Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Why survivor’s exit from papal panel may be a blessing in disguise (Opinion)

Why survivor’s exit from papal panel may be a blessing in disguiseIn terms of the optics of the situation, there’s just no way in which the departure of Marie Collins, the only abuse survivor who was also an active member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, looks good for Pope Francis.

Citing frustrations with resistance to the commission’s work from within the Roman Curia, Collins announced today that she’s stepping down, though she’ll continue to work with the group in delivering anti-abuse training to clergy. 

Her exit comes at a time when Francis’s standing with survivors was already taking hits, in part because of revelations that he’s lightened the punishments imposed on several abuser priests in what the pontiff sees as a spirit of mercy, but what critics regard as a breakdown in accountability.

Certainly, the bureaucratic inertia and power games described by Collins raise legitimate questions about how serious the Vatican may be in terms of its commitment to reform. 

However, if one looks at the situation dispassionately, there’s also a case to be made that Collins’s resignation, along with the inactive status of the only other survivor on the commission, Peter Saunders of the UK, was both inevitable and arguably for the best.

Here’s why.

When Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston and his team at the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors recommended that the pope name Collins and Saunders as members, the intentions were obviously noble. 

O’Malley understands from extensive personal experience that if you want to understand the spiritual and emotional devastation caused by clerical sexual abuse, there simply is no substitute for hearing the voices of survivors.

They also know that any credible clean-up effort has to be informed by the insights and perspectives of survivors, or it won’t fly. That’s not just a once-and-for-all fact of life but an ongoing one, since survivors need to be at the table whenever new problems and challenges arise, and to help monitor the implementation of whatever plans have been hatched.

In retrospect, however, making individuals such as Collins and Saunders full members of the commission turned out to place them in a politically untenable spot that was neither fair to them nor, ultimately, helpful to the commission.

Both Collins and Saunders were well-known as survivors of clerical abuse long before their nomination to the commission, with a reputation for outspokenness and leadership in the fight against abuse. That was a large part of the reason they were selected, on the theory that their credibility in the survivors’ community would translate to the papal commission.

The reality, however, is that being perceived as part of the pope’s official team and the Vatican’s power structure often left them trapped between their loyalty to the commission and their loyalties to their fellow survivors. 

Anytime a controversy arose, whether about the commission’s work or some other decision the pope or the Vatican had made with regard to sexual abuse, it was dicey for them to figure out how much they could say publicly, how hard they could push back, because they also felt obligated to try not to handicap or embarrass the group.

When Francis named a bishop in Chile in 2015 with a track record of defending that country’s most notorious abuser-priest, for instance, the decision troubled many abuse survivors and their advocates around the world. 

It left both Collins and Saunders in an especially difficult spot, because their fellow survivors looked to them to speak up, to lead the protests, and yet their institutional role on the commission made doing so politically complicated.

The reality likely is that survivors of clerical abuse will never be fully satisfied with the Church’s response, and that’s as it should be. 

Survivors, especially those with the courage to go public, need to be free to speak out and to help keep the Church honest, cajoling it to remain eternally vigilant – if necessary, even shaming it into action.

That’s an essential role, but awfully difficult to play when, at the same time, one is also part of the “system.”

Moreover, it’s not as if making survivors full members of the commission is the only way to ensure that their voices are heard. 

Collins herself is now an illustration of the point, no longer sitting on the group but still accepting an invitation from O’Malley to continue to be part of their training efforts, including for newly appointed bishops from around the world.

Survivors can be brought in routinely as consultants and advisers, they can be asked to take part in the commission’s meetings, they can participate in various projects and initiatives, and so on, all without being forced to carry the political weight for whatever decisions are reached – and remaining free to speak up if they believe those decisions are flawed.

The commission can also organize listening sessions with abuse survivors around the world, on the premise that the experience of a survivor in, say, Western Europe, is likely very different from that of someone in sub-Saharan Africa or the Indian subcontinent.

The bottom line is that the exit of Marie Collins isn’t necessarily the end of the road in terms of abuse survivors being represented on the pope’s commission. 

It could actually mean a transition to a more honest, freer, and less personally conflicted way of doing it.

Never reduce faith to ghetto culture

Pope Francis said at an Ash Wednesday Mass Wednesday that "Lent is the time to say those spiritualities that reduce faith to cultures of the ghetto or exclusion". 

Francis celebrated Mass marking the start of Lent in the Roman church of Santa Sabina on the Aventine.

After receiving the ashes on his forehead from a cardinal, Francis marked the foreheads of cardinals and faithful with the ash, a symbol of penance. 

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, the period of fasting and penitence that leads up to Easter.

Vatican says 'close to pain' over Fabo

 (foto: ANSA)The case of DJ Fabo, a blind tetraplegic who committed assisted suicide in a Swiss clinic, is a "defeat for society," says the head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia.

"This very sad affair must prompt us to reflect. I look with great apprehension and closeness on those who say 'I can't go on', I understand it," he said. "A society that isn't able to be close, to help and communicate that the other is important, to make him feel useful, is offensive". 

The head of the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI), Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, called Fabo's death a "serious and painful defeat for society".

Pope Francis has a special message this Lent, and here it is

Pope Francis at the Church of St. Anselm on Ash Wednesday, March 1, 2017. Credit: L'Osservatore Romano.In his message for Lent 2017, Pope Francis reminded the faithful that they should heed the Scriptures and treat each human person they encounter as a gift.
“Lent is the favorable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbor,” he said. “May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion, so that we can rediscover the gift of God’s word, be purified of the sin that blinds us, and serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need.”

Scripture is also a gift, the Pope said in his message, which was released last October to help Catholics across the globe prepare for the 2017 Lenten season.

In his message, Pope Francis reflected on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. In that story, a poor man named Lazarus lives on the doorstep of a wealthy man who ignores him. When they die, Lazarus rests in paradise, while the rich man suffers. 

Although Lazarus is “practically invisible to the rich man,” Pope Francis said, we should see him as a concrete person, whom God views as a priceless treasure.

“Lazarus teaches us that other persons are a gift,” the pontiff said. “A right relationship with people consists in gratefully recognizing their value. Even the poor person at the door of the rich is not a nuisance, but a summons to conversion and to change.”

In this way, the parable invites us to see each person as a blessing, he said, and Lent is a particularly fitting time to open our door to all those in need and the face of Christ in them.

“Each life that we encounter is a gift deserving acceptance, respect and love. The word of God helps us to open our eyes to welcome and love life, especially when it is weak and vulnerable.”

Another important lesson from the parable is how sin can blind us, Pope Francis said. He pointed to the rich man’s ostentatious displays of wealth, saying, “In him we can catch a dramatic glimpse of the corruption of sin, which progresses in three successive stages: love of money, vanity and pride.”

“Money can come to dominate us, even to the point of becoming a tyrannical idol,” the Pope warned. “Instead of being an instrument at our service for doing good and showing solidarity towards others, money can chain us and the entire world to a selfish logic that leaves no room for love and hinders peace.”

“For those corrupted by love of riches, nothing exists beyond their own ego,” the Holy Father warned.

“The result of attachment to money is a sort of blindness. The rich man does not see the poor man who is starving, hurting, lying at his door.” 

The end of the parable offers an additional lesson, the Pope continued. In the afterlife, the rich man calls out to Abraham from his place of torment. This is the first mention of the fact that he belongs to the people of God, for during his life, “his only God was himself.”

When the rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers, who are still living, Abraham responds, “They have Moses and the prophets, let them listen to them…If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead.”

Thus, we ultimately see that the problem of the rich man is a “failure to heed God’s word,” Pope Francis said. “As a result, he no longer loved God and grew to despise his neighbor.”

“The word of God is alive and powerful, capable of converting hearts and leading them back to God. When we close our heart to the gift of God’s word, we end up closing our heart to the gift of our brothers and sisters.”

As we start the journey of Lent, with its emphasis on fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, we have a chance at a new beginning in our own lives, the Pope noted.

“This season urgently calls us to conversion. Christians are asked to return to God with all their hearts, to refuse to settle for mediocrity and to grow in friendship with the Lord,” he said, adding that Christ waits for us patiently, ready to forgive us when we fall short.

“Let us pray for one another so that, by sharing in the victory of Christ, we may open our doors to the weak and poor,” he concluded. “Then we will be able to experience and share to the full the joy of Easter.”

Drive through Ash Wednesday a ‘tremendous success’ in Co Galway

Fr Paddy Mooney after he administered ashes on a tractor driver outside Glenamaddy Church on Ash Wednesday. Photograph: Joe O’ShaughnessyA north Galway parish says it is “overwhelmed” by the response to its “drive-though” Ash Wednesday, marking the first day of Lent.

“A tremendous success” was how Glenamaddy parish secretary Breda Keaveney described the 90-minute distribution of ashes onto hundreds of foreheads outside the Catholic church.

“It has been a beautiful atmosphere in this bright sunshine, and I think we have had everyone from children to elderly parishioners taking part,” Ms Keaveney said after the last car left.

Parish priest Fr Paddy Mooney said he came up with the idea in discussions with his pastoral council, after he heard about an initiative taken by Bishop of Killaloe Fintan Monahan to offer confessions in a shopping centre in Ennis, Co Clare.

‘Ashes to go’ are a regular event in Catholic parishes in north America, and Fr Mooney felt a “drive through” from 8am to 9.30am outside his church might suit the large number of people with school-going children and commuters.

Glenamaddy parish numbers 1,500, extending as far as the borders of Williamstown and Dunmore, with two primary schools and a secondary school with 420 pupils.

The parish newsletter appealed to those who “may be sick, find it difficult to walk, people on their way to work, or families on their way to school”.

“If you are unable to attend Mass you can come here, receive your Ashes without having to leave your car,”it said.

Three members of his pastoral council assisted with annointing ashes to several hundred foreheads, before Fr Mooney left for mass in Williamstown at 10am.

Marie Collins resigns from Vatican child protection body

Marie Collins has been with the commission for ‘three difficult years’.File photograph: Matt KavanaghAbuse survivor Marie Collins has resigned from the Vatican’s Commission for the Protection of Minors due to frustration with some officials in the Roman curia. Her resignation takes effect from today.

She had been with the commission for over three years. “Three difficult years. But I’ve kept the hope that we would be able to bring change because the other members of the commission are very sincere. They’re very good people, as is (commission chair) Cardinal Seán O’Malley. And Pope Francis has supported all our recommendations.”

But she has found “the attitude of a small number in the Vatican’s curia is resistant to the work of the commission and has not been co-operative.” 

Her decision to resign followed an accumulation of frustrations at the hands of such officials. It came to a head recently over “one small issue that for me was the last straw. It was in the context of healing for survivors and victims.”

The commission recommended to Pope Francis that all Vatican departments acknowledge letters from survivors and victims of abuse. 

“It seemed like a simple request but I learned afterwards that this particular dicastery (Vatican department) was not going to change their processes, was not going to put in place a system whereby they would respond to such letters. For me that’s just the end of the line.”
It was not its practice to respond to such correspondence, it said.
This was also “the dicastery that would receive the most correspondence from victims and survivors; the dicastery victims write to about cases if they’ve been abused by a priest,” she said.


She did not wish to identify the Vatican department involved but The Irish Times has learned it refers to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which seems at the root of frustrations felt by the commission generally.
“I said when I joined the commission three years ago that if there was anything happening inside and I learned anything that was counter to what was being said publicly by the church, I wouldn’t remain.”

The issue was important to her. “It may not seem important to many. But the fact that we have pronouncements all the time about care for victims and care for survivors and how the church wants to help with healing and that’s their first priority, I think that not being able to simply respond to a victim or survivor’s letter is totally counter to that. So I felt it was time for me to go.”

Other commission work frustrated by officials included the accountability tribunal announced in June 2015 to deal with negligent bishop and church leaders who had not protected children, she said.

Legal issues

Although Pope Francis himself recommended it, legal difficulties were soon found by officials and it was discarded. “I was particularly disappointed with that because accountability was always my number one reason for joining the commission,” Ms Collins said. 

Last June, Pope Francis tried again with his apostolic letter A Loving Mother which addressed the same issue. 

“The Pope didn’t just leave it lie, which was a good thing. He came in with an alternative. It was supposed to come into operation last September but it’s very difficult to get any information as whether it is actually up and running or not.”

Now, she is worried “that it may go the same way as the original accountability tribunal.”

It has been “just shocking to me that in 2017 I can still come across these defensive, inflexible attitudes in men of the church, the same attitudes I saw 20 years ago when I was trying to bring my own case to justice here in Dublin. That’s what’s really the most shocking,” she said. 

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin paid tribute to the work carried out by Ms Collins, saying few people in Ireland had made such a consistent contribution to the change in the Church’s response to child sexual abuse.

“Despite opposition and resistance, she remained committed and constructive in what were for her good moments and bad moments,” he said in a statement. “I have learned above all to see in her a person of integrity who is not afraid to chart her own course: where things were wrong she identified them and named them; when she felt uncomfortable she was never tempted to take the easy path and remain quiet and I am certain that will be her position in the future.”

He said child abuse victims and survivors “owe her an enormous debt, but she was never one to seek praise or affirmation for herself”.

Marie Collins resigns from Commission for Protection of Minors

The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors [PCPM] has issued the following statement after the resignation of abuse survivor, Mrs. Marie Collins.

On Monday, February 13, 2017, Mrs. Marie Collins, a Member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors [PCPM] advised Cardinal Sean O’Malley, President of the PCPM, of her intent to resign from the Commission effective March 1, 2017.

Mrs. Collins, a Member of the Pontifical Commission since its inception in 2014 is a survivor of clerical abuse, and consistently and tirelessly championed for the voices of the victims/survivors to be heard, and for the healing of victims/survivors to be a priority of the Church.  

In discussing with the Cardinal, and in her resignation letter to the Holy Father, Mrs. Collins cited her frustration at the lack of cooperation with the Commission by other offices in the Roman Curia. 

Mrs. Collins accepted an invitation from Cardinal O’Malley to continue to work with the Commission in an educational role in recognition of her exceptional teaching skills and impact of her testimony as a survivor.

The Holy Father accepted Mrs. Collins resignation with deep appreciation for her work on behalf of the victims/survivors of clergy abuse.

The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors was established by Pope Francis in March of 2014. The Chirograph of His Holiness Pope Francis states specifically, “The Commission’s specific task is to propose to me the most opportune initiatives for protecting minors and vulnerable adults, in order that we may do everything possible to ensure that crimes such as those which have occurred are no longer repeated in the Church. The Commission is to promote local responsibility in the particular Churches, uniting their efforts to those of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, for the protection of all children and vulnerable adults.”

The full statement from Cardinal O’Malley, OFM Cap., is below

Statement from PCPM President, Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, OFM Cap.

“On behalf of the Members of the Commission I have expressed to Marie Collins our most sincere thanks for the extraordinary contributions she has made as a founding member of the Commission.  We will certainly listen carefully to all that Marie wishes to share with us about her concerns and we will greatly miss her important contributions as a member of the Commission.  As the Commission gathers for the plenary meeting next month we will have an opportunity to discuss these matters.  With the members of the Commission I am deeply grateful for Marie’s willingness to continue to work with us in the education of church leaders, including the upcoming programs for new bishops and for the dicasteries of the Holy See.  Our prayers will remain with Marie and with all victims and survivors of sexual abuse.”

These 17th century monks did a beer fast for Lent

As Ash Wednesday kicks off the Lenten season, Catholics enter into 40 days of abstaining from sweets, technology, alcohol and other luxuries.
But did you know that Catholic monks once brewed beer specifically for a liquid-only Lenten fast?

Back in the 1600s, Paulaner monks moved from Southern Italy to the Cloister Neudeck ob der Au in Bavaria. 

“Being a strict order, they were not allowed to consume solid food during Lent,” the current braumeister and beer sommelier of Paulaner Brewery Martin Zuber explained in a video on the company’s website.

They needed something other than water to sustain them, so the monks turned to a common staple of the time of their region – beer. They concocted an “unusually strong” brew, full of carbohydrates and nutrients, because “liquid bread wouldn’t break the fast,” Zuber noted.

This was an early doppelbock-style beer, which the monks eventually sold in the community and which was an original product of Paulaner brewery, founded in 1634. They gave it the name “Salvator,” named after “Sankt Vater,” which “roughly translates as ‘Holy Father beer,’” Zuber said. 

Paulaner currently serves 70 countries and is one of the chief breweries featured at Munich’s Octoberfest. Although its doppelbock is enjoyed around the world today, it had a distinctly penitential origin with the monks.

Could a beer-only fast really be accomplished? One journalist had read of the monks’ story and, in 2011, attempted to re-create their fast.

J. Wilson, a Christian working as an editor for a county newspaper in Iowa, partnered with a local brewery and brewed a special doppelbock that he consumed over 46 days during Lent, eating no solid food.

He had regular check-ups with his doctor and obtained permission from his boss for the fast, drinking four beers over the course of a work day and five beers on Saturdays and Sundays. His experience, he said, was transformative – and not in an intoxicating way.

Wilson learned “that the human body is an amazing machine,” he wrote in a blog for CNN after his Lenten experience.

“Aside from cramming it [the body] full of junk food, we don’t ask much of it. We take it for granted. It is capable of much more than many of us give it credit for. It can climb mountains, run marathons and, yes, it can function without food for long periods of time,” he wrote.

Wilson noted that he was acutely hungry for the first several days of his fast, but “my body then switched gears, replaced hunger with focus, and I found myself operating in a tunnel of clarity unlike anything I’d ever experienced.” 

He ended up losing over 25 pounds over the course of the Lenten season, but learned to practice “self-discipline.”

And, he found, one of his greatest challenges was actually fasting from media.

As he blogged about his fast, Wilson received numerous interview requests from local and national media outlets, and he chose to forego some of these requests and step away from using media to focus on the spiritual purpose of his fast. 

“The experience proved that the origin story of monks fasting on doppelbock was not only possible, but probable,” he concluded.

“It left me with the realization that the monks must have been keenly aware of their own humanity and imperfections. In order to refocus on God, they engaged this annual practice not only to endure sacrifice, but to stress and rediscover their own shortcomings in an effort to continually refine themselves.”

Catholics are not obliged to give up solid food for Lent, of course, but they must do penance during the season of Lent in the example of Christ’s 40-day fast in the wilderness, in commemoration of His death, and in preparation for Easter.

Catholics in the U.S., if healthy adults aged 18-59, must fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and are encouraged to continue the Good Friday fast through Holy Saturday to the Easter Vigil.

“No Catholic Christian will lightly excuse himself from so hallowed an obligation on the Wednesday which solemnly opens the Lenten season and on that Friday called ‘Good’ because on that day Christ suffered in the flesh and died for our sins,” the U.S. Catholic bishops wrote in their 1966 pastoral letter on fasting.

Fasting is interpreted to mean eating one full meal and two smaller meals that, taken together, do not equal that one full meal. There may be no eating in between meals, and there is no specific mention of liquids in the guidelines.

In their pastoral letter, the bishops also maintained obligatory abstinence from meat for all Catholics on Fridays in Lent, and “strongly recommend participation in daily mass and a self-imposed observance of fasting” on other Lenten days, as well as almsgiving, study of the Scriptures, and devotions like the rosary and the Stations of the Cross.

Ash Wednesday

Image result for Ash WednesdayAsh Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. 
It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.


Why we receive the ashes


Following the example of the Nine vites, who did penance in sackcloth and ashes, our foreheads are marked with ashes to humble our hearts and reminds us that life passes away on Earth. We remember this when we are told

"Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return."

Ashes are a symbol of penance made sacramental by the blessing of the Church, and they help us develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice.

The distribution of ashes comes from a ceremony of ages past. Christians who had committed grave faults performed public penance.

On Ash Wednesday, the Bishop blessed the hair shirts which they were to wear during the forty days of penance, and sprinkled over them ashes made from the palms from the previous year.

Then, while the faithful recited the Seven Penitential Psalms, the penitents were turned out of the church because of their sins -- just as Adam, the first man, was turned out of Paradise because of his disobedience. 

The penitents did not enter the church again until Maundy Thursday after having won reconciliation by the toil of forty days' penance and sacramental absolution. 

Later, all Christians, whether public or secret penitents, came to receive ashes out of devotion. 

In earlier times, the distribution of ashes was followed by a penitential procession.


The Ashes


The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. 

The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. 

While the ashes symbolize penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts. 

His Divine mercy is of utmost importance during the season of Lent, and the Church calls on us to seek that mercy during the entire Lenten season with reflection, prayer and penance.

March - Prayer to St Joseph

O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the Throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.

O St. Joseph do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your Heavenly power I may offer my Thanksgiving and Homage to the most Loving of Fathers.

O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart.

Press him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me, and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath.

St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray for us.

Lent calendar prayer and reflection for 1 March - Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday. 

As we begin our Lenten journey, we pray for the humility to walk back into the open arms of God.

Jesus teaches us to give, pray, and fast in secret, and in this way to give glory to God. 

Let us think about these three good deeds a little more deeply today.

Give How can I give joyfully, and not reluctantly or out of self-righteousness? Can I look into the eyes of my sister or brother living in poverty, seeking to understand their hopes and struggles, and give generously to bring healing?

Pray How can I create space to pray to the Lord? Can I close the door on the world, away from the hustle and bustle, to rekindle my relationship with God? Can I make time every day to do this, trusting that God’s grace will bring light to my life and to those around me?

Fast How can I give up some of the things I normally indulge in to create more space for God? Can I give up chocolate or wine, complaining or arguing; and instead try to grow in love, peace, and kindness for my neighbours near and far?       

Lent prayer

Loving God, we pray that we may grow closer to your son, our Lord Jesus, and share our love with our sisters and brothers who are most vulnerable. Amen.


How can you give, pray or fast today to give glory to God?

Egyptian Christian shot dead by militants in front of his wife and child

Egyptian security officials say suspected Islamic militants gunned down a Coptic Christian inside his home in northern Sinai, the sixth such killing in a month’s time in the restive region.

The officials said on Friday that militants stormed the home of Kamel Youssef, a plumber, the previous day and shot him dead in front of his wife and children in the town of el-Arish. 

It was later reported by a priest that the daughter was kidnapped and also killed.

The killings come days after Egypt’s Islamic State affiliate, which is based in the Sinai Peninsula, vowed to step up attacks against the embattled Christian minority.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to talk to reporters.

On Wednesday, suspected militants killed a Coptic Christian man and burned his son alive, then dumped their bodies on a roadside in el-Arish.

Major changes recommended to Catholic Church's controversial Melbourne Response

Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, ordered a review into the Melbourne Response.Victorian child sex abuse victims who receive a capped payout from the Catholic Church should no longer be forced to sign away their rights to future legal claims, a redacted report has recommended.

An independent review into the church's controversial Melbourne Response scheme was announced by Archbishop Denis Hart in August 2014, but has been suppressed by the church for more than a year.

A heavily edited version was finally submitted to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on Friday, containing 24 pages of the 176-page document.

It included 17 recommendations from the report's author, retired Federal Court judge Donnell Ryan, QC, including that victims no longer be obliged to sign a deed of release in order to access monetary payments.

Mr Ryan said this waiver could be made on the condition that if victims were to receive future payouts through civil proceedings, the money already received through the Melbourne Response would be deducted from the final amount.

The report also recommends opening up payments of up to $150,000 to family members of victims, including those left caring for their loved ones.
Mr Ryan said the time and cost expended in caring for victims should not be the only thing considered. He said "the psychological and other effects on the secondary victim" should be taken into account.

Anthony and Chrissie Foster's two daughters, Emma and Katie, were serially abused by notorious paedophile Father Kevin O'Donnell in Oakleigh in the 1980s and '90s. Emma took her own life at the age of 26 after a long battle with drug addiction attributed to her rape as a school girl, while her sister Katie drank heavily before being left disabled by a drunk driver in 1999.

Anthony Foster said the immediate family, as secondary victims, were initially denied any assistance from the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, though the church would later agree to pay the Fosters $750,000 in a civil case.

Mr Foster said although the family had no further contact with the church and "they have denied us any further psychological help", assistance would be very important to other victims and families.

"The harm continues over time and sometime accelerates over time," he said.

Asked about the ongoing impact of past abuse on family members, Mr Foster said that his wife Chrissie collapsed in his arms at the royal commission on Friday while listening to Archbishop Hart.

"It is with us every moment of the day. It's always there. Sometimes it breaks through and sometimes we break down," he said.

The archdiocese has doubled the maximum compensation payments under the Melbourne Response to $150,000, but has yet to make any other significant changes despite critics saying it has re-traumatised victims and the royal commission agreeing it is overly legalistic.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne did not respond to Fairfax Media's request for comment on how many of the 17 recommendations from the long-awaited Melbourne Response report it would implement.

On Friday, Archbishop Hart said he was prepared to consider whether the Melbourne Response scheme would continue alongside any future state or national redress scheme.

"We are committed to going forward into the common one for the whole country if we can do it and are permitted by Victorian law," he told the royal commission.

"Or if that's not possible, our serious negotiations together with other churches with the Victorian government would mean we are definitely intending to go into that."

Asked whether the archdiocese would keep the Melbourne Response as its local complaints handling process, Archbishop Hart said he would consider it.

"I'd have to take advice on the pros and cons with that but I'd certainly be prepared to look at it."

INDIA : For Kolkata nun, serving the poor means welcoming everyone, regardless of their faith Mary Mukta Kindo belongs to the order of the Discalced Carmelites of the Apostolic Carmel. She works at the Mother Veronica Social Centre for Women in Barrackpure, near Kolkata (West Bengal) where “serving the poor means welcoming everyone, regardless of their religious convictions."
Speaking to AsiaNews, she explained the reason for her apostolate, dedicated in particular to women in need. For her, "Working with and for the poor allows me to spread the love of Jesus."

Since 2001, Sister Mary works with the centre to make items of clothing like uniforms and tunics as well as church linen. "In our centre, everyone is welcome. We make no differences in religion. We work only for the good of the poor."

The Carmelite nun runs sewing, knitting and embroidery classes that enable poor women to gain more confidence in themselves and be economically independent.

Since it was opened, the centre has trained more than 200 women. Currently, 40 students from various religious backgrounds are registered.

"Our goal,” Sister Mary noted, “is to train these women to be social agents of change in their families and society through the values ​​of the Gospel and a stronger character. They learn to understand the value of their role in the family and earn a living by making the most of their talents and abilities."

The centre "has created a melting pot of religions, in which solidarity grows and peace and harmony is promoted in society, thanks to women taking leadership roles. All this happens because they learn to take care of themselves."

"For me, it is a source of great satisfaction to see that these women, who were poor before, can lead a dignified life and help their families. I will continue to be at the service of the poor and spread God's compassion and Jesus’ love for the most disadvantaged."