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News & Views

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

CRA 2018 Logo 150Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) welcomes the NSW Government’s commitment to strengthening and broadening measures and protections to prevent child sexual abuse in NSW. Amongst those measures is the expansion of the coverage of the current reportable conduct scheme to include religious bodies and the transfer of the reportable conduct scheme from the NSW Ombudsman to the NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian.

The Catholic Church has long advocated for the expansion of oversight under the Reportable Conduct Scheme to include religious bodies. This has also been supported by other faith-based organisations and survivor advocate groups. This has been made clear in representations to Government and also at the inaugural joint Standing Committee, which met with the Government on 12 September 2018 at NSW Parliament House. The call for the expansion of oversight was recommended by the Royal Commission in its final report handed down in 2017.

1018FrGeraldArbuckle 150The ‘refounding’ of Catholic healthcare in Australia, built on the healing mission of Jesus Christ, requires a constant response to the needs of today, including the growing health effects of loneliness, says Marist priest, Fr Gerald Arbuckle.

Fr Gerald gave a keynote address at the recent Catholic Health Australia conference in Melbourne, in which he said that so much change is taking place in Catholic healthcare that a ‘refounding’ is required.

1018MensProject 150The attitudes and behaviours of young men towards gender stereotypes, mental health and wellbeing, violence and relationships will be explored in an Australian-first research project launched by Jesuit Social Services’ (JSS) The Men’s Project this month.

The Man Box research is focused on the attitudes towards manhood and behaviours of young Australian men aged 18 to 30. It is part of the Men's Project, which has been established to provide leadership on the reduction of violence and other harmful behaviours prevalent among boys and men, and build new approaches to improve their wellbeing and keep families and communities safe.

1018NATSICCAssemblysmoking 150More than 300 delegates of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC) from across the country convened in Perth last week to form one body – both in Christ and in culture, The eRecord reports.

The theme of “Strong Faith – Strong Youth – Strong Future” empowered the significance of the tri-annual assembly.

CRA President Sr Monica Cavanagh rsj 150As this Pathways goes to publication, we here in Australia will be moving towards the National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse, which will take place on Monday 22 October 2018. The Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, will deliver the National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse at Parliament House in Canberra.

The Australian National Apology will be televised live throughout Australia. Organisations and workplaces are encouraged to pause for these events and share in this occasion. At this time, let us hold in our circle of prayer all those survivors of sexual abuse and their families whose lives have been severely impacted by this reality both within our church community and in the wider Australian society.

CRA supports campaign for more humane asylum policies 150Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) supports the coalition of groups which met on October 14 to ramp up the campaign for more humane asylum policies in the NSW electorate of Wentworth ahead of the by-election. 

CRA represents approximately 7,000 religious women and men deeply concerned at the plight of refugees and asylum seekers on off-shore islands and those in Australia at risk of losing their only financial support.

Catholic Religious Australia's Health CRA Health workshop 150and Well-Being Committee held the first of its national seminar days recently, focusing on 'Motivating Health and Well-Being in Religious', with presenters Katrina Anderson and Diane Adamson.

Katrina is an Associate Professor at ANU and brought 25 years of medical experience and ten years of running retreats and workshops for religious congregations around health, wellbeing and resilience to the day. Katrina’s morning sessions on Healthy ageing!! What does that really mean in the context of religious life? and Living a healthy life in community! Protective and harmful factors and their impact were informative, engaging, interactive, funny and challenging. The three messages from Katrina’s sessions were definitely that exercise, meaningful activity and meaningful connection are the hallmarks of healthy living as we grow older.

Child Protection 150On 12 September 2018, a large gathering of representatives from 20 faith-based organisations and major survivor advocate groups met together in the NSW Parliament House. Their aim was to establish a joint standing committee for the purpose of working together to tackle child abuse within religious settings. The original vision behind the establishment of the committee came from the NSW Ombudsman’s Office and the NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian who invited the parties to meet together on this historic occasion. 

‘It is momentous for survivor advocate groups and faith based-organisations to join together to work to keep children safer in faith-based organisations and to respond more effectively and compassionately to survivors’, said Anne Walker, National Executive Director of Catholic Religious Australia.

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'."

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