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Nicholas Tonti-Filippini Remembered for His Faith, Courage, Scholarship and Unquenchable Zest for Life

7 November 2014
Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

Dr Nicholas Tonti-Filippini, Australia's first hospital ethicist, prolific author, internationally acclaimed bio-ethicist and Associate Dean of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family died this morning in Melbourne after a long and constant battle with ill health.

He was 58 and is survived by his wife, Mary and the couple's four children, Claire, Lucianne, Justin and John.

Today Catholics, academics, medical personnel, students and the  faculty at Melbourne's John Paul II Institute are in mourning, along with the many others whose lives he touched and inspired.

Following the sad news of his friend's passing Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said; "As someone involved in founding the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family I am deeply grateful for the tireless work Nick did as a Professor and Associate Dean at the Institute. He was genuinely loved and revered by the Institute's staff and students. They appreciated Nick's sharp intellect and extraordinary capacity for hard work, his courtesy and availability. His generosity was all the more astonishing given chronic pain and a condition which required regular hospitalisation, surgery and dialysis. Remarkably, even when exhausted by all that and in the midst of controversy, even vilification, sometimes by people who should be his friends, he remained courteous, humorous and focused on the ball rather than the player, on building the civilisation of life and love. His ability to maintain good humour and respect in the midst of such challenges always inspired me. "

"I think that those of us who were privileged to be close to him thought he was completely sui generis - a kind of force of nature," Dr Tracey Rowland, Dean of the John Paul II Institute says adding that despite his ongoing long struggle with terminal illness, Dr Tonti-Filippini was teaching students and organising classes until mid October.

"He never complained about the fact he was in constant pain. Over the years he would be go into hospital for some major medical procedure and then would turn up at work two days later," she says and believes that perhaps it was because he suffered so much, that he was so spiritually deep.

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Religious groups call on all parties to leave the equal opportunity laws alone

21 November 2014

A coalition of religious groups has called upon all parties contesting the Victorian election to commit to maintaining Victoria’s current equal opportunity laws.

Religious leaders, including Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart, Ballarat Bishop Paul Bird, and representatives from the Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist and Coptic Orthodox faiths, have issued a statement urging parties to keep the current legislation.

‘The current equal opportunity Laws strike a fair balance between the right to equality, freedom of association and religious liberty,’ Archbishop Philip Freier, Archbishop of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, said.

Religious organisations provide educational, welfare and health services to Victorians of all faiths and of none.

These services remove a substantial burden from the taxpayer and are often provided at a higher standard than Government service because of the faith based commitment to the dignity of the human person held by employees.

‘Many people who work in religious schools, religious hospitals and aged care homes as well as in religious providers to the needy in our community, consider their role not just as an employee but as a type of religious vocation,’ Archbishop Denis Hart of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne said.

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Church protests beating deaths of Christian couple accused of blasphemy

6 November 2014

Catholic News Service

Catholic leaders in Pakistan protested the beatings and burning, on Tuesday 4 November, of a young Christian couple accused of desecrating the Quran.

‘The government has absolutely failed to protect its citizens' right to life,’ said the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Pakistan in a statement on Wednesday 5 November.

Condemning the brutal killing of Shahzad Masih, 28, and his pregnant wife, Shama Bibi, 24, the NCJP pointed out that the killing of the couple at the hands of a mob was based on a ‘false accusation of blasphemy.’

Police said they attempted to save the couple but that they were unable to do so because they were outnumbered.

The couple had three children, according to family members.

The victims' bodies were burned at the brick kiln where they worked in Kot Radha Kishan, a town in Punjab province.

Blasphemy is a sensitive issue in Pakistan. Critics have charged that blasphemy laws often are misused to settle differences and that minorities are unfairly targeted.

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Religious freedom now compromised in a majority of countries worldwide

5 November 2014
Aid to the Church in Need

A Report released Tuesday 4 November, showing that religious freedom is compromised in nearly 60 percent of countries worldwide, is expected to send out a signal to Governments and religious leaders that this is an issue that can no longer be ignored.

International Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need’s Religious Freedom in the World 2014 Report, compiled by journalists, academics and commentators, reveals worrying concerns for people of faith in 116 of the world’s 196 countries.

The report – looking at all religious groups and covering events from autumn 2012 to summer 2014 – concludes that where the situation regarding religious liberty has changed, it has almost always changed for the worse.

In the 196 countries analysed, deteriorating conditions are noted in 55 countries (or 28%). Only six of the 196 countries – Iran, United Arab Emirates, Cuba, Qatar, Zimbabwe and Taiwan – have been classified as improved and yet, even of those, four remain categorised as experiencing ‘high’ or ‘medium’ persecution.

The Religious Freedom in the World 2014 Report, launched on Tuesday 4 November by Aid to the Church in Need offices around the world, can be read online by clicking on the link below.

John Pontifex, London-based Editor-in-Chief of the report, said: ‘In the period under review, global religious freedom entered a period of serious decline and the report confirms media perceptions of a rising tide of persecution aimed at marginalised religious communities.

‘The report we have produced indicates that many of those in authority – governments and religious leaders – have continually failed to stand up for religious freedom and hence it has become an orphaned right.

‘Serial human rights abuses – from the threat of massacres in the Middle East and discrimination in the workplace in Western countries – are the direct result of religious freedom violations.
‘As a Catholic organisation, it is our duty not simply to stand up for Christians suffering religious freedom violations, but for people of all faiths.’

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Pope calls for end to death penalty out of respect for human dignity

Thursday 30 October 2014
Catholic News Agency

Pope Francis called for the abolition of capital punishment during a speech on Thursday 23 October, as well as all forms of penal punishment which violate human dignity.

During the audience with delegates from the International Association of Penal Law, the Pope decried the ‘growing conviction’ in recent decades ‘that through public punishment it is possible to solve different and disparate social problems, as if for different diseases one could prescribe the same medicine.’

‘It is impossible to imagine that today (there are) states which cannot make use of means other than capital punishment to defend the life of other persons from unjust aggressors,’ he said.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which Pope Francis cited in his discourse, ‘the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.’ However, in a quote from St. John Paul II cited in the Catechism, such cases, ‘are very rare, if not practically non-existent.’

During his speech, Pope Francis called on ‘all Christians and people of goodwill … to fight not only for the abolition of the death penalty be it legal or illegal, in all of its forms.’ He also called the faithful to work toward ‘the improvement of prison conditions in the respect of the human dignity of those who have been deprived of freedom,’ adding: ‘I link this to the death sentence.’

The Pope also compared the death penalty to life imprisonment, recalling that the Vatican Penal Code no longer employs life sentences.

‘A life sentence is a death sentence which is concealed,’ he said.

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'The Christian minority in India is under serious threat'

15 October 2014
Aid to the Church in Need

After the election of Narendra Modi of the Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as prime minister of India the country's secular constitution is under threat.

With these words Ajay Kumar Singh, Catholic priest and human rights activist in Kandhamal District in the East Indian state of Odisha (formerly Orissa), warned of the growing influence of radical Hindu forces on the Indian subcontinent. ‘Especially under threat is the Christian minority because it is rejected by extremists as alien and because they regard the Christian message as endangering the caste system,’ stressed Fr. Kumar Singh, who also works for the Odisha Forum for Social Action (OROSA). He was talking at a meeting with staff of the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

According to Fr. Kumar Singh, the aim of the Bharatiya Janata Party is to establish a state religion which excludes the lower castes and the minorities. ‘They even want to impose only one language, Sanskrit, even though hundreds of languages are spoken in India,’ the Catholic priest continued.

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Chief Justice Warren delivers the Newman Lecture

3 October 2014

According to the Honourable Marilyn Warren AC, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria, the apparent elusiveness of a perfect application of justice must never thwart the quest for justice in all our lives.

‘If you can imagine injustice,’ she said, ‘then you can imagine justice.’

Addressing an audience of students, college and university staff, members of the judiciary and legal profession and invited guests at the annual Newman Lecture on Friday 22 August at Mannix College, a Catholic residential college affiliated with Monash University, Chief Justice Warren approached the topic ‘What is Justice?’ from several different angles.

Chief Justice Warren attended school at the Kilbreda Convent in Mentone before graduating in law from Monash in the 1970s. She outlined some of the major moral, legal and philosophical theories of justice, considered judicial and popular media notions of justice, and reviewed certain high-profile court cases in which justice had, or had not, been seen to be done.

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NSW Judge & Foundation Member Of St Thomas More Society Mourned

3 September 2014

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

The city's legal profession together with members of the Archdiocese of Sydney and the St Thomas Moore Society are mourning the death of Justice John Patrick Slattery AO, KGCSG, QC.
Justice Slattery died last Friday. He was 96 years old.

For many years Justice Slattery was not only one of the nation's most respected and admired members of the judiciary, but a man who throughout his life made an outstanding contribution to the Church.

The Mass of Christian Burial for Justice John Slattery will be held on Friday, 5 September at 1.30 pm at St Mary's North Sydney. The Principal Celebrant will be Father Paul Coleman SJ.

Among the many hundreds who will pay tribute to Justice Slattery at his funeral will be the St Thomas More Society, the fellowship of Catholic lawyers he helped found back in 1945 to provide opportunities for members to members to acquire a deeper understanding of the principles of Christian ethics and morality in relation to the practise of law.

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