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Journeying with the Catholic Church

Michael McVeigh  |  22 August 2018

25 year anniversary illustrationAustralian Catholics has been an important part of the Catholic Church life over its 25 year history. Here are some memorable moments in that journey.

A problem of trust
Spring 1993
1st edition Australian Catholics

The first edition of Australian Catholics magazine featured a look at the clergy abuse crisis, the stories that were emerging from victims groups, and the Church’s response. It included an interview with Bishop Peter Connors, then-chairman of a Bishops Conference committee examining the issue:

‘We had no idea of the nature of the problem. We didn’t recognise it as a personality disorder. Nor did we fully appreciate the tragic effect that it has on the victim. We thought, “Well, just move the person away from that particular situation and he’ll be OK.” Now we know that’s not good enough.’

Women Cardinals?
Winter 1997
Who holds the future?

In 1996, the Catholic Church launched a research project on the participation of women in the Catholic Church. An article from Julie Macken explored some of the issues, including how women might gain more authority in the Church. Among those interviewed was canon lawyer Janet Combs:

‘If it has been historically possible to have lay cardinals, and it has, it must also be possible to have women as cardinals. While Australian bishops have never tried to do so, it would be possible for them to nominate a woman for the position of cardinal. Of course, the Holy Father would then have to approve it.’

Sorry… is the hardest word
Autumn 2000
A sorry Church

In 2000, as part of the Jubilee Year, Pope John Paul II begged God’s forgiveness for the past and present failings of the Church. Australia’s bishops also issued a statement, acknowledging the Australian Church’s failings, in particular in relationships with Indigenous peoples, and their response to sexual abuse. Australian Catholics editor Michael McGirr reflected on the images of the Pope, and the bishops, asking for forgiveness.

‘They are strong images precisely because they are images of weakness.’

For peace, at peace
Winter 2005
Pope John Paul II

Australian Catholics released a special edition to mark the death of Pope John Paul II. The edition featured some rare photographs of the Pope from John Casamento, and the cover image by Bruce Millar. It also featured tribute articles, including one from Dan Street:

‘Through power of his intellect, force of his magnetic personality and sheer energy, John Paul II returned the Catholic Church to prominence in world affairs.’

Australia receives the Holy Spirit
Spring 2008
WYD Sydney

World Youth Day brought hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to Sydney for a celebration of the Catholic faith. It culminated in a Mass at Randwick Racecourse. One of the pilgrims, Nicole Tan, shared her experience:

‘The vigil finished five hours ago. It’s 3am but there is little sign of the celebration dying down. I am overwhelmed with a multitude of emotions as I wander shivering through the circles of dance and prayer. It suddenly hits me. This is what is meant by the love and grace of God. Warm, salty tears suddenly pour down my icy cheeks. Unexpectedly, a pilgrim from Spain embraces me: “I know how you feel!” she says. “Let’s run. It will keep us warm.”’

A new saint in Rome
Christmas 2010
Mary MacKillop – Australia's Saint

More than a century before, Mary MacKillop had walked across St Peter’s Square in Rome seeking approval for her new religious order. In 2010, Australians gathered in that same square to see her take her place among the Church’s saints. Among them was then-Year 10 Mary MacKillop College Kensington student Celeste Armstrong:

‘Her story has made me aware of injustices suffered, the needs of homeless people and support for the sick… I am glad her motto will be known throughout the world: “In all things, love.”’

Frank talks to tackle abuse
Spring 2013
Royal Commission
Truth, Justice and Healing Council

The launch of the Royal Commission in 2013 was a landmark moment in the life of the Church, offering survivors the chance to have their stories and experiences heard. The Truth, Justice and Healing Council was set up to oversee the Church’s involvement. One of its members, Professor Maria Harries, was interviewed in the Spring 2013 edition:

‘I’m shocked by the extent of the abuse, but I shouldn’t be. Because I believe that it is about the abuse of power more than anything else… Whatever can happen to bring the truth out, and whatever can happen to make sure that we have systems to prevent the abuse from occurring again – that is why I’m here.’

Dialogue for a future Church?
Winter 2018
The next chapter: Everyone's voice

The next chapter in the life of the Church will begin with the 2020 Plenary Council. The launch of the listening and dialogue process offers Catholics the chance to have their say about the issues that should be on the agenda. We spoke to the facilitator Lana Turvey-Collins:

‘There are people who have been passionately leading different focuses for change in the Church for a long time, and they might be tired or they might be sceptical, or they might be excited. I really welcome every single person’s voice in this.’


Topic tags: australianidentity, church-thepeopleofgod, religiousandculturaldiversity

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