Australian Bishops Ready for Canonization of Mary MacKillop


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SYDNEY, Australia, DEC. 4, 2009 ( Bishops of Australia gathered for their five-day plenary session which saw them discussing issues ranging from the protection of marriage to the hoped-for canonization of the first Australian saint.

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) met Nov. 23-27 in Sydney.

They were visited by the president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, Cardinal Paul Cordes, to reflect with them on the charitable mission of the Church.

And anticipating an event that will have many repercussions in the local Church, the bishops discussed the hoped-for canonization of Blessed Mary MacKillop for some time next year.

According to a statement from the conference, "the bishops pledged to work [...] to ensure that the canonization of Australia's first saint would be a time of grace for the Church in Australia, noting that it would present a wonderful opportunity to engage with the community about what it means to live a holy life."

The ACBC also had to consider the Church within the Australian society, as issues of conscience rights, abortion, and the definition of marriage have been on political agendas.

Their discussion "touched on a number of important areas, including the defense of marriage as being a special kind of relationship which is defined as the commitment of a man and a woman to live as husband and wife to the exclusion of all others and for life," the statement said. "Their discussion also affirmed that the Church deplores unjust discrimination against homosexual people, while confirming that in society the making of certain distinctions is essential.

"The bishops concluded their discussion by saying that the Church must speak up for crucial institutions such as marriage while supporting people in all walks of life. Basic human rights can and should be afforded to all people without sacrificing the bedrock of society that is marriage and the family."

Educational issues

The Australian bishops also took up various education-related themes.

One was the need to teach the faithful about the Eastern rites and particularly, to meet the needs of Eastern rite students in Catholic schools.

And for the Latin rite, the need to prepare for a new translation of the Roman Missal was discussed.

As well, the bishops approved two pastoral letters: One is a letter to priests to mark the Year for Priests; the other is a letter to Catholic women, to mark the 10th anniversary of the release of the Bishops' Social Justice Statement, which followed the "Woman and Man: One in Christ Jesus" research project.

Madrid '11

The prelates also considered preparations for the next international World Youth Day, to be held in Spain in 2011.

Drawing from their experience as hosts for the most recent Youth Day -- in Sydney last July -- the prelates have initiated a WYD 2011 project.

The statement affirmed that there "is expected to be a large pilgrimage to the event in Madrid."