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News & Views

CRA and members of Religious congregations across Australia reflect on current issues in our world and our Church.

0918 ecumenicalchurcheslogo 150Catholic Religious played a significant role in a recent ecumenical conversation on the task of rebuilding and renewal for Australian churches following the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The Health and Integrity in Church and Ministry conference was conducted at the University of Divinity  in Melbourne from August 27–29 and was the first ecumenical gathering of its kind to discuss the way forward for the churches in Australia.

CRA President Sr Monica Cavanagh rsj 150The season of Spring has burst forth yet again here in the Southern Hemisphere. The seeds that have laid dormant during the winter months are now filling our world with beauty and colour. Fresh green leaves are busting forth on trees restoring hope that new life continues to emerge in even the most difficult of circumstances.

Searching for hope in our troubled Church and world, may we draw hope and strength from these words ‘Creation tells us that within God there is the paschal idea of life through death’ (John Sivalon mm).

Cover Social Justice Statement 2018 150The Catholic Bishops of Australia have used their annual Social Justice Statement to call on governments, and the broader community, to address growing rates of homelessness in Australia.

The 2018–2019 Social Justice Statement, A Place to Call Home: Making a home for everyone in our land, states that secure and affordable housing is a human right that is being denied to too many Australians.

Pacific Islands Forum 150Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) represents over 150 congregations across Australia comprising approximately 7000 religious women and men of whom a number work in the Pacific or support a range of activities and projects across the Pacific Islands.

Our Members are seriously concerned that the Prime Minister will not attend this week’s Pacific Islands Forum. As the largest and wealthiest member of this Forum it is of the utmost importance that Australia is a committed and engaged Pacific partner. The recent visit of the Prime Minister to Indonesia and his proposed absence from the Forum could be seen as an indication that the Pacific is not a priority for Australia.

Royal Commission Final Report 150Catholic Religious Australia and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference today released their response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Insitutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Read the full report here.

Royal Commission Final Report 150Catholic leaders have today responded to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and have vowed that the Church’s shameful history will never be repeated.

Josephite Sister Monica Cavanagh, the president of Catholic Religious Australia, and Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge have today released a joint response, expressing their deep sorrow that vulnerable children were abused, weren’t believed and weren’t supported when seeking justice.

CRA President Sr Monica Cavanagh rsj 150Catholic Religious Australia strongly supports Pope Francis’ Letter to the People of God written about the sexual abuse in the Church and shares in his determination to keep all safe in our Church, especially the young and the vulnerable.

“It is shameful that in the past, the response was one of omission and that people have been so deeply damaged that the wounds of the past may never disappear,” said Sr Monica Cavanagh rsj, President of Catholic Religious Australia, but Catholic Religious Australia and its religious leaders recognise that now is the time for action.

0918Multicultural Australia 150Catholic Religious Australia is concerned about increasing incidences of racism in our nation. On August 14 this phenomenon was brought to a new level by means of an important Parliamentary process - a senator's maiden speech.

“Hard-won national values, such as esteem for fairness and tolerance, received a blow through that speech", said Sr Monica Cavanagh, president of CRA. "The Australian project of working towards being the most successful multicultural society on earth has received a set-back. More fundamental still, the Christian principles upon which Australian law and customs are built have been completely ignored", she continued. "Oddly enough, such an attack on Christian principles was made alongside an expressed desire for the Australian population to reflect Christianity."

0818slavery 150Religious and other Catholic groups are concerned the Modern Slavery Bill 2018, currently before federal Parliament, could become a “toothless tiger” if their recommendations to the inquiry are not adopted.

Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH), which recently lost its government funding, and other Church groups have made submissions strongly supporting the legislation, but have urged politicians to make changes to protect the vulnerable.

0818 Mass for Consecrated Life 2018 150Men and women representing about 70 religious orders and apostolic societies in the Archdiocese of Sydney gathered at St Mary’s Cathedral recently to celebrate the annual Mass for Consecrated Life, The Catholic Weekly reports.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP welcomed the nearly 200 members of consecrated life who have offered thousands of years of service to the Church with thanks for their “wonderful variety of charisms”.

CRA President Sr Monica Cavanagh rsj 150At this time of the year the church community gives a particular focus to those who are called to serve the mission of God as religious women and men. It is often referred to as ‘Vocation Awareness Week’. We who live the experience of Religious Life today know that all vocational calls stem from Baptism - no one is greater than the other and all are needed to serve the mission of God today. As Pope Francis writes: ‘In the virtue of Baptism, all are called to become missionary disciples’.

Religious women and men are called in a particular way to be the prophetic and charismatic voice within the church and world. The public profession of religious vows is a concrete expression of our commitment to this way of life. 

0718LaudatoSi 150At a Vatican conference this month to mark the 3rd anniversary of the release of Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si - On Care for our Common Home, the pontiff urged all governments to strive to honour the commitments of the Paris climate treaty as a matter of urgency, saying "we cannot afford to waste time" in addressing the ecological crisis.

Francis said dialogue and commitment to our common home must make special room for two groups of people at the forefront of efforts to foster an integral ecology - young people and Indigenous peoples.

CRA President Sr Monica Cavanagh rsj 150Our CRA Conference was a wonderful occasion for all who were able to participate. The keynote speakers Sr Gail Worcelo sgm and Fr Michael Whelan sm shared valuable insights on the theme 'Religious In Australia: Evolving with Hope'.

Gail spoke of the evolution of Religious Life emerging at key moments of grace throughout history. Characteristics of this current new moment in the evolution of Religious Life include: the call to embrace diversity - in and among religious congregations and beyond; the call to interiority and the call to deepening communion. God walks with us calling us to expansiveness and gifting us with the grace needed at this moment.

0718PresentationSistersBBI 150A decision by the Presentation Sisters to ‘give their all’ for the sake of mission over the next 20 years, has led them to make a big investment in the future of theology in Australia by partnering with BBI-The Australian Institute of Theological Education to fund the employment of a female theologian with a deep interest in eco-theology.

Dr Di Rayson has joined the faculty of BBI-TAITE and, apart from teaching foundational theology, will also develop courses in her speciality of eco-theology and the thought of the 20th Century German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

0718ColumbansCentenary2 150A “deep and earthy spirituality” of inclusiveness and hospitality marks the Missionary Society of St Columban, said Bishop Terry Brady at a Mass to celebrate the centenary of the Columbans.

The Catholic Weekly reports that Bishop Brady was the chief celebrant at a thanksgiving Mass for the Society’s centenary at the Mary MacKillop Chapel, North Sydney.

New CRA leadership Sr Monica Cavanagh rsj 150The 42nd National Assembly of Catholic Religious Australia explored the theme of “Religious in Australia: Evolving with Hope” continuing the tradition of courageous and prophetic leadership which the women and men of religious congregations are known for.

A significant part of the gathering is the election of the new President and Council. Resounding applause assented to the election of Sr Monica Cavanagh rsj, Congregational Leader of the Sisters of St Joseph into the role of President.

Refugee Week logo 150As the leaders of Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) gather at their National Assembly, they stand in strong solidarity with the many asylum seekers and refugees for whom this year’s World Refugee Week theme of ‘the need to belong’ is clearly under threat in the face of the most recent Government legislation.

Last year the government announced an end to Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS) for several thousand asylum seekers on bridging visas, to come into effect in 2018. This action removes financial support and accommodation for some of the most vulnerable people in Australia – people who are already experiencing immense suffering.

1712RuthDurick 150This edition of Pathways will be my last as President of CRA. Next week at the National Assembly we will elect a new President and Council. The theme of the Assembly “Religious in Australia: Evolving with Hope” is reflective of our call to life at present.

We are here, in Australia, which while being an island is no isolated region. Many of our members are part of international institutes which brings with it a richness and resource for building a global community. We are very much part of the Asia Pacific region with all the richness and challenge that this offers. We also have a distinctive character which is Australian.

Amended flyer 150The Catholic Religious Australia National Assembly kicks off next week with the theme ‘Religious in Australia – Evolving in Hope’.

The Assembly of religious leaders will be held from June 19-21 in Brisbane and will pick up from the 2016 Assembly during which leaders resolved to embark on a journey of restructure of the state and national bodies of religious leaders.

0618SrPatriciaPowell 150Religious were among those to be recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in a year in which women recipients outnumbered men for the first time.

Among those to receive honours were Sr Patricia Powell rsm, who was recognised with an OAM for service to the Catholic Church in Australia and the Diocese of Bathurst, Sr Joan Evans PVMB AO for distinguished service to the international community of Thailand through humanitarian assistance programs for the disadvantaged, and Sr Mary D’Apice RSCJ AM for significant service to the Catholic Church in Australia, and to education. 

0618StraddiePassionistsNorth Stradbroke Island Catholic community elder Aunty Rose Borey had every reason to be brimming with pride when she turned up for Mass recently, The Catholic Leader reports.

Not only was her beloved St Paul of the Cross Church at Dunwich packed for the 175th anniversary of the first Catholic mission to Aboriginal people in Australia, but four of her great-grandchildren were being baptised. She was pleased, too, that the Passionist Fathers, the order that provided the priests for that first mission which began in 1843, were represented at the Mass.

0618AnthonyGittins 150The only way to love and serve people is to encounter them in the margins, according to distinguished American author and speaker, Rev Prof. Anthony Gittins CSSp, who visited Australia recently.

"The only authentic way to serve the poor is to actually cross the boundaries of separation – the margins – and to encounter them in a personal way so that you can say 'I don't love the poor, I love this person. I don't love the homeless or the people in prison, I love this prisoner or this person who is homeless'."

Royal Commission Final Report 150The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia have today confirmed that the Church will enter the national redress scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse when that becomes possible under national legislation.

“Since as early as 2013, the Catholic Church has called for a national redress scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse,” ACBC president Archbishop Mark Coleridge said.

0518CarmelitesWF 150A new Carmel will make its home in the Wilcannia-Forbes diocese at the invitation of Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green OSPPE.

Five nuns will come from communities of Discalced Carmelites in Nebraska and Pennsylvania to form a Monastery of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in the western New South Wales diocese. Two of them are Australian – Sr Francis from Canberra, who joined the Nebraska convent around 15 years ago and Sr Mariam originally from the Blue Mountains, who joined one of the Pennsylvania convents in 2011.

0517Slavery 150The Federal Government has announced it will harness the power of big business to help combat modern slavery, through the establishment of a Modern Slavery Reporting Requirement, in a move that has been welcomed by Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) who have worked tirelessly to combat slavery and human trafficking.

The reporting requirement, which will be enacted through a new Australian Modern Slavery Act, will require more than 3,000 large corporations and other entities to publish annual public statements on their actions to address modern slavery in their supply chains and operations.

0517MercyHandover 150A journey that began with the arrival of Queensland’s first Sisters of Mercy in 1861 took another historic turn recently.

During a special ritual, the Brisbane Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy transferred canonical responsibility for Mercy Community Ltd to Mercy Partners, The Catholic Leader reports.

Sr Pat Fox2 150Australian Sister Patricia Ann Fox of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion has been in the headlines since her arrest in the Philippines on April 16 for allegedly engaging in illegal activities. She was released the following day after a 22-hour detention, but has since had her missionary visa revoked and was given 30 days to leave the country.

Catholic Religious Australia is among a growing chorus of religious and broader community leaders who have spoken out in defence of Sr Pat and her work with the poor and marginalised in the Philippines.

1712RuthDurick 150On Saturday 5th May a number of leaders of Religious Congregations joined with members of the Australian Bishops Conference to thank the members of the Truth Justice and Healing Council whose work covered the 5 years of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and which was completed at the end of April.

It was my honour on behalf of Catholic Religious Australia and its members to acknowledge the achievements of the Truth Justice and Healing Council and to thank its members and staff for the superb work they have done over the past 5 years. Catholic Religious Australia has had the opportunity elsewhere to say a particular ‘thank you’ to Francis Sullivan. The acknowledgement of the TJHC , given on Saturday 5th May, appears here:

Royal Commission Final Report 150The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia have established a new advisory group that will play a crucial role in influencing and monitoring the Catholic Church’s ongoing response to the child sexual abuse scandal.

Archbishop Denis Hart, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, explained that the new Implementation Advisory Group will monitor the response to the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse and the recommendations of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council, which led the Church’s engagement with the Royal Commission.

Sr Pat Fox2 150In 2013, Pope Francis wrote that being a Missionary was at the very heart of being a Catholic, a parish or a Catholic Institution. For the past 27 years, Sr Patricia Fox, the Superior of the Our Lady of Sion Order has been living these ideals as a Missionary to the poor and marginalised in the Philippines.

We applaud the missionary work of Sr Patricia over these many years, bringing the face of Christ to our Philippine sisters and brothers. Standing in solidarity with the poorest of the poor, Sr Patricia has contributed to many agricultural projects in order to empower ordinary people to take charge of their lives and work towards the alleviation of poverty.

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