From the Office
I hope you have had a restful, blessed and safe Easter!
There has been some metaphorical dying and rising going on right on my doorstep. Is it true for you too?
The Leadership for Mission program is going well! See the media release below concerning the most recent residential session. Further good news for this program is that Sr Ruth Durick will take up the coordination role in June.
Stirring the waters was the theme for the recent successful Colloquium. As I reflect on the current situation of our Church, both locally and internationally, there seems to be an enormous ‘stirring of the waters’ taking place. This is unsettling and even distressing. As we endure these challenges and support others who are troubled let us hold onto the Gospel hope that God will once again bring life out of unpromising situations.
Perhaps you have seen reports from the Youth Synod (XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops: Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment) currently being held in Rome. Three Australian bishops are present, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP of Sydney, Archbishop Peter Comensoli of Melbourne, Bishop Mark Edwards of Melbourne and one youth representative, Sebastian Duhau from the Parramatta Diocese. In total there are 339 participants in the Synod on Youth, including 34 young people aged 18 to 29 from every continent of the world. There are 267 Synod Fathers—including cardinals, archbishops, bishops and auxiliary bishops—as well as 23 experts and 49 auditors.
As I write this, I’m aware that this week the Australian Catholic Bishops and Catholic Religious Australia will release a statement in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Last week the Pope addressed a letter to the People of God on the same topic. Bishops in Chile have resigned, as has an American Cardinal.
What a time we are in! Research conducted in 2016 in Australia showed that the confidence of Churchgoers in Church authorities has been damaged by the cases of sex abuse by priests and religious. More than one-third of Churchgoers stated that their respect for priests and religious declined as a result of these offences. Nearly two thirds of Churchgoers stated that the response of Church authorities to incidents of child sexual abuse had been inadequate and showed a complete failure of responsibility.
Following the recent meeting of the Council for Australian Catholic Women on 22 June, a consultation with women at Parramatta on 21 June and the upcoming feast of Mary Magdalene, this issue of Women Matter is full of energy! You will find several articles about challenge and change.
You will also notice that we are claiming the date for our next Colloquium in Adelaide 22-24 February. The Colloquium is much earlier in the year than usual in order to contribute to the ‘listening’ stage of the Plenary 2020.
Do you know about it? Women in Maitland-Newcastle Diocese know it. They’ve even name an award for her.
I mean of course, the restoration of St Mary Magdalene. Since about thirteenth century in the tradition of the Western Christianity, Mary of Magdala has been misidentified as a sinner and a prostitute.
In fact, Scripture names her as a prime witness to the crucifixion and resurrection.
Last week I had the privilege of speaking (via Skype) with Marta Rodriguez Diaz from the Office for Women within the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life at the Vatican. She was impressed with what is happening through OPW and the CACW!
After all we have sixteen women aged between 25 and 35 who have commenced the two-year program Leadership for Mission. This program replaces the Young Catholic Women’s Fellowship and is conducted in partnership with Australian Catholic University and Catholic Mission. The first residential session will be held in the week after Easter. Rachelle Smith from Hobart is the new coordinator of the program.
In October, the National Foundation for Australian Women hosted a dinner event at the National Press Club. The guest speaker was notable journalist Virginia Haussegger, who now leads the University of Canberra’s 50/50 by 2030 Foundation. The 50/50 by 2030 Foundation advocates for women’s equal representation in decision-making positions in government, public sector leadership and publicly listed companies in Australia. They receive widespread public support for this endeavour.
What change are you hoping for in the Catholic Church? We know that the Royal Commission into sexual abuse will make strong recommendations to the Catholic Church. We know too that the Plenary Council which is planned for 2020 will be an invaluable opportunity to create change.
In September last year the Colloquium for Australian Catholic Women was held at North Sydney. One powerful and energizing topic that emerged was the Plenary Council of the Australian Catholic Church that is planned for 2020. In September no details were known about the Plenary Council but the colloquium participants were enthusiastic about the opportunity to shape the future direction of the Australian Church.