Hope, resolve remain strong, 10 years on
And talking of change …
Hope for unity and reconciliation
Caritas renews calls for Sri Lankan peace
New St Vincent de Paul move against homelessness
Sheehan to leave ACU National
Benedict, the Bishops of Ireland and clerical sex abuse

Hope, resolve remain strong, 10 years on

ROME: The International Movement We Are Church has sent a letter to the Pope seeking dialogue.

For the third time, and on the date of the 10th anniversary of its founding in Rome - November 25 - We Are Church asks Pope Benedict XVI for a personal meeting to launch an open, broad, constructive, and mutual dialogue on the current questions and problems in the Church

There was no reply to the first letter. The reply to the second letter, on instruction from the Vatican's Secretary of State, recommended dialogue with local bishops and priests. 

In the third letter, We Are Church points out the necessity of dialogue with the Vatican, because many dialogues with local bishops during the last 10 years made it clear that the questions and pastoral problems were not their responsibility but that of the Vatican.

If the Pope demands dialogue with Islam there should also be an open and substantial dialogue within the Church, according to Raquel Mallavibarrena, Chair of the movement.

As a "voice of the people in the pews" We Are Church says that its five goals are theologically sound and are supported by the vast majority of faithful Christians in all parts of the world:

* creation of a Church of brothers and sisters;
* full participation of women in all aspects of Church life;
* removal of the obligation of clerical celibacy;
* a positive attitude towards sexuality and recognition of the primacy of an informed moral conscience;
* a message of joy and not threat or discrimination.

It says that today the institutional Church is far more conservative than it was in the times of the Council, but there is a deep yearning for change.

While We Are Church has not obtained concrete reforms, with the 50th anniversary of Vatican II in 2012 in mind, it says it will deepen its spiritual resources for the long lasting process of reform.  Faith and hope continue to be strong.

And talking of change …

SYDNEY:  The 43 bishops of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference will hold a plenary meeting in Sydney this week, from November 27 to December 1.  It will be their first meeting since the major restructure of the ACBC earlier this year. Following the restructure there are now Bishops’ Commissions for: Doctrine and Morals; Liturgy; Mission and Faith Formation; Catholic Education; Pastoral Life; Relations with Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders; Justice and Service; Church Ministry; Caritas; Ecumenism and Interfaith Relations; Canon Law; Administration and Information.

Hope for unity and reconciliation

WASHINGTON:   The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation has issued a statement on the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey. After reviewing briefly the history of previous meetings between Popes and Ecumenical Patriarchs, the statement concludes with a prayer “that the meeting of the Pope and Ecumenical Patriarch will contribute to the unity of the churches and to the reconciliation of all peoples”.

The members of the consultation also expressed their concern about the restrictions that the Turkish government has placed on the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s ministry. These restrictions include limitations on the election of the Ecumenical Patriarch, the non-recognition of the Patriarchate’s international role, the closing of the Theological School on the island of Halki in 1971, and the confiscation of churches and other property. The consultation concludes that “the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in late November will highlight once again the crucial role played by the Ecumenical Patriarchate for many centuries not only among the Orthodox Churches but also in the broader Christian world”.

(The full text of the consultation’s statement can be found at the end of the linked article).

And while in Turkey, Pope will visit landmark mosque

VATICAN CITY (Zenit.org):    On Thursday afternoon Benedict XVI will visit the Blue Mosque in Istanbul as a sign of respect for Islam. Benedict XVI will be the second Pope to enter a mosque. John Paul II visited the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Syria, on May 6, 2001. The Blue Mosque was built in the early 17th century during the reign of Ahmet I, the 14th Ottoman sultan. It is Istanbul's largest and most magnificent mosque.

Caritas renews calls for Sri Lankan peace

SYDNEY:   Caritas Australia has renewed its call for peace in Sri Lanka as violence continues throughout the country.

A major humanitarian emergency is taking place in the midst of a civil war and the international community needs to refocus its attention on Sri Lanka before this conflict destabilises the region, according to the CEO of Caritas Australia, Mr Jack de Groot.

Caritas Australia is calling for three specific actions to promote a sustainable peace.

“Firstly we need a cessation of hostilities, in particular the negotiation of a ceasefire and the establishment of a multilateral emergency committee that would look for solutions to the violence,” he said.

“Secondly, parties breaching the Oslo accord must comply with its recommendations and take responsibility for their actions.

“Thirdly we need independent investigation and prosecution of human rights abuses and international overseers to ensure legitimacy.”

Mr de Groot said that Caritas Australia supported the key role Australia was playing in the Sri Lankan Bilateral Donor Mission instigated in mid-October. Heads of Missions involved include the European Union, UK, Swedish, Canada, USAID, Japan, Norway, Australia and the Italians amongst others. Its role is to negotiate with the Sri Lankan leadership and also is able to travel to parts of the country that remain closed.

New St Vincent de Paul move against homelessness

SYDNEY:   The former Governor General of Australia, Sir William Deane, will unveil a new initiative of the NSW St Vincent de Paul Society aimed at further combating the changing and complex social problem of homelessness.  Chief Justice Murray Gleeson will act as Chair and will present, on behalf of the society, information on the changing face of homelessness

According to the SVdP Chief Executive Officer, Mr John Picot, the St Vincent de Paul Society is the largest single provider of accommodation services for homeless people in NSW and the ACT.

“As the issues surrounding homelessness become more complex, the Society must adopt new strategies to maintain and increase services that tackle emerging issues and re-engage chronically homeless people so they realise their potential and feel they have choices and hope for a better future. This new initiative will enable the St Vincent de Paul Society to meet this challenge,” Mr Picot said.

The launch will be held at the Matthew Talbot Hostel, a special work of the St Vincent de Paul Society, Woolloomooloo, at tomorrow (Thursday) at 10am.

Sheehan to leave ACU National

SYDNEY:   Australian Catholic University (ACU National) Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Sheehan will step down as the University’s chief executive, in January 2008 at the end of his second five-year contract. Before becoming Vice-Chancellor of ACU National, Professor Sheehan was Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Queensland. He has also held prominent positions at the University of New England, The City University of New York and Stanford University, California, and has been president of both the International Congress of Psychology and the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. In 1995, Professor Sheehan was made an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia for his services to education, research and psychology. As Vice-Chancellor at ACU National, he has served on the Board and various committees of the Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee. The recruitment of a new Vice-Chancellor will start early next year.

Benedict, the Bishops of Ireland and clerical sex abuse

ROMA:   To the Irish bishops gathered before him at the Vatican at the end of October, Benedict XVI clearly said that this is a “time of purification”. It is a time of purification from the “filth” he denounced in the memorable Via Crucis at the Colosseum on Good Friday two years ago, shortly before being elected pope, a filth made up of the “many heart-rending cases of sexual abuse of minors. These are all the more tragic when the abuser is a cleric”.

Along with the United States, Ireland is the country where the Church has created the greatest scandal. The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, 68, confirmed in an interview with “Avvenire” that Benedict XVI, in receiving the Irish bishops, not only denounced the horror of abuse, but dictated to them “precise indications” on how to clean up – with sanctions that are sometimes more rigid than the ones handed down by civil tribunals…   (article)





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