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Pope Francis retools John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family

On Tuesday Pope Francis issued a new motu proprio changing the legal status of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family, making it a theological institute charged with studying marriage and the family from a scientific perspective. The motu proprio, titled “Summa Familiae Cura,” meaning “Highest Care of Families,” was published Sept. 19 and officially established the John Paul II Theological Institute for the Sciences of Marriage and Family, replacing the former institute founded by John Paul II in 1981.

In the document, Francis noted that John Paul II made great strides in the area of the family, first of all with his 1980 Synod of Bishops on the topic and the subsequent publication of his post-synodal apostolic exhortation on the conclusions of the gathering, “Familiaris Consortio.” He then established the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family in 1981 with the Apostolic Constitution “Magnum Matrimonii Sacramentum” in order develop the themes in his 1960 book “Love and Responsibility,” written when he was still Cardinal Wojtyla, and as well as the theology of the body he developed while Pope.

“Since then it has developed a profitable work of theological and pastoral education both in its central headquarters in Rome and in the territorial sections, present on all continents,” Francis said.

While the institute's main headquarters remains in Rome, they have campuses all over the world, including Washington DC, Nigeria, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, India and South Korea, among others. This path of development has continued, Francis said, with the recent 2014 and 2015 Synods of Bishops on the Family, which resulted in Pope Francis' own apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia,” published in 2015.

In the text, which was signed on the Sept. 8 Feast of the Nativity of Mary, the Pope said that in light of the new challenges families today face and increasing cultural changes, he wanted to establish the new entity so that the work of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family can be “better known and appreciated in its fruitfulness and relevance.”

Francis said this is why he chose to make it a theological institute with a scientific perspective, “expanding the field of interest, both in terms of the new dimensions of the pastoral task and the ecclesial mission, as well as in the development of human sciences and the anthropological culture in such a crucial field for the culture of life.”

Composed of six articles, the motu proprio said the new John Paul II Theological Institute for the Sciences of Marriage and the Family, linked to the Pontifical Lateran University, will officially “substitute” the prior entity, annulling the 1981 constitution that established it. However, Francis stressed that “the original inspiration” that led to the founding of the original institute will “continue to fertilize the vast field of engagement” of the new entity, “effectively contributing to make it fully correspond to the modern needs of the pastoral mission of the Church.”

The motu proprio stated that the new institute will be a “center of academic reference” on matters of scientific interest regarding marriage and the family, particularly on topics “connected with the fundamental alliance of man and woman for the care of generation and of creation.”

The new institute will be tied to the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Pontifical Academy for Life, and the dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. It will also be required to adapt its structures to offer the necessary personnel, professors, programs and administrative staff needed to carry out its new task.

Students who attend the institute will now be able to obtain various degrees, including a Doctorate, Licentiate or diploma in the Sciences of Marriage and Family. Although the statutes for the new institute still need to be defined, the leadership will remain the same, and will continue to be headed by the Institute's Grand Chancellor, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, Chairman Msgr. Pierangelo Sequeri, and the entity's Board of Directors. Until new statutes are in place, the theological institute will temporarily be governed by the norms under which the previous institute operated.

In a Sept. 19 press breifing on the motu proprio, Archbishop Paglia said the decision to establish a completely new entity was due to the importance of the family today. The two key aspects of the new institute, he said, are that it is now “theological” and “scientific.” Adding “theological” to the title points to “the ecclesial dimension in its fullness, the moral perspective, the sacramental perspective, but the biblical and dogmatic perspective, the perspective of history, of law,” he said.

By adding “sciences,” Paglia said it gives the institute the ability to study and explore topics in the “entire realm of human studies,” including the sociological, anthropological and psychological view from a more scientific perspective. He said Pope Francis' 2015 post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia will be new “magna carta” of-sorts for the institute, noting that Chapter 2 of the document is dedicated to the social and anthropological aspects of the family, while Chapter 4 is dedicated to scripture.

“The family, for Pope Francis, is not simply an abstract reality,” the archbishop said. “Families for Pope Francis are families who today must be helped and accompanied to rediscover their historical task, both in the Church and in society.” Because of this, he said, there is a special link between the new motu proprio and the 2014 and 2015 Synod of Bishops on the Family.

In addition, he said faculty will not be cut, but rather expanded, bringing in new professors and experts to discuss themes relevant to the the Sciences of Marriage and Family, including those who aren't Catholic. Because it is a scientific entity and due to its link to the Pontifical Academy for Life, the institute “dialogues with everyone who reflects on this theme,” Paglia said, adding that “it clear that the dialogue with those who aren't Catholic must be done.”

The power of love

Our long, difficult summer in this country seems to continue without end.

Even as the violence of Charlottesville and its aftermath still weigh heavy on our hearts and minds, this past weekend we saw the outbreak of new violence and racial tensions in St. Louis.

We have come a long way in America — but we still have a long way to go.

We are still a nation divided by race in many ways. There are too many young black and Latino men dying in the streets or spending their best years behind bars. Too many of our neighborhoods in too many cities remain “lonely islands of poverty,” where people are perishing — just as they were a generation ago when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke those words.

Racial healing and reconciliation do not happen when we pass a law. Laws are important. Laws can correct injustices and signal moral intentions. But laws alone cannot change people’s hearts and minds.

Every day, we see evidence that racist thinking and racist practices continue to haunt American attitudes and policies. It is sad to say, but, too often, the “color of our skin” still matters more than the “content of our character,” to quote Rev. King again.

The other day, I received a letter from a good friend. He is a black Pentecostal minister. For more than 30 years, along with his courageous wife and children, he has been ministering and working with young people in gangs in inner-city Boston.

My friend was writing to remind me that next April will mark the 50th anniversary of Rev. King’s assassination. Hard to believe that 50 years has passed and we are still struggling for the same things he struggled for.

My friend’s letter was an appeal. He wants religious leaders to sign a statement affirming our continued commitment to Rev. King’s principles of nonviolence.

I signed the statement right away — joining some of the leading Catholic bishops in the United States.

Racial justice and reconciliation is an ongoing, urgent priority for the Church, and the bishops have a special task force devoted to promoting peace in our communities, and recently established a new ad hoc committee on racism. We understand that forming committees is not a “solution,” but a means to begin a conversation that will lead to solutions.

We face the same choice faced by Rev. King and the civil rights movement. The question is: How will we struggle against the injustices we see in our society, what means will we use?

I am worried about the easy resort to violence that we are seeing once again this summer, in cities all over the country.

Even the rhetoric we are hearing sometimes in some corners inside the Church — there is an anger, an almost personal bitterness against those who oppose us or disagree with us. I am worried that the “logic” of aggressive resistance leaves us with no alternatives to physical confrontation and violence.

We need to return once more and draw from the wisdom of Rev. King and others like him — Dorothy Day and Cesar Chavez — the spirit of peacemaking and the search for nonviolent solutions.

No one is born hating another group of people. Hate is something that is learned. And so it must be “unlearned.” That means we need to become teachers of love.

Love is the heart of Rev. King’s vision of nonviolence. We love — not because those who oppose us are “lovable” or even likable. We love those who oppose us — because God loves them. And by our love, we seek their understanding and conversion, not their humiliation and defeat.

Love does not mean forgetting or excusing injustice. Peace does not come by ignoring what divides us or pretending everything is OK. We are called to “make” peace — it is an action.

This is our Christian duty in these times when our society is so divided. To be healers and peacemakers, reconciling people to one another and to God.

We are called to confront hatred — not with more violence and retaliation, but with love. We are called to overcome evil and lies not by more of the same — but with works of truth and goodness, with acts of sacrifice and love.

And only through love can we help our society to recognize that beyond the color of our skin or the condition of our lives, we are all children of God, created in God’s image and likeness.

Pray for me this week, and I am praying for you. And let us pray for a new spirit of love in our country.

Let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary, the Queen of Peace, to help us to keep believing in the power of love.

UK slammed for media portrayal of people with disabilities

A United Nations committee addressing the rights of disabled people has rebuked the U.K. for how people with disabilities are portrayed by the government and seen in the media, with one expert expressing concern for attitudes which may lead to euthanasia. 

“Disabled people being portrayed as parasites, living on social benefits, and welfare and the taxes of other people” is dangerous, Theresia Degener told BBC in an unpublished interview, according to Disability News Service.  This attitude “will later on lead to violence against disabled people … if not to killings and euthanasia,” said Degener, who chairs the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

As part of an economic plan to recover from the 2008 recession, the UK began a social security reform in 2010, intended to achieve financial sustainability and curb abuse of the welfare system. In a report delivered last year, the UNCRPD expressed concern that the steps taken to restrict abuse of the system were affecting 26,000 people who were eligible for disability allowances.

Among many other issues, the UNCRPD stated that the reform has negatively impacted poorer neighborhoods, reduced disability services, and increased negative stereotyping. However, a spokesperson for government disagreed with the report and explained that the UK currently spends over $67 billion a year on disabled people – the second highest in the G7. She noted that the report didn’t effectively see the progress made by the country.

In a 2012 survey, Disability Rights U.K. found that three quarters of the disabled people included in the study had recently seen news media which depicted disabled people negatively. Nearly half of the people in the survey attributed responsibility for negative perceptions about disabled people to the U.K. government.

“Although we would never as a human rights treaty body favor censorship, we think that media and the government have some responsibility in this regard,” Degener said. Disability News Service referenced headlines such as “75 per cent of incapacity claimants are fit to work” and “Disabled benefit? Just fill in a form,” which do not adequately represent a majority of disabled people.

Last month, the UNCRPD gathered to discuss the standards for the dignity of the disabled person in society, and Degener specifically emphasized education inclusion and work discrimination.

“I would like to ask the UK government, please explain why in 2015-16 80% of children with disability were without a statement of special education needs within the required 26-week period prescribed by law.”

In June 2016, Pope Francis called for greater social support and inclusion of disabled people, calling discrimination against the disabled “one of the ugliest things” we can do.

Faith, science, beauty: what doctors can learn from Catholic art

The intersection of art, medicine, and faith in the Catholic tradition has a lot to teach today, especially if you’re a doctor. “Catholic art has a long history of demonstrating the beauty of the human person, beauty both in its health as well as its disease,” Dr. Thomas Heyne, M.D. told CNA. “Catholic artists have been very effective observers and demonstrators of that dual beauty.” “In looking closely at artwork, we’re able to have a window into what disease looked like many centuries ago as well as how our patients still look today.”

Heyne, who works in the pediatrics department of Massachusetts General Hospital, spoke at a breakout session “Did Michelangelo have Gout?” at the Catholic Medical Association’s annual educational conference, held in Denver earlier this month. Reviewing historic artwork helps doctors review the presentations of forgotten or rare diseases, he said. It helps improve their observational skills, and remember how patients behaved when lacking simple treatments like pain-relieving ibuprofen.

Citing several studies on medical training, he said that medical examination of art can help make doctors better through honing their observation skills, tolerance for ambiguity, mindfulness, communication skills, and empathy. Heyne also contended that teaching medicine through art also advances a deeper appreciation for Catholicism’s role in both art and medicine.

“You’re taking a bunch of secular people and making them look at Catholic art half the time,” he said. “To me, this is a pretty helpful thing for the new evangelization.” His presentation drew on many studies and arguments from doctors and art scholars, including his own research.

Among his examples of diagnosing health conditions in art was Giovanni Lanfranco’s work from about 1625: “St. Luke healing the Dropsical Child.” It shows St. Luke taking the pulse of a child with a distended belly, as a woman looks on. A book of the ancient medical writer Hippocrates rests on a nearby table with an icon of a woman saint.

Heyne suggested that the child’s symptoms as painted by Lanfranco could be the earliest known depiction of congenital heart disease. At the same time, any interpreter must take into account the interplay between realism and stylistic convention. Despite the child’s stomach, the child appears to have a healthy musculature. Lanfranco tended to paint all children beautifully, Heyne explained.

Even the standard iconography of saints can show Catholic awareness of medical problems. St. Roch, a patron saint of plague victims, is often shown with the tell-tale bulba of plague.

In Istanbul’s Chora Church, a fourteenth century mosaic depicts Christ healing a multitude. One person depicted has crutches, another is blind, another appears to have rickets. The work also shows a sitting man with a bulge nearly the size of a basketball in his groin area. According to the doctor, this is likely a massive inguinal or scrotal hernia. “This artist put a giant scrotum on the top of a church. This is pre-Puritan,” said Heyne, interpreting the art as saying, “Jesus came to save everyone.” “I think this is remarkable: ‘No shame: come out and you will be healed’,” he said. “I think it is a remarkable testament to what the human body was back then.” The mosaic could be the first depiction of a hernia.

The art history of European Christianity shows diseases now associated only with the developing world. Other artworks show signs of longstanding diseases like leprosy, while others trace the arrival of diseases new to Christian Europe. A 1496 sketch from Albrecht Dürer shows a man with syphilis, just four years after the disease is believed to have spread to Europe from the New World.

Some figures in famous paintings show signs of finger deformities suggesting rheumatoid arthritis, like the hands of the nude women in Peter Paul Rubens’ 1639 painting The Three Graces.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa portrait shows the famous subject in great detail. The 25-year-old woman appears to show an accumulation of cholesterol under the skin in the hollow of her left eye. Her hand shows a fatty tissue tumor. She is known to have died at age 37. Heyne took these conditions together and asked whether Mona Lisa died of a cardiovascular event.

As for master artist Michelangelo, his training in anatomy helped give deeper artistic significance to his work. For instance, his statue Night from 1531, depicting a bare-breasted woman personifying Night, and perhaps death, appears to show signs of a breast tumor.

Heyne did criticize some interpretations of Michelangelo’s Last Judgment. While some suggested the bulging of some figures’ eyes was intended to represent disease, he said it rather simply represented astonishment at the arrival of the apocalypse. Review of art also helps doctors understand how patients with particular diseases or health conditions were viewed throughout history.

There is the example of the seventeenth-century Spanish painter Diego Velazquez, who painted at least ten portraits of people with dwarfism. These show their “dignity and beauty,” and don’t depict them as “court buffoons,” Heyne said, suggesting this is another role for Christianity in art.

Christian refugees reportedly forced to say Muslim prayers for food in Sudan

Christian children in Sudanese refugee camps are reportedly being given food only after they recite Muslim prayers, a papal aid group says. According to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a papal charity that provides aid to persecuted Christians around the world, there are reports of Christian children who have fled violence in South Sudan being forced to recite Muslim prayers in order to receive food at several refugee camps in the Sudan. Other reports from priests in the area have confirmed that the discrimination is taking place at refugee camps in Sudan, where refugees fleeing the conflict in the South Sudan suffer from poor conditions.

Seven southern states gained independence from Sudan in 2011 and the country of South Sudan was formed. Less than three years later, in December of 2013, a civil war began that has created one of the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis. Over two million refugees and asylum-seekers have fled the conflict to neighboring countries, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, including hundreds of thousands who have fled north into Sudan. Many are displaced from their homes within South Sudan and have sought shelter at churches, and millions are threatened by an emergency food crisis.

In February, the UN declared a famine in parts of the country. Aid workers have described the conditions in South Sudan as appalling, with hunger, murder, and rape becoming commonplace. For refugees who have fled north into Sudan, conditions have reportedly been poor in the camps, according to ACN.

Children in the refugee camps are being told to recite Islamic prayers before they receive their food, which is provided by the UNHCR, non-government organizations, and the Sudanese government, according to sources. Refugees of all religions who are living outside the camps have reportedly not received sufficient amounts of food from the government, but Christians have reportedly received especially unfair treatment, ACN said.

The reports of discrimination against Christian refugees come amid concerns about the government of Sudan and its forceful promotion of Islam. “In the case of Sudan, the same cast of characters, the same power base that promotes a perverted and violent expression of Islam is still in power,” David Dettoni, senior adviser to the Sudan Relief Fund, testified before a congressional panel on April 26. ACN also cited reports of Christian churches in Sudan being destroyed under the guise of town planning.

Pope sets up new Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has set up a new Pontifical institute for the study of marriage and the family, replacing the organisation set up by his predecessor in 1981.

In a Motu Proprio, published on Tuesday, the Vatican announced that the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences is being established to carry forward the work of the two recent Synods of Bishops and the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

New pastoral challenges

Noting the important work that has been carried out by the original institute, founded in the wake of the 1980 Synod on the Family, Pope Francis says the Synods of 2014 and 2015 have brought a renewed awareness of “the new pastoral challenges to which the Christian community is called to respond”.

Contemporary anthropological and cultural changes, the pope says, require “a diversified and analytical approach” which cannot be “limited to pastoral and missionary practices” of the past.

Complex realities of family life

Instead, he says, we must be able to interpret our faith in a context in which individuals are less supported than before as they deal with the complex realities of family life. Faithful to the teachings of Christ, the pope says, we must explore these “lights and shadows of family life” with realism, wisdom and love.

Like its predecessor, the new institute will continue to work as part of the Pontifical Lateran University. It will also be closely connected to the Holy See through the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Pontifical Academy for Life and the new Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.

The institute, which comes into effect immediately, will offer students courses leading to a diploma, a license and a doctorate in marriage and family sciences.

Please find below the original Latin text of the new Motu Proprio

LITTERAE APOSTOLICAE MOTU PROPRIO DATAE SUMMA FAMILIAE CURA

Quibus Pontificium Institutum Theologicum pro Scientiis de Matrimonio et Familia Sancto Ioanni Paulo II dicatum constituitur FRANCISCUS

          Summa familiae cura sanctus Ioannes Paulus II animatus, post Coetum Synodi Episcoporum anno MCMLXXX de familia celebratum necnon Adhortatione Apostolica Familiaris consortio anno MCMLXXXI exarata, Constitutione apostolica Magnum Matrimonii Sacramentum iuridicam formam tribuit Pontificio Instituto Studiorum Matrimonii ac Familiae, apud Pontificiam Universitatem Lateranensem operanti. Ab illo tempore Institutum proficuum opus pervestigationis theologicae et formationis pastoralis tum in Sede praecipua Romae explevit tum in sedibus extra Urbem, adstantibus in omnibus continentibus.

          Recentius Ecclesia ulterius iter synodale effecit, in medium considerationis iterum matrimonium et familiam ponens, primum quidem in Coetu extraordinario Synodi Episcoporum anno MMXIV acto de “Provocationibus pastoralibus familiae in contextu evangelizationis”, et deinde in illo ordinario anno MMXV habito de “Vocatione et missione familiae in Ecclesia et in mundo”. Fructum istius intensi itineris constituit Adhortatio apostolica post-synodalis Amoris laetitia, die XIX mensis Martii anno MMXVI publici iuris facta.

          Hoc tempus synodale Ecclesiam adduxit ad renovatam Evangelii familiae conscientiam novarumque pastoralium provocationum quibus oportet christiana communitas respondeat. Praecipuum familiae locum in itineribus “conversionis pastoralis”[1] nostrarum communitatum nec non “commutationis missionalis Ecclesiae”[2] postulat ut – etiam in provincia formationis academicae – in consideratione de matrimonio familiaque numquam desint prospectus pastorales et sollicitudo de vulneribus humani generis. Si fructuosum altum studium theologiae pastoralis agi non potest neglecto peculiari aspectu ecclesiali familiae,[3] altera ex parte ipse sensus pastoralis Ecclesiae non parum curat pretiosum tributum cogitationis et investigationis quae perscrutantur admodum alte et accurate revelationis veritatem et  traditionis fidei sapientiam, ut aptius aetate nostra intellegantur. “Decretorium eventuro pro mundo Ecclesiaque est familiae bonum. […]  Salubre est certis rebus vacare, quandoquidem postulationes impulsionesque Spiritus in eventibus historiae animadvertuntur per quos Ecclesia altius perspicere valet inexhaustum mysterium matrimonii ac familiae”.[4]

          Mutatio anthropologica et culturalis, quae hodie omnes vitae provincias movet atque interpretationem postulat analyticam et multiplicem, nobis non consentit coërcere nos tantummodo operibus navitatis pastoralis et missionis quae formas et exempla temporis praeteriti referunt. Oportet interpretes simus conscii et ardentes  fidei sapientiae in rerum adiunctis in quibus singulae personae structuris socialibus minus quam praeterito tempore sustentantur, earum in affectuum et familiari vita. In claro proposito fidelitatis erga doctrinam Christi oportet igitur inspiciamus hodie familiam, cum intellectu amoris et cum sapienti rerum veritate, tota in eius varietate, in eius lucibus et umbris.[5]

Has ob rationes opportunum cogitavimus novam iuridicam rationem Instituto Ioannis Pauli II tribuere, ut “praevidens intuitio sancti Ioannis Pauli II, quae firmiter hanc academicam voluit institutionem, hodie adhuc melius agnosci et aestimari [possit] sua in fecunditate et actualitate”.[6] Deliberavimus igitur Pontificium Institutum Theologicum pro Scientiis de Matrimonio et Familia instituere, augentes eius rationem inquisitionis, tum quod pertinet ad novas provincias navitatis pastoralis et missionis ecclesialis, tum quod pertinet ad progressiones scientiarum humanarum et culturae anthropologicae in provincia tam praecipua pro vitae cultura.

Art. 1

        His Litteris Apostolicis motu proprio datis instituimus Pontificium Institutum Theologicum pro Scientiis de Matrimonio et Familia sancto Ioanni Paulo II dicatum, quod, cum Pontificia Universitate Lateranensi coniunctum, in locum subvenit Pontificii Instituti Ioannis Pauli II Studiorum Matrimonii ac Familiae, conditi per Constitutionem Apostolicam Magnum Matrimonii Sacramentum, quod idcirco exstinguitur. Attamen necesse est ut primigenia inspiratio, quae exstinctum Pontificium Institutum Studiorum Matrimonii ac Familiae genuerat, novi Instituti Theologici operis ampliorem campum usque fecundet, efficaciter contribuens quo Ecclesiae pastoralis missionis hodiernis necessitatibus plene respondeat.

Art. 2

        Novum Institutum Theologicum, inter institutiones pontificias, ad servitium missionis Ecclesiae universalis, erit centrum academicum ad quod est referendum in provincia scientiarum quae pertinent ad matrimonium et familiam necnon quoad argumenta coniuncta cum fundamentali foedere viri et mulieris pro generationis et creati cura.

Art. 3

        Peculiaris nexus novi Instituti Theologici cum ministerio et magisterio Sanctae Sedis deinde firmabitur peculiari relatione, quam illud statuet, in modis qui vicissim concordabuntur, cum Congregatione de Institutione Catholica, cum Dicasterio pro Laicis, Familia et Vita atque cum Pontificia Academia pro Vita.

Art. 4

        § 1. Pontificium Institutum Theologicum, ita renovatum, aptabit suas structuras instrumentaque necessaria disponet – cathedras, docentes, rationes, ministros administrationis – ad perficiendam missionem scientificam et ecclesialem sibi assignatam.

        § 2. Auctoritates academicae Instituti Theologici sunt Magnus Cancellarius, Praeses et Consilium Instituti.

        § 3. Institutum Theologicum pollet facultate conferendi iure proprio suis studentibus sequentes gradus: Doctoratum in Scientiis de Matrimonio et Familia; Licentiam in Scientiis de Matrimonio et Familia; Diploma in Scientiis de Matrimonio et Familia.

Art. 5

        Quae praesentis Litteris sunt statuta, pressius explicabuntur et definientur propriis Statutis, a Sancta Sede approbatis. Praesertim providebitur ut aptiores modi inveniantur qui cooperationi et comparationi faveant, in provincia didacticae et inquisitionis, inter auctoritates Instituti Theologici atque Pontificiae Universitatis Lateranensis.

Art. 6

        Donec nova Statuta approbentur, Institutum Theologicum pro tempore regetur normis hucusque vigentibus Statutorum Pontificii Instituti Ioannis Pauli II Studiorum  Matrimonii et Familiae, inclusis ibi structuratione in Sectiones et normis ad eandem pertinentibus, dummodo praesentibus Litteris non obsistant.

          Omnia quae his Litteris Apostolicis motu proprio datis consideravimus, iubemus ut cunctis suis in partibus observentur, contrariis rebus quibuslibet non obstantibus, etiamsi peculiari mentione dignis, atque statuimus ut promulgentur per publicationem in actis diurnis L’Osservatore Romano, die ipso promulgationis in vigorem intrando, proindeque Actis Apostolicae Sedis inserantur.

 Datum Romae, apud Sanctum Petrum, die VIII mensis Septembris, in Festo Nativitatis Beatae Mariae Virginis, anno Domini MMXVII, Pontificatus Nostri quinto.

                                         FRANCISCUS PP.

 [1] Cfr Adhort. ap. Evangelii gaudium, 26-32.

[2] Cfr ibid., cap. I.

[3] Cfr Conc. Oecum. Vat. II, Const. dogm. Lumen gentium, 11.

[4] Adhort. ap. post-synodalis Amoris laetitia, 31; cfr Ioannes Paulus II, Adhort. ap. post-synodalis Familiaris consortio, 4.

[5] Cfr Adhort. ap. post-synodalis Amoris laetitia, 32.

[6] Sermo ad communitatem academicam Pontificii Instituti  Studiorum Matrimonii et Familiae (27  Octobris 2016): L’Osservatore Romano, 28 Octobris 2016, p. 8.

(from Vatican Radio)

Multi-platinum selling artist John Michael Talbot to perform Oct. 28 in La Canada

He’s toured with the Grateful Dead and been called one of the greatest banjo players ever, by none other than Earl Scruggs. He and his brother were even considered for possible membership in The Eagles, but eventually lost out to Joe Walsh. He’s been an integral part of the creation of not one, but two musical genres, country rock as well as contemporary Christian music.

He’s John Michael Talbot, a Grammy and Dove winning multi-instrumentalist and singer who will perform a “Lifetime of Music & Ministry” concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, in St. Bede the Venerable Catholic Church, 215 Foothill Blvd., La Canada, Flintridge.

Tickets are $30 for general admission and $50 for a special VIP ticket which includes early admission during Talbot’s sound check, preferred seating and an autographed CD.

To purchase tickets, you can buy them in St. Bede’s Parish Center and courtyard after weekend Masses, 5:30 p.m. Saturday, or 7:30, 9 and 11 a.m. as well as 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are also available at JohnMichaelTalbot.com. For more information, call the parish office at 818-949-4300.

55 over four decades

Talbot will perform music from his 55 records, at St. Bede, and adds his show is “more of a prayer experience than a concert. Along with covering music from the beginning up to the most current recording 'The Inner Room', there will be stories and meditations throughout the evening.

"I recently looked back with joy through all the years I have shared with my faithful fans -- especially the music that first brought us together,” he says. “Many say my music has been the 'soundtrack of their journey of faith'.”

Catholic music’s most popular artist, Talbot has also written 29 books, including “Monk Dynasty,” published last year. He’s also the creator and host of the popular TV series “All Things Are Possible,” which ended a three-year run in 2016.

Talbot leads his ministry from the Little Portion Hermitage in Arkansas as well as St. Clare Monastery in Texas where he is the founder and minister general of the Brothers and Sisters of Charity. In addition to his musical awards, Talbot has been recognized with an award from Mercy Corps and is a recipient of the Mother Teresa Award.

Prior to becoming a Christian artist in the late 1970s, Talbot and his brother, Terry, were in Mason Proffit from 1969-74.  Along with The Byrds, Gram Parsons, The Flying Burrito Brothers and others, Mason Proffit were credited for kick-starting the country rock music scene that exploded in the 1970s, and which still influences the indie roots and Americana scenes today. Talbot has shared the stage with Janis Joplin, Pink Floyd, The Doobie Brothers, Mac Davis, Steely Dan and many others.

For more information on Talbot, visit http://www.youtube.com/johnmichaeltalbot.

Bishop Diego edges St. Joseph; Mater Dei, St. John Bosco post routs

While several Catholic high school football teams coasted to their fourth straight wins last weekend, Bishop Diego rallied late to overcome St. Joseph, 24-23, in a thrilling matchup of Central Coast powers at Santa Maria.

John Harris’ last-minute touchdown run and Pat Luckhurst’s extra point proved decisive for the Cardinals, the No. 1 team in Division 6, after Dino Maldonado had given the Knights (2-2, No. 6 in Division 5) a 23-17 lead with a short TD run earlier in the fourth quarter.

Mater Dei, on the other hand, proved a most inhospitable host to Bergen Catholic, the top-rated team in New Jersey, with a 62-14 thumping Sept. 16 as part of the Under Armour Brothers in Arms Classic at Mission Viejo High School. Mater Dei entered and exited the game as the No. 1 team in Division 1, California and the U.S., as per MaxPreps’ “Xcellent 25” poll.

Earlier that day, St. Bonaventure (3-1) outscored Jackson Argonaut 46-34, and St. John Bosco (3-1, No. 2 in Division 1 and California) took apart Dorsey, 69-14. Also winning last weekend and reaching 4-0 on the season were Orange County schools J.Serra, 26-9 over Vista Murrietta; Santa Margarita, 49-3 over Mayfair; and Servite, 47-14 over Villa Park.

Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) won its fourth without a loss, 29-0 over San Fernando, the 299th career victory for head coach Kevin\ Rooney. Cantwell-Sacred Heart (No. 5 in Division 13) made it three straight with a 32-31 heart-stopper over St. Pius X-St. Matthias, the Cardinals’ second straight narrow victory, and St. Francis (No. 7 in D-3) likewise moved to 3-0 by stopping La Serna, 49-20.

Verbum Dei won its third straight after an opening loss, 45-6 over L.A. Jordan. Losing for the first time after three straight wins were Cathedral, 17-7 to Loyola, and Damien, 23-0 to Charter Oak, while St. Anthony (2-1, No. 3 in D-9) lost its first game, 34-6 to St. Paul (2-2, No. 8 in D-6).

Paraclete (3-1, No. 1 in D-5) bounced back from its first loss to upend Burroughs (Ridgecrest), 56-28, and Chaminade (3-1) did likewise in beating Bakersfield 43-14. In last  week’s other games:

Inglewood 47, Bishop Montgomery 12; Huntington Park 62, Salesian 14; Rancho Cucamonga 31, Bishop Amat 7; La Salle 21, Muir 20; Trinity Classical 12, St. Bernard 6; Bassett 18, Don Bosco Tech 13; St. Genevieve 41, San Bernardino 15; Oaks Christian 30, Alemany 24; Pasadena Poly 60, Mary Star 0; Golden Valley 26, Crespi 13; Santa Clara 20, Panorama 6; Brentwood 50, St. Monica 0; Villanova Prep 69, Pinewood 34; Discovery (Pacoima) 36, Bellarmine-Jefferson 6.

This week’s games

The two top-ranked teams in Division 1 head out of town for games this Saturday. Mater Dei (No. 1 in the country as well) plays St. Mary’s of Stockton at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara (7 p.m.), while St. John Bosco (No. 6 in the U.S.) has a 2 p.m. clash in the nation’s capital against St. John Prep of Washington, D.C., the country’s 17th-ranked team by MaxPreps.

The seven-team Mission League opens league play this Friday (a few weeks ahead of most leagues), with Loyola at Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks), Chaminade ar Crespi, and Alemany at Serra (Gardena). Bishop Amat is idle.

Also this week:

Sept. 21: Don Bosco Tech at Workman.

Sept. 22: Arrowhead Christian at St. Bernard, St. Paul at Warren, Mary Star at Bishop Montgomery, Damien at Monrovia, Notre Dame Prep at La Salle, St. Anthony at Gahr, Centennial (Compton) at Verbum Dei, Los Alamitos at J.Serra, Jordan at Santa Clara, Hart at St. Bonaventure, St. Francis at Saugus, Arleta at St. Genevieve, Montebello at Cantwell-Sacred Heart, South Gate at Salesian, Servite at Garfield, Mission Viejo at Santa Margarita, St. Joseph (Santa Maria) at Arroyo Grande, Crean Lutheran at St. Pius X-St. Matthias, Tehachapi at Paraclete, Bellarmine-Jefferson at Flintridge Prep, Villanova Prep at Bloomington Christian.

Sept. 23: Bishop Diego at Santa Fe Christian.

Cardinal Gracias: curial reform is nearing the 'end of the tunnel'

Nearly four years after the Pope established his Council of Cardinal advisers to help him in the task of reforming the Roman Curia, one member of the group said their work is wrapping up, and that it could take only a few more meetings to finish what they set out to do. The ongoing process of reform “is being done at various stages of development, and I hope we'll come to an end in all of these matters soon,” Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay told CNA Sept. 14. “It will take two or three more meetings more,” he said, adding that “by June perhaps we'll be seeing the end of the tunnel.”

Cardinal Gracias is also President of the Asian Bishops Conference and in 2013 was chosen by the Pope along with eight other prelates from around the world to advise him in matters of Church governance and reform. He spoke to CNA in a lengthy, sit-down interview after the council – also called the “C9” – concluded their latest round of meetings last week.

As far as the reform goes, Cardinal Gracias said “there won't be very major changes; it's the governance of the Church, we can't just turn everything upside down.” Rather, it will be “a gradual change, a change of mentality, a change of approach, restructuring a bit of the departments so that they are more logically suited to the needs of today.”

He said a key goal of the C9  is to implement the vision of the Second Vatican Council, specifically when it comes to the importance of the role of the laity and women, and incorporating greater synodality and collegiality into the Church's structures. From the beginning Pope Francis “had very clear what he wanted this group to do,” the cardinal said. “He had no hesitation, he's a good leader. He had a clear vision.”

Cardinal Gracias admitted that in the beginning he had doubts as to whether or not they were going in the right direction, and had started to worry what people on the outside might say, since many fruits of the meetings weren't and likely won't be immediately visible. He said he also struggled with doubts about the pace at which they were moving, and believed that things were going “too slow.”

“I will confess that once at the beginning I was wondering, 'are we going in the right direction?' I asked myself. But now I can see it is,” he said, explaining that Pope Francis' Christmas speech to the Roman Curia last year was a “tipping point” for him. More than anything, there is a change in mentality that's needed, which will take longer than simply reforming the Vatican's structures, he said, but said the group is “rather confident that it will happen because the Pope is giving very effective leadership.”

In addition to the ongoing curial reform, Cardinal Gracias also spoke about the recent release of Indian priest Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil 18 months after he was abducted in Yemen. He also spoke about the Pope's upcoming trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh, and when a possible papal trip to India might take place.

Below are excerpts from CNA's interview with Cardinal Gracias:

You've seen Fr. Tom and you were at his meeting with Pope Francis. How is he doing?

I was pleasantly surprised with calmness with which he came out, because he did not know, to my knowledge, that he was being released. But he said I know people have prayed for me, I'm grateful for the people who were praying for me, but he kept on saying 'Jesus is great, Jesus is great.' And then he told the Holy Father. It was a very moving moment. As soon as the Holy Father came he prostrated in front of the Holy Father and kissed his feet, and he said, 'thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you Holy Father, but just one message I want to give you: Jesus Christ is great. Jesus was with me right through, I could sense the presence of God with me'...And once I thought the Holy Father had tears in his eyes.

When Tom kept on speaking about Jesus, this is what he told the Holy Father: please tell the people that Jesus is great! I would say that he's come out of it with an experience of the presence of the Lord, and I think at that moment the Holy Father had tears in his eyes...I met the Holy Father later that afternoon, and he was telling me how impressed he was. He was also surprised with the calmness of the man, with Tom...He was a man who is perhaps strengthened in the faith after this experience, and not bitter about anything. Particularly about his captors, he was very understanding. It was a special experience, very edifying. He needs rest, certainly, he'll have a medical exam and he'll be with his superiors, but eventually he'll go back (to India).

So thank God really. It was an anxious moment for the whole Church in India. We didn't know what was happening, but we understood that putting more pressure, in the perspective of the government, could make things more difficult for him. (But) he's not really stressed in any way you can make out. Physically weak, but spiritually strong. When he met the Holy Father, he was weeping right through it. And the Holy Father was very touched, he kissed his hand and blessed him...He felt the comfort and strength of the entire Church. As he said, there was never a moment when he felt abandoned, either by the Church or by God.

He kept saying, 'Jesus is great.' So he came out spiritually strengthened in that sense. It was a big relief, a big blessing, and the Holy Father was overjoyed. I think the government of Oman did a very splendid job of helping out...they even brought a Salesian to accompany him on the last plane. It was very human of them, so had the comfort of a spiritual companion.

What role did the Holy See play in working out his release?

They only offered help, they kept the issue open and kept sharing. The Holy See was told he was alive, and the Holy See communicated with the Indian government. In Yemen, the political situation is very fragile, and one doesn't know who is in charge. There are bombardments and all sorts of groups are taking over, so there was always a risk I suppose, that if you tried to liberate him you could have harmed him. But they were always interested, they kept it alive. Every time I came to Rome somebody from the Secretariat of State updated me. The Vatican made sure there was interest. Any information the Holy See had, they shared it with the Indian government, the Omani government, so that was good.

It's interesting that there is still no word on who is responsible...

It's not a terrorist attack, it's a kidnapping. They wouldn't glory in taking him. That has not come out. I spent about half an hour with him before the Holy Father, and he was speaking continuously. I did not at any point attempt to ask him questions, because I think that would be a stress for him. He has got to share...he wants to share it and then I imagine you feel lighter. He's probably just got to rest, and rest and rest, physically and then mentally too, he's got to get it out of his mind. He's not come out of it a broken man at all. I was afraid of that, that he would come out a broken man, but no...It's a moment of grace, a moment of faith, a special experience.

The high point was when he told the Holy Father, 'just tell everybody that Jesus is great, Jesus is great.' Just three simple words. That was like the sum of his whole experience, what he meant and why he meant it...he felt not abandoned, I suppose. I hope recovers. I imagine he needs a couple of months really, or maybe more than a couple of months, to really rest. He needs time with the family also, natural circumstances...I'm not sure about this, but I have a feeling that the Omani government decided to bring him to Rome, because they (wanted) to hand him over to the Vatican. I think it was better for him, because I think if he had gone to India he would have been mobbed by everybody. He just needs space to recover, and for doctors to examine him. Physically to see if he's alright, and psychologically also, to be investigated. I think it was a wise decision, but I think it was a decision more of the Omani government.

I don't want to exploit your time, but I wanted to ask a few questions about the process of reform and the C9. You just finished your latest round of meetings...

Yes, we just finished the latest round, the 21st meeting. I can't imagine we've had 21. I didn't realize it's 21 already. I think we are working hard. What's nice is that we're a cohesive group now. In the beginning we were all (gestures). Now we know each other so well and we work together, and of course trying to implement the Holy Father's vision of the Church. Also, one of the things we always say, and it's very clear, before the conclave the cardinals had spoken a lot of their vision of the Church, and we have the texts of what all of the cardinals said, and all the cardinals gave their vision. We picked up from that, the Holy Father picked up from that, his own vision. We've focused so far … it's for a dual purpose that the group was formed: one is to help him help him in the governance of the universal Church, and the second is to revise Pastor bonus, the papal document of St. John Paul II for establishing the Curia and giving the job descriptions and the vision of each dicastery.

It's to revitalize, I suppose that's what Pope Francis wants us to do, and to have a new mentality which is applying Vatican II also; how to make the Roman Curia at the service of the Holy Father more effectively, but the Churches at the local level, the Churches in the dioceses, how to make the Roman Curia assist the local Churches to be more effective pastorally, so they can be more vibrant in that sense. So I think the holy Father is satisfied with what's happening. I'm satisfied too with the way we are going ahead.

We come for three days and work intensely, we work from 9:00 on the first day to 7:00 (pm) on the last day trying to wrap things up, but lots of work has been done. But it's coming to the end. I think it will take maybe two or three more meetings until we wrap up our conclusions about the dicasteries. Then of course the Holy Father will study the thing and decide. So we're going well.

The feedback we receive is the Holy Father is happy, he is satisfied, and he has been using the Christmas messages sometimes to give an indication, a little progress report, so this year's Christmas message (2016). I didn't realize it, but when I read it I realized it's practically giving a progress report of what this group has been doing. I hope that it will make an impact. There won't be very major changes; it's the governance of the Church, we can't just turn everything upside down. But a gradual change, a change of mentality, a change of approach, restructuring a bit of the departments so that they are more logically suited to the needs of today, and also of answering the vision of the Second Vatican Council: the importance of lay people, synodality, collegiality, then concern about women, getting more women involved, then giving importance to the local Churches. Then reflecting on the role of episcopal conferences in all this, because that's another big issue. So all of this is being done at various stages of development, and I hope we'll come to an end in all of these matters soon. It will take two or three more meetings more, I foresee at least February, June...by June perhaps we'll be seeing the end of the tunnel.

It's been a long process... It's been a really long process, really, but it's good. I've been in other committees of this sort, in which at the beginning we don't what we're doing, where to begin, and they you find your way and you find your vision. But here it was very clear, the Holy Father had very clear what he wanted this group to do...we were not clear in why we were called and what he wanted to do, but gradually we understood his mind. He had no hesitation, he's a good leader. He had a clear vision and he had his people with him. He's there with us, he genuinely doesn't take any other appointments. He's there except the general audience.

There are emergencies of course, this time there were lots of things happening, but he participates and he listens to discussion, and every now and then he raises his hand when he wants to speak. It's very odd, but now we're accustomed to it, the Pope raising his hand (laughs) … it's very valuable, he's part of the discussion all the way through, completely inserted right in the thick of it. Certainly he doesn't speak that much, because I think we would feel inhibited and want to go in his direction. So it's just the right amount and at the right time.

Well he's very much about the process, isn't he? He doesn't want to interrupt the process that's happening...

Yes, absolutely. And he's happy. And everybody speaks their mind. We know each other so well, and we know that the Holy Father wants us to speak our minds, so no one is at any stage (overly) conscious that the Pope is there with us, no...but it's going well, I think it's going well. I will confess that once at the beginning I was wondering, 'are we going in the right direction?' I asked myself. But now I can see it is. He's a man of deep faith, the Pope. I remember having spoken to him once about the synod, I was sharing him my anxieties on whether the synods were going well, and he told me, 'Cardinal, I am not worried.' He told me that. I told him I was worried, I don't know what direction we're taking, whether we'll be able in two synods to give your vision. (He said) 'I'm not worried. It'll work out.' He knows what he wants, he's a good Jesuit, and the Jesuits know exactly what they want.

At what point were you convinced that things were going in the right direction?

After about seven or eight or nine meetings, I was beginning to wonder. My worry was what will the world say? Everybody knows we're meeting over here, but we are very limited in what we say are the fruits. What are these eight men – nine, we became nine after the Secretary (of State) joined – the nine cardinals are coming and discussing here, what's happening? They're not just coming here for debate. I was worried about the fruits not being seen, and the process being too slow.

But then, especially after I heard the Holy Father's speech (at Christmas 2016), for me that was it. I was like, wow, there has been a lot done. That was absolutely...this past Christmas, it was like a progress report of this group. I'm in the group, right, but I never realized the number of things we had really discussed. Besides modifying the document, the protection of minors, the economy, updates on these things, general principles of collegiality, synodality, we're thinking about these things. Care of the Curia personnel.

It's everything that the Holy Father...he isn't like us, who when we go back home we're fully in the diocese, he has this in mind and he keeps working on this fully afterwards. We go back to our dioceses and are concerned about the local Church, but he certainly follows up with what we say. I've seen it several times. He takes the group very seriously. Every now and then he would ask us to take up some point on the agenda to discuss it a bit, which he wants advice on. I think it's a new system he has started in which he gets feedback from all over the world, and he gets it from the grassroots. I think,  anyway, I hope.

We come from different continents and we bring in our own experiences. But it is going well. In fact I really, really think there has been a contribution to the Holy Father, and then the Holy Father takes decisions. I have a feeling this is shared by all now. I have no doubt, this would be the general feeling of all about it. The tipping point was really his speech, but already before that, say about six or seven months before that, we began to see really when we reflected that...perhaps the Holy Father knew that that was in our minds. It was in my mind, and maybe I expressed it indirectly. And the Holy Father once commented also, he said 'we have done this much, so don't get discouraged.' So at one stage he sort of answered that doubt in my mind.

You mentioned that there's also a change of mentality needed. Other than the structural shifts, it seems that the change of mentality will be the more challenging task...

That will take longer. But we hope it will percolate down, because once you have a certain mentality you generally don't change unless the circumstances change, the ambiance changes. And in a certain sense not changing dramatically. That will I think take longer. But I'm positive that it will happen.

We're very, very hopeful. We're rather confident that it will happen because the Pope is giving very effective leadership, and every now and then there is a clear message from him. But it will come about and suddenly we'll realize, oh there has been a change! That's how it will happen. It won't come overnight, but at a certain point we'll realize things have changed. He knows what he wants. And he's happy. Certainly the indication I can see is this way; the relationship he has with the group and the joy he has in being with the group. He says he feels that it has helped him. Thank God. We do what we can. I don't know how or why he chose us, but he's happy. I was very surprised when I got a call from him. I said 'why me? What have I done?' I suppose he knows. I don't know why.

I did not know the Holy Father before, we've never been in any other committee before. Only at the conclave. I don't even remember having chatted with him at the conclave, or before the conclave. After the conclave it was true that I was with him. It's true that after I was with the Pope at Santa Marta for a few days. Then we were having meals together – breakfast, lunch and dinner for four or five days. That's the time we came to know each other. So we were thrown together for about a week. It struck me that after his election I was at Santa Marta, because there were five or six cardinals. All the American cardinals were there, the European cardinals, all the ones from close by left and came back (for the installation). I stayed for the installation and then went back to India. And then you share, when you speak. He was very comfortable with us, very comfortable with me. But still, he had to make a choice.

Has he mentioned anything about when a visit to India might take place?

He's very interested. We're working it out, and I'm very hopeful. He would like to come and we would like to have him, and the government would like to have him. But now we must see his program, the government's program, but I'm certain he will come. There are no details at all for the moment. I'm rather certainly positive that we will be able to get the Holy Father, he's interested and I think he's getting more interested. And the people will be excited...we are looking forward. In the beginning, as soon as he was elected, I asked him, 'when are you coming to India?' And he was sort of (disinterested), but gradually he began to like the idea. He's never been to India before.

As a Jesuit I think he was supposed to go to Japan, that's what he was telling me. He's going now to Bangladesh and Myanmar. It will be very sensitive. Bangladesh has it's own problems, I believe they have elections next year, and Myanmar has problems to solve, also the refugee problem at the moment. Of late it is continuously on, I believe yesterday or this morning I saw it on CNN, and BBC is reporting on it. It's an issue for the world. I've been there (Bangladesh) a few times. It's a nice Church, concentrated mostly in Dhaka, a living faith. I've been to Myanmar also, I went as a papal legate there some years back, and I found the Church very vibrant. A simple faith, but I'm happy.

I think it will mean a lot to the people. It will also strengthen the people. I think the Church is also very vibrant, it's not have any specific difficulty, in my impression as a papal legate about two or three years back, but I was very impressed by the faith and the organization. It was vibrant. The Church was small, but strong and alive. It will make a difference for the Churches, and for the governments I expect.

Will you be there?

I plan to go to both places yes. In all of these trips in Asian I've come along: Sri Lanka, Korea, the Philippines. At the moment I'm president of the Asian Bishops Conference, so I suppose in that capacity I'll have to go.

In fight against sex abuse, Australian archbishop sees progress, challenges

Amid ongoing controversy surrounding clerical sex abuse in Australia, one of the country's archbishops believes the local Churches are making progress – but still face a long journey ahead.

“It's very much a work in progress; we still have a long way to go,” said Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, according to the Australian Associated Press. “Because it's not just a matter of changing procedures and protocols but of building a culture, and that takes time,” he continued.

Over the years, Australia's sexual abuse crisis has been one of the most infamous within the Church. A recent report from the Australian Royal Commission found that seven percent of Catholic priests in Australia serving between 1950-2009 have been accused of child sex crimes.

One of the most recent cases is that of Cardinal George Pell of Melbourne, who was accused of ignoring sexual abuse claims against Fr. Gerald Ridsdale, who has since been dismissed from the clerical state. Cardinal Pell himself is also facing sexual abuse charges dating back to 1961, to which he has pleaded not guilty. His preliminary hearing is set for Oct. 6.

Other abuse claims within the country prompted the Australian Royal Commission to create the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse organization, which was officially established in 2013. The group investigates how child sex abuse claims are handled within the country, particularly in religious environments, as well as in education, government, and sporting.

The commission has been investigating the Catholic Church in Australia, going so far as to propose that priests be legally obligated to disclose sexual abuse sins which have been admitted in the confessional, or face criminal charges. They have also proposed 85 additional changes to Australia’s criminal justice system.

Amid the commission’s investigation, some of the country's clergy have responded, including Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne and Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, who both expressed sorrow and regret for the Church’s failure in this area.

A recent report conducted by RMIT University found that the Catholic Church in Australia was “significantly behind” in its development of standards and procedures that protect against child sexual abuse, compared to similar countries. However, Archbishop Coleridge noted that the report may not be completely accurate, since the Church has promoted some efforts to combat sexual abuse claims which are more behind-the-scenes. He pointed to the Archdiocese of Brisbane, which now has safeguarding officers and external auditing.

The Catholic educational system in Australia has also made strides. Archbishop Coleridge noted that the Catholic schools are now “probably the safest places in the nation for a child to be.”

In addition, the Catholic Church established a new non-profit group in 2016 called Catholic Professional Standards Limited, which promotes protection for children against abuse by auditing and reporting on Catholic entities. While these efforts are pointing the Church in Australia in the right direction, Archbishop Coleridge said that the Church does have a long way to go.  

“Australia has done some things well and some things badly,” Archbishop Coleridge said, adding, “but that's true of any country.”