justice and Peace Commission and the Social Action Office; 7pm

Hidden hunger in the luckycountry launch of the new Sydney Food Fairness Alliance (SFFA), Parliament House; 5.30 for 6pm

18 St Thomas More’s Forum: Peacemaking for Christians in the 21st century, Peter Garrett, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Reconciliation and the Arts; St Thomas More’s School Hall, White Crescent, Campbell, ACT; 7.30-9pm  (cost $10/$3 student/concession)

Sydney nuclear forum, organised by the Institute of Environmental Studies, University of New South Wales; Gallery 1, Scientia Building, UNSW, Kensington, Sydney; 10.10am – 5pm (registrations, information: Carissa Simons 02 9385 5687; cost $40 / $20 concession; bookings necessary)

Public lecture:  Designing public and sacred space, Romaldo Giurgola and Rosemary Crumlin (both involved with the rebuilding of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta); The Oratory, Newman College, Melbourne University; 5.15-6.30pm

David Suzuki addresses the National Press Club, Barton, ACT; 11.45-1.30pm (information: 02 61212199)

19 Public lecture:  Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, with Rev. Dr Gerard Kelly (Catholic University of Sydney) Setting and agenda for the Church and its mission and Pro. Neil Ormerod (Australian Catholic University) The argument has vast implications:  unpacking part 2; Ryan Auditorium, Catholic Institute of Sydney, Strathfield; 7.30pm.   Donation: $5.

Public lecture: Laity and transformation of the Church for Mission, with Professor Dean Hoge; Marymac Community Centre, Annerley; 7.30pm   (cost: $10, includes supper)

19-22 Pace e Bene Engage Workshop on non-violent living, co-hosted by the Lourdes Hill College Social Action Office.   (further information: Angela Ballard, telephone 07 3891 5866)

20 Ecumenical forum and panel discussion: Young adults – signs of hope, with guest Professor Dean Hoge; Marymac Community Centre, Annerley; noon-2pm   (cost: $15, includes lunch)

20-22 Rachel’s Vineyard healing retreat (emotional and spiritual healing after abortion); Sydney

International human rights conferenceBuilding World Peace – The Role of Religions and Human Rights, Edmonton Alberta, Canada, presented by the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights

21 Launch of The Emmaus Series in Broken Bay Diocese, led by John Thornhill sm; Caroline Chisholm Centre, Pennant Hills Road, Pennant Hills;   10.30am - 2pm (bookings, Cheryl Martin at The Broken Bay Institute 9473 4570)

22 80th World Mission Day

The graphic design and web content management for this edition of OnLine Catholics has been prepared by Ian James, of JGD Graphic + Web Melbourne.


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