The 47th National Biennial Conference of Catholic Women’s League Australia Inc, was held at the Novotel Sydney Parramatta Hotel from the 22nd to the 24th September 2015. 230 delegates attended the Conference over the two days.
The Conference began with the very beautiful Opening Mass in St Patrick’s Cathedral presided over by Very Reverend Father Peter Williams Diocesan Administrator with Father Robert Bossini Dean of the Cathedral, Very Reverend Father David Orr osb National Chaplain and Father Laurence Murphy Western Australian Chaplain concelebrating. We were welcomed to Country by Daisy Barker, Jenny Ebsworth and Rhonda Randall from Baabayn Aboriginal Corporation.
Tuesday 22nd September - Thursday 24th September 2015
Novotel Hotel, Parramatta
The Catholic Women’s League are incredibly blessed to be able to hold their Biennial conference in an area with such deep roots of Catholic faith. It was at Old Government House in Parramatta Park that the 1803 Proclamation requiring all Catholics to register for the first official Masses in the colony was read. Rev James Dixon celebrated the second and third official Masses in Australia in Parramatta and the Hawkesbury respectively in May 1803. Furthermore the first religious profession in Australia took place in St Patrick’s Parramatta, in 1835 when Sr Xavier took her first vows in the Sisters of Charity. Now members of more than 50 religious Congregations live and work in the Diocese.
A little boy, commissioned by his parents and abandoned when he disappointed them, has brought a focus to many issues. Babies paid for under surrogacy contracts can become the objects of a business deal to the purchasing parents. The heart, mind, soul and body of the contracted child are not seen as the person—their son or their daughter— whom they would give their lives to protect. The child they are to pay cash for at the point of handover is not loved first and foremost, but assessed.
At a Eucharistic celebration on February 6 at Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral in Hornsby, Sydney, the National CWLA Executive for the 2014 – 2015 were installed by Fr Vince Casey, Administrator of the Broken Bay Diocese.
The Executive, from three Diocese in New South Wales includes: Carolyn Metcalfe - President and Pauline O’Malley – Treasurer, from Broken Bay Diocese. From the Wollongong Diocese are Margaret (Peg) McEntee OAM - Vice President (former National President, 2002/04), Robyn Miller - Secretary and Diana Lyon - PR and Community Engagement Officer with the second Vice President, Ann Pereira, from the Lismore Diocese.
This is a summation of the speech given by Anna Krohn, National Bioethics Convenor, at the recent 46th National Biennial Conference.
“Synergy” is a rather specialised 19th century word originally used in science. Its literal sense comes from two Greek terms meaning “substances or people working together.” The Oxford dictionary defines synergy as an effective cooperation which is “a combined effort which is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Pope Francis’ recent interviews in America magazine, and with atheist Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari in La Repubblica, have “gone viral” since their publication. Unfortunately, the level of selective reporting and of skewed reading is also off the scale!
There are the jubilant headlines announcing that the Pope is telling pro-lifers to stop ‘obsessing’ about abortion, and that he is shifting moral teachings relating sexuality and marriage. Then there are angry remarks from bloggers inside the Church who have micro-analysed Francis’ remarks and see “behind them a slap in the face for all those who have fought the culture wars in defence of traditional Catholic teachings.”
This is the fifth in a series of reports by photo-journalist, and Catholic Women’s League of Victoria and Wagga Wagga member, Fiona Basile who attended the 57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations in New York in March. The theme of the session was: ‘The elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls’.
Reggie Littlejohn is a woman on a mission. As founder of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers (WRWF), the San Francisco-based attorney has made it her life’s work to put an end to what she calls ‘the war against women and girls in China,’ where violence in the forms of forced abortion and forced sterilisation, gendercide and sexual slavery is an horrific reality.
In 2011, the Tasmanian Catholic Women’s League prepared a detailed submission to the Tasmanian Parliament which voiced serious concerns about the risks of “genealogical bewilderment” for children and exploitation of vulnerable women within the state and beyond. Their submission also decried a state endorsed “surrogacy arrangement…. which intentionally deprives children of the opportunity to be conceived, carried in the womb, and raised by a natural mother and a natural father.”
Despite their detailed submission, and the concerned voices of other child welfare and faith groups, the Surrogacy Act 2012 (Tas) was passed in August last year.
Austin Ruse is a man full of energy and passion, who is fuelled in his daily work by ‘righteous anger’. He is president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), a non-partisan, non-profit research institute that has for the past 15 years provided expertise in international social policy—in particular, matters pertaining to the United Nations (UN).
I had been in a sea of international diplomats at the United Nations (UN) for a week by the time I had an opportunity to meet with the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN. Jane Munro, Catholic Women’s League of Australia (CWLA) National International Secretary, was with me.
By this stage, my head was swimming with information, having finally grasped the processes of the UN and the Commission on the Status of Women, and also having attended three or four side events each day hosted by state delegations and non-government organisations (NGOs), each addressing the issue of violence against women and girls.
Pope John Paul II surprised many when he affirmed the insights of over a century of women’s activism: “Women’s dignity has often been unacknowledged and their prerogatives misrepresented; they have often been relegated to the margins of society and even reduced to servitude. This has prevented women from truly being themselves and it has resulted in a spiritual impoverishment of humanity.” (Letter to Women #3)
The words and actions of Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI surely affirm, and inspire us all in the pursuit of the League’s mission of educating, promoting and defending the dignity of all our fellow human beings—whether elderly, pre-born, disabled, or hale and hearty.
The spontaneous gesture by Pope Francis to leave his papal entourage so that he could kiss a disabled man was a bioethics homily beyond words. The responding surprised delight on the man’s face, and those around him in St Peter’s Square, was a powerful visual counter-sign to a world where pregnancies are screened and the challenging end-of-lives patients are hastened to their death.
More than 4000 people are expected to attend the Chrism Mass tomorrow at the historic Infant Jesus Cathedral in Phirangipuram, India, where Dr Sr Mary Glowrey JMJ will be declared a ‘Servant of God’ by the Most Rev. Dr. Gali Bali, Bishop of Guntur.
Being declared a ‘Servant of God’ is the first of four official approvals on the path to sainthood, and signals the commencement of the Diocesan Phase of the Inquiry.
I’m pleased to report that both Jane and I have returned safely home after spending two intense weeks at the United Nations in New York for the 57th Session of the Commission for the Status of Women. What a steep learning curve... this was certainly NO HOLIDAY!!
The theme for the session was ‘The Elimination of All Forms of Violence Against Women and Girls’. It’s tragic that we even need to have such an ‘event’ to discuss this topic, however, the reality is, violence against women and girls is rife in many (if not all) nations, and the magnitude of the violence, the forms in which it is manifested, and its causes are MANY! And sadly, it seems we have a LONG WAY to go to alleviating this horrific problem.
In his third encyclical, Caritas in Veritate (Love in Truth, 2009), Pope Benedict XVI urges the societies of the world and the Church herself to take a “new trajectory of thinking … in order to arrive at a better understanding of the implications of our being one family” (n.35). This need to re-imagine the Church’s social mission seems more urgent than ever, especially as Christianity becomes caricatured or unheard in the midst of the often strident debates about human rights and equality, bioethical issues, asylum seekers, humane and sustainable economies, and what Benedict XVI calls the ‘ecology’ of love, sexuality and marriage.
There is distinct air of both surprise and hope at the announcement this week that Father Paul Bird, the regional head (provincial) of the Redemptorists will be the eighth Catholic Bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Ballarat.
It is interesting that commentators and bloggers from different theological quarters in the church have been united in their positive reception of the news.
Often the ethical, cultural and legislative campaigns for euthanasia are so unremitting that those many people defending the sanctity of life suffer a type of campaign “fatigue”.
Symptoms of this fatigue can include existential burn-out and a type of ethical depression. We can start to believe that those campaigning for euthanasia and assisted suicide have all the celebrities, all the progress, all the funding, all the media headlines and all the emotional energy. It is worth discussing just a few of the reasons for this experience.
In April this year, an independent and cross-party U.K. Parliamentary group released the Report of its Inquiry into Online Child Protection. The Inquiry was conducted not only with the working team of Conservative, Labour and cross-bench members, but was supported by 60 other British Parliamentarians. It was prompted by some of the findings of the 2011 Report Letting Children Be Children: Report of the Independent review of the Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood (October 2011).
The last few decades have witnessed a rising tide of societal outrage and grief over the neglect or evasion of cases of child sexual abuse within once trusted institutions—the scouts, schools or churches. People question why it is that time and time again those in authority prevaricated, ignored the evidence or were simply too perplexed to face their suspicions squarely. These questions are justified.
At the same time, there is evidence of a disturbing double standard within the same sections of the public who would lynch all priests and school teachers for the crimes of a few.
Academics, media commentators and even ordinary members of the public increasingly assume these days that the population is divided into two distinct camps—those who are “believers” on one hand and those who are “unbelievers” on the other. The increasingly belligerent “new atheists” use this misconstrual to argue for the exclusion of the “believers” from public discourse and at the same time argue for the benevolent “neutrality” of the “non-believers”.
Pope Benedict XVI has bestowed the Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice on Mrs Madge Fahy, immediate past National President of the Catholic Women’s League of Australia (CWLA). Also known as the Cross of Honour, the award was established in 1888 by Pope Leo XIII and is given to clergy, religious and the laity for distinguished service to the Church. It is the highest medal that can be awarded to a lay person by the Papacy. The gold medal features the images of Saints Peter and Paul and the Holy See's Coat of Arms.
In recent weeks we have witnessed a debate in the media over who has the right to call herself a feminist.
Feminism began as a movement seeking equality of educational and employment opportunities for women and the right to vote. By the 1970s, however, feminists were not only calling for equal pay and equal access to education and job opportunities, but also for abortion on demand.
Today, many women are reluctant to call themselves feminists, or see feminism as out of touch, counter-productive or irrelevant. If feminism has made the world a better place for women—and in many ways it has—why are women not joining in droves?
An encounter with human bioethics and ‘professional’ bioethicists can be fascinating, if sometimes frightening. Bioethics is the branch of applied ethics that deals with issues that are often, quite literally, a matter of life and death. These include the perennial issues of abortion and euthanasia, as well as those occasioned by developments in medicine and biotechnology: new ways of taking, making and even faking, human life.
Catholic Bioethics for a New Millennium by Bishop Anthony Fisher OP brings light to these highly controversial, complex and personally confronting issues.
The Journal of Medical Ethics recently published a paper titled “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” that, as the title implies, explores the ethics of killing newborn children. The authors argued that there’s no difference between aborting an unborn child and killing newborns.
Was it an act of cynical ethical kite flying or was it a rather clever exercise in satire?
Amidst all the outrage and horror that greeted the publication, it is understandable that some readers of the venerable British Journal of Medical Ethics simply did not believe that the article in this year’s March 2nd edition, entitled bluntly: “After-birth Abortion: why should baby live?”, was for real.
Associate Professor Nicholas Tonti-Filippini is something of an Australian landmark. He is currently the Associate Dean and Head of the Bioethics Department at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne.
In an earlier blog, I wrote about a series of seminars that Professor Tonti-Filippini has organized in different parts of Melbourne, in order to outline his concerns about end-of-life decisions.
The Catholic Women’s League Australia (CWLA) National Executive for 2012-2013 was installed during a Mass celebrated by Father Jose Koyickal at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Townsville on Sunday 12th February. The members of the new CWLA National Executive are Jean Tanzer OAM (President), Margaret Toomey (Vice President), Joy Gray (Vice President), Maureen Gilmartin AM (Treasurer), Veronica Box (Public Relations & Community Engagement) and Marcia O’Donnell (Secretary). The new National Chaplain is Father David Lancini.
“Told that I would die within five years (in 1977) and having become interested in philosophy, I saw no harm in making the latter my principal interest rather than following a career-orientated path.” So writes Associate Professor Nicholas Tonti-Filippini, with disarming understatement, in the introduction to his timely new book titled: “About Bioethics: Philosophical and Theological Approaches.”
The book itself is a very rare event—a very readable and at times very personal reflection on the pressing “life issues” by one of the most recognizable and active public ethicists in Australia. It is doubly rare, since it represents the thinking of a bioethicist who says: “For me the central concept of Bioethics is respect for every member of the human family” and who has defended and articulated this universal norm in the public square, while making no secret of being “primarily motivated by Christ’s instruction that we should love God and one another.”
The new State Office for Catholic Women’s League (CWL) South Australia was officially blessed and opened by the Most Rev Phillip Wilson DD JCL, Archbishop of Adelaide and President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, on December 6th 2011.
The event was attended by the CWL Adelaide Diocesan Chaplain Fr Welling; Chancellors Cathy Whewell and Heather Carey; Dale West, the Director of Centacare; the CWLA National President, Madge Fahy; and many members of the League in South Australia.
In response to the Holy Father’s invitation to “…join the network of relationships which the digital era has made possible…", the National President of Catholic Women’s League Australia, Madge Fahy, launched CWLA’s official YouTube channel today (http://www.youtube.com/user/CWLAustralia). Madge said: “New technologies are changing not only the way we communicate, but arguably communication itself. If CWLA is to ‘run so as to win’ the race (cf. 1 Cor. 9:24), we need to embrace these new technologies and new ways of communicating.”
The Catholic Women’s League of Australia has just released its latest e-newsletter. This issue includes a wonderful article by Emeritus Professor Gabrielle McMullen about the recent CWLA Biennial Conference in Melbourne as well as an article by Austin Ruse, the President of C-FAM. It also contains a beautiful reflection by Fr Ken Barker MGL and gives some insight into the tremendous work being undertaken by Catholic women throughout Australia. Enjoy!
Blessed Pope John Paul II in his book "Memory and Identity - Personal Reflections" compared the politics surrounding abortion to Hitler and the Holocaust. At the time, his comments caused some controversy.
He lamented that contemporary democratic governments which legalised abortion were a new totalitarianism "insidiously hidden behind the appearance of democracy." He reminded readers that in a similar way, a legally elected German parliament gave Hitler the power which led to the creation of concentration camps and ultimately the extermination of millions of Jews.