In pursuit of human rights
Amnesty International responds to Pinochet's death
Mercy Mass to go worldwide
Israeli Prime Minister Olmert to meet Pope at Vatican 

Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference
New Bishops attend first meeting
Commission appointments
Divorce and the Catholic Church booklet approved
World Youth Day cross pilgrimage
Inter-religious peace congress
New ACBC Commissions


In pursuit of human rights

SYDNEY:   “On 10 December 1948, Dr H.V. Evatt, then President of the United Nations General Assembly and Australian Minister for External Affairs, enthusiastically proclaimed the official adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a ‘step forward in a great evolutionary process’… (Then)  the White Australia policy prevailed; Indigenous Australians were denied the vote; sex and disability discrimination were routine; and what Oscar Wilde called ‘the love that dare not speak its name’ was a criminal offence…

“Today, we can be justifiably proud of the steps forward in Australia’s human rights journey. But our successes must not be used to wallpaper over our failures…  Today, in a climate of fear and insecurity, we must regain this enthusiasm for human rights. Now is the time for Australia to have a serious debate about how to improve human rights protection in Australia. And to the winners of the Human Rights Day awards, who are so tireless in their pursuit of human rights, I say, very simply, don’t stop.”
(from the speech by Mr John von Doussa QC, President, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, on December 7, at the Human Rights Medal and Awards Ceremony, Sydney.)

Human Rights Medal went to Fr Chris Riley, founder of Youth Off The Streets and Mr Phillip Adams, human rights activist and broadcaster. Dr Caroline Taylor, an advocate for the rights of women and children, was highly commended.  In other awards, the Edmund Rice Centre won the Community Award (Organisation).


Amnesty International responds to Pinochet's death

CHILE:   Augusto Pinochet's death must not close the darkest chapter in Chile's history, according to Amnesty International.

In urging the Chilean authorities to declare the amnesty law void and permit investigation and protection of all those others who were involved in the thousands of cases of disappearances, torture and extrajudicial executions, it says families and survivors need to know what happened, they need justice and need their day in court.

”Pinochet's death should be a wake-up call for the authorities in Chile and for governments everywhere, reminding them of the importance of speedy justice for human rights crimes, something Pinochet himself has now escaped.”  (see:  Amnesty; timeline; background)


Mercy Mass to go worldwide

DUBLIN:   On Sunday, December 17, Ireland’s national television station RTE will broadcast A Eucharistic Celebration of 175 years of Mercy, presided over by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, on television in Ireland and via the RTE website to the world (Webcast).  (details, including local times)


Israeli Prime Minister Olmert to meet Pope at Vatican 

JERUSALEM (ENI): Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has left for three days of talks in Europe to discuss Middle East issues and his trip will conclude with a visit to the Vatican to meet Pope Benedict XVI. "It is the first time in many years that such an event has taken place," Miri Eisen, the foreign media spokesperson for Olmert told Ecumenical News International,noting the two men had not met before.


Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference

SYDNEY: News from the November Plenary meeting of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference includes …

New Bishops attend first meeting

Two Bishops attended the recent Bishops’ plenary meeting for the first time:  the newly-ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Adelaide, Bishop Gregory O’Kelly SJ and the newly installed Eparch of the Chaldean Eparchy of Oceania, Archbishop Jibrail Kassab. 

It was also the first meeting since the appointment of Archbishop Mark Coleridge to the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn

Commission appointments

In Commission appointments, Bishop Peter Ingham was elected to the Bishops Commission for Mission and Faith Formation; Bishop O’Kelly, who has had a long and distinguished career in education, was seconded to the Bishops Commission for Catholic Education and Archbishop Kassab was seconded to the Bishops Commission for Ecumenism and Inter-religious Relations.

Divorce and the Catholic Church booklet approved

A new booklet entitled “Divorce and the Catholic Church – Frequently Asked Questions” was approved by the plenary meeting.

“This small booklet is an attempt to explain some of the principles underlying the Church’s approach to issues around divorce, remarriage and the Eucharist,” the introduction says. “It is hoped that it provides encouragement and guidance to all who are grappling with the pain of divorce and, in particular, with its implications for their life as members of the body of Christ, the Church.”

A publication date for the booklet has not yet been set. Upon publication it will be available for order through the ACBC secretariat.

World Youth Day cross pilgrimage

The Bishops formally approved the itinerary for the pilgrimage of the World Youth Day Cross and Icon.  They will arrive in Sydney on July 1, 2007, and travel around Australia before arriving back in Sydney for the World Youth Day celebration in July 2008.

Inter-religious peace congress

The Australian Catholic Bishops will host a Congress on Peace in the Middle East at the NSW Parliament House in May, featuring participants from the Christian, Muslim and Jewish religions.  International speakers will join local experts to consider the topic: “The Role of Religion in Achieving Peace in the Middle East”.

New ACBC Commissions

The November Plenary was the first meeting held since the reorganisation of the ACBC. All of the Bishops Commissions had their mandates approved and put forward nominees for the various advisory councils.

The new Commissions are:
The Permanent Committee; Bishops’ Commission … for Doctrine and Morals; for Liturgy; for Mission and Faith Formation; for Catholic Education; for Pastoral Life; for Relations with Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders; for Justice and Service; for Church Ministry; for Caritas; for Ecumenism and Inter-religious Relations; for Canon Law; for Administration and Information; Membership Panel.

Membership of the Commissions can be seen at


Conference approved the following staff and advisory council appointments:

Clergy life and ministry …

The five Diocesan Directors of Clergy Life and Ministry – Fr Peter Bianchini (Perth), Mgr Ian Dempsey (Adelaide), Mgr Vincent Redden (Sydney), Fr David O’Connor (Brisbane), Fr Martin Ashe (Melbourne) – were appointed to the Australian Council for Catholic Clergy Life and Ministry (for 3 years). The Bishops agree in principle to the appointment of a Deacon to the ACCCLM.  

Fr Francis Devoy was reappointed Director of the Office of Clergy Life and Ministry for at least 12 months. Elisabeth Cowie, who has served the ACBC for 25 years in the area of Clergy Life and Ministry is retiring. Conference formally expressed its appreciation for her generous service.

Australian Catholic Women…

The Council for Australian Catholic Women:  Patty Fawkner sgs, Carey McIver, Zara Tai, Joan Hendriks, Tracey Rowland (3yrs).  Geraldine Hawkes is not continuing as Chair. Conference formally expressed its appreciation for her generous service.

Ecumenism and Inter-religious Relations …

The Council for Ecumenism and Inter-religious Relations: Giovanni Farquer rsj, Fr Gerard Kelly, Mgr Peter Kenny, Pat McInerney ssc, Margaret Naylon, Sr Mary Raeburn, Michael Brown.

Participants at the National Council of Churches of Australia Forum, from July 13-17, 2007, in addition to ACBC President, Archbishop Philip Wilson: Bishops Michael Putney, Issam Darwish and Geoffrey Jarrett; Michael Brown, Elizabeth Delaney sjs, Giovanni Farquer rsj, Elizabeth Harrington, Joan Hendricks, Fr Gerard Kelly, Msgr Peter Kenny, Margaret Naylon, Loreta Wooley.

Sr Vivienne Keely has been appointed to the Board of the Australian Catholic University Centre for Inter-religious Dialogue.

Catholic Social Services …

Fr Joe Caddy was re-appointed as Chairman of the Catholic Social Services Australia Board for a second, three year term. John Warhurst and Liz Orupold were appointed as members of the Catholic Social Services Australia Board (3yrs); Tony Davies (1yr).

Liturgy …

Conference re-appointed the Rev Peter Williams as Executive Secretary of the Bishops Commission for Liturgy and the National Liturgical Council for a three-year term.

National Liturgical Council consultants (3yrs): Eileen Brown sgs (Wollongong), Fr Jim Cronin (Toowoomba), Fr Timothy Deeter (Sydney), Fr Thomas Elich (Brisbane), Fr Patrick Flanagan (Ballarat), Fr Russell Hardiman (Bunbury), Elizabeth Harrington (Brisbane), Anne McMillan rsm (Ballarat), Cathy Murrowood (Hobart), Fr Brian Nichols (Hobart), Ilsa Neicinieks rsm (Adelaide) Jenny O’Brien (Adelaide), Fr Frank O’Loughlin (Melbourne), Paul Taylor (Melbourne).

National Liturgical Council music consultants (3yrs): Geoffrey Cox (Melbourne), Fr Timothy Deeter (Sydney), Fr Kenneth Howell (Brisbane) Fr William Jordan (Melbourne), Bernard Kirkpatrick (Parramatta), Cathy Murrowood (Hobart), Jenny O’Brien (Adelaide), Paul Taylor (Melbourne), Christopher Willcock SJ (Melbourne).

Media …

Catholic Media Advisory Council: Bishop Peter Ingham, Commission nominee;  Marita Winters, Commission nominee; Debra Vermeer, ACBC Communications Officer; Jane Favotto, Australasian Catholic Press Association President; Richard Leonard sj, Catholic Church Television and Catholic Film Office Director;  Peter Thomas, Signis; Michael Kelly sj, Church Resources; Michael Goonan ssp, St Paul’s Publications.

By January 1, 2007, Catholic Church Television Australia (CCTVA) will merge with the Australian Catholic Film Office (ACFO) and the National Catholic Television Library (NCTL) to become the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting (ACOFB).  Richard Leonard sj was appointed its director.

The present advisory group for CCTVA, listed as follows, were appointed as the Advisory Council of the ACOFB (3yrs): Most Rev Peter Ingham, Wollongong (chair); Peter Matthey, Melbourne; Robyn Wunder, Sydney; Peter Thomas, Melbourne; Stephen Curtin sj; Peter Selwood, Brisbane; Peter Tehan, Melbourne; Shane Collins, Beechworth; Bill Lang, Melbourne; consultant, Fr Brian Lucas.

Young Catholic Workers …

Chaplain for the Australian Young Catholic Workers: Jan Barnett rsj (re-appointed).

Pastoral life …

The Bishops' Commission for Pastoral Life proposed that the existing Task Force on Pastoral Responses to Abortion be renamed the Australian Catholic Life Council.  Conference approval will be sought later for a member of the Australian Catholic Women's Council and a scientist to be added to the group: Bishop Eugene Hurley, Bishop Anthony Fisher, Maria Kirkwood, Francis Sullivan, Frank Quinlan, Clare Pike, Marcia Riordan, Brigid Vout, Mary Joseph, Sarah Taylor, Margo Nancarrow, Debra Vermeer, Bruce Ryan.

The Bishops' Commission for Pastoral Life proposed that the existing Family Working Group be re-named the Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council: Bishop Eugene Hurley, Ron and Mavis Pirola, Byron and Francine Pirola, Margaret and Kevin Andrews, Keith and Anna Linard, Glenn and Trish Mowbray, Harry and Madge Martin, Bernie and Pauline Victory, Bruce Ryan.

The Bishops' Commission for Pastoral Life proposed that a new advisory council be created to further develop work for Australian Catholics with disabilities, and their families, that had been undertaken by the Disability Consultant to the Commission, Mrs Trish Mowbray.  Membership for this Council: Lisa Bridle, Anthony Succar, Jeanie Heininger sgs, Michele Castagna, Glenn Mowbray, Phil Billington.

Conference approved the establishment of a position of Disability Projects Officer for the Bishops' Commission for Pastoral Life to undertake project work for the Commission and to provide administrative support for the Australian Catholic Disability Council.

Migrant and Refugee Office …

Director of the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office: Monsignor John Murphy (re-appointed 3yrs).

Apostleship of the Sea …

Episcopal Promoter for Australia of the Apostleship of the Sea: the Most Rev Justin Bianchini, Bishop of Geraldton (3yrs)





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